June 13, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Foreign Minister: Remaining Parties to Nuclear Deal Must Compensate Iran after U.S. Exit (Press TV-Iran)
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has written to his counterparts after the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, saying, "If JCPOA is to survive, the remaining JCPOA participants and other economic partners need to ensure that Iran is compensated unconditionally through appropriate national, regional and global measures."
    Zarif blasted a policy statement delivered on 21 May by U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, in which he threatened Iran with the "strongest sanctions in history" if it failed to fulfill Washington's 12-point list of demands.
    See also Mazda, Hyundai Cancel Iran Contracts - Joyce Karam (National-UAE)
    Following Peugeot, Japan's Mazda and South Korea's Hyundai are canceling their Iran contracts since the U.S. left the Iran deal, BBC News Persian reported Monday.

In Iraq, Muqtada Sadr Makes a U-Turn, Forms Alliance with Pro-Iran Rival (National-UAE)
    Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr and Iranian-backed militia chief Hadi Al Amiri, who won first and second place respectively in Iraq's May parliament election, announced on Tuesday an alliance between their political blocs.
    Al Sadr had emerged as a nationalist opponent of powerful Shi'ite parties allied with neighboring Iran, while Al Amiri is Iran's closest ally in Iraq.

Miss Iraq Visits Jerusalem, Is Praised for Her Bravery (Times of Israel)
    Sarah Idan, Iraq's representative at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant - whose Instagram photo last year with her Israeli counterpart forced her family to flee the country - was cheered and hugged this week by shoppers at Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market during her visit to Israel.
    Idan, who lives in the U.S., said, "I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies....There are a lot of Iraqi people who don't have a problem with Israel or with the Jewish people. There are a lot of Iraqi people on my side, and I believe they are happy I am here."
    One Israeli woman told her: "Thank you for being so brave, you are an inspiration to all the women in the world."

Iranians Defy Regime on Twitter, Express Support for Israel (Times of Israel)
    Israel Foreign Ministry Persian digital media manager Sharona Avginsaz said Tuesday, "During this week our Twitter page reached 2.5 million Iranians. There were tens of thousands of tweets with the hashtag #WeStandWithIsrael, each stating their individual positions on why they love Israel."
    One Iranian wrote, "Our history is bound together. Our values have the same root. The Hebrew Bible was compiled in its final form under the patronage of the Persian Achaemenid empire, the Babylonian Talmud under the patronage of the Persian Sassanid empires. We are brothers."
    "Iranians are always writing to us that they love Israel, that they don't want their regime to use their money to support Hamas and Hizbullah," Avginsaz said.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel's Netanyahu Hails Trump's "Historic" Summit with North Korea
    Israel hailed U.S. President Donald Trump's summit on Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "historic," linking the talks in Singapore to Washington's tough stance towards the Iranian nuclear program. "This is an important step in the effort to strip the Korean peninsula of nuclear weaponry," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "President Trump is also taking a firm stance against Iran's attempt to obtain nuclear weaponry, as well as its belligerence in the Middle East."  (Reuters)
        See also Iran Warns North Korea Not to Trust U.S. (Reuters-NBC News)
  • Trump Hopes "Brutal" Sanctions Against Iran Will Spur "Real Deal" - Ken Haddad
    Following his meeting in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, President Trump told a press conference: "On the Iran deal, I think Iran is a different country now than it was three or four months ago. I don't think they're looking so much to the Mediterranean. I don't think they're looking so much at Syria, like they were, with total confidence. I don't think they're so confident right now."
        "But with that being said, I hope that, at the appropriate time, after these sanctions kick in - and they are brutal, what we've put on Iran - I hope that they're going to come back and negotiate a real deal, because I'd love to be able to do that. But right now, it's too soon for that."  (AP)
  • U.S. Demands Changes in UN Resolution Blaming Israel
    The U.S. is demanding changes in a draft resolution deploring what is called Israel's "excessive use of force" in Gaza, to be discussed at an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. The U.S. vetoed virtually the same resolution in the Security Council on June 1. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called that Kuwait-sponsored resolution "grossly one-sided" for criticizing the use of force by Israel while not mentioning the Islamic militant group Hamas.
        Haley sent a letter to all UN member states Tuesday calling the proposed General Assembly resolution "fundamentally imbalanced" for "ignoring basic truths about the situation in Gaza." She proposed an amendment condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the Gaza-Israel border fence, "thereby putting civilians at risk." The amendment would also condemn the diversion of resources in Gaza to build tunnels to infiltrate Israel. The current draft resolution "deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas," but doesn't say who is doing the firing. (AP-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Arrests Palestinian Who Killed Soldier with Marble Slab - Anna Ahronheim
    The Israel Security Agency and the IDF on Wednesday arrested Islam Yusuf Abu Hamid, 32, from Ramallah, who in late May threw a large marble slab onto IDF troops from a third-story rooftop, killing Staff Sergeant Ronen Lubarsky, 20. Abu Hamid's brothers are Hamas operatives who have carried out a variety of attacks in the past, including the killing of Israelis. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Dore Gold: A Deal on North Korea's Denuclearization Will Serve as a Precedent - Herb Keinon
    Former Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said that the signing in Singapore of a statement of commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is "a bad day for Iran, and a good day for Israel, because the Iranians will be weaker today." The developments leave Iran now "more isolated in its uncompromising position on the development of weapons of mass destruction."
        Gold, the head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said that a deal on North Korea will serve as a precedent. "If Trump will succeed in bringing about the dismantling of North Korea's ballistic missile capabilities, Europe cannot argue anymore that it is not possible to get a better deal with Iran than what was already reached."
        Gold said a North Korean denuclearization plan will likely not include the right to enrich uranium, or a "sunset clause" whereby restrictions on nuclear development would be removed after a certain time - which were both parts of the JCPOA with Iran and key reasons for Trump's opposition to it. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • North Korea in the Middle East: A Dangerous Military Supply Line - Anthony Ruggiero, Kongdan Oh, and Jay Solomon
    Ruggiero: Iran's missile relationship with North Korea is robust. The relationship will become even more attractive to Iran if the Kim regime manages to produce a functional ICBM. North Korea could give Iran nuclear blueprints, testing data, lessons learned, and centrifuges. As it negotiates with the Trump administration, North Korea needs to come clean on all of its proliferation efforts. North Korea has pledged to stop proliferating military technology in the past but continues to do it.
        Oh: In 1997, a North Korean delegation met with the Israeli ambassador in Stockholm, explained that their country had successfully tested a satellite missile, and warned that Iran and other Middle Eastern states were interested in buying it. They asked Israel for $1 billion in exchange for withholding the missile technology from its enemies. The Israelis declined to give cash, but they did offer humanitarian aid, agricultural technology, medicine, and other assistance worth even more than a billion. Pyongyang refused the deal.
        Solomon: Today, almost every state in the Middle East has some link to North Korean military systems. In Yemen, the government acquired North Korean missile technology before the current war. As a result, the missiles that rebel Houthi forces are launching into Saudi Arabia may have input from North Korean sources - or Iranian sources - or both.
        Ruggiero is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a veteran of Treasury and State Department programs tasked with countering North Korea. Oh is a resident staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. Solomon is former chief foreign affairs correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • On "Jerusalem Day," Iranians Call on the Regime to Support Them, Not the Palestinians - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    On the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, Al-Quds [Jerusalem] Day marches have taken place in Iran every year since 1979 to express the desire to "liberate Jerusalem." However, this year, the demonstrations were extremely sparse.
        During this year's Jerusalem Day, another slogan was heard - "Not Gaza, not Lebanon. Our lives for Iran" - which first resounded during the failed "Green Revolution" in 2009. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei referred to this slogan when he said, "Anyone who continues to use the slogan, 'Not Gaza, not Lebanon,' are lowlifes who serve enemy interests."
        On social media, several calls of "Death to the leader" could be heard in the background of clips of the marches. Opponents of the regime put up hashtags in a similar spirit: "#NototheIslamicRepublic," "#Notoal-QudsDay," "#IranRegimeChange," and "#IRGCTerrorists." On a live broadcast, an Iranian TV reporter encouraged an Iranian child (brought to the demonstrations against Israel) to say that he loves the Palestinian children. "Tell them you love them and support them," said the reporter. The little boy answered, "No, I don't love them."
        In recent weeks travelers at the airports in Mashhad and Tabriz have been surprised to see expressions of protest against the regime by hackers who hijacked computer screens showing flight information. The slogans expressed support for striking truck drivers and said, "How much longer can the regime ignore the requests of the people for better living conditions?" The writer, who headed the Iran branch of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Department, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Can Kim Jong-Un seriously be expected to give up the nuclear capability that his father and he worked so hard to achieve? Is there a realistic chance that North Korea will denuclearize - completely, verifiably, and irreversibly? Not much.
  • North Korea wants lowered tensions and economic assistance. If the past is any guide, the North Koreans have no problem promising denuclearization if it helps achieve those goals. But to actually deliver? Hard to imagine.
  • Giving up its nuclear weapons means not only exposing North Korea to possible moves toward unification on the Korean peninsula that would spell the end of North Korea, but also a significant loss of international status. So Kim's promises need to be taken with not a small measure of skepticism.
  • Nevertheless, tension-reduction is a mutually beneficial goal, and Trump was correct to agree to meet Kim and work to calm down the situation.
  • At the end of the day, decades of failed diplomacy with North Korea led to the sad result that it is a nuclear state, and at this late stage that situation is unlikely to be reversed. But a change of context regarding U.S.-North Korean relations could also change the threat value of Kim's nuclear arsenal.
  • Meanwhile, in the process that ensues, the U.S. would be well advised to use this opportunity to put a stop to North Korea's sale of nuclear knowhow, technologies, and components to whoever will pay in hard cash. North Korea must be pressed to end these activities, first and foremost the dangerous cooperation with Iran in the missile and nuclear realms.

    The writer heads the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.