"SILEX": Iran's Undetectable Nuclear Enrichment Technology - David P. Goldman (Gatestone Institute)
German nuclear weapons expert Hans Ruhle, who headed the German Defense Ministry's policy planning staff during the 1980s, warned in Die Welt on May 21 that Iran can enrich uranium using laser technology that is much harder to detect than centrifuges.
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in 2010 the 'good nuclear news' that Iran then possessed laser technology for uranium enrichment....The new technological option... suggests that Iran's voluntary restraint on enrichment is an attempt at diversion," Ruhle wrote.
"By the estimate of Australia's leading expert, laser enrichment is sixteen times more efficient than earlier enrichment technologies."
But the major nuclear powers had little incentive to invest in a new technology, he argues, because their centrifuge installations could enrich uranium at comparatively low cost.
Iran may have acquired laser enrichment technology from Russia. Ruhle argues "that in the spring of 2000, America's spy services discovered a pilot program for laser enrichment between Iran and the D.V.-Efremov Institute in St. Petersburg.
If Iran has acquired this technology, it can enrich uranium far more cheaply and quickly, in inconspicuous facilities that are far harder to detect than centrifuge installations, Ruhle warns.
Food Prices Skyrocket in Iran - Michael Rubin (Commentary)
Iran's Central Bank has released a chart which shows a tremendous rise in the price of most basic foodstuffs in Iran during the past year.
The price of chicken has skyrocketed 57% and beef has increased 49%. The price of vegetables has, on average, increased 79%.
The increase in food prices has far less to do with sanctions than it does to basic regime mismanagement of the Iranian economy.
Egypt Shuts Down Production of Film that "Promotes" Israel Ties - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Egypt's censor has stopped production of an Egyptian film because it reportedly promotes the normalization of relations with Israel, according to Al-Ahram.
The film, called "A Loaf of Bread," was written and directed by Mohamed Kenawy, who said the film is meant to promote peace and cooperation among all people regardless of sex, race and religion.
Viva Palestina Fails in New Attempt to Send Aid Convoy to Hamas in Gaza (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
The British pro-Hamas organization Viva Palestina recently failed in its latest attempt to send its sixth convoy to Gaza.
Egyptian authorities refused to allow the convoy to enter Egyptian territory, in our assessment, because of the violent behavior of the activists participating in the January 2010 convoy.
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- New Syria Massacre Reported - Liz Sly and Joby Warrick
Reports said dozens of Syrian civilians in Qubair near Hama were slain by pro-government militias on Wednesday. An activist, Mousab al-Hamadi, said people in the village told him that many women and children were among those hacked to death with knives by the militiamen.
See also Clinton Says Syrian Violence "Simply Unconscionable," Blames Assad - Bradley Klapper
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Syria's recent violence is "simply unconscionable" and is blaming President Bashar Assad for "doubling down" on his harsh crackdown.
Speaking in Turkey, Clinton says she and more than a dozen top foreign officials have agreed on a set of principles for a new Syria - explicitly calling for Assad's exile.
Assad Offered Exile in Russia - David Ignatius
The West wants Russia to broker a deal to remove Assad from power, but so far President Vladimir Putin hasn't seen enough pragmatic benefit to embrace this course. Assad would presumably depart for Russia, which is said to have offered him exile; the Syrian dictator is rumored to have transferred $6 billion in Syrian reserves to Moscow already. Under this scenario, Assad presumably could avoid international prosecution for war crimes. Iran is also said to have offered exile to Assad and his family. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said a week ago that Moscow wasn't wedded to Assad's remaining in power.
- Iran Threatens Delays in Nuclear Talks - Rick Gladstone and Artin Afkhami
Iran raised the possibility on Wednesday of delaying or canceling the resumption of nuclear talks with the big powers, scheduled in less than two weeks, because of what it called dithering by the other side in holding preliminary meetings. In response, Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for chief negotiator Catherine Ashton, said Ashton had replied to the Iranians that she saw no need for further preparatory meetings. Western diplomats said they believed that the Iranian requests for such meetings were part of a deliberate effort to bog down the process.
In addition, on Wednesday, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, the UN nuclear monitoring agency, accused some of the agency's inspectors of espionage. (New York Times)
- Israel Accuses Iran of Nuclear Deception - George Jahn
Israel's delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ehud Azoulay, accused Tehran on Wednesday of "proceeding in (an) accelerated path towards acquiring nuclear weapons capability" while employing a strategy of "deception, defiance and concealment." (AP)
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- Israel and the U.S. in Disagreement over Iran - Zaki Shalom
All the efforts to dissuade Iran from continuing to develop nuclear capabilities have failed to bear fruit.
Israel welcomes the expansion of the sanctions that are scheduled to be imposed against Iran in the coming weeks, yet it does not pin great hopes on the ability of the sanctions to stop Iran's nuclear activity. There is little hope that the negotiations of recent weeks, as well as those scheduled for Moscow, can cause a transformation. Iran's attitude to the negotiations with the P5+1 does not indicate that Iran feels deterred in any way or senses any urgency.
From the Israeli perspective, there is a conspicuous gap between the resolute tone of the Obama administration's statements on Iran and their translation into tough stances in the dialogue.
Israel's timetable vis-a-vis Iran differs vastly from America's. While Israel operates out of a sense that it has very little time left, the U.S. seems to have a much longer timeframe. Furthermore, Israel is making very specific and concrete demands of Iran, much more far-reaching than those being made by the U.S.
In the current circumstances, Israel will find it hard to place its trust in America's resolve to prevent a nuclear Iran, and not act on its own.
The writer is a Principal Research Fellow at the INSS.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
See also U.S. Aides in Israel Give Assurances about Iran - Mark Landler
A stream of current and former U.S. officials have been traveling to Israel to threaten additional sanctions on Iran and to reiterate President Obama's readiness to use military action against Iran if diplomacy fails. "There is, and has been, a consistent interest in reassuring the Israelis that we're not going to be played," said Dennis B. Ross, who was one of the president's senior advisers on Iran and is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "That the goal is to raise pressure, not to relieve it, and that the objective remains prevention, not containment."
(New York Times)
- Amnesty Report Against Israel Written by Pro-Palestinian Activists
A new Amnesty International report on the Israeli practice of administrative detention is one-sided, and ignores the extreme circumstances that lead to these detentions, says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. Furthermore, he says, "Amnesty's report is based on the ideological backgrounds of two researchers who comprise its Middle East department, Deborah Hyams and Saleh Hijazi - individuals with clear activist backgrounds. This is a violation of Amnesty's claimed core value of 'impartiality.'"
"This report, which relies heavily on political NGOs such as B'tselem, erases the context of Israeli action, and applies double standards to target Israel. The fact is that administrative detention is a common procedure used by democratic countries around the world, including the U.S. and the UK. Israel's use of this practice complies with international law - all Palestinian administrative detainees are brought before a judge within a short period of time, and all the evidence is reviewed by the court." (Israel Hayom)
- The Muslim Brotherhood and the Four "No"s - Alan Johnson
I was in Doha last week for the U.S.-Islamic World Forum. Held annually since 9/11, the forum builds "bridges of understanding between the United States and the Muslim World." The forum left me troubled in two respects.
First by a pitch made by several speakers to throw Israel overboard, and the good ship "U.S.-Islamic Relations" will steam ahead. Second, by a naive approach among some participants toward one of the most ideologically driven political formations in the Islamic world - the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood doesn't mean what we mean by such words as "freedom," "equality," "democracy," and "rights," and they sense that we don't realize that! One participant asked the constitution writers present to say whether or not they agreed with the following four "no"s: No religious test for citizenship or for any public position, including president. No second-class citizenship on the basis of religion. No legal impediment or social restriction on the freedom of worship. No imposition of religious identity upon the individual by society or state. The silence was deafening. The writer is a professor of democratic theory and practice at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, England. (World Affairs)
- Fertility Decline in the Muslim World - Nicholas Eberstadt and Apoorva Shah
Important new demographic realities reflect today's life patterns within the Arab world. Throughout the worldwide Muslim community, fertility levels are falling dramatically for countries and subnational populations. At the same time, the use of modern contraceptives remains much lower among Muslim-majority populations than among non-Muslim societies of similar income level.
Iran has registered one of the most rapid and pronounced fertility declines ever recorded. By 2000, the fertility rate for the country had dropped to 2.0, below the replacement level of 2.1. Tehran and Isfahan reported fertility levels lower than any state in the U.S.
Nicholas Eberstadt holds the Henry Wendt chair in political economy at the American Enterprise Institute, where Apoorva Shah served as research fellow.
(Hoover Institution-Stanford University)
Europe Begins in Israel - Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - Part 2 (Bild-Germany)
- "The demands that accompany the sanctions [on Iran] are inadequate. You apply this whole set of pressures - for what? For practically nothing! Iran could stop the 20% enrichment at any moment now and not in any way retard their advance in the nuclear program. The P5+1 is so keen on getting any agreement that they have lowered the demands."
- "There should be three clear demands: One, stop all enrichment high and low. Second, remove all material that has been enriched from Iran. Third, dismantle the underground nuclear bunker in Qom. If they really want nuclear power for peaceful purposes, as they claim, they should agree. The reasons they don't agree is that they are pursuing atomic bombs. We cannot deceive ourselves when we are discussing atomic bombs in the hands of the ayatollahs."
"What [the Iranians] are doing now before they have nuclear weapons is bad enough. Sending killers our way, killing NATO forces in Afghanistan; they are arming their terrorist proxies, Hizbullah and Hamas, with tens of thousands of rockets. They are threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz and choke off the supply of oil. And they openly talk about the possibility of using nuclear weapons. So think what they would do if they had nuclear weapons."
- "The greatest threat facing humanity is a radical Islamist regime meeting up with nuclear weapons. The Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons would be infinitely more costly than any scenario you can imagine to stop it."
- "The Palestinians have refused negotiations because it's not only Israel that would have to make concessions. It's the Palestinians also, for example, recognizing the Jewish state. They would have to recognize that the peace is permanent - that you cannot use a Palestinian state as a launching ground for eliminating the Jewish state in the future."
- "Israel in many ways is the beginning of Europe and the forces of militant Islam that are crashing against us are ultimately directed against you....They want Israel to be eliminated in order for them to continue the march against you. So Israel is the frontal bastion of European and Western civilization."
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