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Day 5 of Iran protests: Where do we stand?

As tens of thousands marched in Tehran Wednesday, the government moved to recount ballots and crack down on bloggers and news websites.

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"Anyone expecting [or encouraging] another Prague Spring or Tiananmen Square severely misunderstands the situation here. Instead, the long-term solution to the predicament in Iran today is much more complex than any political reform could provide – Iranians have to solve an identity crisis generations in the making. From my estimation, the calming climate of the mass gatherings is the first indication that Iranians would rather tackle that challenge than return to the dark days of the early [1980s]."

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What the rest of the world thinks

According to the premier Pan-Arab network Al Jazeera, President Obama is not particularly enamored of President Ahmadinejad's challenger. Here's how Al Jazeera summed it up:

"The US president has played down differences between Iran's two main presidential election rivals, saying both were hostile towards the US.

"Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he would continue his policy of 'tough diplomacy' towards Tehran, as protests in support of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, and his rival Mir Hossein Mousavi, continued.

" 'It's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised,' Obama told CNBC news.

" 'Either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighbourhood and has been pursuing nuclear weapons,' Obama said."

Whether Mousavi, or Ahmadinejad, a nuke is coming, says ElBaradei

The New York Times reports:

"Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, said it was his 'gut feeling' that Iran's leaders wanted the technology to build nuclear weapons 'to send a message to their neighbors, to the rest of the world: don't mess with us....'

"Dr. ElBaradei has made similar points in the past, officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday, but his latest remarks were more dramatic and less hedged with diplomatic caveats than previously."

The Monitor recently ran a briefing page on how close Iran is to the making a nuclear bomb, citing a wide array of reports – most of which concluded that Iran was further away from having a bomb capable of being launched via long-range missile than had been widely believed. Read the full story here.

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