Former CIA Chief: Intelligence Community Can't Track Iranian Nuclear Development - Tim Starks (Roll Call)
Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the CIA, warned Thursday: "Absent an invasive inspection regime, with freedom to visit all sites on short notice, American intelligence cannot provide adequate warning of Iranian nuclear developments."
"We can't verify this agreement in a non-cooperative regime," Hayden told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee. "That's why we need the robust inspection regime."
Israel Rejects EU States' Appeal over Razing Palestinian Terrorists' Homes (Reuters)
Israel has rejected an appeal by the German, French, British, Italian and Spanish ambassadors not to raze the homes of Palestinians who carried out lethal attacks in Jerusalem, saying on Friday that the tactic was designed to deter further violence.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the measure was consistent with Israeli law and would be pursued. "This is not meant to be punitive, but rather to dissuade others from carrying out terrorist attacks," Nahshon said.
Islamic State Expands into North Africa - Mirco Keilberth, Juliane von Mittelstaedt and Christoph Reuter (Der Spiegel-Germany)
The eastern Libya city of Darna has a population of 80,000 and an 18th century mosque, from which the black flag of the Islamic State flies.
A wall has been built in the local university to separate male and female students and the disciplines of law, natural sciences and languages have all been abolished.
A group of fighters returning from Syria, the al-Battar Brigade, brought Darna under its control by murdering politicians, judges and attorneys - and also by killing commanders of other militias.
Western Fighters Joining Anti-ISIS Fight in Syria - Mark Townsend (Observer-UK)
James Hughes, a former British infantryman who served in Afghanistan, is among a growing cohort of Britons joining the ranks of Westerners traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight Islamic State militants.
At the same time, experts estimate that about 500 Britons have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for jihadists.
Report: Abbas Accuses Israel of Unleashing Wild Boars Against Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Several Palestinian media outlets on Saturday quoted PA President Mahmoud Abbas as accusing Israel of using "wild pigs" against Palestinians in the West Bank during a speech in Ramallah on Friday.
In the past, the PA has claimed the IDF and settlers released wild pigs in Palestinian lands to damage crops and intimidate farmers.
"Every night, they [Israelis] release wild pigs against us," Abbas was quoted as saying.
An Israeli government official responded, "It's a pity the Palestinian Authority president chooses to propagate such rubbish, and it raises questions about his real position on Israel."
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- No Iran Nuclear Deal Seen by Monday Deadline - Jay Solomon and
U.S. officials said it will be virtually impossible to reach a comprehensive deal to curb Iran's nuclear activities by the Monday night deadline, and they would favor extending the talks. However, an extension looks headed for stiff resistance from both Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers, who are questioning what the White House believes it can achieve in a few additional months of talks that they couldn't in a year.
American officials have said in recent weeks that they believe Tehran could quickly ramp up its production of nuclear fuel if the negotiating process ends. Moreover, Obama administration officials increasingly are questioning whether Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has empowered Iranian negotiators to make the necessary concessions for a deal. (Wall Street Journal)
- Germany Opposes Unilateral Recognition of Palestinian State
Chancellor Angela Merkel has underlined Germany's opposition to recognizing a Palestinian state after lawmakers elsewhere in Europe backed such a move. Merkel said Friday that Berlin supports a two-state solution and "we see how difficult that is, so we also believe that unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state won't move us forward" toward that goal. (AP)
- Europe Takes Stronger Measures, Albeit Symbolic, to Condemn Israeli Policies - Steven Erlanger
European nations, Israel's largest trading partners, are taking stronger measures to support Palestinian sovereignty and condemn Israeli policies. Yet Israeli leaders reject much of the European criticism of their policies as betraying a deep bias or lack of understanding. It is Palestinian leaders, not Israelis, they say, who have declined to engage substantively in the peace process. They argue that radical Islamists among the Palestinians, including Hamas, conduct armed struggle and terrorist attacks against Israelis, leaving the country no choice but to take tough security measures.
Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said, "In general, these European initiatives don't contribute to diplomacy, and strengthen the Palestinian proclivity for unilateralism, so they can have the exact opposite effect from what Europeans want." (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: French Recognition of Palestine Would Be "Irresponsible"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told i24 News in an interview on Sunday that French recognition of a Palestinian state would be "irresponsible," ahead of a vote on the issue on Dec. 2. "What they're voting on is Palestine without peace," he said. "That's what the Palestinians want. They want to have a state. Not to end the war with Israel, but to continue the war from improved boundaries."
"When Islamist fires are sweeping throughout the Middle East, when every place that we vacate becomes a bastion for militant Islam and for Iran, this is what is going to produce peace? To ask Israel to put the suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in the hands of Islamic militants?" The French vote, Netanyahu said, will do nothing to promote peace and in fact will harden the Palestinian position by signaling that nothing has to be given in return.
- Egypt Willing to Send Forces to Secure Palestinian State
Egyptian President el-Sissi said in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published Sunday that he would be prepared to send troops to a future Palestinian state to help stabilize it, in agreement with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. "We would help the local police and reassure the Israelis through our role as guarantor. Not forever, of course. For the time necessary to reestablish confidence." Sissi said he had spoken of the idea with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas.
(AFP-Times of Israel)
- Mr. Obama Needs a Tougher Deal to Curb Iran's Nuclear Ambitions - Editorial
Pressure on Iran is expected grow because of the collapse of global oil prices. Iran's budget depends on an oil price of $140 a barrel, but prices have fallen to below $80.
President Obama has failed to convince congressional leaders of both parties that the settlement terms he has reportedly offered are sensible. The administration is reportedly prepared to allow Iran to preserve a substantial part of its nuclear infrastructure - including 4,000 or more centrifuges. Legislators are also rightly concerned about Iran's failure to cooperate with an investigation by international inspectors on its suspected previous work on nuclear warhead designs, or to accept limits on its development of long-range missiles.
Arab officials are saying that a deal that allows Iran to preserve a nuclear infrastructure will prompt a race by rival states to match that capacity.
The U.S. should be seeking to weaken and roll back Iran's influence in the Middle East and to eliminate - not temporarily freeze - its capacity to build a nuclear arsenal. The agreement the administration appears to be contemplating could solidify Iran's power.
- In Iran Talks, U.S. Seeks to Prevent a Covert Weapon - David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
Behind the efforts to close a nuclear deal with Iran lies a delicate question: how to design an agreement to maximize the chances that Western intelligence agencies would catch any effort to develop an atomic bomb at a covert site. Concern over the possibility of a future Iranian covert program - and the difficulty of writing a document that deals with the unknown - is rooted in a long history of distrust.
Negotiators are focusing on the fate of Iran's three major "declared" nuclear facilities, which are crawling with inspectors and cameras. Unstated is the risk of a bomb being produced at an undetected facility, or built from fuel and components obtained from North Korea.
The goal is to allow highly intrusive inspections to track the precursors and parts that feed Iran's uranium complex, according to one participant in the negotiations.
(New York Times)
- Regional Nuclear Plans in the Aftermath of an Iran Deal - Simon Henderson and Olli Heinonen
If an Iran deal is reached and Gulf leaders dislike it, preventing the proliferation of nuclear technology in the region will be a considerable challenge.
In April 2009, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia famously told U.S. special envoy Dennis Ross that "if [the Iranians] get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons."
In Abu Dhabi, the lead sheikhdom of the United Arab Emirates, its first two nuclear facilities are under construction and due to start up in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Abu Dhabi obtained the reactors from South Korea. Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed, the effective ruler of Abu Dhabi, is now said to be livid at the prospect that Tehran's quasi-nuclear status will be confirmed by an agreement not worth, in his mind, the paper it is written on.
One of the clearest signals of how Gulf leaders view Iran diplomacy was Saudi Arabia's decision to show off two of its nuclear-capable missiles at a military parade in April. The weapons were acquired from China in the 1980s. Among the dignitaries at the Saudi parade was Pakistan's military chief Gen. Raheel Sharif.
Even if the Obama administration hopes that an Iran deal will squash the prospect of Riyadh borrowing or buying nuclear warheads from Pakistan, it must also consider the distinct possibility that the Saudis will ask Islamabad for enrichment technology.
Simon Henderson is director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.
Olli Heinonen is a former deputy director-general for safeguards at the IAEA.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Don't Dismantle Sanctions Before You Dismantle Iran's Capacity to Make a Nuclear Bomb. - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (ABC News-Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Prime Minister Netanyahu told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday:
- It's important that there won't be a bad deal. A bad deal would enable Iran to remain with thousands of centrifuges, which it could use to enrich uranium, which is what you need for a nuclear bomb.
- The key principle is: Don't dismantle sanctions before you dismantle Iran's capacity to make a nuclear bomb.
- If for any reason the United States or the other powers agree to leave Iran with that capacity to breakout, I think that would be a historic mistake. Not only because it endangers my country, Israel, that Iran's ruler, the Ayatollah Khamenei, vows to annihilate, but also because I think it would endanger the entire Middle East and the world.
- Why in heaven's name does Iran need intercontinental ballistic missiles? They don't need those missiles to reach Israel. They need them to reach Europe and the U.S., and the only thing you carry on intercontinental ballistic missiles are nuclear warheads. So the issue here is not merely Israel, but everyone, the entire world.
- Israel will always reserve the right to defend itself against any threat with its own power.
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