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Archive for October, 2013

New Democratic Plan on Iran: Wait Four Months

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Democrats in Congress are seeking to delay a new round of Iran sanctions by up to four months as they assess the impact of U.S. policies towards Tehran, according to drafthassan-rohani-netanyahu-laughing legislation circulating on Capitol Hill.

bill sponsored by Democrats in Congress seeks to establish a panel to “review, assess, and make recommendations with respect to the current United States strategy toward the threats posed by the Government of Iran,” according to a draft copy of the bill obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The bill is being offered as many lawmakers push to tighten sanctions following warnings that Iran could be anywhere from two weeks to one month away from building a bomb.

However, the White House has asked lawmakers to hold off on new sanctions as Western nations engage in nuclear negotiations with Iran. Obama administration officials recently enlisted Jewish leaders to help ward off new sanctions. Read more…

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Iran Nuclear Program Immune to Air Strikes Once Arak Reactor Starts Up

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

In the foreground of the nuclear talks between Iran and Western powers that got under way in Geneva this month were centrifuges, yellowcake and enriched uranium — all

Arak Nuclear Reactor, Iran

Arak Nuclear Reactor, Iran

elements of what Iran calls a peaceful nuclear-energy program and what the West worries is a route to a nuclear weapon. But Iran has also charted a second route, one that could produce fuel for a possible bomb not from highly enriched uranium but out of plutonium, a product of the heavy-water reactor nearing completion in the hills outside the city of Arak, 300 km (190 miles) southwest of Tehran. Heavy water is water with an extra neutron, useful in moderating a nuclear reaction.

Because it is not yet up and running, the Arak heavy-water reactor has remained in the background of the nuclear controversy. But it looms larger every day. The reason: once Arak goes online, the option of destroying Iran’s nuclear program with air strikes becomes moot. Read more…

Islamerica, Eurabia and Eurasia

October 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Obama has claimed that the United States is “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” While the actual number of Muslims is in dispute, Islamerica is no match for 173140984_3c776dbfa3Eurabia or Eurasia.

Europe has 44 million Muslims. If Turkey crawls into the European Union, that number will climb to 118 million. That’s more than double the number of Latinos in America.

If Obama decided to take in all of Syria and Somalia, just to be extra generous, his Islamerica still wouldn’t have a hope in hell of catching up to Eurabia or to the Eurasian Union.

The new evil empire in the east isn’t the USSR; it’s Eurasia, a replacement for the Warsaw Pact that turns away from the troubled economies of Eastern Europe toward the population-rich and resource-rich Muslim republics providing a growing share of Russia’s military and labor force. Read more…

Iran’s Dangerous Environment

October 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Iran faces growing environmental challenges that are now more perilous to the country’s long-term stability than either foreign adversaries or domestic political struggles. More Siamak_sabetthan two-thirds of the country’s land—up to 118 million hectares—is rapidly turning into desert, Iran’s Foreign Range and Watershed Management Organization reported in mid-2013. “The main problem that threatens us [and is] more dangerous than Israel, America or political fighting… is that the Iranian plateau is becoming uninhabitable,” presidential adviser Issa Kalantari warned in the newspaper Ghanoon. “If this situation is not reformed, in 30 years Iran will be a ghost town.” He described an alarming future of desiccated lakes and depleted groundwater, potentially driving millions of Iranians from their homes.

            Iran now ranks 114of 132 countries evaluated on 22 environmental indicators, including water resources, air pollution, biodiversity and climate change, according to the 2012 Environmental Performance Index compiled by Yale and Columbia Universities. Read more…

The Middle East Power Vacuum

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Despite the surface froth, the Middle East has been frozen in place for the last few months. Nothing of consequence has happened in Egypt since General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s 180227852military coup and the blood clearing of the Rabaa sit-in.  Syria’s civil war remains the grinding, destructive stalemate which was inevitable the moment the revolution morphed into an insurgency. Iran and the United States have made some tantalizing diplomatic moves, but nothing tangible has changed. When Foreign Policy is dominated by gawking at a Twitter troll’s downfall and parsing an impotent tantrum by Saudi Arabia’s Bandar bin Cheney, it’s probably a good time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

The key structural feature shaping today’s Middle East, it seems to me, is the dissolution of power.  During the early days of the Arab uprising, this could be seen in the fall of long-ruling leaders and the surge of popular protests against the old order. Read more…

Time for U.S. to Launch Nuclear Attack on Iran

October 26, 2013 Leave a comment

One of the world’s richest men has criticized the United States for negotiating with Iran, saying the U.S. should use nuclear weapons against the country.GTY_sheldon_adelson_ll_130624_16x9_992

Sheldon Adelson, described by Forbes magazine as the 12th richest American, made his estimated $34 billion in IT and subsequently by purchasing and building casinos. On Tuesday night this week though he was giving his views on Iran and its nuclear energy program. Participating in a forum at Yeshiva University he ridiculed American efforts to negotiate with the Iranians and suggested the U.S. military should drop a nuclear bomb in the desert parts of the country as a warning shot, with a threat to repeat the exercise in Tehran if the Iranians refused to negotiate. Read more…

Nuclear Group: Time Iran Would Need to Make Uranium for a Bomb ‘Too Short’

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Iran may need only a month to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb, a U.S.-based anti-proliferation group says in a new assessment of Tehran’s Nuclear_missile_cc_imgenrichment program.

But that is only if the country were able to take the most extreme and direct enrichment path, says the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. Under other scenarios, it would take significantly longer for Tehran to produce the material — more than 11 months in one estimate.

And that would still not give Iran a nuclear bomb. Turning enriched uranium into a usable weapon would take a great deal more time, the report suggests.

The warning Thursday from ISIS was released as U.S. lawmakers consider legislation that could tighten sanctions on Iran until a deal is reached on the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear program. Read more…

Iran Human Rights Record Condemned in UN Report

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

UN special rapporteur publishes report criticizing widespread abuses. A special UN rapporteur has condemned widespread human rights abuses in Iran.30 Iranian Human Rights

report published on Wednesday by Ahmed Shaheed detailed a rise in the number of jailed journalists over the past decade, including 23 since January, and other restrictions against freedom of expression such as the blocking of up to 5m websites. It also expressed alarm about proposed legislation that would allow a custodian to marry his adopted child, and said minority religious groups were being subjected to discrimination in employment and education, and were often arbitrarily arrested and tortured.

Shaheed welcomed the recent release of more than a dozen political prisoners and “a number of positive signals” from Rouhani, who has made several calls for change since taking office in August, including the lifting of restrictions on academic freedoms, increasing social media access and urging police not to crack down on perceived violations of Islamic dress codes for women. Read more…

“Israel Doesn’t Need America on D-Day”

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

“I supported [Netanyahu and Barak] on the notion that if we come to the fork in the road [on Iran], where we have to choose between very tough alternatives—the ‘bomb’ or the71381-004-534732c4 ‘bombing’—I’m with the prime minister, for the bombing,” former Israeli defense-intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told me on a recent evening on the porch of his home in the small town of Carmay Yosef. It was a bold statement coming from a man who in 2010 reportedly helped persuade Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak not to strike Iran.

It was not the first time I had spoken with Yadlin about Iran—we had discussed it at various intervals over two years—but it was the first time he’d agreed to let me publish an interview with him on the subject. And that was because Yadlin believes that from an operational perspective, Israel is finally approaching that fork in the road—perhaps within a year, if the newest round of diplomacy doesn’t yield an acceptable deal (last week, Yadlin co-published a Wall Street Journal op-ed on “Four Possible Deals with Iran”). Read more…

Think Israel Wouldn’t Strike Iran’s Nukes in Defiance of America’s Wishes? Think Again

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment

As American and Iranian diplomats attempt to reach a rapprochement that would end the historical enmity between their two governments, Israel is weary of being sidelined by jets171644612its most important ally. While the U.S. incentive for diplomacy is great, it could place Washington in a short-term conflict of interests with Israel, which views Iran as an existential threat. With the renewed negotiations in place, will Israel dare strike a Middle Eastern nation in defiance of its closest allies? It seems unlikely, but 32 years ago, the answer was yes.

On June 7, 1981, Israel launched Operation Opera. A squadron of fighter planes flew almost 1,000 miles over Saudi and Iraqi territory to bomb a French-built plutonium reactor on the outskirts of Baghdad, which Israeli leaders feared would be used by Saddam Hussein to build atomic bombs. Read more…

A Saudi slap at Obama and the West

October 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Turtle Bay was stunned Friday when Saudi Arabia, of all countries, slapped international diplomats in the face — and, without quite saying so explicitly, rebuked America’s MideastNew York policies.

Yes, one of the world’s most backward, hypocritical and secretive regimes just publicly shamed both the United Nations and President Obama.

Riyadh did so by saying — just a day after winning a UN Security Council seat that it had been campaigning for since 1998 — Hey, thanks, but no, thanks.

On Thursday, Abdallah Yahya al-Mouallimi, the Saudis’ UN ambassador, beamed as he said, “We look forward to working with the rest of the international community to help our Syrian brothers” gain their freedom as well as to deliver a Palestinian state and other noble goals.

But the next day, his bosses back in Riyadh announced that Mouallimi wouldn’t be warming the council seat after all. Why? The Saudi government vented at that, um, “international community” over its inaction and “double standards.” Read more…

Obama’s U-Turn on Democracy and Human Rights

October 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Here is a Barack Obama puzzle: Why did the president turn 180 degrees on a key foreign policy question in a little more than two yearsPresident Barack Obama Delivers Address to United Nations General Assembly in New York

The issue is whether promoting democracy and human rights should be an American priority. In his annual address to the U.N. General Assembly last month, Obama offered a clear answer: No.

Speaking specifically about the Middle East and North Africa, the president identified four core interests: defending allies from aggression, ensuring access to oil, attacking terrorist networks that threaten Americans and stopping weapons of mass destruction.

America cares about democracy, human rights and free trade, he said, but “we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action.”

Though it was unusual for a U.S. president to reject a values-based policy so explicitly, the underlying view was not unfamiliar; former president George H.W. Bush would have found it congenial. Read more…