Thursday, October 01, 2009

Iran: sanctions NOW...

From Few Choices Left on Iran, 27/9/09, by Eliot A. Cohen* (Wall Street Journal):

...Only the terminally innocent should have been surprised to learn that Iran has at least one other covert site whose only purpose could be the production of highly enriched uranium for atom bombs. Pressure, be it gentle or severe, will not erase Iran's nuclear program. A large sanctions effort against Iran has been underway for some time. It has not worked to curb Tehran's nuclear appetite, and it will not.

...The Iranian regime wants nuclear weapons and has invested vast sums to get both the devices and the means to deliver them. The Russians and Chinese have made soothing murmurs of disapproval but have repeatedly made it clear that they will not go along with measures that would cripple the Iranian economy.

...Living with an Iranian bomb has enormous hazards. It will engender - it has already quietly engendered - a nuclear arms race in the region. It will embolden the Iranian regime to make much more lethal mischief than it has even now. In a region that respects strength, it will enhance Iranian prestige.

...At the heart of the problem is not simply the nuclear program. It is the Iranian regime that has, since 1979, relentlessly waged war against the U.S. and its allies. Iran is militarily weak, but it is masterful at subversive war, and at the kind of high-tech guerrilla, roadside-bomb and rocket fight that Hizbullah conducted in 2006. American military cemeteries contain the bodies of hundreds, maybe thousands, of American servicemen and servicewomen slain by Iranian technology, Iranian tactics, and in some cases, Iranian operatives.

...This is a corrupt, fanatical, ruthless and unprincipled regime - unpopular but willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power. With such a regime, no real negotiation, based on understandings of mutual interest and respect for undertakings, is possible. It is, therefore, in the American interest to actively seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic...

*The writer teaches at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. He served as counselor of the State Department from 2007 to 2009.

Also from Target Iran's Weakening Regime, Wednesday, September 30, 2009, by Robert Kagan** (Washington Post):

...Sanctions will not persuade the present Iranian government to give up its nuclear weapons program. But the right kinds of sanctions could help the Iranian opposition topple its vulnerable rulers.

The Iranian government's behavior during and after the election has opened an irreparable breach between the regime and large elements of Iranian society, and even within the clerical ranks. The notion that the Iranian opposition will suddenly rally around Ahmadinejad and Khamenei if the West imposes sanctions is absurd.

The opposition leadership is engaged in a struggle to the death with the regime. When sanctions begin to cause hardships, the opposition will press its case that the regime is leading Iran to ruin. That is the case for moving ahead with crippling sanctions as soon as possible and not waiting months for Iran's leaders to drag out talks...

**The writer is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Israel: the new leader of the Free World

From THE WASHINGTON TIMES editorial, Monday, September 28, 2009:

Israel is looking like the new leader of the Free World.

The previous leader, the United States, resigned this role last week at the United Nations to take the position of global community organizer. This was made plain by President Obama in his speech, titled "Responsibility for Our Common Future," in which he heralded "a new chapter of international cooperation."

By contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a blunt and forceful call to action in the central challenge facing free people today. This is the struggle of "civilization against barbarism" being fought by "those who sanctify life against those who glorify death."

Mr. Obama's address was the predictable mix of criticism of the past policies of the United States, self-praise for correcting said policies and vague calls to united action on matters of collective interest. It sought to ingratiate rather than offend. But Mr. Netanyahu chastised the United Nations for its "systematic assault on the truth." He spoke truths that Mr. Obama would never whisper regarding the regime in Iran, which is "fueled by an extreme fundamentalism" and an "unforgiving creed." Mr. Netanyahu rebuked those members who countenanced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's diatribe before the same world body, rightly calling it a "disgrace."

Mr. Netanyahu repeatedly paid tribute to the blessings of liberty and "the allure of freedom." He marveled at the technological advances freedom made possible. He asked if the international community would support the Iranian people "as they bravely stand up for freedom." He envisioned a future of Israel and Palestine, "two free peoples living in peace, living in prosperity, living in dignity." Mr. Obama, meanwhile, touted the imperative of responding to global climate change and mentioned as an afterthought that democracy should not be an afterthought.

Israel stands out because it understands the central challenge faced by the civilized world and by its willingness to take action. Israel is readying to stem the tide of barbarism and stand up to the threat of a nuclear Iran. In return, it asks only for moral support. "If Israel is again asked to take more risk for peace," Mr. Netanyahu said, "we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow." He challenged the countries of the world with a clear-cut test: "Will you stand with Israel? Or will you stand with the terrorists?"

Mr. Obama said in closing that "we call on all nations to join us in building the future that our people deserve." But people only deserve what they have earned. Mr. Netanyahu called on the civilized world to "confront this peril, secure our future, and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come." Sometimes the future doesn't come without a fight.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Clock ticking on Iran

From The Jerusalem Post, Sep. 29, 2009, by Yaakov Katz:

...Following the disclosure last week of the existence of a secret uranium enrichment facility in a mountain near the holy city of Qom, there is a feeling in Israel that the world is now more serious than in the past regarding the need to talk tough with Iran and, if needed, to impose tough sanctions as well. This could be seen at the press conference in Pittsburgh on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting, during which Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown all spoke tough to Iran.

The testing of long-range missiles by Iran on Monday, Yom Kippur, was on the one hand a flexing of Iran's muscles in face of this possibility, but was also a move that will definitely put more world attention on its nuclear program.

The discovery of the second enrichment facility - not large enough to be used for energy purposes like the known facility, Natanz - validates one of Israel's gravest concerns in recent years, that Iran was building a bomb using hidden facilities. Iran could continue to enrich uranium to low levels, below 5 percent, at Natanz - which is under IAEA supervision - and enrich uranium to higher, military levels at the underground facility near Qom without anyone knowing.

As US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates - one of the fiercest opponents under the Bush administration of military action against Iran - said on Sunday, there was no longer any real doubt that Iran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

It is under these assumptions that the Americans will enter the dialogue with Iran, slated to begin on Thursday. While Israel is extremely skeptical of a positive outcome from the talks, there is an understanding that it will need to wait for the dialogue to finish before taking any unilateral action.

This leaves three likely scenarios.

The first is that the dialogue fails and the EU, Russia, US and China decide to impose tough sanctions on Iran, particularly in the energy sector and supply of refined fuel, a measure believed to be capable of having a real effect on the regime. Israel would then have to give the sanctions time, to wait to see if they are effective.

The second scenario is that the US and Iran reach a deal under which the Islamic republic is allowed to continue enriching uranium at low levels for energy purposes but would have to agree to new supervision measures and to keep all of its international obligations. If this happens, the Obama administration will likely laud the deal as a major diplomatic success - particularly in the absence of one with North Korea - and would effectively tie Israel's hands.

The third scenario is that the talks will fail, the world powers will not agree to impose sanctions and Israel will be left to decide whether or not it will strike Iran. This would likely happen sometime around [northern hemisphere] spring 2010.

The success of such a strike has been under question for several years now. In an article in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend, Anthony Cordesman, a respected American national security analyst, wrote, "It is far from certain that such action would be met with success."

Nevertheless, Cordesman conceded that Israel was very serious regarding the military option and would likely focus any strike on three targets - the Busher reactor, Natanz and the Arak heavy water facility. The enrichment center near Qom, as well as known Iranian airfields, missile silos and launchers can also be added to the list.

While Natanz is heavily fortified and built in an underground bunker, Cordesman said that Israel would be able to use some of the GBU-28 bunker buster missiles it purchased from the US to penetrate the facility. He also raised the possibility that Israeli intelligence had gotten its hands on US, European and Russian designs for more advanced weapons than the GBU-28.

The assessment in the defense establishment is that the fallout from such a strike would be three times that of the Second Lebanon War, the First Gulf War and the attacks on the Israeli Embassy and Jewish center in Argentina in the 1990s combined.

At the moment all eyes are on this Thursday, when the dialogue begins, but as recent events have shown, time is running out.

Just light one candle of truth...every day

From YouTube, 25/9/09:

Jewish self-reliance in the face of Babi Yar, the Yom Kippur War, and Iran

From THE JERUSALEM POST editorial, Sep. 27, 2009:

... it was on Yom Kippur eve in 1941 that Kiev's Jews were ordered by Nazi occupation forces to report for evacuation with documents, valuables and even warm clothing and undergarments. The deception was maintained until the end, when small groups were led separately to a gaping pit.

Driven through a narrow corridor of executioners, they were beaten, commanded to undress and then machine-gunned. In a two-day orgy of ruthless bestiality, 33,771 Jews were murdered - more than all the casualties renascent Israel has suffered in its decades of struggle to survive.

The killing field at Babi Yar would likely have been forgotten, as were numerous other bloodlettings in that area in that darkest of times, were it not for Yevgeny Yevtushenko's 1961 epic poem. Yevtushenko shamed the Soviets into erecting a monument at the site, though it didn't mention Jews; a commemorative menorah was put up by Jewish groups in 1991. Previously the Soviets had dammed and flooded the ravine with mud and the runoffs from nearby quarries.

Independent Ukraine hardly excelled either in honoring the dead. No major government-sponsored commemoration took place there in the years after the Ukraine extricated itself from the USSR.

Only in 2006, responding to accusations of Ukrainian antipathy, did Kiev announce that the massacre site would be turned into "a state historical and cultural reserve," which would include "a museum dedicated to Jewish victims." This wasn't an easy announcement to make in a country that still bristles with anti-Semitism ...

...Nazism's torchbearers today reside closer to the Jewish homeland - foremost in the regime that rules Iran, and emblemized by its President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who denies the Holocaust while in the same breath calling for its extension: wiping Israel off the map. Iran's fundamentalist leadership seeks nuclear firepower to further that genocidal goal and remake the world order.

...EVERY YEAR for the past 36, this nation has labored with the trauma of the 1973 war, which broke out on this most solemn of days and for which, in our hubris, we were so unprepared.

Each year anew, on this day of introspection and reckoning, we must resolve to act with courage and wisdom to protect our existential interests.

...history has demonstrated that the Jewish nation dare count only on itself, that others cannot be relied upon to watch over us...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Iran announces missile drill

From Ynet News, 26/9/09, by Dudi Cohen:

A senior Revolutionary Guards officer announced Saturday that Iran will be embarking on a defensive maneuver that will include the firing of various types of missiles.

The missile drill, codenamed Great Prophet 4, is scheduled to start Sunday and continue for several days, thereby taking place while Israelis mark the Jewish Year's holiest day, Yom Kippur.

The Guards' Air Force Commander, General Hossein Salami, said that the exercise's objective is to "present the will of the great Iranian nation and to safeguard its revolutionary and national aspirations."

... the drill is meant to assess "the technical abilities and development recently undertaken in respect to the Revolutionary Guards' surface-to-surface missiles."

The Revolutionary Guards are directly subordinated to Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

...the maneuver may be related to revelations over the weekend about yet another Iranian nuclear facility.

Iranian officials are expected to embark on talks with Western powers this coming Thursday, and the military drill may signal to the West that Tehran does not intend to capitulate in respect to its nuclear program.