May 2, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Exposing Iran's Nuclear Archive: A Fantastic Intelligence Feat - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror (Israel Hayom)
    The Israeli intelligence community has once again proved it has extraordinary capabilities.
    Reaching the secret Iranian nuclear archives, stored in an ordinary building so as not to attract attention, entering the facility and transferring the contents to Israel are all abilities that will remain important in future efforts to identify any Iranian attempt to deviate from the framework of the nuclear accord.
    The Iranians should internalize that they have been penetrated, that Israel has the ability to reach the most sensitive places in Tehran and that they should think twice before they act.
    The writer is former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel and former Head of Israel's National Security Council.

Former Pentagon Official: Iranian Regime "Humiliated" by Daring Mossad Operation - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Dr. Harold Rhode, who served for 28 years as an advisor on the Islamic world in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, said Israel "humiliated the Iranian government by capturing all of this material," and many Iranians were laughing at the Islamic regime on social media.
    He also noted that while global media stopped covering protests in Iran against the regime, the protests are still churning.
    Rhode said the average Iranian "would like nothing more than to wake up and have this nightmare regime over with and again proudly be accepted as members of the international community."

U.S. Officials: Israel Struck Syrian Base Storing Iranian Anti-aircraft Missiles - Courtney Kube (NBC News)
    An Israeli airstrike on the Syrian city of Hama on Sunday killed two dozen Iranian soldiers and targeted arms recently delivered from Iran, three U.S. officials said.

Iran's Options to Avenge Syria Strikes - Jon Gambrell (AP)
    After Israeli strikes killed Iranian forces in Syria, the Islamic Republic has few ways to retaliate.
    Though it has long made threats about Israel's existence, Iran doesn't have a modern air force.
    Launching ballistic missiles also remains a question, considering Israel's anti-missile defense system and the near-certainty of massive Israeli retaliation.
    Last June, six Iranian Zolfaghar missiles targeted Islamic State positions in Syria in revenge for an IS-claimed attack on the Iranian parliament. Israeli media later reported only one made it to its target.

Morocco Cuts Ties with Iran for Sending Weapons to Polisario - Amira El Masaiti (AP-Washington Post)
    Morocco severed relations with Iran Tuesday, accusing it of providing funds, training and weapons to Polisario Front fighters in the disputed Western Sahara.
    Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Iran-backed Hizbullah has provided support to the Polisario since 2016 and sent a supply of weaponry last month.

Lag B'Omer Festival Begins Wednesday - Alex Traiman (JNS)
    On the holy day of Lag B'Omer, an estimated 250,000 Israelis - men, women and children - are expected to travel to the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron in the Galilee near Safed over a two- to three-day period that starts on Wednesday evening.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Backs Israeli Claims on "New and Compelling" Evidence Against Iran - Jeff Seldin
    The White House is praising new intelligence from Israel on Iran's nuclear weapons program, calling it "new and compelling," though officials in Washington have stopped short of charging Tehran with outright violations of its 2015 nuclear deal. U.S. officials reviewing the cache of documents, charts, blueprints, photos and videos said Monday that the materials they had seen were authentic.
        U.S. officials say while much of the intelligence is consistent with what has long been known, some of it sheds new light on Tehran's activities. Officials said the Israeli intelligence provided new details on Iran's effort to develop its Shahab-3 ballistic missile into one capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. "The Iranians have consistently taken the position that they've never had a program like this," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday. (VOA News)
        See also White House: Iran Deal Made on "False Pretense"
    The international agreement on limiting Iran's development of nuclear weapons "was made on a completely false pretense. Iran lied on the front end," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday. "They were dishonest actors and so the deal that was made was made on things that were not accurate - particularly the fact that Iran's nuclear capability was far more advanced and further along than they indicated."  (Reuters)
  • U.S. Officials Respond to Iran's Atomic Archive Revelation - Adam Kredo
    After the disclosure Monday by Israel of Iran's ongoing efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, a State Department official said the new "information indicates plans for Iran's nuclear weapons program included building five nuclear weapons. It demonstrates once again that Iranian leaders have for years lied to the world and their own citizens when they claim Iran has never pursued nuclear weapons."
        A senior administration official said, "Only the regime knows what else they're hiding, but the revelations today don't give us much confidence in their protestations that they have never had interest in militarizing their nuclear program. They're showing us in Syria how they plan to deploy their existing arsenal. We would be foolish to think that behavior is going to change because of a deal that was implemented two years ago that was based on a lie."
        A senior congressional official who has worked closely with the White House on the Iran issue said, "The Obama administration...assured us that we knew everything about Iran's nuclear weapons program, that it was put on ice, and that the intelligence community had full insight into what was going on. Now we find out the Iranians have warehouses of nuclear weapons designs. People are in shock....This shows how the whole sale was built on a lie."  (Washington Free Beacon)
  • Former Weapons Inspectors Assess Iran Nuclear Revelations - Geoff Brumfiel
    Former nuclear weapons inspector Olli Heinonen said of the documents shown by Netanyahu on Iran's nuclear weapons program, "There were some pictures that were quite familiar to me, but at the same time, there was also new information."
        Former UN weapons inspector David Albright, who was privately briefed on the archive, points out that Iran's position that it never had a nuclear weapons program appears all the more untenable, given the new disclosures. "Here we have a jigsaw puzzle with 30 to 40% of the pieces [turned into] one that has 99% of the pieces. The picture is clear."  (NPR)
  • Germany Says IAEA Should Probe Israeli Claims
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says the International Atomic Energy Agency should quickly follow up on allegations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claims that Iranian leaders covered up a nuclear weapons program before signing a deal with world powers.
        Maas told Bild on Tuesday that "the IAEA must as quickly as possible get access to Israeli information and clarify if there are indeed indications of a violation of the deal." "Precisely because we cannot allow an Iranian grab for nuclear weapons," the control mechanisms of the agreement need to work well. Maas promised that Germany would thoroughly analyze the information provided by Israel. (AP-Sacrameno Bee)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Abbas Rewrites Jewish and Zionist History - Adam Rasgon
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas told the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah on Monday that the Jews in Europe were massacred because of their social behavior related to money-lending. "From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, the Jews...were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen? The Jewish issue that was widespread in all European countries...was not because of their religion, but rather their social behavior related to usury and banks."
        Abbas cited a theory that Ashkenazi Jews hail from the Khazar Kingdom in southern Russia and "they have no relationship to Semitic culture, Abraham, Jacob and others." Moreover, he reiterated that Israel is "a colonial project....The story of building a national home didn't come from the Jews, but rather the colonial states."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Officials and Jewish Groups Denounce Abbas' Anti-Semitic Statements - Amir Tibon
    Jewish-American groups from across the political spectrum denounced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' speech to the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah on Monday. Abbas claimed that former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was Jewish, and that pogroms against Jews in Europe were not the result of anti-Semitism but rather due to their social role and financial matters.
        "Mahmoud Abbas' speech yesterday, yet again, included vile anti-Semitic statements, which are completely unacceptable and are inconsistent with efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace," said Ori Nir, spokesman for Americans for Peace Now. Dan Shapiro, a U.S. ambassador to Israel under the Obama administration, tweeted: "It's over for Mahmoud Abbas. What a disgusting note to go out on."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Lipstadt: With "Classic Anti-Semitism," Abbas Ending Career the Way He Started - Marissa Newman
    Referring to a speech by PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt said, "Here's a man who started his career denying the Holocaust and now, at the latter stages of his career, seems to be engaging in rewriting the history of the Holocaust and classic anti-Semitism."  (Times of Israel)
        See also U.S. Ambassador to Israel Slams Abbas' Anti-Semitic Speech (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Iran Deal Is a Lie - Bret Stephens
    State Department spokesman John Kirby said in June 2015, "The sanctions lifting will only occur as Iran takes the steps agreed, including addressing possible military dimensions." But Tehran did not "take the steps agreed." The Iran nuclear deal was founded on a lie. Iran pretended to make a full declaration about the extent of its past nuclear work and the rest of the world pretended to believe it.
        So much, then, for all the palaver about the deal providing an unprecedented level of transparency for monitoring Iranian compliance. So much, also, for the notion that Iran has honored its end of the bargain. It didn't. This should render the agreement null and void. If the IAEA cares for its own credibility as a nuclear watchdog, it should decide that Iran's past declaration was false and that Iran's retention of the documents obtained by Israel, with all the nuclear know-how they contain, put it in likely breach of the agreement. (New York Times)
  • New Evidence Proves Iranian Declaration to IAEA Was False - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Iran's nuclear archive was smuggled to Israel in February and was presented to the U.S. in early March. A senior intelligence source said that in 2003 the Iranians dissolved their nuclear weapons program into small components but kept working on the plan and deceiving the entire world. This leads to the conclusion that they may have done the same thing after signing the nuclear agreement in 2015.
        The senior intelligence source said that before signing the nuclear agreement, Iran provided false answers to questions presented by the IAEA. Israel now has evidence that the Iranian declaration was false. The source also noted that the archive included detailed instructions and images for the production of a nuclear weapon, but they were not presented on Monday so that the information wouldn't fall into unwanted hands. (Ynet News)

Netanyahu's Wake-Up Call to the World on the Iranian Nuclear Program - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Revelations over the last ten years have left little doubt that Tehran was seeking a nuclear weapon, no matter what its spokesmen claimed. But the revelations put forward by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 30 came from original official documents with the stamp of the Iranian regime.
  • It can now be stated without any qualification that Iran had a nuclear weapons program. The whole Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA), consequently, had been negotiated under false pretenses.
  • During the talks on the Iran deal, Iranian negotiators falsely assured the West that Iran did not seek a nuclear arsenal because there was a fatwa, an Islamic legal ruling, forbidding the development of atomic weapons that had been issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry spoke about the Iranian fatwa. Now this has been shown to be plainly false.
  • There is a huge difference in holding negotiations with a state like Iran if you assume it has no intention of building nuclear weapons versus a situation in which you have incontrovertible evidence that Iran is determined to become a nuclear power. The substance of an agreement will be very different.
  • While there is some debate over what clauses Iran violated in the JCPOA, a very strong case can be made to the effect that, given the Israeli revelation, Iran unquestionably violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970.
  • A different approach is needed. In the nuclear realm, the verification regime must look very different for a state which has had an unquestionable goal of arming itself with nuclear weapons and delivery systems for them.
  • For this reason, the JCPOA must be completely revamped or scrapped. This is not a case of "trust but verify," the adage used by President Ronald Reagan. It is a case of don't trust and verify with the most intrusive means you have.

    Amb. Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.