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May 28, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Iran Has Enough Uranium for Five Bombs - Fredrik Dahl (Reuters)
    Iran has significantly stepped up its output of low-enriched uranium and total production in the last five years would be enough for at least five nuclear weapons if refined much further, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said, based on data in the latest report by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which was issued on Friday.
    Iran has produced almost 6.2 tons of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5% since it began the work in 2007 - some of which has subsequently been further processed into higher-grade material.
    This is nearly 750 kg. more than the IAEA reported in February. ISIS said Iran's monthly production had risen by roughly a third.
    See also ISIS Analysis of IAEA Iran Safeguards Report - David Albright, Andrea Stricker, and Christina Walrond (ISIS)
    See also Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in Iran - May 25, 2012 (IAEA)

Russian, North Korean Arms Ships, Paid For by Iran, Dock in Syria - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    Senior Syrian opposition figures told Ha'aretz that two cargo ships - the ODAI from North Korea and the Professor Katsman from Russia - were scheduled to dock Saturday in Latakiya and Tartus in Syria.
    According to reports in Arab media, the Professor Katsman is carrying arms for the Syrian army.
    A senior opposition figure said that "North Korea is also continuing to send arms to Syria. The shipments arrive by air and sea and they are being paid by a special slush fund that the Iranian government set up for this purpose."

Poll: 73% of Israelis Would Not Rely on International Arrangement with Iran - (Israel Hayom-IMRA)
    A poll of Israeli Jews carried out by New Wave for Israel Hayom published on May 25, 2012, asked:
    Would you rely on an international arrangement with Iran? Yes 12.5%, No 72.8%, Don't know 14.6%

Top Saudi Cleric: Ban Christian Churches in Arabia, Let Girls Marry at 10 - Irfan Al-Alawi (Gatestone Institute)
    In April, the Wahhabi grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdullah Al Ash-Sheikh, announced that girls could be forced into marriage at age 10 or 12, without their consent, by contractual arrangement between families.
    In March, the Saudi chief cleric called for the destruction of all Christian churches in the Arabian Peninsula.
    Radical Islamist tendencies following, or imitating, Wahhabism have gained new energy in the aftermath of the faded "Arab Spring."

UAE Eyes June Opening for Pipeline Bypassing Hormuz - Acil Tabbara (AFP)
    A pipeline being built by the UAE bypassing the Iran-threatened Strait of Hormuz will be operational in June, the ruler of Fujairah, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, told AFP.
    The pipeline will have an initial capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day rising to 1.8 million, which represents the bulk of the UAE's current production of around 2.5 million bpd, Sheikh Hamad said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Won't Halt Production of Higher Grade Uranium - Thomas Erdbrink
    Iran will not halt its enrichment of uranium up to 20%, the country's nuclear chief, Fereydoon Abbasi, told state television on Sunday, backing away from an earlier offer that suggested it might be prepared to cease production of the higher grade nuclear material. He made clear that there will be no suspension of enrichment by Iran, a key demand of UN Security Council resolutions. (New York Times)
        See also Iran Official Says Unconvinced of Need for IAEA to Inspect Parchin Nuclear Site
    The head of Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, Fereydoon Abbasi, said Saturday that Iran had not been convinced of the need for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the Parchin site, a military base suspected of housing nuclear weapons' experiments. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Officials among the Targets of Iran-Linked Assassination Plots - Joby Warrick
    U.S. and Middle Eastern officials now see the attempts to kill U.S. embassy officials in Azerbaijan last November as part of a broader campaign by Iran-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries over a span of 13 months. The targets have included two Saudi officials, a half-dozen Israelis and - in the Azerbaijan case - several Americans. In recent weeks, investigators working in four countries have amassed new evidence tying the disparate assassination attempts to one another and linking all of them to either Iran-backed Hizbullah militants or operatives based inside Iran, according to U.S. and Middle Eastern security officials. (Washington Post)
  • Panetta on Iran: "We Are Prepared for Any Contingency" - Jake Tapper
    U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told ABC News on Sunday: "Neither the United States nor the international community is going to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. We will do everything we can to prevent them from developing a weapon. The international community's been unified. We've put very tough sanctions on them as a result of that, and we are prepared for any contingency in that part of the world. But our hope is that these matters can be resolved diplomatically."  (ABC News)
  • Dozens of Children Die in Brutal Attack on Syrian Town - Neil MacFarquhar and Hwaida Saad
    More than 90 people, including at least 32 children under the age of 10, were killed in a central Syrian village, top UN officials said Saturday, accusing the government of perpetrating the "indiscriminate" shelling of civilian neighborhoods. Syrian tanks and artillery pounded Houla, near Homs, during the day, opposition groups said, then soldiers and pro-government fighters stormed the village and killed families in their homes late at night. Amateur videos showed row after row of victims, many of them small children with what appeared to be bullet holes in their temples. (New York Times)
        See also New Syrian Bombardment of Hama Kills 41 - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters)
        See also UN Security Council Condemns Syria over Massacre - Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Louis Charbonneau
    The UN Security Council on Sunday unanimously condemned the killing of at least 108 people, including many children, in the Syrian town of Houla. Russia said the "tragic" events in Syria deserve condemnation, but Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Alexander Pankin rejected the idea that the evidence clearly showed Damascus was guilty. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out with Russia's Aid - Helene Cooper and Mark Landler
    President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a plan that calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Assad's government in place. The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad's staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal. Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin of Russia at their meeting next month. Obama's national security adviser raised the plan with Putin in Moscow three weeks ago. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Official: Gaps Do Exist between U.S., Israel over Iran Nuclear Program - Barak Ravid
    Israeli officials said Monday that there are gaps between Israel and the U.S. over negotiations with Iran, as opposed to previous announcements made by the U.S administration. A senior Israeli official stated that while there is no disagreement that Iran is a threat to world peace and should be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon, there is a gap over the unsatisfactory demands made by world powers in the Baghdad talks, which do not answer Israel's minimum requirements that it believes should be placed before the Iranians. "The Iranians arrived at the Baghdad talks to gain time," said the Israeli official. "We are saying this with prior knowledge, not only from estimations."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Iranian Official: Iranian Forces Are in Syria - Dudi Cohen
    A high-ranking official in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard said Sunday that Tehran has sent troops to aid Assad's regime, and that they are already in Syria. "If the Islamic Republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of civilians would have been twice as bad," said Gen. Ismail Kuoni, deputy-commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Qods Force. (Ynet News)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Appalled by Syria Massacre; Iran and Hizbullah Must Also Be Held Responsible
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday issued a statement expressing his revulsion over the ongoing massacre being perpetrated by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad against innocent civilians, which continued over the weekend in Houla and included dozens of innocent children. "Iran and Hizbullah are an inseparable part of the Syrian atrocities and the world needs to act against them," he said. (Prime Minister's Office)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Hard Bargain - Editorial
    In recent weeks the Obama administration has radiated optimism about the possibility of a deal with Iran on its nuclear program. The latest round of talks in Baghdad this week should lower those expectations. The only substantive agreement was on holding another meeting next month in Moscow.
        Extended negotiations will only benefit Iran, by allowing it to continue work on the Fordow underground facility, which may be nearly immune to Israeli military attack. What's most concerning about the Baghdad talks is that they failed to show that the regime of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made a strategic decision to strike a bargain. Instead, Tehran sought something for nothing: acceptance by the West of its uranium enrichment in return for assertions that it is not seeking nuclear weapons and promises to cooperate with international inspectors.
        While an interim bargain that arrests what has looked like a slide toward war remains desirable, Iran cannot be granted much more time to build and install centrifuges. (Washington Post)
  • Egypt's Next Leader Won't Be from Tahrir Square - Fouad Ajami
    Two Egyptian presidential candidates will face one another in a runoff scheduled for mid-June. Mohammed Morsi is an American-educated engineer and the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood. His runoff opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, is a former commander of the Air Force and Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister. He ran on a platform of law and order, presented himself as a bulwark against the "forces of darkness" - the Islamists. So it will be the Brotherhood against the feloul, the remnants of the old regime.
        This is a faded, burdened country that has known many false dawns. Since the fall of Mubarak, Egypt has run down two-thirds of its foreign currency reserves, while unemployment has soared. Since no would-be ruler today has a magic wand for the country's maladies, it is perhaps no wonder that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has been so eager to cede power to a civilian government.
        In the vision of the Islamists, Egypt would be ruled by Shariah law. This cannot be sustained on Egyptian soil. Theocracies like Iran or Saudi Arabia rest on oil wealth, on the margin such wealth allows the rulers to mold the society. In Egypt, so dependent on foreign aid, remittances, the revenues of tourism and the kindness of strangers, a religious utopia would be undone. The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (Wall Street Journal)

Israel Can't Solve Africa's Problems - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)

  • Israel, much to its surprise, has found itself being swamped by unwelcome African migrants who have poured over the border with Egypt. The idea that tiny Israel should be considered the solution for African poverty is absurd. There are currently approximately 70,000 illegal African immigrants in Israel. In such a small country, that's a large burden for Israelis to carry.
  • If Americans are upset about undocumented immigrants in the U.S., the uproar in Israel isn't hard to understand. It's also true that, unlike the nations they pass through on their way to Israel, the Jewish state has treated newcomers with compassion.
  • Those who are quick to accuse Israel of racism should remember that it went to great trouble and expense to facilitate the mass immigration of tens of thousands of black Jews from Ethiopia in the past generation.
  • The Jewish tradition of caring for the homeless and the stranger has created a large degree of sympathy for the African migrants in Israel. But while it was possible for the country to take in the initial small numbers, now that the rate is up to 1,000 new illegals a month, the situation has gotten out of hand. Israel simply hasn't the ability to care for or employ that many people who have no ties to the place.

Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.
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