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October 7, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran: New Enrichment Plant to Use Advanced Centrifuges - Hashem Kalantari (Reuters)
    Iran plans to use a new generation of faster centrifuges to enrich uranium at a newly-revealed underground nuclear site in Qom, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said in remarks published Tuesday.
    "We are hopeful of using a new generation of centrifuges at the (Qom-area) Fordu site," he said.
    Nuclear experts believe the new model of centrifuge is capable of doubling or tripling the output rate.

Libya Asks for Security Council Meeting over Gaza Report - Patrick Worsnip (Reuters)
    The UN Security Council will hold closed-door consultations on Wednesday to consider a Libyan request for a formal debate to discuss a UN report that accused Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes during Israel's offensive in Gaza.
    U.S. veto power in the Security Council effectively rules out any action or statement that is hostile to Washington's ally Israel.

Israeli Shares 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
    Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz and Israeli Ada Yonath from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot will share the Nobel Prize in chemistry for showing how the ribosome, which produces protein, functions at the atomic level, it was announced Wednesday.
    Yonath was the first Israeli biologist to work with NASA in sending research material to outer space. Her research contributed greatly to the development of more effective antibiotics, which can overcome the phenomenon of drug-resistant pathogens.
    Only three women have ever won the prize, the last one in 1964.

More Iranian Nuclear Scientists Defect? - Meir Javedanfar (RealClearWorld)
    The defection of former Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Ali Asgari in 2007 took everyone in Iran by surprise.
    Now there are more stories circulating about two other defectors. Shahram Amiri, who has gone missing in Saudi Arabia, was a nuclear scientist who worked at the recently exposed nuclear site in Qom.
    A man by the surname of Ardebili is described as another nuclear scientist who was arrested in Georgia and then handed over to American authorities.

In Face of Israel's Restored Deterrent Power, Hamas Turns to PR - Col. (res.) Moshe Elad (Ynet News)
    After Israel managed to restore its deterrent power vis-a-vis Hamas in the wake of the Gaza operation, Hamas quickly grasped the risk inherent in such deterrence and sought a way to neutralize its impact on the Palestinian public.
    Through a well-oiled PR machine, sponsored via funds provided by Gulf states, Hamas is attempting to achieve what it failed to do in the battlefield.
    Once the PR channel also failed to achieve the expected results, Hamas turned to the legal channel in an attempt to erode Israel's deterrent power via an international campaign aimed at delegitimizing Israel's military acts of self-defense.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Plans "Serious" Sanctions If Iran Diplomacy Fails - Elise Labott
    The Obama administration is working on a substantial sanctions package against Iran in case current diplomatic efforts to curb its nuclear program fail, top officials told Congress on Tuesday. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said one reason for the Obama administration's engagement toward Iran was to secure international support for sanctions if Iran continued to defy international demands. "By the end of the month, we will have some very clear indications of what their intentions are," he said.
        Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said he planned to move forward this month on a proposal to expand financial restrictions, impose new sanctions on Iran's oil and gas sectors, and ban both the export of refined gasoline products to Iran and the import of Iranian goods. (CNN)
  • Poll: 61 Percent in U.S. Would Back Attack to Prevent Iran Nuclear Bomb - Janine Zacharia
    61% of Americans would support a military strike to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday found. While 63% support direct U.S. negotiations with Iran to push the country to abandon its nuclear program, 64% said such efforts won't succeed. While 78% would approve tougher economic sanctions on Iran, 56% said they didn't expect the measures to persuade Iran to drop its nuclear program. (Bloomberg)
        See also Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran? - Jonathan Karl
    Is the U.S. stepping up preparations for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities? Based on a little-noticed funding request recently sent to Congress, the answer appears to be yes. The Pentagon is shifting spending from other programs to fast forward the development and procurement of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound bomb designed to hit targets buried 200 feet below ground. On Friday, McDonnell Douglas was awarded a $51.9 million contract to provide "Massive Penetrator Ordnance Integration" on B-2 aircraft. (ABC News)
  • Iranian Sunni Opposition Group: Iran Is Planning to Attack the Gulf Countries
    On Oct. 5, 2009, posted an interview with an Arab Ahwazi man who was presented as a former undercover agent for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He claimed that 40,000 well-trained operatives, mostly Shi'ites, are in the service of Iran in the Arab Gulf states - 3,000 in Kuwait alone.
        This is in line with a July 14, 2009, intelligence report by the Ahwazi Islamic Sunni Organization ( claiming that, according to classified Iranian Air Force information, Iran has a comprehensive military plan to attack the Gulf countries using the MiG-31 aircraft that it had purchased from Syria. Thus, it said, Iran is preparing secret airports and camps in Ahwaz province, as well as forces in the northwest of the province, in order to attack Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. (MEMRI)
  • Thousands of Christians March in Jerusalem for Israel - Patrick Moser
    Thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world marched through the streets of Jerusalem on Tuesday, chanting their support for Israel and praying for peace in the Holy Land. Marching under dozens of national banners, the pilgrims made their way from a park near parliament to the gates of the Old City. Many said the annual pilgrimage, organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, represented fulfillment of a biblical prophecy that all nations would gather in Jerusalem for Sukkot - the Feast of Tabernacles - which Jews celebrate this week. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Islamic Movement Leader "Builds Castles of Conspiracy Theories" - Rebecca Anna Stoil
    Raed Salah, the outspoken leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel's northern branch, called Tuesday on all Israeli Arabs and residents of eastern Jerusalem to immediately make their way to the Old City and "shield the Aksa Mosque with their bodies." Salah's militancy continues to drive a wedge between those who say they believe in working within the Israeli political system and those advocating violent methods outside of it.
        Prof. Yitzhak Reiter, of the department of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said: "In 2007, when Israel was working on the Mughrabi gate entrance, and Salah called on people to defend the mosque, few people actually came - even on the buses that he organized to come to Jerusalem - because they understood that he took one step too far." "He [Salah] works by building castles of conspiracy theories," explained Reiter. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Should Israel Outlaw the Islamic Movement? - Dan Izenberg (Jerusalem Post)
  • Foreign Ministry Weighs New Directions in Foreign Policy - Haviv Rettig Gur
    The policy staff in Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office has drawn up a plan for a new focus on three areas: expanding ties with the developing world, lowering international expectations of a breakthrough in negotiations with the Palestinians, and creating a "zero-tolerance" policy for anti-Semitic expressions worldwide.
        The plan notes: "There is no replacement for Israel's special relations with the United States," calling America "without a doubt Israel's best friend in the world. But the lone dependence on the United States is unhealthy for either side and presents difficulties for the U.S. Israel must build coalitions with other states on the basis of shared interests. In this way, it will expand and strengthen the circle of support, something which will be a relief for the U.S. as well." "Only by building broad coalitions and through long-term investment in ties with continents and states that have been neglected for many years can Israel improve its ability to deal with the challenges ahead." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Digs In, Dimming Hopes for Mideast Peace Talks - Howard Schneider
    In the two years since it seized power in Gaza, the militant Hamas movement has undercut the influence of the Strip's major clans, brought competing paramilitary groups under its control, put down an uprising by a rival Islamist group, weathered a three-week war with Israel, worked around a strict economic embargo - and through it all refused a set of international demands that could begin Gaza's rehabilitation. That unwillingness to compromise has created a deep-seated stalemate that poses a steep obstacle for U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell.
        Mitchell's eight months of talks about Israeli-Palestinian peace have been conducted, in effect, with only half of the Palestinian political leadership. Palestinian, Israeli and international diplomats and analysts see little sign that Hamas is ready to trade its clear control of Gaza for a seat at the negotiating table. (Washington Post)
  • Gasoline Sanctions on Iran: How Will Tehran Respond? - Brianna Rosen, Charlie Szrom, and Maseh Zarif
    As of June 2009, Iran consumed 408,385 barrels of gasoline per day. Iran currently imports 120-128,000 barrels per day. As of Sep. 2009, China exported 30-40,000 barrels per day to Iran. On Sep. 6, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that Venezuela would provide 20,000 gasoline barrels per day to Iran.
        Although the Dutch-Swiss firm Vitol may have decreased its involvement in the Iranian gasoline market since 2007, it and India's Reliance, along with France's Total, the UK-Netherlands' Royal Shell, Switzerland's Glencore, Switzerland's Trafigura, and Malaysia's Petronas remain some of the foremost foreign players in the Iranian market. Sanctions would most directly affect Reliance and the European firms, resulting in a potential deficit of roughly 88,000 barrels - the non-Chinese-originated portion - of Iran's daily imports.
        Domestic backlash against a 2007 rationing plan made Iranian officials wary of further action, as protestors set fire to gas stations and attacked state-run banks and business centers. Proposed increases in gasoline rationing and prices could generate internal protests on a larger scale, setting fire to an already tense political atmosphere. (IranTracker-American Enterprise Institute)
  • Observations:

    Temple Mount Is Key to Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper (Jerusalem Post)

    • Generations of Palestinians, "educated" by Yasser Arafat and company, have been taught not to believe there ever was a Solomon's Temple. Textbooks and Palestinian media all repeat the self-delusionary canard denying any historic Jewish continuity or legitimacy in the Holy Land.
    • President Bill Clinton was reportedly shocked when Arafat called the Western Wall - the Jewish people's holiest place - "a Muslim shrine" and the Palestinian leader's chief negotiator at the Camp David peace talks denied the ruins of Solomon's temple lay beneath the Dome of the Rock.
    • The current violence and rabble-rousing by the Palestinians won't make it any easier for President Obama, but the first thing he must do is admonish the Palestinian leadership to stop denying the legitimacy of the Jewish people.
    • There can be no peace in the Holy Land without the Arab and Muslim world acknowledging what their Holy Book and ancestors recognized as the historic link of the Jewish people to its land and its holy sites. Unless and until that happens, there will be no peace in our time.

      Marvin Hier is the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, where Abraham Cooper is the associate dean.

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