web analytics
December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

In the Short Run, Biden Might Well Keep his Promise that Iran Won’t Get Nukes

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

{Originally posted at author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

It’s not just the promise, of course.  It’s the Bidenesque way he makes it:

Monday, Biden had to remind Israeli leaders that the U.S. is not seeking a negotiation with Iran at Israel’s expense.

“I have heard so much malarkey about our position on Iran,” Biden said. “We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, period. I would not put my 42-year reputation on the line if I were not certain when I say it. We mean it.”

Daniel Greenfield casts a doubt or two on that 42-year reputation, and that’s fair enough.  We would be fools to take seriously such assurances from Joe Biden.

But there are reasons why Iran may well delay that moment of focused provocation when the radical Islamic regime proves itself nuclear armed.  If the Iranians don’t have the means to offer that proof yet, they are very close to it – so close that it is now their choice how fast to move, and in what way.

Where we are

Iran now lacks only the public demonstration of uranium enrichment to a weapons-grade level (above 95%), and a detectable warhead detonation.  To talk of a “breakout” capacity – a bomb-in-waiting – as something we are still looking for is now misleading.  Using such terms suggests that there is something more we need to see from Iran, before we officially set the breakout watch.

But the reality is that there is nothing we have yet to see that we can reliably expect to see.  We’ve reached the point at which it is prudent to assume the breakout watch has already started – and imprudent not to.

Fifteen years ago, Iran did not have a reliable uranium enrichment process; did not have an industrial-scale infrastructure for enrichment; did not have a stockpile of enriched uranium; did not have her own uranium production capacity; did not have a detonator mechanism for a uranium warhead; did not have a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and did not have anything close to an intercontinental missile capability.

As little as six years ago, moreover, the United States had more than enough ready combat power, between our Air Force and Navy, to quickly strike a meaningful blow against an Iranian nuclear infrastructure that was still comparatively rudimentary and geographically concentrated.

Both of those conditions have changed significantly.  Iran now does have all the things she lacked in 1999: enough low-enriched uranium for at least 7-8 warheads; a proven enrichment process, including enrichment to higher purity (19.75%); an industrial-scale infrastructure, with geographic dispersion; an indigenous uranium production capacity (see here and here); a tested detonator mechanism for a nuclear warhead; at least one medium-range ballistic missile series that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and a satellite/rocket program advanced enough to support ICBM testing in as little as 1-3 years.  Iran has acquired almost all of these things since UN sanctions were implemented in 2007, and under the regime of IAEA inspections.

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

American military power, in the meantime, has declined to such an extent that mounting a quick, comprehensive strike on the Iranian infrastructure is no longer feasible.  We couldn’t do it quickly.  Not only could we not do it quickly; we couldn’t do it without first restoring the readiness of military units we no longer keep at their highest readiness level.  It would take months to prepare for a comprehensive strike campaign – and would require the prior allocation of special funding from Congress.

Where Iran once wanted to be

Iran’s vision for the future has been shaped, as everyone’s has, by the consequences of the Arab Spring.  It has also been shaped by the withdrawal of American power under Obama.

Four or five years ago, Iran took as a given the U.S. posture in the larger Middle East.  That posture included a key strategic presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan; close partnerships with almost all the Gulf Cooperation Council nations; special relationships, including military cooperation, with both Egypt and Israel; and unchallenged supremacy on the regional seas.

Iran’s basic objective was to peel America’s partners away through the pressure of proxy insurgencies (and other underhanded tactics), and thus squeeze us out of the region.  The first-order purpose of having the bomb was to immunize Iran against retaliation in that process, as the USSR had immunized itself with a nuclear “deterrent” force when it worked through proxy conflicts in the Cold War.

Iran also set her sights on chokepoints in the regional waterways, from the Strait of Hormuz through the Red Sea and all the way to Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar.  No one was close to having a navy that could challenge the U.S. Navy, but even great navies are vulnerable in chokepoints.

At a kind of eschatological-strategic level, meanwhile, just as the Arab Spring was unfolding in early 2011, Iranian TV was running a mullah-approved “documentary” that outlined a scheme of military preparation for the arrival of the “twelfth imam.”  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad figured as a great military commander from Shia prophecy in this fantastical oeuvre, which depicted a dénouement in the armed conquest of Jerusalem.  (“Rescuing” Jerusalem had already figured for years in Iranian policy rhetoric, as well as in the concept of some major military exercises.)

Where Iran now wants to be

In the years since Obama took office, much has changed.  One thing hasn’t, and that’s Iran’s interest in gaining leverage at critical chokepoints in the regional seaways.  But some of the focused urgency has been bled out of the pressure campaign against America’s regional partners, in part because of the Arab Spring, and in part because Barack Obama has been doing an excellent job of peeling them away from us himself.

The momentum of Iran’s efforts has shifted to a new, more geographically focused vector, one that as recently as 2011 appeared to be unthinkable.  Where once Iran was confined to putting general pressure on various American partners in the region, and perhaps maneuvering to leapfrog nearby territory in which we seemed established – Iraq, Jordan, Israel – Iran can now realistically contemplate making an “internal” line of communication (LOC) through that territory.  She might accomplish that by proxy first, and then, eventually, exploit the LOC directly.

In fact, with much of the territory in question now disputed between ISIS and a weak Iraqi government, Iran has all the more reason for being there, with advisors and military equipment.

The bonus?  The U.S., weakened and compromised as our power is, has signed up to do at least some of the fighting against ISIS.  If Iran plays her cards right, American forces will open her strategic LOC through the heart of the Middle East for her.

Netanyahu Tells US Jews Abbas Changing Status Quo on Temple Mount [video]

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told North American Jews Tuesday that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is changing to status quo on the Temple Mount by trying to bar Jews from visiting the holy site.

Speaking at the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Maryland, the Prime Minister thumped two themes – the Iranian nuclear threat and Palestinian Authority incitement.

After the usual platitudes for support from American and Canadian Jews and gratitude for ”standing up for Israel” – which is far from true – he said that the world’s most important challenge is “the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

“Iran is openly committed to Israel’s destruction,” he said. “And even as Iran negotiates a nuclear deal with the leading powers in the international community, its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, brazenly calls for Israel’s annihilation. These are not my words, these are his words: Israel’s annihilation….

“These aren’t mere words; they’re not just statements thrown out in the air, which is harmful enough. The regime in Iran’s wild rhetoric is also backed by murderous action…. “Iran’s savagery abroad is also matched by its brutality at home. The ayatollah regime executes political opponents, religious and ethnic minorities, gays, feminists and journalists. And executions have increased, not decreased, under the supposedly moderate Rouhani regime.

“This is how Iran acts without nuclear weapons; now imagine how Iran will act if a deal is made that leaves it as a threshold nuclear power.”

The problem for Israel is that Iran is a lot closer to Jerusalem than it is to Washington, and liberal Americans, especially Jews, often feel that what happens in Tehran can’t affect them. They apparently were not around during Pearl Harbor.

Netanyahu tried to bring things closer to home by declaring, “The Islamic State of Iran is not a partner of America. It’s an enemy of America. And it should be treated as an enemy – by keeping tough sanctions on the regime; by making clear that the international community is determined to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from breaking out or sneaking out to get the bomb.”

Israel has the same problem when it comes to explaining to Jews, who often are more concerned with working for their home-grown organizations than working on behalf of Israel, that the “two-state solution” is a fantasy and a camouflage for incitement aimed at promoting an all-out Arab civilian attack on Israel.

“These attacks have been accompanied by a systemic campaign of incitement, including libels about Israel trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and even wild allegations that we are planning to destroy Muslim holy sites,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.

“Status quo” is a magical phrase for Americans who don’t understand that using the term is like saying “negotiations.” Everyone understand it differently

Israel goes by Webster’s and considers negotiations to be talks for a give-and-take compromise. The Palestinian Authority understands the word as synonym for “ultimatum.”

The same is true for the phrase ”status quo on the Temple Mount”

“Last week, I spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan, and I reiterated Israel’s commitment to maintain the religious status quo on the Temple Mount,” explained Netanyahu.

“But I regret to say that the Palestinian Authority, which should also be working to calm tensions, has joined Hamas and other radical Islamists in fanning the flames.

“President Abbas himself called on Palestinians to prevent Jews from entering the Temple Mount. He used the words: ‘by any means possible.’

“See, this – the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, where Jews have visited peacefully for years – President Abbas says we should not set foot there. That’s changing the status quo.”

Netanyahu Warns P5+1 Iran ‘Promotes International Terrorism’

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu I sending an urgent warning letter to foreign ministers of the P5+1 countries, hell-bent to make a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

“In that letter I bring, verbatim, the words of Iran’s ruler Ayatollah Khamenei,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said Monday evening in a statement.

The leader of this country that is depicted by some as moderate, the Islamic State of Iran, has said in the last 48 hours: –one, that he calls for the annihilation of Israel – his words, not mine;

–two, he gives nine ways and reasons of how and why Israel should be annihilated – his words, not mine.

He’s publicly calling for the annihilation of Israel as he is negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries.

There is no moderation in Iran. It is unrepentant, unreformed; it calls for Israel’s eradication’

it promotes international terrorism, and as the IAEA report just said, it continues to deceive the international community about its nuclear weapons program.

This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. And I call on the P5+1 countries – don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.

Iranian, Syrian Nuclear Scientists Assassinated Near Damascus

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Five nuclear scientists – one Iranian and four Syrians — were assassinated this weekend (Sunday, Nov. 9) while riding a bus to work at a scientific research center in the Barzeh neighborhood of northern Damascus.

According to Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “Their bus was ambushed while they were on their way to the research center. Their assailants shot them dead.”

Six people who worked at the same center were killed in July 2013 when the installation was shelled by Syrian rebels.

In May 2013, a different military research center came under attack by Israel, when it was clear that lethal weaponry was to be transferred to Hezbollah terrorists, who would then use it against the Jewish State.

Iran’s Best Shot Rapidly Approaching

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Iran is rapidly approaching its last and best chance with the United States to reach a diplomatic agreement over the parameters for its nuclear development program.

The November 24 deadline for the conclusion of negotiations between Tehran and world powers draws closer, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and European Union senior adviser Cathern Ashton locked into intense discussions in Muscat, Oman, that began yesterday (Sunday, Nov. 9) and are continuing into today (Monday, Nov. 10).

The yawning chasm that separates the sides must still be closed before a deal can be reached to prevent Tehran from producing a nuclear weapon, according to U.S. President Barack Obama, who appeared Sunday on “Face the Nation” on the CBS television network.

“There’s still a big gap. We may not be able to get there,” Obama said.

One of the major concerns in the Middle East – and the rest of the planet – is the possibility that once developed, Iran can and probably would sell its nuclear arms and/or technology to the myriad terrorist groups it generously supports. Most of those have set their sites on the destruction of Israel.

But the month of January will also bring with it a whole new world in the House of Representatives and the Senate – and with that, a drop in Iran’s options for compromise as well as possibly any wiggle room for further discussion, period.

U.S. President Barack Obama at that point will also be far more limited in his ability to protect the Iranian regime’s freedom to expand its uranium enrichment, which has allow it to continue its race towards an atomic weapon.

During Obama’s years in office, Iran has managed to enrich uranium far above the minimum level required for development of military-grade nuclear fuel. He approved a number of loopholes and exemptions for countries such as China and Turkey in economic sanctions imposed on international energy trade with Iran. The sanctions were designed to force Iran into compliance with United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requests to inspect sites and recommendations for ensuring Tehran’s nuclear program would remain within the guidelines for peaceful civilian use.

Iran, for its part, has consistently refused to limit its nuclear production or development in any way, ever. The Islamic Republic has also vowed throughout each administration since 1979 — the Islamic Revolution — to annihilate Israel, including very recently, despite the current president’s image as a so-called “moderate.”

Romney Tells Israeli-Americans Obama is ‘Dictatorial and Divisive’

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Mitt Romney used the inaugural convention of the Israel American Council (IAC) on Friday to lash out at President Barack Obama for his letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader less than a month before the deadline for a nuclear deal at the end of month.

The letter reportedly beseeched Iran to cooperate with the United States in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS), but the White House denied that there was any suggestion of military cooperation with Iran.

Romney, who has not said one way or the other if he will take another crack at being the Republican party’s candidate to defeat the Democrats in 2016, said he was “stunned” and “speechless” over the fact that President Obama would even suggest at cooperating with a “rogue” state.

He castigated Obama for being “divisive and dictatorial to our friends,” obvious referring to Israel.

Romney charged that the president “continues to diminish himself and America and leads bad people to think America can be pushed around.”

The 2012 GOP presidential candidate roundly tore Obama apart and delighted his audience with repeating a joke he told while campaigning for victorious Republican Senatorial candidate Joni Ernst in Iowa.

“Obama went to the bank to cash a check. He didn’t have his ID. And the teller said, ‘You’ve got to prove who you are.’ And he said, ‘How should I do that?’

“She said, ‘Well, the other day Phil Mickelson came in, he didn’t have his ID. So he set up a little cup on the ground, took a golf ball, putted it right into that cup, so we knew it was Phil Mickelson. We cashed the check.

“And then Andre Agassi came in, and Andre Agassi didn’t have his ID either. He put up a little target on the wall, took a tennis ball and a racket, hit it onto that target time and again. We knew it was Andre Agassi, so we cashed his check.”

“So she said, ‘Is there anything you can do to prove who you are?’ And Obama said, ‘I don’t have a clue.’”

Moving on to Obama’s foreign policy, the former Massachusetts governor demeaned it as one that is “weakening our military and distancing us from our allies.”

Romney disagreed with Obama’s approach that “we have common interests” with adversaries, and explained, “This is a battle going on, and you don’t start shedding the members of your team” while fighting.

 

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-gulf-states-share-concerns-on-iran-nuclear-intentions/2014/11/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: