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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
November 21, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Secret "IR-10" Plant for Plutonium Bomb - Pierre Rousselin (Le Figaro-France)
    For spent fuel from Iran's reactor in Arak to be used for military purposes, facilities for separating plutonium are necessary.
    A Western intelligence service has obtained plans for a factory to be constructed in the Shiraz region in southwestern Iran to perform this operation.
    The factory in Shiraz, called "IR-10," was mentioned publicly last April by Fereydoun Abbassi, former head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency.
    The facility would deal with spent nuclear fuel, including separating plutonium for fissile material needed to manufacture nuclear weapons.

PA: President Bush Gave Israel Approval to Murder Arafat - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Senior PA and Fatah leader Jibril Rajoub told PA TV on Nov. 10:
    "It's obvious that Israel wasn't alone [in poisoning Arafat]; the U.S. was there."
    "That fool known as [George] Bush took away Yasser Arafat's protection and gave [Israeli PM] Sharon the green light to liquidate Yasser Arafat."

U.S. Says Dozens of Americans Have Sought to Join Rebels in Syria - Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
    Dozens of Americans have traveled or tried to travel to Syria to fight with the rebels against the government of President Assad since 2011, American intelligence officials said Wednesday.
    The influx of young Muslims with Western passports into Syria has raised fears among American and European intelligence officials of a new terrorist threat when the fighters return home.

Israel Donates Medicine Worth $500,000 to the Philippines (Philippine Information Agency)
    The Government of Israel gave $500,000 worth of medicine to the Cebu provincial government in the Philippines, it was announced Tuesday at the IDF field hospital in Bogo City.
    The field hospital has so far treated 999 patients.

Hamas Shows Off Tunnel-Digging Unit - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas revealed to Al-Jazeera on Saturday a unit that specializes in digging offensive tunnels.
    The report showed Hamas operatives digging a tunnel and preparing infrastructure for launching rockets from below ground. The excavators line the tunnel with concrete slabs to prevent the tunnel's collapse.
    Digging is done at a slow pace so that the sand may be removed and scattered elsewhere without attracting attention.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Says Enrichment "Not Negotiable" as Geneva Nuclear Talks Begin - Hannah Strange
    "No deal that does not include the right to uranium enrichment from start to finish will be accepted," Iran's chief negotiator Abbas Araghchi said in Geneva on Thursday. "The principle of enrichment is not negotiable," he insisted. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also U.S. Official: No Country Has a Right of Enrichment
    In a background briefing on Wednesday in Geneva, a senior U.S. official said: "About the right to enrich.  Iran has for a long time said that they believe they have an inalienable right to enrichment.  The United States has said for an equally long time that we do not believe any country - not just Iran - has a right to enrichment.  Article IV of the NPT, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, is silent on the issue.  It neither confers a right nor denies a right.  So we don't believe it is inherently there."  (U.S. Mission in Geneva)
        See also Video: Why Iran Has No Right of Enrichment - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iran's Khamenei Calls Israel a "Rabid Dog" - George Jahn and John Heilprin
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted Israel on Wednesday as being "the rabid dog" of the region, bent on besmirching Iran's reputation. Khamenei also said the main goal of the Geneva talks is the "stabilization of the rights of the Iranian nation, including nuclear rights."  (AP)
        See also Khamenei: "Zionist Officials Cannot Be Called Humans" - Ariel Ben Solomon
    Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei said Wednesday: "Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals....The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation." Khamenei also accused French officials of "kneeling before the Israeli regime."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Shultz: Iranians Will "Cut Your Throat"
    The Iranians are good at "smiling, encouraging you on and then cutting your throat," former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz has told the BBC. (BBC News)
        See also below Observations: How to Negotiate with Iran - George P. Shultz (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S., Israel Rift over Iran Not a Crisis in Relations - Michael Wilner
    Israel's new ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, told a closed-door session with U.S. congressmen on Wednesday that the current rift with the U.S. over Iran's nuclear program does not amount to a crisis in relations. He said that while differences remain over how best to proceed with Iran, the day after an interim agreement is reached, "the U.S.-Israel relationship will only be more important than it has been before."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mutual Deterrence on Israel's Northern Border - Amos Harel
    Israeli intelligence sources note a "high level of intimacy" among the Hizbullah-Syria-Iran alliance, though Tehran's dominance is clear. Iran deprived Hizbullah of independent authority to open fire on Israel after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and it was Iran that ordered Hizbullah to intervene actively in the war in Syria last year, when Tehran feared that the Assad regime was going to fall.
        Even though Hizbullah does not appear to desire a war at present, the risks remain, principally because there are now a large number of groups active in the area. A good example is an incident in August, in which a radical Sunni organization fired Katyusha rockets into the western Galilee.
        The quiet on Israel's northern border is founded mainly on mutual deterrence. Although the IDF's vast destructive capability is deterring Hizbullah, Israel is apprehensive about the tens of thousands of rockets in that organization's possession. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why a Nuclear Deal with Iran Is So Hard - Michael Eisenstadt
    Tehran hopes to use the Geneva negotiations to confirm (if not legitimize) its status as a nuclear threshold state. An infographic on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's website describes how the regime's ultimate decision-maker thinks about Iran's nuclear program, identifying a dozen major achievements of Iran's policy of "nuclear resistance."
        Ten of them describe how the nuclear program has contributed to Iran's independence and enhanced its power, prestige, and influence in the Muslim world and beyond. The infographic makes clear that the regime considers the nuclear program to be key to the country's future as a regional and aspiring great power.
        Its nuclear program has much more to do with Iran's place in the world, while nuclear negotiations are about the degree of nuclear latency (i.e., proximity to the bomb) the international community is willing to tolerate. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (National Interest)
  • A Sense of Letdown in Israel over U.S. Pledges on Iran - Bernard Gwertzman
    In an interview, Gerald M. Steinberg, professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, says Israelis are questioning whether the U.S. will deliver on its pledge to prevent a nuclear-weaponized Iran.
        "The general view is that the deal that was reportedly on the table in Geneva...was a major climb down from what had been expected. If that's the deal...then most of the Israeli security establishment says that's not what we were told. Under those circumstances it may be necessary for Israel to go at it alone."
        "The perceived collapse - and it may be temporary - on Iran also colors the way in which Israelis see America's role in the peace process. If the United States is unable to fulfill its promises and implement agreements on issues like Iran, then what role can it play in terms of the tough bargaining and difficult decision-making that needs to take place between Israelis and Palestinians? Kerry is criticized for constantly pressuring Israel - including a recent set of very critical statements on settlements - without any quid pro quo by the Palestinians."  (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Freeze Construction Work at Arak - Jeffrey Lewis
    The Iranians committed not to bring the Arak plutonium reactor online during the interim agreement. They could, however, continue to install equipment at Arak and manufacture fuel for the reactor, bringing it to the brink of operation during negotiations. In other words, the draft agreement would allow Iran to do everything it planned at Arak over the next six months.
        In 2004, Hassan Rouhani negotiated the "Paris Agreement" with the E3, under which the Iranians agreed to suspend their conversion and enrichment of uranium for a few months, while talks continued. In fact, Iran continued installing equipment at its Isfahan conversion facility. The writer is director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. (Foreign Policy)

How to Negotiate with Iran - George P. Shultz (Wall Street Journal)

  • With U.S.-led talks to curb Iran's nuclear program underway in Geneva, American diplomats would do well to take a few pointers from my former boss, Ronald Reagan, on how to negotiate effectively:
    1. Be realistic; no rose-colored glasses. Recognize opportunities when they are there, but stay close to reality.
    2. Be strong and don't be afraid to up the ante.
    3. Develop your agenda. Know what you want so you don't wind up negotiating from the other side's agenda.
    4. On this basis, engage. And remember: The guy who is anxious for a deal will get his head handed to him.
  • The reality is that Iran is the world's most active sponsor of terror, directly and through proxies such as Hizbullah, and it has developed large-scale enrichment capacity that far exceeds anything needed for power-plant operations.
  • Worse, Iran openly expresses its intent to destroy Israel. The election of President Hassan Rouhani may provide a slight opening. But don't bet on it.
  • If Iran has no intention of producing nuclear weapons, then Tehran should cease all uranium enrichment and immediately allow international inspections for verification.
  • Do we have a fallback position? Yes. Allow Iran and the IAEA to identify an existing Iranian-enrichment facility that can supply what is needed for purely civilian use. Then make sure that all the other enrichment facilities and the heavy-water reactor in Iran are destroyed under international inspection. Once the job is done, sanctions will be lifted.

    The writer, a former Secretary of Labor, Treasury and State, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget, is a distinguished fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

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