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|
December 14, 2009
Iranian Scientist Who Vanished "Gave Nuclear Secrets" to UN Inspectors Sent to Qom Site - Philip Sherwell and Peter Allen (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
Hamas Warns Against PA Collaboration with Christians - Mati Steinberg (Ha'aretz)
Iran's New Crackdown on Women - Dana Goldstein (Daily Beast)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Confidential intelligence documents show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb. The notes, from Iran's most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date the notes to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons program. The document describes the use of a neutron source, uranium deuteride, which independent experts confirm has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon. Uranium deuteride is the material used in Pakistan's bomb, from where Iran obtained its blueprint.
Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: "The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution." Experts say that, if the 2007 date is correct, the documents are the strongest indicator yet of a continuing nuclear weapons program in Iran. Fitzpatrick said: "Is this the smoking gun? That's the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium." (Times-UK)
The Obama administration has approved an aggressive plan to ratchet up sanctions on Iran in an effort to squeeze that country's economy, a senior administration official told Newsweek. The centerpiece of the plan calls for the Treasury Department to target front companies of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). "It's important for Obama that the United States do exactly what it says it's going to do," says the senior official. "We said at the end of the year we would turn to sanctions" if diplomacy to put an end to Iran's nuclear program didn't produce results. "We tried the engagement route," the official said.
Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, noted that the IRGC's business interests have been steadily taking over Iran's economy. (Newsweek)
See also Obama's Enforcer - Michael Hirsh and Michael Isikoff (Newsweek)
Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Saturday that his country was willing to exchange most of its uranium for processed nuclear fuel from abroad - as the UN has proposed - but only according to a timetable that Western powers appear to have already rejected. The statement may be aimed at trying to divide the U.S. and its allies just days before a scheduled meeting to discuss possible new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. A senior Obama administration official said Saturday that the Iranian statement did not appear to be consistent with the agreement proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, in consultation with the U.S., Russia and France. (New York Times)
After Israel was chosen last month to oversee global efforts to end the trade in "blood diamonds" that stokes guerrilla wars, Syria asked the UN General Assembly on Friday to delete any mention of Israel's leadership role. The U.S., Canada and Israel challenged the Syrian parliamentary maneuver and the General Assembly voted to defeat the Syrian amendment 90-6, with 18 abstentions. Iran and North Korea joined Syria and some Arab nations in voting against Israel.
Syria had objected to a passing reference near the end of the six-page resolution that simply noted that nations involved in the Kimberley Process "selected Israel to chair" their efforts in 2010. Israel is a global trading center for rough diamonds, and was among the founders of the Kimberley Process to cut the trade in "conflict diamonds." (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
In recent months, U.S. army engineers have moved forward on a two-phase, multimillion-dollar project to stop the flow of weapons and money into Gaza from Egypt. The first stage includes the installation of below-ground, state-of-the-art sensors capable of detecting sound or movement. U.S. experts began the process about one year ago, and it is nearing completion. The sensors are about the size of a human fist, planted inside pipes 15 meters deep.
While U.S. military engineers are responsible for monitoring the sensors, U.S. forces have kept the Israeli side informed about any detected movement, despite that the entire operation is conducted on Egyptian soil. Cairo is hesitant about the second stage of the project, the installation of a steel wall underneath the border. (Maan News-PA)
Hundreds of Hamas activists and supporters in the West Bank have been summoned by the Palestinian Authority security forces and requested to sign a pledge to refrain from publicly celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the founding of Hamas on Monday. A PA security official in Ramallah noted that such celebrations have been banned for the past four years. He said that altogether, about 1,500 men and women have been warned. A Hamas legislator in the West Bank said PA security forces have also arrested dozens of Hamas supporters over the past few days. For the past three years Hamas in Gaza has banned Fatah from holding celebrations marking the anniversary of its founding. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Hamas: "Palestine - From the River to the Sea"
As Hamas was marking its 22nd anniversary in Gaza City, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said that, "God willing, Hamas will celebrate its next anniversary in Jerusalem," and added that "the Palestinians, generation after generation, will always seek the liberation of Palestine, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea." (IMEMC-PA)
An Israeli woman, 20, was moderately wounded on Saturday evening when a Palestinian stabbed her in her back while she was waiting at a bus stop at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
See also Two Palestinians with Explosives Stopped at West Bank Checkpoint - Hanan Greenberg
Israel Defense Forces soldiers detained two Palestinians carrying an improvised explosive device and a shock grenade who approached a checkpoint southeast of the West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The three-week Israeli campaign in Gaza launched on Dec. 27 drew harsh international condemnation and threats of war crimes prosecutions. But most Israelis see it as the only means they had of ending eight years of rocket attacks on Nahal Oz and other nearby towns and villages. Until less than a year ago, Nahal Oz was a place to stay away from or risk being hit by rockets from neighboring Gaza. Since then, 10 new families have moved in. This used to be a place where few days passed without people having to dash to air-raid shelters. Now, it's a quiet village with open spaces, down-to-earth neighbors and affordable housing. The only thing heard from Gaza these days is calls to prayer at the mosques in Gaza City. (AP/Washington Post)
Every three minutes a Christian is being tortured in the Muslim world, and in 2009 more than 165,000 Christians will have been killed because of their faith, most of them in Muslim countries, according to a human rights group visiting Israel. "Hamas digs up the bodies of Christians from Christian burial sites in the Gaza Strip claiming that they pollute the earth," said Rev. Majed El Shafie, 32, an Egyptian-born Christian and President of One Free World International (OFWI), who heads a delegation of human rights activists, members of parliament from Canada and religious personalities visiting Israel for a conference on human rights and persecuted minorities at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. El Shafie said that some 200-300 million Christians are being persecuted in the world, 80% of whom lived in Muslim countries. (Jerusalem Post)
Only Much Harsher Sanctions Can Halt Iran Nuclear Program - Ephraim Kam (Ha'aretz)
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