web analytics
July 30, 2016 / 24 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

One Year in: Does the Iran Nuclear Deal Alleviate Global and Israeli Fears?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

The nuclear agreement signed on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 powers—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany—was a watershed event in international diplomacy and a key moment for U.S. President Barack Obama, who staked his legacy on the deal’s success. One year later, should world nations, and perhaps most notably Israel, still view the Islamic Republic as a nuclear threat?

“In terms of compliance with the deal itself, I think it is going very well,” Dalia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the Rand Corporation, told JNS.org. “Basically, the bargain was Iran rolling back of key elements of the nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief—those two key aspects of the deal have been met.”

In May, U.S. Ambassador and Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation Stephen Mull said in testimony to the U.S. Senate that the Iran nuclear deal “has been implemented by all participants.”

According to Mull, Iran has completed dozens of specific actions to “limit, freeze, or roll back its nuclear program and subject it to greater transparency by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

This includes Iran disconnecting two-thirds of its installed centrifuge capacity, terminating uranium enrichment at its secretive Fordow nuclear facility, reducing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and filling the core of its Arak heavy water reactor with concrete.

As such, Mull concluded that these actions have increased Iran’s so-called “breakout time”—the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon—from two or three months to at least a year.

Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council think tank, told JNS.org that while the deal is “holding for now,” the Iranians “remain within the letter of the agreement but not the spirit of it.”

“They have been a little more transparent in their nuclear processes, but it has not fundamentally changed Iranian behavior,” Berman said, alluding to Iran’s continued military buildup; support for terrorist organizations; and hostility towards Israel, the U.S., and America’s Arab allies.

Many policymakers and analysts also remain concerned about the economic ramifications of the nuclear deal. One of the principle concerns had been the estimated $100-$150 billion in sanctions relief that Iran would receive as a result of the unfreezing of foreign assets once the Islamic Republic met its obligations under the agreement.

According to Berman, the deal has set in motion a “vast sanctions give away that is far more expansive than most people understand.”

“It is not only the $100 billion or so incorporated into the deal, but also measures like the White House’s attempts to facilitate Iranian access to the U.S. dollar and pressure on state governments to roll back Iranian divestment measures,” he said.

“What they set in motion was this grand reorientation of global economics in favor of Iran,” Berman added.

Despite these concerns, there are still a number of non-nuclear U.S. sanctions in place on Iran relating to terrorism, Iran’s ballistic missile program, and human rights violations—creating financial uncertainty for Iran, and making a number of international companies and banks wary of doing business with the Islamic Republic. Those sanctions are in place in large part because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, is heavily involved in Iran’s economy.

As such, with Iran not seeing the economic windfall that it had hoped for and had promised its people, Iranian leaders have publicly complained that the U.S. has not held its end of the bargain in the nuclear deal.

“On paper, the Americans say banks can trade with Iran, but in practice they act in such an Iranophobic way that no trade can take place with Iran,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in April, while accusing the U.S. of engaging in “obstruction and deception.”

Yet Berman dismissed these complaints by Iranian leaders, saying that it is important to “separate what Iran says from what it is actually doing.”

Just weeks after the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tehran, where both nations agreed to increase bilateral trade to $600 billion over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, Russia used the pretext of the lifting of nuclear sanctions to renew its deal to provide Iran with the advanced S-300 air defense system.

Even India, which has seen significantly warming relations with Iran’s enemy, Israel, under President Narendra Modi, signed a dozen agreements with Tehran during a visit by Modi to the Islamic Republic in May, including a $500 million deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar Port.

Before the nuclear deal, Iran “didn’t lack for global ambition, but lacked resources,” said Berman. Now, he explained, “the powers of global politics are such [that] the Iranians can start thinking about what it looks like to not just be a participant in Middle East politics, but a key driver of it, [and] not just be a partner of rogue regimes like North Korea or Venezuela, but to actually be a patron of them….That’s a fundamentally new dynamic for the Iranians.”

For Israel, the nuclear agreement represented a major blow to the efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke out strongly and regularly against the pre-deal nuclear negotiations and has argued that the deal does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Yet a year after the deal was signed, there appears to be less concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions within Israel’s leadership and more of a focus on Iran’s regional ambitions, its involvement in Syria, and Iran’s support for its terror proxies.

This sentiment was clear in recent remarks by former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who stated at the Herzilya Conference in June that Iran’s nuclear program “has been frozen in light of the deal signed by the world powers and does not constitute an immediate, existential threat for Israel.”

Similarly, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said during a speech in January that a current “decline” in existential threats to Israel comes due to a variety of emerging trends, including the Iran nuclear deal.

The Rand Corporation’s Kaye, who recently returned from a trip to Israel, said that “there is a wide consensus among Israeli analysts that the Iranians are likely to adhere to this agreement.”

But Israeli military officials are now more deeply concerned about the possible economic and military consequences that a richer and more emboldened Iran will bring forth, especially through its support for its terror proxy nations. Kaye cautioned that for Israel, attention “has really turned to Iran’s role in Syria and its relation with Hezbollah as well as a permanent Iranian presence along Israel’s northern border in southern Syria.”

Berman said that “even if you take away the existential question of Iran getting a nuclear weapon later, which is where they (Israeli security officials) still think Iran is headed. What you are looking at is a very negative cycle of economic attrition. [Israelis] expect all the proxies that Iran is funding —Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad—to have a greater resources in the near future as a result of the nuclear deal.”

As a consequence, Berman said, Israel will need to step up its security and deterrence, and spend more money on defensive weapons and technology such as the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems or anti-tunneling technology.

Nevertheless, Kaye contended that by taking the nuclear threat off the table for the time being, Israel might have more of a chance to act boldly against Iran’s terror proxies without the concern of potentially igniting a nuclear conflict with Iran.

“One of the motivations [of the deal] to begin with was to ensure that Iran would not be engaging in this type of behavior under a nuclear umbrella. I think in that context, there is some relief that Iran is at least hemmed in on the nuclear front,” Kaye said.

While it appears that Iran’s compliance with the letter of the deal has so far reduced the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran in the short term, there is continued concern among policymakers and analysts over Iran’s aggressive behavior moving forward.

“I think the focus will now only increase towards implementation as well as planning and preparation for what might happen once some of the key elements of this deal start to expire in 10 years,” Kaye said. “The only exception to that will be increased momentum and focus on the missile front. There won’t be a renegotiation on the existing agreement. But there may be a push to expand on the current agreement to include more restrictions on Iranian missile testing and development in exchange for further economic relief.”

Sean Savage

Iran Celebrates Anniversary of Nuclear Deal by Firing Ballistic Missile

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

One year almost to the day after the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, and in blatant violation of UN Resolution 2231, Tehran tried to launch a ballistic missile using North Korean technology, Fox News reported, citing intelligence officials.

The test failed when the missile exploded after liftoff, on July 11 at night, outside Saman, a city west of Isfahan, at a site Iran has used before to conduct ballistic missile tests. This is the latest attempt in the year since the signing of the nuclear deal.

The test rained on President Obama’s parade, who said on Thursday, the actual anniversary of the deal, that “over the last year, the Iran deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”

But according to The Hill, the Republicans used the one-year anniversary for several largely symbolic measures to undermine the deal. “We need to look no further than Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing activities to see the disaster that the Iran nuclear agreement has been over the last year,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement.

In UN Resolution 2231, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

According to Reuters, a confidential report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Iran’s ballistic missile program is “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal. The Security Council is due to discuss the Ban Ki-moon report on July 18. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi announced that “Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who meets regularly with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said this week that “Nobody pretends that some of the challenges we have with Iran have somehow been wiped away. There are other real issues, and we will continue and are continuing to focus on those issues.”

Which means the US is content to permit the Iranians to defy the UN and the Western allies in working on long-range missiles, which should be ready to carry nuclear payloads as soon as the temporary limit on Iran’s development of a nuclear device is removed, in 2025. And with its newly thawed billions of dollars, what would stop Iran from buying the device from North Korea, its favorite shopping spot?

In late June, North Korea succeeded in launching its home-grown Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew a distance of 250 miles to the Sea of Japan, this after five earlier failures.

JNi.Media

Israel Favors UN Treaty to Ban Nuclear Testing, Just Not Now

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday met with Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo and told her that the State of Israel supports the treaty and its goals, which is why it was happy to sign it. However, as the Prime Minister’s press release put it, “the issue of ratification depends on the regional context and the appropriate timing.”

Or, as Dr. Zerbo told the AP, Netanyahu considers the issue of ratifying the treaty a matter of “when, rather than if.”

Dr. Zerbo arrived in Israel at the invitation of Atomic Energy Commission Director Zeev Senir. It is Dr. Zerbo’s third visit to Israel as CNTBTO Executive Secretary and marks 20 years since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was opened for signing. According to the prime minister’s office, the visit was “an expression of the longstanding successful cooperation between Israel and the organization.”

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a multilateral treaty by states that agree to ban all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 10, 1996 but is yet enter into force. Israel was active in negotiating the treaty and signed it in 1996. It is represented in the organization by an envoy with ambassadorial rank and is taking part in building a verification regime for the treaty.

The Treaty was opened for signature in New York on September 24, 1996, at which point it was signed by 71 States, including five of the eight then nuclear-capable states. As of March 2015, 164 states have ratified the CTBT and another 19 states have signed but not ratified it.

The treaty will enter into force 180 days after the 44 states listed in Annex 2 of the treaty have ratified it. These “Annex 2 states” are states that participated in the CTBT’s negotiations between 1994 and 1996 and possessed nuclear power reactors or research reactors at that time. As of 2015, eight Annex 2 states have not ratified the treaty: China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States, which have signed but not ratified the Treaty; and India, North Korea and Pakistan have not signed it at all.

JNi.Media

New Book Draws Parallels Between Cold War and Israel, Iran, Nuclear Tensions

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

History doesn’t need to repeat itself – not when leaders and citizens understand and apply the lessons of the past. That’s the position of information systems expert, researcher and author Ozzie Paez. His recently published “Decision Making in a Nuclear Middle East” uses the Cold War as a template for understanding the risks of nuclear conflict in the Middle East if Iran becomes a nuclear power.

“The Cold War was not as ‘cold’ as many remember,” explains Paez. “More than once, the world came to the brink of catastrophe. Military and political leaders routinely made decisions in environments of high uncertainty, sometimes taking reckless risks with the lives of millions. Even lower ranking military officers sometimes faced tough decisions that could have led to a nuclear exchange. If you are among the many, including politicians, academics and policy makers, who believe that the Cold War turned out as it was destined and that history suggests a similar outcome for a nuclear Middle East, then this book should give you pause.”

Decision Making in a Nuclear Middle East: Lessons from the Cold War (PRNewsFoto/Ozzie Paez)

Decision Making in a Nuclear Middle East: Lessons from the Cold War

Amazon reviewer M E Niehoff agrees with Paez’s analysis, comparing the mutual deterrence mindset of the USSR and USA during the cold war and the “spatial and timing realities of a nuclear conflict in the Middle East. He concludes (and I agree),” Niehoff notes, “that mutual deterrence is not a valid concept for the Middle East. … It appears that unless current nuclear armed countries come together and take a unified hard line against nuclear proliferation in the world (probably very unlikely), eventual nuclear conflict may be inevitable.”

“Decision Making in a Nuclear Middle East” takes an “operational” view of history, and includes documents and interviews with key players from the Cold War. With the release of many classified materials from that era, it’s now possible to objectively assess the conditions and decision making processes behind pivotal nuclear crisis in hot spots like Korea, Berlin and Cuba.  They can help us put in context the emerging nuclear standoff in the Middle East and its implications for millions of lives in the region and beyond.

Amazon reviewer Ben Gilad notes that, “Ozzie’s analysis of the nuclear Middle East is based on a novel application of ‘benchmarking’ – a technique used in business to compare best practices. Dissecting the Soviet-US Cold War nuclear deterrence history with great clarity. … Paez shows how fickle and unreliable mutual deterrence can be in the Middle East context. This is one of […] if not the most insightful, concise, clear-eyed analysis I’ve read about the Middle East’s fragile balance of power.”

Paez is also the author of “Going Nuclear: The Influence of History and Hindsight on the Iranian Nuclear Negotiations.” His upcoming book, “Informed Decision Makers—And Other Myths and Fallacies,” will address informed decisions across time and industries to illustrate the challenges and possibilities inherent to information driven environments.

David Israel

Key Obama Adviser: We Misled Nation To Sell Iran Nuclear Deal

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

A lengthy New York Times Magazine profile of Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, portrays him as a spinmeister contemptuous of the foreign policy establishment who fed credulous journalists a misleading narrative to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the American people.

According to writer David Samuels, Rhodes oversaw a “war room” whose task was to sell the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to Congress ahead of crucial votes last fall that failed to kill the agreement.

“In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters,” Samuels wrote.

“We created an echo chamber,” he quoted Rhodes as admitting. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

According to Samuels’s piece, the strategy included the White House’s TheIranDeal Twitter feed. Rhodes used groups like the Ploughshares Fund, which advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons and lobbied for the JCPOA.

“We drove them crazy,” Samuels quotes Rhodes as saying of the opponents of the nuclear deal.

Samuels wrote that Rhodes does not think much of the journalists the war room was using to spread its narrative: “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Rhodes was quoted as telling him. “They literally know nothing.”

According to the article, the administration put out a deliberately misleading narrative about the way the nuclear negotiations came about, linking them to the rise in 2013 of the “moderate” President Hasan Rouhani at the expense of “hardliners,” ushering in a supposedly new political reality in Iran.

In fact in 2012 State Department director of policy planning Jake Sullivan – a close aide of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – began holding talks with the Iranians in Oman and elsewhere, and he and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns drew up the framework of what would eventually become the JCPOA three months before the election that brought Rouhani to office.

Obama was known by insiders to have wanted to make a deal with Iran from the beginning of his presidency in 2009, but the idea that the rise of “moderates” provided the opportunity was “largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal,” Samuels wrote.

Samuels argued that the misleading narrative was useful for the administration.

“By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making,” he wrote.

He characterized the approach as part of a broader strategy – helping the U.S. to extricate itself from existing regional alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey, with the ultimate goal of U.S. “disengagement from the Middle East.”

It’s an objective, Samuels said, that Rhodes – a determined critic of the Iraq war – views with a sense of “urgency.”

The profile depicts Rhodes as being comfortable in spinning the issue to the American people.

“I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” Samuels quotes Rhodes as telling him. “But that’s impossible.”

Rhodes holds a dim view of the foreign policy establishment, according to Samuels, referring to it contemptuously as “the Blob,” and including in that grouping Hillary Clinton; Obama’s first defense secretary Robert Gates; and “editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere.”

Patrick Goodenough

U.S. to Buy Heavy Water from Iran

Monday, April 25th, 2016

The United States has cut a deal with Iran to purchase heavy water from the Islamic Republic, according to a report posted on the Hezbollah-linked Al Manar website.

The report quoted PressTV as saying Iran will sell 32 metric tons of heavy water to the U.S.

Heavy water is used in certain types of nuclear reactors, where it acts as a neutron moderator to slow down neutrons so they are more likely to react with the fissile uranium-235 than with uranium-238, which captures neutrons without fissioning.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs, Abbas Araqchi told PressTV in Vienna on Friday the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran reached an agreement on the sale with a U.S. company before a joint commission meeting between Iran and the P5+1 group.

The agreement was reportedly signed following three months of negotiations.

Hana Levi Julian

World Leaders Warn ISIS Plans Nuclear Drone Attack

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

World leaders are warning their nations that Da’esh (ISIS) plans to use drones to drop radioactive material on cities in a “dirty bomb” attack.

U.S. President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and world leaders including the presidents of France and China met Friday over the issue.

U.S. officials presented a scenario at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C. earlier last week that described the danger in detail. The scenario described radioactive material being taken from a medical facility by “insiders” and sold to terrorists via the “dark web” on the Internet.

ISIS is believed to have seized around 90 pounds of low grade uranium in 2014 from Mosul University in Iraq, according to a report Friday by The Telegraph.

At a news briefing in Washington D.C. after the event, Cameron told reporters, “So many summits are about dealing with things that have already gone wrong. This is a summit about something we are trying to prevent.

“The issue of nuclear security and the security of nuclear materials, particularly when it comes to the problems of international terrorism, the concept of terrorists and nuclear materials coming together – which is obviously a very chilling prospect. And something in the light of the Belgian attacks, we know is a threat that is only too real.

“That’s the point of being here and that action Britain has taken with America, very much giving a lead on nuclear security, and the security of nuclear sites, transport and materials.”

Footage exists that reportedly shows ISIS terrorists using drones for the purpose, The Telegraph reported. It was deemed so serious that world leaders were asked to participate in war games Friday to plan a strategy in how to respond to such an attack.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/world-leaders-warn-isis-plans-nuclear-drone-attack/2016/04/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: