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May 3, 2015 / 14 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

What Will Happen Now with US Middle East Policy?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Turkish Reader: Haven’t you understood yet that the US does not care about whether a Muslim country is ruled by Sharia [dictatorship] or by secular [democracy] law as long as that regime is pro-American? Isn’t this U.S. interests “über alles”?

Me: Yes I do care. First, no Islamist government is really going to be pro-American or pro-Western. Second, it won’t be good for that country’s people. Why should I feel differently to handing over Czechoslovakia to Nazi rule or Hungary to Communist rule than Turkey to Islamist rule?

Already there are starting to appear evaluations of what President Barack Obama’s second term will be like. I think that even though the Obama Administration doesn’t know or have a blueprint it is clear and consistent what the Middle East policy would be. It is a coherent program though as I say it is not necessarily fully or consciously thought out. The plan would be for a comprehensive solution which will leave the Middle East situation as a successful legacy of the Obama Administration.

There are three main themes of this plan, though as I say I’m not sure it has really taken shape. By 2016 they will all fail, and leave the West weaker.

The first is with Iran policy. The goal would be to “solve” the nuclear weapons’ issue by making a deal with Iran. One thing that is possible is that the Iranians just deceitfully build nuclear arms. The other that the will go up to the point when they can get nuclear weapons very quickly and then stop for a while. Probably either result will be hailed as a brilliant diplomatic victory for Obama.

This is how the nuclear deal is interpreted by Iran, in a dispatch from Fars new agency: “It seems that the Americans have understood this fact that Iran is a powerful and stable country in the region which uses logical and wise methods in confrontation with its enemies.” In other words America is an enemy of Iran that has backed down.

One thing Iran might get in a deal for “giving up””its nuclear ambitions would be something in Syria perhaps. It would probably look like this. It is possible that this deal would be in the shape of an unofficial partition of Syria, with the Bashar Assad regime surviving in 40 percent of the country including Aleppo and Damascus; another 40 percent would be controlled by a U.S.-backed rebels, mainly Muslim Brotherhood; and 20 percent would be a Kurdish autonomous area. I want to stress that I don’t believe that this would work and would in fact be the object of another Iranian stalling technique.and effort to gain total victory..

Iran wants primacy at least in the Shia world – meaning Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. It would just require Iranian patience if Iran is willing to devote extensive resources to this enterprise until it could seize the whole country. The U.S. probably won’t provide ground troops, which is understandable. And would the U.S. provide military and economic aid to an al-Qaida-Salafi-Muslim Brotherhood regime? At any rate the Iranians would either develop nuclear weapons or simply get to the point where they could if they wanted to and then stop, knowing that they could so at any time. Of course, this would relatively ignore Israel’s security needs.

And if a nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t materialize you can tell who will be blamed by an article named, “A Nuclear Deal With Iran Is Within Reach, If Congress Plays Its Part,”” in the prestigious magazine, Roll Call.

The second theme would be an illusion that it would be possible to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a two-state solution but actually moving toward the Palestinian real goal which is an Arab Palestine. Period. Regarding this issue it is probably that both sides would stall. Only Secretary of State John Kerry believes otherwise.

The Israeli side would mount a strategic retreat by gradual concessions hoping that the Obama Administration would end before too much damage was done. It is clear, for example, that prisoner releases, the granting of economic benefits and the entry of more laborers would be among the concessions given.Of course, this would also relatively ignore Israel’s security needs.

NYT Upset at Bibi – but They Won’t Say the Real Reason Why

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

The New York Times is not happy with Bibi:

Mr. Netanyahu has legitimate reasons to be wary of any Iranian overtures, as do the United States and the four other major powers involved in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. But it could be disastrous if Mr. Netanyahu and his supporters in Congress were so blinded by distrust of Iran that they exaggerate the threat, block President Obama from taking advantage of new diplomatic openings and sabotage the best chance to establish a new relationship since the 1979 Iranian revolution sent American-Iranian relations into the deep freeze.

Even though the Times admits that pretty much every fact Netanyahu brought up is accurate!

Mr. Rouhani and the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have insisted repeatedly that Iran wants only to develop nuclear energy and that obtaining a nuclear weapon would harm the country’s security.

Even so, Iran hid its nuclear program from United Nations inspectors for nearly 20 years, and the country is enriching uranium to a level that would make it possible to produce bomb-grade nuclear material more quickly. It has also pursued other activities, like developing high-voltage detonators and building missiles that experts believe could only have nuclear weapons-related uses.

These facts make it hard not to view the upcoming American-brokered negotiations skeptically. But Mr. Netanyahu has hinted so often of taking military action to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon that he seems eager for a fight.

Actually, the main thrust of Bibi’s speech was to not to start a war, but a warning against loosening sanctions in exchange for smiles and empty promises:

I have argued for many years, including on this podium, that the only way to peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with a credible military threat. And that policy is today bearing fruit. Thanks to the effort of many countries, many represented here, and under the leadership of the United States, tough sanctions have taken a big bite out of Iran’s economy. Oil revenues have fallen. The currency has plummeted. Banks are hard pressed to transfer money. So as a result, the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions removed. That’s why Rouhani got elected in the first place. That’s why he launched his charm offensive. He definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted, I guarantee you that, but he doesn’t want to give up Iran’s nuclear weapons program in return.

Now, here’s the strategy to achieve this:

First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. Second, pay lip service to peace, democracy and tolerance. Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions. And fourth, and the most important, ensure that Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time that it chooses to do so. You know why Rouhani thinks he can get away with this?…Because he’s gotten away with it before. 

The NYT cannot find any holes in Netanyahu’s logic. It cannot find any concrete concession that Rouhani is offering. Yet, against all known facts, it still insists that Rouhani is the moderate who must be given concessions to, and Bibi is the warmonger.

There is nothing wrong with speaking to and negotiating with Iran, but there is a great deal wrong with loosening sanctions in response to a smile.

So if the Times cannot find anything actually wrong with Bibi’s words, why are they so upset at him? The reason seems to be because he called them out for doing the exact same thing with North Korea:

Like Iran, North Korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Like Iran, North Korea also offered meaningless concessions and empty promises in return for sanctions relief. In 2005, North Korea agreed to a deal that was celebrated the world over by many well-meaning people. Here is what the New York Times editorial had to say about it: “For years now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate nightmare… a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive nuclear weapons program.

Very few could envision a successful outcome.

And yet North Korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, return to the NPT, abide by the treaty’s safeguards and admit international inspectors….Diplomacy, it seems, does work after all.”

A year later, North Korea exploded its first nuclear weapons device.

That’s the real reason the “Paper of Record” is so miffed – because Bibi mentioned its record of believing dictators on the threshold of nuclear weapons capability.

The truth hurts, so the NYT – instead of admitting its very real role in pressuring Washington to believe North Korea’s empty promises – is lashing out at the person who pointed it out.

This is behavior one would expect from a teenager who was caught in a lie, not from a newspaper whose entire reputation is dependent on accuracy.

The NYT’s choosing to ignore that part of Bibi’s speech explains a great deal about its nonsensical editorial that is at odds with facts.

Visit Elder of Ziyon.

Feiglin: Israel’s Strategy Against Iran has Collapsed

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Moshe Feiglin (Likud) believes that Israel’s strategy on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat has failed.

In a Facebook post Feiglin writes:

We saw it coming and now it is here.

Israel’s strategy against Iran – attempting to convince the world to deal with the nuclear issue instead of Israel – has collapsed.

Neither the US nor Europe will volunteer to defend Israel, while Israel has lost precious time and maneuvered itself into isolation.

Iran is free to proceed with its goal to destroy Israel – undisturbed, while the legitimacy for an Israeli preemptive strike has dissipated.

On Tuesday, we’ll see how Prime Minister Netanyahu deals with this latest Iranian challenge at the UN and the White House.

Netanyahu, Obama to Meet during UN General Assembly

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will discuss stopping Iran’s nuclear program during a meeting with President Barack Obama later this month during the United Nations General Assembly, he told his Cabinet on Tuesday.

Until Iran actually stops its nuclear program “the pressure on Iran must be increased and not relaxed, and certainly not eased,” Netanyahu said.

The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported Monday that Iran is willing to close its uranium enrichment facility at Fordo under international supervision in return for an easing of Western sanctions. In addition, U.S. officials have suggested that the Obama administration would be willing to ease or lift some sanctions on Iran in return for progress in talks on stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu outlined four steps needed in order to call Iran’s nuclear program stopped: halting all uranium enrichment; removing all enriched uranium; closing Fordo; and stopping plutonium enrichment.

He reiterated that “Israel must continue to build up its strength so that it will always be able and ready to defend itself by itself against any threat.”

Netanyahu and Obama also are expected to discuss during their meeting the threat of Syrian chemical weapons.

Did Iran and Russia Just Save Israel?

Friday, September 13th, 2013

It would be ironic if true, but it may very well be that Iran and Russia (and Syria) just saved Israel (or God did, using them as proxies).

Obama stated on Thursday that he’s going to be pivoting his focus away from the international arena and instead concentrate on domestic issues and politics (God help America).

After having been burnt in Syria, and completely played by Russia and Iran, it’s as close to an admission of policy failure and incompetence as you can possibly get.

On the downside, it means the U.S. military may not be dealing with Iran if it tries to cross the nuclear red line, but based on what we’ve heard during the Syrian debacle, it seems unlikely they were going to do so in the first place.

A number of respected U.S. military commentators were saying outright that the U.S. could not financially afford a full-scale war with Syria. The U.S. would need to be prepared for escalation into a full-scale war, if they were going to undertake even a limited military strike.

So, if the U.S. wasn’t prepared or capable of running a small or full scale operation/war in third world Syria, how can anyone reasonably have expected that they would be in a position to do so in Iran?

The message here for Israel, is that Israel is going to have to turn directly to their true source of power for this one.

On the upside, if Obama feels burned by Syria, the Arab Spring, Egypt, Russia, and everything else International, then maybe, just maybe, he’ll leave Israel alone too.

Maybe this is the end of Obama trying to embed Hamas into Judea and Samaria, and trying to divide Jerusalem, trying to kick out Jews out of our homes, and trying to promote this latest “peace process”.

One can hope.

G’mar Chatima Tova

Rare Photos of Israeli Nuclear Research Center Released

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

The architectural firm responsible for the construction of the Dimona nuclear plant in the 1960s has released rare photos of the project for the first time.

The architect, Dan Eitan, sent President Shimon Peres the black and white photos to recognize the president’s role in the construction of what originally was called “a Negev civic center” and now officially is known as the Nuclear Research Center in the Israeli Negev.

The Israel Defense website published the photos that were taken during the construction of the reactor, which it noted that “according to foreign reports, manufactures hundreds of nuclear and hydrogen bombs for Israel.”

Pictures that were posted include the library, the water tower and residences as well as satellite photography of the reactor taken from space and a sketch of the plant.

The photos were taken by architect Dan Eitan, and were sent by him to Shimon Peres (current president of Israel) in recognition of the latter’s contribution to the construction of the complex.

Israel maintains a policy of “nuclear ambiguity,” meaning that it does not admit nor deny that it possesses nuclear warheads, although most defense analysts estimate the country has at least 200.

Israel has promised it would not be the first country in the Middle East to “introduce” nuclear weapons in the region.

The Arab world has been pushing for the declaration of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East as a way to force Israel to divulge its nuclear capability.

Israel questions the usefulness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty particularly in light of Iran’s constant denial of circumstantial evidence that leaves no doubt that it is trying to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

Blueprint of the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev

Blueprint of the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev

Residence units for Dimona nuclea rplant staff

Residence units for Dimona nuclear plant staff

 

dimona courtyard.jpg

‘Moderate’ Rouhani Misled West, Sneaked in Centrifuges?

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

There is a particularly interesting aspect to the video that has recently surfaced, in which Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, gloats over Iran’s success in coopting European negotiators to keep the Iranian nuclear program on track in the mid-2000s, in spite of pressure from the United States.

The video clip, from an Iranian news-program interview of Rouhani in Farsi, was published by Reza Khalili.  Ryan Mauro highlights it at the Clarion Project, tying it to a report from 31 July in which Mauro outlined Rouhani’s extensive history of using deception about the Iranian nuclear program back when he was the chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran.

The deception and Rouhani’s gloating are important (see especially his characterization of the top-cover he received from European negotiators); I will let readers visit the reports and soak in the information at your leisure.  What I want to focus on here is the timeline Rouhani refers to in the video.  If he is telling the truth – and there is no obvious reason why he would lie about the timing he refers to – the timeline he outlines for bringing Iranian centrifuge cascades online in substantial numbers makes a poignant contrast with the reporting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the time.

The contrast highlights just how in the dark IAEA was during this period, at least about the centrifuges.  (It’s also worth highlighting, in general, the timeline of what was going on during the EU-brokered negotiations Rouhani refers to in the video.)  Certainly, many in the West had an uneasy suspicion that, by the end of 2005, Iran may have accomplished more than IAEA was officially aware of.  But, as late as February 2006, IAEA acknowledged the following decisive condition:

Due to the fact that no centrifuge related raw materials and components are under Agency seal, the Agency is unable effectively to monitor the R&D activities being carried out by Iran except at the [Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant],* where containment and surveillance measures are being applied to the enrichment process.

Rouhani’s timeline

The full timeline from the video develops as follows.  Rouhani summarizes it between the time hacks of 3:45 and 4:30.  His overall allusion is to the period from October 2003 to August 2005, when he was the chief negotiator for the Iranian nuclear program.

His initial discussion of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr contains no surprises; it is couched in the following terms:

– First phase of Bushehr project completed – Beginning of 2004

– Next phase completed – Fall of 2004

These references are presumably to Russia’s completion of facility construction, which was noted at the time in Western reporting.

– Project completed – March 2005

This is probably a reference to an agreement between Russia and Iran, concluded in February 2005, under which Moscow would supply the enriched-uranium fuel for the light-water reactor at Bushehr.  (See here as well for a summary from 2006 alluding to the 2005 agreement.)

iran-nuc-facs

So far, so good.  Next, Rouhani speaks of the heavy-water reactor, or the plutonium reactor at Arak.

– “Production” started at the heavy-water plant – Summer of 2004

Construction of the reactor was begun in June of 2004, but Rouhani here appears to be referring to the heavy-water production plant (HWPP), a particular component of the Arak reactor system, which reportedly began operation (i.e., the production of heavy water) in November 2004.

In this walk back through the Iranian nuclear program, it is worth recalling what the official line was about Arak at the time, in the big middle of the EU-3 talks with Iran:

Iran has started building a research reactor that could eventually produce enough plutonium for one bomb per year, ignoring calls to scrap the project, diplomats close to the United Nations said on Thursday. …

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran had created a “confidence deficit” by concealing parts of its atomic program for nearly two decades and urged Tehran to improve its transparency and cooperation with U.N. inspectors. A concluding statement from this week’s IAEA governing board meeting said the 35 members unanimously said it was “essential that Iran provide full transparency and extend proactive cooperation to the agency.” …

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/moderate-rouhani-misled-west-sneaked-in-centrifuges/2013/08/11/

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