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December 2, 2009

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Just a Year Away from the Bomb? - Dieter Bednarz, Erich Follath and Christoph Schult (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    Iranian scientists are believed to have successfully simulated the detonation of a nuclear warhead. Detonation is one of the most technologically challenging problems in the construction of this type of nuclear weapon.
    Experts believe that it could take Iran as little as a year to acquire the expertise and a sufficient quantity of highly enriched uranium to build a real nuclear warhead.
    Intelligence reports about a restructuring in the Iranian Defense Ministry are no less alarming. According to those reports, a "Department for Expanded High-Technology Applications" (FEDAT) is now under great pressure from the government in Tehran to push ahead with a military nuclear program.
    According to an organizational chart of FEDAT, the department is divided into sub-departments for uranium mining, enrichment, metallurgy, neutrons, highly explosive material and fuel supply ("Project 111").
    Israeli envoys quietly visit European companies that export products to Tehran. When the agitated German executives insist that their products are intended purely for civilian purposes, the Israelis produce photos showing the European components installed in one of Iran's nuclear plants.

Ex-IAEA Inspector: Press Iran Harder - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    Former international weapons inspector David Albright said Tuesday that "negotiations are going nowhere" and urged a comprehensive program of sanctions, increased regional missile defense, regional arms control, and more aid to Israel.
    "You need to shift more toward a policy of pressure. Sanctions and offers of negotiations are not enough."

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Useful Reference:

Strategic Assessment-November 2009 (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    New studies on Israel, the Palestinian issue, Iran, and Lebanon.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Russia May Be Shifting Stance on Iran Sanctions - Oleg Shchedrov
    Russia will join any consensus on more sanctions against Iran, a senior Russian diplomatic source said on Tuesday after Tehran declared it would expand nuclear activity in defiance of a UN rebuke. By referring to "consensus," Russia could be leaving itself an escape hatch since China has been the most resistant to punitive steps against Iran among the six world powers. "We will be thinking about sanctions, but this is not an issue of the next few hours or weeks," the source said. (Reuters)
        See also Ahmadinejad: Nuclear Partner Russia "Made a Mistake" over IAEA Vote - Jay Deshmukh and Hiedeh Farmani
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that in the International Atomic Energy Agency vote last Friday, "Russia made a mistake. It does not have an accurate analysis of today's world situation." "The agency should not have bowed to pressure by Britain and the Zionist regime. Resolutions and sanctions are worthless in our view," he said. "Obama's behavior is worrying. We expected him to make changes," he added. (AFP)
  • India Energy Giant Reliance Stops Selling Gasoline to Iran
    Reliance Industries has since April stopped selling gasoline and oil to Iran in an apparent bid to escape sanctions by the U.S. Sources said Reliance sells fuel to traders with clear instructions that the final destination will not be Iran. (Economic Times-India)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: Settlement Freeze a "One-Time, Temporary" Move - Chaim Levinson
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that a ten-month freeze of new construction in West Bank settlements was only a "one-time, temporary" move. "We shall resume building once the moratorium is over," Netanyahu told a financial conference. "The future final-status accord in Judea and Samaria will be determined at the end of negotiations - and not a day earlier," he said.
        Netanyahu also urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas yet again to resume negotiations suspended since last December, saying the Palestinians "need this peace no less than we do."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Condemns UN "Palestinian Solidarity Day" - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, condemned the organization's tradition of marking November 29, the date on which the UN approved its partition plan in 1947, as an occasion of "solidarity with the Palestinian people." Shalev told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that the hostility towards Israel fostered by the UN event was harmful to peace negotiations in the region.
        "Do those in our region have the courage to say publicly that Israel is the legitimate nation-state of the Jewish people? Do the members of this body have the courage to confront Hamas and Hizbullah and all those for whom there is no two-state solution?" she asked. (Ynet News)
        See also Statement by Israeli Ambassador to the UN General Assembly (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Israel: Sweden's Jerusalem Division Plan Damaging to EU - Roni Sofer
    Israel on Tuesday slammed a Swedish proposal to recognize eastern Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. "The move being led by Stockholm damages the European Union's ability to take part and be a significant element in the mediation efforts between Israel and the Palestinians," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy. "The Europeans must pressure the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Such moves like the one being led by Sweden lead to the opposite outcome."  (Ynet News)
        See also Knesset Speaker: Jerusalem Will Never Be Divided Despite EU Plan - Gil Hoffman
    Knesset members from across the political spectrum condemned a plan by the EU that was reported on Tuesday to unilaterally declare Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. "Jerusalem must never be divided, because it would only enhance the conflict and not solve it," said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, whose family has lived in the capital for a century. "Splitting sovereignty would bring about complete chaos," he said, adding that Israel had proven that adherents of Judaism, Islam and Christianity could live together in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jerusalem: The Dangers of Division - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
  • European Governments Have Been Manipulating Israeli Politics for Years - Brian Blondy
    Sixteen Israeli NGOs received a total of NIS 31.5 million in European funding between the years 2006 and 2009, according to a new report published by NGO Monitor and the Institute for Zionist Strategies, discussed at a conference on the impact and transparency of European governments held at the Knesset on Tuesday. "For over a decade, European governments have been manipulating Israeli politics and promoting demonization by funding a narrow group of favored non-governmental organizations," said NGO Monitor's president Prof. Gerald Steinberg. NGO Monitor is calling for full transparency when foreign government money is used by NGOs. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Trojan Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs (NGO Monitor)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel's Justified Fears of a Palestinian State - Carlo Strenger
    Israel has justified fears of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Israel's citizens are traumatized by years of rocket attacks from Gaza, which only intensified once Israel withdrew from there. The international community has shown somewhat limited understanding for Israel's concerns, because these attacks have not cost many lives.
        What would Israel's situation be after withdrawing from the West Bank to the 1967 borders? All major population centers of Israel would be in range of Katyushas. These rockets were sufficiently destructive to bring life in northern Israel to a complete standstill when Hizbullah fired large numbers of them into Israel during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. If Israel is attacked from the West Bank, the impact will be devastating, and Israel will have no choice but to react forcefully - and as a result will, once again, be the target of international condemnation.
        Hence if Israel continues the occupation of large parts of the West Bank, it is under constant international criticism but at least it is relatively safe. If Israel withdraws from the West Bank, it will open itself to attacks from there. Israelis will not be convinced that they can take risks for peace if they are not sure that the final agreement prevents any further demands that endanger Israel. The writer teaches at the psychology department of Tel Aviv University and serves as a member of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World Federation of Scientists. (Guardian-UK)
  • Time Running Out for the West's Conciliatory Approach - Con Coughlin
    Precisely why Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, is so obsessed with developing nuclear power has never been adequately explained. Many of the facilities the Iranians have built so far, such as the massive underground enrichment facility at Natanz, are not suitable for the nuclear power plant that is currently being built by Russian technicians at Bushehr. If the enriched uranium being produced at Natanz is unsuitable for the country's domestic nuclear program, what else might it be used for? It is this and other glaring discrepancies about Iran's nuclear program that have led the West to conclude that Iran's nuclear intentions are far from peaceful, and that the regime is secretly working to construct an atom bomb.
        The team of IAEA inspectors that was allowed to visit the Qom facility concluded that the facility has no obvious civilian or commercial use, prompting the suspicion that it has been built as part of a clandestine military program. If Iran acquires a nuclear weapons capability, many of the major Arab states will try to follow suit. Saudi Arabia is believed to have reached an understanding with Pakistan to acquire its nuclear know-how. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    Israel: Don't Call Jerusalem the Palestinian Capital - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • An EU draft resolution on the Middle East put forward by Sweden wholly adopts the Palestinian narrative without even a wink toward Israel's concerns, a senior Israeli diplomat says. The resolution, which for the first time refers to "Palestine," calls for a resumption of negotiations that would lead to a Palestinian state with "East Jerusalem" as its capital.
    • "This resolution shows that what Israel does is never enough, and the onus is only on us," the Israeli diplomat said. "It shows that the Palestinians want to get an agreement without having to go through negotiations."
    • He said the draft represented a near-full acceptance of the Palestinian narrative, and does not take into consideration Israel's concerns such as security, the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or the insistence that Palestinian refugees be repatriated to a future Palestinian state and not to Israel.
    • "They don't mention our issues, and when we bring them up, they say only that these will be dealt with during the negotiations," he said. "However, the Palestinian issues they put in the conclusions - those issues don't have to be negotiated."
    • Israeli officials dismissed as nonsense European claims that the resolution would strengthen Mahmoud Abbas, saying all it would do was strengthen his belief that there was no need to negotiate, and that if he just waited long enough the international community would deliver Israel.
    • What is infuriating, the official said, was that Netanyahu "went the extra mile" in declaring the settlement moratorium, and instead of getting praise, the Europeans put all the pressure on Israel.

          See also Livni to Sweden: Ditch EU Plan on Dividing Jerusalem - Barak Ravid
      Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Tuesday urged Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, to abandon an EU plan to issue an official call for the division of Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)

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