Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 10, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Defense Sources: Iran Missile Test Not Advanced Shahab-3 as Tehran Claims - Yuval Azoulay and Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    The long-range missile launched as part of a large-scale military exercise in Iran on Wednesday is not a more capable version of the Shahab-3 ballistic missile as Iran claimed, according to Israeli experts.
    "From what I saw, this is an old version of the Shahab-3 and, contrary to their claims, it is not capable of reaching 2,000 kilometers, only 1,300 kilometers," said Uzi Rubin, who was program director for Israel's Arrow anti-missile system.
    "The Iranians have a tendency to exaggerate to a certain extent the capabilities of their missiles," he said.
    Intelligence analysts estimate that Iran has several hundred Shahab-3s in its arsenal, as well as a much larger stockpile of several thousand shorter range missiles (up to 400 km.) capable of targeting U.S. forces in Iraq or their allies in the Persian Gulf.
    See also The Global Range of Iran's Ballistic Missile Program - Uzi Rubin (ICA/JCPA)

U.S. Navy Conducts Anti-Missile Training (Strategy Page)
    Last week, the U.S. Navy conducted anti-missile training as two Aegis warships (one off the coast of Israel, and the other in the Persian Gulf) practiced defeating a combined missile attack from Syria, Lebanon, and Iran against Israel.
    So far, the Aegis system has knocked down nearly 90% of the missiles fired towards it.
    The Aegis system has a range of over 500 km. and a maximum altitude of over 160 km.
    By the end of the year, the U.S. Navy will have 18 ships equipped with the Aegis anti-missile system.

U.S. Troops in Iraq Face a Powerful New Weapon: Rocket-Propelled Bombs - Ernesto Londono (Washington Post)
    Shiite militiamen have begun using powerful rocket-propelled bombs to attack U.S. military outposts in recent months.
    U.S. military officials call the devices Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions, or IRAMs. They are propane tanks packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives and powered by 107mm rockets, often fired by remote control from the backs of trucks, sometimes in close succession.
    U.S. military officials say IRAM attacks have the potential to kill scores of soldiers at once. A June report on the Web site Long War Journal called the explosives-filled propane tanks "flying IEDs."

Islamic Pressure Growing on Egypt's Coptic Christians - Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post)
    Under pressure from fundamentalist forms of Islam and bursts of sectarian violence, the most populous Christian community in the Middle East is seeking safety by turning inward, cutting day-to-day social ties that have bound Muslim to Christian in Egypt for centuries.
    Attacks this summer on Coptic monks and shopkeepers, and scattered clashes between Muslims and Christians, have compelled many of Egypt's estimated 6 to 8 million Copts to isolate themselves in a nation with more than 70 million Muslims.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Warns Iran that U.S. Will Defend Israel
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran on Thursday that Washington had beefed up its "security presence" in the Gulf and that "We will defend American interests and the interests of our allies." "In the Gulf area, the United States has enhanced its security capacity, its security presence, and we are working closely with all our make (sure) they are capable of defending themselves. These are all elements of America's intention and determination to prevent Iran from threatening our interest or the interests of our friends and allies. I don't think the Iranians are too confused either about the capabilities and power of the United States to do exactly that." (AFP)
        See also U.S. Officials Condemn Iran's Missile Test
    "Iran's development of ballistic missiles is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and completely inconsistent with Iran's obligations to the world," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Wednesday. Iran's test of medium- and long-range missiles this week "addresses the doubts raised by the Russians that the Iranians won't have a longer-range ballistic missile for 10 to 20 years," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. The test "is certainly contrary to the spirit of Security Council resolutions and the will of the international community," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. (UPI)
  • U.S. Says Iran's Nuclear Program Progress "Modest" - Sue Pleming
    The U.S. has not exhausted all diplomatic options against Tehran, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday, adding that Iran had made only "modest" progress in its nuclear program due to UN sanctions. "We view force as an option that is on the table but a last resort," he said. "We do not believe we have exhausted all the diplomatic possibilities." (Reuters)
  • Syrian Information Minister: "There Are No Negotiations Between Syria and Israel" - Baher Kamal
    "There are no negotiations between Syria and Israel in Istanbul - what is happening is an indirect exchange of messages via Turkey, to explore ways towards a possible negotiation," Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said in an interview. "Let me make it quite clear that if we arrive at direct negotiations with Israel for the complete and unconditional return of the Golan Heights - occupied by Israel since 1967 - to full Syrian sovereignty, we will never accept a peace process for ourselves at the expense of the Palestinian process," he said. "Palestine must have its own sovereign state, with Jerusalem as its capital, with the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and the right of return to their country of all Palestinians," Bilal said. (Inter Press Service-Italy)
  • Israel Sees Mediterranean Union as Way to Boost Arab Ties
    Israel hopes the new Mediterranean Union will help improve relations with the Arab world. "Israel has always considered that it is in the interest of all the peoples of the Mediterranean to reinforce their cooperation, which is why we are happy to participate in the Mediterranean Union," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said of the entity that will be launched at a Paris summit on Sunday. "We hope that it will provide the opportunity for direct encounters" between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Arab leaders, he added. (AFP)
  • Tiff Over Term Could Hurt Palestinian President - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Gaza's Hamas rulers say their recognition of Mahmoud Abbas' presidency - a key ingredient for any future reconciliation - will end in six months. After that, they say, Abbas' term ends and they plan to hold elections for a new leader. Abbas aides maintain he can stay in office until 2010. Few expect Bush's Mideast peace initiative to bear fruit unless Abbas can restore his rule in Gaza. Abbas has been in control of only the West Bank since Hamas seized Gaza by force a year ago, and he'll probably keep his truncated job no matter what Hamas decides. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hizbullah Rearming at Dizzying Pace - Herb Keinon
    There are 2,500 non-uniformed Hizbullah fighters in southern Lebanon, Israeli government sources said Wednesday following a security cabinet meeting. Hizbullah today has 40,000 short- and medium-range missiles inside Lebanon, and UNIFIL has been completely ineffective in stopping arms from pouring in to Hizbullah from Syria. The vast majority of the missiles are north of the Litani River, but can still "blanket" the northern part of Israel, the sources said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hizbullah "Tripled" Number of Rockets in Two Years (AFP)
  • Two Israeli Bedouin Admit Links to Al-Qaeda - Amos Harel and Yuval Azoulay
    Taher Abu Shut, 21, and Omar Abu-Shut, 20, both from Rahat, have been in custody since May on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda and plans to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel. The two, who were indicted Wednesday, are active in the Islamic Movement in Israel and have admitted to the suspicions against them. They are suspected of providing al-Qaeda with a list of possible targets for large-scale terror attacks including Ben-Gurion International Airport and the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Palestinians Killed in Collapse of Gaza Smuggling Tunnel
    Two Palestinians were killed Thursday in the collapse of a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border. (AP/Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran's Missile Warning - More Bark Than Bite? - Fredrik Dahl
    Iran showed footage of missiles on Wednesday it warns could reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East, but defense analyst Paul Beaver said Iran's missile program still needed to get accuracy and guidance systems right for long distances. "They are some way away yet from threatening Israel or U.S. bases," he said. Pieter Wezeman, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), said he did not believe that Iran had many Shahab-3 missiles in stock or that they could cause major destruction. He said the missiles were not that accurate and also carried a limited payload: "I don't think it is really going to impress Israel that much as long as they (Iranians) use conventional warheads." (Reuters)
        See also Iran Missile Launch Photo Was Faked
    At least one of the missile launch photographs released by Iran and published by an unquestioning Western media is a Photoshop fake. (Little Green Footballs)
  • Escape the Grip of Foreign Oil - T. Boone Pickens
    In 1973, the U.S. imported 24% of its oil. Today, we import almost 70% of our oil. The U.S. uses nearly a quarter of the world's oil, with just 4% of the population and 3% of the world's reserves. This year, we will spend almost $700 billion on imported oil, which is more than four times the annual cost of our current war in Iraq. If we don't do anything about this problem, over the next 10 years we will transfer $10 trillion to foreign nations. (Wall Street Journal)
  • What Iran Really Wants - Yoram Kaniuk
    Iran is not really interested in Israel, although it likes to annoy us. Tehran knows that a nuclear attack on Israel would prompt Iran's destruction. Iran has surrounded us with zealous, stubborn terrorism to threaten us because the countries it really wants to take over love its hate for Israel. What Iran really wants is the Persian Gulf, which the Arabs refer to as the Arab Gulf. The Iranians are an ancient people with a long history. They do not wish to become extinct. What they do want is the billion dollars a day earned by Saudi Arabia. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Missile Threat - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

    • Talk about timing. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Prague signing an agreement that's a first step toward protecting Europe from ballistic missile attack. As if on cue, Tehran tested nine missiles, including several capable of reaching southern Europe, as well as Israel and U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East. Who says Iran isn't a threat?
    • No one in the neighborhood - least of all the Russians - actually believes Iran's missile program is anything but dangerous. Russians talk privately about the Iranian threat, and it's not hard to imagine a scenario whereby Tehran shares a missile - and perhaps a nuclear warhead - with its brother Muslims in Chechnya.
    • Iran's tests are a useful reminder of just how real the Iranian threat is - and how rapidly it is growing. One of the missiles tested was the latest update of the Shahab-3.
    • Replace the payload with a lighter one - say, a nuclear warhead - and the range gains 1,000 miles. Add a booster and the range can be extended even farther. U.S. intelligence estimates that Iran will have a ballistic missile capable of reaching New York or Washington by 2015.
    • Iran may already have the capability to target the U.S. with a short-range missile by launching it from a freighter off the East Coast. A few years ago it was observed practicing the launch of Scuds from a barge in the Caspian Sea.

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