Flame Virus Had Massive Impact on Iran, Says Israeli Security Firm - Oded Yaron (Ha'aretz)
The Flame computer virus not only stole large quantities of information from various Iranian government agencies, but apparently even disrupted its oil exports by shutting down oil terminals, information security firm Symantec Israel said Tuesday.
Symantec said there was evidence that it had erased information from computer hard disks in Iran as well.
Iran's national computer emergency team, Maher, said that Flame had evaded detection by 43 different anti-virus programs, despite its size - 20 megabytes.
By comparison, the Stuxnet computer worm that attacked Iran's nuclear program two years ago was only one megabyte.
U.S., Arab Armies Drill Taking Over Syrian Chemical Weapons - Roi Kais
The joint U.S. and Arab military exercise "Eager Lion" that ended in Jordan on Sunday included a simulation of fighting militias attempting to take over a weapons arsenal, specifically chemical missiles in Syria, a senior diplomatic source told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
Japan's Iran Crude Imports Dive in April (Reuters)
Japan's crude imports from Iran fell 65.5% in April from a year earlier, ahead of deeper declines that may come from July as Western sanctions bite.
Japanese crude buyers are making the cutbacks to comply with sanctions that make it tough to pay for, ship and insure the oil.
German President: Iran a Potential Threat to Europe - Adar Primor (Ha'aretz)
Joachim Gauck, Germany's 11th president, began his first official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Tuesday. Gauck, a Lutheran pastor, is a former anti-Communist civil rights activist in East Germany.
In an interview with Ha'aretz on the eve of his visit, Gauck said Germany "has a unique responsibility for Israel due to the darkest chapter in our history," a responsibility "that will never cease. Germany is fully committed to the security and right to exist of the State of Israel."
"I'm very concerned about Iran's nuclear program," he says. "Given the comments made by Iran's leaders, it not only represents a concrete threat to Israel but also a potential threat to the region and also for us in Europe."
Saudis Demand Punishment for McDonald's Toy They Say "Insults Muhammed" - Raymond Ibrahim (Gatestone Institute)
Saudi Arabians are angry at a McDonald's toy which they say mocks their prophet Muhammad.
According to a May 27 report on the Arabic news website, Kermalkom.com, McDonald's "abused the Prophet Muhammad by placing his name at the base of a toy that is being distributed as part of the Happy Meal, a toy which steps on the name 'Muhammad.'"
According to the Saudis, the design around the base is really the name "Muhammad" written several times in circles.
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- Israel Pours Cold Water on Big-Power Talks with Iran - Douglas Hamilton
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday nothing short of Iran stopping uranium enrichment, getting rid of what it already produced and dismantling the means of making more, would satisfy him that it had no nuclear weapons project.
"This is the true test. Without that there is nothing," he told the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Referring to the world powers negotiating with Iran, he said: "Not only do they need to strengthen the sanctions, they need to strengthen their demands from Iran for which they have placed the sanctions."
Earlier Tuesday, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said the Baghdad talks had only produced "more Iranian time-buying."
"(There was) no significant achievement except for the Iranians having been given another three weeks or so to pursue the nuclear project until the next meeting in Moscow," he told Israel's Army Radio.
"To my regret, I don't see any sense of urgency, and perhaps it is even in the interest of some players in the West to stretch out the time, which would certainly square with the Iranian interest."
- Israel's Defense Minister Calls Iranian Nuclear Threat "A Sword on Israel's Neck" - Jodi Rudoren
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday called the Iranian nuclear threat "a sword on the neck" of the Jewish state.
"You don't wait until they acquire the capability and they build it and they deploy it - then it's too late, you cannot act." "The Iranians are patient. They say to themselves, 'We waited 4,000 years until we have nuclear power, we can wait another four weeks or four months or four quarters.
You cannot sleep quietly when the Iranians are going to the point that after that Israel will not be able to do anything....Israel doesn't have an option, and I repeat does not have an option, to ignore this challenge."
(New York Times)
- U.S., Allies Expel Syrian Diplomats over Massacre - Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly
The U.S. and 10 other countries expelled Syrian diplomats Tuesday after blaming government forces for last week's massacre of more than 100 villagers in Houla.
See also Houla Massacre: U.S. Accuses Iran of "Bragging" about its Military Aid to Syria - Chris McGreal
The U.S. has accused Iran of "aiding and abetting" the massacre of women and children in Houla by providing support for the Syrian militia accused of carrying out the slaughter.
Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, said that Iran's hand is clearly visible in the killing of more than 100 people, including scores of young children, by the Syrian Shabiha militia group, which closely resembles an Iranian militia, the Basij.
"The Iranians have clearly supplied support and training and advice to the Syrian army, but this Shabiha thug force mirrors the same force that the Iranians use. The Basij and the Shabiha are the same type of thing and clearly reflect the tactics and the techniques that the Iranians use for their own suppression of civil rights," she said.
U.S. Remains Opposed to Military Action in Syria - Anne Gearan
The massacre of more than 100 Syrian villagers is unlikely to galvanize a military assault like last year's campaign in Libya to oust Moammar Gaddafi. "We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "We believe that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage." "The nature and shape of and the membership of the opposition is still something that we and our partners are assessing," Carney said. (AP-Boston Globe)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Dennis Ross: Saudi King Vowed to Obtain Nuclear Bomb after Iran - Chemi Shalev
Former senior U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross confirmed Tuesday that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has explicitly warned the U.S. that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will do so as well.
"If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons," Abdullah told Ross in April 2009. Ross said he responded to the king's assertion with a lengthy appeal against nuclear proliferation, but after hearing him out, the king responded by repeating the same line.
In February, the London Times quoted a "senior Saudi official" as saying that Riyadh would launch a "twin-track nuclear weapons program" should Tehran realize its ambition of obtaining a nuclear weapon. The Saudi threat is one of the prime factors motivating Washington's campaign to stop Tehran's nuclear program.
Ross said that while it would be "unrealistic" to expect serious progress in the nuclear talks with Iran after only two rounds, the U.S. should set a deadline for the conclusion of diplomatic contacts - and make Tehran aware of it.
- Netanyahu to PA: "Give Peace a Chance" - Yonah Bob
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday called on the Palestinian Authority to "give peace a chance" and "not to miss this unique opportunity" for peace. He said that while Israel has extended its hand, its desire for peace "is not always reciprocated." He added that even achieving peace with the Palestinians would not solve Israel's problems with all of its neighbors in the Middle East.
Israel "does not want to rule the Palestinians," he said, emphasizing that he had publicly expressed support for the two-state solution.
Netanyahu said Israel had no preconditions, but believed that the Israeli consensus demanded recognition of Israel as the Jewish national home. (Jerusalem Post)
- Iran's Bid for Hegemony - Editorial
Quite simply, the Iranian nuclear program is proceeding as the leadership in Tehran wishes. It is based on the dream of reviving the Persian Empire and reinstating its control over the region. This agenda is based on territorial/confessional [Shiite] expansionism, digging up the past from its grave in the service of this expansionist policy.
The Iranian project in the region is no longer a secret. Even if it assumes different forms and adopts various guises, such as "backing the resistance against Israel," it ultimately aims at ensuring Tehran's control over the so-called "Shiite Crescent." This is the prelude to taking over the rest of the region - something that the region's states and nations should be wary of. (Al-Watan-Saudi Arabia, Middle East Mirror, 29May12)
- Time for U.S. Leadership on Syria - Editorial
The observers dispatched by the UN Security Council to monitor an illusory "cease fire" in Syria have been reduced to adding up the bodies of massacred civilians. Horrific as it was, the Houla massacre is not unique, just better documented than the crimes perpetrated by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in towns and cities across Syria. More than 1,000 people have died since the Security Council charged envoy Kofi Annan with implementing a peace plan in late March.
Annan's mission has become one of the most costly diplomatic failures in UN history.
- Time for More Pressure on Syria - Elliott Abrams
There are two possible outcomes in Syria's civil war: Assad wins, by killing enough people to crush the rebellion, in which case Iran and Syria (and the regime's armorers in Russia) have a great victory. From this, dictators everywhere would learn that Ben Ali and Mubarak had it all wrong and simply failed to kill enough protesters. Or, Assad loses, and with him Iran, Hizbullah, and Russia lose.
This latter result does not require American troops or planes, but does require American leadership. American leadership means the coordinated supply of arms, ammunition, training, and non-lethal goods like radios and uniforms to the opposition forces. World opinion won't scare Assad any more than Kofi Annan does. It is time to end the charades and give the concrete help that will bring down this murderous anti-American regime.
What Bashar Assad Knows - Douglas Murray (Wall Street Journal Europe)
- It is now more than a year since Assad began using his security forces in a full-scale assault against the people of the country he treats as family property. As the tragedy escalates for the Syrian people, a new reality of power is emerging.
- What everybody else knows and does not want to admit is that though we may talk somewhat tough, there is nothing at all that we are going to do. The Western allies' forces are still recovering from the engagement in Libya - and we never want to have to do anything like that again.
- What we are now see unfolding around Syria is the result of a gap between what our politicians pretend to be able to do and what they are actually able to do, in an era in which everything, from financial resources to political will, is in short supply.
- Iran is now boasting of sending arms and troops to Syria. And nobody is going to do anything to stop them.
- Some years ago, the tide of American leadership started to go out.
That fact may be felt in America last, but it is being felt in Syria first.
The writer is associate director of the Henry Jackson Society in London.
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