"IAEA Cannot Be Sure Iran's Nuclear Program Lacks Military Aims" (Reuters-DPA-Ha'aretz)
The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday his organization could not be sure that Iran's nuclear program did not have military aims.
"The agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," Yukiya Amano told the IAEA's governing board.
Amano said that since late last year, Iran had tripled monthly output of higher-grade enriched uranium.
He also highlighted Iran's significant increase in uranium enrichment, a process that can be theoretically used to make bomb material.
German Paper: North Korea Tested Nuclear Warhead for Iran - Omri Ceren (Commentary)
North Korea detonated two secret tests of atomic warheads with highly enriched uranium in 2010, according to a German press report.
The newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported that Western security circles assumed that North Korea carried out at least one of these tests for the Iranians.
This would mean that Tehran, with North Korean aid, has already constructed and tested an atomic warhead.
This assumption is based on data of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
See also Did Iran Test a Nuclear Bomb in North Korea in 2010? - David P. Goldman
See also Did Iran Test a Nuclear Bomb in North Korea in 2010? - Hans Ruhle
(Die Welt-Germany-in German)
Khamenei Allies Trounce Ahmadinejad in Iran Election - Parisa Hafezi and Hashem Kalantari (Reuters)
Loyalists supporting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei won over 75% of seats in Iran's parliamentary elections at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a near-complete count showed.
The widespread defeat of Ahmadinejad supporters is expected to reduce the president to a lame duck after he sowed divisions by challenging the authority of Khamenei.
"The establishment is under Western pressure and does not want to look divided," said analyst Babak Sadeghi. "Ahmadinejad will finish his term as a weak executive."
Turkey Foils Plot to Kidnap Free Syrian Army Commander (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Turkey has foiled a plot to kidnap Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Col. Riad al-Asaad and other senior Syrian opposition military figures from FSA headquarters in southern Turkey.
The FSA also revealed that it had captured a double agent who had joined the FSA but who was in reality spying for the Damascus regime.
Turkish sources revealed that a number of Turkish nationals were involved in the kidnap attempt, and that 2 Syrians and 5 Turks were apprehended.
The Turkish Sabah newspaper also revealed that Turkish military intelligence had arrested a Syrian woman and a Turkish man who were collecting the names of FSA officers present at the camp.
Daily Alert Blog
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Obama to AIPAC: "I Do Not Have a Policy of Containment" for Iran
U.S. President Barack Obama told the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington on Sunday:
"No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel's destruction."
"A nuclear-armed Iran is completely counter to Israel's security interests. But it is also counter to the national security interests of the United States. Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
"I made a commitment to the American people, and said that we would use all elements of American power to pressure Iran and prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon....So long as Iran fails to meet its obligations, this problem remains unresolved. The effective implementation of our policy is not enough - we must accomplish our objective. And in that effort, I firmly believe that an opportunity still remains for diplomacy - backed by pressure - to succeed."
"Given their history, there are, of course, no guarantees that the Iranian regime will make the right choice. But both Israel and the United States have an interest in seeing this challenge resolved diplomatically."
"We all prefer to resolve this issue diplomatically. Having said that, Iran's leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States - just as they should not doubt Israel's sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs."
"Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests." (White House)
See also below Observations - Obama: "I Don't Bluff" - Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic Monthly)
- U.S.: Iran Is Stepping Up Lethal Aid to Syria - Joby Warrick and Liz Sly
U.S. officials say they see Iran's hand in the increasingly brutal crackdown on opposition strongholds in Syria, including evidence of Iranian military and intelligence support for government troops accused of mass executions and other atrocities in the past week.
"The aid from Iran is increasing, and is increasingly focused on lethal assistance," said one official. The flow of military aid to Assad comes as Arab states are considering arming the regime's opponents.
One official said intelligence agencies have documented reports of a wide range of assistance.
"They've supplied equipment, weapons and technical assistance - even monitoring tools - to help suppress unrest....Iranian security officials also traveled to Damascus to help deliver this assistance."
A second senior U.S. official said members of Iran's main intelligence service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, are assisting Syrian counterparts in charge of the crackdown. Iran's intelligence service played a key role in Tehran's crackdown on the country's Green Movement in 2009. It now is believed to be "exporting its vicious practices to support the Syrian regime's abhorrent crackdown on its own population," said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. (Washington Post)
- Israel Offers to Help Treat Injured in Syrian Uprising
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday that Israel is ready to help treat Syrians injured in the uprising against President Assad and to provide "all humanitarian aid at any minute it is requested." Israel would provide the aid through the UN or other international organizations and would not get involved in Syria's affairs.
See also Israel Offers to Send Humanitarian Aid to Syrian Civilians
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Director General for International Organizations and the UN Evyatar Manor contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross and suggested that Israel transfer humanitarian aid to Syria under Red Cross auspices.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu Says He Appreciates Obama's Positions on Iran - Herb Keinon
After President Obama's speech to AIPAC Sunday,
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he "very much appreciates that fact that Obama reiterated the position that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, and that all options are on the table."
Netanyahu said he also appreciated "the fact that when it comes to a nuclear-armed Iran, containment is simply not an option." Netanyahu said that perhaps the most important element of the speech was that the president said Israel "must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat." Netanyahu will meet Obama on Monday.
- Netanyahu Warns Against Renewed Talks with Iran - Herb Keinon
After meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa on Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spelled out the conditions Tehran should meet before the world once again negotiates with it over its nuclear program. "Right now, Iran is feeling the pressure of economic sanctions, and it could try to evade that pressure by entering talks." Tehran must be kept from again using negotiations to gain time and advance its nuclear program, he said.
To avoid "falling into this trap," the international community should place three conditions on Tehran before entering negotiations: Iran must dismantle its nuclear facility at Qom; stop all uranium enrichment inside the country; and remove all uranium already enriched beyond 3.5% out of the country.
"Anything short of that would enable Iran to continue its nuclear program by other means, which is exactly what they have done up to now."
- Gray Area Between the Red Lines - Dan Margalit
Both the U.S. and Israel have declared unequivocally that they will not allow Iran to gain nuclear capabilities. The dispute is only about where the red line is drawn. If Israel accepts the U.S.'s way of thinking, it is in fact leaving the attack on Iran's nuclear facilities entirely up to the Americans, relinquishing its ability to exercise independent judgment. And what if the White House changes its mind?
- Can an American President Promise Preventive War to Assuage an Ally? - James Kitfield
Israel believes that Iran is approaching a "zone of immunity" in the coming months as it buries nuclear infrastructure, and the Israelis don't trust the U.S. to launch its own military strikes if Iran crosses predetermined red lines on the way to a nuclear weapon. As if an American president can promise preventive war to assuage an ally.
Martin Indyk, director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, and a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, said: "The Iranians keep moving closer to the nuclear-weapons threshold; Israel gets increasingly nervous and threatens military strikes; the United States tightens sanctions in part to try and calm the Israelis; and an Iranian regime that already feels threatened reacts with greater defiance."
Having begun by passively insisting that a nuke was "unacceptable" and that "no options were off the table," the administration is now on record saying that Iran's ambitions would provoke action. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently told "60 Minutes,": "If they proceed, and we get intelligence that they're proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it."
That declaration may be bringing the Americans and Israelis closer together. "I expect the upcoming White House talks will project not only the image but the reality of tighter coordination on Iran's nuclear program," says Dennis Ross, who until recently was a special assistant to the president focused on Iran. "There is really no difference in the primary objective that Iran cannot be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons." The major focus of discussion will be on the timelines and on Israel's concern that the window for military action is closing. (National Journal)
- Can Israel Trust the United States When It Comes to Iran? - Yossi Klein Halevi
In May 1967, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol dispatched his foreign minister, Abba Eban, to Washington. Egyptian and Syrian troops were pressing on Israel's borders; Egypt had imposed a naval blockade on the Straits of Tiran, Israel's shipping route to the east. Eban's request of President Lyndon Johnson was that America honor its commitment to back military action if Egypt blocked the Straits of Tiran. That commitment had been made by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in 1957, to secure Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai desert following the 1956 Suez War.
Only a declaration by Johnson that he intended to immediately open the straits to Israeli shipping even at the risk of war could stop a unilateral Israeli strike. Though Johnson was viscerally pro-Israel, he proved unable or unwilling to honor Dulles' commitment. Preoccupied with Vietnam, Johnson wasn't ready to support another war, let alone initiate one. Even if Barack Obama is truly pro-Israel, the Johnson precedent tells us that it may not matter.
Israeli leaders believe that their window of opportunity in launching a preemptive strike will be closing in the coming months. An Israeli decision not to strike this year will mean that it effectively ceded its self-defense - against a potentially existential threat - to America. When Obama tells Israel to give sanctions time, what he is really saying is: Trust me to stop Iran militarily when you no longer can.
Israel has a moral responsibility not to surprise its closest friend with an initiative that could drastically affect American well-being. And the U.S. has a moral responsibility not to pressure its closest Middle East ally into forfeiting its right to self-defense against a potentially genocidal enemy.
Obama: "I Don't Bluff" - Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic Monthly)
President Barack Obama said in an interview:
- "Today, the world is as united as we've ever seen it around the need for Iran to take a different path on its nuclear program, and Iran is isolated and feeling the severe effects of the multiple sanctions that have been placed on it."
- "Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon isn't just in the interest of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States, and that when I say we're not taking any option off the table, we mean it. We are going to continue to apply pressure until Iran takes a different course."
- "It means a political component that involves isolating Iran; it means an economic component that involves unprecedented and crippling sanctions; it means a diplomatic component in which we have been able to strengthen the coalition that presents Iran with various options through the P-5 plus 1 and ensures that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] is robust in evaluating Iran's military program; and it includes a military component."
- "I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff....I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."
- "The risks of an Iranian nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorist organizations are profound. It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons....And it would also provide Iran the additional capability to sponsor and protect its proxies in carrying out terrorist attacks, because they are less fearful of retaliation."
- "It is important for us to see if we can solve this thing permanently, as opposed to temporarily. And the only way, historically, that a country has ultimately decided not to get nuclear weapons without constant military intervention has been when they themselves take [nuclear weapons] off the table."
See also Obama Says U.S. Serious about Using Force Against a Nuclear Iran - Christi Parsons and Paul Richter
President Obama said for the first time that he did not view "containment" as an option if Iran developed a nuclear weapon.
A containment strategy would not work because of the danger of nuclear arms spreading throughout the region, he said. That would threaten not only the security of Israel, but also that of the U.S. and Europe. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Decoding Obama's Message on Iran - David Ignatius
Obama sought to explain why commitments about future U.S. action on Iran were sound policy choices for the U.S., not just for Israel. A crucial part of his messaging to Iran and the world is to show that he isn't being jammed by Israel into these promises, but is making them because they're rational and sensible for the United States.
Is Obama bluffing? Who can say, but if you're an Iranian decision-maker (or, perhaps more important, Netanyahu) you have to weigh a bit more heavily the possibility that the president really does mean what he says.
See also As Obama Meets with Netanyahu, a Striking Rhetorical Change - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert