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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

British FM Says Iran Sanctions Could Be Lifted Next Spring

Monday, August 24th, 2015

On Monday morning, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani posted a photograph of his meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on his official Twitter account.

“First #British Foreign Secretary to visit Iran since 2003.” Rouhani tweeted.

Unimpressed, one apparent UK writer replied, “Yes well I still think it was incredibly rude of you to leave that graffiti in the embassy for them to see when they returned.”

Hammond allegedly said during his meeting with the Iranian president that the UK is “ready to improve its relations with Iran to the ambassador level,” British sources said.

Hammond told Reuters on Monday, “We could be talking as early as next spring to start to see sanctions lifting off.” He added that an endorsement of the nuclear deal by the U.S. Congress could come as early as mid-October.

Nevertheless, he told the BBC in an interview that there are still points of disagreement on important issues.

“We should tread carefully,” Hammond said. “There’s a deep legacy of distrust on both sides and we have major areas where we have very substantial policy differences.”

Hammond said both countries see “eye to eye” on the need to go after Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists. But when it comes to dealing with its own human rights issues, Iran has not come close to the British point of view.

In addition, he said, there is still a gap in the viewpoints of the two countries on how to address the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Britain maintains that Assad cannot be part of a future Syrian government.

Iran, however, is a firm ally of the besieged president, who is responsible for the torture and slaughter of hundreds of thousands of his own people, including women and children.

Iranian “consultants” – political, economic and military – still remain in Damascus, as well as thousands of elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps troops.

Iran has also generously funded the presence of supplementary Hezbollah terrorist guerrilla troops to support the Syrian government forces, and continues to send Assad a steady supply of funds and arms.

Report: Israel Buying Most of Its Oil from Iraqi Kurdistan

Monday, August 24th, 2015

For a number of months, Israel has quietly been importing more than three quarters of its crude oil from the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraq still controlled by the Kurds, despite some unhappiness from Baghdad.

The remainder is purchased from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia, its long-time suppliers.

News of the deals was made public early Monday in a report on the international Financial Times website.

Refineries and oil firms in Israel imported more than 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil between May 1 and August 11, according to satellite tanker tracking data, trade sources and shipping data. Among the trading companies involved in these quiet transactions have been Vitol, Petraco and Trafigura, FT reported.

Total sales for the period at this volume, using international prices, are worth (Israel may have paid) close to $1 billion.

Other customers for Kurdish oil during this period have included Italy, Greece and Turkey. In addition, some 17 percent of exports were shipped to Cyprus, where the oil is then transferred from one ship to another for export “elsewhere.”

But the export of northern Iraqi oil begins with shipping through Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. From May 1 to August 11, more than a third of that was sent to Israel, although some may have subsequently been exported elsewhere.

However, Israel’s domestic consumption levels out at approximately 240,000 bpd (barrels per day).

There have been three benefits to the move, if not more.

First and most obvious, Israel has been able to obtain the crude at a reasonable price due to its geographic proximity. Some industry sources say Israel is receiving a discount from the Kurds, although Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials denied the report.

Second, because Israel invests so much of its consumer dollars in Iraqi Kurdish product, the Kurds have better resources with which to fund their war against Da’esh (ISIS). This is especially important, since it seems that only the Kurds have been able to present a consistent, long-haul effective fighting force against the Da’esh terror machine.

Third, every dollar invested with Iraqi Kurdistan is a dollar that frays the ties between Erbil and Baghdad – or perhaps, the ties between Erbil and Iran. For decades, Baghdad has feared the Kurdish yearning to carve out a free and sovereign state of Kurdistan.

But today one can quite legitimately ask who exactly is in control in Baghdad. Most regional analysts believe the Iraqi government no longer exists, other than to provide a fig leaf for Tehran.

Israel is one of the biggest customers of northern Iraqi / Kurdistani oil at this time. Baghdad still does not recognize the State of Israel. Cash-strapped Kurds, however, are much less concerned about who is buying the oil; their concern is getting money to pay for survival.

“We do not care where the oil goes once we have delivered it to the traders,” a senior Kurdish official was quoted as saying to FT. “Our priority is getting the cash to fund our Peshmerga forces against Da’esh (ISIS) and to pay civil servant salaries.”

UK, Iran Reopen Embassies, But No US ‘Comeback’ Yet

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran on Sunday, as Iran did the same in London.

Persian language graffiti scrawled in 2011 is still marked in red on the lime green walls of the British embassy in Tehran. Above the portrait of the queen is written: ‘Death to the English.’

In Tehran, British foreign secretary Philip Hammond was in attendance to mark the occasion. In London, former foreign secretary Jack Straw did the honors at the reopening of the Iranian embassy in South Kensington.

The moves come four years after the UK embassy was trashed by a mob in November 2011. Among the rioters were members of the brutal Basij Iranian militia force.

Hammond told reporters in Iran there is a “huge appetite” from UK businesses who wish to invest and create conditions for British banks to finance trade deals with Tehran. Also in attendance in Tehran, in fact, was a trade delegation, and the exchequer secretary to the treasury, Damian Hinds. The officials are hoping to discuss possible future trade opportunities during their visit.

The low-key ceremony heralds a renewal of economic and other ties between Iran and Europe. It came in response to the agreement last month between Iran and U.S.-led world powers on a nuclear deal that eventually will lift sanctions from the Islamic Republic.

Foreign ministers from Italy, France and Germany have all been to Iran already. Most of Europe, in fact, has diplomatic relations in Tehran.

Despite America having led the efforts to arrange the agreement, Tehran has given the United States a cold shoulder.

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif told reporters on Sunday the “illogical attitude” of the United States towards Iran means the time is not yet ripe for a similar move with Washington DC.

“It seems that there needs to be a change in that kind of attitude and behavior on the part of the U.S.,” Zarif said. “So the situation is different with the U.S.”

In the early days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian students destroyed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and seized hostages, whom they held for 444 days. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since that time.

President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any measure from the Congress that moves to disapprove the nuclear deal. If Obama’s veto is not overturned by the Congress, he will have succeeded in launching the process of lifting a wealth of sanctions that have choked the Iranian economy and helped to hold back its nuclear weapons development.

Israel Fears Hezbollah Will Grab Iranian 300-Mile Ballistic Rocket

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

Israeli security sources expressed concern that the new missile revealed by Iran this weekend will come into Hezbollah’s possession, Israel Radio reported.

The sources said the new missile, named Fateh 313, can reach every point in Israel if it gets into the hands of the Lebanese terror organization.

President Hassan Rouhani announced the new Iranian precision-guided missile on Saturday morning, during a ceremony marking the National Daily of Defense Industry. Rouhani uncovered the latest achievement of Iranian experts in devising a precision-guided ballistic missile.

According to IRNA, this makes Iran one of only a handful of countries that possess missiles with a range of 300 miles using compound solid fuel.

The missile is designed and manufactured by Iranian scientists using solely domestic resources. Having passed performance tests successfully, the new missile will be mass produced by Iran’s Defense ministry.

The Israeli security sources added that Iran does not pay attention to any section of the agreement it has signed recently with the world powers. “The agreement is not worth the paper it is signed on,” said one of the sources.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which approved the nuclear deal between Iran and the great powers last month, called on Iran not to pursue the development of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Iran claims that none of its missiles were designed for this purpose. The same UN decision also contains a weapons embargo against Iran for the coming eight years, but Iran said it would not comply with this part of the resolution.

During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah fired between 3,970 and 4,228 rockets at Israel, at a rate of more than 100 a day, unprecedented since the Iran-Iraq war.

About 95% of these were 122 mm Katyusha artillery rockets, carrying warheads of up to 66 lbs and had a range of up to 19 miles. An estimated 23% of these rockets hit residential areas across northern Israel.

Key Democratic Senators Cardin and Mikulski Still on the Fence on Iran

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

Two Democratic U.S. senators from Maryland – Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski – remain undecided about the agreement. Cardin is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Congress is in the midst of a 60-day period to review the Obama administration-brokered Iran nuclear deal.

While it is expected that virtually all 54 Republicans in the Senate will vote against the Iran deal, 67 anti-deal votes are needed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of a possible Congressional rejection of the pact. The only two Senate Democrats who have publicly come out against the agreement so far are Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.).

Asked where Cardin stands on the nuclear deal, and whether or not his decision will be affected by the recent report that the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog made a side agreement with Iran that allows the Islamic Republic to carry out its own inspections at the Parchin nuclear site, Cardin spokesperson Sue Walitsky said the senator told JNS:

[He] continues to review all aspects of the agreement to determine what decision he’ll make.

He continues to study the details of this deal, reach out to experts for answers to his many questions, and engage Marylanders to get their thoughts.

There is great intensity on all sides of this issue, but the feedback has been decidedly mixed. He believes that each senator and member of Congress has to make his or her own decision based on what is right for our country—not party, not president, but the national security of the United States of America.

He does not plan to rush his decision based on what others may decide.

When contacted by JNS.org, Mikulski’s office said the senator is currently traveling and unable to return a request for comment.

Israel Aborted Military Strike on Iran in 2012 Because of U.S. Ties

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

A special news report by Israel’s Channel 2 on Friday night revealed that Israel was ready to strike at Iran’s nuclear development facilities as far back as January 2012.

The operation was aborted because coincided with Austere Challenge 12, the largest-ever joint Israeli-U.S. joint military drill to be carried out between the two nations, according to the report.

The U.S. was clearly opposed to the strike, and Israel was clearly going ahead with it. But the timing wasn’t right.

Details of the plans came to light when Israeli military censors allowed Channel 2 to broacast sections from the tapes of conversations with former defense and prime minister Ehud Barak, recorded for a new biography by Danny Dor and Ilan Kfir. Barak, outraged, tried to block the broadcast but failed when censors allowed the station to go ahead with the report.

“We intended to carry it out, so I went to [then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta and asked him if we could change the date of the exercise,” Barak said in part of the recording. “So they delayed it as much as they could… to a few days before the [U.S.] election [that November]…

“Things did not work out in the first part in 2012 and it was pushed back toward the end (of the year)…

“You demand that America respect your sovereignty and decide you want to do it (strike Iran), even if America is opposed and it is contrary to their interests… You can’t find yourself then going back on that by trying to force America to be party to (the strike) just as it comes here for a pre-planned drill. That’s how it ran into difficulties in 2012.”

On Saturday, Likud MK Yoav Kish questioned Barak’s motivation for making tapes in which he detailed unsuccessful attempts by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to win approval for the strike.

According to a report in the Hebrew-language Ma’ariv newspaper, Kish – a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee – pointed out the issue of Iran is still a matter of top security for Israel.

“I do not know what political gain Ehud Barak sought to achieve with these reports, but we would do well to cease the online chatter,” he said.

In general, Israeli leaders were reported on Sunday to be furious with the former defense minister for his lack of discretion with national security matters. Channel 2 reported on Saturday that numerous senior political and security officials also noted that Barak’s version of events was not entirely accurate.

There has been no official response by the Prime Minister’s Office to the broadcast.

Rep Nadler Getting Pushback by 2 Jewish Pols over Iran Deal

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

(JNi.media) On Friday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued a statement saying he would vote in favor of President Obama’s proposed Iran deal.

“I bring to my analysis [of the agreement] the full weight of my responsibilities as a member of Congress, and my perspective as an American Jew who is both a Democrat and a strong supporter of Israel,” Nadler stated, noting: “I have sought to ignore the political pressures, as well as the demagoguery and hateful rhetoric on both sides that I think has been harmful to the overall political discourse.”

In a less analytical but much more colorful fashion, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-NY) told the Observer he had rented a double decker tour bus, covered it with images of the Ayatollah Ali Khameini, and left it for a few hours outside Nadler’s lower Manhattan office. Hikind told the Observer that next he is taking the bus on visits to other pro-Iran deal representatives.

Councilman David Greenfield criticized Nadler on Facebook. “I join my fellow Brooklynites in outrage that Congressman Jerry Nadler has announced his support of the Iran deal against the overwhelming wishes of his Jewish constituency… We are furious that our community does not have a voice in Congress and can not forgive him.”

Nadler offered an analysis of the Iran deal that’s easily as exhaustive as the one offered by Senator Chuck Schumer in early August. Despite the fact that he reached the opposite conclusion, Nadler is respectful of the opponents of the deal, suggesting “the only decision that matters at this moment is whether to support or reject the agreement that is on the table now, not whether we could or should have gotten a better deal.”

Nadler also deals realistically with the consequences of an override of the anticipated presidential veto of what is certain to be a rejection of the deal by both Republican-controlled houses. He writes:

“Iran might accept the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) without U.S. participation. In that case, the other countries might go along. In 6–9 months, all the non-U.S. sanctions would be lifted. Iran would resume doing business with most other countries, and would get its $56 billion, some of which would be used to sponsor terrorism and other illicit activities.”

Frustrating as such an outcome is to pro-Israel American Jews, Nadler is not wrong in his assessment. And while the White House may be to blame for this outcome, it does not change the finality of these consequences. Nadler also argues that, should the president be forced by Congress to drop the Iran agreement, “there would be less diligent oversight, less fear of punitive action against violations, and Iran would enjoy full legitimacy and inclusion from the international community. Meanwhile, the United States — Israel’s closest ally and the only partner on the Security Council or in the P5+1 whose interests are as closely aligned in terms of preventing Iran from becoming an existential threat — would sit on the sidelines, separated from the JCPOA.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rep-nadler-getting-pushback-by-2-jewish-pols-over-iran-deal/2015/08/22/

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