Iran's Nuclear Drive Has Cost $170 Billion (AFP)
Israeli security sources said Tuesday that Iran's nuclear program has cost the country $170 billion.
$40 billion were "invested over the past 20 years in the construction and operation of nuclear infrastructure," the sources said.
Iran also "lost $130 billion because of sanctions put in place since 2012," including $105 billion linked to the oil sector and $25 billion linked to banking, trade and industry, development and investment.
U.S. Says Suriname President's Son Wanted to Host Hizbullah - David Ingram (Reuters)
Dino Bouterse, a son of Suriname President Desi Bouterse,
invited people he thought were from Hizbullah to set up a base in his country to attack Americans in exchange for an initial payment of $2 million, U.S. prosecutors said Friday.
Dino Bouterse held a senior counterterrorism post in Suriname, but was arrested in Panama in August and sent to New York to face charges of smuggling cocaine into the U.S.
According to an indictment, U.S. authorities recorded conversations Bouterse had with at least one U.S. agent who posed as a member of Hizbullah.
Tamarod Opposition Group Cancels Rally in Gaza - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
The Tamarod opposition group in Gaza cancelled a planned mass rally on Monday after
an intensive police deployment raised fears of a violent crackdown by Hamas.
Knesset Discusses Attacks at Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
The Knesset Interior Committee met on Monday to discuss improving security at the Mount of Olives, home to Judaism's oldest cemetery, one day after an Israeli student was hospitalized following a rock-throwing attack while driving in the area.
According to police, at least 24 attacks took place near the site in October.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, "Mainly we've seen that Palestinian students from nearby schools are involved in the incidents."
Hizbullah Supporters Riot After TV Satire of Nasrallah - Rayane Abou Jaoude (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Hizbullah supporters took to the streets in Beirut and Baalbek over the weekend to protest the comical impersonation of Hizbullah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah on a Lebanese comedy show.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Experts Say Israel Is Right to Be Wary of Iran Nuclear Talks - Karl Vick
Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, was blunt on the danger posed by Iran's stockpiles of "low-enriched" uranium, "which is why I understand the concerns of Prime Minister Netanyahu." Iran has almost 7 metric tons of that material, and "you have done something like 60% of the effort you have to do to produce weapons-grade uranium."
David Albright, an American former IAEA inspector, runs the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). With current stores and no "cap" imposed by an interim agreement on the number of centrifuges it could use, Tehran might create a bomb in as little as a month, an ISIS study concluded.
Albright said Iran's leadership team on the nuclear issue "is very good on making promises - enticements - but has not been so good about delivering." "It happened in '05 the same way: Lots of promises, but in the end Iran wants a centrifuge program that is essentially uncapped." (TIME)
- Khamenei Controls Vast Financial Empire Built on Property Seizures - Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati
The Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam, known in Iran as Setad, has become in the past six years a $95 billion business juggernaut that holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills and even ostrich farming.
Just one person controls that economic empire - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to ordinary Iranians: members of religious minorities like the Baha'i, as well as Shi'ite Muslims, business people and Iranians living abroad.
Khamenei has held on for 24 years. Setad gives him the financial means to operate independently of parliament and the national budget, insulating him from factional infighting.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel's Defense Minister: Easing Sanctions on Iran a "Historic Mistake" - Linda Gradstein and Felice Friedson
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem that the international community is on the verge of a "historic mistake" if it eases the sanctions currently in place against Iran. "We see it happening in front of our eyes - we have lost the momentum of the sanctions," Ya'alon said. "We already see the stock market is rising, the ratio of the rial (Iranian currency) to the dollar has improved. The Chinese have also approached the Iranians to renew contracts that they lost [because of sanctions] in 2010."
"If they have the capability to enrich uranium at all, they can enrich it from 3.5% to 90% in a couple of months." "Let's keep the current sanctions active. If we reach a comprehensive agreement in which they give up all the centrifuges and enrichment capability, this is the point at which sanctions might be eased - not a minute before." (Media Line)
- World Powers Demand Iran Suspend Work on Arak Reactor - Barak Ravid
The six world powers negotiating with Iran are demanding that Tehran suspend construction of the heavy-water reactor at Arak which could be used to manufacture plutonium for a nuclear weapon, a senior American official said in Jerusalem. The Americans made clear to Iran that they know of no use for a heavy-water reactor in a peaceful nuclear power program.
"The issue of the reactor at Arak is very important to all the powers," the U.S. official said. "We want to put more time on the clock with regard to progress on the facility in Arak." (Ha'aretz)
- A Better Iran Deal Needed - Editorial
The latest pause in the talks with Iran on its nuclear program was fortunate. The Obama administration could profitably spend the time before the next round of talks ensuring that whatever terms it puts forward for limiting Iranian nuclear capacity have broad support in Washington and among U.S. allies.
Israel and some congressional critics say any easing of sanctions should only follow decisive moves by Iran to give up its capacity to enrich uranium or produce plutonium, the key elements in nuclear bombs. They warn that any relaxation of pressure could lead to an unintended crumbling of the sanctions regime.
One concern is the new heavy-water reactor: Iran wanted to continue its construction during negotiations. Since it's hard to imagine a permanent settlement that allowed for the operation of the facility, the West should insist on a freeze. (Washington Post)
- Why the U.S. and Israel Are Split over the Iran Deal - Aaron David Miller
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fierce reaction to the effort to reach an interim agreement with Iran reflects the realities of a small power with much less room to maneuver on a critical security issue than a great one. It reveals the sensitivities of an Israeli leader who's far more suspicious of Iranian motives and far more worried about the consequences of a bad deal for Israel than a U.S. president who's concerned more about what happens if there's no deal and Israel or the U.S. slides toward military confrontation with the mullahs who rule Iran.
With non-predatory neighbors to its north and south and fish to its east and west, the U.S. enjoys an unprecedented level of physical security that gives America a margin for error that Israel simply cannot afford.
Indeed, Americans have a hard time internalizing what it's like to be a small nation living on the knife's edge. Israel's history has been marked by a continuous series of threats by virtue of where the Israelis are.
To satisfy Israeli requirements, an interim agreement would have to avoid doing anything that dismantles the sanctions regime and removes real pressure on Iran to cut the final deal. It would make it impossible for Iran to use the next six months to advance in a significant way any of the aspects of its nuclear program - not just to freeze Iran's program but to actually set it back significantly. The U.S. has no stake in concluding an agreement with Iran that leaves Israel aggrieved and vulnerable. The writer is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
- Bad Iran Deal Worse than No Deal - Michael Rubin
By any Western standard, Tehran has every reason to come in from the cold. The problem is that the Iranian leadership does not operate by Western standards. Seldom does the Iranian government place the wellbeing of its population above its own revolutionary ideology. What the Iranian people may think is beside the point.
Iranian officials will certainly say what is needed to relieve sanctions, but the Iranian leadership has no intention of giving up its nuclear ambitions.
The author is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (CNN)
The Emerging Geneva Agreement with Iran - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Eliminating Iran's 20%-enriched uranium, but allowing the Iranians to continue to produce 3.5%-enriched uranium, is an unacceptable option if the goal of the West is to prevent Iran from advancing to a nuclear weapon. Allowing Iran to enrich to the 3.5% level will not address the threat emanating from Iran's latest generation of faster centrifuges and the scenario of a fast dash by Iran to weapons-grade uranium, known as "nuclear break-out."
- President Obama's former aide on the National Security Council, Gary Samore, warned in October that ending the production of 20%-enriched uranium is not enough because Iran can also reach weapons-grade uranium using its stock of 3.5%-enriched uranium. Thus, any agreement must eliminate all of Iran's enriched uranium.
- If the Geneva talks produce a bad agreement and allow Iran to continue its drive for nuclear weapons, there will be accelerated nuclear proliferation in the Middle East among Iran's neighbors, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey. A multi-polar nuclearized Middle East will in no way resemble the bi-polar superpower balance during the Cold War and is likely to be unstable.
- Iran's global network of terrorism will obtain a protective nuclear umbrella, allowing its organizations to strike with complete impunity. Finally, given Iran's increasing propensity in recent years to remove any constraints on the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapons to its terrorist proxies, the flow of nuclear technologies to these groups cannot be dismissed.
- Iran has argued that it has an "inalienable right" to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while Western states have contested this. If the West now accepts Iranian enrichment of uranium to the 3.5% level, it will be acknowledging that Iran has a right to enrichment. Moreover, the UN Security Council adopted six resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that called on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment. Chapter VII resolutions are binding international law. If the West now says that the suspension is no longer necessary, what does that mean for the binding nature of Chapter VII resolutions?
- Turning to the question of plutonium production, up until now, the West has been encouraging states not to erect heavy-water reactors, but instead to accept light-water nuclear reactors which have a reduced risk of being used for plutonium production. At present it appears that Western proposals to Iran do not include the dismantling of the Arak heavy-water facility.
The writer, Israel's former Ambassador to the UN, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert