Report: Syrian Deputy Defense Minister Killed (Times of Israel)
Al Arabiya reported Tuesday that Syrian officials had confirmed reports that Deputy Minister of Defense Assef Shawkat, 62, President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law and a former head of military intelligence, was killed in a Free Syrian Army attack near Damascus.
According to the report, Assad and his wife Asma visited a Damascus Hospital on Monday where Shawkat was receiving treatment.
IDF Intelligence: Iran Has 450 Missiles that Can Reach Israel - Gili Cohen and Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
Iran has an arsenal of 450 missiles in striking distance of Israel, Brig. Gen. Itay Baron, head of the IDF Military Intelligence research section, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.
In addition, neighboring Syria has 3,000 rockets and missiles with ranges of 70 to 700 km. Baron said the missiles were not very precise, but its surface-to-air Russian-made defense systems were quite technologically advanced.
Azeris Pressured by Iran to Cut Israel, West Ties - Zulfugar Agayev (Bloomberg)
"Iran is telling us to sever our relationships with Israel and the West," which is unacceptable to Azerbaijan, Ali Hasanov, head of the social and political department in the office of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, said Monday in Baku.
Azeris won't join Western-led efforts that target Iran, he said. "There are 30 million Azeris living in Iran." A possible "bombing of Iran would be like bombing of Azerbaijan."
Iran's Shiite religion is shared by 2/3 of Azerbaijan's 9 million population. Iran is seeking to impose its version of Islam on Azerbaijan, Hasanov said, but "we have our own model" of Islam "and everybody knows it."
Yemen: Jewish Community Leader Stabbed to Death - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
Harun Yusuf Zindani, 50,
a Jewish community leader in Yemen, was stabbed to death at a Sanaa market on Tuesday by a Muslim assailant. Barely 300 Jews remain in the country.
Poll: Most Egyptians Hate Israel, But Don't Want War with It - Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
The Menachem Begin Heritage Center on Monday published a poll showing that more than 85% of Egyptians oppose any type of normalization with Israel and want to see a worsening of relations, even to levels of "hatred."
However, the survey also showed that 90% of Egyptians believe that peace is preferable to war, and that the peace treaty with Israel was the "right choice."
Ohio Man Gets Six Years for Plot to Smuggle Money to Hizbullah - Kim Palmer (Reuters)
Hor Akl, 39, of Toledo, a dual U.S.-Lebanese citizen, pled guilty to planning to send $200,000 inside a sport utility vehicle to Hizbullah to target Israel.
Akl was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James Carr in Toledo to more than six years in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, after he pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a group designated as a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering, perjury and bankruptcy fraud.
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- IAEA Chief Says Deal Close on Iran Nuclear Inspections - Paul Richter
Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he expected to sign a deal with Iran "quite soon" giving inspectors access to some of Iran's nuclear sites. Amano didn't say that Iran would grant access to the Parchin site. He said only that the question of access "will be addressed" in the deal. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Israel Downplays Reported Iran Nuclear Deal with IAEA, Citing Past Violations - Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis
The announcement that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Yukiya Amano had struck a deal with Iran Tuesday to inspect its nuclear facilities was received in Jerusalem with great suspicion.
According to a top Israeli official, the government is very skeptical that Iran would adhere to any deal.
"The Iranians are serial agreement violators," said the official. "We know from past experiences how all these agreements between the IAEA and Iran end. Iran continued to establish uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz under the nose of the international community. The IAEA's last report refers to the military intentions of Iran's nuclear program." The official noted that "Amano's talks in Tehran dealt mostly with the issue of inspection over nuclear facilities....This is not enough. The Iranian plan continues and needs to be stopped, which means an end to uranium enrichment." (Ha'aretz)
- West Shifts Stance on Iranian Sanctions - Javier Blas, James Blitz and Geoff Dyer
Western powers are prepared to offer Iran an "oil carrot" that would allow it to continue supplying crude to Asian customers in exchange for guarantees it is not building an atomic bomb.
Diplomats and oil executives said the U.S. and EU were likely to hold out the prospect of a possible suspension of an EU insurance ban on ships carrying Iranian oil. They added that the U.S. and EU are not prepared to lift other sanctions - including an EU import ban on Iranian oil.
Waiving the EU insurance ban, which takes effect on July 1, would allow China, India, Japan and South Korea to buy shipping insurance in London, which dominates the market.
- Unrest Over Syria Hits Beirut - Nour Malas and Nada Raad
Clashes across Lebanon between members of political groups opposing and supporting the government in Syria have left 10 people dead this month, according to Lebanese officials. On Tuesday, residents of the Shiite-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut took to the streets to protest the abduction by gunmen of as many as 12 Lebanese men on a bus in Syria en route home from a Shiite shrine in Iran.
(Wall Street Journal)
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- White House Assures Jewish Leaders on Iran - Hilary Leila Krieger
Some 70 members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with Vice President Joe Biden, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides and other administration officials on Monday. The officials stressed their intention to maintain a tough stance during talks with Iran.
Participants said the officials emphasized that the U.S. was entering the nuclear talks clear-eyed about Iranian intentions and with no plan to reduce pressure in the near term.
The meeting at the White House, which usually happens once each year, focused on the Iranian issue much more than in previous years when the peace process and U.S.-Israeli relations played a bigger role. (Jerusalem Post)
- Yadlin: Israel Right to Prepare Military Option for Iran - Ron Ben-Yishai
"Israel's political and military leadership has done the right thing by preparing a realistic military option (for Iran)," former Military Intelligence chief and Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin said Tuesday. "Using this military option would require us to consider in advance what would happen not only immediately afterward, but also 10 years later." Yadlin assessed that a strike on Iran would delay its nuclear program by three to five years. After that, he said, it would be necessary to continue pressuring Tehran, and Israel could not do that alone.
He proposed three criteria by which the latest round of talks with Iran should be analyzed:
a) The removal of some six tons of uranium enriched to 4.5% would be insufficient, since the uranium enriched to 20% would allow Iran to assemble a number of warheads.
b) The existence of the nuclear site adjacent to the city of Qum allows uranium to be brought into the "zone of immunity" and enriched to the highest level without the risk of being attacked. "Closing (this) facility closes the immunity zone," he stressed.
c) Well-specified arrangements to be supervised by the IAEA.
- Rice: Israel Is Where the U.S. Learned about Homeland Security - David Shamah
Former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice told an audience in Israel Sunday that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel changed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
While Jerusalem and Washington were always good friends, after the attacks they became allies "with a common cause in the fight against people who would seek political gain by attacking civilians, parents and children," she said.
Rice said the attack "changed the conception of security" and demonstrated how vulnerable the U.S. really was after "the first attack against civilians on U.S. territory since the War of 1812."
"We realized that Israel, our good friend, was very advanced in this area. Security has been a concern of Israel's since the day it was born." (Times of Israel)
- Avoiding the Containment Trap with Iran - Michael Singh
On March 4, 2012, President Obama declared, "Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
We must prevent ourselves from being maneuvered into a corner where we have little choice other than to accept containment. Instead of emphasizing what we may do if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, or is on the cusp of doing so, the U.S. should focus on denying Tehran the necessary building blocks to reach a nuclear weapons capability.
The U.S. should not provide relief from sanctions in exchange for anything less than the full suspension of uranium enrichment by Tehran, and other hard-to-reverse steps such as the removal of Iran's enriched uranium stocks and dismantlement of its key fuel fabrication facilities.
Washington has tended to focus its energies on each marginal advance by Tehran, such that what the U.S. now appears willing to do in return for a limit on Iran's enrichment activities is equivalent to what had previously been offered for a full suspension of enrichment. The perverse effect of this constant re-drawing of U.S. redlines is not to cap Iran's activities, but to encourage further nuclear progress.
The leverage the U.S. has built up has been hard-won, but can be easily lost, and should not be yielded too readily. The writer is managing director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- An Underwhelming Approach to Iran's Nuclear Ambitions - Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz
Like his former patron Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the true father of Iran's nuclear program, supreme leader Ali Khamenei has supported the atomic quest since the mid-1980s, when it was still covert. He has spent billions to develop every component of a nuclear-armed missile.
Yet Western negotiators want to hope that sanctions have caused enough pain that Khamenei will have no choice but to view nuclear weapons as harmful to his rule.
If the West cannot stop Iran's technological advances in centrifuge production - and it remains unclear whether Western intelligence services know where the Iranian regime is manufacturing these machines - then even shutting down the known enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow offers, at best, a pause. Increasingly proficient centrifuges will allow for much smaller, hard-to-detect facilities that can rapidly process low-enriched uranium into bomb-grade material.
A new red line at 20% enrichment would leave Jerusalem two options: strike or give up. The euphoria in Western and certain Israeli circles that Judgment Day has been avoided will vanish rapidly as it becomes obvious how much Khamenei can cheat with this new standard.
Gerecht, a former Iranian specialist in the CIA's clandestine service, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Dubowitz is executive director of the foundation and head of its Iran Energy Project.
Getting a Good Deal with Iran - Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) (Wall Street Journal)
- Iran had no uranium enriched to 20% until two years ago, nor was the Fordow site operational before then. Focusing only on these recent manifestations of Iran's nuclear program, without also addressing older and broader enrichment and proliferation-sensitive activities, would effectively reward the Iranians for their escalation and allow them to move back the goal posts.
- Rather, the U.S. must make clear that international pressure will continue to build on Iran until it takes the concrete steps that will address the entirety of the threat, with a swift timetable for implementation. These must include:
Full Iranian cooperation with the IAEA - not just promises to cooperate, but tangible action to resolve all outstanding questions about Iran's illicit nuclear activities.
- A new agreement to intrusive inspections based on the Additional Protocol under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to ensure the Iranians aren't lying or cheating about the full scope of their program, as they have in the past.
- Full Iranian compliance with all resolutions of the UN Security Council, including its repeated demand for full, verifiable and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related, reprocessing and heavy-water activities.
- Given the Iranian regime's long-standing pattern of deceptive and illicit conduct, we believe it cannot be trusted to maintain enrichment or reprocessing activities on its territory for the foreseeable future - at least until the international community has been fully convinced that Iran has decided to abandon any nuclear-weapons ambitions. We are very far from that point.
- Just as importantly, Iran must not be permitted to possess sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon, or centrifuges in sufficient quantity or sophistication that would allow it to "break out" and build a nuclear weapon swiftly and covertly.
- A diplomatic solution with Iran is possible if the Iranian regime genuinely wants one. But to achieve this outcome, we must not allow the Iranians to draw us into an extended negotiation with a continuing series of confidence-building measures that never ultimately force Tehran to verifiably abandon its pursuit of a nuclear-weapons capability.
Our best hope for avoiding conflict is to leave no doubt that the window for diplomacy is closing. In the absence of a negotiated solution that addresses the totality of Iran's nuclear program, and soon, we must take the steps that President Obama laid out in February, when he said: "America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal." The U.S. must be prepared, if necessary, to use military force to stop Iran from getting a nuclear-weapons capability.
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