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Iran Headlines: Day One of Nuclear Talks, Caspian Oil-Swap Deal, and Students Protest

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wait for the start of talks in Vienna (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger).


Fars News Agency reports that the Head of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani arrived at Amir Kabir University to be on hand at the opening of a new nuclear physics department but was met with protests by ultra-conservative students. Fars News published a set of images of the protesters and Rafsanjani’s arrival. ISNA also posted a set of images of Rafsanjani inside the new physics department.

Khabar Online writes that Justice Minister Mostafa Pourohammadi stated that billionaire sanctions buster Babak Zanjani, who is currently under investigation for financial corruption “is not cooperating during questioning sessions.


In an article in conservative Tabnak News, Alaeddin Borujerdi, chairman of the Parliament's national security and foreign policy committee explains why he didn’t condemn Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif last week during a parliamentary session where Zarif “refused to answer certain questions.”

Fars News Agency reports that Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told reporters that there will be “three more rounds of talks planned.”  Two rounds will be held in June, in addition to a “final round of talk in July that could take up all the remaining calendar days of the month (up until the deadline),” stated Araghchi. The deputy foreign minister also commented on the Arak heavy water reactor. “There might be some technical changes in regards to plutonium production in order to reduce concerns...but the character of the heavy water reactor will not be changed in any way,” said Araghchi.

Hard-line Raja News writes, “The P5 countries plan on reducing the total number of Iranian centrifuges to four thousand,” and “according to the United States, Iran's (ballistic) missile program will be the final step in the negotiations.”

Mehr News Agency reports that Vice President for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Majid Ansari made comments aimed at domestic critics of the nuclear negotiations. “The negotiating team is the team of the nation in which it should be supported, (but) some are more concerned that whatever (deal) is signed, it will be approved by the Supreme Leader.  Behind the scenes, they clearly have their own interests at stake and worry that if sanctions are lifted it will lead to many (undesirable) instances,” said Ansari. 


According to IRNA, while speaking to a group of civic entrepreneurs, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani answered criticisms directed towards the economic policies of the Rouhani administration. “The current government administration inherited over eight years of destructive (Ahmadinejad) economic policies, so of course it is expected that the government should put more effort into stimulating the economy.”

Economic daily Donya-e-Eqtesad discusses the possibility the return of U.S. automakers such as General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler and asks, “Can (Iran) Partner with U.S. Automakers?”  In a separate article entitled, “Tehran is the Cheapest and Most Expensive Place in the Rental Market,” Donya-e-Eqtesad publishes a chart illustrating the price of property rentals in different neighborhoods around the capital.

Mehr News Agency reports that Ali Majedi, the deputy oil minister for international affairs announced the resumption of talks regarding a trilateral oil and natural gas swap deal with Iran’s Caspian Sea neighbors Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.