Is Iran Building a Third Enrichment Plant? - David Albright and Andrea Stricker (Institute for Science and International Security)
Has Iran begun building a third centrifuge plant in secret?
It would not be the first time, as witnessed by Iran's past secret construction of the Natanz centrifuge site, the Kalaye Electric centrifuge research and development plant, and the deeply buried Fordow centrifuge facility.
Since March 2007, Iran has taken the position that it does not have to notify the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if it begins construction of a nuclear facility, but the IAEA says that Iran has a legal obligation to do so under its current safeguards agreement.
Iran has taken the position that it can delay telling the IAEA about the construction of a nuclear facility until six months before the introduction of nuclear material.
Thus, under Iran's interpretation of its safeguards obligations, Iran can essentially finish construction of a gas centrifuge plant before notifying the IAEA of its existence.
It remains for Iran to provide the IAEA with advance information about its construction of additional enrichment facilities and to explain any current construction of a third enrichment site.
Oil Output Soars as Iraq Retools, Easing Shaky Markets - Tim Arango and Clifford Krauss (New York Times)
Iraq's crude oil production is soaring, with a 20% jump in exports this year to nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, making Iraq one of the premier producers in OPEC for the first time in decades.
Energy analysts say that the Iraqi boom - coupled with increased production in Saudi Arabia and the near total recovery of Libya's oil industry - should cushion oil markets from price spikes and give the international community additional leverage over Iran when new sanctions take effect in July.
Video: U.S., Israeli Forces Train to Rescue Lives (Israel Defense Forces)
On May 15, Israeli and U.S. forces held a joint emergency rescue drill. Together, they trained how to extract injured victims from a collapsed building, to clear paths through debris and to navigate in the chaos that is left by a natural disaster.
Israel Is Creating Jobs in America - Maxine Dovere (Jointmedia-Jerusalem Post)
Jonathan Medved, a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist who lives in Jerusalem, told the Israel Business Forum in New York City last month that Israel is creating jobs in America, citing companies such as Given Imaging in Georgia, Amdocs in Missouri and Netafim and Bright Source in California.
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- U.S. Has Iran War Options, Former Policy Chief Says - Barbara Opall-Rome
U.S. war planners have developed "a viable contingency" for Iran that U.S. President Barack Obama will not hesitate to authorize if the military option is the only way to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, according to former U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy Michele Flournoy. "Having sat in the Pentagon, I can assure you of the quality of the work that has been done....The military option for the president is real," said Flournoy, who left the Pentagon in February.
Flournoy noted that more than 40,000 U.S. troops are positioned in the region, with two carrier strike groups deployed in the Arabian Gulf. Such military presence is part of a carefully timed strategy that, through the coming months, will continue to focus on a combination of increasingly crippling sanctions and diplomacy. (Defense News)
- Syria: Heavy Clashes Reported - Rick Gladstone
A Syrian activist group reported that at least 80 soldiers were killed over the weekend in clashes with rebels. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters that rebels had overrun army checkpoints in the northern town of Ariha, and a photo released by activists was said to show damaged army tanks.
(New York Times)
- Egypt's Brotherhood Faces Tough Popular Test - Sarah El Deeb
The Muslim Brotherhood is reaping an immediate benefit from public fury over the mixed verdict against former leader Hosni Mubarak and his aides. Now some grudgingly are backing the Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Morsi as the only way to defeat Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, who many fear would preserve a Mubarak-style autocratic regime. "We no longer present Morsi as the candidate of the Islamic current but as the candidate of the revolution," said Murad Mohammed Ali, spokesman for the Morsi campaign. (AP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Will New Reporting Requirement on Palestinian Refugees Harm or Help Peace? - Hilary Leila Krieger
A proposed reporting requirement on the issue of Palestinian refugees, recently approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, mandates that the secretary of state must report how many of the Palestinians serviced by the UN refugee agency UNRWA left homes in Israel during the War of Independence and how many are only their descendants. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies estimated that the number of living refugees was about 30,000 people, in contrast to the several million counted by UNRWA.
One Senate aide said that puncturing the "UNRWA myth" of millions of refugees would help resolve what has been a major stumbling block.
"In the end you will find a very manageable problem with practical solutions," he said. "This is a dramatic stop in what has been maybe the thorniest and most difficult challenge to Middle East peace." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinians: Refugees Forever? - Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander Joffe (Ha'aretz)
- Lyon Assault Is Latest French Anti-Semitic Incident - Philip Podolsky
Anti-Semitic incidents in France have picked up since the Toulouse murders of a rabbi and three children outside a Jewish school in March. On Saturday night near Lyon, 10 attackers assaulted three 18-year-old Jewish men outside a Jewish center in Villeurbanne. Two of the victims were taken to the hospital after being beaten with a hammer and metal rod by attackers of North African extraction.
Joel Mergui, president of the Central Consistory umbrella organization, said the country's Jews were under constant attack. "Not a week passes without anti-Semitic assaults in France." The chief rabbi of the Grand Synagogue in Lyon, Richard Wertenschlag, called the atmosphere "unbearable." (Times of Israel)
- Iran's Likely Responses to an Israeli Preventive Strike - Michael Eisenstadt and Michael Knights
Although an Israeli preventive strike
would be a high-risk endeavor carrying a potential
for escalation, it would
not be the apocalyptic event some foresee. The
U.S. could take several steps to mitigate
these risks without appearing complicit in Israel's
decision to attack.
The very act of taking precautionary measures to lessen the impact of a strike,
moreover, would enhance the credibility of Israeli
military threats and bolster the P5+1's ongoing
nuclear diplomacy. Michael Eisenstadt is director of The Washington Institute's Military and Security Studies Program. Michael Knights is a fellow with The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Egypt's Travesty of Justice with Hosni Mubarak - Editorial
The prosecution of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak offered a textbook example of how not to handle a deposed dictator. Mubarak is likely culpable for crimes of corruption and of human rights. But the charges brought against him were vague and poorly substantiated, and the trial itself was chaotic and preemptory.
His trial was less a serious judicial exercise than a smokescreen thrown up by the military council that removed him from office. Mubarak's prosecution was meant to defuse the popular demand that the old regime be held accountable while obstructing it in every meaningful sense.
- Jewish Star Remakes Persian Oldies in Tel Aviv and Her Fans in Tehran Can't Get Enough - Farnaz Fassihi and Joshua Mitnick
Music-loving Iranians craving nostalgic Persian songs of a bygone era have a new darling: Rita, the Israeli singing sensation. Iranian-born Rita Jahanforuz, 50, who is fluent in Persian, is Israel's most famous female singer. A year ago, she decided to revisit what she tells audiences is the "soundtrack of my childhood" by adapting Persian classics that most Iranians know by heart.
The result is an album, "All My Joys," that gives old-time Persian hits an upbeat Mediterranean flavor that caters to the Israeli ear.
The album went gold in Israel in just three weeks, despite being sung entirely in Persian. It also propelled Rita onto the music scene in Iran.
Iran's government has taken notice. Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards Corps, wrote that Rita is Israel's "latest plot in a soft war" to gain access to the hearts and minds of Iranians.
(Wall Street Journal)
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The Real Reason to Intervene in Syria - James P. Rubin (Foreign Policy)
Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but in fact they are inextricably linked. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. It's the fact that just reaching the nuclear threshold could embolden Iranian leaders to call on their proxy in Lebanon, Hizbullah, to attack Israel, knowing that their adversary would have to think hard before striking back.
- That is where Syria comes in. Hizbullah, which is sustained and trained by Iran via Syria, has proven able to threaten Israeli security interests. The collapse of the Assad regime would sunder this dangerous alliance.
- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that the Assad regime's fall "will be a major blow to the radical axis, major blow to Iran....It's the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the Arab world...and it will weaken dramatically both Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza."
- Success in Syria would be a transformative event for the Middle East. Iran would no longer have a Mediterranean foothold from which to threaten Israel and destabilize the region.
The writer was assistant secretary of state during the Bill Clinton administration.
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