Saturday, February 07, 2015

Major concerns about the emerging Iran nuclear deal

From the Washington Post Editorial, 5 Feb 2015:

Jan. 14, 2015: US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, listens to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as they walk in the city of Geneva, Switzerland, during a bilateral meeting ahead of nuclear discussions. (Martial Trezzini/AP)

AS THE Obama administration pushes to complete a nuclear accord with Iran, numerous members of Congress, former secretaries of state and officials of allied governments are expressing concern about the contours of the emerging deal...

The problems raised by authorities ranging from Henry Kissinger, the country’s most senior former secretary of state, to Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, Virginia’s junior senator, can be summed up in three points:
  • First, a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capability.
  • Second, in the course of the negotiations, the Obama administration has declined to counter increasingly aggressive efforts by Iran to extend its influence across the Middle East and seems ready to concede Tehran a place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other U.S. allies.
  • Finally, the Obama administration is signaling that it will seek to implement any deal it strikes with Iran — including the suspension of sanctions that were originally imposed by Congress — without a vote by either chamber. Instead, an accord that would have far-reaching implications for nuclear proliferation and U.S. national security would be imposed unilaterally by a president with less than two years left in his term.

The first and broadest of these problems was outlined by Mr. Kissinger in recent testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. 
The talks... began as a multilateral effort headed by the European Union and backed by six U.N. Security Council resolutions intended “to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option.” Though formally the multilateral talks continue, “these negotiations have now become an essentially bilateral negotiation” between the United States and Iran “over the scope of that [nuclear] capability, not its existence,” Mr. Kissinger said.

Where it once aimed to eliminate Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, the administration now appears ready to accept an infrastructure of thousands of Iranian centrifuges. It says its goal is to limit and monitor that industrial base so that Iran could not produce the material for a warhead in less than a year. As several senators pointed out last month during a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee, the prospective deal would leave Iran as a nuclear-threshold state while theoretically giving the world time to respond if Tehran chose to build a weapon. Even these limited restrictions would remain in force for only a specified number of years, after which Iran would be free to expand its production of potential bomb materials.

Mr. Kissinger said such an arrangement would very likely prompt other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, to match Iran’s threshold capability. “The impact . . . will be to transform the negotiations from preventing proliferation to managing it,” he said. “We will live in a proliferated world in which everybody — even if that agreement is maintained — will be very close to the trigger point.”

A related problem is whether Iran could be prevented from cheating on any arrangement and acquiring a bomb by stealth. Mr. Kaine (D) underlined that an attempt by the United States to negotiate the end of North Korea’s nuclear program failed after the regime covertly expanded its facilities. 
With Iran, said Mr. Kaine, “a nation that has proven to be very untrustworthy . . . the end result is more likely to be a North Korean situation” if existing infrastructure is not dismantled.

The administration at one time portrayed the nuclear negotiations as distinct from the problem of 
  • Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, 
  • its attempts to establish hegemony over the Arab Middle East and 
  • its declared goal of eliminating Israel. 
Yet while the talks have proceeded, Mr. Obama has offered assurances to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the two countries have shared interests in the region, and the White House has avoided actions Iran might perceive as hostile — such as supporting military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

For their part, the Iranians, as Mr. Kaine put it, “are currently involved in activities to destabilize the governments of [U.S.-allied] nations as near as Bahrain and as far away as Morocco.” A Tehran-sponsored militia recently overthrew the U.S.-backed government of Yemen

Rather than contest the Iranian bid for regional hegemony, as has every previous U.S. administration since the 1970s, Mr. Obama appears ready to concede Iran a place in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and beyond — a policy that is viewed with alarm by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, among other allies.

Former secretary of state George P. Shultz cited Iran’s regional aggression in pronouncing himself “very uneasy” about the ongoing negotiations. 
“They’ve already outmaneuvered us, in my opinion,” he told the Armed Services Committee.
While presidents initiate U.S. foreign policies, it is vital that major shifts win the support of Congress and the country; otherwise, they will be unsustainable. Yet Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested in Senate testimony that the administration intends to postpone any congressional vote on a deal indefinitely, meeting its commitments to Iran by using provisions allowing it to suspend legislatively enacted sanctions...

Such a unilateral course by Mr. Obama would alienate even his strongest congressional supporters. It would mean that a deal with Iran could be reversed, within months of its completion, by the next president. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Mr. Obama wishes to avoid congressional review because he suspects a bipartisan majority would oppose the deal he is prepared to make...

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The speech Benjamin Netanyahu must give in US congre

From: The Wall Street Journal, February 04, 2015, by: Bret Stephens

EVEN friends of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are second-guessing his decision to accept US House Speaker John Boehner ’s invitation to address congress next month on the subject of Iran, over loud objections from the Obama administration. The prospect of the speech, those friends say, has sparked a needless crisis between Jerusalem and Washington. And it has left Democrats with an invidious choice between their loyalty to the President and their support for the Jewish state, jeopardising the bipartisan basis of the US-Israel relationship.

Sensible concerns — except for a few things.
Relations between Israel and the US have been in crisis nearly from the moment Barack Obama stepped into office. Democratic support for Israel has been eroding for decades. It was the US President, not the Israeli Prime Minister, who picked this fight.

Oh, and if there’s going to be a blowout in US-Israel relations, is now really a worse time than later this year, when the Obama administration will have further cornered Israel with its Iran diplomacy?
Because memories are short, let’s remind ourselves of the Ur-moment in the Bibi-Barack drama. It happened on May 18, 2009, when Netanyahu, in office for just a few weeks, arrived to a White House that was demanding that he endorse Palestinian statehood and freeze settlements, even as the administration was rebuffing Israeli requests to set a deadline for the nascent nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

The result: within a month of that meeting, Netanyahu duly endorsed Palestinian statehood in a speech at Israel’s right-wing Bar-Ilan University — roughly the equivalent of Obama going to a meeting of the Sierra Club and urging its members to get over their opposition to fracking. By the end of the year, Netanyahu further infuriated his right-wing base by agreeing to a 10-month settlement freeze, which even secretary of state Hillary Clinton acknowledged was “unprecedented”.

What did Netanyahu get in return from Obama? While the President stuck to his refusal to set “an artificial deadline”, he did concede in a joint press conference that “we’re not going to have talks forever. We’re not going to create a situation in which talks become an excuse for inaction while Iran proceeds with developing a nuclear, and deploying a nuclear weapon”.

The promise not to “have talks forever” was made six years ago. Since then, diplomatic efforts have included the 2009 “fuel swap” proposal; the 2010 Brazil-Turkey-Iran declaration; the 2011 Russian “step-by-step proposal”; the 2012 diplomatic rounds in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow; and finally the 2013 Joint Plan of Action, a six-month interim deal that is now in its 13th month.

Now Obama is vowing to veto the bipartisan Kirk-Menendez bill that would end the charade by imposing sanctions on Iran in the event Tehran doesn’t sign an acceptable nuclear deal by the northern summer — that is, after the third deadline for the interim agreement has expired. The President is also demanding that Democrats rally around him in his histrionic fit over the Netanyahu speech. This is from the same administration that, as Politico’s David Rogers reminds us, never bothered to consult Boehner on its invitation to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to address congress in 2011.

This history is worth recalling because it underscores the unpleasant truth about America in the age of Obama. 

The President collects hard favours from allies and repays them with neglect and derision. He is eager to accommodate the political needs of authoritarian leaders like Iran’s Hasan Rowhani but has no use for the political needs of elected leaders like Netanyahu. He believes that it is for other statesmen to stake their political lives and risk their national future for the sake of a moral principle — at least as Obama defines that principle. As for him, the only thing sacred is his own political convenience.

Netanyahu also needs to speak because congress deserves an unvarnished account of the choice to which Obama proposes to put Israel: either accede to continued diplomacy with Iran, and therefore its de facto nuclearisation; or strike Iran militarily in defiance of the US and Obama’s concordat with Tehran. A congressional vote in favour of Kirk-Menendez would at least make good on Obama’s unmet promise not to use talks as “an excuse for inaction”.

Above all, Netanyahu needs to speak because Israel cannot expect indefinite support from the US if it acts like a fretful and obedient client to a cavalier American patron.

The margin of Israel’s security is measured not by anyone’s love but by the respect of friends and enemies alike. By giving this speech, Netanyahu is demanding that respect. Irritating the President is a small price to pay for doing so.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Israel Labor's anti-Zionism would make Ben Gurion turn in his grave

From Israel's Voice 29 Jan 2015, by Dr. Martin Sherman:

Tzipi Livni speaks with Labor head Isaac Herzog in the Knesset. 

The term “Jewish State” is totally misguided – Isaac Herzog, April 2014
We, members of the People’s Council, representatives of the Jewish community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist movement…. hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel – Israel’s Declaration of Independence, May 1948
...Were Ben-Gurion to witness what is happening in the party he led to hegemonic status and historic achievements; were he to see his name and image exploited to promote an agenda antithetically opposed to the beliefs he held and the ethos he stood for, he would indeed have good reason to spin in his grave.

Over the last week or so there has been much critical discussion over the “pearls of wisdom” attributed to several Knesset candidates from what has been perversely dubbed the “Zionist Union” – the latest political cross-breed comprising the flaccid Labor Party, headed by Isaac “Buji” Herzog, and the fading Hatnua faction, ditched by Tzipi Livni.

... their remarks reflected sentiments which are antithetical to the Zionist ethos ..

Anti-Zionism, not post-Zionism
...a party that purports to be the standard-bearer of Zionism, with Ben-Gurion’s portrait displayed prominently on its website, 

  • can be headed by a man who proclaims the term “Jewish state” to be “totally misguided”; while
  • another prominent candidate on its candidates list can besmirch the national anthem as a “racist song”; 
  • still another confesses to feeling uncomfortable with the term “Zionism”; 
  • another calls on Israeli mothers not to send their sons to serve in the army; and 
  • yet another declares brazenly that his “Palestinian identity” is stronger than his Israeli one.

It can be said, with considerable accuracy, that the unlikely and unseemly “androgynous hybrid” of the “Zionist Union” is – with the possible exception of the Arab-majority parties in the Knesset – the most anti-Zionist party to emerge on the Israeli political landscape in decades.

And there should be no mistake: 
This is not post-Zionism – it is anti-Zionism.

Indeed, I can recall no other party fielding a candidate in an eminently realistic position on its list, who not only calls for the annulment of the Law of Return, but also for a joint day of mourning to commemorate the “Nakba” and the Holocaust.

Mourning the survival of Jews
It is difficult to overstate the far-reaching gravity of these proposals.

After all, more than anything, perhaps, the Law of Return symbolizes the bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish state. To suggest that the law be annulled necessarily suggests annulling this bond and discontinuing the status of Israel, not only as the nation-state of the Jewish people but as a haven for Jews under threat across the world.

But even more egregious is the idea of combining the commemoration of the “Nakba” and the Holocaust, thus creating cognitive equivalence between the “Disaster” of the Arab military defeat in the 1948 War of Independence with the horrific genocide of European Jewry during World War II. After all, the Arab armies made little secret of the fact that had they not been defeated, they would have slaughtered all the Jews in lands they conquered.
Thus, to mourn this defeat as a disaster is to mourn the success of the Jews in preventing their massacre at the hands of the Arabs.

In other words, to promote the notion that the remembrance of both the Holocaust and the “Nakba” should be combined into a single day of mourning clearly conveys that not only the slaughter of Jews should be mourned – but also their survival.

Unacceptable linguistic permissiveness
...When one prominent candidate proclaims that in her eyes, Zionism is “dividing the budget equally between all citizens, taking care of the weak, solidarity in everyday life,” she is clearly confounding the doctrine of egalitarian social democracy with that of Jewish nationalism. However laudable (or objectionable) one might feel those aims are, if this were Zionism, there would be little to distinguish it from the multi-cultural political philosophy that has led to the political, economic and ideo-intellectual bankruptcy of much of Europe.

“Zionism” cannot mean all things to everybody and anybody. If the ability to communicate and to understand one another is not to collapse entirely, a “valley” cannot be dubbed a “hill.” Linguistic permissiveness cannot transform diametric opposites into the indistinguishably identical.

Even though some may dismiss the petition by Bayit Yehudi candidate Ronen Shoval to the Central Elections Committee last week to disallow the “Zionist Union” from using the term “Zionist,” claiming that this would mislead voters, as little more than an attention- getting gimmick, it is not hard to understand the motivation behind it.

The demise of Israeli patriotism?
But perhaps most disconcerting is that several distinguished military figures have not only chosen to identify with the “Zionist Union” party, but have refrained studiously from confronting the anti-Zionists in it, from objecting to their inclusion, or from at least publicly distancing themselves from the views expressed by them.

Thus, when men like Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of Military Intelligence, and Col. (res.) Omer Bar-Lev, former commander of an illustrious special forces unit, affiliate themselves with a party list of which almost a quarter is composed of individuals expounding views that negate the vision of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, they should be made aware of the consequences of their decision.

By making the political choices they have, they are implicitly legitimizing, and effectively propagating, the very views that undermine the ideas they spent risking life and limb to defend.

The discordance between the values which they fought so valiantly to protect and those articulated by their fellow party members is so striking that one cannot but wonder whether we are on the cusp of the demise of Israeli patriotism.

Biggest election scam ever
As bizarre as the attempt by the Herzog/ Livni duo to don the Zionist mantle might be, the endeavor to present themselves as the unblemished representatives of clean politics is no less ludicrous.

Last week, The Jerusalem Post’s Sarah Honig wrote a masterful exposé of Herzog’s shady past, particularly during Ehud Barak’s 1999 election campaign, in which he played a pivotal role. Then-state comptroller Eliezer Goldberg described the shenanigans orchestrated by Herzog as the “greatest election scam ever.”

As Honig notes: “In his January 2000 report Goldberg revealed mega-infractions for which the heaviest fine recorded for electioneering offenses was levied on Labor (NIS 13.8m.). The report exposed a shocking, unprecedented network of nonprofit organizations – some falsely masquerading as charities – deliberately set up to funnel funds unlawfully into Barak’s campaign coffers.”

Honig gave a biting account of the reticence of the legal establishment to seek punishment for the egregious misconduct. Rather than accept responsibility for his misdeeds, Herzog refused to cooperate with the authorities in their investigation, invoking his right to silence – almost inexplicably escaping any penalty for the “mega-infractions” he played a part in.

When, four years later, Likud MK Naomi Blumenthal invoked the right to silence, over a far less serious offense of paying for overnight hotel costs for several party activists, she was castigated by the judge, fined and sentenced to an eight month prison term – later commuted to community service.

Treacherous Tzipi
And then there is Tzipi Livni.

In any country where public life was conducted with the minimum of decorum and where the barest norms of decency and logic had any sway, Livni would have found herself long-since banished to the outer realms of oblivion, with all the ridicule and disgrace she so richly deserves.

She has proved, beyond any shadow of doubt, that no debacle nor disaster, no matter what scale or scope, no matter whether on the international or domestic level, is too calamitous for her to cause.

On her watch as foreign minister, despite the fawning, self-effacing attitudes she adopted toward the international community, Israel’s diplomatic standing was reduced to one of its lowest levels in recent decades. Together with Ehud Olmert’s government, she managed to fritter away unprecedented international support – including from some “moderate” Arab states – that Israel had at the start of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

At the conclusion of that war, she was responsible for the appalling UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which – entirely predictably – allowed Hezbollah to reestablish its status, replenish its arsenal and quadruple the threat it poses to Israel.

Incredibly, for a considerable period after the war, Livni would proudly enumerate this disastrous agreement as one of her “achievements.”

Likewise, it was on her watch that the infamous Goldstone Report was foisted on Israel, following its response to Hamas’s Judeocidal barrage on the South during Operation Cast Lead.

Yet incredibly, after a virtually unbroken record of failure and betrayal, after losing all public support, Herzog has now coopted Livni as a candidate for the highest office in the land…

You really can’t make this stuff up!!

...As some will recall, she was elected to the Knesset on behalf of the Likud in 1999 and was an avid supporter of Arik Sharon’s vehement opposition to unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, as proposed by his defeated Labor opponent Amram Mitzna, and urged voters to oppose such a withdrawal because of the unacceptable risks it entailed.

Yet, when Sharon reneged on his electoral promises, she too embraced what she pledged to oppose. Livni, who until then was among the most hawkish members of the Likud, threw integrity to the wind, forsaking principle to preserve position, privilege and power – and evicted thousands of loyal, industrious Israeli citizens, transforming them into traumatized, homeless refugees.

Of course, one might have found some utilitarian justification in Livni’s stunning ideological U-turn, if the policy she embraced turned out to be a spectacular success. As became painfully apparent, however, unilateral withdrawal proved, almost immediately, a crushing failure, exposing her as devoid of moral principle and political wisdom.

Moreover, Livni abandoned not only ideological positions but political affiliations as well.

In 2005, she skipped from the Likud to Sharon’s Kadima, which later, under her “skillful” leadership, shrunk from being the largest party in the Knesset to the smallest.

Having abandoned the sinking ship of Kadima, she established a new party (or rather quasi-party), Hatnua, which after two years, fared so well that it was in grave danger of being unable to pass the minimum threshold for the coming Knesset election. So Livni once again jumped ship, abandoning most of her Hatnua travelers to grasp the political lifeline Labor leader Herzog threw her...

Herzog vs Herzog
...So in conclusion, let me provide a portrayal of the stark contrast between the views espoused by Isaac Herzog today and by his father, Chaim Herzog, who served as UN ambassador prior to his election as state president. The contrast could hardly be more striking.

As seen from the introductory excerpt, on the eve of Passover last year, when Jews celebrate their freedom, Herzog Jr. declared:
“The term ‘Jewish State’ is totally misguided,” adding “because it creates a feeling that one [i.e. the Jewish] nation has excessive rights.”
Herzog Sr., in addressing the UN General Assembly in 1975 to rebut the resolution equating Zionism with racism (an allegation that numerous “Zionist Union” members seem to endorse today), declared defiantly:
“The reestablishment of Jewish independence in Israel, after centuries of struggle to overcome foreign conquest and exile, is a vindication of the fundamental concepts of the equality of nations and of self-determination.
To question the Jewish people’s right to national existence and freedom is… to deny to the Jewish people the right accorded to every other people on this globe.”
How far the apple has fallen from the tree.

The Five-Point Israeli-Arab Peace Plan

From FrontPage Magazine, January 29, 2015 by :


The Oslo theory and policy was tested and failed.
  • Inasmuch as the Israeli-Palestinian War has not been resolved, and the Oslo Accords could not overcome the multiple obstacles on the path to peace; Considering the adamant Palestinian refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state of Israel, while demanding massive refugee return, terrorizing Israelis and murdering them, and spewing out hate education;
  • Conscious of the repressive discourse of peace with its agenda for Israeli capitulation and destruction that camouflages a wicked scheme paraded as a vision of peace;
  • Noting that the United Nations, the European Union, and other international forums serve as diplomatic arenas for pro-Palestinian political insurgency;
  • While observing the Middle East aflame with Islamic barbarism, turmoil and warfare;
It is therefore a worthy enterprise to propose a paradigm shift that will challenge people to reject the old toxic political mantras and examine peace-making in a realistic fashion:

[1] Peace among peoples and states in the Middle East is constrained by the historical, cultural and religious features of the region.
A utopian Western version of peace habitually ignores the persistence and longevity of tribal/clan/ethnic/religious identities and loyalties in this part of the world, where group conflicts are never resolved. The profound chasm in historical memories and political claims between Jews and Arabs, or Israelis and Palestinians, creates intractable conflict which can, at the most, be managed or contained. Talk of a final and permanent peace between Israelis and Palestinians is one of the more foolish and dangerous political ideas in human history.

[2] The State of Israel is a national entity resonating with the return of the Jewish people to its homeland and the renaissance of its cultural and political life.
Palestinian rejection of Israel is essentially a declaration of war that leaves the two sides locked in confrontation. All international attempts to de-legitimize the State of Israel, consistent with Hamas and the PLO drawing maps of Palestine without Israel, is hardly less than a genocidal campaign to eliminate the Jewish state and its inhabitants. Strengthening and highlighting the Jewish character of Israel will enrage Arabs, yet clarify that it is with this special State alone that peace can be reached – or war launched.

[3] The political and territorial scope of Israeli sovereignty requires exclusive Israeli rule from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River to assure the viability of the state and its durability over time.
Israel’s geo-strategic interests in the land of Israel preclude any Israeli withdrawal from any part of the land, which would de-stabilize the already precarious relations with the Palestinians and foment warfare in the future. Thus the present territorial-political status quo in the eighty kilometers from Tel Aviv to Jericho must be preserved in the interests of peace. A visibly vulnerable Israel, like an internationally abandoned one, will always be tempting prey for Arab aggression and resultant colossal suffering and destruction.

[4] Israeli rule in the area west of the Jordan River will not transform the state into a bi-national Jewish-Arab entity.
In essence, Israel’s Jewish national demographic profile, though robust and growing, can allow Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to enjoy autonomy, but neither sovereignty nor Israeli citizenship; at the same time, the doors to emigration and migration eastward are open. Negating Palestinian sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is not validated by the contention that there already are nineteen Arab states, but rather because a rogue/irredentist/Islamist Palestinian state would be at war with the Jewish state, exposed to a narrow porous coastline on the Mediterranean Sea.

[5] The Kingdom of Jordan, in fulfilling a partisan family and tribal ambition for close to a century, must be a central component of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
It is in Jordan that the Palestinians, already a majority of the population, can acquire national self-determination, along with other Palestinians from Judea/Samaria/Gaza and Lebanon who can be resettled there. Jordan as the Palestinian state provides a reasonable political element in the peace plan which accords with a Jewish state west of the River and a Palestinian state east of the River. In 1948 Jordan defined itself as the Arab successor state to Palestine, and now Palestine east of the Jordan River will be the replacement state to Hashemite Jordan.

Last Word: 
Deeply entrenched conventional pieties[, such as] 

  • "territories for peace", 
  • "the two-state solution", 
  • "legitimate Palestinian rights", [and]
  • "ending the occupation and dismantling the settlements" 
fill the hollow and hallowed political discourse. 

The campaign to bludgeon Israel into surrender and emasculation underpins all this diabolical cant.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

“Iran Has Been Killing Americans For More Than Three Decades”

From The Tower, 30 Jan 2015, by Staff:

UK Senator Tom Cotton (R – Ark.) presented an overview of Iran’s record in targeting the United States and its citizens in an op-ed published today in The Wall Street Journal (Google link). After writing that “Iran has been killing Americans for more than three decades,” Cotton offered some examples.
In 1983 Iran helped finance and direct the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, killing hundreds of American military, diplomatic and intelligence personnel. Iran has also been implicated in the 1996 Khobar Tower bombings, which killed 19 American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia.
More recently and personally for me, Iran has been responsible for the killing and maiming of thousands of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. During my tour in Baghdad leading an infantry platoon, Iran supplied the most advanced, most lethal roadside bombs used against coalition forces. My soldiers and I knew that Iranian-supplied bombs were the one thing our armored vehicles couldn’t withstand. All we could do was hope it wasn’t our day to hit one. My platoon was lucky; too many others were not.
Cotton also referenced Iran’s support for terror, noting that the State Department described it as the “the worst state sponsor of terrorism.”

Cotton made similar remarks yesterday (embedded below) at the Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Nuclear Free Iran Act of 2015.

[Photo: Senator Tom Cotton / YouTube ]

Deceptive Iran Must be Forced to Comply

From Business Insider, 29 Jan 2015, by Emanuele Ottolenghi*:

In his State of the Union last week, President Barack Obama warned Congress that the threat of new sanctions on Iran would “all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again.” 

To many in Washington, the belief that American intransigence would scuttle a nuclear deal with Iran is appealing — it means, after all, that greater US flexibility could yield a grand compromise with Tehran and forestall a slide to war. But it's a fundamentally flawed analysis.

javad zarif
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, Tehran's chief representative in ongoing nuclear talks, addresses the media

The Iranian nuclear file remains unresolved not due to American obduracy, but because of Iran’s consistent refusal to transparently and fully account for its illicit nuclear program.

Iran’s deception and denial go back three decades, to 1984, when at the height of the Iran-Iraq war the late Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the nuclear program jump-started.

Iran’s scientists had deserted the country in 1979 at the onset of the Islamic Revolution. The country’s new leaders did not see the need for a costly nuclear program. But with Iraqi missiles falling on Iranian cities and thousands of Iranian casualties from Iraqi chemical attacks, Khomeini summoned the scientists back.

The current international standoff may be traced to 2002, when Iranian dissidents exposed extensive clandestine nuclear activities at the Natanz uranium-enrichment facility and the Arak heavy water reactor, which could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Iran’s nuclear infrastructure was much larger than the regime had ever admitted.

Tehran’s subsequent maneuvers eventually led the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in September 2005, to declare it in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The following year, the IAEA referred the Iran file to the United Nations Security Council, whose six subsequent resolutions have underscored the country’s unwavering defiance of the international community.

Much of the sanctions regime — starting with UN Security Council Resolution 1737 in March 2007 but since strengthened by additional UN resolutions along with US and European measures – aims to interdict continuing Iranian efforts to buy nuclear and missile technology.

Additional international concerns emanate from what the IAEA describes as the Iranian nuclear program’s “possible military dimensions.” These include, but are not limited to, a third clandestine enrichment facility, Fordow, which Iran built deep underground. Fordow's existence was revealed only after Western intelligence services detected it in 2009.

Iran Nuclear Plant

A security official stands in front of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, 
1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran, August 21, 2010.
Raheb Homavandi/REUTERS

Today, Iranian deception continues even as the country's diplomats proclaim that Islam and Iran’s Supreme Leader both prohibit nuclear weapons. 
... Iran’s actions belie these proclamations.

As my colleague Benjamin Weinthal recently reported, German Customs’ criminal investigation unit noted in November 2014 that more than two thirds of all its investigations in 2012 and 2013 involved Iranian procurement efforts for sanctioned goods.

In late 2013, a German court sentenced three Iranian nationals and one German to prison for procuring valves for the Arak reactor. 

In another case still pending in an Italian court, a US-owned company is being charged with trying to deliver industrial-sized water chillers to the Islamic Republic to be used in deep underground facilities for the development and production of weapons of mass destruction.

The US Department of the Treasury, for its part, has used existing sanctions four times in 2014 to target Iranian sanctions evasion networks. These networks have provided Tehran with illicit nuclear procurement, money laundering, and transshipment channels. Treasury has used its powers sparingly, however, and there is little evidence that Iran’s efforts to circumvent sanctions are abating. Instead, Iranian entities targeted by Western and UN sanctions continue to operate under new names.

No agreement can guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program will be peaceful unless it includes stringent limits on the country’s nuclear activities as well as intrusive verification mechanisms for many years to come. It will not be enough (in the words of Ronald Reagan) to ‘trust, but verify’ the mullah’s nuclear promises.

Only permanent limitations on the scope and size of Iran’s nuclear program – and a lengthy period of verifiable compliance – can restore the international confidence that Iran has so assiduously betrayed.

*Emanuele Ottolenghi is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and its Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance.

Mourning dead Jews is easy. And cheap.

From The Washington Post, 28 Jan 2015, by Charles Krauthammer:

Amid the ritual expressions of regret and the pledges of “never again” on Tuesday’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a bitter irony was noted: Anti-Semitism has returned to Europe. With a vengeance.

It has become routine. If the kosher-grocery massacre in Paris hadn’t happened in conjunction with Charlie Hebdo, how much worldwide notice would it have received? As little as did the murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. As little as did the terror attack that killed four at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

The rise of European anti-Semitism is, in reality, just a return to the norm. For a millennium, virulent Jew-hatred — persecution, expulsions, massacres — was the norm in Europe until the shame of the Holocaust created a temporary anomaly wherein anti-Semitism became socially unacceptable.

The hiatus is over. Jew-hatred is back, recapitulating the past with impressive zeal. Italians protesting Gaza handed out leaflets calling for a boycott of Jewish merchants. As in the 1930s. A widely popular French comedian has introduced a variant of the Nazi salute. In Berlin, Gaza brought out a mob chanting, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone!” Berlin, mind you.

European anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, however. It’s a European problem, a stain, a disease of which Europe is congenitally unable to rid itself.

From the Jewish point of view, European anti-Semitism is a sideshow. The story of European Jewry is over. It died at Auschwitz. Europe’s place as the center and fulcrum of the Jewish world has been inherited by Israel. Not only is it the first independent Jewish commonwealth in 2,000 years. It is, also for the first time in 2,000 years, the largest Jewish community on the planet.

The threat to the Jewish future lies not in Europe but in the Muslim Middle East, today the heart of global anti-Semitism, a veritable factory of anti-Jewish literature, films, blood libels and calls for violence, indeed for another genocide.

The founding charter of Hamas calls not just for the eradication of Israel but for the killing of Jews everywhere. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah welcomes Jewish emigration to Israel — because it makes the killing easier: “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.’’ And, of course, Iran openly declares as its sacred mission the annihilation of Israel.

For America, Europe and the moderate Arabs, there are powerful reasons having nothing to do with Israel for trying to prevent an apocalyptic, fanatically anti-Western clerical regime in Tehran from getting the bomb: Iranian hegemony, nuclear proliferation (including to terror groups) and elemental national security.

For Israel, however, the threat is of a different order. Direct, immediate and mortal.

The sophisticates cozily assure us not to worry. Deterrence will work. Didn’t it work against the Soviets? Well, just 17 years into the atomic age, we came harrowingly close to deterrence failure and all-out nuclear war. Moreover, godless communists anticipate no reward in heaven. Atheists calculate differently from jihadists with their cult of death. Name one Soviet suicide bomber.

Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, known as a moderate, once characterized tiny Israel as a one-bomb country. He acknowledged Israel’s deterrent capacity but noted the asymmetry: “Application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.” Result? Israel eradicated, Islam vindicated. So much for deterrence.

And even if deterrence worked with Tehran, that’s not where the story ends. Iran’s very acquisition of nukes would set off a nuclear arms race with half a dozen Muslim countries from Turkey to Egypt to the Gulf states — in the most unstable part of the world. A place where you wake up in the morning to find a pro-American Yemeni government overthrown by rebels whose slogan is “God is Great. Death to America. Death to Israel. Damn the Jews. Power to Islam.”

The idea that some kind of six-sided deterrence would work in this roiling cauldron of instability the way it did in the frozen bipolarity of the Cold War is simply ridiculous.

The Iranian bomb is a national security issue, an alliance issue and a regional Middle East issue. But it is also a uniquely Jewish issue because of Israel’s situation as the only state on earth overtly threatened with extinction, facing a potential nuclear power overtly threatening that extinction.

On the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz, mourning dead Jews is easy. And, forgive me, cheap. Want to truly honor the dead? Show solidarity with the living — Israel and its 6 million Jews. Make “never again” more than an empty phrase. It took Nazi Germany seven years to kill 6 million Jews. It would take a nuclear Iran one day.