Sunday, June 30, 2013

Second Annual Art Auction--Tehran

A Record $1.67 million In Sales
The second annual Tehran art auction was held today at the Parsian Azadi Hotel in scenic northern Tehran (4). Eighty Iranian works of arts were sold for $1.67 million, or 6.5 billion Tomans (1).
Photo source:
Work by the Iranian poet and artist Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980), fetched the highest price at $209,000, or 700 million tomans (1,2).

Mr. Sepheri is considered one of the best known modern poets and Iranian painters (3,5).

While the interest in art and culture maybe a luxury a few Iranians can afford, this event and recent signing and dancing in the streets, shows that the real Iran is ready to sprout even with the hands of the regime still around its neck.

Ahmadinejad In Moscow--7/1/2013

Last Foreign Trip A Month Before Leaving Office

By: Jabbar Fazeli, MD

Shargh newspaper reports that the lame duck president of Iran is flying to Moscow today (Monday) in his last foreign trip (1).

The timing of this visit is interesting as Iran is in the midst of supposed transition, and Ahmadinejad is becoming irrelevant, both domestically and abroad. This is, however, in line with the IR tradition of disconnect between "reality" and the reality in its leaders' heads.

Maybe he decided to take advantage of his current freedom to travel abroad before he suffers the same fate as ex-president Khatami. The Ex-president hasn't been able to leave the country for years, not even at the peak of pollution in Tehran (3).

The expense of this state visit by an outgoing president, at a time of economic hardships, will likely go unnoticed, just like the billions of oil dollars the government can't account for (2).

Tehran Stock Index at Historic High

Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) index hit 50,000 today, a historic high. The automaker SAIPA, synthetic fiber producer Polyacryl Iran Corporation, and Iran National investment Corporation were the market’s top movers. Also trending were Isfahan Oil Refining Company, Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Company, and Parsian Oil and Gas Development.

Mahmoud Reza Khajeh-Nasiri, a TSE director, told reporters that investors’ growing “sense of optimism” about the situation in the country and a flood of new capital into the stock market were the main factors behind the sharp rise in the TSE index.  

Since Rouhani’s election, the growing sense of optimism is evident in the country, including in the stock market. The value of rial has also increased against the dollar since the election, contributing to the flood of new capital, as observed by Khajeh-Nasiri, from currency markets into stocks.

Chart credit: the graph shows the performance of TSE index in the first half of 2013 (BBC)

No Evidence of Iran-North Korea Missile Cooperation - Report

Iran’s Press TV, quoting the South Korean Arirang News, today reported that a UN Security Council panel monitoring sanctions against Iran has said in its annual report that it has found no evidence of missile cooperation between Iran and North Korea.

“There is no evidence of technological collaboration between North Korea and Iran in developing a long-range missile,” the report said. (Arriange news/Press TV, 30 June)

Late last year, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported that Iran had dispatched senior defense staff to North Korea to observe the launch of a ballistic missile said to have put a communications satellite into orbit. Iran’s Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi then dismissed the claims as mere “speculation,” adding that Tehran had dispatched nobody to Pyongyang for missile cooperation.

The West suspects North Korea's missile launches are disguised tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Photo credit: North Korean missile Unha-3, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 Unit 2, lifting off from its launching pad in North Pyongan Province on 12 December 2012. (Press TV)

Ahmadinejad Will Return (With Imam Mehdi)--Government Spokesman

Photo source:
By: Jabbar Fazeli, MD

The Iranian Government's spokesman, Mr. Gholam Hossein Elham, is making headlines in the Iranian media. He said that his boss, Mr. Ahmadinejad, will return to govern when Emam Mehdi, the Shiite 12th Imam, returns. He apparently said that in a form of a prayer at a speak in front of a group of supporters (1,2,3,4,5).

Mashregh newspaper has published a detailed report of this get-together of Ahmadinjead and Mashai supporters. It apparently ends with his loyal supporters surrounding him while sobbing (1).

This episode provides a rare glimpse at the bizarre "personality cult" tradition revived by the Islamic Republic. 

The continued open support for Ahmadinejad among some conservatives, despite his falling out of favor with the supreme leader, is setting the stage for a potentially bloody purge within the regime's inner circle. 

Full report in Persian:


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Iran Navy claims civilian vessel types outfitted with missiles

From Fars News Agency:
Deputy Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Abbas Zamini downplayed the effects of the western sanctions against Iran's defense industry, and announced that the country has equipped a large number of its civilian vessels with missile-launching systems for military operations.
"Many units which were used to transfer passengers in the past have now been equipped and delivered to the Navy units as missile-launching vessels, meaning that they now have a fully different application," he added.
Whether the Deputy Admiral is referring to vessels related to the Arvandan built types such as the Naser class, Gowhar passenger ship type (high speed craft), LSTs or others is unclear- Iranian media defense reporting is flawed in detail. No video/photo evidence has yet been provided of these claimed auxiliary missile boats.

Example of Arvandan built boat: Nasser class 

Gowhar passenger ship type (high speed craft)

Historical examples of converted passenger ships to auxiliary cruisers

SMS Cap Traflagar: passenger liner converted to an auxillary cruiser during World War I

RMS Carmania armed merchant cruiser converted from civilian ocean liner

Photos: Wikipedia, Arvandan and

Rouhani Calls for Moderation in Politics and Foreign Policy

Iran’s President-elect Pledges More Conciliatory Approach

Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rouhani said today he will name ministers from across the political spectrum, forming an inclusive cabinet and a government of moderation.

“The future government must operate in the framework of moderation...[and it] must avoid extremism, and this message is for everyone,” Rouhani said in a speech carried live on state television.

“The next cabinet will be trans-factional... This government is not obligated to any party or faction, and will work to choose the most qualified people from all sides and factions, under conditions of moderation and temperance.”

He also pledged a more conciliatory approach in international and relations than the current government.

“Moderation in foreign policy is neither submission nor antagonism, neither passivity nor confrontation. Moderation is effective and constructive interaction with the world,” Rouhani said. “The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a major regional power or the biggest regional power... must play its role and for this we need moderation.”

Rouhani, who will take office in early August, said he was dedicated to “mutual relaxation of tensions” with other countries.

File photo: Iran's presiden-elect Hassan Rouhani (AFP)