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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
August 11, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Russian Warships Dock in Iran for Training Exercises - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    Two Russian ships, the Volgodonsk and Makhachkala, docked in Iran's Anzali port near the Caspian Sea on Sunday and will hold "joint naval exercises during the three-day stay of the warships in Iran," according to a Persian-language report by Iran's Fars news agency.
    Russian and Iran have grown close in recent years, inking arms deals and other agreements aimed at strengthening Iran's nuclear program.
    Russia and Iran agreed earlier this year to begin construction on several new nuclear power plants. Russia has also agreed to sell Iran an advanced missile defense system.

Poll: Americans Say Iran Got More in Nuclear Deal - Patrick Murray (Monmouth University)
    41% of Americans say Iran got more of what it wanted from the nuclear deal, while just 14% feel the U.S. came out on top, and 23% say that both countries benefited equally, according to a Monmouth University Poll conducted on July 30-Aug 2, 2015.
    61% Americans do not trust Iran at all to abide by the terms of this agreement.

What 29 Top U.S. Scientists Don't Know - Emily B. Landau (Times of Israel)
    A letter of support for the Iran deal signed by 29 scientists, echoing the talking points of the administration, was recently sent to President Obama. Yet their scientific achievements do not mean that their assessments of the deal are correct.
    They do not seem to be aware, for example, that the 24-day cap on Iran's ability to delay an investigation into a facility suspected of supporting clandestine activities could actually be much longer than that.
    While the scientific aspects are certainly important, that is not where the assessment ends. Rather, there is a need to consider the history of dealing with Iran.
    Iran has over the years perfected tactics of playing for time, and has made it clear that it will not tolerate inspections at its military sites where suspicions are that it has worked on a military nuclear capability.
    If pressed on inspections, Iran will most likely continue to evade and play for time, and the deal dangerously provides ample room for Iran to do so.
    The writer heads the arms control program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Ex-Italian Lawmaker Appointed Israel's Envoy to Rome (Times of Israel)
    Fiamma Nirenstein, a former Italian lawmaker and journalist, was appointed Monday as Israel's ambassador to Italy.
    Nirenstein was elected to the Italian parliament in 2008 and served as deputy chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. She immigrated to Israel in 2013.

Israel's Foreign Currency Reserves Hit New Record (Globes)
    Israel's foreign exchange reserves at the end of July 2015 stood at a record $88.424 billion, up $245 million from the end of June, the Bank of Israel reports.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama: Iran Must End Anti-American, Anti-Israel Postures to Be Accepted
    President Obama said Iran must drop its anti-American and anti-Israel postures in an interview Monday. "There's going to have to be a transition inside of Iran, even if gradual, in which there's a recognition that chanting 'death to America' or denying the Holocaust among its leaders or threatening Israel with destruction or, you know, providing arms to Hizbullah, which is on the terrorist list - that those things make Iran a pariah in the eyes of a large part of the world."
        Obama said Israeli concerns were legitimate. "There is great suspicion of this deal among some of our closest allies, Israel in particular, but also some of the Gulf states, who have seen Iran's actions - trying to destabilize their governments or sponsoring terrorist proxies."  (JTA)
  • U.S. Requests Lower Bond for Palestinian Appeal of Terror Case - Benjamin Weiser
    In February, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO were found liable for their role in six terrorist attacks in Israel from 2002 to 2004 that killed and injured Americans. The antiterrorism law under which the case was brought provided for the tripling of the jury's award of $218.5 million, leading to a total of $655.5 million. On Monday the Obama administration filed a formal "Statement of Interest of the United States of America" with the judge in the case.
        "The United States strongly supports the rights of victims of terrorism to vindicate their interests in federal court and to receive just compensation for their injuries," the Justice Department said. However, given that an appeal bond typically requires the posting of 111% of the judgment, Antony J. Blinken, the deputy secretary of state, said this requirement would deprive the PA of "a significant portion of its revenues" and "would likely severely compromise the PA's ability to operate as a governmental authority." Moreover, "a PA insolvency and collapse would harm current and future U.S.-led efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Visiting Democratic Congressmen Discuss Iran with Netanyahu - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Iran nuclear agreement on Sunday with 22 Democratic members of the U.S. Congress, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Ha'aretz on Monday. "He was respectful and expressed his position in a moderate, thoughtful and organized way. He understands that the decision is up to the members of the House," Hoyer said. "He didn't tell them to vote one way or another, but it was clear he hopes they will vote against the agreement because it is a bad deal that will allow Iran to have a path to a nuclear bomb in 13 years....He gave a very rational presentation about why he thinks this deal is not in the best interest of the United States, Israel and the region."
        "Everybody in the free world has said Iran must not have a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu believes it is an existential threat, so he is taking every step necessary."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Congressmen: Egypt Opposes Iranian Nuclear Deal - Gil Hoffman
    Egypt opposes the Iranian nuclear deal, a group of U.S. Congressmen led by Congressional Israel Allies Caucus chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who have been touring Israel and Egypt, said Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Deal Is Not Just an "American Affair" - Mati Tuchfeld
    In an interview on Sunday with President Obama, CNN's Fareed Zakaria said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had "injected himself forcefully into this debate on American foreign policy," and then asked: "Is it appropriate for a foreign head of government to inject himself into an American debate?"
        On Sunday, a source close to Netanyahu responded: "The interviewer's question about Netanyahu's intervention in internal American politics was unfounded, as [the Iran deal] is not an internal American issue....It is also not exclusively an Israeli issue. Rather, it is a regional matter about which many other countries [in the Middle East] are also worried." An Israeli diplomatic official added, "How can one accuse Netanyahu of intervening in internal American politics regarding the deal when a majority of Americans oppose the deal and this opposition is only growing?"  (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • A "No" Vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement May Have Limited Practical Impact - Robert Satloff
    The Iran nuclear accord is not a treaty or even an "executive agreement." It is a voluntary set of understandings that has no status in law. Thus, a resolution to disapprove the Iran agreement may have limited practical impact.
        It would not override President Obama's authority to enter into the agreement. Nor would it restrict his authority to participate in most aspects of enforcing the agreement. Indeed, the sole practical implication would be to restrict his authority under law to waive nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. And a resolution of disapproval would have no authority to force him to vigorously enforce such sanctions.
        The first responsibilities under the deal are Iran's. These include satisfying the IAEA on the question of "possible military dimensions," mothballing thousands of centrifuges, shrinking its massive stockpile of low-enriched uranium to 300 kg., and gutting the core of its Arak plutonium reactor. Most experts believe this process will take between six to nine months. Only once the IAEA certifies that Iran has fulfilled those requirements does U.S. and international sanctions relief become an operative issue.
        Iran is unlikely to respond to congressional disapproval by enriching uranium with reckless abandon and thereby validating the skeptics who never trusted its commitment to a solely peaceful nuclear program. After Tehran has worked for two decades to advance a program that is on the verge of international legitimacy and ending nuclear-related sanctions, it would make little sense to chuck those achievements in a state of pique. To the contrary, Iran is far more likely to fulfill its core requirements so as to earn the termination of UN and EU sanctions that would come with IAEA certification. The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • What Iran's Hostile Reaction to the Parchin Issue Means for the Nuclear Deal - David Albright
    Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the Institute for Science and International Security was spreading lies when we published satellite imagery that showed renewed activity at the Parchin military site near Tehran. This site is linked by Western intelligence and the IAEA to past work on nuclear weapons. But instead of acknowledging the concern, the Iranians chose to deny the visible evidence in commercial satellite imagery. Zarif is also calling U.S. intelligence officials liars. They are the original source of the information about renewed activity at Parchin and concerns about that activity.
        It would be irresponsible not to worry about reports that suggest that Iran could be again sanitizing the site to thwart environmental sampling that could reveal past nuclear weapons activities there. This concern is further heightened because Iran has demanded to do this sampling itself instead of letting the IAEA do it. Such an arrangement is unprecedented and risky.
        U.S. officials have stated that Iran is required to address concerns about its past work on nuclear weapons prior to the lifting of sanctions. However, one could easily conclude that Iran's recent actions are the start of a reinterpretation of the agreement. The U.S. should clearly and publicly confirm that if Iran does not address concerns about the past military dimensions of its nuclear programs, U.S. sanctions will not be lifted. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of the nuclear deal. The writer is president of the Institute for Science and International Security. (Washington Post)

How Iran Plans to Destroy Israel - Ehud Yaari (American Interest)

  • The Islamic Republic of Iran has been committed for the past 36 years to a doctrine aimed at wiping Israel off the map. Statements to this effect still pour out of Tehran almost daily. President Hassan Rouhani does not refrain from expressing his loyalty to this objective. All rival factions within the regime, and many outside too, agree that the destruction of the Jewish state constitutes an important tenet of their devotion to Islam.
  • Iran is engaged in a sustained campaign that started in 1982 with the establishment of Hizbullah and evolved into the creation of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a military alliance with Hamas. Iran has made sure that missiles provided to its partners can reach every coordinate in Israel.
  • In addition, Iran has deployed 400 long-range missiles capable of hitting Israel from two dozen locations in central and western Iran. This would allow the Iranians to fire volleys that compound the challenge to Israel's Arrow defense batteries. The Islamic Republic's quest for nuclear weapons offers yet more evidence of its intention to take on Israel at some future date.
  • The Iranians are also investing much effort lately to establish a base for operations along parts of the Golan Heights frontier. Under IRGC commanders, Hizbullah is busy recruiting local Druze and others to stir up the Golan frontier by planting IEDs and lobbing occasional mortar shells.
  • Iran must be kept away from nuclear weapons and at the same time kept as far as possible from Israel's borders, if Washington wishes to avoid a direct Iran-Israel confrontation. This requires not only Israeli measures to insulate the West Bank from Iranian penetration and foil attempts to establish a new front on the Golan Heights, but also a determined U.S.-led effort, together with regional allies, to prevent an Iranian victory in Syria and curb Iranian predominance in Iraq.

    The writer is a fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel Two television.

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