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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Ross’

Five Former Advisers to Obama Publish Warning on Iran Deal

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The proposed deal with Iran to supposedly prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon “falls short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement,'” five of President Barack Obama’s former senior advisers said in a public letter.

They published their warning just before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are to meet in Vienna for negotiations to come up with a final agreement by next week, President Obama’s self-imposed deadline.

The ex-advisers are big time sluggers:

Dennis Ross, a semi reformed Oslo Accords architect;

David Petraeus, the former CIA director who once claimed that solving the Palestinian Authority Israel conflict was the key to all Middle East problems;

Robert Einhorn, a former member of the U.S negotiating team with Iran;

James Cartwright, a former vice-chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

Gary Samore, a former Obama adviser on nuclear policy.

The letter, published in full below, states:

The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

It will however reduce that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years. And it will impose a transparency, inspection, and consequences regime with the goal of deterring and dissuading Iran from actually building a nuclear weapon.

The former advisers to President Obama urge him to reinstate a previous condition that Iran come clean on its previous research on nuclear weapons and allow international inspectors at military sites, which the regime in Tehran has repeated over and over the past two months it will not permit.

The letter, which is backed by a larger group that includes former Sen. Joe Lieberman, also calls on President Obama to take steps that would weaken Iran’s influence in the Middle East considering the huge economic boost Tehran would receive with the lifting of sanctions.

“Without these features, many of us will find it difficult to support a nuclear agreement with Iran,” the letter states.

A White House sources insisted that a “large part” of the letter is on the same page as the American “negotiating position inside the negotiating room.”

Maybe so and maybe not,, but what about the ‘small’ part?

Here is the entire letter, as posted on the website of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: 

The Iran nuclear deal is not done. Negotiations continue. The target deadline is June 30.  We know much about the emerging agreement. Most of us would have preferred a stronger agreement.

The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear enrichment infrastructure. It will however reduce that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years. And it will impose a transparency, inspection, and consequences regime with the goal of deterring and dissuading Iran from actually building a nuclear weapon.

The agreement does not purport to be a comprehensive strategy towards Iran. It does not address Iran’s support for terrorist organizations (like Hezbollah and Hamas), its interventions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen (its “regional hegemony”), its ballistic missile arsenal, or its oppression of its own people. The U.S. administration has prioritized negotiations to deal with the nuclear threat, and hopes that an agreement will positively influence Iranian policy in these other areas.

Even granting this policy approach, we fear that the current negotiations, unless concluded along the lines outlined in this paper and buttressed by a resolute regional strategy, may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a “good” agreement.

We are united in our view that to maximize its potential for deterring and dissuading Iran from building a nuclear weapon, the emerging nuclear agreement must – in addition to its existing provisions – provide the following:

Monitoring and Verification: The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (the “IAEA”) charged with monitoring compliance with the agreement must have timely and effective access to any sites in Iran they need to visit in order to verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. This must include military (including IRGC) and other sensitive facilities. Iran must not be able to deny or delay timely access to any site anywhere in the country that the inspectors need to visit in order to carry out their responsibilities.

Possible Military Dimensions: The IAEA inspectors must be able, in a timely and effective manner, to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to inspect sites, and to review and copy documents as required for their investigation of Iran’s past and any ongoing nuclear weaponization activities (“Possible Military Dimensions” or “PMD”). This work needs to be accomplished before any significant sanctions relief.

Advanced Centrifuges: The agreement must establish strict limits on advanced centrifuge R&D, testing, and deployment in the first ten years, and preclude the rapid technical upgrade and expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after the initial ten-year period. The goal is to push back Iran’s deployment of advanced centrifuges as long as possible, and ensure that any such deployment occurs at a measured, incremental pace consonant with a peaceful nuclear program.

Sanctions Relief: Relief must be based on Iran’s performance of its obligations. Suspension or lifting of the most significant sanctions must not occur until the IAEA confirms that Iran has taken the key steps required to come into compliance with the agreement. Non-nuclear sanctions (such as for terrorism) must remain in effect and be vigorously enforced.

Consequences of Violations: The agreement must include a timely and effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically if Iran is found to be in violation of the agreement, including by denying or delaying IAEA access. In addition, the United States must itself articulate the serious consequences Iran will face in that event.

Most importantly, it is vital for the United States to affirm that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from producing sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon – or otherwise acquiring or building one – both during the agreement and after it expires. Precisely because Iran will be left as a nuclear threshold state (and has clearly preserved the option of becoming a nuclear weapon state), the United States must go on record now that it is committed to using all means necessary, including military force, to prevent this.

The President should declare this to be U.S. policy and Congress should formally endorse it. In addition, Congressional review of any agreement should precede any formal action on the agreement in the United Nations.

Without these features, many of us will find it difficult to support a nuclear agreement with Iran.

We urge the U.S. administration not to treat June 30 as an “inviolable” deadline. Stay at the negotiating table until a “good” agreement that includes these features is reached. Extend the existing Joint Plan of Action while negotiations continue.

This will freeze Iran’s nuclear activity and international sanctions at current levels. While the United States should extend the Iran Sanctions Act so it does not expire, it should not increase sanctions while negotiations continue. U.S. alternatives to an agreement are unappealing, but Iran’s are worse. It has every incentive to reach an agreement and obtain relief from sanctions and international isolation well in advance of its elections next February. If anyone is to walk out of the negotiations, let it be Iran.

Some argue that any nuclear agreement now simply further empowers bad Iranian behavior. And there is a lot to this argument. This is why we believe that the United States must bolster any agreement by doing more in the region to check Iran and support our traditional friends and allies.

This does not mean major U.S. ground combat operations in the Middle East. But it does mean taking initiatives like the following:

In Iraq: Expand training and arming not only of Iraqi Security Forces but also Kurdish Peshmerga in the north and vetted Sunni forces in the West. Allow U.S. Special Forces to leave their bases and help coordinate air strikes and stiffen Iraqi units. Sideline Iranian-backed militia and separate them from Shiite units (“popular mobilization units”) that are not under Iranian control.

In Syria: Expand and accelerate the U.S. train and equip programs. Work with Turkey to create a safe haven in northern Syria where refugees can obtain humanitarian aid and vetted non-extremist opposition fighters can be trained and equipped. Capitalize on Bashar al-Assad’s increasing weakness to split off regime elements and seek to join them with U.S. trained opposition elements. Interdict the transshipment of Iranian weapons into Syria in coordination with the Kurds and Turkey, and consider designating as terrorist organizations Iranian-backed Shiite militias responsible for egregious atrocities.

In Yemen: Expand support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE in pressuring the warring parties to the negotiating table while seeking to split the Houthi elements away from Iran.

Regionally: Interdict Iranian arms bound for extremist groups and continue to counter its efforts to harass commercial shipping and our naval forces. Reaffirm U.S. policy to oppose Iran’s efforts to subvert local governments and project its power at the expense of our friends and allies.

Collectively, these steps also strengthen U.S. capability against Daesh (the misnamed “Islamic State”). Acting against both Iranian hegemony and Daesh’s caliphate will help reassure friends and allies of America’s continued commitment. And it will help address Israel’s legitimate concerns that a nuclear agreement will validate Iran’s nuclear program, further facilitate its destabilizing behavior, and encourage further proliferation at a time when Israel faces the possible erosion of its “qualitative military edge.”

We urge the U.S. administration to create a discreet, high-level mechanism with the Israeli government to identify and implement responses to each of these concerns.

Taking the actions we propose while the nuclear negotiations continue will reinforce the message that Iran must comply with any agreement and will not be allowed to pursue a nuclear weapon. This will increase, not decrease, the chance that Iran will comply with the agreement and may ultimately adopt a more constructive role in the region. For the U.S. administration’s hopes in this respect have little chance so long as Iran’s current policy seems to be succeeding in expanding its influence.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

“Regretfully Our President is the Neville Chamberlain of Our Day”

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

With more than a week to go before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, two Republican representatives visited Israel last week to demonstrate their support of the Jewish state. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) spent time in Israel visiting with the IDF, meeting local Arab and Israeli politicians as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu in a trip sponsored by Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) and Yes! Israel Missions.

“We are here to pay tribute to this great country,” said Pittenger, who noted it was his third time meeting the Israeli prime minister in 18 months in an interview with Tazpit News Agency. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a remarkable man; one of the great leaders of our day,” he told Tazpit News Agency.

The Israeli prime minister is set to speak before Congress on March 3 to address the dangers of easing economic sanctions against Iran by the international community under the terms of an emerging deal between the West and the Islamic Republic.

“Regretfully our president is the Neville Chamberlain of our day – he doesn’t know how to handle evil,” commented Pittenger, who said that Netanyahu and Obama represented two different world views. “Netanyahu is Winston Churchill – and the American public deserves to hear his point of view as the prime minister of the country that sits in the heart of it all,” the North Carolina congressman said.

“Our greatest ally – Israel, seems to have been cast out to sea with the Iran issue,” said Rep. Dennis Ross to Tazpit. “It’s unfortunate that President Obama is casting a blind eye to the Israeli-American relationship. There are real life consequences to allowing Iran nuclear arms and the nuclear threat will be one that will impact our everyday lives.”

Ross told Tazpit that his visit to Israel only strengthened his convictions regarding his support of the country and seeing life first-hand. “I visited a tank battalion on the Golan Heights and it was admirable to see young Israeli boys protecting the country – some of them only 19-years-old,” said the Florida congressman, who also serves as the senior deputy majority whip in the House of Representatives.

The U.S. Representatives visited sensitive military sites and biblical heritage sites and also toured Judea and Samaria, Hebron, and Jerusalem, while learning about counter-terrorism, territorial issues, security complexities and the historical background of the region. The Yesha Council, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Temple Institute, Ariel University, Keep Jerusalem, Republicans Abroad Israel and others took part in the program itinerary.

The Congressmen also took time out of their week-long visit to hold a town hall meeting with the public at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel on Thursday, February 19th.

Speaking to American-Israelis at the town hall and answering their questions, the Congressmen emphasized that the world could not allow Iran to access nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

“By March 24, I hope we will have a resolution that says nuclear capabilities will not succeed in Iran,” said Ross, referring to the bi-partisan Kirk-Menendez bill, known as the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, which will impose new sanctions on Iran if international negotiators fail to reach a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program by June 30. The U.S., China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany are aiming to reach a political understanding with Iran by the end of March.

Obama has said that he would veto the bill and in a press conference last month promised that “Nobody around the world least of all the Iranians doubt my ability to get additional sanctions if these negotiations fail.”

Meanwhile, Arab governments are privately expressing their concern to Washington about a potential deal according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. “At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” said an Arab official quoted in the report. The U.S. has now said that it is no longer realistic to eliminate Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in a final deal, despite the Obama administration’s initial stance that it would completely dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. Sunni states, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have said that such an agreement would only strengthen their rival Shiite-run Iran.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Indyk, Ross Suggest US-Israel ‘Nuclear Guarantee’ Over Iran

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Former US envoy the Middle East Martin Indyk and US diplomat Dennis Ross proposed a “nuclear guarantee for Israel” on Tuesday at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.

Apparently it has not occurred to either former diplomat that one cannot “guarantee” the behavior of a rogue Islamic Republic.

Indyk suggested a joint Israel-U.S. Nuclear defense agreement that he called a “treaty arrangement” to address Israel’s concern that Iran is about to cross a nuclear threshold.

 The plan he suggested was similar to that proposed in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton at Camp David.

Intended as a way to ensure Israel’s safety if Iran puts the Jewish State in the cross hairs, Indyk said, “It was approved then, and the U.S. president said if there is a deal, we’ll do this.”

Ross, who serves as counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, added that spot inspections of Iranian facilities must be implemented along with stricter protocols.

“You have to ensure that you can verify that a program that has a thousand or two centrifuges is dramatically less than what is required if you have tens of thousands and you’d have to come up with an approach that allows you a high level of confidence that you can cover that,” he said. “There should be use of force worked out with the Hill that says, ‘if we catch them in the following kind of violation, the implication is we will take out those facilities.’

 “That would deter the Iranians, that would go a long way toward addressing one of the basic Israeli concerns,” Ross said.

 Retired Israeli Brig.-Gen. Yosef Kuperwasser injected a breath of reality into the discussion, however: he said flatly that Israel is clear that Iran cannot be trusted on compliance. Period.

“They would not believe [the U.S.] really mean business and it would mean that they would continue to move forward – cautiously, but continuously,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro did what he could to pour oil on the troubled waters between his country’s administration and Israel over the Iranian nuclear threat. “The United States is determined to prevent [a nuclear Iran] and we will prevent it,” Shapiro vowed. “Our cooperation and consultations with Israel on this shared goal will continue, even at moments when we may disagree with one or another aspect of the approach.”

Hana Levi Julian

Report: Abbas’ Lack of Support Ditched Back-Channel Peace Process Talks

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ lack of support for back-channel takes between the Israeli and PA negotiators ditched the progress they were making towards an agreement, according to the New Republic.

The existence of secret talks after the collapse of published discussions has been reported several times. Abbas declared last year that there were no such talks.

The secret talks began in 2010 between Yitzchak Molcho, an attorney and confidante of Netanyahu, and a confidante of Abbas whom the magazine said it did not name for fear for his safety. The talks also were shepherded by Dennis Ross, then-special foreign policy adviser to President Obama.

The secret plan reportedly agreed on borders for a new Palestinian state and recognized Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people while clarifying that it would not harm the rights of Arab citizens of Israel. The secret negotiators also discussed the so-called Palestinian refugee issue and reached creative wording acceptable to both sides, but they could not reach an understanding on Jerusalem.

“Perhaps what the Israelis considered a serious back channel, the Palestinians — including their man in the room — saw as merely an unofficial exchange of ideas,” the New Republic article said. “Only two people can really solve the mystery, Yitzhak Molcho and his negotiating counterpart. Both of them refused to comment.”

Why didn’t Abbas back the talks?

No one knows, but it is not difficult to come up with one answer – Abbas prefers to stay alive.

The Arab world might be able to forgive him on conceding that there is not enthusiastic support from the international community to allow several million Arabs to immigrate to Israel from foreign countries, based on the United Nations’’ uniquely warped definition of Arab refugees who, unlike others, retain that status from generation to generation.

But that does mean that Arab leaders would be willing to admit failure and agree to call Israel a “Jewish State, thereby dooming any possibility in the future for flooding Israel with millions of Muslims.

If the negotiators were to each an agreement on final borders and refugees, than international pressure might shift on Abbas to compromise, both on the Jewish State designation and on the Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem from the very beginning of the “Peace Process” was destined to be the final nail in the diplomatic coffin.

Any compromise by Abbas would suicide.

JTA contributed to this report.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Israel, Gulf States Share Concerns on Iran Nuclear Intentions

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Israel and the Gulf States may not agree about issues regarding the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and how to deal with Arab terrorism — but everyone in the region worries about how to stop Iran from creating a nuclear weapon.

Iran has declined to respond to questions from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear program’s “possible military dimensions.” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano warned on Friday, “We cannot provide assurance that all [nuclear] material [in Iran] is for peaceful purposes… What’s needed now is action,” he added.

Israeli Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz responded with deep concern to the IAEA statement.

“Iran’s refusal to disclose its nuclear past casts a heavy shadow over the future,” Steinitz said bluntly. “Amano’s grave words indicate, in fact, Iran’s first violation of the interim nuclear agreement [of last November.] Signing a final agreement under these conditions would be a reckless act that world powers must avoid.

The prospect of achieving any concrete progress towards that goal by the November 24 deadline for a diplomatic deal is dim at best in any case.

“Failure to conclude a solid agreement that prevents nuclear proliferation could have serious consequences, not only in our region, but far beyond,” commented Answar Gargash, United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs over the weekend. “We must consider it crucial that any future agreement with Iran on the nuclear file be air-tight.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said the same for years, noted Defense News, quoting his oft-repeated warning, “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

Emily Landau, senior research fellow and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv is equally direct.

On October 29, Landau told Defense News, “Now is the time to apply massive pressure. I hope at some point the international community will wake up to the fact that Iran has absolutely no interest in getting a good deal.”

U.S. officials don’t seem to be getting the message, however.

Even when a former American diplomat who has dealt with Iran in the past is the one delivering the news.

Dennis Ross led State Department talks with Iran under former President George H.W. Bush. He has urged the West to resist giving in to Iranian pressure for concessions in order to ensure that some deal is closed.

“It’s no accident that hardly anyone involved inthe Iranian nuclear negotiations has expressed optimism about meeting the November 24 deadline,” Ross wrote in an analysis for the Oct. 16 edition of Foreign Affairs. He listed numerous concessions already won by Iran in talks with the West, simply by holding out and continuing with negotiations, despite numerous ongoing violations.

Whether the Obama administration will hold firm and put the brakes on the current bleed taking place on the sanctions formerly imposed on Iran is anyone’s guess. But unless international powers reassert their authority and put the economic bite back into the sanctions that were already approved by the United Nations and their individual governments, it will soon be too late to do very much at all.

Hana Levi Julian

The Big Gorilla at the Presidential Conference

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The Big Gorilla that is not hiding in any room here at the Presidential Conference is Iran. Most of the main speakers have come to tell Israel what it should, or should not, do about Iran. Dennis Ross seems to believe that it is acceptable to give Iran nuclear capabilities so long as we can ensure that it will only use the nuclear power for civilian uses. Sure, that’s going to work for how long, I want to ask him?

And when they do convert it to military power…how long will it take the world to do something. No, I don’t mean how long will it take for them to protest it, I mean how long will it take to get the world to do something! Do something.

Dennis Ross says that there is simply no way that a military strike against Iran will be successful…and again, I want to ask him how he knows…and even if he does know…do we have another option?

It is, quite simply, ridiculous. The Jordanian and Egyptian journalists offer suggestions – Israel should do the right thing, though how they define the right thing would certainly not be as we would. The Turkish diplomat (yes, I’ll go at some point and post their names) wants Israel to know that it isn’t too late and we certainly can repair the relationship with Turkey. All we have to do is apologize.

After all, he says, Turkish civilians were hurt and killed. Civilians? Hardly…Apologize? Um….no.

The most realistic and helpful comments on Iran came today from Gabi Ashkenazi. He says that the military option is and should be the last option and yet it must remain on the table because if other options are to succeed, the only way it can succeed is if the threat of military action remains.

In fact, Ashkenazi explains, the more the threat of military intervention is on the table, is considered real, the more likely all non-military responses can work. It’s such a logical and simple reality – one that so many of those who have come here for a few days to preach to us want to ignore.

The big gorilla at this conference is Iran – I doubt that those who came here to give advice are managing to notice that we here in Israel do actually understand what is happening with Iran, understand very well, as Dennis Ross felt he had to tell us, that we have to be concerned not only with the strike itself, but the day after the strike.

My advice to the many guests here at the conference – trust us. Really, trust us. We are very aware. We live here, here in the reality that is the Middle East.

Paula R. Stern

Former Mossad Chief: Arab Spring ‘Incredible Opportunity

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, speaking at the 2012 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, expressed cautious optimism about the potential outcomes of the Arab Spring, saying that “we are in a very unique position that has never been seen before.”

Dagan was part of a panel discussing the Arab Spring, steps that regional actors could take to help ensure a peaceful transition to democracy, and the impact of these revolutions on Israel. The panel also featured, among others, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and former senior Presidential adviser Dennis Ross.

Dagan, who has maintained a high profile since his tenure as Mossad chief ended, said that “the radicals in the Arab League are no longer there and a range of mutual interests that require regional cooperation provide an incredible opportunity for fostering peaceful relations.” Still, he acknowledged that the Arab Spring is far from over: “I am worried about Islamist parties with a radical agenda that will take power. It will present a big problem for us.”

Referring to the recent Presidential election in Egypt and claims that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Morsi is slated for victory, he said that “in Egypt it was never important which way the votes go but who counts them.”

Former IDF chief Ashkenazi also weighed in on the monumental changes taking place in the Arab world, saying that “the storm sweeping the Arab world is of tectonic proportions. It happens once every 100 years and cannot be overestimated. This is not just a coup. I don’t know anyone in the defense establishment that predicted what happened there.” He said it was critical that Israel preserve open lines of communication with the Egyptian army: “It is practically the only channel…with Turkey as well.”

Discussing the importance of Israel maintaining its relative military superiority, Ashkenazi offered his solution to the controversial issue of national/military service for all Israeli citizens: “It has long been my belief that not everyone must be drafted. We should go by a principle of service for all, not enlistment for all.

“The IDF should get first pick,” he continued. “Whoever is not selected by the IDF will go to the Fire Services, Magen David Adom or other services…As for the haredim, it’s very important they join the army and then enter the work force. The Torah greats will decide who goes to yeshivot and the rest will join the army.”

Dennis Ross, talking about the role that the U.S. should play in the Arab Spring, said “we in the West are not the authors of this story, so we won’t be the ones to write it. But if we are asked for help, we should offer it, with ground rules – respect religion, minorities and free speech – if they don’t follow these rules they shouldn’t be entitled to help.”

The Presidential Conference will wrap up tomorrow, after hearing from the likes of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Rabbi Michael Melchior, and journalist Caroline Glick.

Jewish Press Staff

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