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July 4, 2015 / 17 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Despite “Freeze”, Iran Nuke Stockpile Mysteriously Growing

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

How does one translate the phrase “negotiating in good faith” into Persian?

Over the past 18 months, Tehran’s stockpile of enriched uranium – a nuclear fuel – has grown by some 20 percent, eight percent in the past two months alone, as documented last Friday in a report by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned of just such a scenario in his landmark address to the U.S. Congress in March (2015). So this probably comes as no surprise to most Israelis. However, it is making headlines across the United States, since it is seen by some as a direct betrayal by the White House.

The Obama administration had assured the American people that Iran had “frozen” its nuclear development activities while negotiating with U.S.-led world powers over a deal to limit the nuclear program and prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons under President Obama’s watch. Now the talks are in their final month, with the June 30 deadline looming ahead.

Under the terms being negotiated, Iran is to possess only 660 pounds (300 kg) of nuclear fuel, less than that needed to create a nuclear weapon, once the deal is signed. The rest of its nuclear fuel stockpile is to be removed — either shipped out, transformed or otherwise destroyed.

But Tehran made it clear as far back as March that Iran has no intention of shipping the remaining 96% of its nuclear fuel out of the country. Nor has it proposed any other solution to the dilemma. This raises a rather curious question about the disposal of Iran’s mysteriously growing stockpile.

American officials don’t actually know how Iran will comply. As one official told The New York Times, “It’s their problem, not ours. But it’s a problem.”

It sure is.

One can also question how anyone in the Obama administration could claim that Iran froze its nuclear activities while Tehran has clearly been growing that stockpile – significantly.

The U.S., meanwhile, seems baffled at how an Iranian stockpile that should at least have remained static, could possibly have grown.

Here’s an even bigger problem: Under the terms of the interim agreement signed in March between Iran and the U.S.-led world powers (P5+1), Iran had allegedly been building a “conversion plant” at the Isfahan nuclear complex. There, enriched uranium could be transformed into oxide powder and then into reactor fuel rods, rather than left to become weapons-grade fuel. But they didn’t.

Iran didn’t keep its word. “Iran has failed” to make the conversion, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research group in Washington which reported on the issue in February.

Tehran didn’t keep its end of the bargain – and the deal isn’t even signed yet.

That’s 18 months of nuclear undercover evasion (“cheating”) that the U.S. administration claims to know nothing about. It’s not clear which is more frightening: an American administration so clueless that it truly did NOT know anything about what was happening under the ground in Iranian nuclear plants, or did know and didn’t say, ‘didn’t ask and didn’t tell.’

It is also important to note that Iran will only have to maintain that minimized nuclear fuel stockpile for 15 years. The deal does not address what happens after that.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation has announced they are building a second nuclear reactor in Iran, in addition to the one they built in 2013.

The oil-rich Islamic Republic plans to build 20 such nuclear reactors, allegedly to reduce its dependency on oil.

If only Iran were building settlements instead of enriched uranium – then the Obama administration would put its foot down.

Iran Jails Woman for Drawing Cartoon

Monday, June 1st, 2015

The Iranian regime has arrested and jailed in solitary confinement 28-year-old Atena Farghadani for drawing a cartoon that authorities say was “insulting” to legislators because she represented them as animals.

This is the same regime that hosts cartoon contests to depict Holocaust denial.

Farghadani was arrested and jailed for six weeks last year but was re-arrested after she spoke about her being beaten and tortured, according to the Human Rights Activist News Agency.

“She’s truly an angel,” a relative of Farghadani told FoxNews.com on condition of anonymity. “She just loves people and animals, and besides for all her artistic talent, she is such a strong supporter of human rights.

“It’s crazy to think her name spread as a result of a cartoon, because she has done so many wonderful things to help humanity, doing things quietly and not wanting credit.”

After she was hauled back into court, Farghadani posted an open letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to her Facebook page and wrote:

What you call an ‘insult to representatives of the parliament by means of cartoons’ I consider to be an artistic expression of the home of our nation (parliament), which our nation does not deserve! I, therefore, must pay retribution for defending my beloved defenseless people.

Fox News said that she may have been hospitalized following a hunger strike and heart attack, and it quoted Amnesty International as saying:

Atena is a prisoner of conscience – she has committed no real crime. She is being unfairly punished simply for exercising her right to free speech, association and assembly. We’ve been calling on Iran’s Supreme Leader and Head of the Judiciary to release Atena immediately. If not, we’ll continue to fight for her freedom.

The judge who will decide her fate is the same one who is hearing the case of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.

Iran has hanged at least 400 prisoners this year, according to the Iran Human Rights group. and rights groups are campaigning to make sure that Farghadani is not hanged also or even sentenced to a long jail term.

US Claims ‘No More Extensions’ for Iran Nuclear Talks

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

The United States says ‘enough is enough’ and is now vowing to end P5+1 talks with Iran on time – by the current June 30 deadline – whether or not negotiators reach a deal.

“We’re not contemplating any extension beyond June 30,” State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke said at a briefing on Wednesday. Rathke added that the U.S. believes world powers and Tehran can achieve their goal and reach an agreement by the self-imposed deadline.

Journalists have heard this kind of talk before, of course, and have learned to simply wait and see if the claim proves true.

Talks have resumed this week in Vienna at the deputy level. But Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on May 30 in Geneva with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to further discuss the current sticking points.

European leaders told reporters earlier in the week that it appeared possible no deal would be reached by the June deadline.

It appears the Iranian government has also been seeking a way to discredit the talks, even as state TV quoted senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi as saying the deadline could be extended.

The state-run Press TV internet site claimed Wednesday (May 27), “A recent opinion poll conducted by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Organization (IRIB) shows the majority of the Iranian people do not trust the US with regard to a possible final deal between Iran and the P5+1 group over Tehran’s nuclear program.”

IRIB President Mohammad Sarafraz reportedly said at a news conference in the northeastern province of South Khorasan that some 70 percent of Iranians believe the US will not uphold its commitments from the talks.

According to the IRIB poll, 72.9 percent of Iranians believe “Tehran should continue to enrich uranium on home soil if the nuclear talks break down,” Sarafraz allegedly said. He added that 70 percent of responders also said they believe Iran should “cut down imports in a bid to counter enemies’ plots if the nuclear talks fail.”

The IRIB executive reportedly added that according to the poll, 75 percent of those who responded said they would blame Washington if the talks reach a deadlock.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly urged U.S. and European leaders to step back and walk away from this “bad deal.”

Russia to Deliver S-300 Missile System to Iran… Eventually

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Russia’s controversial deal with Iran to sell Tehran a powerful air defense system was completed on Monday. Both sides pronounced the talks – frozen since 2010 — a success.

It’s just that each side defined the term differently.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian openly told Iranian state-run news agencies the deal was a “success” and the system would soon be delivered.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Tuesday the deal was not quite sealed, despite a statement by President Vladimir Putin several weeks earlier lifting the ban on selling the arms to Iran.

Following Monday’s talks, Russia confirmed it had indeed decided to delivering its S-300 air defense missile system to Iran. But the Kremlin was decidedly vague on a date.

“The decision on delivering the S-300 to Iran has been taken but the realization of the project will take some time,” said Yevgeny Lukyanov, deputy head of the Russian security council, reported Moscow news agencies.

Russia is being equally cagey with its fellow world powers as they negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear technology program in the P5+1 talks led by the United States.

Iran continues to seek – and sometimes to actually find – ways to circumvent international sanctions imposed on transactions dealing with any nuclear or other energy-related product of Iran. The Islamic Republic is also demanding that all sanctions be immediately lifted upon signing any agreement with the world powers.

However, the Tehran government still refuses to allow unlimited, unfettered access to its nuclear research and development sites upon signing the agreement that would limit its uranium enrichment and other nuclear technology activities.

Because these roadblocks still remain, European negotiators are now telling journalists the talks may not end in success; or at least, they won’t close by June 30, the latest deadline set by the U.S. and Iran.

Russia, and China, are also adding their own roadblocks; neither appears willing to stand firm on the issue of imposing “snap back” sanctions to ensure Iran’s compliance with the terms of the deal.

Hence, perhaps, Russia’s latest dance with Iran – and the rest of the world – as it dangles a delivery date for the S-300 missile defense system before the Islamic Republic.

“As I understand, the time of delivery has not yet come,” Lukyanov told reporters.

No Deal with Iran by June 30 Deadline, Europeans Say

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

“It’s not yet in the bag.”

That was the assessment by British Ambassador Peter Westmacott, who told the Atlantic Council think tank at a panel discussion Tuesday in Washington a deal with Iran does not appear likely by the June 30 deadline, according to a report by The Hill.

French Ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud agreed. “It’s very likely that we won’t have an agreement before the end of June – or even after June,” Araud said.

“The Iranians for the moment are obviously not negotiating to get an agreement very shortly.”

The main issues blocking the way to an agreement between the U.S.-led world powers and Tehran remain the details of international inspections of Iranian nuclear technology facilities, and the timing of sanctions relief.

Iran will have to limit the pace of its nuclear technology program in exchange for any relaxation of sanctions, and allow inspectors unrestricted, 24/7 access to all nuclear facilities – which it still bluntly refuses to do.

Talks between the “P5+1″ and Iran have dragged on since last summer, with deadlines having been extended from November and then again from April. The next so-called “final” deadline on talks is set for June 30.

Israel has warned repeatedly that Iran cannot be trusted, and that the current deal being negotiated is a “bad deal.”

Obama’s Irrational Understanding of Anti-Semitism

Monday, May 25th, 2015

The President’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the The Atlantic makes for some incredulous reading.

There’s a lot to write about, but today, I want to pick at one specific point that not only surprised me, but clearly also surprised Jeffrey Goldberg.

I was disappointed that Goldberg, who could have actually asked a serious followup question, instead chose to give Obama a pass on such an important point, when he clearly knew Obama was wrong.

Goldberg questioned one of the many contradictions in the President’s worldview.

He pointed out Obama’s contradictory belief that while anti-Semitic regimes are not rational players, they will still respond rationally and practically to pressure and incentive.

(As an aside, whether Iran is simply driven by anti-Semitism or by a radical Islamic desire, in which anti-Semitism plays a central role, to bring about Armageddon is another important point to discuss, another time.)

When Goldberg pointed out that anti-Semitic European leaders made irrational decisions against their own survival, he was clearly thinking of Hitler as the prime example of that, as were all of us when we read Obama’s statement.

And Nazi Germany is far from the only example that contradicts Obama’s belief (just look how Hamas and the Palestinian Authority use their foreign aid money – building terror tunnels, buying weapons and paying terrorists instead of building hospitals and sewer systems).

Obama then claimed that since anti-Semitic regimes will care about their survival more than killing Jews, they will make rational decisions towards survival, despite their anti-Semitism.

More incredulously, Obama then claimed their anti-Semitism is limited to discrimination and as an organizing tool, “where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest.”

Nothing in the history, actions or decisions of Nazi Germany (and other anti-Semitic regimes) backs up that claim.

Throughout the war, Hitler diverted physical and manpower resources to killing Jews that could have been much better deployed fighting the allies.

And in particular, towards the end of the war, Hitler (and Eichmann, more specifically) chose to continue to transport Jews to the Death Camps, instead of deploying more resources to fighting the allies.

Those costs were not low, and they clearly opposed Nazi Germany’s self-interest — unless you understand that anti-Semites view killing Jews as being in their primary self-interest, even greater than their own or their regime’s survival.

I’m not expecting a rational and informed answer from the President.

But worse, it’s clear that Jeffrey Goldberg, who obviously had the same question, apparently wasn’t expecting a rational or informed answer either, and instead gave the President a pass.

Here’s that section of the interview:

Goldberg: Stay with Iran for one more moment. I just want you to help me square something. So you’ve argued, quite eloquently in fact, that the Iranian regime has at its highest levels been infected by a kind of anti-Semitic worldview. You talked about that with Tom [Friedman]. “Venomous anti-Semitism” I think is the term that you used. You have argued—not that it even needs arguing—but you’ve argued that people who subscribe to an anti-Semitic worldview, who explain the world through the prism of anti-Semitic ideology, are not rational, are not built for success, are not grounded in a reality that you and I might understand. And yet, you’ve also argued that the regime in Tehran—a regime you’ve described as anti-Semitic, among other problems that they have—is practical, and is responsive to incentive, and shows signs of rationality. So I don’t understand how these things fit together in your mind.

Obama: Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. You know, if you look at the history of anti-Semitism, Jeff, there were a whole lot of European leaders—and there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country—

Goldberg: And they make irrational decisions—

Obama: They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what we’ve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have. That’s what the sanctions represent. That’s what the military option I’ve made clear I preserve represents. And so I think it is not at all contradictory to say that there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime, but that they also are interested in maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their own country, which requires that they get themselves out of what is a deep economic rut that we’ve put them in, and on that basis they are then willing and prepared potentially to strike an agreement on their nuclear program.

Someone please send the President a history book.

Israel Refuses to Pay $1.1 Billion Swiss Court Award to Iran

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Israel says it will not pay a $1.1 billion award to Iran over a dispute dating back to the period of the Islamic Revolution, won by Tehran this week in the Swiss Federal Court.

“Under the laws of trade we cannot transfer funds to an enemy country,” read a statement issued by the Finance Ministry on Wednesday.

The response came after the court ordered the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC), to pay the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) $1.1 billion over a joint venture that began long before the ayatollahs seized Tehran’s government. The plaintiffs also demanded $7 million in legal fees, although it is not clear whether the court approved the charge. In addition, the court allowed Iran to file a $7 billion arbitration claim against the Jewish State.

In 1968, the two countries made a deal to carry oil from Asia to Eilat and on to Europe. At the time, the NIOC delivered 14.75 million cubic meters of crude oil, worth $450 million, to Israel’s Trans-Asiatic Oil (TAO), Ltd.

The oil moved via a pipeline that reached from Israel’s southernmost port eastward to its Mediterranean port of Ashkelon, and then up the coast to its northern port of Haifa.

Today, the EAPC pipeline in Israel stretches approximately 750 kilometers, according to the company’s website.

The ayatollahs cut off Iran’s business with Israel – and its deal with EAPC –as soon as the ruling Shah was eliminated from the government, saying the Islamic Republic did not recognize Israel as a legitimate nation. To this day, Iran still vows to “wipe the Zionist entity from the map of the world.”

Israel seized Iranian assets and launched a counter-suit to offset its own losses after the deal went sour.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-refuses-to-pay-1-1-billion-swiss-court-award-to-iran/2015/05/21/

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