Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
September 22, 2009
Egyptian Tied in Race for UNESCO Director General - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
U.S. Sees Hand of Iran's Revolutionary Guards in Afghanistan - Adam Entous (Reuters)
Dissident Ayatollah Montazeri
Unleashes His Wrath - Michael Theodoulou (The National-Abu Dhabi)
Cairo Awash in Trash After Wiping Out Pigs - Michael Slackman (New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The U.S. and Iran remain far apart on the substance and purpose of the upcoming negotiations, and President Obama and Iranian President Ahmadinejad will make dueling speeches to the UN on Wednesday. For the Americans, time is of the essence. Obama has set an informal deadline of year's end for assessing Iran's intentions before trying to turn up the pressure by seeking to bolster international sanctions. But the administration also wants to demonstrate that it tried every diplomatic avenue, hoping that will convince skeptics of sanctions, such as Russia, that it has demonstrated flexibility in dealing with Tehran.
For the Iranians, time needs to be dragged out. The Iranian government has made huge strides in its nuclear program while talks have dragged on, intermittently, since 2003. While the Iranians have stood still, the other parties have increasingly sweetened their offers. U.S. officials want to narrow discussion to nuclear weapons, but Iranians want to broaden the topics to issues such as drug trade, terrorism and regional security. (Washington Post)
See also France Reluctant to Block Gasoline for Iran - Mark Landler
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said Monday that he had deep misgivings about blocking shipments of refined fuel to Iran, one of the sanctions being weighed by the Obama administration if the Iranian government does not negotiate on its nuclear program. If France comes out against fuel sanctions, analysts said, they will most likely be off the table as an option for increasing the pressure on Iran. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia said last week that he doubted the Security Council would support an embargo of refined fuel products against Iran. (New York Times)
Iran's president said Monday he is proud to stoke international outrage with his latest remarks denying the Holocaust as he heads for the UN this week. He stoked the fires ahead of his fifth appearance at the General Assembly when asked about widespread condemnation of his new comments casting doubt on the Holocaust. Ahmadinejad said Monday: "The anger of the world's professional killers is (a source of) pride for us."
Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst at the Washington-based RAND Corp., said Ahmadinejad is playing to an audience at home, trying to distract from the controversy over his election. "But I think that his credibility and legitimacy have been so damaged that this isn't going to help him in Iran." In addition, "it calls into question his seriousness in engaging the West." (AP)
As it pushes for international action against Iran's nuclear program, Israel is steadily assembling one of the world's most advanced missile defense systems, a multi-layered collection of weapons meant to guard against a variety of threats, partly financed by the U.S. and incorporating advanced American radar and other technology. Centered on the Arrow 2 anti-missile system, which has been deployed, the project is being extended to include a longer-range Arrow 3, the David's Sling interceptor designed to hit lower- and slower-flying cruise missiles, and the Iron Dome system intended to destroy Grads, Katyushas, Kassams and other shorter-range projectiles fired from Gaza and southern Lebanon.
Israel "has something to stabilize the situation: the knowledge that an attack will fail," said Uzi Rubin, who ran Israel's missile shield program in the 1990s. Iran, he said, now cannot be assured of a successful first strike against Israel, while groups such as Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon may find one of their favored tactics undermined. Iran "is radical, but radical does not mean irrational," said Rubin. "They want to change the world, not commit suicide." (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Tuesday's tripartite meeting in New York will serve as the "kick-off" to a renewed diplomatic process, even though negotiations with the Palestinians will not be launched at that time, senior diplomatic officials said Monday. "We have no grand expectations out of one meeting," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. The trilateral meeting will follow two separate ones between Obama and each of the two leaders. According to senior Israeli diplomatic officials, Israel and the U.S. got extremely close to an agreement on the package that would launch negotiations, but the Palestinians refused to budge on their demand for a total Israeli building freeze. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Obama and the Peace Process - Nahum Barnea
At the outset of his term, Obama promised that resolving the Mideastern conflict will be one of his major targets during his tenure. But like the sad story about the army officer who screamed "follow me" and only later discovered that he is running alone, Obama's "follow me" was not endorsed by others. He asked King Abdullah to order modest trust-building gestures that would accompany the resumption of talks between Israel and Abbas. The Saudis refused. Israel's public opinion may have been willing to pay a price in exchange for ties with Saudi Arabia, but an interest office in Qatar doesn't get it excited. (Ynet News)
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in Washington on Monday that any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians must include an agreement on ending the conflict. Regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, Barak said Israel "is not taking any option off the table." (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Combining the data advanced by Iranian authorities and the estimates made by the IAEA, experts at the University of Wisconsin who have long monitored the Iranian nuclear program think that Iran appears to be producing about 2.77 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) a day. As of Sept. 10, Iran had already stockpiled 1,602.31 kg of this nuclear material. If in order to produce military uranium for a bomb, 800 kg of LEU is the amount suitable, then Iran might already have enough material to make its first two nuclear bombs whenever it sees fit. Converting LEU into military uranium would only take Tehran approximately three months. The writer served as foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Aznar of Spain. (Expansion/Strategic Studies Group-Spain)
In 1993, two years after the Soviet Union's collapse, its former republics were brimming with highly enriched uranium and plutonium. That summer, Viktor Mikhailov, the Russian atomic energy minister, revealed that Russia had accumulated up to 1,200 metric tons of highly enriched uranium, more than was previously thought. "We knew that Iran was all over Central Asia and the Caucasus with their purchasing agents," recalled Jeff Starr, who was then director for threat reduction policy at the Pentagon.
In late 1994, the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee prepared a report about the extent of the Russian nuclear materials crisis. The top-secret document concluded that not a single facility storing highly enriched uranium or plutonium in the former Soviet Union had safeguards up to Western standards. By 2008, more than 70% of the buildings with weapons-usable nuclear materials had been fortified, although the uranium and plutonium were still spread across more than 200 locations. (Washington Post)
The Taliban do not fight by the rules of modern warfare which try to limit the exposure of non-combatants. The enemy in Afghanistan meshes with old women and men, with children and the infirm. Taliban loyalists, always without uniforms, move in and out of combat roles. The same issue arises with the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war in which Israel is accused of blithely targeting civilians.
Israeli soldiers fought in Gaza in a fight forced upon them by the Palestinians sending rockets into towns and kibbutzim of the Negev with increasing frequency but mostly at random. They took enormous risks not to shoot or bomb people who may have not been combatants. There is an asymmetry that is endemic to the judgments in the international system on first-world armies fighting third-world terrorists. (New Republic)
Response to the Goldstone Report on Gaza (Economist-UK)
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