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September 29, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Says Iran Used Parchin Military Site for Testing Nuclear Detonation Technology - Jeffrey Heller (Reuters)
    Israel said on Wednesday that Iran has used its Parchin military base as the site for secret tests of technology that could be used only for detonating a nuclear weapon.
    Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that, based on "highly reliable information," the implosion tests at Parchin involved neutron sources that would include nuclear material.
    "The only possible purpose of such internal neutron sources is to ignite the nuclear chain reaction in nuclear weapons," he said.

IAEA Rejects Arab Resolution to Pressure Israel (AFP)
    A resolution proposed by Arab states expressing concern about Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal was defeated on Thursday at a meeting of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
    The measure, brought by 18 Arab states, was rejected by 58 to 45, with 27 countries abstaining.

Report: Khorasan Leader Killed by U.S. Strike in Syria (Reuters)
    A twitter account run by an al-Qaeda member said Mohsin al-Fadhli, the leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Khorasan group, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria on Sep. 23, SITE monitoring service said on Sunday.
    See also FBI Chief: Khorasan Plot May Still Be Alive (VOA News)
    Terrorist plots against the U.S. and Europe may still be in the works despite airstrikes against the al-Qaeda cell known as Khorasan, FBI Director James Comey said Thursday.
    Khorasan, comprised of al-Qaeda veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains at the top of the FBI's list of terrorism concerns.
    U.S. intelligence officials say Khorasan has been trying to perfect a non-metallic bomb that can evade airport security.

UK Parliament Approves Airstrikes Against Islamic State - Andrew Osborn and William James (Reuters)
    Britain's parliament on Friday approved air strikes against Islamic State insurgents in Iraq in a 524-43 vote.
    "Is there a threat to the British people? The answer is yes," Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament.
    See also British Jets Collect Intelligence Using Israeli Technology - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    Two Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jets that took off on Saturday for the first offensive operation by British armed forces against the Islamic State in Iraq failed to find any targets.
    However, they did collect information on potential targets through their Litening reconnaissance and targeting pod, manufactured by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which has become an integral component in missions carried out in recent years by RAF Tornado and Typhoon jets.
    Moreover, the British forces still operating in Afghanistan have been using Israeli Elbit Hermes drones for years.

Mavi Marmara Veteran Killed in Syrian Strike (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
    A Turkish man who was part of a flotilla that violently tried to break Israel's blockade on Gaza in 2010 has been killed in bombing raids targeting ISIS terrorists in Syria.
    While some reports said Yakup Bulent Alniak was in Syria researching a book, other reports in Turkish media indicate Alniak was fighting with the al-Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Considering Meeting Iran "Close to Half Way" in Nuclear Talks - George Jahn
    The U.S. is considering softening present demands that Iran gut its uranium enrichment program in favor of a new proposal that would allow Tehran to keep nearly half of the project intact while placing other constraints on its possible use as a path to nuclear weapons, diplomats said Thursday.
        The U.S. wants no more than 1,500 centrifuges left operating. Iran insists it be allowed to run at least the present 9,400 machines. The tentative new U.S. offer envisages letting Iran keep 4,500 centrifuges but would reduce the stock of uranium gas fed into the machines to the point where it would take more than a year to create enough material for a nuclear warhead. (AP)
  • U.S. Condemns Abbas' UN Speech
    The U.S. has rejected a speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN on Friday in which he accused Israel of war crimes during the recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza. (VOA News)
        See also State Department Condemns Abbas' "Provocative" UN Speech
    U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday: "Abbas' speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject. Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Text: Abbas' UN Speech (Times of Israel)
  • Obama to UN: Arab-Israeli Conflict Is Not the Main Source of Problems in the Middle East
    President Obama told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday: "America will not give up on the pursuit of peace. Understand, the situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region. For far too long, that's been used as an excuse to distract people from problems at home. The violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace. And that's something worthy of reflection within Israel."
        "Because let's be clear: The status quo in the West Bank and Gaza is not sustainable. We cannot afford to turn away from this effort - not when rockets are fired at innocent Israelis, or the lives of so many Palestinian children are taken from us in Gaza. So long as I am President, we will stand up for the principle that Israelis, Palestinians, the region and the world will be more just and more safe with two states living side by side, in peace and security."  (White House)
  • U.S., Defending Kurds in Syria, Expands Airstrikes Against Islamic State Militants - David E. Sanger and Anne Barnard
    The Pentagon said on Saturday that it had conducted its first strikes against Islamic State targets in the besieged Kurdish area around Kobani in Syria along the Turkish border, destroying two armored vehicles. Several other strikes took place in Raqqa, the headquarters of the Islamic State's forces, and other sites in the eastern part of Syria. (New York Times)
        See also Airstrikes Target Oil Refineries in Syria Held by Islamic State - Brian Bennett and W.J. Hennigan
    U.S. and allied Arab warplanes bombed a dozen small oil refineries in eastern Syria on Wednesday that U.S. officials said were part of a $2 million-a-day revenue stream for the Sunni Muslim extremist group. U.S. officials say they are determined to disrupt the money flow that has made the Islamic State the world's wealthiest terrorist group. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S., Britain, Australia Won't Support Palestinian Bid for Statehood at UN - Jack Khoury
    Palestinian sources say their delegation to the UN has received definitive "noes" from the U.S., Britain and Australia regarding a proposed Security Council resolution setting a timetable for establishing a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines. China and Russia, as well as Jordan, told the Palestinians they would support such a resolution. The other states on the 15-member body did not give a definitive answer.
        Palestinian officials say the U.S. has been pressuring Arab states to recommend that consideration of the Palestinian proposal be postponed. It isn't clear when the Palestinian resolution might be submitted, and it is doubtful it would be submitted at all unless majority support is assured. (Ha'aretz)
  • Netanyahu Headed to UN to Counter Abbas, Rouhani Speeches - Tovah Lazaroff
    Prime Minister Netanyahu headed to the U.S. on Sunday to battle Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and Palestinian unilateralism. "After the Iranian president's deceptive speech and Abu Mazen's [Abbas'] incitement, I will tell the truth about Israel's citizens to the entire world," Netanyahu said on Saturday night. Netanyahu is to address the UN General Assembly on Monday and meet with President Obama on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu to Indian Prime Minister Modi: "On Ties with India, the Sky Is the Limit"
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Sunday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the start of the meeting, Netanyahu said, "I'm delighted to meet you Mr. Prime Minister. This is an opportunity for Israel and India to expand further our relationship. We are two old peoples, some of the oldest in the nations on earth, but we are also two democracies; we're proud of our rich traditions, but we're also eager to seize the future. I believe that if we work together we can do so with benefits to both our peoples....We're very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India, we think the sky is the limit."
        Indian Prime Minister Modi replied, "There is a deep recognition in Israel that India is the only country where anti-Semitism has never been allowed to come up, where Jews have never suffered."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Modi Discusses Defense Cooperation, W. Asian Crisis with Israel PM (Press Trust of India-The Hindu)
  • Hamas Said Ready to Accept PA Forces on Gaza Borders - Avi Issacharoff
    Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed in principle that thousands of PA President Mahmoud Abbas' troops will be deployed in Gaza, Palestinian officials said Sunday. The move would mark a significant return of Abbas' forces to Gaza, seven years after Hamas seized the Strip from Fatah in a coup. In theory, Abbas' forces would be deployed on the borders and at crossings.
        The deal struck Thursday is the sixth official accord between Hamas and Fatah - and concerns over possible new confrontations between the factions remain. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Abbas' Harsh Speech at the UN - Chemi Shalev
    Mahmoud Abbas' speech before the UN General Assembly on Friday more or less buried the "peace process" that the U.S. has been leading for the past two decades and charted a brand new diplomatic course for the Palestinians, one of confrontation rather than conciliation. Abbas used harsh and bellicose words, taken from the classic lexicon of habitual Israel-haters: racism and war crimes, apartheid and genocide.
        His address was also a product of his own frustration: the Islamic State has upstaged him and stolen his thunder. Instead of riding the waves of sympathy generated by Gaza, Abbas found himself relegated to the sidelines, clamoring for attention. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Peace Talks Are Officially Off the Table - Nahum Barnea
    At the UN General Assembly, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of waging a genocide war in Gaza. He knew it was a lie, and yet he said it. On the diplomatic and legal level, it's similar to a declaration of war. Abbas is trying to prove to the Palestinian street that Hamas is not the only one fighting Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Abbas Incites and We're to Blame? - Dror Eydar
    We watched as PA President Mahmoud Abbas stood up and lied in the worst speech of incitement a Palestinian representative has ever made to Westerners. Not a word about the reason for the war this past summer; not a word about the putsch Hamas planned against him. And we're expected to trust him?
        Genocide? In the second half of the 20th century alone, Muslims slaughtered millions of other Muslims and Christians. In most places, it was a brutal, methodical extermination that fit the chilling definition of genocide.
        Toward the end of his speech, this so-called moderate partner asserted that what had caused terrorism in our region was international leniency toward Israel. The State of Israel, according to the moderate partner, is actually more dangerous than the beheading Islamists. (Israel Hayom)

Tehran Holds Firm While the U.S. Keeps Making Nuclear Concessions - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

  • Nuclear negotiations with Iran have gone nowhere after nearly a year. The Administration is now seeking ever more creative ways to give the mullahs what they want.
  • The latest Administration brainstorm is to abandon the longstanding demand that Iran dismantle its uranium-enriching centrifuges. Under one Western proposal, Iran would merely be asked to disconnect some of the pipes connecting one centrifuge to the next. Another idea is to allow Iran to keep as many as 4,500 centrifuges, provided Iran agrees to enrich uranium at a lower rate.
  • The larger problem is that these diplomatic gambits rest on the fanciful notion that the same regime that is stonewalling the IAEA can be trusted not to reconnect its centrifuges on short notice or increase their rates of uranium production or develop more powerful rockets. Iran has spent a decade taking advantage of the diplomatic process to buy time and advance its nuclear programs.
  • "The Iranian nuclear game is to compromise on the elements of the program they've already perfected in order to gain time on the elements they haven't," says Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
  • "They've perfected enrichment so they can suspend it for the time being. What they've gained in exchange is time to work on advanced centrifuge R&D. The more efficient the centrifuges, the fewer they need; the fewer they need, the easier they are to hide."

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