Iran’s Violent Influence Threatens Israel and its Arab Neighbors: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, Jan. 29, 2019— Wherever violence and aggression flare up around Israel’s borders, Iran or one of its proxies can be found. Iran’s persistent subversion and promotion of terrorism is not only a threat to Israel, but also to its Arab Sunni neighbors, who stand in the way of Tehran’s radical designs for the Middle East.
Iran Continues with its Nuclear Activities Unabated: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, January 23, 2019— Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has stated that Iran will transfer 30 tons of “yellow cake” (a raw material used to produce nuclear fuel) from the production site in Ardakan to Isfahan. Salehi did not mention the name of the installation, but it seems that he was referring to the UCF (uranium conversion facility) in Isfahan.
Terrorism is Making Europe Think Again About Appeasing Iran. Benny Avni, New York Post, Jan. 22, 2019 — Et tu, Angela? Tehran must be quite confused this week, as Germany, until now the most enthusiastic Iran enabler among the Western powers, hopped on the sanctions wagon. So, is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government adopting President Trump’s sensibilities?
Time’s Up for the EU’s Appeasement Policy on Iran. Struan Stevenson, UPI, Jan. 23, 2019— It is time for the EU to pull out of the nuclear deal with Islamic Republic of Iran.
On Topic Links
Russian Deputy FM Reiterates Commitment to Israel’s Security: Ariel Kahana & Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom, Jan. 30, 2019
Nearly all of Iran’s Advanced Nuke Centrifuges Failing, Top Expert Reveals: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2019
Cyber Firm Says Iranian-Linked Espionage Group Targeting Telecom, High-Tech Industries: Olivia Beavers, The Hill, Jan. 29, 2019
IRAN’S VIOLENT INFLUENCE THREATENS
ISRAEL AND ITS ARAB NEIGHBORS
IPT News, Jan. 29, 2019
Wherever violence and aggression flare up around Israel’s borders, Iran or one of its proxies can be found. Iran’s persistent subversion and promotion of terrorism is not only a threat to Israel, but also to its Arab Sunni neighbors, who stand in the way of Tehran’s radical designs for the Middle East.
This pattern was on display in recent days. On Jan. 21, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a number of targets in Syria belonging to the Quds Force, the elite Iranian expeditionary force, led by General Qassem Soleimani. The Quds Force has been trying to build an Iranian-run terrorist army in Syria, and missile bases, to threaten Israel. But Israel has been able to thwart many of these efforts. In an attempt to change the “rules of the game,” and deter Israel from continuing to defend itself, a Quds Force cell fired a missile at Israel’s Golan Heights region, threatening civilian lives, before Israeli air defenses shot down the threat.
Iran emerged from this round of fighting fairly poorly, losing valuable assets, including weapons storage facilities that it built at Damascus’s International Airport. Yet just a few days later, Iran’s chief proxy in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), began gun attacks on the Israel-Gaza border, threatening to plunge the Strip into a new conflict. A new Gaza war would endanger the security of Gazan and Israeli civilians alike. “In recent weeks, we have monitored increasing attempts by the Islamic Jihad movement to destabilize the security situation in the Gaza Strip,” an Israel Defense Forces statement said. When a PIJ sniper fired a shot at an IDF officer, striking his helmet, Israel responded with tank fire on Hamas outposts, killing a Hamas operative. Israel’s message to Hamas was simple: Get PIJ under control.
But it isn’t just Israel that delivered a warning to Hamas, itself a radical Islamist regime that has partnered up with Iran. According to a recent report that appeared in the Israel Hayom Hebrew daily newspaper, Egypt delivered the very same message to Gaza’s rulers. “Cairo has made it clear that [Hamas political chief Ismail] Haniyeh must decide whether Hamas takes its orders from Tehran or continues to implement the understandings for calm formulated by the head of Egyptian intelligence Abbas Kamel,” the report, quoting an Egyptian intelligence official, said.
Egypt’s message represents a larger struggle for influence in Gaza. It is a struggle being waged between radical Shi’ite Iran and its terror proxies, and moderate Sunni Egypt. Iran is seeking to set Gaza alight with conflict, while Egypt is seeking to douse the flames, and counter-balance Iran’s destabilization efforts. In this struggle, Israel and Egypt’s interests align – both are threatened by Iran’s activities. Hamas, for its part, cannot casually ignore Egypt’s demands, since the Arab regional power is right on its doorstep, and controls the Strip’s sole crossing to the outside world.
After sealing it shut during the latest border violence, Egypt will reportedly open the Rafah Crossing with Gaza, giving Gazans who wish to travel out of their repressive Hamas-run enclave an outlet, and allowing the movement of goods. Such a move is good for Gaza’s economy, and takes the pressure off Hamas. When open, Rafah is a carrot that Egypt can offer Hamas as a reward for following Cairo’s directives. When it is shut, it turns into a stick, or a chokehold, reminding Hamas that Iran is geographically distant and that Cairo’s influence is far more immediate. Still, all of these efforts represent short-term push back against Iran. The Islamic Republic continues to wield a significant influence on Gaza through its financial support of Hamas and PIJ, and the knowledge sharing it conducts with them on weapons manufacturing and combat doctrines. These have helped turn Hamas into a mass rocket and urban warfare base. In Syria, Iran has not given up its takeover ambitions.
The situation was well described by a senior Israeli military source last year, during a briefing to journalists.
“The risks are all around us. Whether it is instability in Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon – also a forward Iranian division – or Hamas, which gets its support from Iran. Iran is all over, offensively trying to operate against Israel, and we have to weigh and assess the risks constantly as we operate against this aggression.” The officer described a large-scale shadow war, saying, “We are operating around the Middle East against the Iranian buildup up force. The aim of our line of operations and our decisiveness is to deter and dissuade and counter Iranian activities in the region. What we see is very dangerous to regional stability.”
IRAN CONTINUES WITH ITS NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES UNABATED
Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
JCPA, January 23, 2019
Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has stated that Iran will transfer 30 tons of “yellow cake” (a raw material used to produce nuclear fuel) from the production site in Ardakan to Isfahan. Salehi did not mention the name of the installation, but it seems that he was referring to the UCF (uranium conversion facility) in Isfahan.
Salehi suggested that Iran would continue to “discover and mine” uranium, construct two additional nuclear power reactors in the Bushehr province as planned, and continue with its activities at the heavy water reactor in Arak. Iran has purchased new equipment for the facility and did not even fill in the core of the reactor with cement in January 2016 in accordance with the nuclear deal (also known as the JCPOA) because “if we had done that, there would not be a reactor.” In accordance with the JCPOA, Iran was required to fill the calandria, or reactor core, at the Arak facility with cement to render it unusable. On January 16, 2016, the IAEA Board of Governors released a report by the Director General, which confirmed that Iran had removed and “rendered inoperable” the Arak facility’s calandria. Salehi clarified that Iran under JCPOA removed the calandria from the Arak reactor and poured cement into metal tubes contained within fuel bundles.
In January 2016, several other reports of the removal of the core of the reactor and filling it in with cement were also published. Some of these have since been denied, and the issue continues to arouse dispute within Iran among the supporters and the opponents of the nuclear agreement.
During an interview (on January 22, 2019) on the Face to Face program5 (Channel 4, TV-IRIB) that was part of commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the Revolution, Salehi criticized claims by the conservative camp that Iran had completely sealed the core of the reactor. He claimed that images published at the time were photo-shopped, and Iran was never required (in the agreement) to seal the core of the reactor with cement. Instead, this applied to other parts of it. He added that construction on the heavy water reactor in Arak was not completed during the time of the debates on the nuclear deal. Salehi emphasized throughout the interview, which discussed the achievements of the Iranian nuclear deal, its progress also during the implementation of the nuclear agreement.
In the same context, Behrooz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, stated that Iran is redesigning the heavy water reactor in Arak with Chinese aid, but it can also do so without any assistance. The partnership with China is supposed to speed up the completion of the program. He defined Iran’s nuclear plan as “logical” and said that even with the cancelation of the nuclear agreement, there would not be any change.
Salehi said that, “as one who is responsible for all technical aspects (of the nuclear program),” he was “thankful to Allah for the way in which the discussions relating to the technical aspects of the nuclear talks were conducted, as they left so many breaches in the agreement that Iran was able to exploit, doing things that the other side could not claim were a violation of the nuclear agreement. [Emphasis added.] We can manufacture UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and continue with the technical work.”
“Iran has lost nothing as a result of signing the agreement,” Salehi continued, “and history will prove this. We have preserved our capabilities in the field of enrichment. We are providing products for other industries and are continuing to manufacture new centrifuges. We are doing everything we need to do, but this time in the right way.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
TERRORISM IS MAKING EUROPE THINK AGAIN ABOUT APPEASING IRAN
New York Post, Jan. 22, 2019
Et tu, Angela? Tehran must be quite confused this week, as Germany, until now the most enthusiastic Iran enabler among the Western powers, hopped on the sanctions wagon. So, is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government adopting President Trump’s sensibilities? Sort of.
On Monday, Berlin announced a complete ban against Mahan Air, a “civilian” airline that doubles as an adjunct to the Iranian regime’s nefarious activities across the Middle East. The decision came, reportedly, after months of US efforts to persuade the Germans that Mahan is no ordinary carrier. As the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, told me in an email, “Mahan Air has flown terrorists, weapons, equipment and funds to international locations to support Iranian terrorist proxy groups,” including Syria’s murderous Assad regime. He thanked Germany for imposing the ban.
Denying American pressure, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told Reuters: “It cannot be ruled out that this airline could also transport cargo to Germany that threatens our security. This is based on knowledge of past terrorist activities by Iran in Europe.” Germany’s move may signal a wider souring of Europe’s love affair with Iran, which culminated in the 2015 nuclear deal. The European Union also recently imposed sanctions on Iran, which, however symbolic, were a first since the deal.
Why? Terrorism. Copenhagen recently stopped a planned attack on Iranian dissidents in Denmark, and last summer European authorities unraveled a major bombing plot in Paris that targeted Iranian regime opponents. So the march to normalize Europe’s relations with Tehran is slowing down. In addition to detecting a new uptick in Iranian terror plots on the continent, Europe is frustrated as Iran experiments with ballistic missiles of ever-longer range. Last week saw the launch of a satellite on an ICBM-like platform that could reach over the Atlantic.
Europe has long advocated engagement with Tehran in the hope of strengthening regime “moderates.” Now Iran seems increasingly intent on not letting the Europeans help it. As Reuters put it in a recent headline, “Europe’s patience with Iran wears thin, tiptoes toward Trump.” The German about-face is especially remarkable. Berlin has been among the most adamant European advocates of ending Iran sanctions. Closely working with EU foreign policy czar Federica Mogherini, Merkel has even sought to create a banking mechanism for the sole purpose of helping the mullahs thwart the US-imposed sanctions.
Germany would help run the proposed European “special-purpose vehicle” to preserve the mullahs’ access to financial markets. While Iranian officials recently boasted that the SPV is already up and running, EU officials keep saying it will be ready, well, very soon. Problem is, even top Iran apologists and European industrialists eager to make deals with the mullahs can’t turn a blind eye to Tehran’s misbehavior. And while Ambassador Grenell is hotly criticized in Germany for pressuring Merkel, facts are on his side.
Grenell, incidentally, has pushed Germany on other issues beyond Iran. He has been a withering critic of Nord Stream 2, a proposed pipeline that would bring Russian natural gas directly into Germany, isolating the Kremlin-endangered states of Central and Eastern Europe. “More Russian gas in Europe only increases Putin’s leverage at a time when the international community is concerned about the growing Russian offense,” Grenell tells me.
Germany, however, has long vied to become an impartial mediator between America and its European partners, on the one hand, and Russia and China, on the other. As a result, it has often been hard to tell which side Berlin is on. Perhaps we will learn more next month, when high-level diplomats meet in Warsaw to discuss Iran and other Mideast questions. Russia announced it won’t show up. Iran wasn’t invited.
And Germany? Merkel has yet to announce whom she plans to send. Will it be Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s counterpart? If, alternatively, Merkel sends a low-level official, she would signal that this week’s sanctions against Mahan Air were a one-off. Merkel is unpopular at home and plans to step down in 2021, ending 16 years at the helm. America can’t wait until her successor changes course. Efforts to nudge Germany — and the rest of Europe — to America’s side on Iran and other issues are beginning to bear fruit. Trump should intensify them.
TIME’S UP FOR THE EU’S APPEASEMENT POLICY ON IRAN
UPI, Jan. 23, 2019
It is time for the EU to pull out of the nuclear deal with Islamic Republic of Iran. The appeasement policy of the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, has been an abject failure, simply emboldening the mullahs to order assassination attempts against opposition figures in Europe and brazenly to fire ballistic missiles into Syria. Mogherini was one of the main proponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that was signed in Vienna on July 14, 2015 and involved five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: China, Russia, France, the U.K. and the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump called the JCPOA the worst deal in history, pointing out that it led to the release of over $150 billion in frozen assets, enabling the theocratic state to redouble its funding of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq.
Last October, the U.S. State Department published a 48-page report titled “Outlaw Regime: A Chronicle of Iran’s Destructive Activities.” In a foreword, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained why Trump had decided to withdraw from Obama’s nuclear deal, calling it “a failed strategic bet that fell short of protecting the American people or our allies from the potential of an Iranian nuclear weapon.” He pointed out that Barack Obama’s deal had “plainly failed to contribute to regional and international peace and security.” In fact, he said, “Iran’s destabilizing behavior has grown bolder under the deal.” Pompeo said, “We are asking every nation who is sick and tired of the Islamic Republic’s destructive behavior to join our pressure campaign. This especially goes for our allies in the Middle East and Europe, people who have themselves been terrorized by the violent regime’s activity for decades.”
Pompeo’s remarks followed a rash of terror events sponsored by the mullahs in Europe. On July 1, German police arrested Assadollah Assadi, a diplomat from the Iranian Embassy in Vienna, and charged him with terrorist offenses. The day before, Belgian police had arrested an Iranian-Belgian couple from Antwerp after 500 gm of high explosives and a detonator were found in their car. They admitted Assadi had given them the bomb and instructed them to detonate it at the Iranian democratic opposition rally being held in Villepinte, France, near Paris, that day. President Emmanuel Macron of France declared his outrage at this attempted terrorist atrocity on French soil and imposed immediate sanctions on Iran.
Undeterred by this embarrassing setback, in October, Iran sent another diplomat to assassinate an opposition figure in Denmark. He was also arrested and is now facing trial. Similar terror plots were uncovered in Albania, where Iran’s newly appointed ambassador and first secretary were found to be leading Ministry of Intelligence & Security agents, plotting attacks on the 2,500 Iranian dissidents from the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK) who have set up a compound near Tirana. Albania’s courageous Prime Minister Edi Rama did not hesitate. He announced the expulsion of both so-called Iranian “diplomats” last December, on the grounds that they posed a threat to Albania’s national security.
Despite clear evidence that Iranian embassies in Europe were being used as terrorist bomb factories, EU lawmakers on July 5 — less than a week after the Iranian diplomat from Vienna was arrested — approved plans for the European Investment Bank to do business with the ruling theocracy in Iran, in a desperate bid to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive. Europe’s leading appeaser, Mogherini, has been a frequent visitor to Tehran, where she pays homage to the ayatollahs, donning a headscarf to offer submission to the clerical regime’s misogyny, even posing for selfies with the mullahs. Now she has decided to snub an anti-Iran conference organized by Pompeo in Warsaw, Poland, in mid-February.
But Mogherini’s efforts at conciliation appear to have fallen on deaf ears in Europe. It has been reported that a delegation of leading EU diplomats from France, the U.K., Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands had a volatile meeting earlier this month in Tehran. They told senior Iranian officials that the EU could no longer tolerate ballistic missile tests in Iran and assassination attempts on European soil. Apparently, in an unprecedented breach of protocol, the Iranian officials stormed out of the room, slamming the door.
Clearly, the mullahs are deeply perplexed. A state of total confusion has persisted ever since Trump tore up the nuclear deal and reimposed tough sanctions. For many EU countries, assassination attempts on their own soil were the last straw. Sanctions approved now by France, Denmark and the Netherlands and threats of further action by a widening range of EU member states, have isolated Mogherini and her disastrous policy of appeasement. The time is right for the EU to follow America’s example and pull the plug on the nuclear deal.
On Topic Links
Russian Deputy FM Reiterates Commitment to Israel’s Security: Ariel Kahana & Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom, Jan. 30, 2019—
Although the Kremlin has contradicted itself about its relations with Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a delegation of senior Russian officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday to discuss the situation in neighboring Syria.
Nearly all of Iran’s Advanced Nuke Centrifuges Failing, Top Expert Reveals: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2019—Nearly all of Iran’s advanced centrifuges used for enriching uranium potentially towards a nuclear bomb are failing, one of the world’s leading nuclear weapons experts revealed to The Jerusalem Post this week.
Cyber Firm Says Iranian-Linked Espionage Group Targeting Telecom, High-Tech Industries: Olivia Beavers, The Hill, Jan. 29, 2019 —A cyber espionage group linked to Iran has targeted telecommunications and high-tech industries in order to steal personal information, according to a new report.
Sunni and Arab Opposition Attack the Iranian Regime’s Security Forces and Critical Infrastructure: JCPA, Jan. 31, 2019—Toward the end of January 2019, two terror attacks were carried out in Iran by Sunni (the Army of Justice – Jaish ul-Adl) and Arab (the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, or ASMLA) opposition movements. Both of these opposition movements, as well as other opposition organizations, have increased their attacks on the security forces of the Iranian regime in recent months, as well as on the regime’s energy and economic infrastructures.