Tag: uranium enrichment

IRAN ELECTS “MODERATE”, INCREASES NUCLEAR PACE AS U.S. SEEKS MORE TALKS; CRISIS LOOMING!

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Another Iran Crisis Is Looming: Yaakov Lappin, Gatestone Institute, June 12, 2013— At a time when news headlines from the Middle East are dominated by battles in Syria, growing Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in Iraq and Lebanon, and mass disturbances in Turkey, it is easy to forget about Iran's nuclear program; but early warning indicators are signaling an impending, explosive crisis over Iran's refusal to halt its covert nuclear weapons program.

 

Hassan Rowhani: A Honey Trap for Iran and the World?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, June 17, 2013—Sayyed Hassan Rowhani, who adopted the color purple during the election campaign, won an overwhelming victory in the first round of the Iranian presidential election with a majority of over 50 percent, leaving Saeed Jalili (who came in second), his bitter rival during the campaign and the favorite of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and certain other conservatives, far behind.

 

Iran's Terror Threat in Latin America: Sebastian Rotella, Real Clear World,  July 13, 2013—A senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) traveled secretly with the presidential delegation and met with Venezuelan military and security chiefs. His mission: to set up a joint intelligence program between Iranian and Venezuelan spy agencies, according

Iran uses Iraq as Economic Gateway to Evade Sanctions: Omar al-Shaher, Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse, June 28, 2013— The Iranian Fars News Agency quoted TPOI deputy Kiumars Fathallah Kermanshahi as saying that “Iraq receives 72% of the total volume of Iran's foreign trade, and is ranked first as the biggest importer of Iranian goods.”

 

On Topic Links

 

U.S. to Seek Direct Nuclear Talks with Iran: Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2013
Netanyahu Calls for Stronger Iran Sanctions, ‘Credible’ Military Option: Gavriel Fiske, Times of Israel, July 14, 2013

Rowhani and the Iranian Elections: Dore Gold, JCPA, June 16, 2013
Israeli or U.S. Action Against Iran: Who Will Do It if It Must Be Done?: James Cartwright & Amos Yadlin, The Atlantic, May 28 2013
Dubai Frozen Yoghurt Firm Feels Iran Sanction Chill: Asa Fitch and Rory Jones, Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2013

 

ANOTHER IRAN CRISIS IS LOOMING

Yaakov Lappin

Gatestone Institute, June 12, 2013

 

At a time when news headlines from the Middle East are dominated by battles in Syria, growing Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in Iraq and Lebanon, and mass disturbances in Turkey, it is easy to forget about Iran's nuclear program; but early warning indicators are signaling an impending, explosive crisis over Iran's refusal to halt its covert nuclear weapons program.

 

At enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow, Iran is continuing to inch closer to the point of nuclear breakout, as a report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently noted. The report confirmed what defense analysts had been saying for months: that Iran installed hundreds of additional centrifuges for uranium enrichment, enhancing its nuclear program, while continuing enrichment activities.

 

Tehran has also taken steps to create a parallel path to nuclear weapons through its plutonium plant at Arak.

 

Iranian engineers are constructing a reactor at the heavy water plant at Arak, which could enable the production of a plutonium-based atomic bomb. Meanwhile, Iran continues to deny IAEA inspectors access to its suspected nuclear trigger facility at Parchin, and has been busy shifting earth around the site to cover its activities. At this point, the IAEA said, even if inspectors were allowed to visit, the cover-up would mean they may not find a thing.

 

These developments have led leading Israeli defense experts at the Institute for National Security Institute in Tel Aviv to conclude that unless the White House soon adjusts its policy on Iran, the U.S. may end up adopting a policy of nuclear containment rather than prevention.

 

The analysts, Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the INSS, and Ephraim Asculai, a senior research associate, questioned President Barack Obama's assertion that the US will know ahead of time if Iran took a decision to produce nuclear weapons. They cited historical failures by intelligence agencies, and cautioned that relying on the IAEA to identify the danger in time could prove disastrous.

 

Even if a timely warning were received, they said, it remains unclear that there would enough time to reverse Iran's trajectory, or that the White House would be willing to employ force. Most importantly, their paper said that it is now "blatantly apparent" that the diplomatic approach for solving the Iranian crisis has failed, "even though the US administration has yet to admit this."

 

Their stance was echoed on Monday by the United Nation's top nuclear diplomat, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Amano told the IAEA's board of governors that talks with Iran are simply "going around in circles," and described the past ten rounds of negotiations as failures. Using unusually blunt language to underscore the dead-end situation, Amano said: "To be frank, for some time now, we have been going around in circles. This is not the right way to address issues of such great importance to the international community, including Iran."

 

Iran's intransigence, and its unwillingness to cooperate or provide assurances about the absence of nuclear material and activities were all to blame, he said. "These activities are in clear contravention of resolutions adopted by the Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council," Amano added. Israel, which is more threatened by Iran's nuclear program than is the U.S., as well as militarily weaker than Washington, has less time to make its up mind on how and when to proceed to avert a threat to its existence.

 

Israel's Minister for Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, reflected the urgency of the situation in a warning he sent out to the public last week. "Time is running out," he said. "We have only a few months. The danger is a global one, which will change the face of history. Iran could have hundreds of atomic bombs and hundreds of long-range missiles." He added: "The danger is many times bigger than North Korea."

 

Against this background, the Israeli military's former intelligence chief, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, and former Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James Cartwright USMC (ret.), published an analysis in The Atlantic examining what would happen if either Israel or the US launched military strikes on Iran's nuclear program. Yadlin and Cartwright simulated a classified phone call between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, which would take place later this year. During the call, the two leaders agree that the diplomatic-sanctions route to stopping Iran has failed.

 

Their starting position is the current situation, and the timing of their piece is not coincidental. Their envisaged phone call may well occur sooner rather than later. A central conclusion reached by the defense figures is that Israel has the highest moral authority to launch military action, as it faces the greatest threat. Practically, an Israeli strike might also safeguard the U.S.'s ability to act as a broker and negotiate a permanent diplomatic solution to the crisis after a strike – a role the U.S. could not undertake if it carried out the strike itself. Nevertheless, the U.S. enjoys superior military capabilities to launch such an operation.

 

Iran's response to an attack from either side could range from a limited retaliation to launching a regional war.

The other day, an Israeli defense official said the production of Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile defense systems – which intercept incoming long-range missiles in space – have been fast-tracked. Eight months ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the international community at the United Nations that the clock was ticking for a resolution to the Iranian crisis, and that time could be up by the spring or summer of 2013. A growing number of alarms are ringing.

 

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HASSAN ROWHANI: A HONEY TRAP FOR IRAN AND THE WORLD?

Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

JCPA, June 17, 2013

 

Sayyed Hassan Rowhani, who adopted the color purple during the election campaign, won an overwhelming victory in the first round of the Iranian presidential election with a majority of over 50 percent, leaving Saeed Jalili (who came in second), his bitter rival during the campaign and the favorite of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and certain other conservatives, far behind.

 

The win for Rowhani, a dyed-in-the-wool member of the revolution, will likely give the Iranian regime medium-term breathing space both at home and abroad. At home, the victory has deflected the pressures of the “Iranian street” and forestalled a (weak) possibility of a “Persian Spring.” Abroad, it will afford Iran breathing space in the international arena to gain a little more time, and possibly to ease the sanctions a bit by presenting the “moderate” Rowhani to the West. The West will likely “adopt” Rowhani – the only cleric among the candidates – and award Iran yet another opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue without a confrontation.

Yet Iran is unlikely to alter its plan to achieve regional hegemony, and will go on exploiting Sunni weakness and American hesitations. In any case, Rowhani does not formulate Iran’s foreign and nuclear policy, which is dictated by Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard. Rowhani could even serve as a sort of buffer between Khamenei and the West, thereby winning more time to complete the nuclear program and move to a “breakout” at the right moment.

The Iranian people voted for the only “reformist” candidate, even though Rowhani is a conservative and part of the regime. Within the rules of the game of the Islamic regime, Rowhani will try to promote freedom of expression and to free some of the detainees (including Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who are under house arrest). He is likely, though, to encounter the opposition of the Revolutionary Guard if he tries to move too fast. In 1999 the Revolutionary Guard sent a threatening letter to President Khatami, who instituted far-reaching reforms, in which they warned against continuing such a policy that threatened the Islamic nature of the regime.

Rowhani, unlike Jalili, is a diplomat and a sophisticated negotiator in the nuclear field. In interviews before the 2009 elections, he explained the rationale behind Iran’s decision to suspend uranium enrichment in 2003. It came, he said, from a situation assessment of the regional and international circumstances at that time. “The presence of the United States all around Iran and along its borders, the American invasion of Iraq on the pretext that there was mass-destruction weaponry there, posing the potential threat of a similar move against Iran…these were certainly very uncomfortable circumstances for Iran.”

Rowhani emphasized at the time that, given these conditions, the decision to suspend the uranium-enrichment program was one of the ways to break the international consensus against Iran. In agreeing to suspend enrichment, Rowhani made clear, Iran managed to neutralize any such broad international consensus and to remove the threat of the United States bringing the Iran-related issues to the United Nations Security Council during his tenure as negotiator.

Rowhani also revealed part of Iran’s negotiating strategy with the Western countries; implicit in his remarks is that it was based on deception. He underlined that, while Iran indeed suspended enrichment at Natanz (where Iran enriches uranium in centrifuges), it simultaneously continued its activity at Isfahan, where the uranium-conversion facility is located that produces the UF6 gas needed to supply the centrifuges at Natanz. Rowhani explained that at the time the Isfahan facility was not yet operational and more work and installation of equipment were needed there. He also said Iran did not agree to suspend the assembly of centrifuges; instead it continued that endeavor since it only had a few centrifuges and needed a larger number.

Iran under President Rowhani will keep using similar tactics of cautious, non-defiant diplomacy. The West has obtained its “moderate president.” Iran will exploit this ongoing Western delusional tendency to the end. Numerous fruitless rounds of nuclear negotiations have been held since Rowhani’s time as negotiator. He was one of those who, carefully and prudently, set Iran on its nuclear course, and it looks as if he will be the one to bring it toward the bomb.

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IRAN'S TERROR THREAT IN LATIN AMERICA

Sebastian Rotella

Real Clear World,  July 13, 2013

 

A senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) traveled secretly with the presidential delegation and met with Venezuelan military and security chiefs. His mission: to set up a joint intelligence program between Iranian and Venezuelan spy agencies, according

 

Last year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited his ally President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, where the firebrand leaders unleashed defiant rhetoric at the United States. There was a quieter aspect to Ahmadinejad's visit in January 2012, according to Western intelligence officials. A senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) traveled secretly with the presidential delegation and met with Venezuelan military and security chiefs. His mission: to set up a joint intelligence program between Iranian and Venezuelan spy agencies, according to the Western officials.

 

At the secret meeting, Venezuelan spymasters agreed to provide systematic help to Iran with intelligence infrastructure such as arms, identification documents, bank accounts and pipelines for moving operatives and equipment between Iran and Latin America, according to Western intelligence officials. Although suffering from cancer, Chavez took interest in the secret talks as part of his energetic embrace of Iran, an intelligence official told ProPublica.

 

The senior IRGC officer's meeting in Caracas has not been previously reported. "The aim is to enable the IRGC to be able to distance itself from the criminal activities it is conducting in the region, removing the Iranian fingerprint," said the intelligence official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly. "Since Chavez's early days in power, Iran and Venezuela have grown consistently closer, with Venezuela serving as a gateway to South America for the Iranians."

 

A year and a half later, Chavez has died and Ahmadinejad is no longer president. But the alliance they built is part of an Iranian expansion in the Americas that worries U.S., Latin American, Israeli and European security officials. Experts cite public evidence: intensified Iranian diplomatic, military and commercial activity in the region; the sentencing this year of an Iranian-American terrorist in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington; U.S. investigations alleging that Hezbollah, Iran's staunch ally, finances itself through cocaine trafficking; and a recent Argentine prosecutor's report describing Iran's South American spy web and its links to a 2007 plot to bomb New York's JFK airport.

 

There is considerable debate inside and outside the U.S. government about the extent and nature of Iran's activities, however. That debate dominated a U.S. congressional hearing this week about a new State Department report that assesses the Iranian threat in Latin America, a region made vulnerable by lawlessness and an increasingly anti-U.S. bloc of nations.

 

The report resulted from a bipartisan bill, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, signed into law by President Obama in January. That measure called for a comprehensive U.S. response to Iranian incursions and a study based on threat assessments by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Most of the study is classified. A two-page unclassified section says that "Iran has increased its outreach to the region working to strengthen its political, economic, cultural and military ties."

 

Nonetheless, the State Department assessment concludes that "Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning" as a result of Western sanctions, U.S. cooperation with allies and "Iran's poor management of its foreign relations." In a recent interview about the issue, a senior U.S. government official gave a measured assessment comparable to the new report. "The countries of the region need to watch carefully for Iran as a threat within a spectrum of issues of concern in the region," said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. "I don't see it as a major threat now. This is worth watching. It is something there is legitimate attention to given Iran's history."

 

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IRAN USES IRAQ AS ECONOMIC GATEWAY TO EVADE SANCTIONS
Omar al-Shaher
Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse, June 28, 2013

 

The Iranian Fars News Agency quoted TPOI deputy Kiumars Fathallah Kermanshahi as saying that “Iraq receives 72% of the total volume of Iran's foreign trade, and is ranked first as the biggest importer of Iranian goods.” For years, the UN and Western countries have imposed a series of sanctions against Iran, which is accused of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, under cover of an alleged civil program. Yet, Tehran denies these accusations.

In the most recent round of sanctions against Tehran, US media quoted on Wednesday, June 26, White House spokesman Jay Carney as saying that US President Barack Obama gave the green light to the imposition of sanctions on foreign institutions that purchase or sell significant amounts in Iranian rials, and those who hold amounts in rials in bank accounts outside Iran.

The Iranian rial fell to its lowest level because of international sanctions. The new set of US sanctions included Iran’s automotive manufacturing sector. Iraq is the largest external market for Iranian cars. Iraqi political analyst Ihsan al-Shammari said, “Iran is convinced that Iraq is currently its only economic lung, and it is normal that Iraq receives the majority of Iranian exports.”

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Shammari added that “what helps Iran strongly enter the Iraqi market is that Iraq is a consumption society.” Shammari believes that “deepening Iraqi-Iranian ties this way will inevitably cause damage to Iraq's foreign relations, particularly with the United States, which feels that Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to its interests and security.”

 

According to Shammari, “Iran is in dire need of Iraq, particularly at this stage; not only to market its goods, but to export them to other countries, or to facilitate the movement of Iranian funds through Baghdad to Damascus and Beirut.” He said, “Iraq is Iran’s economic outlet to the world.”

 

According to many Arab and Western countries, Iran has been supporting Assad’s regime by providing it with fighters, weapons and funds. The regime was trying to contain popular protests, which degenerated into an armed rebellion more than two years ago.

 

Iraqi economic expert Majid al-Souri believes that “that the increasing trade relations with Iran will definitely help it lift part of its blockade.” In a statement to Al-Monitor, Souri said that “the increasing pressure on Iran due to the international blockade has given Iraqi traders the chance to deal with their Iranian counterparts in cash, rather than through bank transfers, as is the customary method in cross-border trade. Therefore, the demand for the dollar has increased in Iraq.”

 

“The relations between traders of different nationalities are only normal, provided that they do not go beyond the limits that could affect national interests. The Iraqi government has sympathy for Iran. However, this sympathy is akin to that shown by some countries towards Iraq during the economic blockade that was imposed on it in the 1990s,” he added. Souri noted that “Iran has been trying to make the most of the remaining relations it has with neighboring countries,” emphasizing the growing economic relations between Iran, Russia and India. Iran has been also trying to set up gas pipelines through Pakistan, despite the strong opposition on the part of the US. Moreover, the large commercial exchange between Baghdad and Tehran comes in this context.”

 

For her part, Nahida Daini, a member of the Economic Committee in the Iraqi parliament, said that it is very difficult for Iran to control the goods that are sent to Iraq, because of the “many exchange ports on the long border between the two countries.” Speaking to Al-Monitor, Daini said that “what is more important than the ease of export is the nature of consumption in Iraqi society, as goods entering to Iraq are greatly consumed by the population, regardless of the quality.”

 

“There is something like a political veto on the application of a customs tariff in Iraq, as if politicians want to allow Iran and other countries to flood the local markets with goods in order to undermine the domestic industrial capacity,” she added.

Omar al-Shaher is a contributor to Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse.

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On Topic

U.S. to Seek Direct Nuclear Talks with Iran: Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2013—The Obama administration is preparing to communicate to Iran's president-elect Hassan Rohani its desire to hold direct negotiations in the coming weeks over Tehran's nuclear program, senior U.S. officials said. The P5+1 is hoping to schedule a new round of negotiations with Iran by September, U.S. and European officials said.
 

Netanyahu Calls For Stronger Iran Sanctions, ‘Credible’ Military Option: Gavriel Fiske, Times of Israel, July 14, 2013—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned that Iran was still moving forward with its nuclear weapons program, one month after elections that saw the relatively moderate Hasan Rouhani swept into the presidency. Sanctions against the Islamic Republic must be strengthened, he said, along with a credible threat of military action against Iran.

 

Rowhani and the Iranian Elections: Dore Gold, JCPA, June 16, 2013—Dore Gold Debates Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on BBC Radio4 Morning Program: JOHN HUMPHRYS: I’m joined by Jack Straw, former foreign secretary, and by Dr Dore Gold, former foreign policy advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister. Jack Straw, how should we now be treating, dealing with Iran?

 

Israeli or U.S. Action Against Iran: Who Will Do It if It Must Be Done?: James Cartwright and Amos Yadlin May 28 2013—Let's say it's late 2013 and the prime minister of Israel has just received a phone call from the White House relaying the findings of a recent U.S. intelligence assessment: international sanctions and negotiations with Iran have yet to persuade the regime to halt its nuclear drive. Tehran previously rejected a generous U.S. offer that would have allowed it to enrich uranium in exchange for strong nuclear safeguards, and the program continues to advance unabated. After agreeing to convene in Washington in one week to discuss strategy going forward, the prime minister and president each call a meeting with their national security advisors.

 

Dubai Frozen Yoghurt Firm Feels Iran Sanction Chill: Asa Fitch and Rory Jones, Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2013—A Canadian frozen yogurt franchise might seem like an entirely unusual conduit for Iran to evade hardening U.S. government sanctions. But among several companies the U.S. sanctioned in May for illicit dealings with Iran was a cold outlier: Niksima Food and Beverages, a firm based in Dubai that runs local outlets of Yogen Fruz, the Canadian frozen yogurt purveyor.

 

 

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IRANIAN NUCLEAR: U.S. WEAKNESS EMBOLDENS TEHERAN, DESPITE ITS INTERNAL DIVISIONS—NORTH KOREAN BOMB AS MODEL

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(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

 

Iran Can’t Agree to a Damn Thing: Patrick Clawson, Foreign Policy, Feb. 20, 2013During the chaotic days of Iran's Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the country's emerging "supreme leader," assured Iranians that their supposed oppressor, the United States, would not be able to put the hated shah back on his throne.

 

The US and Iran: Pre-Negotiation Maneuvering: Prof. Eytan Gilboa, BESA Center, Feb. 19, 2013The United States and Iran are exchanging tough messages on possible negotiations towards a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear weapons crisis. Both sides are presenting conditions for direct negotiations, which would be the first of their kind.

U.S. Weakness Provokes N. Korea and Iran: Max Boot, Commentary, Feb.12, 2013So much for the exaggerated hopes of those that believed Kim Jong-un would turn out to be a different kind of dictator. Following a long-range rocket test in December, North Korea has now apparently tested a nuclear weapon bigger than any it has tested before.

On Topic Links

 

 

Spy Fail: Why Iran is Losing Its Covert War with Israel: Karl Vick, Time World, Feb. 13, 2013
The Collapse of Iran's RialSteven Plaut, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2013
North Korea Shows Dangers of Half-Deal with Iran: Gary Milhollin, Bloomberg, Feb 24, 2013

Iran's Shrewd Move: Michael Makovsky and Blaise Misztal: Weekly Standard, Feb 22, 2013

Are Iran Sanctions Working?: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Feb. 21, 2013

 

 

 

 

IRAN CAN’T AGREE TO A DAMN THING

Patrick Clawson

Foreign Policy, Feb. 20, 2013

 

During the chaotic days of Iran's Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the country's emerging "supreme leader," assured Iranians that their supposed oppressor, the United States, would not be able to put the hated shah back on his throne. "America can't do a damn thing against us," he inveighed, a winning line that became the uprising's unofficial slogan. It's a catchphrase Iran has deployed time and again since….

 

Khomeini's slogan was true enough at the time: There wasn't much U.S. President Jimmy Carter could do to intervene in one of the most stunning uprisings in history. But today, when it comes to Iran's endless nuclear impasse with the West, one might turn the phrase back on the Iranians: The problem, in a nutshell, is that Iran can't agree to a damn thing.

 

Indeed, the slow pace of nuclear negotiations with Iran are only the beginning of the reasons to be discouraged about resolution of the standoff. More worrying is that political infighting in Tehran is so bad that Iran might not be able to bring itself to accept unilateral U.S. unconditional surrender were it to be offered. To be sure, eight months between negotiating sessions — June 18-19, 2012 in Moscow, followed by the upcoming session slated for Feb. 26 in Almaty, Kazakhstan — is bad news enough. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hit the nail on the head when he warned last week, "We should not give much more time to the Iranians, and we should not waste time. We have seen what happened with [North Korea]. It ended up that they [were] secretly, quietly, without any obligations, without any pressure, making progress" on nuclear weapons.

 

But the pace of talks is only the beginning of the problem. More important is the political meltdown among the Islamic Republic's leaders. Their problems should help put ours in perspective. Many Americans think Washington faces gridlock from hyper-partisan politics, though in fact Iran is an exception to that rule. Bills about Iran's nuclear program typically enjoy stunning levels of support — 100 to 0 in the Senate in the December 2011 round of sanctions. In the November 2012 vote on another sanctions round, several senators were absent, so the vote was a cliffhanger 94 to 0.

 

By contrast, Iranian leaders fight about everything, even where vital national security interests are at stake. In many respects, a divided Iran is nothing new. The Islamic Republic has from its beginning been characterized by sharp internal divisions. And that has long influenced debate about policy toward the United States. For at least 20 years, the rule in Iran has been: Whoever is out of power wants talks with the United States, which they know would be popular, while whoever is in power moves haltingly if at all toward talks. Several times, those on the outs became the ins and then quickly shifted position on relations with Washington. When Mohammad Khatami was running for president in 1997, he was all in favor of talks with the Great Satan, but then once in power, he did little if anything and refused to speak clearly on the issue. And so too with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: When he was riding high, he only had disdain for the United States, but as he got into trouble at home, he called for talks with Washington.
 

But now, the situation is much worse than before. It used to be that once Khomeini's successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke, that ended the debate, but no longer. Khamenei no longer enjoys the respect nor commands the power to stop the infighting. No matter how often or bluntly he rejects the idea of negotiations with the United States, other important officials — most loudly and frequently, Ahmadinejad — call for such talks.

 

Khamenei couches his call for obedience as a need for unity and vigilance in the face of the enemy. A typical speech on January 29 warned, "Today the world of Islam is faced with the plot of enemies… We should not fuel the fire of discord by arousing shallow and vulgar feelings. This will burn the fate of nations. It will completely destroy them. It will help the enemies of Islam." Consistent with his longstanding reluctance to publicly weigh in directly on political disputes, Khamenei has usually confined himself to elliptical criticisms, such as his warning in a Feb. 7 speech to Air Force commanders, "The improper conduct which is witnessed in certain areas from certain government officials — they should end this." He concluded with another strong call for unity.

 

Admonished by the supreme leader to close ranks, Iranian leaders promptly put on a full display of their bitter enmity. The Majlis, Iran's legislature, called in for questioning Labor Minister Reza Shaikholsislami, a close ally of Ahmadinejad. In response, the Iranian president went to the Majlis for the Feb. 3 debate and insisted on accusing Speaker Ali Larijani and his family (including his brother Sadegh Larijani, head of the judiciary) of corruption, playing a recording he claimed supported the charge. Ruled out of order, Ahmadinejad stormed out. The Majlis then voted Shaikholislami dismissed by a vote of 192 to 56; Ahmadinejad promptly added him to his official delegation leaving for Egypt. Five days after the Majlis brawl, 100 Ahmadinejad supporters pelted Ali Larijani with shoes, disrupting a speech he was trying to give in Qom.

 

Khamenei was clearly appalled that neither his public admonitions nor his reported firm private orders had been enough to stop the feuding. So he lit into the two sides in a Feb. 16 address, saying, "What is the reason behind impeaching a minister a few months before the end of the life of the government, for a reason that had nothing to do with that minister? … The head of one branch of power [Ahmadinejad] accused the two other branches of power based on a charge that was not raised or proved in a court…Such acts are against the sharia as well as the law and ethics." Turning to the disputes about corruption, he added, "I expect the officials to enhance their friendship at this time that enemies have intensified their [hostile] behavior. Be together more than before. Control your wild sentiments." He warned that if they did not follow his counsel, there would be grave consequences.

 

Khamenei was ignored again. Two days after this speech, the Supreme Court — largely controlled by Sadeq Larijani — upheld four death sentences against close Ahmadinejad allies in a high-profile corruption case. Neither the president nor his equally conservative, hard-line opponents seem to fear Khamenei or much respect his authority anymore.

 

By their actions, Iranian leaders are giving the strong impression that they are so preoccupied by their internal differences that they cannot agree on, well, a damn thing. Disunity helps the enemy, Khamenei frequently says. But the world powers negotiating with Iran would be glad to see more unity in Tehran, because a more unified Iranian government would be better able to reach a deal and then implement it. That seems less and less likely. The time is rapidly approaching when the big powers, or at least the United States, need to set out a stark choice for Iran's leaders: Either accept a generous offer to resolve the nuclear impasse or be prepared for the consequences.

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THE US AND IRAN: PRE-NEGOTIATION MANEUVERING

Prof. Eytan Gilboa

BESA Center, Feb. 19, 2013
 

The United States and Iran are exchanging tough messages on possible negotiations towards a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear weapons crisis. Both sides are presenting conditions for direct negotiations, which would be the first of their kind. In international relations theory this phenomenon is called “pre-negotiation.” During this phase the sides calculate the benefits and drawbacks of the negotiating process itself and of a possible agreement.

They present tough opening positions which they know the other side can’t accept, and they attempt to obtain concessions from the other side just for agreeing to negotiate. This has been the negotiating style of both the Palestinians and the Iranians. It seems that the West in general and the United States in particular don’t know how to effectively handle this style.

 

During a February 2013 international security conference in Munich, American Vice President Joe Biden said that there “is still time…[and] space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran’s court.” He added that the discussions would be held on condition of a “real and tangible” Iranian offer. Biden hinted that the atmosphere surrounding previous negotiations was not serious, because Iran was not ready to make a single compromise; its sole purpose was to buy time and advance its drive to the nuclear bomb in the interim.

His message was clear: the United States will not agree to such negotiations, and will not remove sanctions merely in exchange for Iran’s entrance into deliberations. In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama called upon Iranian leaders to “recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations.” He concluded that the United States “will do what is necessary to prevent [Iran] from getting a nuclear weapon.”

 

The Iranian reply was immediate. The two Iranian leaders – the spiritual and more significant leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; and the political leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – responded negatively and conditionally to Biden’s invitation. We are ready for negotiations, they said, but only if the United Sates and the West announce support for Iran’s right to a nuclear program, and on condition that the heavy sanctions against Iran are removed. It is obvious that the United States can’t accept these demands, because the sanctions’ removal would eliminate any chance, remote as they are, to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The sanctions and the heavy damage they have inflicted on the Iranian economy pushed the Iranian leaders to seek negotiations, and suspending them now will eliminate any incentive they may have to compromise.

 

It is very possible that the tough stance of the Iranian leadership stems from its perception of the new senior appointments of the Obama Administration in foreign and national security affairs: John Kerry as Secretary of State and Chuck Hagel as the nominated Secretary of Defense. Both men are veterans of the Vietnam War and are almost fundamentally opposed to using any type of force to bring results. In the past, Hagel even opposed sanctions and claimed that it is impossible to halt the Iranian nuclear program. In his Senate testimony he also made an embarrassing statement by characterizing the Iranian regime as “legitimate.”

 

The Iranian leaders interpreted these appointments, as well as Obama’s and Biden’s invitation to open talks, as signs of weakness to be exploited for advancing their nuclear weapons program and for setting tough conditions for negotiations. The Iranian leaders have also closely observed the North Korean defiance of the United States and the Western pressure to stop the testing of nuclear weapons and long range missiles, and could have concluded that the US warnings and intimidations are not credible….

 

The current stalemate threatens to cripple Obama’s Iranian strategy. He planned heavy sanctions that he hoped would soften the Iranian position and bring them to negotiations and direct discussions with a good chance to stop the bomb. It is apparent that the goals of the two sides contradict each other: America wants Iran to stop enriching its uranium, while Iran wants to end the sanctions. The Iranians know how to conduct negotiations much better than the Americans; they have thousands of years of experience in bazaar-like bargaining. Thus, if the United States and Iran reach an agreement to begin direct negotiations, the ultimate results may be favourable to the Iranians. The American desire to avoid the military option almost at any cost may produce a vague agreement which will still enable Iran to clandestinely continue developing nuclear weapons. If no direct negotiations are held, or if they are held but fail to stop Iran from continuing to develop nuclear weapons, and if Obama stands by his commitments to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb – the Administration may have no choice but to use military force…..

 

Prof. Eytan Gilboa is Director of the School of Communication and Director of the Center for International Communication, both at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

 

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U.S. WEAKNESS PROVOKES N. KOREA AND IRAN
Max Boot

Commentary, Feb.12, 2013
 

So much for the exaggerated hopes of those that believed Kim Jong-un would turn out to be a different kind of dictator. Following a long-range rocket test in December, North Korea has now apparently tested a nuclear weapon bigger than any it has tested before. This, despite warnings not only from South Korea, Japan, and the United States, but also from China, not to test. Far from being the reformer as many naively imagined, Kim is showing himself a chip off the old dynastic bloc, once again using North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction to posture before the world and no doubt to shake concessions out of the U.S., South Korea, and other states.

 

What makes this test truly disturbing is the close cooperation that is known to exist between Iran and North Korea in the development of ever-more destructive weaponry. The two countries have worked closely together on missiles and may well be working together on nuclear weapons. If so, the North Korean test is an indication of growing danger not only in Northeast Asia but also in the Middle East.

 

And what is the American response to this latest provocation? To his credit, President Obama has not repeated the pattern of his predecessors in trying to shower North Korea with aid to get it to desist from its dangerous behavior—a pattern that only subsidized North Korean malfeasance. Rather than trying to relaunch stalled six-party talks, he has actually pushed for the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea although their ability to actually coerce Pyongyang is limited as long as China refuses to cut off economic aid.

 

But these tough responses are undermined to a large extent by the symbolism of Obama proposing steep cuts in the American nuclear arsenal—from 1,700 to 1,000 warheads—in the State of the Union address on the very day when North Korea is testing a nuke and Iran is drawing closer to acquiring its own nukes. It is hard to know why the president imagines unilateral American cuts will encourage more responsible behavior from the likes of Iran and North Korea. The more likely consequence is to call into question America’s deterrent capacity, an especially pressing issue if, as Bret Stephens argues in this Wall Street Journal column, China’s nuclear arsenal is actually larger than commonly supposed.

 

With the danger growing from both Iran and North Korea it is all the more incumbent on the US to reassure regional allies—from Saudi Arabia to South Korea–that they will be sheltered securely underneath the American nuclear umbrella. If we cut our own nuclear forces drastically, the credibility of our guarantees diminishes and the likelihood goes up that our allies will seek nuclear weapons of their own, potentially setting off two nuclear arms races.

 

Of course it is not just in the nuclear realm that the US is undertaking defense cuts. Our overall military budget is to undergo drastic cuts within weeks assuming that the Congress and White House do not reach an agreement to turn off the sequester. Already the military services are cutting back on readiness and training. The Navy, for one, has announced that the Persian Gulf area will for the time being have only one aircraft carrier battle group on station, rather than two.

 

It is hard to think of a more threatening prospect than unilateral American military reductions at a time when our enemies our growing stronger. Weakness, it is often said, is provocative. By that measure we are provoking two of the most dangerous rogue states in the world.

 

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Spy Fail: Why Iran is Losing Its Covert War with Israel: Karl Vick, Time World, Feb. 13, 2013Slumped in a Nairobi courtroom, suit coats rumpled and reading glasses dangling from librarian chains, the defendants made a poor showing for the notorious Quds Force of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

 

The Collapse of Iran's RialSteven Plaut, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2013The Iranian economy has been imploding, at times even nudging news of Iran's nuclear program off of the front pages. In the first ten months of 2012, the Iranian currency, the rial, lost more than 80% of its exchange value. In a single day, on October 1, 2012, it dropped by 15%, and, after a brief reprieve, resumed its trend downwards in early 2013. At least one commentator has compared Iran's economic meltdown with that in Zimbabwe.

 

North Korea Shows Dangers of Half-Deal with Iran: Gary Milhollin, Bloomberg, Feb 24, 2013Negotiators from the world’s major powers sit down with Iran this week for more talks on its nuclear program, just weeks after North Korea tested another nuclear weapon. If the connection between these two events isn’t obvious, it should be: North Korea’s nuclear saga is a cautionary tale for anyone attempting to bargain with the Islamic Republic.

Iran's Shrewd Move: Michael Makovsky and Blaise Misztal: Weekly Standard, Feb 22, 2013With the next round of international talks on Iran’s nuclear program scheduled for February 26, the United States needs to understand Iran’s negotiating strategy. Recent Iranian tactics suggest a seemingly contradictory approach: simultaneously slowing down and speeding up their nuclear program. But by buying time now, Iran is shrewdly seeking to evade international pressure while hastening its advance to nuclear weapons capability.

 

Are Iran Sanctions Working?: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Feb. 21, 2013It’s a commonplace to say that sanctions against Iran are tighter than ever and are working. Here’s an example from White House spokesman Jay Carney last Fall: ”We have diplomatic isolation and international isolation that’s unprecedented in history and it’s having a profound impact on both the Iranian economy and the Iranian regime’s internal political structure.”

 

 

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“PREEMPT OR RETALIATE FROM THE RUBBLE” TOUGH TIMES AHEAD FOR ISRAEL, & FOR IRAN

TIME IS SHORT FOR IRAN DIPLOMACY

Michael Oren

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 6, 2012

 

Nearly two decades ago, Israel started alerting the world about Iran’s nuclear program. But the world ignored our warnings, wasting 10 years until the secret nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz was exposed in 2002. Then eight more invaluable years were lost before much of the international community imposed serious sanctions on Iran.

 

Throughout that time, the ayatollahs systematically lied about their nuclear operations, installing more than 10,000 centrifuges, a significant number of them in a once-secret underground facility at Qom. Iran has blocked International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from visiting its nuclear sites, refused to answer questions about the military aspects of its program, and rejected all confidence-building measures. Iran has tested long-range missiles capable of reaching any city in the Middle East and, in the future, beyond.

 

Iran is also the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. It has supplied more than 70,000 rockets to terrorist organizations deployed on Israel’s borders and has tried to murder civilians across five continents and 25 countries, including in the United States. In July, Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists killed five Israeli tourists, among them a pregnant woman, in Bulgaria. Iran’s forces have attacked American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its agents are operating in Yemen, Africa and South America. By providing fighters and funds, Iran is enabling Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to massacre his own people.

 

Iran has done all this without nuclear weapons. With them, it can commit incalculable atrocities anywhere in the world, beginning with Israel. As the chief of staff of the Iranian military recently stated, “the Iranian nation stands for the full annihilation of Israel.” Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said “the annihilation of the Zionist regime is the key for solving the world problems.”

 

Accordingly, Israel believes that Iran is far from forfeiting its nuclear ambitions. Our conviction is based on Iran’s record of subterfuge and terror together with its genocidal rhetoric. It also reflects the inability of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (the “P5+1”) to negotiate a compromise with Iran.

 

In their first round of talks with Iranian officials, late in 2009, the P5+1 demanded the suspension of all enrichment activities in Iran and the transfer of its stockpiles, then enriched to 3.5%, abroad. Iran rejected those conditions and escalated its enrichment process to 20%, which can be enhanced to weapons-grade in a matter of weeks.

 

Iran now has amassed roughly 225 pounds of 20% uranium and 11,000 pounds of 3.5%, sufficient for almost five nuclear bombs. Rather than stand by its initial demands, however, the P5+1 is now seeking merely the cessation of Iran’s 20% enrichment, the removal of its 20% stockpile, and the closure of the facility at Qom. Arguably, this would be the first stage in the phasing out of Iran’s nuclear program. But Iran has rejected even this preliminary gesture.

 

Iran will continue to drag out the negotiations while installing more centrifuges. These, according to the IAEA, are spinning even faster. The sanctions, which have dealt a blow to Iran’s economy, have not affected the nuclear program. Meanwhile, more of Iran’s expanding stockpile will be hidden in fortified bunkers beyond Israel’s reach.

 

No country has a greater stake than Israel in using negotiations and economic pressure to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We appreciate the determination of President Obama and the U.S. Congress to advance the sanctions and their pledge to keep all options on the table.

 

At the same time, the president has affirmed Israel’s right “to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” and “to make its own decision about what is required to meet its security needs.” Historically, Israel has exercised that right only after exhausting all reasonable diplomatic means. But as the repeated attempts to negotiate with Iran have demonstrated, neither diplomacy nor sanctions has removed the threat.… (Mr. Oren is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.)

 

TOUGH TIMES AHEAD FOR ISRAEL

Elise Cooper

American Thinker, August 5, 2012

 

It appears that Israel might be facing the toughest struggle yet in its history. There is Syria, a country possibly becoming a tribal state; Iraq, with a growing influence from al-Qaeda; Egypt, quite likely to become an Islamist regime; and the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezb’allah at Israel’s borders. Then there is Iran, a dangerous and murderous country which could soon possess a nuclear weapon. American Thinker interviewed some experts, asking them their opinion on the Israel-Iran crisis.

 

New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva, in his latest novel, The Fallen Angel, wrote, “There are some leaders who assure me that Israel can live with an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon. … But to someone who lived through the madness of the Second World War, they sound too much like those who said the Jews had nothing to fear from a Germany led by Hitler and the Nazis. … We ask only that you [Israel] proceed with the utmost caution, for your decisions will affect the entire world[.]”

 

Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, believes that Israel has a right to be concerned, since crunch time for Iran having a nuclear weapon will come in late 2013 or early 2014. He does not see the sanctions working and views all the options as bad. The problem with Iran today is that “[i]t is less stable and less predictable, which makes a lot of people concerned. 

 

People are less comfortable now than during the Cold War, since with the Soviet case, there seemed to be more traditional curves and breaks in behavior, whereas with North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, the internal pathology of the states create behaviors that appear far less predictable and less susceptible to be influenced by other governments. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the Iranians will be able to get a nuclear weapon if they have the will.”

 

A nuclear Iran means a lose-lose situation for the world. Elliott Abrams, a former Middle East advisor to President George W. Bush, believes that a nuclear Iran will be a constant day-to-day threat, having a psychological impact on Israel. “If an Iranian official today makes frequent speeches about Israel being wiped off the map, it’s disgusting, yet we all know currently [that] they don’t have the ability to do it. How does an Iran that does have nuclear weapons behave? [It’s] something I hope to never find out.”

 

Hayden sees other consequences as well — namely, a more hostile, bold, and brazen Iran, since the Iranians will have as a defence a nuclear umbrella. He also feels that Iran’s nuclear capacity will show other second-rate powers that they can “stare down the international community with regard to nuclear weapons.” What will then transpire is a regional nuclear arms race, causing a destabilized world. The Saudis have already discussed a nuclear guarantee with Pakistan. In addition, Turkey and Egypt will also desire a nuclear weapon.

 

Obviously, Israel has to weigh the risks of acting or not acting. It faces a very tough target that is dispersed, distant, and numerous. Israel must consider the physical effects of any action compared to the political and diplomatic price. A former intelligence operative who worked in the region told American Thinker, “There is no doubt in my mind that Iran is going to complete its enrichment program. When it has the capacity to do so, the Iranians have made it very clear they will wipe Israel off the face of the earth. I don’t see that as rhetoric. Iran will have the missile capability to take out Israel.

 

The problem is that Iran has nuclear bunkers so deep in the soil [that] there is a good possibility of having to do a land invasion as well. Then there is the worry that other Arab countries in the Middle East will attack Israel. This regional conflict can then turn into a global conflict. As we look at history, typically big wars start with smaller actions.”

 

Abrams is not as pessimistic. He believes that the people of Iran hate their current leaders and are not anti-American or anti-Israeli. He wonders if there “is a tendency to underestimate the damage done with a strike on the Iranian nuclear program. Israel may be able to set it back by a number of years. I think defeat never helps a regime. A strike may lead to the demise of this Islamic Republic. The Iranian leaders will have to defend the position that they devoted untold billions of dollars, defied the world, and became a pariah — for what?”

 

All interviewed agree that the world, and the U.S. in particular, needs to make sure that Iran believes that military action is a definite consideration. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, noted that the Obama administration has to show in very concrete ways that the U.S. is serious regarding military engagement. He suggests aggressive joint exercises with Israel, as well as the movement of equipment to the region in a very public way.…

 

During the June Global Terrorism Conference, sponsored by the U.S., the Obama administration did not take a tough stand. According to Rabbi Marvin Hier, Israel was deliberately excluded, yet countries with a history of sponsoring radical Islamic ideology were invited. What is this telling Iran, the world’s largest state supporter of terrorism?

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairperson of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, cannot understand the snub, since “Israel, if any state, knows something about counter-terrorism. Yet that is the country that is not invited to participate in the conference.…This administration has not shown friends we are their allies and enemies that we are their adversaries.”

 

Abrams is disappointed but not surprised. His explanation for this rebuff is that the Obama administration caved to pressure and made a terrible mistake, “setting a precedent. What the U.S. should have done is take the position that the problem is with those hostile to Israel. They should be saying ‘we will never have these conferences if Israel is excluded, so get used to it, and let’s move forward.’…

 

The recent terrorist attack in Bulgaria by Iran has shown how the Iranians will act without nuclear weapons. This is a sad reminder of the nature of this regime. The Iranian leadership are willing to accept any amount of damage to their country to achieve the goal of obtaining nuclear weapons. Congressman Rogers summarized it best: “Israel’s challenge is now. They have to make a decision on what is best for their existence.

As one Israeli official recently told me, ‘we started this nation to say never again so we would not be put in a position that we were during the Holocaust. Maybe we have put all the Jews in one place to be easily annihilated with a nuclear weapon. We must not let that happen.’“

 

WHY ISRAEL COULD STRIKE IRAN BEFORE NOVEMBER
        Giulio Meotti

Front Page Mag, Aug 7th, 2012

           

If the Obama administration still vehemently opposes an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities for fear of hampering his chances for reelection, the latest Debka report reveals that Tehran is closer than ever to an atomic bomb. “The months of negotiations with the six world powers were happily used by Iran for great strides toward bringing its nuclear weapon program to fruition,” explains Debka, a publication close to Israeli intelligence agencies.

 

We knew that Tehran produced low-enriched uranium for four nuclear warheads in the fortified bunker in Fordo. We knew that the centrifuges are enriching uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent. But according to Debka, uranium enrichment levels have crept past 20 percent in expanded quantities.

 

“The six powers are understandably reluctant to admit that in the time bought by negotiations, Iran was able to refine uranium up to 30-percent grade or even a higher and go into advanced preparations for 65 percent grade enrichment. Now the Iranians are well on the way to an 80-90 percent weapons grade.” This is the weaponization of the nuclear cycle.

 

That’s why Israel could launch a preemptive operation against Iran before the US presidential election in November. Or as the former Israeli Mossad director, Ephraim Halevi, just commented to the New York Times, “if I were an Iranian I would be very worried in the next 12 weeks.” “The period before the US elections is the best for an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities,” Israel’s leading analyst Efraim Inbar, head of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and one of the informal advisors of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told me this week. “

 

The diplomatic talks failed, the sanctions are not working, only a military operation can stop Iran’s atomic program. We already stopped Iraq and Syria’s nuclear programs. We will take in consideration only our security and Jewish survival, because a nuclearized Iran would be an immense threat for the Jewish State.”

 

Inbar attacks the “bizzarre red line” of the Obama’s administration on Iran, which is an order by Iranian leadership to build a bomb. “If you wait so long the Iranian program would become immune to an attack,” says Inbar. He also criticizes Europe, which used the talks to stop an Israeli strike on Iran’s atomic program. “It’s even worse than Munich’s 1938, then Europe was willing to use the force, while today nobody wants to fight anymore.”

 

In Israel, Inbar explains, “nobody believes in the sanctions, while there are those, like the former Mossad’s head Meir Dagan, [who] believed that covert operations would have been better to abort the Iranian program. The Americans are now trying to be our babysitter, but the last decision will be taken in Jerusalem by Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu.”

 

The two Israeli leaders must now determine whether Israel can trust the recent US promise to thwart Iran’s atomic ambitions in case sanctions prove to be insufficient – or launch a unilateral Israeli attack on the Islamic Republic. In the first case, everything would be postponed to the next spring.

 

Otherwise, the sirens will wake up the Israelis one day in the next three months, [canned foods] will quickly disappear from the supermarkets, they will seal doors and windows and the Home Front Command will instruct them to enter into shelters. The rest will be history.

 

And if Iran gets the bomb? Norman Podhoretz, founding father of neo-conservatism and the ideological architect who inspired George W. Bush’s foreign policy, recently told me: “If Iran gets the bomb, the Israelis would have to decide whether to preempt or to retaliate from the rubble.”