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March 6, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif: The Netanyahu Regime "Should Be Annihilated" - Ann Curry (NBC News)
    Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spoke with NBC News' Ann Curry Wednesday:
    Curry: The supreme leader seven months ago tweeted: "This barbaric wolf-like and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime, has no cure but to be annihilated."
    Zarif: "Because this is a regime - we're talking about Mr. Netanyahu....It should be annihilated. That this regime is a threat....He has a record full of infanticide."

Who Are the Iranian-Backed Shiite Militias Fighting in Iraq? - Frud Bezhan (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
    There are several major Iranian-backed Shiite militias taking part in the Tikrit offensive in Iraq.
    Kataib Hizbullah, a well-armed and funded group that has also fought urban warfare in Syria, is arguably the most potent of these militias, according to analysts.
    Asaib Ahl al-Haq is one of the largest and most formidable of the Iranian-backed militias. It grew out of a splinter group from the militia led by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Iran is believed to have provided training and logistical support to the group inside Iraq.
    The Badr Organization was formed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and has a military wing, the Badr Brigades.
    "Kataib Hizbullah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq have quite clearly stated that they are followers of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei," says Sajad Jiyad, a London-based Iraq analyst.
    In addition, "We estimate that there's probably a few hundred Iranian Quds force members inside Iraq fighting - not just doing command-and-control and logistics, but they are actually physically fighting as well," says Michael Stephens, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI) in Qatar.
    "They are providing troops and they're providing weapons shipments in the form of airdrops."

Israel, Iran Locked in Escalating Cyber War - Cory Bennett (The Hill)
    Israel has made "dramatic" advancements in its offensive cyber capabilities over the past 5-7 years, said Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer at the security research firm Trend Micro.
    The Israeli military collects information on the layout of Iran's nuclear program, works to dismantle Iran's Internet restrictions, and tries to enable the flow of information to dissenters in the country, Kellermann said.
    Israel has also infiltrated Iran's infrastructure with dormant "disruptive capabilities" that could be activated at any time.

Internal Palestinian Tax Dispute Shuts Down Gaza Power Plant (AFP)
    Gaza's sole power plant has halted production, the Hamas-run energy authority said Thursday, following a dispute over fuel tax payments to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
    In December, Qatar donated $10 million to the PA to cover the tax, but that money has dried up, and the PA is insisting Hamas begin paying the tax again.

Israel: No Changes in Ties with PA (Times of Israel)
    Israel said Friday that civil and defense ties with the PA remain unchanged, a day after the PLO decided to end security cooperation with Israel.
    A source close to PA President Mahmoud Abbas told Israel Radio that the PLO decision was a recommendation only.

AFP Rewrites Netanyahu's Speech (CAMERA)
    A March 4 AFP article about continuing U.S.-Iran negotiations stated: "In a dramatic speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the U.S. administration to halt the talks."
    In fact, Netanyahu did not urge the sides to halt their talks. Rather, he urged the U.S. to abandon this particular "bad deal" in favor of a "better deal."
    A later version of the article corrected the error.

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Saudi Award Goes to Muslim Televangelist Who Harshly Criticizes U.S. - Ben Hubbard (New York Times)
    Last weekend, Dr. Zakir Naik, a prominent Muslim televangelist from India, was awarded one of Saudi Arabia's highest honors for "service to Islam" by its new monarch, King Salman.
    Naik has publicly declared that "the Jews" control America, that apostates can be killed, that the U.S. is the world's "biggest terrorist" and that the Sept. 11 attacks were an "inside job" by President George W. Bush.

Israeli Company Saving Australian Water - Yolanda Redrup (Australian Financial Review)
    Israeli water technology company TaKaDu has picked up a slew of Australian contracts after it saved Yarra Valley Water thousands of megaliters of water and millions of dollars by installing software that identifies and tracks leaks in real time.
    Yarra Valley Water managing director Patrick McCafferty said, "In the last three years we've saved about 2700 megaliters of water... which has worked out to be about $5,000 a day in water savings."
    Sydney Water, Unitywater on the Sunshine Coast, and Queensland Urban Utilities in Brisbane have also started using it.

Nielsen Buys Israeli Big Data Firm eXelate for $200M - Roy Goldenberg (Globes)
    Nielsen has acquired Israeli data management company eXelate for an estimated $200 million.
    The company has developed a platform that allows data search and analysis for digital ad companies.
    Nielsen global president Steve Hasker said, "Adding eXelate's solutions to the Nielsen family furthers our ability to help marketers improve the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns and to help media companies better sell their content."

PayPal Buys Israeli Cyber Security Company CyActive - Shiri Habib-Valdhorn and Roy Goldenberg (Globes)
    Online payments giant PayPal has bought Israel-based cyber security company CyActive for $60 million.
    The current cyber security paradigm is reactive: when a threat is exposed, it is analyzed and a counter-solution is designed.
    CyActive is predictive. It has developed an algorithm capable of foreseeing and forestalling potential cyber threats to a customer.

Israel's TowerJazz to Produce Sensors for Intel's 3D Cameras (Reuters)
    TowerJazz has won a contract from Intel Corp. to produce infrared sensors for Intel's 3D cameras, the Israeli chip manufacturer said on Tuesday.
    The 3D cameras installed on laptops recognize gestures, enabling users to control their computers with hand and head movements.
    A market source estimates that the agreement could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars within four years.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Flexes New Clout Beyond Its Borders - Bill Spindle
    The Islamic Republic of Iran now claims an arc of influence that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. In Iraq, Iranians coordinate 100,000 Iraqi fighters mobilized by Iranian-allied clerics to confront Islamic State. In Yemen, a Shiite movement styled on Hizbullah, a group Iran midwifed in Lebanon, ousted the Yemeni president and the government with the help of Iranian-provided weapons and money. In Syria, Iranian military advisers help defend President Assad by coordinating Hizbullah fighters from Lebanon, Shiite militias from Iraq and fighters from Afghanistan. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran's Hunger for Regional Hegemony - Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
    Iran's leadership does not hide its aspiration to expand and export its revolution to the region. Its fingerprints are everywhere. Iran is directly fighting in Syria and Iraq, and has proxies in Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and elsewhere. It also has a presence in Sudan. The Iranian regime imitates the old Soviet model by supporting what it calls "liberation movements in the Third World." Tehran is always on the offensive. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also Stand Up to Persian Hegemony - Editorial
    Saudi Arabia believes that the Middle East cannot calm down except by cutting Iran's role down to size and preventing it from continuing to meddle in its neighbors' affairs. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt have been the focal states in confronting the threat of terrorism, forming an Arab front that stands up to all of Iran's attempts to impose Persian hegemony and secure Persian expansion in the region. (Al-Watan-Saudi Arabia-3March2015)
  • Iran Gains Influence in Iraq as Shiite Forces Fight ISIS - Anne Barnard
    The road from Baghdad to Tikrit is dotted with security checkpoints, many festooned with posters of Iran's supreme leader. More openly than ever before, Iran's powerful influence in Iraq has been on display as the counteroffensive against Islamic State militants around Tikrit has unfolded in recent days. At every point, the Iranian-backed militias have taken the lead in the fight against the Islamic State. Senior Iranian leaders have been openly helping direct the battle. (New York Times)
        See also Saudi Arabia: Iran Promoting Terrorism, Taking over Iraq - Ghazanfar Ali Khan
    Iran's belligerent policies, which are hampering all plans for restoring peace and security in the Middle East, came under fire during talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of the GCC states on Thursday in Riyadh. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said, "Tehran today promotes terrorism (and) it occupies lands...these are not the features of a country that seeks to improve its relations with its neighbors."
        He said that the involvement of Iran in the push to retake the Iraqi city of Tikrit from the Islamic State was a prime example of what worries Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, saying that "Iran was taking over Iraq."  (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also A Naive U.S. Welcome for Iran in Iraq - Editorial
    The Tikrit operation raises multiple red flags. The U.S. was excluded by the Iraqi government of Haider al-Abadi; meanwhile, Iran has dispatched its own ground forces, artillery and drones. The assistance is being overseen by a notorious general, Qassem Suleimani, who previously supervised attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. By allowing Iran to take the military lead in Tikrit and other parts of Iraq, the U.S. might speed the destruction of the Islamic State. But the administration is also allowing Iran to take another step toward replacing the terrorist regime with its own malevolent hegemony. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Strategy in Iraq Increasingly Relies on Iran - Helene Cooper (New York Times)
  • Blast Kills Top Leaders of Al-Qaeda Branch in Syria
    Four leaders of al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, the al-Nusra Front, including military commander Abu Humam al-Shami, were killed in an explosion in Idlib province on Thursday. (Al Arabiya)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Six Injured in Jerusalem Terror Attack - Roy Yanovski
    A Palestinian rammed his car into a light rail train station after plowing into a group of female Border Police officers in northern Jerusalem, wounding five officers and an Israeli civilian. The terrorist, Udaayi Salayma from Ras al-Amud in east Jerusalem, was shot and seriously wounded by a Border Guard. A large cleaver was found on his body after the attack, which he attempted to use after crashing his car.
        The incident took place on the Jewish holiday of Purim, when the streets of Jerusalem are packed with pedestrians. (Ynet News-Reuters)
  • Egypt Shifts Forces from Sinai to Libyan Front to Combat Islamic State
    Egypt has scaled back its military presence in the Sinai Peninsula, redeploying troops to its western border with Libya in a bid to combat Islamic State fighters. Israeli security officials warned Thursday that the reduced Egyptian military presence in northern Sinai might enable terrorist groups to carry out attacks against Israel.
        "Egypt is operating according to its priorities, and at this point sees the porous Libyan border as a more significant threat. This is a territory over 1,000 km. long, on the other side of which Islamic State operatives are running amok, murdering Egyptian citizens," a security official told the Israeli Walla news site. The "redeployment of Egypt's special forces from the Sinai to the Libyan border will weaken the Egyptian pressure on terrorist groups that may act against Israel."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel to Increase Merkava Tanks, Namer Armored Personnel Carriers - Yaakov Lappin
    Israel's Defense Ministry has doubled the number of orders for parts for Merkava tanks and Namer armored personnel carriers ahead of an expected rise in orders for complete tanks and APCs. Some 200 factories produce parts for the Merkava and Namer, and 92% of Merkava parts are produced locally. Last year, senior army sources said the IDF will need to equip greater numbers of Merkava tanks and Namers with Trophy active protection systems. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Netanyahu's Speech

  • Netanyahu's Churchillian Warning - Charles Krauthammer
    President Obama must defend the fundamental premise of his Iranian diplomacy. It had been the policy of every president since 1979 that Islamist Iran must be sanctioned and contained. Obama, however, is betting instead on detente to tame Iran's aggressive behavior and nuclear ambitions. For six years, Obama has offered the mullahs an extended hand. He has imagined that he would turn the Khamenei regime into a de facto U.S. ally in pacifying the Middle East. For his pains, Obama has been rewarded with an Iran that has ramped up its aggressiveness in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen, and brazenly defied the world on uranium enrichment.
        In about 10 years, the deal expires. Sanctions are lifted and Iran is permitted unlimited uranium enrichment. As the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens points out, we don't even allow that for democratic South Korea.
        Obama's response to Netanyahu's speech was: "The prime minister didn't offer any viable alternatives." But he did: conditional sunset, smaller infrastructure. And if the Iranians walk away, then you ratchet up sanctions, as Congress is urging, which, with collapsed oil prices, would render the regime extremely vulnerable.
        And if that doesn't work? Netanyahu's final point: Israel is prepared to stand alone, a declaration that was met with enthusiastic applause reflecting widespread popular support. It was an important moment, especially because of the libel being perpetrated by some that Netanyahu is trying to get America to go to war with Iran. In its near-70 year history, Israel has never once asked America to fight for it.
        Change the deal, strengthen the sanctions, give Israel a free hand. Netanyahu offered a different path in his bold address, Churchillian in its appeal to resist appeasement. (Washington Post)
  • Netanyahu's Alternatives - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror
    One alternative on Iran provided by Netanyahu had to do with the time frame of the agreement. Currently, the talk suggests that the emerging deal will have a five- or 10-year expiration date, and that after that Iran will be welcomed into the "family of nations."
        Netanyahu's alternative was not to set a pre-determined date, but to hinge the expiration date on Iran's behavior. He argued that it would be wrong to welcome Iran into the family of nations just because a certain amount of time had passed, while Iran is complicit in various terrorist efforts around the world. It would be wrong to ease the pressure on Iran while it continues to support Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups. One could argue that such an alternative is not achievable. But no one can argue that no alternative was presented.
        Netanyahu was also very clear on his alternative to the agreement as a whole. He said that in his opinion, the alternative is to continue sanctions. The dire economic situation in the country forced the Iranians to enter into nuclear negotiations that they did not want. Harsher sanctions could provide a good alternative to the deal. The writer, former Israeli National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council, served 36 years in senior IDF posts. (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu's Three Objections to a U.S. Deal with Iran - Michael Singh
    U.S. officials insist that "no deal is better than a bad deal." They also suggest, however, that the alternative is military action - which they say would ensure that Iran moves to obtain nuclear weapons. By this logic, any deal we can get is, by definition, a good deal insofar as it averts military action. This reinforces suspicions among U.S. allies in the Middle East that we are desperate to reach an agreement with Iran.
        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued for three changes: that any deal leave Iran with less nuclear infrastructure than the U.S. proposes countenancing; that the "sunset clause" be scrapped; and that the final lifting of sanctions be contingent on Iran renouncing its support for terrorism and other behavior that destabilizes the region.
        Each of these is a serious proposal. Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has argued that allowing Iran to retain 6,500 centrifuges suggests that they have a military purpose rather than a civilian function. The sunset clause is problematic in that it incentivizes Iran to play for time in anticipation of the day restrictions are eased; it also encourages Iran's regional rivals to place any nuclear efforts of their own on the same timeline.
        Netanyahu raised concrete objections to specific terms of an agreement that is not yet finalized. To simply dismiss the concerns of a close U.S. ally is not a satisfactory response. The writer, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, worked on Middle East issues at the National Security Council from 2005 to 2008. (Wall Street Journal)
  • After the Prime Minister's Speech, a Spreading Sense of "Uh-Oh" - Walter Russell Mead
    Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress had a measurable impact on the American debate over Iran policy. There are some very serious problems with the administration's policy that have not been thoroughly discussed and vetted in the U.S. debate. We've been warning for some time that the administration's regional policies have allowed Iran to make large gains across the region and become a much more dangerous power in ways that both reduce the value of any nuclear agreement with Iran and make a good deal less likely. Netanyahu made that case very effectively. In Congress and even in the press there is a spreading sense of "uh-oh."
        Congress' best bet might be for the two houses to pass concurrent resolutions (which don't need presidential signatures) that 1) Congress disapproves of any agreement with Iran which doesn't meet certain stated conditions; that 2) neither this Congress, its successors, nor future U.S. presidents will be bound by any such agreement; and that 3) both houses will not pass any enabling legislation or lift sanctions so long as no satisfactory agreement has been reached. The mere prospect that a resolution like this could pass might open up the administration's policies to the wider debate the country desperately needs.
        Netanyahu's speech and the reaction to it in Congress demonstrated beyond all doubt that America really does see Israel as a cherished friend and ally. For many American Christians, helping the Jews build a safe haven is a sacred religious duty. For many other Americans, what the Jews have built in Israel, despite all the problems and flaws, is a precious jewel, a beacon of liberty, and a sign of hope in a dark world. Americans are not going to change their minds about this anytime soon. And they aren't willing to ditch Israel as the price of peace with the jihadis.
        The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University. He served as senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations until 2010. (American Interest)
  • Netanyahu Changes the Debate on Iran - Dick Morris
    Before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress Tuesday, the debate on a nuclear Iran centered on technical, arcane issues like the number of centrifuges and the level of uranium enrichment. Netanyahu made the issue of the agreement's expiration date the key objection to the deal. It defies logic to invest in a 10- or 15-year deal with as implacable and stubborn a foe as Islamist Iran. A ban must last as long as the offensive regime itself remains in power and does not modify its behavior. (The Hill)
  • After the Netanyahu Speech, an Apology - Jazz Shaw
    In the run-up to Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to Congress, I confess I had been more than cynical. When he had finished speaking, I realized exactly how wrong I had been. This was one of the most powerful speeches which I have seen delivered in that chamber in the modern era. Netanyahu was gracious, not only to those who support him, but to those who might disagree with him. He was sincerely grateful for all that he and the nation he represents have received from the United States.
        I was wrong when I supposed that this speech was a pointless, partisan, political ploy. He was there to be a leader, but also a gracious ally. He did not come with his hat in hand to ask America to save him. He reiterated that Israel could save itself, but that it would not have to stand alone as long as those with common values which embrace basic goodness stood together. (Hot Air)

  • The Iran Nuclear Deal

  • The Gaping Holes in Obama's Iran Deal - Emily B. Landau
    The nuclear deal with Iran has many flaws. The problems begin with the thousands of centrifuges that Iran is to be allowed to maintain and the R&D into more advanced generations of centrifuges that will spin much faster than those currently in use. The reactor at Arak and the enrichment facility at Natanz will not be shut down, as demanded by the P5+1 only a short time ago. In addition, Iran has been stonewalling the IAEA investigation into the military dimensions of its program for years. Iran very likely has additional clandestine facilities, and certainly might be thinking of building more.
        In the face of these gaping holes, the U.S. administration is attempting to deflect the criticism now coming from many directions: Israel, Arab states, congressmen, statesmen like Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, and nuclear experts - people no less knowledgeable than the administration. The critics have legitimate concerns; they are not warmongers. The time to insist on mechanisms to maximize the prospect that Iran cannot move to nuclear weapons is now. The writer heads the Arms Control Program at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • Iran's Suspect Deal in the Making - Amir Taheri
    The P5+1 is an informal ad hoc body whose legitimacy remains murky at best. The P5+1 has no legal existence, no mandate, no mission statement, and thus no authority to conclude any accord with Iran. The fact that talks have ignored six Security Council resolutions on Iran's nuclear program shows that the P5+1 is not acting on behalf of the UN. So what would be the status of whatever is eventually signed?
        If the aim is to arrive at an international treaty, whatever is initialed at the end of the current talks would have to be submitted to proper legislative procedure in Iran, in all P5+1 countries, and in all 28 EU member states. I doubt that the Islamic Majlis, Iran's parliament, would approve a text that puts the nation under foreign tutelage for up to 10 years. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • It's Easy for a Country to Reverse Its Commitments If Its Nuclear Infrastructure Is Left Standing - Armin Rosen
    In 2007, North Korea shut down its 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon. In 2013, it simply upgraded the reactor and switched it back on again. It's much easier for a country to reactivate existing nuclear infrastructure than it is for its rivals to build an international consensus toward doing something about it. The deal may leave Iran with the option of ramping up its program once the agreement expires - and the U.S. with few options for stopping Tehran if it ever needed to. (Business Insider)

  • Other Issues

  • Syria's Iranization Becoming Real Strategic Threat for Israel - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Israel Ziv
    The situation in Syria - where Iran is taking over the reins - is becoming a strategic threat to Israel. Not a single military decision is implemented without the Iranians, who no longer trust Hizbullah, whose performance so far has produced insufficient achievements. Revolutionary Guards commanders have taken command of the Golan Heights front down to the southern city of Daraa. Over 10,000 Shiite volunteers from Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been sent to Syria to fill the ranks.
        Israel is watching the Iranization taking place about 10 km. from its border with great concern as Iran takes the place of Syria. If Iran succeeds in its plan to nationalize the Golan and gain control of the Damascus basin, Israel will wake up to a new regional reality which will be much more complicated than Hizbullah - a direct and broad Iranian front which Israel has yet to experience. The writer served as head of the Operations Directorate branch in the IDF General Staff. (Ynet News)
  • Jihad on the Horizon: The ISIL Threat from an Israeli Perspective - Brig. Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog
    The goal of "destroying" ISIL is not viable at this stage, due to the lack of ground forces available to fully roll ISIL back, especially in Syria. However, the ISIL challenge on the ground can be significantly reduced and ultimately defeated. ISIL's weaknesses should be exploited, including being spread thin geographically, significant military shortcomings, fragile local alliances, and being surrounded by hostile forces.
        ISIL is slowly approaching some of Israel's borders, with Salafi Jihadists present in the Sinai, on the Golan, on the margins in Gaza, and even (though to a marginal extent) within Israel's Arab population. ISIL is striving to gain influence inside additional countries neighboring Israel such as Jordan and Lebanon. Over the long run Israel is very much on ISIL's radar and might later become the focus of its attention. The danger is already here of ISIL/Jihadi terror attacks on Jewish targets in the West. The writer served as senior military aide and advisor to four Israeli ministers of defense. (BICOM)
  • Israel-Palestine Conflict Is No Longer the Magnetic Center of National Struggles in the Middle East - John Bell
    Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict important any more, or has it slipped off everyone's radar? The Middle East is doing cartwheels, in a never-ending series of manifestations of human chaos and conflict. States from Beirut to Baghdad are dissolving, and a Sunni-Shia confrontation could take regional conflicts to Olympian heights, and the problem of Israel-Palestine seems of less import. Even the last terrible war in Gaza elicited a storm in the social media and promises of reconstruction funds, only to be followed by whispers of nothing on both fronts.
        There are many, including this author, who once believed that resolution of that conflict would help empower moderates in the region. However, one look at the Middle East today makes it clear that forces have been unleashed that will be very difficult to tame. Israel and Palestine's problems may pale in the face of regional developments; it is a 20th century problem surrounded by 21st century chaos. The writer, director of the Middle East Program at the Toledo International Center for Peace in Madrid, is a former UN and Canadian diplomat. (Al Jazeera)
  • Saving the Dead Sea - Editorial
    Jordan's signing of an agreement with Israel for the implementation of the first stage of the project to transfer Red Sea water to the Dead Sea follows an agreement signed by Jordan, Israel and the PA in Washington in 2013 that aimed to secure the three sides with urgently needed water. The scheme also entails replenishing the shrinking Dead Sea with new sources of water to offset the drastic reduction in its level.
        The accord is a breakthrough of strategic significance that will secure the Kingdom with a new source of potable water and revive the Dead Sea. The full implementation of this mega-project would change the landscape of Jordan's development plans for the future by ensuring the long-term availability of water and create new possibilities for exploiting the Jordan Valley for irrigation, tourism and agro-industrial projects.(Jordan Times)

The Sun Sets on a Good Iran Deal - John Hannah (Foreign Policy)

  • The biggest flaw with the emerging Iran nuclear deal is its "sunset" provision. The Obama administration is prepared to sign an agreement that will expire in 10 years. At that point, any restrictions on Iran's nuclear program would vanish. Iran's economy would be free from all nuclear-related sanctions and its government would be treated the same as any other state in good standing.
  • The bottom line: The administration is prepared to allow the Islamic Republic to get within a screwdriver's turn from the bomb, regardless of whether in 2025 Iran is ruled by Ahmadinejad 2.0, or whether it remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, or whether its leaders continue to call for the destruction of Israel. That's why Netanyahu said the deal "doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb, it paves Iran's path to the bomb." He was right.
  • The sunset clause almost guarantees that America, Israel, and our Arab allies will have to confront the nightmare of an Iran with nuclear weapons in the not-too-distant future, at a point when economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation will be but a distant memory. Talk about a ticking time bomb.
  • Two weeks ago, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken discussed the sunset clause, saying, "The Bush administration put on the table the proposition that Iran would be treated as a non-nuclear weapons state after it complied for some period of time with any agreement. And that is exactly what we are doing."
  • Blinken is referring to an annex of UN Security Council Resolution 1747, passed in 2007. The annex set out the latest P5+1 offer to Iran for a long-term agreement on its nuclear program - the centerpiece of which was the suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
  • Included in the offer was a vague commitment to "review" the moratorium on Iran's restricted nuclear activities at some undetermined future date, but only after two conditions had been met: 1) confirmation by the IAEA that all outstanding questions about Iran's program had been satisfactorily resolved, including those pertaining to possible weaponization efforts; and 2) confirmation that there remained no undeclared nuclear activities or materials in Iran, and international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's civil nuclear program.
  • There was to be no review before the world - read, the United States - was convinced that Iran has come totally clean about its nuclear activities and has confidence that Iran has truly given up its quest for the bomb.

    The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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