May 3, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Mossad Agents Snuck Nuclear Files Out of Iran with Authorities "on Their Tails"  (Times of Israel)
    Agents of Israel's spy agency Mossad smuggled hundreds of kilograms of files on Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program out of Iran with Iranian agents "on their tails," Israel's Hadashot TV reported Tuesday.
    The operation required an expansive operational infrastructure within Iranian territory.
    The secret archives had been moved by Iranian authorities several times in a bid to keep them secret.
    In January, Mossad agents received information pointing them to certain safes in a specific container inside a warehouse maintained by the Revolutionary Guard's Intelligence Organization in an industrial area of southern Tehran.
    The team then broke in, removed the files and transferred them to a secondary location.
    Iranian officials realized that information had been taken before the files were out of the country.

Iran's Supreme Leader: U.S. "Feet Must Be Cut Off" - Tamara Qiblawi (CNN)
    "Wherever US entered, it created instability, brought misery to people; that's why US's feet must be cut off from West Asia; US must exit this region," Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, said in a tweet on Monday.

Guatemalan Embassy Moves to Jerusalem - Noa Landau (Ha'aretz)
    Guatemala's embassy in Israel moved on Monday to its new location in Jerusalem.
    An official ceremony celebrating the move will take place on May 16, after the U.S. relocates its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Turks, Saudis, UAE Pouring Funds into East Jerusalem - Sue Surkes (Times of Israel)
    Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are pumping a quarter of a billion dollars into the Islamic Waqf and a slew of Muslim organizations in east Jerusalem, Hadashot news reported Wednesday.

Israel Signs Deal with PA to Transfer Control of Electrical Infrastructure - Max Schindler (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Electric Corporation signed a 15-year agreement with the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday to transfer much of the West Bank's power supply to the PA in a step toward granting the Palestinians more autonomy over their affairs.
    The IEC will construct four high-voltage power plants in Jalama, Nablus, Ramallah and Tarkumiya.
    Most Palestinians in the West Bank currently get their electricity from Israel, with the city of Jericho relying on Jordan for its power.
    The deal will also see the PA pay off a $280 million debt to the IEC.

Israeli Natural Gas Provides up to 78 Percent of Country's Electricity - Maayan Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    Noble Energy Vice President Bini Zomer, whose firm provides Israel with gas from offshore fields, said Sunday, "Today, at peak days, we are supplying fuel for 78% of Israel's electricity," up from an average of 60% last year.
    He added that development of the Leviathan field is more than 40% complete, and that "things are right on track for the first gas to flow before the end of 2019."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli Amb. Dermer: Iran Can Get an Entire Nuclear Arsenal when Restrictions Expire
    Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday that the Iran nuclear archive "proves conclusively that Iran falsified all of their reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency which was critical for them to move forward with the deal. In addition to that, they have taken efforts since the deal to hide this nuclear weapons program."
        "Why would Iran keep these files? Because they are going to use it in the future....People said, 'we knew all this, we knew Iran was lying and that's why we need these restrictions in place.' That would be a reasonable argument if these restrictions did not end, but they end in a few years. They are automatically going to be removed."
        "What I would hope that everybody who supported the deal before would do today is say we need those restrictions to never end because Iran clearly has a desire not just to build nuclear weapons in the past, which we knew, but to build nuclear weapons in the future because they're keeping it for safekeeping in the future when those restrictions are removed."
        "The greater danger is not that Iran is going to get to a single nuclear bomb by violating the deal. The biggest danger of this deal is that they can get to an entire nuclear arsenal by keeping the deal, when all of these restrictions are removed."  (CBS News)
  • Germany Calls to Broaden Framework of Iran Deal
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the nuclear deal with Iran should not be canceled but its negotiating framework needed to be broadened. Merkel said Iran's missile program and its political influence in Syria needed to be discussed, adding that this was a widespread position in the EU. (Reuters)
  • Iran Ordered to Pay $6 Billion to Relatives of 9/11 Victims - Aaron Katersky
    A federal judge in New York on Tuesday ordered Iran to pay $6.27 billion to family members of 1,008 9/11 victims. A lawsuit first filed in 2004 alleged that Iran provided assistance, including training, to the 9/11 hijackers. "In December 2011, a New York federal court held a hearing and found that the evidence presented established that Iran's provision of material support to al-Qaeda was a cause of the 9/11 attacks and the resulting damage, injuries, and deaths," said attorney Robert Haefele who represents the plaintiffs. However, the judgment is largely symbolic and Iran is unlikely to ever pay. (ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Arson Kite from Gaza Causes Massive Fire - Almog Ben Zikri
    A fire caused by a kite connected to a firebomb sent from Gaza burned 350 dunams near Kibbutz Be'eri on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli President Visits Ethiopia - Sue Surkes
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday began an official visit to Ethiopia. Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome said ties between the countries date back 3,000 years to when the Ethiopian Queen, Makda (the queen of Sheeba), visited King Solomon in Jerusalem. Shraga Brosh, President of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, who is part of the Israeli delegation, said, "Ethiopia is experiencing huge growth and we want to be part of it."  (Times of Israel-Anadolu-Turkey)
  • Two Palestinians with Pipe Bombs Arrested at West Bank Military Court - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Israeli Border Police arrested two Palestinian teens on Tuesday at the Samaria Military Court who were carrying three pipe bombs and a bag containing a gas canister. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Let Abbas' Vile Words Be His Last as Palestinian Leader - Editorial
    Feeding reprehensible anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories in a speech on Monday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, shed all credibility as a trustworthy partner if the Palestinians and Israelis ever try negotiations. "The Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion, but against their social function, which relates to usury (unscrupulous money lending) and banking," he said. Abbas' anti-Semitic tendencies are not new. In the 1980s, he wrote a dissertation that seemed to question the widely accepted Holocaust death toll of six million Jews.
        Abbas' vile speech was a new low. By succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Holocaust Museum Condemns Abbas' Comments Blaming Jews for the Holocaust (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)
  • Netanyahu's Speech Proves What We Knew All Along - and that Changes Everything - Emily B. Landau
    The Iranian archives that Netanyahu recently presented to the world are very important. These are Iranian documents which lay out their nuclear plans and activities. There's no room for any doubt that Iran was working on a military nuclear program. This is in contrast to the IAEA reports on Iran since 2011 which were couched in uncertainty.
        For years, Iran has been holding on to a narrative of innocence, according to which it never worked on a military nuclear program, and has reaped important benefits. By insisting on its narrative of "nuclear innocence," Iran was successful in getting the P5+1 negotiators to acquiesce to its demand to leave past questions outside the frame of the talks.
        The only problem with what Netanyahu revealed is that it wasn't revealed 10 years ago. That could have made a real difference for any negotiation with Iran. Clearly any justification for an unconditional sunset of the JCPOA provisions has been seriously undermined. The writer heads the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). (Forward)
  • World Still Refusing to Get Real on Iran - David Horovitz
    Netanyahu did not seek to claim that Israel had attained smoking gun evidence that Iran has breached the terms of the P5+1's 2015 agreement with the ayatollahs. The critics sneering at his ostensible failure to produce a post-2015 smoking gun are missing the point.
        It is Israel's assessment that the deal is so negligent, misconceived, and badly constructed that the Iranians have no need whatsoever to breach it. Why would they violate the terms of an agreement that entitles them to continue research and development of centrifuges to enrich uranium so that when the deal expires, they will have mastered an enrichment process 10 times faster? Why would they violate an agreement that does not prevent them from developing their ballistic missile program as the means of delivery for their anticipated nuclear devices?
        And why would they violate an agreement whose "sunset clauses" mean they need merely wait a few years before resuming their march to the bomb? Israel's contention is that this agreement, far from preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear weapons arsenal, paves Iran's path to it. And the haul of Iran's own documentation conclusively demonstrated that this is precisely what Iran intends to do.
        The fact is that the 2015 deal let the duplicitous Iranians off the hook. It did not dismantle the weapons program they still lie about. It did not close their path to a nuclear weapons arsenal. (Times of Israel)

Why Push Back on Iran? - Kenneth Pollack (American Enterprise Institute)
  • I would like nothing more than to see a peaceful relationship between the U.S. and Iran. I was President Clinton's Director for Persian Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council and ardently supported his bid at rapprochement with Iran's reformist president, Mohamed Khatami. Similarly, when the Obama administration sought not only a nuclear deal with Iran but a full-fledged transformation of the relationship, I publicly and privately supported them as well.
  • With the failure of all of these bids to reach out to Iran, Obama's in particular, it is clear that the men who run Iran's foreign policy have no interest in a better relationship with the U.S. They continue to define the U.S. as their enemy, and they treat us accordingly. After so many sincere approaches, and after getting shut out so many times, I think it inescapable that we conclude that the fault lies not in ourselves but in our foes.
  • The Iranians never had an American president more willing to accommodate their needs and fears than President Obama, and they once again spurned him. The simplest explanation, the one most consistent with Iran's past behavior, and the one most obviously correct is that Ayatollah Khamenei and the rest of Iran's leadership were not interested in the better relationship that Obama and Secretary of State Kerry craved. It is hard to conclude anything other than that Tehran is determined to treat the U.S. as its enemy.
  • Moreover, Iran actively threatens America's interests and allies in the Middle East. Israel is the best known of America's allies threatened (and attacked) by Iran through a variety of proxies and allies. With Iran's lavish backing and encouragement, Hizbullah continues to arm and insist that it will eradicate the Jewish state. And the Iranians themselves continue to boast of their determination to destroy Israel.
  • The Iranian regime backs virtually anyone willing to employ violence to subvert the status quo and/or fight the U.S. and its allies. Thus, I believe it incumbent upon the U.S. to confront an Iran that has repeatedly demonstrated that it will not compromise or cooperate, and only seeks conflict.

    The writer, a former CIA analyst, is a resident scholar at AEI.