King David Hotel Manager Dismisses Newsweek Spying Report - Joshua Levitt (Algemeiner)
According to the Newsweek report that an Israeli spy was caught in an air conditioner duct while spying on then U.S. Vice President Al Gore in 1998, a Secret Service agent "sees a guy starting to exit the vent into the room....He kind of coughed and the guy went back into the vents."
The manager of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Dror Danini-Forsyth, responded:
"I can confirm that the story is ridiculous. There is a small pipe that brings some fresh air into the room, and it is so small that even a cat cannot walk in it."
Russia to Conduct Joint Army Drills with Egypt - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
A Russian military delegation left Egypt on Friday after meeting with senior Egyptian army officials and agreed on plans to hold joint military exercises, a source told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk.
This is the fourth reported Russian visit to Egypt over the past few months.
Iran Claims to Have Replicated Downed Advanced American Drone - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Mohammad Ali Jafari announced on May 11 that Iran had succeeded in replicating an advanced, U.S. radar-evading, unmanned aerial vehicle (the RQ170 stealth drone).
There have been many Iranian claims in recent years that it has succeeded in constructing a number of UAVs with stealth technology, though it is not clear how much truth there is in these claims.
See also Iran to Use Stealth Drone for Bombing Missions (Fars-Iran)
French Police Arrest 6 Syria Jihadists (AP-Washington Post)
French police arrested six people Tuesday in a roundup of suspected jihadists who recently traveled to fight in Syria's civil war, the interior ministry said.
The government said last month that nearly 300 French people were currently in Syria, 130 were in transit and 130 others had returned home after participating in the civil war.
Israeli Submarines Operate Far from the Country's Shores - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
The three subs in Israel's naval fleet will be joined in the coming year by two new vessels.
Israeli submarines mostly operate far from the country's shores, carrying out 54 special ops in 2013 alone.
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- Nuclear Talks Will Confront Iran's Future Capability to Enrich Uranium - David E. Sanger and Steven Erlanger
As Iran and six world powers meet this week in Vienna to begin drafting language to resolve their nuclear standoff, negotiators say they are finally confronting a crucial sticking point to a permanent agreement - the size and shape of the nuclear fuel production capability that Iran will be permitted to retain. Israel and members of Congress who are highly suspicious of the negotiations will say that Iran must be kept years from being able to develop a weapon.
Until now, there has been no formal discussion of how much nuclear infrastructure the U.S. and its allies would demand that Iran dismantle in return for the gradual easing of sanctions. While the Iranians would almost certainly retain some enrichment capability, Israeli officials say they expect the figure to be 2,000 to 5,000 centrifuges. The Iranians are talking about expanding their current cache, to build upward of 50,000 centrifuges. (Iran currently has 19,000 installed, including about 8,000 that are not yet running.)
"An enrichment capacity that large - indeed, an enrichment capacity greater than a few thousand first-generation centrifuges - would give Iran an unacceptably rapid breakout capability," said Robert Einhorn, who until last year was a key member of the Iran negotiating team for the State Department.
(New York Times)
See also U.S.: No Nuclear Deal with Iran Unless Actions "Verifiable" - Matt Spetalnick
Iran must agree to "verifiable action" to satisfy U.S. concerns about its nuclear program or else there will be no final deal, U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice said on Monday.
"We all have a responsibility to give diplomacy a chance to succeed. But America won't be satisfied by mere words. We will only be satisfied by verifiable action from Iran," Rice said. "Put simply, if we are not satisfied, there will be no deal." (Reuters)
- UN's Nuclear Probe of Iran Falters
The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency is no nearer to closing the books on persistent allegations that Iran worked on nuclear arms in the past. While the IAEA's probe is formally separate from the talks between Iran and six world powers, the U.S. and its allies insist that Tehran must provide satisfactory explanations to the UN agency as part of any overall deal.
Back in November, Tehran agreed to go into deeper explanations of its work on detonators that have a variety of uses, including sparking a nuclear explosion. That has not happened.
The IAEA outlined its suspicions in a 2011 report, saying that Iran's work on the detonators is of concern, "given their possible application in a nuclear explosive device, and the fact that there are limited civilian and conventional military applications for such technology." (AP-Washington Post)
See also UN Experts' Report Shows Iran's Deceptive Procurement Tactics - Louis Charbonneau
A confidential new report by a UN panel highlights Iran's methods of evading sanctions - from concealing titanium tubes inside steel pipes to using its petrochemical industry as a cover to obtain items for a heavy-water nuclear reactor.
- Iran Supplying Syria with Chlorine Bombs - Con Coughlin
There are growing suspicions that the Chinese-made chlorine gas canisters used against the Syrian rebels have been supplied by Iran, which recently placed an order to purchase 10,000 chlorine canisters. Iran has been a staunch supporter of the Assad regime and in recent months has intensified the number of military shipments to Damascus.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Former Prime Minister Olmert Sentenced to Six Years in Prison - Yifa Yaakov and Lazar Berman
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced on Tuesday to six years in prison and a fine of NIS 1 million ($289,000). He was convicted a month ago on multiple bribery charges stemming from his involvement as mayor of Jerusalem in a massive graft scandal surrounding the development of the city's Holyland residential complex. Six other businessmen, developers and Jerusalem municipal officials were also sentenced in the case. (Times of Israel)
- Israel Security Agency: Palestinian Prisoners Plotted to Kidnap IDF Soldiers - Gili Cohen
The Israel Security Agency and the Israel Prison Service foiled a plan by Palestinian prisoners to arrange for the abduction in the West Bank of an Israeli soldier who could then be used as a bargaining chip to secure their release. Abd al-Rahman Uthman, serving a life sentence for his role in a 2006 shooting attack, and his accomplice in that attack, Assam Zin al-Din, were planning a new crime together with a third prisoner, Abd Al-Haq. They contacted a Hamas activist in Gaza through another prisoner and secured the necessary funds for the attack. Uthman's brother Nazia and brother-in-law Nader were to have carried out the abduction last month in Hawara, Ariel or the Yitzhar junction area.
- Poll Says Anti-Semitism Is Global - Naftali Bendavid
In the most extensive survey ever on anti-Semitism released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League, covering 101 countries plus the Palestinian territories, 26% of respondents agreed with at least 6 of 11 stereotypes about Jews. 38% rated Jews favorably and 21% unfavorably. In the U.S., 9% of those surveyed subscribed to 6 of the 11 statements, giving it one of the lowest levels of anti-Semitism. The West Bank and Gaza had the highest proportion (93%) of people agreeing with at least 6 anti-Semitic views. (Wall Street Journal)
- Israeli Apartheid? To Arabs, It's a Model Democracy - Evelyn Gordon
If Israel really practiced apartheid against Arabs, why do Arabs throughout the Middle East persistently cite Israeli democracy as the model they'd like their own countries to adopt? In 2011, when the Arab Spring revolutions were at their height, Ha'aretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer reported hearing from demonstrators in both Tunis and Cairo that they wanted "a democracy like in Israel."
From 1996 to 2002, Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki asked what governments Palestinians admired. "Every year Israel has been the top performer, at times receiving more than 80% approval," the New York Times reported. What's truly astonishing is that the Arab media routinely reports the wildest anti-Israel fabrications as fact. Hence most Arabs believe Israeli treatment of both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to be much worse than the reality - and even so, they admire Israeli democracy. (Commentary)
Iran Doesn't Want a Deal - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
- Iran is not wise. It is merely cunning. And fanatical. Also greedy, thanks to a long history of being deceitful and obstreperous and still getting its way without having to pay a serious price. So it will allow this round of negotiations to fail and bargain instead for an extension of the current interim agreement. It will get the extension and then play for time again. There will never be a final deal.
- Why am I so confident? Listen to the man with the last word: "They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action," Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Sunday. "So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation."
- Ballistic missiles are lousy weapons for anything except the rapid delivery of chemical or nuclear warheads. But limiting the number and range of ballistic missiles is central to any agreement that aims to prevent Iran from having a rapid nuclear-breakout capability. Khamenei's public call to mass produce missiles is not exactly an indication of seriousness about a final deal.
- Also a sign of non-seriousness was last month's call by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, to add an additional 30,000 centrifuges to Iran's existing 19,000.
- "Our nuclear technology is not up for negotiation." That's Iranian President Hasan Rouhani speaking. For good measure, he added that Iran would go back to producing 20% enriched uranium - which is close to weapon-grade - "whenever necessary." And he's the moderate.
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