Defense Minister Claims American Drone Was in Iranian Airspace

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All the major Iranian news agencies have reported the comments of Iranian Defense Minister, Commander Ahmad Vahidi, in reaction to the US drone allegedly shot down by Iranian forces over international waters.

Vahidi is quoted by Fars News explicitly rejecting the claim that the US drone was in international waters: “A week ago an unrecognized drone entered the Islamic Republic of Iran’s airspace in the Persian Gulf and through the timely, intelligent and decisive action of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran it was forced to flee. … This, as well as previous experience indicates that the Islamic Republic of Iran through necessary vigilance, precisely observes all the necessary motions and with effective strength will take decisive and timely actions.”

Foreign Affairs

Deputy Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, has rejected accusations that Hezbollah had a hand in the explosion which killed two in the Bahraini capital, Manama, on Monday. In reply to a journalist, Amirabdollahian said, “if [Hezbollah] had the smallest interference, the circumstances would have been different.”

Baztab-e emruz, associated with Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, Mohsen Rezaei, has referred to the new round of sanctions passed by the U.S. Treasury against Iran as “Obama’s post-election present.” Adding, “this issue of some [people’s] speculation who believed Obama upon re-election would decrease his pressure on Iran has been put to rest.”

Fars News, citing  a report in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar, has claimed that the Prime Minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim, upon travelling to Palestine examined a plan to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The head of Mossad was also allegedly at the meeting. The Qatari PM is  also alleged to have offered Israel cheap gas for the period of two years after the assassination had occurred.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a joint press conference with his Vietnamese counterpart, told journalists that “the Islamic Republic of Iran is resolved to use the extensive capabilities of the two countries in the direction of completing the economy and progress of one another and along these lines no limits exist for the development of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Vietnam.”

Domestic News

Kaleme, close to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, has claimed, based on statements made by Revolutionary Guards Commander Mozaffari Shams, that this year 8% of the Iran’s construction budget is in the hands of the Revolutionary Guards’ engineering arm, Khatam al-anbia, totalling 3000 billion tomans. Moreover, the article adds, if it is presumed reports are accurate that due to budget shortfalls the construction budget now stands at 5000 billion tomans, then the Revolutionary Guards real share turns out to be 60% of the overall construction budget.

It should also be mentioned that the figure cited by Kaleme does seem rather low, and requires independent verification.

Revolutionary Guards’ Chief, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, speaking at a memorial ceremony of Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, the so-called ‘father of Iran’s missile program.’ who was killed in an explosion at Al Ghadir missile base, which killed 17 people in November 2011, has said, “today the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved such strength that the enemies of the Islamic Republic do not even imagine the smallest aggression or threat against the Islamic Revolution.”

He added, “We thank God that up to a great extent the military and ballistic might of Iran was realised in the lifetime Martyr Tehrani Moqaddam and through his efforts. The result of this was a great achievement for the regime.”

The head of the Guardian Council, Ahmad Jannati, has said today during Friday Prayers in Tehran  that when President Ahmadinejad is summoned before the Majles to answer questions on the state of the economy, MPs should do so in a “friendly” manner, and not out of “malevolence.”

Jannati asked: “Under the present conditions how expedient is questioning the president, the gentlemen must think about what benefits will the enemy reap? Is it not the same dispute between the branches [of government]? Will not the enemy be overjoyed? Who will be happy and who will be upset?”

He added, “The currency issue has outraged everyone, they [i.e. the politicians] must think about that and the debate over currency must not impact the people’s yogurt and cheese.”