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October 1, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

How Many Other Secret Nuclear Facilities Does Iran Have? - William J. Broad and David E. Sanger (New York Times)
    On Monday, the chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, told Iranian state television that he was "working out a timetable for the inspection" of the just revealed nuclear site outside of Qom.
    Then Salehi said he was preparing a letter for international inspectors "about the location of the facility - and others." That got everyone's attention.
    Some intelligence officials and inspectors have suspected that Tehran maintained a network of clandestine nuclear sites, projects and personnel that paralleled the nuclear program that Iran declared.
    The revelation of the secret enrichment site outside Qom represents the first big breakthrough in the search for a hidden Iranian production network that replicates the public one.

UN Chief: Iran's New Uranium-Enrichment Facility Violates UN Resolutions - Colum Lynch (Washington Post)
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that Iran's construction of the recently revealed Qom uranium-enrichment facility violates UN resolutions requiring it to halt all nuclear enrichment activities.
    See also UN Nuclear Watchdog: Iran Broke Law By Not Declaring Atom Site - Mark Heinrich (Reuters)

France Toughens Stance on Iran - Edward Cody (Washington Post)
    Under President Nicolas Sarkozy, France has adopted an increasingly hard-edged approach to Iran, often out ahead of the Obama administration.
    French analysts said Sarkozy feels that Europe got nowhere with Iran in several years of what was called "constructive dialogue" and that it is time to move on to stronger measures in tandem with Washington.
    As a result, French diplomats in Geneva on Thursday are likely to push for swift, punitive sanctions unless Iran pledges unequivocally to open its entire nuclear program to international inspection to ensure Tehran is not developing atomic weapons.

European Governments Fund NGO that Sought to Arrest Israeli Defense Minister in Britain (NGO Monitor)
    The Palestinian NGO Al-Mezan, which was behind the recent effort to arrest Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Britain, is funded by a number of European governments.
    Al-Mezan's core donors include the Norwegian government and a joint framework including Sweden, Switzerland, Holland and Denmark known as NDC.
    Additional donors include the European Commission, Ford Foundation, Diakonia (Sweden) and Trocaire (Ireland).
    "European governments that funnel taxpayer funds to these radical NGOs are paying for the demonization of Israel and fueling the conflict," Prof. Gerald Steinberg noted.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. and Iran Make Offers on Nuclear Talks - Jay Solomon and Farnaz Fassihi
    The U.S. expressed a willingness to hold one-on-one meetings with Iranian negotiators in Geneva on Thursday, as the Obama administration and other world powers prepared for crucial talks aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Iranian President Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that he might be willing to fuel Iran's nuclear facilities through purchases of enriched uranium from third countries.
        The Obama administration, in another sign of outreach toward Iran, said it had granted Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki a visa so he could visit Tehran's interest section in Washington Wednesday. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley stressed that Mottaki wasn't meeting any U.S. officials during his stay. But European diplomats said such a high-level trip to Washington by an Iranian official was "unprecedented" since the revolution. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Possibility of a Nuclear-Armed Iran Alarms Arabs - Michael Slackman
    Arab governments are growing increasingly anxious not only with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran but also with the more immediate threat that Iran will destabilize the region if the West presses too hard. "I think the gulf states are well advised now to develop strategies on the assumption that Iran is about to become a nuclear power," said Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a political science professor at United Arab Emirates University. "Iran is forcing everyone in the region now into an arms race."
        Writing in Al Quds Al Arabi, editor Abdel-Beri Atwan said: "The Arab regimes, and the gulf ones in particular, will find themselves part of a new alliance against Iran alongside Israel." Atwan said gulf states were taking measures to try to persuade Russia and China to stop supporting Iran. He said Saudi Arabia had offered to purchase billions of dollars of weapons from Russia if it agreed not to sell Iran sophisticated missiles.
        Abdulaziz Sager, chairman of the Gulf Research Center in the United Arab Emirates, said: "The region can live with a limited retaliation from Iran better than living with a permanent nuclear deterrent. I favor getting the job done now instead of living the rest of my life with a nuclear hegemony in the region that Iran would like to impose."  (New York Times)
  • China's Ties with Iran Complicate Diplomacy - Michael Wines
    As the U.S. issues new calls to punish Iran for secretly expanding its nuclear program, it is not at all clear that Washington's interests are the same as Beijing's. In June, China National Petroleum signed a $5 billion deal to develop the South Pars natural gas field in Iran. In July, Iran invited Chinese companies to join a $42.8 billion project to build seven oil refineries and a 1,019-mile trans-Iran pipeline. In August, Tehran and Beijing struck a $3 billion deal for China to help Iran expand two more oil refineries. China's economic links to Tehran are growing rapidly, and China's leaders see Iran not as a threat but as a potential ally.
        China relies heavily on Iran's vast energy reserves and has been Iran's biggest oil export market for the past five years. In return, Iran has loaded up on imported Chinese machine tools, factory equipment, locomotives and other heavy goods, building China into one of its largest trading partners. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: No New Israeli Inquiry into Gaza War - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has nixed the idea of setting up an inquiry committee into alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza as a means of dealing with the Goldstone Commission's report. Netanyahu, who held two meetings on the subject on Wednesday, believes a more effective way of blocking the report would be to make it clear to the international community that referral to the International Criminal Court would sound the death knell of the peace process. Defense Minister Ehud Barak also said he opposes an inquiry commission. Netanyahu's associates said that setting up an inquiry commission would imply that the probes now being conducted by the Israel Defense Forces are untrustworthy.
        Netanyahu told a group of ambassadors Wednesday that the Goldstone report undermines the UN itself by gutting the legitimate right of self-defense. If this approach is authorized against Israel, it will ultimately be used against other nations, too. No nation would agree to take risks for peace, such as ceding territory, if they were afterward denied the right of self-defense against attacks from that territory. Hence anyone who cares about peace must block the Goldstone report, he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran Is Galloping toward Nuclear Weapons - Ari Shavit
    The Iranian clock is currently ticking at the rate of three kilograms of enriched uranium per day. If one fine day Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces he has a nuclear bomb, the world will be a different world. Even if we assume that Tehran will behave rationally and refrain from using its doomsday weapon directly, the very fact that it has nuclear weapons will cause the entire Middle East to go nuclear. A nuclear Iran means a nuclear Saudi Arabia, a nuclear Egypt, a nuclear Turkey and a nuclear third world.
        Today, in Geneva, the diplomatic confrontation between the Western world and Iran is entering the home stretch. This time, the outcome must be different. The moment the talks have exhausted their usefulness, the Western powers must impose immediate, aggressive sanctions on Tehran. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Obama's Opportunity in Iran - Nicholas Burns
    President Obama's accusation that Iran has lied about a secret nuclear plant gives the U.S. the most important opportunity in years to pressure Tehran to forgo its nuclear weapons ambitions. By drawing a "line in the sand," the U.S., France, and Britain now have the first substantial leverage to deploy when negotiations begin today with a suddenly defensive Ahmadinejad government.
        Obama should ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian government by moving from a strategy of engagement to one that combines continued negotiations, tough new inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, and the threat of much more powerful sanctions. Given the risk of war with Iran in the next one to two years, the administration owes it to the nation to exhaust diplomacy. If talks fail, the U.S. will then have much greater credibility to argue for tougher international sanctions against the regime because it would have gone the extra mile for peace. The writer is a former U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs. (Boston Globe)
  • Iran Has No Right to Nuclear Technology - Matthias Kuntzel
    Allowing a theocratic regime dreaming of religious war to obtain nuclear weapons is a threat to humanity. It can neither be defused by the NPT provisions nor by continuing piecemeal sanctions. Short of a military strike, the only alternative is to make full use of Chapter VII of the UN Charter. In order to confront threats to peace, it suggests in article 41 the "complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations." The time for "dialogue as usual" is over. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    No Illusions on Iran - Rep. Eric Cantor (Politico)

    • In Geneva our bottom line must be an immediate halt to Iran's nuclear enrichment capabilities. No exceptions, no excuses. We also must insist that Iran gives the International Atomic Energy Agency unfettered access to its new nuclear facility near the city of Qom and all of its other facilities.
    • When Iran holds true to its insistence that its nuclear program is off the table, President Obama should not delay in rallying the international community around the program of "crippling sanctions" that Secretary Clinton has threatened.
          Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is House minority whip.
    Act on Oil Imports - Sen. Evan Bayh (Politico)

    • While robust multilateral sanctions are highly preferable, the U.S. must be prepared to act unilaterally should other global powers decide to place their own economic interests above the cause of global security.
    • Congress is preparing to push through strong unilateral measures to defend our national security and preserve regional stability in the Mideast. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act strikes at Iran's Achilles' heel: the country's reliance on refined petroleum imports for its domestic economy. The Bayh-Lieberman-Kyl bill, co-sponsored by a broad coalition of 76 senators, would give the president expanded authority to ban foreign firms from doing any business in the U.S. if they are involved in exporting gasoline or other refined petroleum products or equipment to Iran.
    • Today, all companies doing business in Iran, as well as their investors, would be wise to consider the likelihood of imminent congressional action on this and other sanctions legislation.
          Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and chairs the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Security and International Trade and Finance.

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