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April 6, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Expert: "Very Serious Gaps" at the Heart of the Iran Framework Accord (Times of Israel)
    Ehud Ya'ari, Middle East analyst for Israel's Channel 2 News, on Saturday highlighted areas of discrepancy between American and Iranian accounts of what the Iran framework agreement actually entails.
    The American parameters provide for restrictions on enrichment for 15 years, while the Iranian fact sheet speaks of 10 years.
    The U.S. says that Iran has agreed to surprise inspections, while the Iranians say that such consent is only temporary.
    Contrary to the U.S. account, Iran is making clear that its stockpile of already enriched uranium - "enough for seven bombs" if sufficiently enriched - will not be shipped out of the country.

Framework Agreement Does Not Warrant Celebration - Emily B. Landau (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
    Iran's past behavior in the nuclear realm, coupled with its continued military nuclear aspirations and bullying behavior in the Middle East, do not warrant any celebration of an historic deal.
    The writer is head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Deal Makes Iran Stronger than Ever - Dr. Ephraim Kam (Israel Hayom)
    A comparison between each side's opening position and the principles of the understanding underscores the importance of what Iran has achieved.
    While at the start, the Americans presented a series of demands, the Iranians got their way on most issues.
    The writer, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, served as a colonel in the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.

Khamenei's Silence - Mehdi Khalaji and Patrick Clawson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has so far kept silent about the nuclear framework. Yet given the redlines Khamenei set for the negotiations in recent months, the deal can hardly be satisfactory to him.
    Moreover, it is inauspicious that right after the Obama administration released its fact sheet, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Western media and the U.S. government of providing a false report about what had been agreed in the Lausanne negotiations.
    In Khamenei's March 21 speech in Mashhad, he emphasized that the current negotiations are "only on the nuclear dossier; that's all. Everybody should know it. We do not negotiate with America on regional issues. America's objectives in the region are the opposite of our objectives."
    Mehdi Khalaji is a Fellow at The Washington Institute, where Patrick Clawson is director of research.

Agreement Allows Iran to Engage in Nuclear Activities that Have No Civilian Necessity - Armin Rosen (Business Insider)
    Thomas Moore, a longtime nonproliferation expert for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the agreement allows Iran to engage in nuclear activities - like stockpiling low-enriched uranium and operating a plutonium reactor - that have no civilian necessity.
    Moreover, "I don't see that Iran is going to do anything different on cooperation for verification today than it did prior to today," Moore said.

147 Dead as Islamist Gunmen Target Christian Students in Kenya - Mike Pflanz and Aislinn Laing (Telegraph-UK)
    At least 147 people have been killed after Islamist terrorists attacked a Kenyan university, singling out Christian students to murder. Many of those killed had their throats cut.
    A five-man cell of the Somali-based al-Shabaab stormed into halls of residence at Garissa University College on Thursday, shooting at students before taking others hostage.
    The attackers opened the doors and asked if the people inside were Muslims or Christians. "If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot," said one student.
    Kenyan troops killed four terrorists and arrested one.
    Kenya has suffered at least three major terror attacks by Somali-based terror groups since 1998.

IS Beheads Palestinian Refugees in Syria - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
    After the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus fell to the Islamic State, PLO official Ahmad Majdalani told Mawtini radio station on Sunday that IS has begun accusing Palestinians of apostasy and beheading them, hanging the severed heads across the camp.
    It has also imprisoned more than 75 children and adults in a local school.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran "Is Intensifying Efforts to Support Hamas in Gaza" - Con Coughlin
    Iran has sent Hamas tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel's invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told the Sunday Telegraph. It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighborhoods in Israel during the war. Iran has sponsored Hamas' military operations for years. (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
  • Outline of Iran Nuclear Deal Sounds Different from Each Side - Michael R. Gordon
    After marathon nuclear talks in Switzerland on Thursday, the only joint document issued publicly was a statement from Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, and Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, containing seven paragraphs listing about a dozen "parameters" that are to guide the next three months of talks.
        The U.S. and Iran have also made public more detailed accounts of their agreements, and a careful review shows that there are some noteworthy differences - which have raised the question of whether the two sides are entirely on the same page. "Those differences in fact sheets indicate the challenges ahead," said Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
        The starkest differences between the American and Iranian accounts concern the pace at which economic sanctions against Iran are to be removed. The Iranian text says that when the agreement is implemented, the sanctions will "immediately" be canceled. American officials have described sanctions relief as more of a step-by-step process tied to Iranian efforts to carry out the accord.
        "I think it is a troubling development, said Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "They will exploit all ambiguities with creative interpretations."  (New York Times)
  • Obama Defends Nuclear Framework Deal with Iran - Juliet Eilperin
    In an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, President Obama made a detailed case for a new framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program, calling it a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table."  (Washington Post)
        See also The Obama Doctrine and Iran - Thomas L. Friedman interviews President Obama
    President Obama said Saturday that "engagement," combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests far better than endless sanctions and isolation. He added that America, with its overwhelming power, needs to have the self-confidence to take some calculated risks.
        With respect to Iran, he said it was "a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran's defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us."
        Obviously, Israel is in a different situation, he added. "Now, what you might hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu, which I respect, is the notion, 'Look, Israel is more vulnerable. We don't have the luxury of testing these propositions the way you do,' and I completely understand that. And further, I completely understand Israel's belief that given the tragic history of the Jewish people, they can't be dependent solely on us for their own security."  (New York Times)
        See also below Observations - Netanyahu: Any Final Agreement Must Include Iranian Recognition of Israel's Right to Exist (Prime Minister's Office) and Netanyahu: The World Celebrated the Deal with North Korea as a Great Breakthrough - and You Know Where We Are Now with North Korea (NBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Defense Minister Ya'alon: Iran Deal Will Increase Iran's Appetite
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Sunday called the framework agreement "a huge achievement for Iran and a historic mistake for the West." "Iran is a terrorist monster that funds, trains and arms organizations and entities to wreak havoc among the pro-Western regimes in the Middle East and around the world, and it has no intention of stopping this." He added that the agreement would set the stage for Iran to "increase its appetite to spread disarray."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Authority Rejects Israel's Partial Transfer of Tax Funds - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Israeli officials said that last week they handed over NIS 1.37 billion in taxes that it collected on behalf of the Palestinians in December, January and February. NIS 160,000 was deducted from the transfer to pay part of the PA's debt to the Israel Electric Corporation, which stands at nearly NIS 2b., an Israeli official said. Israel had withheld the money to protest the PA's application in January to become a member state of the International Criminal Court [ICC].
        PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that Israel has to transfer the full sum of money. "Either they give us all the money or we go to the court [ICC]. Indeed, we decided to return the money and we haven't received the funds," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • A Deal Without Stability - Editorial
    The largest effect of the nuclear agreement will be to juice the ongoing proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia and their allies. If the deal is fully implemented, Iran will receive hundreds of billions in additional revenue, and Tehran is likely to devote much of it to funding its murderous militias in Iraq, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and the Houthi movement in Yemen - not to mention Lebanon's Hizbullah and Hamas in Gaza.
        What's missing is a coherent U.S. strategy for stabilizing the region that integrates the nuclear accord with measures to check Iran's hegemonic ambitions and rebuild crumbling Arab states. (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Remarkable Achievement - Michael Gerson
    The Iranian regime has engaged in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. while actively engaged in a regional conflict against American friends and proxies. Opposition to Bashar al-Assad has become muted, even as he crosses every blood-red line of brutality, to avoid disrupting relations with his Iranian patron. Human rights issues within Iran have become secondary to avoid giving offense. Obama has sometimes seemed more tolerant and empathetic toward Iranian positions than those of allies and partners such as Israel.
        Will Iran continue to hold U.S. policy in the Middle East hostage - causing the U.S. to hush its reactions to Iranian aggression for fear the regime will walk out of a nuclear deal? The real test will be whether Obama can accompany a final nuclear agreement with a much more aggressive resistance to Iranian ambitions in the region. Otherwise, Iran will simply use the wealth that comes from lifted sanctions to cause more havoc. (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Persian Statement on "Deal" Contradicts U.S. Claims - Amir Taheri
    There has been no agreement on any of the fundamental issues that led to international concern about Iran's secret nuclear activities. All we have are a number of contradictory statements by various participants in the latest round of talks. The Persian text carefully avoids words that might give the impression that anything has been agreed by the Iranian side or that the Islamic Republic has offered any concessions.
        The American statement claims that Iran has agreed not to use advanced centrifuges, while the Iranian text insists that "work on advanced centrifuges shall continue." The American text claims that Iran has agreed to dismantle the core of the heavy water plutonium plant in Arak. The Iranian text says the opposite. The U.S. talks of sanctions "relief" while Iran claims the sanctions would be "immediately terminated."  (New York Post)
  • Fatal Flaws of the Iran Deal - Zalmay Khalilzad
    Iran has been pursuing civilian nuclear power to acquire the capability for nuclear weapons. Although Iran has signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires a commitment not to seek nuclear weapons, it is clear that Iran has had a clandestine nuclear weapons program, and that it has been and might still be working on nuclear weapons design at undeclared and dedicated facilities.
        Using the so-called fatwa by Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei as an indicator of Iran's true intentions is a mistake. Doctrinally, Iranians are allowed to dissimulate to mislead and reassure their enemies in order to surprise and defeat them. There is nothing to prevent Khamenei or his successor from issuing a new fatwa after the acquisition of nuclear weapons, declaring this a great victory against "domineering powers who want to keep Muslims down" and blessing it. The president ought not reference a fatwa issued by a hostile leader whose regime has a long record of deception and evasion.
        The president is counting on the efficacy of inspections - believing that Iranian efforts to cheat or deceive will be discovered and exposed in a timely manner. But Iran may already have built another facility producing highly enriched uranium or plutonium underground in a remote part of Iran without our knowledge. It would be prudent to have more modest expectations from inspections, especially when dealing with a determined and sophisticated country. The writer, a Counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), was a former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN. (National Interest)
  • The Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal - Richard N. Haass
    The framework just adopted by Iran and the P5+1 leaves unanswered at least as many questions as it resolves. Major issues have yet to be settled. A formal, comprehensive accord is supposed to be completed by the end of June.
        The history of arms control suggests there will be occasions when Iran, which has a record of withholding relevant information from UN weapons inspectors, is suspected of not living up to the letter, much less the spirit, of what was negotiated. Agreement is needed on the process for judging Iranian behavior and for determining appropriate responses.
        The agreement says nothing about Iran's missile programs or support for terrorists and proxies, much less about what it is doing in Syria or Iraq or Yemen, or about human rights at home. Iran is a would-be imperial power that seeks regional primacy. A nuclear agreement might even make this reality worse, as Iran could well emerge with its reputation enhanced and a long-term option to build nuclear weapons intact. The writer, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department. (Project Syndicate)
  • Iran Nuclear Deal Is a Mistake - Ari Shavit
    The post-Nagasaki Pax Americana has given more humans more peace, more prosperity and more liberty that at any other time in history. Not only as an Israeli but also as a citizen of the free world, I want a strong America to protect freedom, maintain world order and remain the global leader in the 21st century. But what should I do when Washington might make a terrible historic mistake?
        Iran is not an Israel-only issue. If Iran goes nuclear, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and the Gulf states will go nuclear. Worried about ISIS? Anxious about al-Qaeda? Shocked by the carnage in Syria? Imagine what will happen when the most unstable region in the world becomes nuclearized. One outcome will be the proliferation of nuclear capabilities in the hands of non-state players that will use them, sooner or later, to catastrophic results.
        The deal that Obama announced on Thursday does not do enough to prevent this. Only in the years 2011-2012 did Washington begin a strategic and effective diplomatic effort against Tehran, but the moment it began to bear fruit, it was abandoned. A decade of strategic shadowboxing between Iran and the West ended in 2013 with a victory for Tehran. The writer is an Israeli columnist for Ha'aretz. (Politico)

Netanyahu: Any Final Agreement Must Include Iranian Recognition of Israel's Right to Exist (Prime Minister's Office)

Responding to the Iran nuclear framework agreement announced Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Friday after a meeting of the Israeli cabinet:

  • The cabinet is united in strongly opposing the proposed deal. This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel.
  • The deal would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D on Iran's advanced centrifuges. On the contrary, the deal would legitimize Iran's illegal nuclear program. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure.
  • The deal would lift sanctions almost immediately and this at the very time that Iran is stepping up its aggression and terror in the region. The deal would greatly bolster Iran's economy. It would thereby give Iran tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East.
  • Some say that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's not true. There is a third alternative - standing firm, increasing the pressure on Iran until a good deal is achieved.
  • Iran is a regime that openly calls for Israel's destruction and openly and actively works towards that end. Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.
  • In addition, Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel's right to exist.
    See also Netanyahu: The World Celebrated the Deal with North Korea as a Great Breakthrough - and You Know Where We Are Now with North Korea (NBC News)

Prime Minister Netanyahu told "Meet the Press" on Sunday:
  • "The entire world celebrated the deal with North Korea. It deemed it to be a great breakthrough; it would bring an end to North Korea's nuclear program; you'd have inspectors. That would do the job. And of course everybody applauded it, but it turned out to be a very, very bad deal and you know where we are with North Korea."
  • "I think the same thing would be true in the case of Iran, except that Iran is a great deal more dangerous than North Korea. It's a militant Islamic power bent on regional domination, in fact, bent on world domination, as it openly says so."
  • "They just chanted 'Death to America' a few days ago on the streets of Tehran, the same streets where they're rejoicing right now. Don't give the preeminent terrorist state of our time the access to a nuclear program that could help them make nuclear weapons. It's very bad for all of us."

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