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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

Thursday,
June 21, 2012

In-Depth Issue:

Iran Nuclear Threat Overshadows Talks - Maseh Zarif (AEI Iran Tracker)
  The threat of Iran’s illicit nuclear program continues to grow as another round of meetings between P5+1 and Iranian negotiators ends. Iran refuses to dismantle and end that program while it simultaneously expands its enrichment output and future capacity.
  The existence of undeclared, covert enrichment sites cannot be ruled out, moreover, given Iran’s deceptive record and the regime’s failure to provide transparency to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
  Iranian negotiators have continued to invoke the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)—a treaty they are in standing violation of—as the basis for their supposed “right” to enrichment; the NPT does not, in fact, bestow any right to enrichment.


Canada-Israel 'Solidarity' Includes Defense Partnership (CBC)
  Israel has received private assurances Canada stands ready to help defend the Jewish state, but just how far the Harper government intends to take that commitment remains unclear.
  Newly released documents say Defense Minister Peter MacKay told Israel's top military commander, Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during a 2011 visit to the Middle East, that "a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada."
  Canada's military and industrial relationship with Israel has grown enormously. The two countries are negotiating or have signed a series of defense-based agreements over the last few years, details of which have been withheld.


U.S. Crude Oil Supplies Highest Level in 22 Years (Bloomberg)
  Oil prices fell after the Energy Department said U.S. crude supplies rose to the highest level in 22 years. The report showed supplies increased 2.86 million barrels to 387.3 million last week, the highest level since July 1990.
  U.S. crude production climbed 117,000 barrels a day to 6.35 million in the week ended June 15, the highest level since February 1999, the report showed. Output last week was up 12 percent from a year earlier. Crude imports increased 328,000 barrels a day to 9.45 million last week, the highest level since March, according to the department.


New York Man Pleads Guilty to Aiding al-Qaida in Terror Plot (Reuters/Guardian - UK)
  A New York man pleaded guilty on Monday to terrorism charges for helping the militant group al-Qaida. Brooklyn-born Wesam El-Hanafi, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to a terrorist group and one count of conspiracy.
  El-Hanafi was arrested in April 2010, along with Sabirhan Hasanoff, 36, a dual U.S. and Australian citizen who pleaded guilty on 4 June to similar crimes.


Iraqi Kurd Editor of Pro-Israel Magazine Missing - Abdel Hamid Zebari (AFP)
  Mawlud Afand, the editor-in-chief of the Israel-Kurd Institute's magazine, has been missing since June 8, said Diyari Mohammed, a correspondent for the magazine in Sulaimaniyah, in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Afand's colleagues have raised the possibility he was kidnapped by Iranian intelligence.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Iran Speeding Up Nuclear Enrichment
    Iran could produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon within four months, experts have told a U.S. congressional committee.
      The rate of Iran's uranium enrichment has accelerated despite cyber sabotage from the Stuxnet virus in 2009, the experts said. Based on the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), "It's clear that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon very quickly should it wish to do so", said Stephen Rademaker of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. Iran has produced 3345 kilograms of uranium enriched to 3.5 per cent, according to the agency. (AFP)
        See also Brinkmanship, Taboos: Behind the Scenes of Failed Iran Nuclear Talks - Barak Ravid
    The intensive talks held in Moscow on Monday and Tuesday between Iran and the six powers ended in failure. A Western diplomat who asked to remain anonymous said that one major obstacle revealed by the Moscow talks relates to the underground facility for uranium enrichment in Fordo, near the city of Qum. According to the diplomat, the Iranians refused to discuss the Fordo plant at all. The Iranians were surprised that delegates from the six powers managed to maintain a united front throughout the discussions. The Iranians had hoped to bring the Chinese and Russian delegates into their corner. (Ha'aretz)
  • Suspected Clean-Up Activity Continues at Parchin Military Complex: Considerable Dirt Movement Near Suspect Building - David Albright and Robert Avagyan
    Recent satellite imagery obtained by ISIS shows what appears to be further sanitization activity at the site in the Parchin military complex where Iran is suspected to have conducted high explosive tests pertinent to the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. The latest satellite imagery is from June 7, 2012.
      Iran’s activities at the Parchin site have raised concerns about Iranian efforts to destroy evidence of possible high explosive tests at this site. The IAEA has asked repeatedly to visit this site, but so far Iran has refused. (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • Israeli Strike on Iran Stays on Hold, for Now - Joshua Mitnick
    Israel is unlikely to launch a strike on Iran as long as sanctions on Tehran intensify and diplomatic efforts continue, despite the failure of international talks in Moscow this week, Israeli officials and security experts said.
      That puts Israeli leaders in a bind: While lack of progress on diplomatic attempts to curb Iran's nuclear program bolsters Israel's position that Tehran won't compromise, it needs to wait for diplomacy and sanctions to be exhausted so it can better persuade others to join it in taking tougher measures, analysts said.
      Some Israeli officials worry that Iran will eventually offer an 11th-hour compromise that will split the international negotiators, a group known as the P5+1.
      Israeli experts are divided on what approach would prompt Iran to change course. Some say only a credible threat of military action by the West will work. "Sanctions are known to take a very long time to have an impact on the country you are targeting," said Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations. "It's important to put in place, but the clock is ticking." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Palestinian Anti-Corruption Court Secures Conviction but Raises Questions of Bias - Karin Brulliard
    A two-year-old Palestinian court charged with combating corruption handed down its first major conviction this month, ruling that a man widely considered a pretty big fish — the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s former economic adviser — had embezzled millions of dollars.
      Some analysts praised the verdict as a positive step for a Palestinian system long plagued by graft. But as the case escalated this week into an ugly public spat between the convicted embezzler, Mohammed Rashid, and the dominant Fatah political party, it has also raised questions about whether the Palestinian Authority is using its nascent anti-corruption drive to suppress critics. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Rockets Hit Israel Hours after Hamas Says It’s Ready for Ceasefire
    Five rockets his southern Israel early Thursday morning, hours after Hamas announced it would be willing to cease its fire on Israel. The announcement came after three days of attacks and counter-attacks between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Since Monday, over 120 have been fired into Israel, including more than 70 fired on Wednesday alone. One rocket was shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system near Netivot. (Times of Israel)
  • A Palestinian Plan to Attract Muslims Back to al Aqsa
    Muslims have kept up an informal boycott of the walled esplanade called the Temple Mount by Jews and the Noble Sanctuary by Muslims since Israel seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan in a 1967 war, saying visits would amount to recognition of Jewish occupation of Palestinian territory.
      Palestinian and Jordanian officials now want to reverse that. PA President Mahmoud Abbas urged Muslims last February to resume the journeys to Jerusalem to counter what he called Israel’s attempts to “Judaize” the city and in solidarity with the Palestinians. Since then, several high-ranking Arab and Islamic leaders have turned up to pray at al Aqsa and – they hope – kickstart a new wave of pilgrimages. Mohammad Ahmad Husein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, issued a fatwa approving the pilgrimages.
      But a split appeared almost immediately. Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi, a Qatari-based spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of the world’s leading Muslim preachers, issued his own fatwa against foreign Muslims visiting Jerusalem. (Reuters/Tribune - Pakistan)
  • Jordan Tightens Border Controls for Syrian Refugees
    Jordan says it has toughened its screening procedures for Syrian refugees as the number of individuals submitting false asylum claims is on the rise. The Interior Ministry estimates some 125,000 Syrians are in the country. (AP)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Talks Break Down - Walter Russell Mead
    The failure to strike a deal in Moscow means that the U.S. and EU will likely implement their full range of sanctions, beginning July 1, and which are expected to cost the Iranian economy $4.5 billion a month in lost oil revenues. That’s not chump change, and once the full effect of the sanctions kick in there might be some movement on the Iranian side. But if, as appears increasingly likely, Tehran has made the calculation that it is willing to do whatever it takes to acquire a nuclear weapon, then no amount of pressure will force Iran to fold its hand. (The American Interest)
  • How Many Refugees? - Elliott Abrams
    Today the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics commemorated World Refugee Day by releasing new statistics on Palestinian refugees. Therein lies a tale. The PCBS reported that there are now 5.1 million Palestinian refugees.
      More than a third of Palestinian “refugees” in Jordan were born after 1997. That is either 30 years (if after the 1967 war) or almost 50 years (if they fled when Israel was established in 1948) after their parents or more likely grandparents arrived in Jordan. Those in Jordan have full Jordanian citizenship and vote in Jordan, which means this: a young Jordanian of Palestinian origin, whose family has lived in Jordan for 30 years and who has himself or herself always lived in Jordan, is still considered a “refugee.”
      This is bizarre, and the new statistics are a reminder of the unique definition applied to Palestinian “refugees.” It is not surprising that the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. Senate on May 31 adopted an amendment defining Palestinian “refugees” the way all other refugees are defined, and rejecting the definition that produces the number 5.1 million today. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Why Iran Covets Brazil - Ilan Berman
    High on Ahmadinejad’s priority list is reinvigorating the once-robust ties between Tehran and Brasilia. For Iran, Brazil is a potential economic lifeline in the face of mounting international pressure. Brazil's new President Dilma Rousseff has made a point of distancing Brazil from Iran since taking office in January 2011, citing Iran’s troubling human rights record.
      Trade ties between the two countries are still active. Indeed, Brazil represents Iran’s largest trading partner in the region. Iran is also solidifying its presence in Brazil by other means. For instance, along with its terrorist proxy Hizbullah, which maintains a significant presence in the tri-border region where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina intersect, Iran is involved in various activities, like drug smuggling and money laundering. (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    The Role of Iranian Security Forces in the Syrian Bloodshed - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Amid the intensifying crisis in Syria, which in recent weeks has seen massacres of the civilian population in various parts of the country, Iranian military, propaganda, and economic assistance keeps flowing in, and its aim is help President Bashar al-Assad survive.
  • Iran views the confrontation in Syria as critical battle ground with the west regarding the reshaping of the Middle East and to its own role in the region as a key and vital and influential player.
  • At present Hizbullah's weapons are serving — under Iran’s command —as part of Assad’s apparatus of violent repression.
  • Esmail Ghani, deputy commander of the IRGC-QF, confirmed reports by Syrian opposition elements and Western sources about active involvement of elite units of the IRGC-QF, together with the Syrian army, in violent repression of the protest. Iranian and Hizbullah fighters have been captured in main centers of fighting including Homs. In their confessions they admit that they belong to the IRGC-QF and were sent to put down the disturbances in Syria.
  • In a late-May daily press briefing U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland pointed to Iran’s involvement in the Houla massacre, linking the Qods Force to the incident and implicitly to other incidents in Syria as well. She noted the great similarity in structure and operational methods between the Shabiha forces that stood, according to various testimonies, behind the massacre and the Basij, the volunteer arm of the IRGC-QF.

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