Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stopping Iran: the time for diplomacy has passed.

From The Wall Street Journal, DECEMBER 16, 2009, by OLIVIER DEBOUZY*:

...This week's revelations about Iran's recent work on warhead design underscore the point. No country has ever gone so far along the road toward the acquisition of a nuclear military capability without actually developing one.

... Western decision makers are now at a defining moment.

...If Iran has nukes, the temptation for countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey, among others, to equip themselves with such weapons would be almost irresistible. The 2010 review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would be rendered a feckless pantomime...

It is now necessary, therefore, to plan for the worst—some form of military constraint upon Iran. It is urgent that the U.S., Great Britain and France, together with Israel ...gather and try to reach agreement on how to terminate the Iranian nuclear program militarily.

...How could this be done? The experience of the 1962 Cuban crisis provides an interesting precedent. Applying pressure on the Iranians by interdicting any imports or exports to and from Iran by sea and by air would send a message that would undoubtedly be perceived as demonstrative by Tehran. Additionally, reinforcing the Western naval presence inside or immediately outside the Gulf would make it clear to the Iranians, without infringing on their territorial waters, that they (and all states dealing with them) are entering a danger zone.

In parallel to this slow strangulation, measures should be taken to deter Gulf states (such as Dubai) from engaging in any trade or financial transactions with Iran and to encourage them to freeze Iranian assets in their banks. This should not be too difficult, as the threat of disconnecting any renegade from the Swift system would be sufficiently persuasive in the current circumstances, in which Dubai sorely needs international financial assistance.

It might be necessary to go beyond that and actually resort to force to prevent the Iranians from achieving nuclear military capabilities. Planning for a massive air and missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities (known and suspected) should be considered seriously, and this planning made public (at least partially) to convince Iran that the West can not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Such planning should also, to the extent possible, involve NATO, against the territory of which there is little doubt that the majority of Iranian missiles and nuclear weapons would be targeted (if only because they cannot yet reach the U.S.). The U.S., U.K., French and Israeli intelligence services should better co-ordinate what they know, and contributions from others should also be welcome, as well as any information that could be provided by internal opposition movements in Iran.

The idea here is simple, and has been expressed many times by theoreticians of deterrence: When one plans for war, when one deploys forces and rehearses military options, one actually conveys a message. Deterrence is about dialogue. Whether the Iranian government would listen to it is uncertain. But at least it would have been properly warned.

The time for diplomacy has passed. Iran must cave in, and quickly.

If the West is not prepared to force it to comply with its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this in effect means that the treaty is dead and that the Gulf countries are being abandoned—stealthily, but nonetheless very definitely. It also means that the non-proliferation regime is, for all practical purposes, dead. Is this really what we want?

*Mr. Debouzy is a lawyer and a former specialist in nuclear military affairs and intelligence for the French government. He writes here in a strictly personal capacity.

Update, Monday 21/12/09: I received the following by email from Mike Evans, Jerusalem Prayer Team (thanks to Trish):

...I am in Israel to address a major conference and what I'm hearing is very sobering. The mood here is VERY ominous.

In the last couple of days I was told some new confidential information about the state of Iran's readiness to deliver a working nuclear bomb.

An Israeli general told me:

• Iran will not back down because they think the US president is too weak to stop them.
• Iran has already enriched 1.7 tons of uranium for a nuclear bomb at its facilities in Natanz.
• Iran has been testing neutron detonators.
Then yesterday, Iran test-fired an upgraded version of its most advanced missile, the Sajjil-2, with a range of about 1,200 miles. That means it can hit anywhere in Israel, our U.S. bases in the Gulf region and even deliver a warhead to parts of Europe!

The two-stage Sajjil-2 is powered entirely by solid-fuel and is the most advanced missile yet tested by Iran. It has a lot longer range and is far more accurate that the previous missile, the Fateh, which only had a range of 120 miles!

So while the world watches, Iran races ahead on its quest for a nuclear bomb—and at the same time, it is testing the missiles needed to deliver such a bomb to destroy its avowed enemy, Israel.

You can understand then why the mood here is very dark—and why I tell you that without divine intervention there will be war in 2010....

Over 35% of Egyptian and Saudi citizens support jihad

From UPI, Dec. 18, 2009:

...Private polling of Egyptian and Saudi citizens ...shows [that] more than 35 percent of those interviewed considered it "an Islamic duty" to support Islamic fighters around the world.

[David Pollock, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said] that while many of the respondents said they did not support al-Qaida, more than 40 percent said they assumed other Muslim communities did support the group's militant message.

He notes that while public support for radical Islam is dwindling, the perception that financial assistance is an obligation is troubling....

Friday, December 18, 2009

A defect in UK law


The momentous decision by the narrowest of margins by the justices of the UK Supreme Court on Wednesday, that London's Jewish Free School (JFS), in refusing entry to the son of a Masorti convert, had breached the 1976 Race Relations Act, will reverberate, not just across the Jewish community, but in the legislature as well.

The facts are clear. The boy, known as M is the son of a Jewish father and an Italian Roman Catholic mother who converted to Judaism through the Masorti/Conservative movement. The couple have since divorced and M lives with his father. He wished to go to JFS, the oldest and largest Jewish school in Europe.

The school is under the religious guidance of the chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, and when there is an over-demand for places, preference is given to halachic Jews over others. Lord Sacks ruled that M was not halachicly Jewish, and therefore was not eligible. M's father appealed to the school's panel, which turned him down. He then appealed to the courts which at the lower level turned him down, but at the Court of Appeal he found support. At this point JFS, the United Synagogue, the chief rabbi and the Board of Deputies appealed to the highest court, the Supreme Court which has now delivered its verdict.

The judgment is a remarkable document. It begins with a quote from Deuteronomy, as the basis of the laws against intermarriage, refers later to famous converts, such as Ruth, Onkelos and Rabbi Akiva, and throughout shows the greatest respect for Judaism and Jewish law.

"Jewish law has enabled the Jewish people and the Jewish religion to survive throughout centuries of discrimination and persecution. The world would be a poorer place if they had not" is how one of the justices put it.

THE JUDGES knew that they were handling a very hot potato. As the president of the court himself put it, the court "has not welcomed being required to resolve this dispute." The fact that nine out of the 11 Supreme Court justices heard the case, an extremely high proportion, indicates its significance. That they were split more or less down the middle five to four indicates its complexity. The president of the court, Lord Justice Phillips, supported the decision of the Court of Appeal that the JFS action breached race legislation. His deputy, Lord Hope, did not.

The case hinged on whether Jews are a religious group or an ethnic group. If they are the former, then the race legislation does not apply. If the latter, then it does. The majority decided that Jews were both!

More precisely, they accepted that the chief rabbi's and the school's decision was made solely on whether M was Jewish as defined by religious criteria. However, as Judaism, uniquely, defines religious status through descent, rather than affirmation, this makes Jews an ethnic group as defined by the legislation and case law. We are Jews because our parents were Jewish, whether we believe or practice any Jewish principles or not. Converts can join this group, but they don't change the essential nature of the group.

The irony is that while the authenticity of M's conversion was the cause of the case, it was irrelevant to the ruling. All denominations within Judaism use descent as the key principle, and according to the court's ruling it doesn't matter whether they follow matrilineal or patrilineal descent.

In UK law, it makes Jews an ethnic group and disallows any discrimination between one Jew and another, and of course between Jew and non-Jew.

In making their ruling the justices were aware of the delicacy and implications of their decision. The majority, while stating that the logic of the argument of their interpretation of the law meant that the school had breached the race relations legislation, this did not mean that those involved were "racist." As one of the justices said, "The chief rabbi and the governors of JFS are free from any moral blame. That they have fallen foul of the 1976 act does not involve any reprehensible conduct on their part, for it is accepted on all sides that they acted on sincerely and conscientiously held beliefs. Their motives are unimpeachable... The grounds on which the rejection of M was made may well be considered perfectly reasonable in the religious context, but... they amount to ethnic grounds under the legislation."

This theme, that the outcome is an unintended consequence of legislation produced more than 30 years ago in a different context, recurs throughout the judgment, and is mentioned by 8 of the 9 judges. Indeed the president of the court, Lord Phillips, as early as the ninth paragraph states :"There may well be a defect in our law of discrimination."

The decision will have a major impact on how Jewish schools choose their pupils. Religious criteria will need to be introduced and the danger is that those from less religious homes, the very children who would benefit from Jewish schooling, may lose out. But for how long, remains to be seen. The justices have given Parliament the biggest possible hint that the law needs to be changed, and the legislature needs to rise to the challenge.

*The writer is a former chancellor of the University of Derby and vice chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University. He authored the report on the future of Jewish schools for the Jewish Leadership Council in the UK. He made aliya with his wife, Jennifer, at the end of last year and lives in Jerusalem

For further details see:

(Verbatim) Court judgements:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Define a new identity that doesn't rely on anti-Semitism

THE JERUSALEM POST, Dec. 15, 2009, by ITAMAR MARCUS and BARBARA CROOK (Palestinian Media Watch):

...The Palestinian Authority depicts Jews as the archetypal force of evil ...responsible for all the world's problems: wars, financial crises, even the spreading of AIDS ...a danger to humanity ...turning demonization of Jews into the basis for Palestinian denial of Israel's right to exist and a central component of Palestinian national identity.

Because of Jews' evil nature, according to this Palestinian principle, nations of the world have been involved in continuous defensive actions to protect themselves. The anti-Semitic oppression, persecution and expulsions suffered by Jews throughout history are presented as the legitimate self-defense responses of nations.

Ibrahim Mudayris, a PA religious official, delineated this ideology:

"The Jews are a virus similar to AIDS, from which the entire world is suffering. This has been proven in history... Ask Britain!... Ask France!... Ask Portugal... Ask czarist Russia - who invited the Jews and they plotted to murder the czar!... Don't ask Germany what it did to the Jews, since the Jews are the ones who provoked Nazism to fight the entire world"

(PA TV, May 13, 2005).

The apex of this Palestinian ideology, and possibly its purpose, is to use this demonization of Jews as the basis for denying Israel legitimacy and to present Palestinians as the ultimate victims. According to this Palestinian model, the Jews, who are said to have no history in the land, would never have considered coming to "Palestine": Europeans created Zionism as the final act in the long series of self-defense measures, to rid themselves of the "burden" of the Jews.

Political commentator Fathi Buzia recently explained this on official PA television:

"Europe, led by Britain, founded Israel... The Jews in the time of Herzl caused European societies to lose sleep. They wanted to be rid of them, and implanted them in Palestine"

(PA TV, June 17).

Dr Riad al-Astal, a history lecturer at Al Azhar University in Gaza, explained it this way:

"In aiding Zionism, Britain's first aim was to be rid of the Jews, who were known to provoke disputes and disturbances and financial crises in Germany, France and other European states"

(PA TV, December 28, 2003).

THIS DEMONIZATION of Jews as the reason for delegitimizing Israel has been an integral part of Palestinian ideology, voiced by political, academic and religious leaders since the establishment of the PA.

Already in 1998 the official PA daily described both Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jews and British support for Zionism as defensive measures:

"Hitler did not have colonies to send the Jews so he destroyed them, whereas Balfour... [turned] Palestine into his colony and sent the Jews. Balfour is Hitler with colonies, while Hitler is Balfour without colonies. They both wanted to get rid of the Jews... Zionism was crucial to the defense of the West's interests in the region, [by] ridding Europe of the burden of its Jews"

(Al-Hayat al-Jadida [Fatah], June 12, 1998).

This is not merely incitement; this is the foundation of Palestinian ideology. Israel is denied legitimacy and Palestinian victimhood becomes the foundation upon which a Palestinian national identity is created. Therefore, the Palestinian anti-Semitism construct is so problematic and hard to dislodge. Since the aim of Palestinian anti-Semitism is not merely to promote hatred, but part of a systematic demonization of Jews to deny Israel's right to exist, proving that Jews are evil has become an element of the ongoing Palestinian narrative.

Indeed, even in the period of the Annapolis Conference, the PA has never stopped disseminating a steady diet of hatred of Jews and Israelis. It has accused Jews and Israel of spreading AIDS among Palestinians, causing drug addiction among youth, planning to destroy the Aksa Mosque, and murdering Yasser Arafat. Jews are said to have lived in ghettos not because of European hatred, but because they see themselves as superior and do not want to mix with non-Jews, while the Palestinian chief religious justice recently said that the Koran warns of the Jews' inherently evil traits. Zionists are said to have forced Palestinians to undergo "selections" during the War of Independence, whereby the fit were put in labor camps and the unfit killed - some even burned alive.

All this and much more, since the renewal of the peace process.

The tragic reality is that this Palestinian anti-Semitism and its conclusions may already be ingrained in Palestinian society. During a talk show for teens on official PA TV, a young girl explained the reason Jews live in Israel:

"About the problem of the Jewish presence: You'd agree that the Jewish presence in the land of Palestine was nothing but the liberation of all the countries of the world from the source of evil. The evil that is found in the Jews has become a germ among us, which is a cancer that buried us and is still burying. And we are the ones who suffer from this cancer"

(PA TV, June 23, 2002).

The adult moderator did not correct her. And why should he? She was merely reiterating the basis of Palestinian national identity.

... the goal of PA demonization of Jews transcends mere hatred. Anti-Semitism is its political tool to defame Zionism, deny Israel's right to exist and create victimhood as the glue that cements Palestinian national identity.....

...Palestinians must define a new Palestinian national identity - one that doesn't rely on anti-Semitism and the eradication of Israel's legitimacy as its foundation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

William Cooper: Original Australian, Global Warrior and Righteous Amongst the Nations

From ABC National Radio "Awaye!" programme, 5 December 2009:

One Blood: the story of William Cooper

William Cooper is counted among the righteous who saved Jews during the Holocaust. In late 1938, this elder statesman of the Aboriginal rights movement delivered a letter of protest to the German consulate in Melbourne as synagogues burned across Germany in the aftermath of the infamous Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht.

Freelance producer Jessica Noske-Turner takes us on a journey from the former Aboriginal mission station at Cummeragunga to the Forest of Martyrs outside Jerusalem.

(The ABC page also has a link to a moving 2-minute video of the tree-planting ceremony in Israel, using Murray River soil and water, to honour William Cooper, in the presence of his descendents.)

Background from JTA, April 28, 2009, SYDNEY, Australia:
An Australian Aboriginal leader who staged a remarkable protest against the Nazis was honored in Israel.

On Dec. 6, 1938 -- just weeks after the Kristallnacht pogrom in Germany -- William Cooper led a delegation of members of the Australian Aboriginal League to the German Consulate in Melbourne to hand over a petition which protested the “cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi government of Germany.”

Cooper, who was 77 at the time, died in 1941. Last December, on the 70th anniversary of his little-known protest, his grandson, Alfred “Boydie” Turner, and dozens of other members of the Yorta Yorta tribe gathered in State Parliament in Melbourne. In front of Victorian Premier John Brumby, Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, lawmakers, diplomats and Jewish leaders, Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem presented a certificate to Turner stating that 70 Australian trees were to be planted in Israel in honor of William Cooper.

On Tuesday, five trees were planted at the Martyrs’ Forest near Jerusalem; the remaining 65 trees will be planted in the Australia-Israel Friendship Forest. Turner and about 12 members of William Cooper’s extended family flew to Israel for the ceremony.

Among the dignitaries attending the ceremony, organized by the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish National Fund of Australia, were Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, KKL-JNF world chairman Efi Stenzler, Australian Ambassador to Israel James Larsen and Rotem.

Members of the Aboriginal community staged a ceremony at the Aborigines Advancement League in Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon to honor Cooper's "brave stance against the oppression of the Jews."


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why All the Excuses for Palestinian Intransigence?

From GLORIA,December 13, 2009, by Barry Rubin*:

...If the Palestinians are so miserable, they feel their situation intolerable, and want to get rid of settlements, they have and have had a very simple solution...

Make peace as fast as possible....

Yet they have refused to do so on numerous occasions going back for decades....

...If the Palestinians made a deal they would get an independent state with its capital in east Jerusalem. ... They'd have to swap, say, three or four percent of the West Bank's territory in exchange for an equal amount of Israeli land and they wouldn't get all of east Jerusalem. ...and they'd also get many billions of dollars in compensation.

What else would they have to give up?
  • They'd have to agree that a peace treaty ended the conflict...
  • They'd have to resettle Palestinian refugees in Palestine...
  • They might well have to accept security guarantees for Israel and some limits on their own armaments...

...[yet] the Palestinian Authority is refusing to negotiate at all....Why if the Palestinians are suffering so much won't they make peace?

...the Palestinian leadership wants total victory and Israel's elimination. They are willing to go on letting their people suffer for a century in pursuit of that goal...

...Don't like settlements? Don't like "occupation"? Then make peace and get rid of these things...
*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Britain: fair-weather friend at best

From a remarkable address at the annual dinner of the Anglo-Israel Association (AIA), 12/12/09, by historian Andrew Roberts (go to Melanie Phillips' Spectator Blog for the full transcript):

My Lords, Ladies & Gentlemen... seems to me that for all the undoubted statesmanship implicit in Arthur Balfour’s Declaration of November 1917, promising ‘a National Home for the Jewish People’, it doesn’t mean that Britain has ever been much more than a fair-weather friend to Jewish national aspirations...

...Sure enough, at the Versailles Conference and its ancillary meetings up to 1922, although Britain was given the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, the Jewish National Home was not established. ...the FO...feared that allowing the de facto creation of a Jewish State would alienate Arabs....

...Instead there was the notorious 1939 White Paper, which severely limited Jewish immigration into Palestine at precisely the period of their greatest need, during the Final Solution. ...The White Paper was published on 9 November 1938 – the very same day as the Kristallnacht atrocities in Germany ....The Manchester Guardian described it as ‘a death sentence on tens of thousands of Central European Jews’, which in sheer numerical terms was probably an underestimation. Although the Labour Party Conference voted to repeal the White Paper in 1945, the Labour Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin – a bitter enemy of Israel - persisted in it, and it was not to be repealed until the day after the State of Israel was proclaimed.

In late April 1948, Bevin ordered that Arab positions in Jaffa needed to be protected from the Jews [quote] ‘at all costs’, and when Israeli independence came the next month, the departing British sometimes handed over vital military and strategic strongpoints to the five invading Arab armies, the most efficient of which, Transjordan’s Arab Legion, was actually commanded by a Briton, Sir John Glubb. And then on New Year’s Eve 1948 the British Government actually issued an ultimatum to Israel threatening war if Israel did not halt its counter-attacks on Egyptian forces in the Gaza Strip and Sinai. Britain was the only country in the UN that came to Egypt’s aid in this regard.

...When in May 1967 Nasser announced the blockading of the Straits of Tiran, closing Israel’s commercial lifeline to the east ...Harold Wilson was proud of his pro-Israeli sentiments, [but] his foreign secretary George Brown and the FO certainly did not reciprocate them. Britain compounded its generally lukewarm attitude during the Six Day War by sponsoring Resolution 242 at the end of it, which called on Israel to withdraw [quote] ‘from territories occupied’, in a resolution that was so badly worded by the FO that Arabs and Israelis have been able to argue over its proper meaning ever since.

The Yom Kippur War of October 1973 saw even worse bias by the FO in favour of the Arabs and against the Jews. Announcing an arms embargo ‘equally’ between the belligerents, the Heath Government effectively stopped Israel buying spare parts for the IDF’s Centurion tanks, whilst allowing them to be bought by Jordan, the only other country affected, because it was not (officially at least) a belligerent. Egyptian helicopter pilots continued to be trained in Britain, with the foreign secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home lamely telling the Israeli Ambassador that it was better for the pilots to be training in Britain than fighting at the front. Heath even refused to allow American cargo planes taking supplies to Israel to land and refuel at our bases on Cyprus.

In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher seemed to offer a new warmth to Anglo-Israeli relations ...yet even she was stymied by the FO, especially over Intelligence cooperation with Mossad...

After 9/11 Tony Blair seemed to appreciate how Israel was in the very front line in the War against Terror, and he thus bravely refused to condemn Israel’s acts of self-defence in Lebanon, but since then Britain’s contribution to the EU’s strand of negotiating over Iran’s nuclear ambitions has been, frankly, pathetic.

One area of policy over which the FO has traditionally held great sway is in the question of Royal Visits. It is no therefore coincidence that although HMQ has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor one single member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit. Even though Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, who was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" for sheltering a Jewish family in her Athens home during the Holocaust, was buried on the Mount of Olives, the Duke of Edinburgh was not allowed by the FO to visit her grave until 1994, and then only on a private visit.

... the FO has somehow managed to find the time over the years to send the Queen on State visits to Libya, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan & Turkey. So it can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area.

...The true reason of course, is that the Foreign Office has a ban on official Royal visits to Israel, which is even more powerful for its being unwritten and unacknowledged. As an act of delegitimization of Israel, this effective boycott is quite as serious as other similar acts, such as the academic boycott, and is the direct fault of the FO Arabists...

...Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would not do placed in the same position? The population of the United Kingdom of 63 millions is nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example entirely at random, Hezbollah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed 8 patrolmen and kidnapped 2 others, and that summer fired 4,000 Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further 43 civilians. Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what we would not do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire 36,000 rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing 72 British servicemen in an ambush and capturing a further eighteen? I put it to you that there is absolutely no lengths to which our Government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right too. So why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?

There has hardly been a single year since Brigadier-General Deedes established AIA in 1949 when a speaker has not been able to say that Israel faced a crisis, and on some occasions – in 1956, 1967, 1973 and especially in the face of the present Iranian nuclear programme today – these were existential. At a time when Barrack Obama appears to be least pro-Israeli president since Eisenhower, the dangers are even more obvious. For there is simply no way that Obama will prevent Ahmadinejad, perhaps Jewry’s most viciously outspoken and dangerous foe since the death of Adolf Hitler, to acquire a nuclear Bomb.

None of us can pretend to know what lies ahead for Israel, but if she decides pre-emptively to strike against such a threat – in the same way that Nelson pre-emptively sank the Danish Fleet at Copenhagen and Churchill pre-emptively sank the Vichy Fleet at Oran – then she can expect nothing but condemnation from the British Foreign Office. She should ignore such criticism, because for all the fine work done by this Association over the past six decades - work that’s clearly needed as much now as ever before – Britain has only ever really been at best a fairweather friend to Israel.

Although History does not repeat itself, it’s cadences do occasionally rhyme, and if the witness of History is testament to anything it is testament to this: That in her hopes of averting the threat of a Second Holocaust, only Israel can be relied upon to act decisively in the best interests of the Jews.

Christians tortured and killed in the Muslim world

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Dec. 12, 2009, by Matthew Wagner:

Every three minutes a Christian is being tortured in the Muslim world, and in 2009 more than 165,000 Christians will have been killed because of their faith, most of them in Muslim countries....

"Hamas digs up the bodies of Christians from Christian burial sites in the Gaza Strip claiming that they pollute the earth," said Reverend Majed El Shafie, President of One Free World International (OFWI)....

...El Shafie said that between 200-300 million Christians are being persecuted in the world, 80 percent of whom lived in Muslim countries and the rest in communist and other countries.

...OFWI is a human rights organization whose headquarters are located in Toronto, Canada. The organization numbers some 3,000 members, divided into 28 branches that are active in countries all over the world, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even Iran.
El Shafie, 32, was born in Cairo to a distinguished Muslim family of lawyers and judges. Through a Christian friend he was exposed at an early age to hatred toward the Christian minority in Egypt. He decided to convert to Christianity, wrote a book about it and as a result became an outcast and a victim of oppression. In 1998 he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and condemned to death....

Iran’s nuclear weapons program exposed

From The Times December 14, 2009, by Catherine Philp in Washington:

Confidential intelligence documents obtained by The Times show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb.

The notes, from Iran’s most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.

An Asian intelligence source last week confirmed to The Times that his country also believed that weapons work was being carried out as recently as 2007 — specifically, work on a neutron initiator.

The technical document describes the use of a neutron source, uranium deuteride, which independent experts confirm has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon. Uranium deuteride is the material used in Pakistan’s bomb, from where Iran obtained its blueprint.

“Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application,” said David Albright, a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, which has analysed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Iranian programme. “This is a very strong indicator of weapons work.”

The documents have been seen by intelligence agencies from several Western countries, including Britain. A senior source at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that they had been passed to the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

...Responding to The Times’ findings, an Israeli government spokesperson said: “Israel is increasingly concerned about the state of the Iranian nuclear programme and the real intentions that may lie behind it.”

The revelation coincides with growing international concern about Iran’s nuclear programme...

...In September, Iran was forced to admit that it was constructing a secret uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom....

...Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: “The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution.”

The Times had the documents, which were originally written in Farsi, translated into English and had the translation separately verified by two Farsi speakers. While much of the language is technical, it is clear that the Iranians are intent on concealing their nuclear military work behind legitimate civilian research.

...Mr Fitzpatrick said: “Is this the smoking gun? That’s the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Iran: ...tick, tock, tick, tock...

From the Voice of America, 10 December 2009, by Margaret Besheer in the The United Nations:

US, UK and France say they will seek new sanctions against Iran if it does not comply with existing UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it end uranium-enriching activities and come to the negotiating table. Discussion of new sanctions resolution could begin early next year.

Japan's U.N. ambassador, who heads the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Iran, briefed the council on violations of existing resolutions that have taken place during the last three months.

Later, Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant outlined those violations to reporters.

"This report set out a pattern of violations by Iran of Security Council resolutions -- including the illegal export, two illegal exports, of shipments of arms from Iran in direct contradiction of resolution 1747," he said. "And if you add this together with the continued uranium enrichment activities of Iran, in violation of Security Council resolutions -- of Iran's failure to answer questions to the IAEA about its weaponization activities, the revelation of a secret enrichment site at Qom, and Iran's rejection of the offer over the Tehran Nuclear Research Reactor -- then I think you can see there is clearly this pattern of violations of international obligations and an unwillingness of Iran to negotiate seriously with the international community over the nuclear issue," he said.

He said ministers in the group known as the P5 plus 1 - the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany - would be making their assessment in the coming weeks and that if it is negative, he would expect the council to take up the sanctions discussion in early January....

...U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice ...told reporters that Iran's violations need to be treated "urgently and seriously" and that the United States is ready to turn up the pressure...

...But Russia and China -- the other two permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council, and who have oil and trade ties with Iran -- were much more restrained in their remarks...

Background briefing, from Reuters, Friday December 11, 2009:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday he expected the international community to impose significant additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Iran's pledges in Geneva talks last October won itself a reprieve from further sanctions but Western powers stressed they would not wait indefinitely for Tehran to follow through.

A senior U.S. official said the United States and its allies would decide early next year whether to pursue more sanctions.

Following are some details of the sanctions already imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations:


-- The Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran, in December 2006, March 2007 and March 2008.

-- The first covered sensitive nuclear materials and froze the assets of Iranian individuals and companies linked with the nuclear programme. It gave Iran 60 days to suspend uranium enrichment, a deadline Iran ignored.

-- The second included new arms and financial sanctions. It extended an asset freeze to 28 more groups, companies and individuals engaged in or supporting sensitive nuclear work or development of ballistic missiles, including the state-run Bank Sepah and firms controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.

-- The resolution invoked Chapter 7, Article 41 of the U.N. Charter, making most of its provisions mandatory but excluding military action. Iran again ignored an order to halt enrichment.

-- The third measure increased travel and financial curbs on individuals and companies and made some of them mandatory. It expanded a partial ban on trade in items with both civilian and military uses to cover sales of all such technology to Iran, and added 13 individuals and 12 companies to the list of those suspected of aiding Iran's nuclear and missile programmes. In Sept. 2008, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution again ordering Iran to halt enrichment, but imposed no more sanctions, due to opposition from Russia and China.


-- Sanctions imposed after Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy and took diplomats hostage in 1979 included a ban on most U.S.-Iran trade.

-- In 1995, President Bill Clinton issued executive orders preventing U.S. companies from investing in Iranian oil and gas and trading with Iran. Tehran has found other willing customers.

-- Also in 1995, Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act requiring the U.S. government to impose sanctions on foreign firms investing more than $20 million a year in Iran's energy sector. It was extended for five years in September 2006. No foreign firms have been penalised. The U.S. terminated the applicability of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act to Libya in 2004.

-- In Oct. 2007 Washington imposed sanctions on Bank Melli, Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat and branded the Revolutionary Guards a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction. Two years later, in Oct. 2009, the Treasury also sanctioned Bank Mellat in Malaysia and its chairman.

-- At the end of October, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law legislation to punish foreign oil companies that export gasoline to Iran, marking the first time Congress has imposed economic sanctions on Iran to protest its nuclear programme. The new law blocks the U.S. Energy Department from awarding contracts to companies to deliver crude oil to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve if they also sell or ship gasoline to Iran.


-- The EU has imposed visa bans on senior officials such as Revolutionary Guards head Mohammad Ali Jafari, former Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar and former atomic energy chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh, and on top nuclear and ballistic experts.

-- Britain said on June 18 that Iranian assets frozen in Britain under EU and U.N. sanctions totalled 976 million pounds ($1.59 billion).

-- Britain announced on Oct. 12 that it was freezing business ties with Bank Mellat and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, both of which have previously faced sanctions from the United States. Britain cited fears they were involved in helping Iran develop nuclear weapons.