Friday, April 17, 2015

Will Israel Strike Iran Before Putin Delivers Missles?



Bad or Worse? - J.E. Dyer 

Russia's selling the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran is bad. The mobile S-300 could dramatically complicate the air space picture for strike planners, with the missile launchers moving around to evade reconnaissance.

Iran could also lose a launcher and quickly deploy another one to fill the gap. It has nothing approaching this capability today. 

The S-300's range and mobility will make an attacking force work much harder, and probably take more losses, to fight through to its targets. No defensive system makes an attack impossible, but the S-300 makes an attack cost more.
Defeating the S-300, in order to give a meaningful thump to the Iranian nuclear program, would not require a conventional ground invasion. But it would require considerably more tactical air forces than the U.S. has in a ready status today.
     

Israel will have to get creative. The S-300 poses a significant problem. Israel actually has more strike-fighters combat ready and available for an Iran attack today than the U.S. does.
     

But there's no option of flying into an S-300 network once it goes active. It must be degraded - blinded, immobilized to some level - before the first main-target attack aircraft shows up. 

The S-300 forces a decision on the Israelis about what their threshold is: at what point do they decide they can't do enough damage after the S-300 is deployed, and must strike before it's deployed.
The writer is a retired U.S. Naval Intelligence officer.
(Liberty Unyielding)


Is Any Deal Better than No Deal? - Michael Gerson

Why would the Obama administration claim victory in the middle of a sensitive negotiation, in a manner that prods the other side to harden its demands and encourages the unraveling of sanctions?
     

No one believes that Obama would use force against Iran. And this means there is no theoretical limit to the concessions that could be justified to avoid conflict. The argument of "concessions or war" is another way of saying that any deal is better than no deal. 
(Washington Post)


Legitimizing Iran's Anti-Semitism - Lee Smith

President Obama called American Jewish leaders to a meeting at the White House on Monday. "It was one of the tensest meetings I can ever remember," said one participant who has been invited to many White House sit-downs over the years. "Lots of people challenged him very strongly, like about taking the threats of dictators seriously when Khamenei says death to America, death to Israel, death to the Jews. The president said he knows what the regime is, which is why he is trying to take away their weapons. He didn't dismiss what the Iranians say, he just didn't really address it."
    

Who knows if the Iranians actually mean to make good on their threats against Israel? After all, say the experts, Iran is not irrational. Of course Iran is irrational. It is irrational in its very essence, for anti-Semitism is the form that unreason takes in modern political life. Disregarding the regime's anti-Semitism is to willfully ignore the nature of the regime. To strike a deal with such a regime is willfully perverse and doomed to failure.
(Tablet)
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Obama Changes Tune on Iran Confrontation



In Setback, Obama Concedes Congress' Role - Patricia Zengerle

President Obama conceded that Congress will have the power to review a nuclear deal with Iran. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously, 19 to 0, to approve a bipartisan bill that would give Congress oversight of a final deal. 


Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker [pictured] said the White House had agreed to go along with the bill "only when they saw how many senators were going to vote for this." 
(Reuters)


White House: Obama Will Sign Senate Bill - David McCabe & Ben Kamisar
 

President Obama is willing to sign a new Senate deal that would allow Congress to review and vote on a proposed nuclear deal with Iran, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. The new bill shortens the timeframe for Congress to review a nuclear deal with Iran to 30 days and allows Obama to submit the deal after the June 30 deadline for negotiators to conclude their work.
     

The president would have to submit the deal by July 9 to have the expedited timeframe. If Congress votes to reject the deal, the bill says the president could not waive sanctions that had been imposed through legislation.
(The Hill)


Obama's Approval Among U.S. Jews Narrows - Frank Newport 

For the first quarter of 2015, 54% of American Jews approved of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, compared with an average of 46% among all Americans.
     

That 8-point gap is lower than the average 13-point gap seen so far throughout Obama's term in office. In 2009, Obama's support among Jews was 77%.  
(Gallup)


Netanyahu Urges Putin Not to Supply Iran with Missile Defenses
- Elhanan Miller

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressing Israel's "grave concerns" regarding Russia's decision to provide Iran with advanced antiaircraft missiles. Netanyahu told Putin that the S-300 deal "will only encourage Iranian aggression in the region and further undermine the stability of the Middle East."


Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said, "This sale of advanced weaponry to Iran is the direct result of the dangerous deal on the table between Iran and the P5+1. Can anyone still seriously claim that the deal with Iran will enhance security in the Middle East?"

(Times of Israel)


Rare Bipartisanship in Congress over Iran - Max Boot

Rare bipartisanship prevailed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to force President Obama to submit any Iranian nuclear deal for congressional approval.


Ironically, this legislation could actually strengthen Obama's hand with the Iranians: Secretary of State John Kerry can now plausibly tell his Iranian interlocutors that, however much he would like to concede their points, Congress won't stand for it.
     

The basic message, from Democrats and Republicans alike, is that there is deep unease in Congress, as well as in the country at large, about the terms of the accord, and for good cause.
The writer is a Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
(Commentary)


Getting U.S.-Iranian History Wrong - Michael Rubin 

In defense of President Barack Obama's empathy with Iran, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman gets Iranian history wrong. Friedman describes how: "We, the United States, back in the '50s, we toppled Iran's democratically-elected government. You know, there might be some reason these people actually want to get a weapon that will deter that from happening again."


The idea for the coup was British because Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq had nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (a predecessor of British Petroleum) and then refused to negotiate. The U.S. was more concerned by Mosaddeq's pro-Soviet proclivities. So, too, were the Iranians themselves, especially the military and the clergy. That's right, the folks who run the Islamic Republic today were co-conspirators with the U.S. and deeply opposed to Mosaddeq's anti-clerical attitudes. At the time of the coup, Mohammad Reza Shah was a popular head of state whom Mosaddeq was seeking to force out in order to assume dictatorial power himself.

Moreover, the idea that the 1953 coup motivates the Iranian nuclear program is bizarre. The resurrection of the Iranian nuclear program after the 1979 Islamic Revolution can be traced more to Iraqi chemical weapons attacks on Iran. The assumption that grievance motivates the Iranian nuclear drive is lazy thinking and belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Republic, which at its heart is an ideological state that seeks to export its revolution
The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
(Commentary)
*

UPDATE:

Ready for the Truth? Khamenei Wants to Destroy Us - Michael Ledeen

Our basic error is that we think our offer of a strategic alliance - President Obama's "outstretched hand" - is attractive to Iran. It isn't.


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei doesn't want a deal with us; he wants to destroy us. When he calls us the "Great Satan" or when he leads chants of "Death to America!," he means it. Khamenei wants to go down in Islamic history as the man who defeated America, not the imam who signed a deal with the devil. He's willing to accept our surrender, but he won't forge a partnership with Obama.

Why did they agree to negotiate? Because Iranian President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif convinced Khamenei that the Americans were desperate for a deal, that there was no danger of an American military option and that Iran could get all manner of favors from the Americans without conceding anything important. Think of the negotiations as a component in the Iranian war against us, not as a step on the path to detente. We have real enemies who don't want to seize our outstretched hand. They want to chop it off
The writer, the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was special adviser to former Secretary of State Alexander Haig.
(The Hill)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Israeli Left Wing Supports Potential Iran Strike

Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni

Israeli Opposition Demands U.S. Support for Israeli Strike on Iran Nukes
- Ron Ben-Yishai

Israeli opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni from the Zionist Union party called for the U.S. to "give legitimization ahead of time to any action Israel will need to take to protect its safety" if Iran violates the framework agreement and tries to produce nuclear weapons. 


The crux of Herzog and Livni's plan is a call on the American administration to commit in advance to approve an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities if Iran violates the framework agreement signed a week and a half ago by trying to produce nuclear weapons.
(Ynet News)
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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Obama Interview Sets Off Alarm Bells



Not on Obama's Watch - Ari Shavit

"Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch," the president told the New York Times. He's committing that Iran will not become nuclear before Jan. 20, 2017, promising that in the next 21 months Iran will not produce or assemble its first nuclear bomb. What are Israelis supposed to do with such a short-term commitment by the president? And what are the Saudis, Egyptians, Turks, Jordanians and Emiratis supposed to think?
     

The Obama-Friedman interview sets off a thousand alarm bells. We begin to suspect that the Obama-Khamenei agreement will not prevent Iran from going nuclear, but will only postpone the achievement by a few years. This is a time of trouble for every Israeli, Arab, European and American who favors stability and sanity. In the balance is the world in which our children will live or die. 
(Ha'aretz)
*

Barak: Give Iran an Ultimatum - Matthew J. Belvedere

The U.S. needs to give Iranian leaders a clear choice: Get rid of your military nuclear program "or else," former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak urged.

"The Pentagon and the forces of America under the backing and probably directive of the president [could] create an extremely effective means to destroy the Iranian nuclear military program over a fraction of one night," he said. He described the type of targeted operation as closer to the killing of bin Laden than the war on Iraq.
    

Barak said he would rather see a peacefully negotiated end to Iran's nuclear threat. But "there is no agreement, basically," arguing that President Obama's administration backed themselves into a corner by committing "all around the world and back home to pass this agreement." 
(CNBC)


Iranian Navy Sails near Yemen - Simeon Kerr

Iran has sent two naval vessels to waters near Yemen as part of "anti-piracy efforts" in the trade routes that connect the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea, according to Iran's Press TV. The naval deployment highlights the tensions surrounding the conflict in Yemen after Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia launched an air campaign against the Shia Houthis.


Riyadh and its Gulf allies say Yemen is the latest example of Tehran expanding its influence through proxies across the Arab world.
(Financial Times-UK)


Zarif: No Online Cameras Allowed  

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told parliament that Iran would allow no online cameras to be installed in its nuclear facilities.
     

Zarif was also quoted as saying, "I have told the Western diplomats that Iran is capable of making an atom bomb anytime it wills."
(Mehr News-Iran)


Pakistan Produced Nukes with 3,000 Centrifuges - Dore Gold

Advocates of the understandings with Iran over its nuclear program point to the fact that it proposes cutting Iran's 19,000 centrifuges to approximately 5,000, thus limiting its ability to enrich vast quantities of uranium.     

But how many centrifuges does a country need to produce atomic weapons? Pakistan enriched uranium for its first nuclear device with only 3,000 centrifuges.
(Facebook)
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Palestinians Demand...Free Electricity



The PA's Audacity - Editorial

In December, Israel froze the transfer of tax revenue it collected on the PA's behalf after the PA decided to join the International Criminal Court in order to instigate proceedings against Israel for alleged war crimes. Following pressure from Washington, the government relented and handed over to Ramallah NIS 1.37 billion. But Israel held back a symbolic NIS 160,000 to defray a fraction of the PA's NIS 2b. debt to the Israel Electric Corporation. The PA is also in massive arrears to Mekorot for water piped to it and to Israeli hospitals for unpaid medical bills.   

According to PA President Mahmoud Abbas' arithmetic, this token deduction amounts to "a full third of the total." Therefore, he said, he refuses to accept any of the money and is prepared to take Israel to the ICC over the matter. It might be absurd to presume that collecting a small portion of enormous outstanding utility bills can be portrayed as a war crime. But what holds true for other nations is not so in Israel's case.
    

If Abbas does press this matter at the ICC, it would be interesting to see if the jurists actually rule that it is an inalienable Palestinian right to enjoy free electricity at the direct expense of Israeli consumers.
(Jerusalem Post)
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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Progressive Jewish Leader Bucks Obama's Iran Deal

The rejection of Obama's plan by Rabbi Yoffie is big.  He is, perhaps, the most prominent left-leaning Jewish leader in the USA

Rabbi Yoffie at JStreet conference


Not Convinced about Iran Deal - Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie

Even Obama admirers, such as myself, will not be cheering this particular agreement with Iran. Part of the reason is that it is not a very good deal. Iran's nuclear infrastructure remains in place, the Iranians have walked away from long-standing commitments, and the Americans have compromised on long-standing demands.     

But in the final analysis, it is not the specific terms that will most bother U.S. Jews. After years of Iran watching, they know that Iran is an Israel-hating, Holocaust-denying theocracy, and the patron of Hizbullah and other radical groups that are in the business of killing Jews. When in doubt about whether to trust virulently anti-Semitic nations and leaders, the general rule is: Don't.     

The president argues that the deal offers the best possible means to assure Israel's security. The problem is that he is not convincing. His explanation of what will happen if Iran cheats is convoluted and even embarrassing; even the non-expert knows that what he is proposing, at this stage at least, cannot be counted on to work.     

With a weak deal on the table, American Jews want Obama to use the months ahead to forge a much tougher and more effective agreement. 
The writer served as President of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012.
(Ha'aretz)
*

Reflections on Iran Deal

At least someone is happy: Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Iran Debate Misses the Point - Daniel Pipes, PhD

While hugely important in terms of Iranian relations with the outside world, U.S.-Israel relations, and Barack Obama's relations with Congress, the labored, contradictory, and unspecific Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has little bearing on whether the mullahs do or do not get nuclear weapons. Let me explain:

If one assumes, as one should, that the Iranian leadership is determined to build a nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver it, then the economic issues (sanctions, boycotts, embargoes) that drive the P5+1 negotiations are tangential. They affect the speed, cost, and difficulty of building an arsenal, but do not impede its ultimate realization.

The only way to stop Iran's program is by using force, presumably by attacking its nuclear infrastructure from the air. Yet this prospect, now marginalized as the "war option" in contrast with two years ago, is no longer discussed.

With Binyamin Netanyahu just reelected prime minister, Israel has a leader seemingly prepared to take fateful steps. Distracted by negotiations, however, we hardly think about this – even though the Israel Defense Forces has twice before attacked nuclear installations (Iraq's in 1981, Syria's in 2007), and both times to universal surprise.

Will the Israelis bomb Iran or not? I am unable to answer; but I can tell you that this, and not the minutiae of the Lausanne Agreement, is the issue.
[National Review Online]


Tehran Will Use Faster Centrifuges When Deal Takes Effect    

Iran will begin using its latest generation IR-8 centrifuges as soon as its nuclear deal with the world powers goes into effect, Iran's foreign minister told members of parliament, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported.
The report makes a mockery of the world powers' much-hailed framework agreement with Iran, since such a move would dramatically accelerate Iran's progress to the bomb.
    

Iran said its IR-8 centrifuges enrich uranium 20 times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges it currently uses.   
(Times of Israel)


Agreement Without Dismantlement Will Fail - Emily B. Landau

The deal would enable Iran to keep its breakout capability intact, and in a manner that would enable a quick move to nuclear weapons when it decides.

This is Iran's goal in the negotiations - to get sanctions relief while holding on to its ability to break to nuclear weapons in a manner that will leave the international community powerless to stop it.    

What if Iran simply decides to exit the deal, after accusing the West of not upholding its end of the bargain? This is precisely what happened in 2004 - Iran reneged on the deal it had concluded with the EU-3 while accusing the EU-3 of bad behavior.
     

Enabling Iran to maintain its nuclear breakout capability - with the illusion of being able to stop it in time - is a recipe for failure.
The writer is head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. 
(Times of Israel)
 
 
The Delicate Path Ahead on Iran - David Ignatius

There are many details left to clarify, and U.S. officials aren't yet sure they actually have clinched the deal that they appeared to have won. There are big holes in the framework.


Its unfinished nature is a sign that the administration wants the final pact so much that it will offer compromises that allow the Iranians to save face, even at modest cost to U.S. interests.
(Washington Post)


Deal Not Historic Transformation - Aaron David Miller

On Sept. 13, 1993, I watched Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shake hands at the White House. I believed that act would transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was perhaps the worst analytical judgment I'd make in an extended State Department career. 

My faith in fixing things was rooted in the nature of diplomacy itself - the talking cure, a profession often driven by a legitimate desire to avoid war and conflict if possible, as well as by the belief in the capacity of nations to solve their mutual problems by meeting somewhere in the more enlightened middle. And in its uniquely American manifestation, diplomacy is also driven by the conviction that if only Washington would lead, most challenges in the world could be overcome.
  

Enter the recently rolled out "historic understanding with Iran." What I've learned - the hard way - is that really good deals are few and far between, that real transformations are rarer still, and that most diplomacy rarely offers up comprehensive solutions
The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 
(Foreign Policy)


The Iran Deal and Its Consequences - Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz

For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests - and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. 

The one-year window concept for a presumed Iranian breakout, emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, replaced the previous baseline - that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. The new approach complicates verification because of the vagueness of the criteria.

Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will insist on at least an equivalent capability. A "proliferated" Middle East could become host to a plethora of nuclear-threshold states, several in mortal rivalry with each other.

Among the original nuclear powers, geographic distances and the relatively large size of programs combined with moral revulsion to make surprise attack all but inconceivable. How will these doctrines translate into a region where sponsorship of nonstate proxies is common and death on behalf of jihad is a kind of fulfillment?

Having both served in government during a period of American-Iranian strategic alignment, we would greatly welcome such an outcome. But there exists no current evidence that Iran and the U.S. are remotely near such an understanding. Iran's representatives (including its Supreme Leader) continue to profess a revolutionary anti-Western concept of international order; domestically, some senior Iranians describe nuclear negotiations as a form of jihad by other means.

The final stages of the nuclear talks have coincided with Iran's intensified efforts to expand and entrench its power in neighboring states. Tehran occupies positions along all of the Middle East's strategic waterways and encircles archrival Saudi Arabia, an American ally. Unless political restraint is linked to nuclear restraint, an agreement freeing Iran from sanctions risks empowering Iran's hegemonic efforts.
The writers are former U.S. secretaries of state.

(Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Great Negotiator



Click on graphic for larger view

How Not to Negotiate in the Middle East - Michael B. Oren    

In reaching the parameters agreement, international negotiators were worn down by the protracted talks. They were persuaded by Iran's displays of warmth and earnestness, and accepted its claim that the nuclear program was a matter of national pride similar to America's moon landing. 

Most damagingly, the P5+1 recognized the Islamic Republic's right to enrich and to maintain its nuclear facilities.
Instead of telling the Iranians that "if you don't take this offer, our next one will be smaller," the P5+1 said, "If you don't like these terms, perhaps we can improve them."

Rather than responding to Iranian intransigence with heightened sanctions and credible military force, negotiators removed these options.
The U.S. and its P5+1 partners must reject any further Iranian demands. They should make clear to Tehran that it risks losing the gains it has made while facing punitive measures such as ramped-up sanctions. They must be prepared to walk way.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. 
(TIME)


Washington Did Not Maximize Its Leverage - David Makovsky

The crux of the Israeli critique of the Iran nuclear deal is that the U.S. did not use its full leverage in the negotiations, and that Washington's objective evolved during the talks from eliminating Iran's program to merely constraining it.
     

From Israel's perspective, time was on Washington's side, first because Iran's main source of revenue, oil, saw its price halved in the past several months, and second because the world was united against any Iranian nuclear enrichment by dint of six related UN Security Council resolutions.
     

More broadly, Israel believes that Iran has never made a strategic decision to disavow nuclear weapons, and that the West has moved more toward Tehran during the talks than vice versa.
     

Israeli officials also believe there is a lot of wishful thinking about Iranian intentions.
The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute.    

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


Khamenei's Nonexistent Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons
    

In President Obama's announcement following the conclusion of the negotiations in Lausanne, he again mentioned the nonexistent fatwa that Iran's Supreme Leader is said to have issued against the development of nuclear weapons.
     

Such a fatwa has never been issued, and to this day no one has been able to produce it. 
(MEMRI)


Iran Deal Fails the Tests of Verification - Bret Stephens 

What the president calls "this verifiable deal" fails the first test of verification - mutual agreement and clarity as to what, exactly, is in it.
     

The deal also fails the second test of verification: It can't be verified.
     

We've seen this movie before. Iran agreed in 2003 to implement the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that permits intrusive inspections, only to renounce it in 2006 after stonewalling weapons inspectors.
     

But even the Protocol is inadequate, since it doesn't permit no-notice, "anytime, anywhere" inspections.       
(Wall Street Journal)


Iran Outmaneuvered the U.S. - Michael Singh

It is hard to deny that the "key parameters" of the Iran nuclear deal hew more closely to Iran's long-held demands than to those of the U.S. The Obama administration's negative view - aired publicly - of military conflict and its other alternatives to a deal appear to have driven its willingness to make concessions.
     

The Iranians lived up to their reputation as savvy negotiators. As the negotiations progressed, Iran worked to improve its options in the event of no deal and to worsen those of the other side, while employing audacious tactics to secure the best possible agreement among the range of feasible outcomes. The U.S. should seek to counter the Iranian approach, lest the nuclear negotiations be remembered not as a signature foreign policy accomplishment but as a case study of a powerful country playing a strong hand poorly. 
The writer, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, worked on Middle East issues at the National Security Council from 2005 to 2008. 
(Wall Street Journal)


Ways to Make Iran Nuclear Deal "More Reasonable" - Isabel Kershner

Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, presented a list of desired modifications for the final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, due to be concluded by June 30, that he said would make it "more reasonable" and close dangerous loopholes.
     

The Israeli list includes: An end to all research and development activity on advanced centrifuges in Iran. A significant reduction in the number of centrifuges that can quickly become operational if Iran breaks the agreement and decides to build a bomb. The closing of the underground Fordo facility as an enrichment site, even if enrichment activities are suspended there. Iranian compliance in revealing its past activities with possible military dimensions. A commitment to ship its stockpile of enriched uranium out of Iran. And the ability for inspectors charged with verifying the agreement to go "anywhere, anytime" in Iran.

Regarding Obama's statement that America would back Israel in the face of any Iranian aggression, Steinitz said, "We do appreciate it." But he added that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons would be an existential threat to Israel. "Nobody can tell us that backing and assistance are enough to neutralize such a threat," he said.
(New York Times)


Iran Has Escaped a Noose - Ehud Barak

The common perception across the Middle East is that America negotiated not out of strength but out of an appetite to obtain a deal. This by itself allowed Iran an advantage in the negotiations, and that advantage has been enhanced by the announcement of an agreement. Making a deal with the U.S. - one that allows Iran's leadership to announce relief from all sanctions without shuttering a single nuclear facility - surely strengthens the Iranians, and that bodes ill from Iran in other arenas.
    

President Obama does our side no favor by arguing that a strike will ignite another Middle East war. A surgical strike on key nuclear facilities in Iran can throw them five years backward, and a repetition would become a major Iranian worry. The possibility should not be rhetorically holstered. It may be the only language Iran understands.
The writer is a former prime minister of Israel.
(TIME)


Iran's Goal: Become a Regional Powerhouse - Michael Morell
  • Last month, Ali Younesi, who was head of intelligence for former Iranian President Khatami and is now a senior adviser to Iranian President Rouhani, spoke at a conference in Tehran and made clear that Iran's ambition is to reestablish the Persian empire. Iran "was born an empire. Iran's leaders, officials and administrators have always thought in the global" dimension.
  • Younesi defined "Greater Iran" as reaching from the borders of China and including the Indian subcontinent, the north and south Caucasus and the Persian Gulf. He said Iraq is the capital of the Iranian Empire - a reference to the ancient city of Babylon which was the center of Persian life for centuries.
  • "We must try to once again spread the banner of Islamic-Iranian unity and peace in the region. Iran must bear this responsibility, as it did in the past." He also said that anything that enters Iran is improved by becoming Iranian, particularly Islam itself, adding that Islam in its Iranian-Shiite form is the pure Islam. These views are shared widely among Iranian elites.
  • Younesi's speech was an outline of Iran's grand strategy. It puts into context Iran's behavior in the region - largely covert operations to undermine its Arab neighbors, Israel and the U.S., the countries that stand in the way of its pursuit of hegemony.
(Washington Post)
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A 56 Second Dose of Reality: VideoBite


 
A poignant video that puts the current Iran deal in perspective

Monday, April 06, 2015

Iranian's Celebrate Victory in Nuke Deal

Iran's Foreign Minister is given a heroes' welcome in Tehran
[Reuters]

Twitter photo, Tehran

Twitter photo, Tehran
 
Iranians Rejoice at news of nuclear deal

Celebrations broke out in Tehran as a landmark framework agreement for a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was announced.

Videos posted on social media showed cars driving through the streets of Tehran with honking horns and passengers clapping.

Twitter posts described people dancing in the streets of north Tehran and passing out sweets. Some posted pictures of a small gathering in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[Jerusalem Post]


Iran Brags about Nuke Concessions - Jordan Fabian

Iranian officials quickly declared victory, arguing the deal would lift all international sanctions on the regime while allowing it to continue to develop nuclear power. "All Security Council resolutions will be terminated, all U.S. nuclear-related secondary sanctions as well as EU sanctions will be terminated" during the term of the agreement, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a press conference.
   

"None of those measures include closing our facilities. The proud people of Iran would never accept that. Our facilities will continue. We will continue enriching, we will continue research and development, our heavy water reactor will be modernized and we will continue the Fordow facility," Zarif said.
(The Hill)


Iran Agrees to Nuclear Restrictions - Carol Morello

The framework agreement is not a final deal. But it creates parameters for three more months of negotiations. Iran would not have to close any of its three nuclear facilities. Iran's heavy-water reactor in Arak would be rebuilt so it could not produce weapons-grade plutonium. Iran's underground uranium-enrichment plant at Fordow would be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center.
(Washington Post)


Does Iran Have Secret Nukes in North Korea? - Gordon G. Chang

In October 2012, Iran began stationing personnel at a military base in North Korea close to the Chinese border. The Iranians reportedly are working on both missiles and nuclear weapons. Inspections inside Iran will not give the international community access to any nuclear weapons efforts in North Korea.
   

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, thought to be Tehran's chief nuclear scientist, was almost certainly in North Korea in February 2013 to witness its third atomic test. Reports put Iranian technicians on hand for the first two detonations as well.
   

The North Koreans have also sold Iran material for bomb cores. The Telegraph reported that in 2002 a barrel of North Korean uranium cracked open and contaminated the tarmac of Tehran airport.
   

Iran could still continue developing its bomb in North Korea, conducting research there or buying North Korean technology and plans. With the removal of sanctions, Iran will have the cash to accelerate the building of its nuclear arsenal.
   

In other words, Iran could be one day away from a bomb - the flight time from Pyongyang to Tehran - not one year as America hopes.
(Daily Beast)


Israel: All Options Open on Iran

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that in the face of the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, "if we have no choice, we have no choice...the military option is on the table."


Asked about possible U.S. objections to Israeli military action, Steinitz pointed to Israel's unilateral attack against the Osirak nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 1981. "This operation was not carried out in agreement with the United States," he said. "The prime minister has said clearly that Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power." 
(AFP)


Obama's Iran Deal Falls Far Short of His Own Goals - Editorial

The "key parameters" for an agreement on Iran's nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran's nuclear facilities - including the Fordow center buried under a mountain - will be closed. Not one of the country's 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran's existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be "reduced" but not shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran's nuclear infrastructure will remain intact.
   

That's a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that "the deal we'll accept" with Iran "is that they end their nuclear program" and "abide by the UN resolutions that have been in place." Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium.
   

The proposed accord will provide Iran a huge economic boost that will allow it to wage more aggressively the wars it is already fighting or sponsoring across the region.
(Washington Post)


Obama's Iran "Framework" - Editorial

The framework is only an "understanding" among Iran and the six powers because many of the specifics are still being negotiated. But Mr. Obama wanted to announce some agreement near his self-imposed March 31 deadline, lest Congress ratchet up sanctions on Iran.
   

The general outline of the accord includes some useful limits on Iran, if it chooses to abide by them. All this would be somewhat reassuring if the U.S. were negotiating a nuclear deal with Holland or Costa Rica - that is, a law-abiding state with no history of cheating on nuclear agreements. But that's not Iran. The framework lacks the crucial "anywhere, anytime" inspections provision, even as Mr. Obama calls it the most intrusive ever.
   

It was dispiriting to hear Mr. Obama resort to his usual false dilemma gambit that Americans have only two choices - his agreement or war. The truth is that the critics of his Iran framework do not want war. But they also don't want a phony peace to lead to a nuclear Middle East that leads to a far more horrific war a decade from now.
(Wall Street Journal)


Why the Iran Deal Is Irrelevant - Daniel Henninger

Iran knows it has nuclear negotiators' immunity: No matter how or when Iran debauches any agreement, the West will request more talks. Iran's nuclear-bomb and ballistic-missile programs will go forward, as North Korea's did, no matter what.

(Wall Street Journal)


U.S. Foreign Policy Detached from Reality - Alex Fishman

The agreement with Iran is nothing more than a sad joke at Israel's expense.


The Iranians will never meet the Security Council's demands not to supply weapons to the rebels in Yemen and to Hizbullah, Syria, Iraq or Hamas. It's unclear what makes Obama believe that after an agreement is signed they will change direction and fulfill their obligations this time - rather than disregard the entire world as they have been doing in recent years.
   

The bottom line is that the Americans have a bad political agreement in their hands which may give the Obama administration industrial peace until the end of its term, but leaves the nuclear cloud in the Middle East for many years to come.
(Ynet News)


The Diplomatic Track to War - Caroline Glick

US President Barack Obama, his advisers and media cheerleaders have long presented his nuclear diplomacy with the Iran as the only way to avoid war. Obama and his supporters have castigated as warmongers those who oppose his policy of nuclear appeasement with the world’s most prolific state sponsor of terrorism.

But the opposite is the case. Had their view carried the day, war could have been averted. Through their nuclear diplomacy, Obama and his comrades started the countdown to war.

Friday is the eve of Passover. Thirteen years ago, Palestinian terrorists brought home the message of the Exodus when they blew up the Seder at Netanya’s Park Hotel, killing 30, wounding 140, and forcing Israel into war. The message of the Passover Haggada is that there are no shortcuts to freedom. To gain and keep it, you have to be willing to fight for it.

That war was caused by Israel’s embrace of the notion that you can bring peace through concessions that empower an enemy sworn to your destruction. The price of that delusion was thousands of lives lost and families destroyed.

Iran is far more powerful than the PLO. But the Americans apparently believe they are immune from the consequences of their leaders’ policies. This is not the case for Israel or for our neighbors. We lack the luxury of ignoring the fact that Obama’s disastrous diplomacy has brought war upon us. Deal or no deal, we are again about to be forced to pay a price to maintain our freedom.

[Jerusalem Post]


Agreement Does Not Warrant Celebration - Emily B. Landau 
     
Iran's past behavior in the nuclear realm, coupled with its continued military nuclear aspirations and bullying behavior in the Middle East, do not warrant any celebration of an historic deal.
The writer is head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. 
(Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)


Agreement Allows Activities With No Civilian Necessity - Armin Rosen

Thomas Moore, a longtime nonproliferation expert for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the agreement allows Iran to engage in nuclear activities - like stockpiling low-enriched uranium and operating a plutonium reactor - that have no civilian necessity.

Moreover, "I don't see that Iran is going to do anything different on cooperation for verification today than it did prior to today," Moore said. 
(Business Insider)


A Deal Without Stability - Editorial

The largest effect of the nuclear agreement will be to juice the ongoing proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia and their allies. If the deal is fully implemented, Iran will receive hundreds of billions in additional revenue, and Tehran is likely to devote much of it to funding its murderous militias in Iraq, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and the Houthi movement in Yemen - not to mention Lebanon's Hizbullah and Hamas in Gaza.
    

What's missing is a coherent U.S. strategy for stabilizing the region that integrates the nuclear accord with measures to check Iran's hegemonic ambitions and rebuild crumbling Arab states.
(Washington Post)


The Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal - Richard N. Haass

The agreement says nothing about Iran's missile programs or support for terrorists and proxies, much less about what it is doing in Syria or Iraq or Yemen, or about human rights at home. Iran is a would-be imperial power that seeks regional primacy. A nuclear agreement might even make this reality worse, as Iran could well emerge with its reputation enhanced and a long-term option to build nuclear weapons intact. 
The writer, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department.
(Project Syndicate)


Iran Nuclear Deal Is a Mistake - Ari Shavit

The post-Nagasaki Pax Americana
has given more humans more peace, more prosperity and more liberty that at any other time in history. Not only as an Israeli but also as a citizen of the free world, I want a strong America to protect freedom, maintain world order and remain the global leader in the 21st century. But what should I do when Washington might make a terrible historic mistake?    

Iran is not an Israel-only issue. If Iran goes nuclear, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and the Gulf states will go nuclear. Worried about ISIS? Anxious about al-Qaeda? Shocked by the carnage in Syria? Imagine what will happen when the most unstable region in the world becomes nuclearized. One outcome will be the proliferation of nuclear capabilities in the hands of non-state players that will use them, sooner or later, to catastrophic results.
    

The deal that Obama announced does not do enough to prevent this. Only in the years 2011-2012 did Washington begin a strategic and effective diplomatic effort against Tehran, but the moment it began to bear fruit, it was abandoned. A decade of strategic shadowboxing between Iran and the West ended in 2013 with a victory for Tehran.
(Politico)

VIDEO UPDATE:


WATCH: Does this look like a man who lost in the negotiations? Iran's FM is treated to a hero's welcome on his return to Tehran as he proclaims "The nuclear program will continue, none of our facilities will be closed down." ----> The proposed deal doesn't stop an Iranian nuclear bomb -- it paves the way for one. Take action. Join over 20000 people who signed NoBombForIran.com
Posted by The Israel Project on Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Happy Easter From ISIS: Open Season on MidEast Christians

Destroyed Church in Homs, Syria, back in 2012
[Reuters]


Islamic State blows up Syrian church on Easter Sunday

Islamic State insurgents blew up an 80-year-old church in Syria's northeastern province of Hassaka on Easter Sunday, Syrian state news agency SANA said.

SANA, which did not report any casualties, said the militants had planted explosives inside the Church of the Virgin Mary in Tel Nasri, an Assyrian village in an area where Christian and Kurdish militia have been battling Islamic State. Islamic State controls the village, the news agency said.

[Jerusalem Post]


Pope Francis hails Christians as 'the martyrs of today'

Pope Francis called on the world to give tangible help to persecuted Christians, highlighting the plight of people he described as modern "martyrs" after nearly 150 people were killed by Islamist militants in Kenya.

Addressing crowds in bright sunshine at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican after four days of special Easter services, the pontiff listed the evils inflicted on people for their faith and exhorted the international community to act.

"These are our martyrs of today. We can say that there are more of them now than there were in the early centuries. I hope the international community does not look on, mute and inert, at such an unacceptable crime," Francis said.

In Kenya on Thursday, gunmen from the al Qaeda-aligned group al Shabaab targeted Christians for execution after storming the Garissa University College campus. [T]he massacre resonated throughout the Catholic Church's weekend commemoration of Jesus's crucifixion.

Francis has expressed alarm about the targeting of Christians for their faith, and decried incidents including the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya in February. The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics has said the international community would be justified in using military force as a last resort to stop "unjust aggression" perpetrated by Islamic State militants.
[Jerusalem Post]
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