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September 30, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

British Intelligence Believes Iran Has Resumed Work on Nuclear Warhead - James Blitz, Daniel Dombey, and Najmeh Bozorgmehr (Financial Times-UK)
    Britain's intelligence services say that Iran has been secretly designing a nuclear warhead "since late 2004 or early 2005," an assessment that suggests Tehran has embarked on the final steps towards acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
    Britain has always privately expressed skepticism about the U.S. assessment on Iran but is only now firmly asserting that the weapons program restarted in 2004-05.

UK Court Rejects Plea to Arrest Israeli Defense Minister (UPI)
    A British court on Tuesday rejected a Palestinian request to arrest visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak for war crimes.
    The Westminster Magistrates Court judge ruled that under international law Barak has diplomatic immunity and therefore cannot be prosecuted.

Survey: Growing Support among American Jews for U.S. Action Against Iran Nukes (American Jewish Committee)
    According to the 2009 AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion, 56% support and 36% oppose U.S. military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. A year ago, the AJC survey found that 42% supported and 47% opposed such action.
    94% of American Jews agree that the Palestinians should be "required to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in a final peace agreement."
    75% agree and 19% disagree that "the goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel."
    54% approve and 32% disapprove of the Obama Administration's handling of U.S.-Israel relations. 59% approve and 23% disapprove of the Netanyahu government's handling of U.S.-Israel relations.

If Iran Can't Be Stopped Now, All Bets Are Off - Michael Singh (Foreign Policy)
    If Iran could repeatedly assure the IAEA of its cooperation and publicly deny wrongdoing while at the same time secretly building an underground enrichment plant, what confidence can one have in an agreement that depends vitally on the regime's willingness to uphold its promises?
    At the very least, the latest revelations will mean that any agreement must contain water-tight verification provisions.
    The writer, a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.

Israel Gets Two More German Submarines (AFP)
    Israel has taken delivery of two German-made Dolphin-class submarines ordered four years ago, an IDF spokesman said on Tuesday.
    Including the new ones, Israel has five German-made submarines.
    According to Jane's Defense Weekly, the subs have a range of 4,500 km. (2,810 miles) and can launch cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads.
    See also Aboard the Israeli Navy's Dolphin - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)

Useful Reference:

Academics Against Israel and the Jews - Manfred Gerstenfeld, ed. (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Essays by 20 authors on anti-Israel activities on campuses worldwide. The entire 262-page book is now available for downloading without charge.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Says It Will Not Discuss Second Nuclear Plant - Parisa Hafezi and Steve Holland
    Iran said on Tuesday it would not discuss a previously secret nuclear plant at international talks this week. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said, "We are not going to discuss anything related to our nuclear rights....The new site is part of our rights and there is no need to discuss it." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, asked about Iran's insistence it would not discuss the facility in the Geneva talks on Thursday, declared: "They may not, but we will."  (Reuters)
  • Big Oil Traders Cut Shipments to Tehran Amid Sanctions Talk - Spencer Swartz
    European oil giant BP PLC, which has extensive trading operations, stopped shipments of gasoline and other oil products to Iran at least six months ago, according to a person familiar with the matter. In addition, an official at Total SA said the French oil major would stop gasoline shipments to Iran if the U.S. and other European nations were to approve measures calling for a halt on fuel exports to Iran. Iran imports around 140,000 barrels a day of gasoline and diesel - at a cost of $5-7 billion - because of inadequate refining capacity at home.
        Venezuela said it planned on sending Iran about 20,000 barrels a day of gasoline starting next month. Asian oil traders say gasoline originating from China is routinely blended with other supplies and tankered to Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Oil, Ideology Keep China from Joining Push Against Iran - John Pomfret (Washington Post)
  • 32 U.S. Senators: Block Action Against Israel Over Goldstone Report - Eric Fingerhut
    32 U.S. Senators have signed a letter asking Secretary of State Clinton to block any punitive actions against Israel related to the Goldstone Report. "We commend the State Department statements criticizing the one-sided mandate directing the Goldstone report and highlighting the real causes of the war between Israel and Hamas," the letter said. "The report does not adequately recognize the extraordinary measures taken by the Israel Defense Forces to minimize civilian casualties, which frequently put Israeli soldiers at risk....We hope you will succeed in your efforts to ensure that consideration of the report at the current meetings of the UN Human Rights Council will not provide an opportunity for Israel's critics to unfairly use the Council and the report to bring this matter to the UN Security Council."  (JTA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Release 20 Palestinian Women Prisoners in Exchange for Video of Gilad Shalit
    Israel's Security Cabinet on Wednesday decided to release 20 Palestinian women security prisoners and detainees in return for a recently recorded video tape of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, as proof that he is alive. "It is important that the entire world know that Gilad Shalit is alive and well and that Hamas is responsible for his well-being and fate," Prime Minister Netanyahu said. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Palestinians Wound Israeli in West Bank Shooting - Efrat Weiss
    An Israeli was moderately wounded on Tuesday night after Palestinians shot at his car east of Shilo in the West Bank, Israel Channel 2 television reported. The shots apparently came from terrorists positioned at the side of the road. "This is the fourth shooting in the area in the past four months," said Binyamin Council Head Avi Roeh, who linked the attack to the removal of roadblocks. (Ynet News/Jerusalem Post)
  • Goldstone Report Ignored Israeli Evidence: 1 - Dr. Elihu Richter
    I personally submitted a nine-page, annotated and referenced brief to the Goldstone Commission last July showing that the high male-female ratio of fatalities among Palestinians in Gaza argues for the combatant status of many whom human rights organizations classified as non-combatants. However, the Commission was not driven by the evidence, but by its preset agenda. The writer is head of the Genocide Prevention Program at Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Goldstone Report Ignored Israeli Evidence: 2 - Dr. Mirela Siderer
    I am a gynecologist living in Ashkelon, Israel. In July you invited me to testify. On May 14, 2008, I was working in my clinic when the building was hit by a missile, fired from Gaza. I was terribly wounded, my patient was also wounded, and more than 100 others. I told you all of this, in detail. In a 500-page report, why are there only two pages about Israeli victims like me, who suffered thousands of rockets over eight years? Where were you when Gaza attacked my medical clinic, in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law? (UN Watch)
        See also Israel to UN Human Rights Council: Goldstone Report a "Betrayal of Israelis and Moderate Palestinians Alike"
    Israel's representative to the UN in Geneva, Amb. Aharon Leshno Yaar, told the UN Human Rights Council Tuesday: When Colonel Richard Kemp, Commander of British forces in Afghanistan was asked about Israel's conduct in Gaza, he replied: "I don't think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF in Gaza." Unlike the Hamas terrorists who rejoice with every civilian death, Israel regards every civilian casualty as a tragedy. Israel is committed to fully examining every allegation of wrongdoing, not because of this report but despite it. In providing support and vindication for terrorist tactics, it is a betrayal of Israelis and moderate Palestinians alike. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Implications of Iran's Second Enrichment Plant - Ephraim Asculai
    This hitherto unknown second uranium enrichment facility is located inside a mountain near the ancient city of Qom and designed to hold some 3,000 gas centrifuges. The purpose of this enrichment plant cannot have been for Iran's peaceful nuclear program.
        The U.S. still holds by its National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iran's military nuclear program was stopped in 2003. Yet three possibilities must be taken into account: a) that the NIE assessment is correct; b) that there is simply a lack of intelligence concerning this program; and c) that the program was already finalized by 2003. This last one can be correct if Iran received the design of the nuclear explosive device from Pakistan, in the same way that Libya reportedly did. Taking the NIE as a solid indication that Iran mended its ways would be a gross error. The writer worked at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission for over 40 years. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
        See also Lifting Iran's Nuclear Veil - Gary Milhollin and Valerie Lincy
    The Qom plant doesn't make much sense as a stand-alone bomb factory; the new plant makes more sense if it is one of many. If Iran had a string of such plants, it would be able to fuel a small arsenal quickly enough to reduce greatly the chance of getting caught. This would also limit the damage if one site were discovered or bombed. Gary Milhollin directs the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Valerie Lincy is the editor of (New York Times)
  • Iran - Deception in Qom - Tariq Alhomayed
    The Iranian technique of dissimulation [taqqiya] reached unprecedented levels when Tehran embarked upon deceiving the international community and building a new nuclear facility on a military base in Qom. The features of this new chapter between Iran and the West were plain to see on Thursday from the reactions of the Americans, the British and the French. Their leaders took a break from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh to strongly condemn Iran's actions to the extent that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that "the level of deception and betrayal [of Iran] will shock and anger the whole international community." He added that certain countries are left with no choice "but to draw a line in the sand."
        This development means that it is now difficult to believe the Iranian regime, or trust its intentions whether on the international or regional level. From here we are able to understand the extent to which Iran is exercising sectarian mobilization in our region, the Arab world and the Islamic world as a whole, as it seeks to play on the religious dimension and political Shiafication. The writer is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • A Farcical Attempt to Paint Israel Black - Ron Prosor
    The Goldstone report's lack of credibility has not gone unnoticed in all quarters. Canada, Japan and the EU all refused to support Justice Richard Goldstone's mission from the start. Even Switzerland, which has often lavished red-carpet treatment on tyrants, acknowledged that the anti-Israel bigotry of Goldstone's team made it unsupportable. Mary Robinson, the former Irish President and a fierce critic of Israel, described Goldstone's mandate as "guided not by human rights but by politics."
        It is no surprise, therefore, that the report wilfully ignores the context of Israel's Gaza operation. Israeli civilians were battered for eight years by thousands of missiles from Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, hoping the missiles would stop. Instead, the attacks increased, escalating further when Hamas seized power in a brutal coup in 2007. With a million Israelis under fire, and Hamas' range increasing, Israel did what any democratic state would do. It defended its citizens. The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to the UK. (Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Few Choices Left on Iran - Eliot A. Cohen (Wall Street Journal)

    • Only the terminally innocent should have been surprised to learn that Iran has at least one other covert site whose only purpose could be the production of highly enriched uranium for atom bombs. Pressure, be it gentle or severe, will not erase Iran's nuclear program. A large sanctions effort against Iran has been underway for some time. It has not worked to curb Tehran's nuclear appetite, and it will not.
    • The Iranian regime wants nuclear weapons and has invested vast sums to get both the devices and the means to deliver them. The Russians and Chinese have made soothing murmurs of disapproval but have repeatedly made it clear that they will not go along with measures that would cripple the Iranian economy.
    • Living with an Iranian bomb has enormous hazards. It will engender - it has already quietly engendered - a nuclear arms race in the region. It will embolden the Iranian regime to make much more lethal mischief than it has even now. In a region that respects strength, it will enhance Iranian prestige.
    • At the heart of the problem is not simply the nuclear program. It is the Iranian regime that has, since 1979, relentlessly waged war against the U.S. and its allies. Iran is militarily weak, but it is masterful at subversive war, and at the kind of high-tech guerrilla, roadside-bomb and rocket fight that Hizbullah conducted in 2006. American military cemeteries contain the bodies of hundreds, maybe thousands, of American servicemen and servicewomen slain by Iranian technology, Iranian tactics, and in some cases, Iranian operatives.
    • This is a corrupt, fanatical, ruthless and unprincipled regime - unpopular but willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power. With such a regime, no real negotiation, based on understandings of mutual interest and respect for undertakings, is possible. It is, therefore, in the American interest to actively seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. Not by invasion, which this administration would not contemplate, but through every instrument of U.S. power, soft more than hard.
          The writer teaches at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. He served as counselor of the State Department from 2007 to 2009.

          See also Target Iran's Weakening Regime - Robert Kagan
      Sanctions will not persuade the present Iranian government to give up its nuclear weapons program. But the right kinds of sanctions could help the Iranian opposition topple its vulnerable rulers. The Iranian government's behavior during and after the election has opened an irreparable breach between the regime and large elements of Iranian society, and even within the clerical ranks. The notion that the Iranian opposition will suddenly rally around Ahmadinejad and Khamenei if the West imposes sanctions is absurd. The opposition leadership is engaged in a struggle to the death with the regime. When sanctions begin to cause hardships, the opposition will press its case that the regime is leading Iran to ruin.
          That is the case for moving ahead with crippling sanctions as soon as possible and not waiting months for Iran's leaders to drag out talks. The writer is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Washington Post)

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