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Washington’s goal now appears to be to legitimise Iran as a nuclear threshold state in exchange for a few concessions

Washington’s goal now appears to be to legitimise Iran as a nuclear threshold state in exchange for a few concessions Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran's nuclear program in Vienna have just missed another major deadline. November 24 was the date set for a final deal - after an extension in June - under the interim agreement signed late last year. Moreover, this latest extension, unlike the previous one, violates a key provision of the initial interim deal last November which set a one year limit on the talks.

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Editorial: The Eleventh Hour Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran    

As this edition of the Australia/Israel Review went to press, negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran's nuclear program were continuing in Vienna ahead of a November 24 deadline, with little sign that a deal is imminent - certainly not one that would end the program altogether and dismantle Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure.

It is nearly impossible to overstate the seriousness of the situation. 

Deal or No Deal?

Deal or No Deal? Author: Lenny Ben-David Categories: International Security, Iran    

November 24 is seen as a critical date in the negotiations between Iran and UN Security Council's permanent members (the "P5+1" the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China plus Germany) on the fates of Iran's nuclear enterprise and the economic sanctions imposed on the recalcitrant and bellicose Islamic Republic.

Despite Vice President Biden's resolute vow to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program, Iranian leaders adamantly pledge to maintain their rogue efforts. 

Faction and Fiction in Iran negotiations

Faction and Fiction in Iran negotiations Author: Michael Rubin Categories: International Security, Iran    

In 1998, against the backdrop of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's "Dialogue of Civilisations," there was great optimism about the potential for a thaw in US-Iranian relations among many of the same circles that express it now. And then, just as now, some in the US business community wanted to rush into the Iranian market, figuring all that was left for some sort of grand rapprochement was to dot the i's and cross the t's. It was against this backdrop that a group of American businessmen, travelling at the invitation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, flew to Teheran in order to combine meetings with tourism.

After Obama

After Obama Author: Robert Satloff Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Middle East    

Even God, it seems, is tired of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute - and the never-ending standoff between US President Barack Obama and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. When a third intifada threatened to erupt recently following Israel's temporary closure of Muslim prayer at the al-Aqsa Mosque in response to stone-throwing against Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below, Palestinian leaders called for a "day of rage," and Israel dispatched more than 1,000 riot police to prepare for the worst.

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Time for Plan B on Iran's Nukes

Time for Plan B on Iran's Nukes Author: Dennis Ross Categories: International Security, Iran    

It is no accident that hardly anyone involved in the Iranian nuclear negotiations has expressed optimism about meeting the November 24 deadline for a comprehensive agreement. The Iranian and US governments are continuing to meet regularly but there are few signs of meaningful progress.

Indeed, the essence of the deal that has always made most sense - a rollback of the Iranian nuclear program in return for a rollback of sanctions - seems increasingly beyond reach.

No to backburner, yes to a two-track strategy

No to backburner, yes to a two-track strategy Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

Iran's securing nuclear weapons would destabilise a region already suffering from mass upheaval, in addition to having dire security implications for the rest of the world. Multilateral efforts to deter the sadistic actions of ISIS, a crucial priority, seem to have distracted from international efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program. As identified in the recent post by Andrew Nikolic, a nuclear Iran remains a broader strategic priority and potentially worse threat.

Efforts to stop a Nuclear Iran coming to a bad end?

Efforts to stop a Nuclear Iran coming to a bad end? Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update is devoted to some increasingly pessimistic prognoses that are appearing for the p5+1 (US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) nuclear talks with Iran that are scheduled to be completed by Nov. 25.

First up is Canadian-American author and columnist David Frum, who congratulates Iran's negotiators, arguing they have convincingly won the encounter with their American and allied counterparts, even though, as of last year, the cards seemed to all be in the Americans' hands as sanctions were having significant negative effects on the Iranian economy.

 Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State

Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Op-eds, Terrorism    

The Islamic State is certainly dangerous and must be "degraded and ultimately destroyed", in Obama's words. But nothing could damage long-term regional and wider global stability, and Australian and American interests in the region, more than to allow the fight against the Islamic State to become the distraction that allows Tehran to develop nuclear weapons capabilities or extend its regional sphere of influence...

UN report confirms Iranian arms smuggling

UN report confirms Iranian arms smuggling Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Iran, United Nations, Updates    

Back in March, Israeli Special Forces succeeded in intercepting a ship in the Red Sea, which Israel claimed was transporting Iranian supplied weapons bound for Gaza. Israeli commandos boarded and took control of the "Klos-C" merchant ship about 1500 kilometres from Israel's border in the Red Sea. The ship was believed to have had an intended destination of Port Sudan. Dozens of missiles and other arms were found hidden amongst the cargo. The ship was subsequently towed to Eilat for a full inspection.

Iran is not the solution in Iraq

Iran is not the solution in Iraq Author: Michael Singh Categories: Iran, Iraq    

During the second Iraq war, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was one of the United States' fiercest foes. The IRGC was responsible not only for organising, training and equipping Shiite militants who fought US troops, but also for manufacturing and importing into Iraq so-called explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, one of the chief banes of American forces there. Also courtesy of Teheran: mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad, designed to speed the American departure.

Iran and the Iraq Crisis

Iran and the Iraq Crisis Categories: International Security, Iran, Iraq, Updates    

The subject of this Update is the Iranian role in the crisis in Iraq - and the suggestions being made that the US and its allies share a common interest with Iran in protecting the Baghdad government from the attacks of the Sunni Islamist groups ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which has succeeded in overrunning so much of the country.

Israeli strategic experts on the latest nuclear negotiations with Iran

Israeli strategic experts on the latest nuclear negotiations with Iran Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Updates offers analysis from three leading Israeli strategic experts on the state of the nuclear negotiations with Iran, its prospects over coming weeks, and especially the significance of reports that progress had been made on some aspects of a nuclear deal, such as the fate of the plutonium-producing Arak heavy-water reactor Iran is building.

Essay: Why does Iran want nuclear weapons?

Essay: Why does Iran want nuclear weapons? Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi Categories: International Security, Iran, Terrorism    

During the past decade, Western diplomats have been engaged in protracted negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear program. Though a deal remains elusive, Western policymakers remain adamant that an agreement is possible. Much of their optimism is driven by a willingness to test the proposition, put forward by their Iranian counterparts, that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons on religious grounds.

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Khamenei’s Holocaust denial exposes a larger problem of Iranian antisemitism

Khamenei’s Holocaust denial exposes a larger problem of Iranian antisemitism Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Antisemitism, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Updates    

"Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it's uncertain how it has happened" read a tweet on the Twitter account of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Supreme Leader's comments are an important reminder of the real beliefs, ideology and objectives which underpin the Iranian regime.

AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 - Highlights and Controversies

AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 - Highlights and Controversies Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The annual AIPAC (America-Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference wrapped up on March 4, following an eventful three days with important statements made by US and Israeli leaders.

The conference came at a critical time for US-Israel relations, as US Secretary of State John Kerry is soon expected to announce a ‘framework' for continued Israeli and Palestinian negotiations, and after AIPAC's decision to withdraw its support for a new Iran-sanctions Bill, following strong pressure from the US Administration. The conference also came on the same day that US President Barack Obama had some strong words for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg.

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Israel seizes an Iranian arms shipment to Hamas/ The Kerry Plan

Israel seizes an Iranian arms shipment to Hamas/ The Kerry Plan Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On Wednesday, the Israeli Navy stopped a merchant vessel, the Klos-C, in the Red Sea. It was carrying advanced Syrian-made long-range surface to surface missiles allegedly bound for Gaza and sent there by Iran (all probably unknown to the crew). The IDF has released a detailed video explaining the origins and previous movements of the missiles, and another showing their discovery by Israeli soldiers in shipping containers supposedly carrying cement.

'Moderation' screen hides reality of Iran

'Moderation' screen hides reality of Iran Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Iran, Op-eds    

TO the naive observer, it might seem Iran's relations with the international community are on the right track; under the leadership of an apparently more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani.

An interim action plan regarding Iran's nuclear program was reached and further negotiations are taking place. Yet in the wake of this agreement and Rouhani's larger "charm offensive", most recently at the UN's World Economic Forum in Davos, some appear to be prematurely optimistic that there is already a real change in Iran's problematic international and internal behaviour.

The China Syndrome

The China Syndrome Author: Gordon G. Chang Categories: China, International Security, Iran    

In November, immediately after the announcement that Iran had reached a deal with Western negotiators concerning its nuclear program, China's former ambassador to Teheran, Hua Liming, made the case that Beijing - not the American Secretary of State John Kerry or the European Union envoy Catherine Ashton - ultimately deserved credit for brokering the agreement. "When the two parties came across irresolvable problems, they would come to China, which would ‘lubricate' the negotiation and put things back on track," Hua told Chinese state media.

Iran and the State of the Union

Iran and the State of the Union Categories: America, Iran, Syria, Updates    

Today’s Update looks at some initial reactions to US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which he delivered before Congress earlier today. (The full text of the President’s remarks can be found here.)

Of particular interest to our readers would be two issues Obama touched on during his speech with regard to foreign policy. First, his succinct but important comments about the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians – where he implicitly backed Israel’s demand to be recognised as a Jewish state. Secondly, Obama vigorously defended his interim agreement with Iran as a peaceful step towards defusing its rogue nuclear program, warning Congress that he would veto any legislation for new sanctions during the interim period.

Too many chances for abuse in Iran deal

Too many chances for abuse in Iran deal Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

THE six-month interim nuclear deal reached between Iran and the US-led P5+1 powers - US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany - in Geneva in late November finally came into effect yesterday.

But now the really hard part begins. If the six-month deal does not lead in the end to the kind of agreement that will finally end the years of intense international concern over Iran's nuclear efforts, it will have been worse than useless. Yet there are very good reasons to doubt that it will.

Interim Iranian nuclear deal coming into effect

Interim Iranian nuclear deal coming into effect Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

Last weekend, Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) reportedly reached agreement on technical arrangements to implement the interim "Joint Plan of Action"  agreed on in Geneva in November to limit Iran's nuclear work for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief. While the details of the technical arrangements and timetable have not yet been released, and Iran says there is an informal 30-page document that has been agreed to, the actual Joint Plan of Action is now to go into effect from Monday, Jan. 20.

New "moderate" President Rouhani distracts from the dismal - and not improving - human rights situation in Iran

New "moderate" President Rouhani distracts from the dismal - and not improving - human rights situation in Iran Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Iran, Updates    

To the naïve observer, it might look as if Iran's relations with the international community, and especially the West, are on the right track. In the wake of this agreement and the larger "charm offensive" by Rouhani, some appear to be prematurely optimistic. A glance at Iran's horrific human rights record under President Rouhani reveals that the much-talked "moderation" and "democratization" at this point remain wishful thinking.

Scribblings: Nuclear Sophistry

Scribblings: Nuclear Sophistry Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel    

When debating policy on Iran's illegal nuclear program, one argument that always gets raised is the supposed "double standard" of forcing Iran to give up its efforts to build nuclear weapons when Israel is believed to have nuclear weapons capabilities.

Morally, the question is not that hard to address. Basically, unlike Iran, Israel is not a revanchist state seeking to control or subvert neighbouring states and spread its "revolution", nor is it the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism, nor does it go around demanding neighbouring states be destroyed. 

Europa Europa: Going Swedish?

Europa Europa: Going Swedish? Author: Douglas Davis Categories: America, Europe, International Security, Iran    

From Israel to Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the myriad Gulf statelets, the perception that Washington has thrown in its lot with the Iranian-led Shia world - Syria and Hezbollah, plus Iraq - is unmistakable. That might not have been Obama's intention, but in such matters, perception trumps intention.

"As we go forward," said Obama shortly after the outline of an interim nuclear deal was agreed with Iran in Geneva, "the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitments to our friends and allies - particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions."

Few, it seems, were listening.

Geneva: Beyond the Hype

Geneva: Beyond the Hype Author: Robert Satloff Categories: America, International Security, Iran, Israel    

The blockbuster nuclear deal reached early on the morning of Nov. 24 in Geneva between Iran and the US-led coalition is both less and more consequential than early reports suggested. And there is a good chance that its real value - whether it prevents Iran's nuclear ambitions or inadvertently opens the door to an Iranian bomb - may not be known until US President Barack Obama turns into the home stretch for his second term, after the 2014 midterms.

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Video: Dr. Matthew Levitt on Hezbollah's global reach

Video: Dr. Matthew Levitt on Hezbollah's global reach Categories: Iran, Lebanon, Multimedia, Terrorism, Updates    

Dr. Matthew Levitt is Director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence; and a former analyst and adviser on counterterrorism to the US Department of the Treasury, the State Department and the FBI.

He addressed AIJAC supporters in Melbourne on Hezbollah's global reach and the Iranian threat on December 9, 2013.

Implementation issues with interim Iran nuclear deal

Implementation issues with interim Iran nuclear deal Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update deals with some new revelations about potential delays and other problems with implementing the Geneva interim agreement with Iran reached the Sunday before last - with a US spokesperson acknowledging last week that the agreement is not yet in effect for either party and will not be until further negotiations on technical aspects of it are completed. These technical talks are scheduled to begin next week.  Interestingly, Elliot Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations raised this possibility - that the deal was not yet a finalised, binding agreement -  in the aftermath of the Geneva breakthrough.

Flawed pact leaves Iran free to build a nuclear arsenal

Flawed pact leaves Iran free to build a nuclear arsenal Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

US Secretary of State John Kerry has touted the interim agreement over Iran's illegal nuclear program as an achievement that makes the Middle East region safer. If only it were so.

In reality, this dangerously flawed pact normalises relations with a rogue regime, reverses the momentum of years of sanctions and leaves Iran, in six months' time, closer to building nuclear weapons than it is today.

Hamas in difficulties/ Saudi Arabia and the Iran nuclear deal

Hamas in difficulties/ Saudi Arabia and the Iran nuclear deal Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on Hamas' increasingly difficult situation in Gaza. It also includes an analysis, following up on the last Update, on the Saudi Arabian reaction to the interim nuclear deal signed with Iran last weekend.

First up is Israeli counter-terror specialist Ely Karmon on Hamas' increasingly isolated situation internationally and domestic difficulties within their Gaza fiefdom. He notes that the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and the subsequent all-out efforts of the Egyptian army to close down smuggling into Gaza from Sinai have not only left Hamas in shock but also affected Hamas' internal regime in Gaza.

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A dangerous deal on Iran

A dangerous deal on Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Op-eds    

The world is overwhelmingly united in agreeing on a number of points about the decades-old Iranian nuclear crisis. One is that Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities, in violation of both the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and six legally-binding United Nations Security Council resolutions. Furthermore, it is agreed that a diplomatic deal with Iran is by far the most preferred way to attain this end. And thirdly, everyone agrees, in words used both by United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that "a bad deal is worse than no deal."

Nonetheless, the interim deal reached in Geneva on Sunday appears to be likely to turn out to be just such a "bad deal" - or in the words of Netanyahu, a "historic mistake"

A Good Deal on Iran's Nukes? The Iranians certainly think so

A Good Deal on Iran's Nukes? The Iranians certainly think so Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Updates    

When the delegates of the P5+1 convened in Geneva to finalise an interim agreement with Iran they were supposed to have one goal in mind - to stop Iran's nuclear program. 

So is the new interim deal a step towards "a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon" as US President Obama put it?

The Iranians certainly don't seem to think so.

Evaluating the Interim Nuclear Deal with Iran

Evaluating the Interim Nuclear Deal with Iran Categories: International Security, Iran, Middle East, Updates    

This Update is devoted to analysis of the detail and implications of the interim nuclear deal reached by the P5+1 states (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) and Iran in Geneva on Sunday. (The actual agreement text is here, a White House "fact sheet" on the details is here, and some reporting about the agreement's provision is here.) Israeli leaders, meanwhile, have been lining up to make it clear that they are not happy with the deal.

Editorial: Back from the Brink? Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran    

The recent disagreement between Israel and the United States over the parameters of an interim Iranian nuclear deal is significant, but its importance should also not be exaggerated.

The Israeli position on the diplomatic next step - as outlined by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - and the attitude of the P5+1 - greatly influenced by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry - have been at odds with one another. However, this is a disagreement on tactics, not goals.

A Friendly Disagreement

A Friendly Disagreement Author: Amos Yadlin Categories: America, Iran, Israel    

The dispute between Israel and the United States on the Iranian nuclear challenge emerged this week from behind closed doors and became an open conflict waged on television.

Israel and the US share the strategic goal of preventing Iran's attainment of nuclear weapons. Both countries agree that only two forms of leverage can block Iran's dash to the bomb - economic sanctions and a credible military threat. However, Israel and the US diverge in their assessments as to the scope and timing for effective use of these levers. Consequently, there is a huge gap between them on how to reach the goal of stopping Iran's military nuclear program...

Rouhani: Ruse or Strategic Rethink?

Rouhani: Ruse or Strategic Rethink? Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Iran, Israel    

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had led an international charm offensive since his election in June. There is no doubt that his diplomatic style - and that of those he has chosen to work with him, especially soft-spoken Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif with his impeccable English - is a distinct contrast with the deliberately confrontational approach of previous President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. This new approach had clearly underpinned the latest rounds of negotiations on the nuclear program in Geneva.

Pause for a rethink will help West

Pause for a rethink will help West Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his colleagues among the P5+1 powers who are involved in nuclear negotiations with Iran are in full agreement: striking a bad deal in an attempt to curb Iran's illegal nuclear program would be worse than making no deal at all.

This certainly applies to interim deals reportedly discussed in Geneva last week as much as for a final settlement. The current pause until talks resume next Wednesday offers a golden opportunity for the P5+1 to reassess their latest offer, and it's imperative that they do so, because the interim deal discussed last week appears to have been a bad one.

Almost a nuclear deal in Geneva?

Almost a nuclear deal in Geneva? Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, in last weeks Geneva talks between the "P5+1" (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) and Iran, the parties at one point appeared close to an interim agreement, with Foreign Ministers flying in to join the talks, but then broke up without reaching one. While France publicly objected to elements of the deal initially, and were blamed by Iran for the talks failure, the reasons the talks ended without agreement was because the Iranians walked away from the terms on offer according to the diplomats involved.  Talks are set to resume on Nov. 20, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials making it amply clear that the Israeli government is not at all happy with the terms being discussed (Netanyahu's comments on the subject on US television are here.) This Update deals with analysis of the reported proposed terms of the Geneva "deal" and where the negotiators can go from here.

Changing US Mideast Policy/ More on Negotiating with Iran

Changing US Mideast Policy/ More on Negotiating with Iran Categories: America, Iran, Middle East, Updates    

The US Administration has announced a new more "modest" approach to the Middle East, heralded first by President Barack Obama in a speech at the UN last month, and laid out in more detail by National Security Advisor Susan Rice in interviews over the weekend. The new policy focuses primarily on three issues - the Iranian nuclear program, Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and Syria. This Update includes analysis of the significance and prospects of this new policy - as a well as a new discussion of the Iranian negotiations from three senior, veteran American policy experts.

Media Microscope: Rouhani Roulette Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Media/ Academia    

Although Iran's new President, the avuncular Hassan Rouhani, received sympathetic coverage following his star turn at the United Nations in late-September, there was a multiplicity of views on the significance of this new face of the Iranian regime.

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Editorial: The Iranian charm offensive Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran    

There is a definite international diplomatic buzz over new proposals floated at October's P5+1 talks in Geneva aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program. The Islamic Republic's PR makeover, which began with the election of Hassan Rouhani in June and continued with a charm offensive at the UN General Assembly in September, appears to now be complete.
Whether the transformation is merely cosmetic - as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has emphatically and correctly warned it likely is - or heralds the improbable beginning of a major, genuine policy shift from a sanctions-weary regime is of course not yet entirely conclusive.

Deal or No Deal?

Deal or No Deal? Author: Ron Ben Yishai Categories: International Security, Iran    

Washington and Jerusalem's initial assessments regarding Teheran's intentions were correct. The partial information coming in following the negotiations in Geneva on October 15 and 16 indicates that the current Iranian leadership is in fact proposing a valid deal on its nuclear program... Iran presented a pragmatic and supposedly fair outline for a deal that will be implemented quickly in three stages. The sanctions succeeded where diplomacy failed.

Behind Rouhani's charm offensive

Behind Rouhani's charm offensive Author: Michael Segall Categories: America, International Security, Iran    

In mid-October, a further round of talks began between Iran and the West. Unlike in earlier rounds, this time there have been direct negotiations between the United States and Iran, occurring behind the scenes of the talks between Iran and the P5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany). Although the telephone conversation between Obama and Rouhani, which transpired at the end of the Iranian President's visit to the UN General Assembly in late September, is still provoking anger in Iran, it has also aroused hopes that "this time" - ten years after the repeatedly failed negotiations began - there is room for success.

Toward a viable Iran nuclear deal

Toward a viable Iran nuclear deal Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

A round of talks in Geneva about Iran's nuclear program Tuesday and Wednesday ended with the Western powers reporting some progress, and plans made for additional talks early next month  after Iran gave a Powerpoint presentation whose exact content is unknown but which Iran described as a roadmap for resolving the nuclear issue. This Update looks at where the P5+1 powers (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) meeting with Iran should be looking to go from here.

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An Israeli-Arab alliance on Iran?/ Cutting off US aid to Egypt

An Israeli-Arab alliance on Iran?/ Cutting off US aid to Egypt Categories: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Updates    

Today's update centres on the growing policy congruence, some say amounting almost to a tacit alliance, between Israel and various Sunni Arab states, especially Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states - united by shared concerns about Iran and declining US regional influence. It also contains an analysis of the US Administration's decision to cut off most of its military aid to Egypt earlier this week.

Looking beyond Rouhani's charm offensive

Looking beyond Rouhani's charm offensive Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Updates    

Since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came to power in June, he has led a charm offensive aimed at breaking the coordinated Western front of sanctions and diplomatic isolation designed to halt Iran's clandestine nuclear program - which the International Atomic Energy Agency and others believe appears geared towards developing nuclear weapons capability.  This charm offensive has been so successful that online readers of the Guardian voted Rouhani as most deserving to be awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize, leading with a staggering 76 percent of the vote as of Thursday.

Dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions under its new president

Dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions under its new president Categories: Iran, Israel, United Nations, Updates    

Today’s Update offers analysis of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s powerful speech at the United Nations General Assembly overnight which came a day after his joint press conference with President Barack Obama where they offered a united front on the Iranian nuclear issue. In his address, Netanyahu reminded the world that Iran’s ambitions for nuclear weapons remains unchanged.

Describing Iran’s new so-called moderate President Hassan Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, recounting Iran’s three decades of support for terrorism, and the regime’s deception in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Netanyahu insisted economic sanctions must remain in place substantive concessions are offered by the regime. Netanyahu also promised that Israel would act alone if it meant preventing Iran gaining the bomb. To read and or watch the speech, click here.

New US-Iran nuclear talks at the UN

New US-Iran nuclear talks at the UN Categories: International Security, Iran, United Nations, Updates    

Reports say that US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Iranian counter-part at the UN this week to discuss a nuclear weapons deal. The Iranians reportedly vetoed a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Obama following their respective speeches to the UN General Assembly (the full text of President Obama's speech is here.) This Update looks at the background to both these talks and the recent Iranian charm offensive under new President Rouhani, what to be wary of in any such talks, and what end result the US should seek to achieve in any nuclear deal.

The Face-Off

The Face-Off Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Security, Iran, Israel    

In keeping with a long-standing pre-election tradition at the AIR, we sent a series of ten policy questions to the campaigns of both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to help inform our readers as they go to the polls on Sept. 7. The questions - designed to focus on political issues of special concern to the Australian Jewish community - deal with issues including Israel and the peace process, communal education, counter-terrorism and communal security, the Iranian nuclear crisis, multiculturalism, racial hatred laws and the vexed question of asylum seeker policy.

Media Week - Hand wringing over Iran; Tom after Tom

Media Week - Hand wringing over Iran; Tom after Tom Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is a good guy the West can do business with according to an Age editorial (Aug 9).

Whilst it admitted that Rouhani was vetted by "Iran's overlords", that "he is not signalling capitulation on the issue that triggered sanctions - a uranium enrichment program that raises the spectre of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons", the paper still places its faith in his ability to make a deal because "he wants to resume talks 'with seriousness and without wasting time'".

However, as Rouhani himself noted in 2004 when he was Iran's main nuclear negotiator, time wasting with a smile is his forte - "While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the nuclear conversion facility in Isfahan. By creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work there."

Negotiating with Iran under Rouhani

Negotiating with Iran under Rouhani Categories: Iran, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated earlier this week amid much speculation about whether his presidency will also inaugurate a new round of diplomacy over nuclear issues with the West. This Update deals with the realities and pitfalls likely to present themselves as the possibility of renewed talks is debated.

No time for nuclear honeymoon as Iran changes guard

No time for nuclear honeymoon as Iran changes guard Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

In his first press conference following his election as President, Rouhani introduced preconditions for direct Iranian talks with the US - including the easing of sanctions and conceding the core of Iran's position on the nuclear issue before negotiations even begin.

Time has run out for such shenanigans and doubletalk. That's just another reason why calls for some sort of a "grace period" for Rouhani over the nuclear issue must be rejected. While Iran's political machine may have paused for an election, there is no suggestion that its centrifuges have taken a holiday.

Editorial: No Time for Nuclear Honeymoon Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran    

The election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran's next president - the most moderate, or rather, the least extreme of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's hand-picked slate of candidates - certainly appears to signal that the Iranian people want internal reforms, relief from their highly repressive regime and relief from international sanctions over their illegal nuclear program.

What is unclear is whether Teheran's new frontman would be willing to support a nuclear deal that will satisfy the basic requirements for such a settlement, or moreover, whether he would be able to persuade Khamenei - who sets Iranian nuclear policy - to agree.

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Scribblings: "Turkish Spring" brings out Middle East pathologies

Scribblings: "Turkish Spring" brings out Middle East pathologies Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Iran, Turkey    

Up until the recent outbreak of unrest, Turkey was widely held up as the model of democracy for the Muslim Middle East. And it is undeniable that Turkey has a had a couple of decades of pretty free and fair elections and democratic transitions.

But the recent unrest has exposed that Turkish "democracy" is not yet anything like a mature liberal democracy - as well as offering a timely reminder that democracy has a lot more to it than regular elections.

Teheran's New Face

Teheran's New Face Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Iran    

Iran has surprised the world again. Following the unpredicted elections of the outspoken Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 and the outgoing Mohammad Khatami in 1997, Iranian voters have now elected Hassan Rouhani, the less radical of six candidates, thus confounding diplomats, spies and statesmen.

While part of the clerical establishment and no democratic redeemer, Rouhani speaks six languages, has a law PhD from Glasgow Caledonian University, and as such, is the provincial Ahmadinejad's inversion. Then again, the change of style he brings may well prove to be all he has.

A small "stinging blow" from Iran's electorate

A small "stinging blow" from Iran's electorate Author: Abbas Milani Categories: Iran    

Patient resilience has long been a characteristic of the Iranian people. In times of adversity - and the increasing authoritarianism of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards allies, combined with the corrupt and inefficient populism of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his band of brothers, has certainly been one such time - the Iranians wait. And usually, instead of challenging the foe head-on, they try to deliver a stinging blow using the limited tools that adverse times allow them. President-elect Hassan Rouhani is the latest, rather unlikely tool used to sting the Islamic regime.

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani Categories: Iran, Updates    

This Update is devoted to analyses of the impact of the surprise election of Hassan Rouhani (spellings in English are currently varying widely across international media), the most "moderate" of the eight candidates permitted to run in the Iranian Presidential election.

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The Iranian Presidential poll

The Iranian Presidential poll Categories: Iran, Updates    

With Iranians going to the polls today to "choose" a new president (though of course only one from among the small minority of candidates approved by the clerical establishment - and even then, vote-rigging may well occur) this Update is our guide to the candidates, the significance of the election, and its possible effects on the crisis over Iran's illegal nuclear efforts.

All the Ayatollah's Men

All the Ayatollah's Men Author: Abbas Milani Categories: Iran    

Here they go again: Every four years, theocratic Iran holds presidential elections. If that sounds like a contradiction, if not an oxymoron, that's because it is. On the one hand, virtually all power ostensibly rests with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who claims to represent God's ultimate sovereignty on earth. On the other, the elected president (also ostensibly) represents the republican principle of popular sovereignty. This time around, about 700 people have registered to run, though no more than seven of them can be considered serious candidates. Once the list of eight "vetted" candidates was announced on May 21, the world got an idea how Khamenei and his allies in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) will attempt to tackle the challenges facing the country: faltering economy, tightened sanctions, nuclear negotiations, and the future of Syria.

The Futile Quest for "Moderates"

The Futile Quest for "Moderates" Author: Michael Rubin Categories: Iran    

On May 21, Iran's unelected Guardian Council presented its slate of approved candidates to run in the Islamic Republic's June 2013 presidential elections. Of the more than 600 who sought to have their name on the ballot, it gave the go-ahead to only eight. They range from hardline supporters of Iran's nuclear program to somewhat more soft-spoken supporters of Iran's nuclear program. Most notably, the Council disqualified 78-year-old former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on account of his age, a somewhat ironic move considering Ahmad Jannati, the Council's chairman, is 86, and revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was 77 when he led Iran's revolution.

Iranian Election dramas/ Western Apologists for Iran

Iranian Election dramas/ Western Apologists for Iran Categories: Iran, Updates    

Western governments will be closely observing the Iranian election process in the leading up to the Presidential poll on June 14 in the hopes that the outcome may encourage a change that will allow a diplomatic resolution to the impasse over Iran's nuclear program - though of course, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is actually the key decisionmaker and is unaffected by the poll. The contest - which looked likely to be dominated by conservative Khamanei loyalists - was on May 11 rocked by the last minute entry of two candidates; former President Rafsanjani, and a top aide to current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad named Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. The next drama will be the decision of a clerical body called the Guardianship Council about which of the candidates are allowed to run - it has reportedly already ruled that all of the 30 registered female candidates are disqualified by virtue of their gender - and is expected to issue a ruling shortly, though there will likely be a further round of appeals.

Iran: Sanctions and the Risk of Breakout

Iran: Sanctions and the Risk of Breakout Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update features two important articles on the state of play regarding the Iranian nuclear standoff - one looking at the effectiveness of current sanctions and another examining Iran's calculations, and especially what considerations might lead Teheran to stage a nuclear breakout. It also contains an important article on the growing and increasingly controversial role being played by the small country of Qatar in various Middle East conflicts and issues.

Media Week - So near, and yet so far; Justified fears;  Shalom Salam; Justice done; Conspiracy-land; Howe's that

Media Week - So near, and yet so far; Justified fears; Shalom Salam; Justice done; Conspiracy-land; Howe's that Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians    

On Fairfax's "Daily Life" site (April 23) Ruby Hamad, who has previously penned some ill-informed and one-sided pieces on Israel, presented a sober account of the escalating restrictions imposed by Hamas on Gazans.

Unfortunately her explanation for Gaza's economic difficulties was entirely predictable...

Another unsuccessful round of Iran talks/ Israel gets gas

Another unsuccessful round of Iran talks/ Israel gets gas Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Updates    

The latest round of talks over Iran's nuclear program ended on the weekend with a meeting in Almaty, Kazakhistan, which concluded with little substantive progress and no agreement even about when talks might resume. Moreover, despite Iranian claims to have presented an offer in the latest talks, participants say it was actually, "some interesting, but not fully explained, general comments on our ideas" and an "apparent return to debating modalities for negotiations " rather than any substantive proposal. Iran then followed up the end of the talks by announcing the opening of two new uranium mines and a yellowcake (uranium oxide) factory. This Update deals with the talks and the current state of the Iranian nuclear crisis. 

Obama wins hearts and minds in Israel

Obama wins hearts and minds in Israel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

US President Barack Obama's trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories has been vitally important - and apparently highly successful. In only three short days Obama seems to have been able to address core issues that appeared to be straining the US-Israel relationship and press ‘reset'.

Iran's antisemitic partnerships

Iran's antisemitic partnerships Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Far Right, Iran, Updates    

Iran finds it hard to make friends these days. And now, another "blow"- Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, one of Iran strongest allies in the global arena, passed away.

Interestingly, the Iranians have formed an unholy alliance with none other than the Hungarian ultra-nationalist rising power - the Jobbik party.

AIPAC: Looking for signs regarding the Obama Administration's second term agenda

AIPAC: Looking for signs regarding the Obama Administration's second term agenda Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Updates    

This year's annual AIPAC Policy Conference attracted more than 13,000 delegates, and heard from an array of speakers including Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (via satellite), Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, US Vice President Joe Biden, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, US House Leader Eric Cantor (R) and US Senator John McCain (R).

A this year's conference observers attempted to gauge the Obama Administration's possible policies and preferences for the next four years - regarding US-Israel relations, efforts to advance the two state solution, the so-called "Arab Spring", and particularly regarding Iran's nuclear program

After the Almaty nuclear talks

After the Almaty nuclear talks Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

In the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran last week, it was agreed to hold two additional meetings - a technical meeting in March and full political talks in early April - after the P5+1 powers softened their demands of Iran and offered greater incentives for agreeing to an interim agreement to ease concerns about the Iranian nuclear program. This Update looks at what can be concluded from the session about the state of efforts to prevent Iran from illegally constructing nuclear weapons.

 Foxes guarding the Human Rights henhouses: A UN tradition continues

Foxes guarding the Human Rights henhouses: A UN tradition continues Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Africa, Iran, Sudan, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

UN agencies dedicated to the promotion of human rights, mandated with the protection of the world's most vulnerable and marginalised populations, have long been subject to widespread criticism for their politicization, hypocrisy, and anti-Israel bias. Over and over again, the UNHRC has proven to be plagued with the same problems which haunted its predecessor - most notably appointing egregious human rights violators to high-profile leadership positions.

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Preparing for the Next Round of Iran Talks

Preparing for the Next Round of Iran Talks Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

A new round of P5+1 (meaning the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) nuclear talks with Iran, the first since July of last year, is scheduled for next Tuesday, Feb. 26, in Kazakhstan. There are reports that Iran will be presented with a "substantial and serious offer" from the P5+1 to halt the more worrying enrichment activity - but expectations seems generally modest. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran this week began installing much quicker second generation centrifuges. This Update offers some background to the talks and explores some of the reasons few expect a significant breakthrough.

Obama trip to focus on Iran/Syria

Obama trip to focus on Iran/Syria Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, International Security, Iran, Israel, Op-eds, Syria    

North Korea's latest nuclear test has again brought into focus the growing urgency of stopping the nuclear weapons program of another country on the road to nuclear weapons capability - Iran. The rapidly closing window of opportunity to either persuade Iran to change course or, if all else fails, disable its nuclear facilities by force, is the backdrop for US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel next month.

North Korea and Iran/ The PA's democracy deficit

North Korea and Iran/ The PA's democracy deficit Categories: Asia, International Security, Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

Following the North Korean nuclear bomb test earlier this week, and the failure of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting with Iran, this Update discusses the potential implications for the ongoing problems of preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capabilities.

First up is an editorial on the subject from the Jerusalem Post, which notes that at the very least, the North Korean test was a morale-booster for Teheran.

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's mission "To set Israel on fire"

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's mission "To set Israel on fire" Author: Talia Katz Categories: Australasia, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The principle argument being made by opponents of strong action against Iran's nuclear program is that Iran is a "rational" actor, whose regime values survival above all else and a nuclear Iran can be contained just as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War.

Now a new report offers yet more evidence to doubt whether Iran's "rationality" is so obvious and assured. And the report concerns not the loud-mouthed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the man everyone agrees has ultimate control over Iran's nuclear program, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Israel refuses to participate in UN "human rights" farce

Israel refuses to participate in UN "human rights" farce Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Israel, Libya, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

Israel has been making headlines recently for its failure to show-up to its "Universal Periodic Review" ("UPR") session at the United Nations Human Rights Council ("HRC") and for refusing to cooperate with a recent "fact-finding mission" into settlements in the West Bank. ...

Sadly, it appears that the reforms to the UN Human Rights Commission and its re-branding as the "Human Rights Council" have had little effect...

Right turn for Israel?/ An Insider on Iran's nuclear plans

Right turn for Israel?/ An Insider on Iran's nuclear plans Categories: Iran, Israel, Updates    

The theme of most Australian media coverage of the Israeli election taking place tonight, Australia time, is that Israel seems to be shifting towards the right. This Update contains two attempts to challenge this conventional wisdom - as well as a unique eyewitness report from an Iranian regime insider about Iran's nuclear plans.

Video: Ehud Yaari Q & A

Video: Ehud Yaari Q & A Categories: Iran, Israel, Multimedia    

Ehud Yaari, addressed an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) luncheon in Melbourne on Monday 14 January 2013. This is the Q & A session following his main address on Israeli and Middle East issues.

Video: Ehud Yaari on Israel and the Middle East

Video: Ehud Yaari on Israel and the Middle East Categories: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Multimedia, Palestinians, Syria    

Ehud Yaari addressed an AIJAC luncheon on Monday 14 January 2013 on the following topics:

  • Australia and Israel, including Woodside's successful bid for developing Israel's gas reserves
  • Israel's elections
  • Egypt and challenges for the region
  • Syria
  • Israel, the Palestinians and the Two-State outcome
  • Iran's march towards nuclear weapons capability and American and Israeli strategy

Media Week - Half-cocked; Nuclear handwringing; Off key; The value of values

Media Week - Half-cocked; Nuclear handwringing; Off key; The value of values Author: Allon Lee Categories: America, Anti-Zionism, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

In the Sun-Herald (30/12), Paul McGeough penned a long article devoted to offensively comparing pro-Israel voices concerned over President Barack Obama's possible nomination of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his next Defence-Secretary to those Americans who defend their right to own guns in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school massacre.

Iran's war on human rights

Iran's war on human rights Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Updates    

Following the Iranian regime's violent crackdown on Iranians who protested the June 2009 election result, Iran's repression continued against anyone deemed to be a supporter of the ‘velvet revolution'.  As a result, citizens who dare to speak out against Iran's violation of human rights including lawyers, journalists, bloggers have been arrested and often tortured. While this issue has mostly faded from global attention, the death while in custody of a 35-year-old Iranian activist blogger Sattar Beheshti in November 2012 has put this issue back in the headlines.

Technology and the Gaza War/ Taking Iran at their word

Technology and the Gaza War/ Taking Iran at their word Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update includes two pieces analysing some of the innovations in military technology and tactics which affected the Gaza conflict/Operation "Pillar of Defence", which occurred in November.

First up is an evaluation by Dr. Uzi Rubin, the father of Israel's missile defence program, discussing both Israel's Iron Dome missile and rocket defence system, and the innovations in rocket design and use on the Hamas side of the Gaza conflict.

Iranian state TV blames Israel for Sandy Hook school shooting

Iranian state TV blames Israel for Sandy Hook school shooting Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, Iran, Updates    

Iranian state run media, PressTV, may have surpassed itself this time airing the outrageous views of Michael Harris who blamed Israel for a number of mass shootings in America, including the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people, including twenty children, two of whom were Jewish. Harris also blamed ‘Israeli death squads' for other recent shootings, including the Arizona shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, the Aurora ‘Batman' shooting, and the Breivik massacre in Norway.

Obama, Romney, Bibi and Iran Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: America, Iran, Israel    

Where must the line be drawn regarding Iran's dangerous and illegal nuclear weapons program? At what point should the very strongest measures, including the possibility of military strikes, be implemented in order to derail it?

This is the question at the heart of a subtle yet significant disparity in diplomatic language regarding the Iranian nuclear threat. It divides Israel from the US, but it is also one of the few concrete differences in foreign policy between US President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Iran Sanctions bite, but will Teheran shift course?

Iran Sanctions bite, but will Teheran shift course? Categories: Iran, Updates    

There is growing evidence over recent weeks that the Iranian economy is in serious trouble, in no small part due to the international sanctions imposed because of Teheran's illegal  nuclear program,  - with a major plunge in the value of the Rial, Iran's currency, down at least 80% this year; signs some ordinary Iranians are starting to panic over the economic situation;  and even unrest from demonstrators angry about the economic situation, and currency dealers who have been the victim of a government crackdown designed to arrest the plunge. Even the International Atomic Energy Agency says the sanctions are starting to have a major effect on oil exports.

Study weighs economic cost of a nuclear Iran

Study weighs economic cost of a nuclear Iran Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Updates    

Many analysts have expressed concern about the potential costs, economic and otherwise, of a military strike to stop Iran's nuclear program - and rightly so. However, it is also important to take into account the heavy economic costs associated with inaction that would allow Iran to achieve nuclear capabilities.

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Can we force Iran to abandon its nuclear plans?

Can we force Iran to abandon its nuclear plans? Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

Where must we draw the line on Iran's dangerous and illegal nuclear weapons program? At what point should the strongest measures, including military strikes, be implemented in order to derail it?

This is the question at the heart of a subtle yet significant disparity in diplomatic language regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, as the possibility increases that ongoing economic sanctions may be insufficient to cause Iran to abandon its goal of nuclear arms capability.

Sketching out a red line for stopping Iran's nuclear program

Sketching out a red line for stopping Iran's nuclear program Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

This Update takes us to New York, at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Taking centre stage is a headline grabbing speech by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu following the predictably defiant, caustic and offensive anti-Israel speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas once again announced a renewed effort to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority at the UN to non-member observer state. The gathering also offered US President Barack Obama an opportunity to speak out on US foreign policy ahead of November elections, while Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi had his first turn at a UN podium. Finally, for Australia, this session was fraught with import, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech before the plenum culminating her government’s intensive effort to secure Australia’s first temporary seat on the UN Security Council since the 1980s.

Bibi, Barack and Iran

Bibi, Barack and Iran Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: America, Iran, Israel    

In the spirit of September's Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Iranian policy has become a focus of the season's soul-searching.

A lot has happened since Netanyahu's return to the Premiership, two months after Barack Obama landed in the White House. What his predecessors saw as an international problem whose treatment should be led by the United States, Netanyahu aired loudly in high-exposure forums like the United Nations General Assembly, the US Congress, and the AIPAC policy conference.

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Canada severs diplomatic ties with Iran, calling Teheran "the most significant threat to global peace"

Canada severs diplomatic ties with Iran, calling Teheran "the most significant threat to global peace" Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Iran, Updates    

Canada announced on Friday (7/9/2012) that it is closing down its embassy in Iran, and has also expelled all Iranian diplomats from the country. "Canada has closed it's embassy in Iran, effective immediately, and declared persona non grata all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada," states Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in a press release, which later further explains that "Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended. All Canadian diplomatic staff have left Iran, and Iranian diplomats in Ottawa have been instructed to leave within five days."

The latest IAEA report and Iran as a "threshold" state

The latest IAEA report and Iran as a "threshold" state Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update looks at the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran's nuclear program, as well as other important aspects of the debate about what to do about Iran's nuclear program.

First up, noted American strategic analyst Anthony Cordesman summarises the key elements of the IAEA report, quoting from the report extensively to do so. He notes that Iran has refused to cooperate with the IAEA on the Parchin site suspected of being used for explosives testing for the nuclear program, has strongly increased its stockpile of both low enriched uranium and uranium enriched to 20% (well on the way to weapons grade) plus the UN has seen signs of even higher levels of enrichment...

Media Week - Burns' lukewarm analysis; Some get it, others don’t; Justice denied

Media Week - Burns' lukewarm analysis; Some get it, others don’t; Justice denied Author: Allon Lee Categories: Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Former US diplomat Nicholas Burns argued that a diplomatic solution will only arise when America "create[s] a direct channel between Washington and Tehran and begin[s] an extended one-on-one negotiation with all issues on the table...To be successful, however, the US must be ready to compromise by offering imaginative proposals that would permit Iran civil nuclear power but deny it a nuclear weapon."

A Brazilian-Turkish deal in May 2011 offering Iran medium-enriched uranium for medical research came unstuck when Iran started putting impossible conditions on any such deal, Sydney Morning Herald (Aug. 17).

Scribblings: Abetting Iran at NAM Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Iran, Palestinians    

It is very disappointing to read reports that Australia has announced it plans to send two senior Australian diplomats to Teheran to participate as "guests" in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference there from August 26 through 31. This forum is being exploited by the Iranian regime to gain support for its non-existent "right" to enrich uranium, and to erode the increasing isolation Iran has experienced as sanctions mount because of its defiance of the UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency over its illegal nuclear weapons program. Moreover, it is highly likely that the conference will be used by the Iranian regime to promote their unconscionable efforts to demand Israel's destruction - following on from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's August 17 claim that "The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour" which must be "excised," as well as various other antisemitic and Holocaust denying rants.

Decision Point

Decision Point Author: Michael Herzog Categories: Iran, Israel    

Israelis agree that Iran's nuclear program must be stopped, and their debate regarding a strike's cost-effectiveness, urgency, and impact on relations with the United States is coming to a head.

With the heat of the summer has come an unprecedented flare-up in Israel's public debate on whether and when to unilaterally strike the advancing Iranian nuclear program.

The view from Jerusalem

The view from Jerusalem Author: John Hannah Categories: Iran, Israel    

I recently returned from a trip to Israel. I met with a handful of very senior foreign policy and defence officials, but did not speak with any member of the “Forum of Eight” – Israel’s security cabinet that is responsible for key decisions concerning war and peace. With that important caveat, I thought I’d share several random impressions...

Iran's NAM Extravaganza/ Al-Qaeda in Syria Categories: Iran, Islamic Extremism, Syria, Updates    

Next week, Iran is set to become the president of the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and host a six day Summit of the NAM in Teheran. As Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe has reported, Teheran is going all out in an effort to use the Summit to attempt to " shed its image as a global pariah" and " gain much-needed support to counter Western pressure over its controversial nuclear program." Meanwhile, despite urgings from the US, Israel and others not to participate, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has announced he will attend the Summit. This Update looks at the implications of the Summit for the NAM, the UN, and especially efforts to maintain international pressure on Iran to halt its illegal nuclear weapons program.

Israel's deliberations on Iran military strike

Israel's deliberations on Iran military strike Categories: Iran, Israel, Updates    

This Update deals with the currently very intense discussion in Israel about the possibility of a military strike on Iran's nuclear program, as sparked by reports in the Israeli press last week that said that PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak were close to making a decision and were pushing for military action as soon as this October.

First up is an interview on the significance of the Israeli debates from veteran American Middle East diplomat Dennis Ross. He argues that the latest moves by Barak and Netanyahu are intended both to prepare international opinion, but more importantly, Israeli public opinion, for the reality that a strike may become necessary fairly soon.

Will they? Won't they? The ongoing Israeli/American Iran question

Will they? Won't they? The ongoing Israeli/American Iran question Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Updates    

An Israeli strike on Iran has been "imminent" for about two years now and commentators everywhere seem to be vacilating between alarm and dismissal. The volume of announcements, alleged leaks to the media, and public disagreement between various Israeli and US officials is leaving almost everyone scratching their heads over what is really going on.

The truth, as Elliott Abrams points out, is really anyone's guess...

What we can learn from Ahmadinejad's "400 years of Zionism"

What we can learn from Ahmadinejad's "400 years of Zionism" Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA, 2.8.2012), published some statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made last Wednesday night in a meeting in Teheran with ambassadors and diplomats from Muslim countries . These reveal that while the Iranians love to claim they are only critical of Israel and "Zionism", and have nothing against Jews per se, the Iranians in fact simply and transparently use the word "Zionism" to paper over dangerously antisemitic views directed against Jews generally.

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The Future of Fatah / Preventing military conflict with Iran

The Future of Fatah / Preventing military conflict with Iran Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features two pieces of analysis which discuss worrying signs for the secular nationalist Fatah movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority -  emanating from both current Middle East trends, as well as developments in the West Bank itself.

First up is academic expert and recent visitor to Australia Dr. Jonathan Spyer, who sees the entire Palestinian nationalist movement as looking very vulnerable to the Islamist trends which are eclipsing Arab nationalist regimes across the Middle East.

Editorial: Ignoring the Obvious Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Israel, Terrorism    

The explosion that ripped through a tour bus full of Israeli tourists in the seaside resort of Burgas, Bulgaria on July 18, killing six people - including a pregnant woman - was only the latest in a series of terror attacks perpetrated against Israelis abroad over the past decades.

Unfortunately, despite the Herculean efforts of Israel's intelligence services, it will likely not be the last. However, it is not too late for the world to learn a crucial lesson from the atrocity, the internalisation of which might potentially prevent a catastrophe of a far greater magnitude.

If Assad falls...

If Assad falls... Author: Michael Totten Categories: Iran, Lebanon, Middle East, Syria    

Short of regime change in Teheran, the overthrow of Assad is the worst thing that can happen to the Iranian government and to Hezbollah. Iran will lose its only ally in the Arab world, and Hezbollah will lose one of only two patrons and its entire overground logistics network. Scud missiles and other enormous weapons can't exactly be mailed to Hezbollah from Iran through the Beirut international airport.

A new phase of the Syrian civil war?/ Countering Iran's "3D"s

A new phase of the Syrian civil war?/ Countering Iran's "3D"s Categories: Iran, Syria, Updates    

This Update features some additional material on the changing situation in Syria following the bomb blast there on Wednesday which killed and wounded several leading regime figures.

First up is noted Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami, who looks at the ethnic reality of the Syrian state behind the recent killings and the current stage of the civil war. Ajami stresses that the Assad regime remains rooted in the Alawite minority, and the latest killing of some key regime players - two important Alawite commanders, and the much-less important Christian defence minister -  illustrates how this regime has brought this minority both spoils and peril.

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Sanctions and Nuclear Negotiations with Iran

Sanctions and Nuclear Negotiations with Iran Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

Today's Update features some new, valuable pieces on various aspects of the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

First up, Michael Makovsky and Blaise Misztal of the Bipartisan Policy Institute, a US thinktank, strongly argue against meeting Iran's demand in the negotiations that its "right to enrich uranium" should be acknowledged. Looking at the text of the Nuclear Non-Proiliferation Treaty, they document that the treaty grants no such right, and moreover, Iran has violate  the conditions the treaty sets out in order to receive "the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy".

Iran sanctions/ Strife in the Syrian opposition

Iran sanctions/ Strife in the Syrian opposition Categories: Iran, Syria, Updates    

On Wednesday, there was a "technical" meeting connected with the P5+1/Iran nuclear talks - the upshot of which seems to be that it looks likely high level talks will resume. Meanwhile, Iran has responded to the imposition of new European sanctions by threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz. This Update has some new entries concerning the sanctions regime on Iran. In addition, it includes new analysis of the struggle between Islamists and other forces in the Syrian opposition as the Syrian civil war continues to develop.

Putin's Israel visit showcases diplomacy's strengths and limitations

Putin's Israel visit showcases diplomacy's strengths and limitations Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Russia, Syria, Updates    

Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Israel last week, as part of a larger Middle East tour by the newly re-elected leader, is seen by analysts as a productive diplomatic exercise between the two countries.

At the same time, analysts agree, the visit demonstrated the limits of diplomacy in persuading Russia to change its policies regarding matters of key national interest to Jerusalem, especially regarding Iran and Syria.

Iran nuclear talks go nowhere/ Iran and Syria

Iran nuclear talks go nowhere/ Iran and Syria Categories: International Security, Iran, Syria, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, the third round of "P5+1" talks with Iran over its nuclear program took place on Monday and Tuesday of this week in Moscow and ended not only with no sign of an agreement, but without any clear plans for further high-level talks. This Update deals with what happened in Moscow and the implications of the talks' failure.

First up, Barak Ravid of Haaretz receives some insights into the exact nature of  the discussions from an anonyomous participating diplomat. He says that the Western states attempted to correct an Iranian belief that they were interested in a deal at any cost, while the Iranians were vague and unhelpful in discussing plans to limit their enrichment of uranium to 20% - which is, in terms of technical difficulty, almost bomb grade - and refused to discuss the fate of the secretly-built underground Fordo enrichment complex at all.

Russian President to visit Israel in June

Russian President to visit Israel in June Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, Updates    

Despite Israel and Russia holding strongly divergent views on key Middle East issues - the violence in Syria, Iran's nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - Israel and Russia have against the odds managed to retain good relations since the end of the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted last year saying: "Israel is, in fact, a special state to us. It is practically a Russian-speaking country..."

Russia's ‘friendliness' has been made even clearer with Putin's decision to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in late June. It will be Putin's first visit to Israel since 2005.

Oil prices worsen Iran’s Sanctions woes

Oil prices worsen Iran’s Sanctions woes Author: Andrea Nadel Categories: International Security, Iran, Middle East, Updates    

The impact of international sanctions on Iran's ability to do business with its neighbours as it pursues its controversial nuclear program is an issue that AIJAC has followed closely.

What is clear now is that the Iranian economy is in a state of sharp decline as sanctions cripple Iran's ability to do business with its neighbours.

This decline is today being exacerbated by the fact that oil prices are falling worldwide, and are expected to continue to do so.

Moreover, there is new evidence these dynamics, combined with governmental mismanagement are combining to significantly affect the lifestyle of the average Iranian - especially in terms of prices for basic food staples.

Does Iran have a right to enrich uranium? / The Islamicisation of Turkey

Does Iran have a right to enrich uranium? / The Islamicisation of Turkey Categories: Iran, Turkey, Updates    

This Update leads with two important pieces discussing the claims and counter-claims being made as part of the Iranian nuclear talks.

First up, Iran scholar and recent visitor to Australia Emanuele Ottolenghi offers a good de-bunking of the constant Iranian refrain that their right to peacefully develop nuclear energy is being denied them. Ottolenghi makes it clear that the key point to understand is that Iran, as a Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty signatory, has this right only as long as it meets its NPT obligations - but the International Atomic Energy Agency has been very clear that Iran is not doing so.

Israeli musicians transcend political divides to connect with Middle Eastern fans

Israeli musicians transcend political divides to connect with Middle Eastern fans Author: Andrea Nadel Categories: Anti-Zionism, Iran, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Syria, Turkey, Updates    

Boycotting and isolating Israel culturally, economically, and politically has long been one of the goals of many of Israel’s neighbours in the Middle East, and more recently, of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It is revealing, then, that growing numbers of people throughout the Middle East are themselves disobeying the call of the anti-normalisation and BDS movements by listening to music by Israeli artists.

Iran negotiates, but accelerates illegal Nuclear efforts

Iran negotiates, but accelerates illegal Nuclear efforts Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Updates    

Despite an optimistic spin to last week's negotiations in Baghdad between P5+1 negotiators and Iran over the latter's nuclear program, as more details of those negotiations emerge, it is becoming more clear that Iran continues to flout both UN Security Council resolutions and Western demands. As negotiations proceed, Teheran appears to be in fact expanding its nuclear plans, instead of a curtailing them.

Europa Europa: Catherine the Not-so-Great

Europa Europa: Catherine the Not-so-Great Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, International Security, Iran    

When Catherine Ashton arrived in Israel last month she was carrying an outsized bundle of political baggage. The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, who is leading the international talks with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, had ostensibly made the journey to assuage Israeli doubts about the effectiveness of the talks (and to avoid public ridicule).

After a bout of negotiations in April between Iranian officials and the P5+1 group - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany - she spoke enthusiastically about creating a "constructive dialogue". In fact, the only tangible progress was an agreement to set the date (May 23) for their next meeting. Ashton's mission to persuade the Israelis that the Iranians were not making monkeys of her negotiators, as they had with earlier European interlocutors, was not crowned with success.

Iran negotiations that matter

Iran negotiations that matter Author: Reuel Marc Gerecht Categories: International Security, Iran    

Since we don't know what Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, said at the recent late April confab in Istanbul, we can't be sure that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was right to dismiss that pow-wow as a "freebie" for Teheran. Also, the Islamic Republic is a theocracy: The most senior officials need to report face-to-face to their master. Jalili, an ill-tempered, narrow-minded, one-legged veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, lost face after a disastrous meeting in Geneva in October 2009, when he tentatively agreed to a nuclear-fuel swap, only to see the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, bat the deal down from Teheran. And so another get-together is scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad.

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The Baghdad Negotiations with Iran

The Baghdad Negotiations with Iran Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

As readers may be aware, the long-anticipated P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran in Baghdad ended overnight without a breakthrough. Indeed, little seems to have been achieved except for an agreement to meet again in Moscow on June 17.

As discussed in this Update's first piece from the New York Times, an offer was apparently made to the Iranians by the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) and rejected. The P5+1 offers seems to have focussed mainly on getting Iran to, at a minimum, stop uranium enrichment to 20% (which is, technically, only a short distance from bomb grade) and agree to remove its stock of 20% enriched uranium from the country to be processed into reactor fuel, in exchange for a limited lifting of some sanctions and other cooperation.

Iranian Commander: Iran seeks “full annihilation of Israel"

Iranian Commander: Iran seeks “full annihilation of Israel" Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Israel, Updates    

Following up my previous AIJAC blog post regarding former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's revelations that the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei told him in 2000 that "Israel must be burned to the ground" and forecasting an Iranian war to achieve this end, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi has also agreed that Iran's goal is to "annihilate" Israel.

US clamping-down on terror supporters and war criminals

US clamping-down on terror supporters and war criminals Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

After frequent calls on this blog for some action against Sudanese President Omar Bashir, it is welcome news that the US Congress is committing to halt aid to any country that hosts the indicted war criminal.

A US House of Representatives press release reports that the House Appropriations Committee has adopted an amendment to the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for 2013 to this effect, proposed by Representative Frank Wolf...

Iran really, not rhetorically, wants to destroy Israel,  Supreme Leader told Spanish PM

Iran really, not rhetorically, wants to destroy Israel, Supreme Leader told Spanish PM Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Europe, Iran, Israel, Updates    

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has revealed that the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei unequivocally expressed to him, personally, his intention to destroy Israel, not politically but militarily and via Iranian military action.

Aznar told a crowd in Jerusalem on May 16: "In a private discussion we held in Tehran in October of 2000, Ali Khamenei told me that Israel must be burned to the ground and made to disappear from the face of the Earth."

The former Spanish Prime Minister also said that Khamenei told him "Iran's war against the United States and Israel is inevitable."

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Media Week - Go figure; Bergs of a feather; Inclement comparison; Total fiction

Media Week - Go figure; Bergs of a feather; Inclement comparison; Total fiction Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Go figure

An unattributed Age story (12/5) on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails stated that a "fifth of all Palestinians living under occupation - some 700,00 people - have served time in Israeli jails, according to activist groups."

Although the article did not include the origin of the claim of 700,000, it is a number pushed by the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian NGO, and is not credible.

Is any deal better than no deal on Iran's nukes?

Is any deal better than no deal on Iran's nukes? Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Updates    

This Update features three pieces on the nuclear talks with Iran, scheduled to resume next week after a five week hiaitus - two of them focusing on the dangers of any agreement which does not adequately block Iran's ability to quickly build nuclear weapons whenever a decision to do so is reached.

First up is Iran scholar and recent visitor to Australia Emanuele Ottolenghi, who looks at some history related to the Iranian nuclear program to make the case that an agreement that does not take account of Iran's past weaponisation achievements will leave Iran able to build nuclear weapons.

Will France's new government take a laissez-faire approach to Iran?

Will France's new government take a laissez-faire approach to Iran? Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Europe, International Jewry, Iran, Updates    

The election of French Socialist party leader Francois Hollande to his country's presidency on Sunday - a victory over Nicolas Sarkozy which had been expected following his strong showing in the first round of voting on April 22 - is certain to impact French foreign policy regarding Iran, as well as Israel.

Sarkozy had been seen as one of Europe's most strident opponents to Iran's nuclear program. According to Hollande's advisers, as well as many analysts, France is unlikely to continue in its role as a spearhead for European action on Iran under its new government.

IDF chief's views on Iran misrepresented

IDF chief's views on Iran misrepresented Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Israel, Updates    

A number of major news outlets, including ABC news here in Australia, have been reporting on the Yom Ha-atzmaut interview with Israeli Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz that appeared in Ha'aretz this week.

Unfortunately, most of these reports have taken the IDF chief's words out of context and in doing so, changed their meaning as well as their significance.

US Sanctions Telecommunications Companies in Syria and Iran

US Sanctions Telecommunications Companies in Syria and Iran Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Iran, Syria, Updates    

US President Barack Obama has announced that the US will apply new sanctions to prevent companies from using technology that help repressive regimes in Syria and Iran target dissidents.

The new US sanctions will target Syrian and Iranian government agencies and officials who directed the surveillance operations, as well private companies.

Editorial: Last Chance Diplomacy Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel    

Following a period of increased international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the P5+1 nudged Iran back to the negotiating table on April 13. The two-day talks, held in Istanbul, yielded little but an agreement to resume talks in five weeks time, on May 23 in Baghdad.

Whether you agree with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's assessment that Iran had been given a "freebie", or US President Barack Obama's description of the latest talks as an "opportunity for us to negotiate and see if Iran comes to the table in good faith," the fact remains that despite the sanctions and these negotiations, Iran's nuclear enrichment and development continues apace in defiance of the unequivocal Western and UN policy to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Nukes on the Table

Nukes on the Table Author: Dore Gold Categories: International Security, Iran    

The clock is ticking on the Iranian nuclear program. Last December, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appeared on the CBS news program, "60 Minutes", and declared that Iran could have a bomb within twelve months. He added that the time frame might be shorter if the Iranians have "a hidden facility somewhere in Iran that may be enriching fuel." If Panetta's assessments are correct, then Iran's best diplomatic strategy for 2012 is just to let the clock run out. The West will have to carefully develop a counter-strategy to neutralise Iran's likely course of action.

Netanyahu on Gunter Grass and Iran

Netanyahu on Gunter Grass and Iran Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Antisemitism, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Israel, Updates    

The Iranian nuclear question, Yom Hashoah and the controversy surrounding a recent poem by Gunter Grass, were the backdrop for a recent long interview Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave to the German newspaper Welt am Sontag.

In the interview, published on April 22, Netanyahu explained to the German audience what offended Israel most about Grass' poem "What Must be Said" - which depicted Israel as a potentially genocidal aggressor against Iran. Under questioning, the Prime Minister also defended his positions on the risks of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Later in the interview, he rebuffed claims that the continued existence of West Bank settlements are harming the prospects of peace with the Palestinians...

Abbas' letter to Netanyahu/ Netanyahu on Iran, settlements and other issues

Abbas' letter to Netanyahu/ Netanyahu on Iran, settlements and other issues Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features some analysis of the aftermath of the meeting between Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian negotiators last week, where he was given a letter from Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Also included is a long but informative interview in which Netanyahu discusses several recent controversies in a German newspaper.

Exploiting the Holocaust  and hanging homosexuals in Iran

Exploiting the Holocaust and hanging homosexuals in Iran Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

Yesterday, the Jewish world was commemorating the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Ha'Shoah). Iran, however, decided to mark the day a little differently.

The Iranian regime is notorious for its persistent denial of the Holocaust -- for example, a huge controversy erupted in Germany last month when an interview with the Iranian President was aired on public television in which he denied the Holocaust. (For more on Iran's efforts to sponsor Holocaust denial internationally, see...

First Iran meeting/ Netanyahu and Fayyad meet to exchange letters

First Iran meeting/ Netanyahu and Fayyad meet to exchange letters Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update deals with the "P5+1" talks with Iran that occurred on Saturday - with reports suggesting little diplomatic progress accomplished beyond agreement to another meeting in five weeks in Baghdad. On a separate issue, it also contains a look a the significance of the planned meeting tonight between Israeli PM Netanyahu and Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad to present a letter outlining the Palestinian position.

Another failed peace plan for Syria?/ Negotiating with Iran

Another failed peace plan for Syria?/ Negotiating with Iran Categories: International Security, Iran, Syria, Updates    

This Update deals primarily with the apparent failure of the peace plan for Syria negotiated by UN envoy Kofi Annan, which appears to have failed after a promised pullout of  Syrian forces from major towns by Tuesday appears to have largely not occurred (though relative quiet is reportedly currently in place across the country.)

First up is Syrian opposition figure and analyst Radwan Ziadeh who argues it was absurd to have expected Syrian President Assad to have complied with the Annan peace plan given his track record. He points particularly to repeated promises by Assad to both Turkey and the Arab League which were not kept, and seemed to be simply a diversion.

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Emanuele Ottolenghi: Iran regime change only hope

Emanuele Ottolenghi: Iran regime change only hope Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi Categories: Iran, Op-eds, Updates    

A cold war will quickly turn into a hot one unless drastic action is taken.

As the drumbeat of war mounts in the Middle East, people wonder if an Iran-Israel war is inevitable.

Iran's rhetoric about wiping Israel off the map continues unabated - as does its quest for nuclear weapons. Israel views the combination of Tehran's relentless rhetoric against the Jewish state with a nuclear weapon as an existential threat...

 

Intelligence Debates on Iran

Intelligence Debates on Iran Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iran, Updates    

This Update includes three pieces which attempt to clarify the debate, centred on competing leaks from intelligence sources, about what is known about the present and future state of the Iranian nuclear program...

 Iran and the Huawei controversy

Iran and the Huawei controversy Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, China, Iran, Updates    

Recently the Australian media has been focused on news that the Australian government blocked the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in the national broadband network (NBN).

While most commentators are discussing the cyber security concerns, few are raising Huawei's questionable activities in Iran - with reports that Huawei empowered the Iranian regime to track dissidents during the 2009 demonstrations.

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Iran's War in Gaza

Iran's War in Gaza Author: Jonathan Schanzer Categories: Iran, Palestinians    

When Israeli jets pounded the Gaza Strip on March 9-12, in the latest round of major fighting around the enclave, they were not fighting Hamas, Israel's traditional bête noire in Gaza. Though radical factions fired more than 300 rockets at Israel, the self-described Islamic Resistance Movement did not claim responsibility for a single attack. It may be the first time the organisation has refused to lead the charge to battle against Israel.

Hamas has a different fight on its hands. Iran, through the use of its proxies, is fomenting instability in Gaza that it is ill-equipped to handle. Indeed, Teheran is punishing Gaza's de facto rulers for leaving their long-standing alliance.

Israel and US debate Red Lines on Iran

Israel and US debate Red Lines on Iran Author: Michael Herzog Categories: America, Iran, Israel    

The March 5 summit between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu marked an important milestone in the US-Israeli decision-making process on Iran's nuclear program. The meeting helped clarify positions and narrow gaps, yet significant differences remain to be addressed in the coming months.

Assad's Email, Iran and the Palestinians

Assad's Email, Iran and the Palestinians Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Documents, Iran, Palestinians, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

As has been widely reported in the Australian press today, on Wednesday the Guardian went public with a trove of messages that they had obtained which purportedly had been mined out of Syrian President Bashar Assad's personal email account.

What was less widely reported was that, as a key strategy, in the emails the Iranians told the Alawite Assad to shore up his image among the country's majority Sunni Muslim population by fashioning himself as an uncompromising opponent of concessions to Israel and as a defender of Jerusalem.

 UN Commission on the Status of Women singles out Israel for condemnation

UN Commission on the Status of Women singles out Israel for condemnation Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

The United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has done it again - in its annual session it condemned only one country - Israel, while ignoring the human rights violations of women around the world, including especially the current crisis in Syria - where women are being raped and murdered...

Want to avoid a strike on Iran? Then keep threatening to strike Iran

Want to avoid a strike on Iran? Then keep threatening to strike Iran Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Israel, Updates    

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently been the subject of much criticism because of what some see as an unnecessarily militaristic attitude regarding Iran, arguing that his statements indicate a clear gung-ho -- even warmongering -- attitude. The reality may actually be the very opposite.

Israel is believed to have previously taken-out two different nuclear programs: Iraq's in 1981 and Syria's in 2007. I say "believed to have" because Israel has never officially admitted to the second one; indeed, no Israeli public official ever even recognised that Syria had a nuclear program and in neither case was there any prior warning (in fact, prior to the strike on Syria's secret reactor in 2007...

Another child's death falsely blamed on Israel as leaked emails reveal Assad's scapegoating

Another child's death falsely blamed on Israel as leaked emails reveal Assad's scapegoating Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Just days after being exposed for fraudulently blaming the accidental death of a 15-year-old boy on an "Israeli airstrike", Hamas officials have again attempted to implicate Israel in the death of a Gaza youth -- this time, seven-year-old Baraka al-Mughrabi. Just after Mughrabi passed-away last night, reports started emerging that he had been killed by an Israeli strike.

Not long after, however, these remarks were retracted as the truth of his death emerged...

Australian terror twist following arrest in India for embassy attack

Australian terror twist following arrest in India for embassy attack Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, India, Iran, Terrorism, Updates    

Delhi Police have arrested an Indian journalist, Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, a Shi'ite with connections to Iran for his alleged role in facilitating the February 13 bombing of an Israeli Embassy car. See previous AIJAC blog post on background on the attack.

Interestingly, reporting on this arrest has featured discussion of a previous alleged plot by Iranian proxies to prepare terror attacks in Australia...

Fraud suspected in Iranian election

Fraud suspected in Iranian election Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Updates    

Following yesterday's blog post on the outcomes of the Iranian Parliamentary election, there is further speculation that the Iranian government's claim of an election turnout of 65% is not accurate.

Also, check out the "bravest, craziest, most ironic vote in Iran's election" - a young Iranian man who wore a T-shirt that stated "God Bless America" to a polling station.

British Prime Minister confirms Iranian nuclear threat as Obama warns Romney that it is no game

British Prime Minister confirms Iranian nuclear threat as Obama warns Romney that it is no game Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, India, Iran, Updates    

The Guardian's Patrick Wintour and Julian Borger have reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron has explicitly stated that Iran is intending to develop nuclear weapons. This comes just months after the same newspaper revealed that the British military has begun putting in place preparations for a possible war with Iran. That said, Cameron still backs sanctions and is particularly concerned with China and India.

David Cameron has warned that Iran is seeking to build an "inter-continental nuclear weapon" that threatens the west, as he urged Israel to allow time for sanctions to force the Iranians to change their strategic stance...

Iran election 2012: Khamenei vs Ahmadinejad

Iran election 2012: Khamenei vs Ahmadinejad Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Updates    

Amid Iran's nuclear standoff and reports of its human rights abuses, the Iranian Parliamentary elections on March 2 garnered suprisingly little outside interest.

This was because the whole event was simply a contest amongst various strains of extremists - with reformists largely excluded from taking part, or boycotting. It was essentially a battle between supporters of Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The election results are in and it seems Ahmadinejad lost the battle and now may be reduced to being a ‘lame duck' President.

This blog post looks at the implications of the election.

Obama and Bibi and Iran

Obama and Bibi and Iran Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Updates    

The past few days saw an intense period of discussion about the Iranian nuclear crisis in Washington involving both US President Obama, and visiting Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. The three focal points of analysis were Obama's Speech to the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday (video here), the subsequent meeting between the two leaders on Monday and their public statement following the meeting, and Netanyahu's Speech to AIPAC on Monday evening (video here). We recommend reading all three original texts, and provide analysis of the context of all three below.

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Reactions to Obama's AIPAC Speech

Reactions to Obama's AIPAC Speech Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Updates    

On March 4, US President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual policy conference. In his speech Obama emphasised his strong support for the State of Israel, and policy on Iran.

This blog post looks at a variety of resposes to the speech.

The SMH’s quest to downplay the Iranian nuclear program

The SMH’s quest to downplay the Iranian nuclear program Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, International Security, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Seldom has there been such a brazen attempt to pass off pantomime as intelligent debate.

Saturday's edition of the Sydney Morning Herald's (SMH) weekly "The Question" section - which canvasses the opinions of four experts with presumed standing on a specific issue - addressed the topic of "Is the West destined for war with Iran? Deepening distrust is fuelling a new round of sabre-rattling."

A fair enough subject for discussion, however, the range of views left a lot to be desired...

Inside Hamas/ Israel's Iran dilemma

Inside Hamas/ Israel's Iran dilemma Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features two new and penetrating analyses of the ructions and political disagreements currently roiling Hamas, as well as an important new expression of Israel's dilemmas vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear program in the lead up to Israeli PM Netanyahu's trip to Washington next week.

First up is the always excellently informed top Israeli journalist, Ehud Yaari, sorting out the power struggles within Hamas. Yaari says that the once unassailable Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal now seems to be in deep trouble, cut off from a base of operations and with increasingly public denunciations of his policies from within Hamas' senior ranks...

Essay: Creative Desecration

Essay: Creative Desecration Author: Matthias Küntzel Categories: Antisemitism, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran    

Iran's policies now lie at the centre of world politics. Far too little attention, however, is being paid to the unique ideological atmosphere that makes the Iranian nuclear weapons program so dangerous.

Holocaust denial is certainly the cruellest aspect of this ideology, for whoever denies the Holocaust kills the victims a second time. The denial of the Holocaust is also its most bewildering aspect - no other crime in history is better documented.

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Iran claims victory over Israel in Academy Awards while continuing to repress film industry

Iran claims victory over Israel in Academy Awards while continuing to repress film industry Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Updates    

When accepting the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film last night, for his film Separation, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi took a veiled stab at the regime ruling Iran. Farhadi expressed how grateful he was that Iran was being recognised for its "glorious culture" and spoke of the Iranian people's rejection of "hostility and resentment".

At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country Iran is spoken here through...

The psychology of Iran's rulers and their nuclear plans

The psychology of Iran's rulers and their nuclear plans Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Updates    

This Update includes two new pieces by experts attempting to explain how Teheran views the current nuclear standoff - a vital piece of the puzzle if policies are to be implemented to influence the behaviour of Iran's leaders.

First up is Ray Takeyh of the US Council on Foreign Relations, who points out that the primary reason the leaders of the Iranian regime believe they need nuclear weapons is because, for historical reasons, they both see themselves as the "natural hegemons" of the region, and are a revolutionary regime, whose purpose is to export their revolution to other countries...

Fisking Four Corners: getting the facts straight on Syria, Israel and Iran

Fisking Four Corners: getting the facts straight on Syria, Israel and Iran Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Syria, Updates    

Last night, ABC's Four Corners program focussed on the uprising in Syria. The program mostly featured a British Channel Four documentary on the Assad regime's systematic torture of Syrian opposition-members, including children, which gave a shocking insight into the events besetting Syrians opposed to their government's policies. The program ended, however, with host Kerry O'Brien interviewing notorious Middle-East correspondent Robert Fisk for 15 minutes in which Fisk was essentially given a pedestal to promulgate his views unchallenged...

India, the Delhi bombing and Iran sanctions

India, the Delhi bombing and Iran sanctions Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: India, Iran, Updates    

The bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat's car in New Delhi on February 13 by suspected Iranian operatives has opened a national debate among Indian commentators and lawmakers over the country's close trading ties to Iran.

Unlike China, Iran's other major trading partner, India maintains a close relationship with Israel as a top client of the Israeli defence industry, adding a layer of complexity to the situation...

ABC "World Today" interviewee says Israel may have bombed their own Embassies

ABC "World Today" interviewee says Israel may have bombed their own Embassies Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iran, Media/ Academia, Updates    

In an interview with the ABC radio show "The World Today" yesterday afternoon, Geneive Abdo, a former Guardian journalist in Iran now working as an Iran expert at a Washington thinktank:

  • Said it's "entirely possible" Israel bombed their own embassies to provoke a war with Iran.
  • Complained about the "extremely powerful" Jewish lobby in the US.
  • Argued that the "very extremist Israeli government" has not even considered the dangers of a military strike on Iran, and lacks "any voices of reason" - basing her argument on the grounds of what Israel "did for many years in Lebanon" (Abdo is of Lebanese-American extraction).

 

Hamas doubles down on intransigence

Hamas doubles down on intransigence Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Terrorism    

Following up on yesterday's post on the extreme statements of Hamas Prime Minister Ismael Haniyah in Iran, The Jerusalem Post reports that Haniyeh made some additional extreme statements on his final day in the country - vowing Hamas will continue to rely on violence against Israel and reject compromise.

Bangkok terror attack - a pattern of failures?

Bangkok terror attack - a pattern of failures? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Terrorism, Updates    

Yesterday there was another failed act of terrorism in Bangkok, likely to be linked to Iran and Hezbollah.  This latest failed terrorist attack follows attacks on Israeli embassy personnel in India and Georgia a day earlier (see previous blog post). It also follows a string of attempted terrorist attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets that have thankfully been thwarted in places including Bangkok and Baku, Azerbaijan.

The question many are grappling with is that if Iran and Hezbollah, generally both thought to have dangerously competent cover operation wings, are behind these terrorists attacks, why weren't they more effective?

Hamas Gaza leaders reiterate "We'll never recognise Israel"

Hamas Gaza leaders reiterate "We'll never recognise Israel" Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

In the aftermath of the recent Qatari-brokered reconciliation agreement between Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, many have suggested that Hamas is moderating both its long-standing goals of Israel's destruction and its traditional rejection of any negotiations with Israel. But Hamas' leadership in Gaza, spearheaded Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, has been making it very clear that they do not support any such change...

Israeli Embassy attacks - What do they mean?

Israeli Embassy attacks - What do they mean? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Israel, Terrorism, Updates    

As was widely reported, Israeli embassy personnel were attacked in Georgia and India yesterday.

In the first attack, Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry official and an employee of the embassy in India was wounded when a bomb exploded in her car.  In the second attack, an embassy staffer in Tbilisi discovered a bomb underneath his car as he was driving to the embassy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of being responsible for the attacks, which occurred one day after the fourth anniversary of the killing of a senior Hezbollah official, Imad Mughniyeh. Both Hezbollah and Iran have blamed Israel for Mughniyeh's assassination, and Hezbollah has repeatedly sworn revenge.

This blog post recommends analysis on what these attacks could mean...

Earth-shattering news from Gaza

Earth-shattering news from Gaza Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

Literally Earth-shattering, according to Iranian state media outlet Press TV:

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the powerful feelings of the regional nations towards Gaza have been instrumental in the eruption of the region's volcano.

There is, of course, a chance that he was speaking figuratively, although this would not be the first time an Iranian cleric linked a natural disaster with global politics. There was, for instance, those earthquakes two years ago caused by promiscuous women, or the time that European countries stole Iran's rain, leading to a widespread drought. The more sinister part of Khamenei's statement, which emerged from a recent meeting with Ismail Haniyeh -- Hamas' leader in Gaza -- concerned Iranian support to Hamas...

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Iranian sources discuss plans to destroy Israel

Iranian sources discuss plans to destroy Israel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Updates    

Iranian leaders have done it again - publicly stating their intention to destroy Israel.

As was widely reported, the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on February 3 said in a speech to worshippers at prayers in Teheran and broadcast on state TV, that Israel is a "cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut."

Khamenei also said, "From now on, in any place, if any nation or any group confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear expressing this".

But less noticed was that other significant sources in Iran are discussing both the timing and the strategic details of an Iranian attack on Israel...

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Iran's blundering revolution celebrations and waning Arab support

Iran's blundering revolution celebrations and waning Arab support Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Iran, Middle East, Updates    

Wednesday was the 33rd anniversary of the return from exile of Iran's then-revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In celebration, the Iranian regime chose to stage a reenactment of the triumphant moment, with the Iranian airforce marching a larger than life cutout of the Ayatollah off an airplane in an elaborate parade.

Photographs of the event were made available on the semi-official Mehr news agency and have since created an Iranian viral sensation. David Goodman has reported the response...

Israel and the Iranian nuclear issue

Israel and the Iranian nuclear issue Categories: Iran, Israel, Updates    

Last week, Israel Defence Minister Ehud Barak spoke at the annual Davos Forum, and told listeners that tough sanctions on Iran may be too late because Iran was " drifting into what we call an immunity zone where practically no surgical [military operation] could block them." Israeli concern over Iran's nuclear program is clearly reaching a crescendo. So an article by veteran Israeli security correspondent Ronen Bergman in last weekend's New York Times magazine on Israeli thinking on the possibility of a limited military strike to delay the project has gained considerable attention.

Israel's Chinese Puzzle

Israel's Chinese Puzzle Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: China, Iran, Israel    

Over the past 10 to 15 years, China has become a rising power in the Middle East, rivalling the United States and Russia for strategic influence.

Its presence in the region rests squarely on a strategic relationship with Iran, and friendly, interlocking relations with Arab oil states to ensure a constant flow of energy resources to fuel China's insatiable economy, and to contain separatist movements among its Muslim Uighur Turkic ethnic minority in Xinjiang province, northwestern China.

Iran "not developing a bomb" clarification

Iran "not developing a bomb" clarification Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Updates    

Earlier in the week, Overland editor Jeff Sparrow interpreted remarks from US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Iran is not trying to develop a "nuclear weapon", but a "nuclear capability" to mean that Iran's nuclear program is entirely legal. While Sparrow was using this quote to help support a perverse conspiracy theory involving Israel, for reasons unknown, trying to dupe the rest of the world into punishing Iran, Panetta is not the only official to have stated that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon. In fact, Panetta himself has made it clear that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within a year, were it to make the decision to build one. Furthermore, Reuters reported yesterday that Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said something similar, albeit in more detail...

Tough targeted sanctions needed against Iran

Tough targeted sanctions needed against Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Op-eds    

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released in November 2011 provides the strongest evidence to date that Iran has undertaken research and experiments geared towards developing nuclear weapons. And just last week, the IAEA confirmed that Iran was enriching uranium up to 20 percent, a major step toward weapons grade level, at an underground site at ‘Fordow', a once-secret underground site revealed in September 2009 by the US, France and Britain.

Iran's nuclear program: covert action, Fordow, policy options

Iran's nuclear program: covert action, Fordow, policy options Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update offers threes pieces related to recent news on the ongoing crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

First up, former security adviser to the British government Andrew Cummings explains the rationale behind the campaign of covert action against Iran, as epitomised by the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist last week. Cummings argues that those who assert that such moves are dangerous fail to understand that the alternatives are even more risky and fraught.

Killing Iranian scientists: Overland editor's unintentional Orwellian irony

Killing Iranian scientists: Overland editor's unintentional Orwellian irony Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Jeff Sparrow, the editor of literary journal Overland, has written a missive in The Drum today on the "terrorism campaign" going on in Iran. This refers not to what first comes to mind when one reads "Iran" and "terror campaign" in the same sentence, but rather a horrendeous campaign of murder and intimidation against scientists being waged, of course, by Israel: (emphasis added)

Last Wednesday, a motorcyclist attached a bomb to a car carrying a man called Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, killing him instantly, and injuring his two companions.

That was merely the latest atrocity inflicted upon individuals and facilities associated with nuclear physics in that country ... this is terrorism, pure and simple - the systematic infliction of deadly violence launched against civilians and their families so as to create a climate of fear among Iranian physicists and other nuclear personnel. 

As Sparrow explains, the assassinations of Iranian nuclear physicists cannot be justified by pointing out that they are working towards a nuclear weapon. You see... 

The Muslim Brotherhood's plan for Egypt/ PA PM Fayyad speaks out on Iran

The Muslim Brotherhood's plan for Egypt/ PA PM Fayyad speaks out on Iran Categories: Egypt, Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

This Updates leads with two articles on the likely policies of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood now that it has won the parliamentary election, gaining approximately 41% of seats with other Islamist groups taking the Islamist bloc up to something like 2/3 of all seats.

First up is Washington Institute expert on Egyptian politics Eric Trager, looking at the likely agenda of the Brotherhood in power. He says that the agenda will be theocracy internally, and confrontation internationally, and that expectations that the group will moderate are very unlikely to be met - offering some behavioural evidence for this.

Iran escalates its uranium enrichment

Iran escalates its uranium enrichment Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Updates    

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), confirmed on January 10, that Iran has started enriching uranium up to 20 percent at an underground site at ‘Fordow', near the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom.

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is for civilian peaceful purposes. However, the underground enrichment facility ‘Fordow' casts further doubt on Iran's statements that the facility is for civilian purposes. The site was an Iranian secret that was only revealed in September 2009 by the US, France and Britain.

Iran's enrichment of uranium at 20 percent also suggests that that its nuclear program is not for civilian use, which would enrich uranium at around 3.5 percent - the level needed for nuclear power plants.

Essay: The Blindness of the Intellectuals

Essay: The Blindness of the Intellectuals Author: Alan Johnson Categories: Iran, Media/ Academia    

Don't listen to the nuclear nonsense, screamed one of the main left-wing weeklies, the New Statesman, only days after a sober and authoritative International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report had laid bare Iran's pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

Why do some of our intellectuals find it so very difficult to see dictatorship when it is clear, or to summon up the moral clarity to oppose it? This question has preoccupied me since 9/11. It led me to create the online journal Democratiya and to co-author the statement of principles for a new democratic left, The Euston Manifesto.

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Hamas and Hezbollah in Flux/ Sanctioning Iran's Central Bank

Hamas and Hezbollah in Flux/ Sanctioning Iran's Central Bank Categories: Iran, Lebanon, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on how Damascus-dependent terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah have coped with the possible loss of President Bashar al-Assad as a key ally in the wake of the recent unrest in Syria.

First up is veteran Israeli Arab Affairs analyst Pinhas Inbari, who looks at Hamas' situation in the wake of the uncertain future in Syria and also Egypt. He notes that the leadership of Hamas is quite happy to be moving its alliance from Damascus to a Cairo dominated by their Muslim Brotherhood allies, as looks likely to eventuate.

"Fisking" Hugh White on Iran

"Fisking" Hugh White on Iran Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Oft-quoted Australian "strategic analyst" Hugh White had a piece in The Age yesterday day on the Iranian nuclear crisis which betrayed such a lack of serious and logical strategic thought, so many shallow and glib yet ill-informed assumptions, that it seemed to be simply begging for a thorough "fisking" (Urban Dictionary definition: "The word is derived from articles written by Robert Fisk that were easily refuted, and refers to a point-by-point debunking of lies and/or idiocies.") Here's my effort.

 Australia and US Senate seek tougher sanctions on Iran

Australia and US Senate seek tougher sanctions on Iran Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Australasia, Iran, Updates    

As we noted in a post last week, the EU lat weeked imposed new tougher sanctions on Iran, and today Australia followed suit.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced from Lithuania that Australian intends to impose additional sanctions in response to Iran's continuing non-compliance with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has voted unanimously to pass the most stringent economic sanctions against Iran to date. However, the move was opposed to by the Obama administration.

AIJAC welcomes Australian support for further sanctions on Iran

AIJAC welcomes Australian support for further sanctions on Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, International Security, Iran, Media Releases    

AIJAC welcomes the announcement by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd that Australia will be pursuing additional sanctions against Iran, including measures that will "further restrict business with Iran's petroleum and financial sectors."

Hopefully, these measures will, when enacted, bring Australia into line with the international consensus developing, which includes the US, EU and Canada, that, in the wake of the latest IAEA report on Iran's illegal nuclear program, the time has come to bring the maximum diplomatic/economic pressures on the Iranian regime before it is too late.

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US and EU place tougher sanctions on Iran

US and EU place tougher sanctions on Iran Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Europe, Iran, Updates    

Following the Iranian ‘mob' attack on the British embassy, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have recalled their ambassadors temporarily from Iran. The UK immediately closed its embassy in Iran and ordered Iran's dipxlomatic staff to leave London.

A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels condemned the attack on the British embassy, and announced new economic and travel sanctions on Iran to deter its nuclear program.  The sanctions will freeze the assets of 143 companies and ban 37 Iranian nationals described as "directly involved in Iran's nuclear activities" from entering the EU.  However, the EU did not follow Britain, Canada and the US which severed all dealings with Iran's Central Bank.  France has also been urging collective EU action to follow the British example and also to stop oil imports from Iran.

The US Congress also seems poised to push stronger action on Iran. On December 1, the US Senate unanimously approved tougher sanctions against Iran, voting to penalise foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's Central Bank - the main conduit for its oil revenues...

Responses to gay Israel slur

Responses to gay Israel slur Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Following on from this post concerning an accusation of Israel supposedly "pinkwashing" its public image by spruiking its record on gay rights to hide alleged injustices, a number of gay writers have penned scathing responses in the Jewish and international media.

Writing in the Forward, Jay Michaelson gives a critique of the piece by Sarah Schulman in the New York Times that began the whole kerfuffle...

Understanding the attack on the British Embassy in Teheran

Understanding the attack on the British Embassy in Teheran Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Europe, Iran, Lebanon, United Kingdom, Updates    

Following increasing threats of sanctions over the Iranian nuclear program, as was being progressively reported in the Guardian's liveblog, the UK embassy in Iran was stormed last night (Australia time) by a group of supposed "students". The British government has unequivocally held the Iranian regime responsible.

Even though France has been the strongest European champion of the new round of sanctions, as British journalist Christopher de Bellaigue noted in a 2008 article, the British hold a special place in Iranian paranoia...

Editorial: What Needs to be Done Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel    

Speaking to CNN recently, Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak posed a terrifying scenario:

"Who would have come to rescue Kuwait when it was taken by Saddam Hussein 20 years ago, if Saddam could have said credibly enough that he has three or four crude nuclear devices?"

The answer of course, is that no one would have acted. In all likelihood, Iraq would still be in control of Kuwait and all its oil wealth today and Saddam would still likely be in power.

Warning Bell

Warning Bell Author: Ephraim Asculai Categories: International Security, Iran    

The long awaited and much overdue Annex of the November 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report was presented to the IAEA Board of Governors and the UN Security Council on November 8, 2011. Although the Annex contains much interesting and fresh information, its basic message that Iran is actively engaged in the development of nuclear weapons should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the developments reported in the IAEA periodic reports.

Israel's Nuclear Nightmares

Israel's Nuclear Nightmares Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Iran, Israel    

"Something like this might really happen," warned the narrator of the 1959 comedy "The Mouse that Roared" while a nuclear explosion was displayed in the background. And then, before proceeding to the story about a remote duchy that saves itself from bankruptcy by stealing a doomsday bomb, the narrator explained: "We thought we should put you in the proper mood."

Faced with a steadily maturing Iranian nuclear program, Israel has long been in the proper mood, but its consequent efforts to convince the world that "something like this might happen" have so far registered partial success at best.

 

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon should broaden its focus

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon should broaden its focus Author: Michael Immerman Categories: International Security, Iran, Lebanon, Middle East, Syria, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

In the latest development from the ongoing saga surrounding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the UN will be holding off on the prosecution of the suspected assassins for the time being.

As reported, legal proceedings against Mustafa Badreddine, Salam Ayyash, Hussein Anaissi and Assad Sabra, Hezbollah members considered responsible for the assassination of Hariri, will not proceed in absentia.

Rather, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the UN-backed body tasked with prosecuting and resolving this matter, will wait for Lebanese authorities to arrest the four suspects.

Are new sanctions on Iran enough?

Are new sanctions on Iran enough? Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update features three pieces commenting on the international debate about a new round of sanctions on Iran - with the US, Britain and Canada announcing new measures on Monday, and Europe agreeing "in principle" to expand sanctions a couple of days later

First up is an editorial from the Washington Post, in which the paper argues that the new sanctions announced by the US Administration amount to "half-measures". Instead, the paper argues, the sorts of tough sanctions proposed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy early this week should be adopted - including a freeze on the assets of Iran's central bank, and a complete embargo on all petroleum purchases from Iran being adopted by a coalition of Western states.

Iran fighting to control the message

Iran fighting to control the message Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Syria, Updates    

New York Times journalist Rick Gladstone has reported on a rare act of defiance from Iran's internal media, stemming from an all-too-familiar crackdown on the messages that media officials disseminate.

Iran's main government-run newspaper was published Tuesday without a front-page headline, replaced by photographs of its headquarters during an assault the day earlier by forces working for the judiciary who briefly arrested its top official - the media adviser to the president - and more than 30 others.

The presentation of the front page appeared to be an act of protest by the newspaper over the unusual episode on Monday, which judiciary officials described as...

Media Week - Wild Woolcott; Bedouin Brouhaha; Sober Warning

Media Week - Wild Woolcott; Bedouin Brouhaha; Sober Warning Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Former DFAT head Richard Woolcott wrote a piece for the Age (11/11) critical of Australia's vote against Palestinian membership of UNESCO. Having spent more than half his article setting out the merits of Australia obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council, he then wrote, "In these circumstances, I find it both surprising and a decisive setback to our election prospects that the Prime Minister decided Australia should vote against the admission of Palestine to UNESCO."

Assad loses the Arab League/ Iran's Nukes again

Assad loses the Arab League/ Iran's Nukes again Categories: Iran, Syria, Updates    

Today's Update features two pieces on the worsening international position of Syria's Assad regime, in the wake of Syria's suspension by the Arab League, a call by Jordan's King Abdullah for Assad to step down, and new European sanctions. All this occurred as the killing went on in defiance of an Arab League peace plan (at least 40 people were reportedly killing on Monday, some disturbing video is here) and following attacks in Syria and Lebanon by pro-regime mobs on the Embassies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan.

Iran responds to IAEA by threatening to destroy Israel... again + Australia feels the fallout

Iran responds to IAEA by threatening to destroy Israel... again + Australia feels the fallout Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, International Security, Iran, Israel, United Nations, Updates    

As outlined in yesterday's update, the UN's atomic energy watchdog has just released a report that just falls short of definitively stating that Iran has a nuclear weapons program - seemingly the closest that the UN ever comes to an unequivocal condemnation of a country that is not Israel. The report has emerged amid rumours that Israel is gearing-up for an attack on Iran and is busy soliciting support from allies in the UK and the US.

Predictably, Iran did not respond with steps to assure the international community that its nuclear program is peaceful, but instead blamed an American conspiracy and then threatened to destroy Israel.

Iran denies the allegations and says the evidence used by the U.N. nuclear watchdog was fabricated by the United States and its allies. It has insisted that its nuclear program is aimed only at generating electricity and ensuring an independent fuel supply for its nuclear power plants.

... "If smoke columns rise from our nuclear facilities, then this scenario could happen in other areas," said Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces. "The Dimona station in Israel is the easiest...

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IAEA: Iran "continuing" work on a bomb

IAEA: Iran "continuing" work on a bomb Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

As readers may be aware, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday released a report into Iran's nuclear program which is being described by diplomats as "the most damning report ever published by the IAEA." The report itself is available in full here - the key extracts are collected here and here.

We lead with a summary of the report's key findings from Washington Institute for Near East Policy expert Simon Henderson. He pays particular attention to the report's revelations concerning where Iran obtained its nuclear technology - from Pakistan mainly, but also  possibly from Russia.

Has Iran run down the nuclear clock?

Has Iran run down the nuclear clock? Author: Allon Lee Categories: America, International Security, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Updates    

A new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report due to be released tomorrow is believed to contain compelling evidence that Iran is now at the end stage of its nuclear research program and is actively working on weaponisation technologies.

Ahead of the report's scheduled release we present a range of reading that predicts what the report will likely detail, where the effort to contain Iran's nuclear weapons program is at and whether the time has come to move from economic sanctions to military options.

The Palestinians and UNESCO/ An Attack on Iran? Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

This Update features two comments on the vote by the UN Educational, Social and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) to admit "Palestine" as a full member on Monday, a measure opposed by the Australia (see AIJAC's media release on the Australian vote here).  It also contains some comments on reports originating in the Israeli press alleging that the Israeli Government is stepping up preparations for a possible military strike on Iran's nuclear program.

Sudden jump in odds on Iran attack

Sudden jump in odds on Iran attack Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Kingdom, Updates    

A whole series of events last night made an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities suddenly seem far closer than had previously been the case. After a week of speculation in the Israeli press, Haaretz reported yesterday that the Prime Minister and Defence Minister are trying to gain cabinet support for a strike.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are trying to muster a majority in the cabinet in favor of military action against Iran, a senior Israeli official has said. According to the official, there is a "small advantage" in the cabinet for the opponents of such an attack.

Netanyahu and Barak recently persuaded Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who previously objected to attacking Iran, to support such a move.

This report coincided with the test-firing of a new long-range Israeli missile, which could be capable of reaching targets in Iran...

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Considering the last resort option on Iran

Considering the last resort option on Iran Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Updates    

International legal scholar Louis René Beres, US Admiral (ret.) Leon Edney and US Lt Gen (ret.) Thomas G. McInerney have written an insightful article in Haaretz, looking at the current Iranian nuclear predicament and the various possible responses, focusing on the legality of a pre-emptive strike. They argue that the risk presented by a nuclear Iran is so great that a US strike is at least likely to be justifiable.

The Caroline Doctrine notes an implicit distinction between preventive war (which is never legal ), and preemptive war. Even the latter is not permitted merely to protect oneself against an emerging threat, but only when the danger posed is "instant" and "overwhelming."...

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Iran’s alleged Washington plot re-examined

Iran’s alleged Washington plot re-examined Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iran, Terrorism, Updates    

As noted in the last Update, the recently exposed alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US at a Washington restaurant - and commit a number of the other terror attacks in the US - is a big story which has provoked much commentary and analysis.

Some of that analysis, such as by former CIA agent Robert Baer on ABC-TV's "Lateline" has cast doubt on the story, arguing the alleged plot, as outlined, appears too amateurish and slapdash to be the work of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp.

Breakdown of Iranian attempted assassination of Saudi official on US soil

Breakdown of Iranian attempted assassination of Saudi official on US soil Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Terrorism, Updates    

This morning (Australian time), US Attorney-General Eric Holder announced that two men had been charged with attempting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US and, more significantly, doing so on behalf of the Iranian government. The two men were Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalised US citizen of Iranian origin, and Gholam Shakuri, who is believed to be in Iran. Incredibly, Arbabsiar cooperated with the US authorities once arrested and so much of the information on the assassination plot was collected from his testimony.

Naturally, the Iranian government has denied the allegations and blamed a Zionist conspiracy.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast called the claims a "prefabricated scenario" and a "ridiculous show...

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Iranian actress lashed for Australian movie appearance: there are more where she came from

Iranian actress lashed for Australian movie appearance: there are more where she came from Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Updates    

The Australian Government has rightly condemned the Iranian decision to punish Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr with 90 lashes for participating in an Australian-made film that was critical of the Iranian regime. In a sense, however, Vafamehr is lucky that her "crime" had an Australian connection - this was enough to muster international support for her situation and will hopefully lead to her receiving better treatment. Unfortunately, the reprehensible abuse in Vafamehr's case is just another episode in the Islamic Republic's constant suppression of any dissent or criticism.

As noted in yesterday's Wall Street Journal by American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi, who was arrested in Iran in 2009 but freed under international pressure, while foreigners with international backing tend to be quickly released by the Iranians, Iran's hundreds of domestic political prisoners are rarely as lucky.

Just after my release from a Tehran prison in May 2009, an Iranian prisoner wrote an open letter entitled, "I wish I were a Roxana." Haleh Rouhi, a follower of Iran's minority Baha'i faith, was serving a four-year sentence for antiregime propaganda, although she said she was simply "teaching the alphabet and numbers" to underserved children...

 

AIJAC UPDATE - The political and moral costs of the failure to sanction Syria

AIJAC UPDATE - The political and moral costs of the failure to sanction Syria Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Europe, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, Turkey, United Nations, Updates    

Today's Update looks at Syria, Iran and Turkey against the backdrop of the veto by China and Russia of sanctions by the UN Security Council against the Assad regime in Damascus for its ongoing violent crackdown against anti-government protesters. The resolution was supported by nine members but, significantly, Lebanon, which occupies a temporary seat on the Security Council, abstained from the vote, as did South Africa, India and Brazil. After the vote the EU indicated it intended passing its own sanctions against Syria. Meanwhile Turkey's PM Recep Erdogan continues to use the Syria issue and relentlessly attacks Israel for his own regional ambitions. We offer a number of articles that reveal the changing dynamics in the Middle East that are are not receiving sufficient attention in Australia and elsewhere.

Iran's Holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracies becoming "stale"

Iran's Holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracies becoming "stale" Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Europe, Iran, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

In an amusing slip up captured by Foreign Policy's Colum Lynch, Dr Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been photographed sitting behind the Israeli desk. As Lynch notes, Iran rejects Israel's existence to such an extent that Iranian representatives are not permitted to utter the word "Israel" and rather refer to the "Zionist entity", making the photo (above) sadly ironic.

In fact, Iran seems to have been making the headlines a little over the last two days. Continuing the trend of leaving the important issues to the last minute, Iran's nuclear program is again on the agenda while the world's leaders are still gathered in New York. Graham Allison argues in today's Washington Post that the US should take-up the offer Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made at the beginning of last month to stop enriching uranium in exchange for being sold pre-enriched uranium...

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Drama at the UN

Drama at the UN Categories: Antisemitism, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

As readers are aware, the UN General Assembly session for 2011 has begun in New York amidst considerable drama of various sorts. While the media focus has mainly been on the status of the Palestinian bid to gain UN recognition as a state, there's a great deal more going on. This Update focuses on the various dramas occurring.

A nuclear Iran - Is it too late? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

With the world focussed on other issues, Iran is continuing to both illegally enrich uranium and rapidly building up the infrastructure to do so even more quickly and efficiently.

It is clear that Iran is already well along on its course towards developing nuclear weapons for military purposes - and it is appearing inceasingly unlikely that anyone will stop it.

A nuclear Iran is also an immense danger to the Middle East. As former British PM Tony Blair, Peace Envoy for the Middle East, recently stated: 'If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons capability it would destabilise the region very, very badly."

Blair said that while Al Qaeda poses a significant threat to people across the world, he believes the bigger evil is Iran, which "support groups that are engaged with terrorism and the forces of reaction".

Blair said that he believes regime change in Iran is necessary and there needs to be military intervention if it acquires nuclear weapons capability.

Ahmadinejad commemorates 9/11

Ahmadinejad commemorates 9/11 Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iran, Terrorism, Updates    

While the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks were being commemorated around the globe, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chose to participate in the remembrances in his inimitable and subtle way - that is, by re-iterating his belief that it was all a US plot to have an excuse to kill Muslims.

Iran's latest nuclear gambit

Iran's latest nuclear gambit Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, United Nations, Updates    

According to recent reports Iran may be attempting to strike back at the West for the alleged cyber warfare that it has been suffering in recent months. As AP has identified, Iranian involvement may be behind recent attacks on US internet giants, as well as the CIA.

AMSTERDAM -- Hackers who broke into a Dutch web security firm have issued hundreds of bogus security certificates for spy agency websites including the CIA as well as for Internet giants like Google, Microsoft and Twitter, the government said Monday.

Experts say they suspect the hacker - or hackers - operated with the cooperation of the Iranian government.

While these hackings serve as further proof of Iran's persistent belligerence to the West, it is not only in the US and Europe that public opinion has been turning against the Islamic Republic...

West failing Arab liberals as Islamists rise

West failing Arab liberals as Islamists rise Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Updates    

Protests are raging again in Iran, this time ostensibly over the drying up of a salt lake in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province. It is true that the local people are suffering from the damage that the lake's gradual erosion has done to their economy, however the familiarity of videos such as the one below, showing grainy images of Iranian police shooting at protesters, who throw rocks in return, point to a general discontent with the ruling Ayatollah regime that boils just below the surface of the Islamic Republic.

The 1979 "Islamic Revolution" was the first case of a relatively young Islamist movement actually gaining dominion over an entire state. The subsquent deterioration of Iran was mirrored in the other Islamist "successes" in Afghanistan, Sudan, Gaza and large portions of Algeria, Yemen and Somalia. The totalitarian ideology that promises a return to the "glory days" of Islam through forced regression to a 7th-century civil society has to date yielded nothing but misery to those living under it. Yet, as this blog has been reporting, the ideology remains perhaps the most influential force in the Arab world, with its adherents looking increasingly likely to hijack the "Arab Spring" revolutions...

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Is Iran abandoning Assad?

Is Iran abandoning Assad? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iran, Syria, Updates    

Is Iran starting to pull back from Syria's Assad regime, its closest ally, as the unrest and bloodshed in Syria continues?

Ostensibly, there are some signs that Teheran is, at least verbally, starting to create a bit of distance from Damascus.

Firstly, Iran's Foreign Minister publicly suggested Syria should meet the "legitimate demands" of the protestors. Then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on television that "the [Syrian] people should have the right to elect and get their freedoms"...

 

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Video - Ehud Yaari on Iran's Gaza Missile Gambit, Trouble in Cairo and more Categories: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Multimedia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Israel's respected Middle East Analyst Ehud Yaari speaks to Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Weisenthal Centre on the main reason behind Iran's Gaza Missile Gambit; Why Hezbollah is quiet (so far); Post-Tahrir Sq trouble in Cairo, as over 100 groups urge government to sever ties with Israel; Iron Dome's surprising and promising results...

Editorial: The Road to Damascus Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Libya, Syria    

The Libyan regime is imploding, as rebels opposed to Muammar Gaddafi have now taken control of most of the Libyan capital. It is immensely inspiring to witness this triumph of the Libyan majority over a particularly ruthless, totalitarian and bloody dictator, achieved against great odds and at a terrible cost. As US President Barack Obama said in welcoming the news, "the future of Libya is in the hands of its people."

However, that future remains unclear. It will be important over the next few months and years that the international community not view the departure of Gaddafi as the end game and do what it can to continue to support Libya in its transition to democracy, while preventing extremists from hijacking the people's revolution.

 

Who does Iran think it is fooling?

Who does Iran think it is fooling? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Updates    

The Iranian Government appears to either have an extremely warped sense of humour or is simply living on a different planet from the rest of us. This was displayed yet again today when the Iranian Foreign Ministry made the following statement, as reported by Bloomberg:

"Iran congratulates the Muslim people of Libya for the latest developments that arose from their months-long resistance and stand as another symbol of the popular movements in the region... The popular uprising in Libya shows once more that meeting people's rightful demands and respect for their opinions are undeniable necessities."

Of course, the most significant factor separating the Iranian rulers from Gaddafi's regime...

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Hamas versus Iran - Strange bedfellows falling out over Syria?

Hamas versus Iran - Strange bedfellows falling out over Syria? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Iran, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

According to a potentially very significant news story, Hamas and its long-time key patron, Iran, have had a falling out over the unrest in Syria...

While it is much too early to predict that the Hamas-Iran split will be permanent, if this did happen, it would be a major re-alignment of the Middle Eastern map, with important implications...

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London Riots: Iran champions Human Rights while British Antisemitism Rears Ugly Head

London Riots: Iran champions Human Rights while British Antisemitism Rears Ugly Head Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Iran, United Kingdom    

As violent riots spread throughout Britain, with hordes of young men robbing and looting everything in sight, an unexpected champion has emerged for Britain's aggrieved underclass. A call for Britain to restrain violence against their own people has come from none other than the Iranian Foreign Ministry. As reported by Iran's state-controlled Press TV:

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast urged the British government to order the police to stop their violent confrontation with the people, IRNA reported in the early hours of Tuesday...

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The Twilight Zone at the UN

The Twilight Zone at the UN Author: Allon Lee Categories: Asia, International Security, Iran, United Nations, Updates    

"There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man" may have kicked off each new episode of the Twilight Zone but it can equally be applied to the alternate reality that is the United Nations.

Bizarrely, this week, North Korea assumed the presidency of the UN's Conference on Disarmament despite being under a sanctions regime for its nuclear weapons program.

 

Syria Under Fire as Assad Slowly Loses Supporters

Syria Under Fire as Assad Slowly Loses Supporters Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Syria, Turkey, United Nations, Updates    

Another stark reminder of the astounding brutality displayed by the Assad regime in Syria surfaced last week when the Guardian translated and published a harrowing account of Syrian woman Samar Yazbek's shocking torture at the hands of Syrian authorities.

Two huge men entered the room. They stood in readiness, in plainclothes. One of them stood to the right and the other to the left. With a signal from his eyes, each seized me by the shoulders, though not roughly. They seized me as if I were some object, easy for them to move. I did not resist when they started to lift me out of my chair. I even stood up, surprised at what was happening...

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Iran's economic management is the regime's weak spot

Iran's economic management is the regime's weak spot Author: Allon Lee Categories: America, Iran, Syria, Updates    

Iran's economy appears so inherently fragile, that concerted external financial pressure on its energy sector could bring the regime to its knees and Washington Institute for Near East Policy analyst Patrick Clawson shows how it can be done:

If oil prices decline -- or, more important, if the United States and its allies can dissuade countries and companies from paying for Iranian oil (Washington has no objections if they receive said oil, only if they pay for it) -- then the Islamic Republic could face serious problems paying for the checks to which the Iranian people are rapidly becoming accustomed.

 

Iran Bans Waterfights and Steps Closer to Nuclear War

Iran Bans Waterfights and Steps Closer to Nuclear War Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

As reported by MEMRI, Iranian summers just became a little less enjoyable when the Iranian Parliament moved to ban watergun fights, after  pictures of a waterfight in a Teheran park were posted online. Unfortunately, this was not the most absurd statement made by an Iranian official this week (in fact, with Iran's "moral police" patrolling the country, it is all too believable).

The cake in fact goes to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who made yet another claim that Iran's clandestine nuclear program, while off-limits to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, is in fact for peaceful purposes. As reported by Reuters:

"When we say we don't want to build an atomic bomb it means we really do not want to build an atomic bomb"...

What of Turkey if the Palestinians and Kurds get their way?

What of Turkey if the Palestinians and Kurds get their way? Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Syria, Turkey, Updates    

If two million Palestinians in the West Bank deserve a state, what of the 18 million Kurds in the region who have endured 100 years of persecution?

This is the tantalising question posed by Israeli analyst Dr. Guy Bechor who argues that Turkey should be careful what it advocates on behalf of Palestinians as it seeks regional popularity and leadership.

 

Iran arms Syria as UN shifts into low gear

Iran arms Syria as UN shifts into low gear Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Russia, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

The forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepped-up their assault on the opposition stronghold of Hama yesterday. As reported by Nada Bakri for The New York Times:

Ignoring mounting condemnations, the Syrian military sent tanks, armored vehicles and snipers on Wednesday into the symbolic center of Hama, a rebellious city that has emerged as a linchpin of the nearly five-month uprising, in what appeared a decisive step by President Bashar al-Assad to crush opposition to his rule.

The military's assault on Assi Square, the scene of some of the biggest demonstrations against Mr. Assad's leadership, was an event that many activists and residents had thought impossible, evidence of the government's determination to retake by force a city that suffered one of the most brutal crackdowns in Syrian history in 1982.

This blog has been closely following the situation in Syria...

The Unholy Alliance of Iran and al-Qaeda

The Unholy Alliance of Iran and al-Qaeda Author: Allon Lee Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, America, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Terrorism, Updates    

The Obama Administration has released explosive details of how Iran has become a safe haven for al-Qaeda.

It comes as the Administration is reportedly interested in refocusing world attention on, in the words of US Treasury Department's Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen, Iran's "unmatched support for terrorism" as well as its ongoing nuclear weapons program.

 

The Iranian Regime’s Summer of Discontent

The Iranian Regime’s Summer of Discontent Author: Allon Lee Categories: International Security, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Russia, Terrorism, Updates    

Not far away from the headline-grabbing Arab Spring, a power struggle is playing out under the Iranian summer sun as fissures in the one-time partnership between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shatter into an unbridgeable abyss.

Veteran Iranian analyst Dr. Abbas Milani of Stanford University has written a follow-up to his June piece when it seemed Ahmadinejad would be impeached for sedition.

 

The Biblio File: A Greek Tragedy in Persia

The Biblio File: A Greek Tragedy in Persia Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iran    

In 1977, Abbas Milani, then a US-educated lecturer at the National University of Iran was arrested by Iranian security forces loyal to the Shah as a result of his authorship of anti-regime pamphlets. He was given over to the far-from-tender mercies of the Komiteh ["the Committee to Fight Terrorism"], one of Iran's thuggish security services. In 1996, Milani wrote of his Komiteh interrogator, "In the past eighteen years, rarely has there been a day or night in which the memory of his threats, his punch, and the fierce look in his eyes has not haunted me." After a peremptory trial, Milani was jailed for one year, including three weeks in solitary confinement, at Teheran's infamous Evin Prison. (He would likely have received a harsher sentence if his case had not attracted attention in the West). He shared his imprisonment with such later luminaries of the subsequent 1979 Islamic Revolution as future President Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani and Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri, who became Khomeini's designated successor in 1985 before falling out with him in 1989.

Iranian kettle meets pot

Iranian kettle meets pot Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Terrorism, Updates    

Press TV, an Iranian state-controlled media outlet, has reported Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seemingly blaming some kind of pro-Israel conspiracy for the anti-Iranian sentiment permeating the Middle East, 

"In the final days of their existence, plotters intend to cause difference and clash in our region to save the Zionist regime (Israel)," said President Ahmadinejad in the southwestern city of Ahvaz on Thursday...

Threats from Iran, Ambivalence from Egypt

Threats from Iran, Ambivalence from Egypt Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Iran, Updates    

As translated by Iranian defector Reza Kahlili, Iranian Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi responded to the recent assassination of an Iranian scientist, shot by an unidentified man on a motorcycle, by saying:

The main plot for this criminal act was conceived by the American government, and since it is scared of the reaction by the Muslim world due to the uprisings in the region, it had the Zionist regime commit the heinous act... In order to protect the security of our country, we have no option but to have the Zionist regime wiped off the map...

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Pressuring Syria/Syria and Iran

Pressuring Syria/Syria and Iran Categories: Iran, Syria, Updates    

This Update looks at policy options, as well as the potential benefits and costs, for Western governments seeking to pressure  Syria's Assad regime as the protests in Syria continue to spread and the death toll continues to mount.

The opening entry is an editorial from the New York Times, which urges that while a military invention is out of the question, Western nations "can bring a lot more pressure to bear" on the Assad regime. The paper notes that "awe" is the only possible response to the courage of Syrian protesters. It goes on to castigate US and European leaders for sending mixed message and various lifelines to the regime, urges the consumers of Syrian oil to stop buying it, and calls the Arab League's recent intervention on behalf of Assad a "disgrace".

Can Iran block America’s ‘Internet in a suitcase’?

Can Iran block America’s ‘Internet in a suitcase’? Author: Geoffrey Levin Categories: America, Iran, Middle East, Updates    

Several weeks ago, the New York Times reported an Obama Administration effort to distribute a device it had developed called 'Internet in a suitcase', which could bring web access to dissidents in authoritarian countries across the world. The report stated:

Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet...The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.


This week, Iranian intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi responded to the news.

Media Week - Boycott Precedents; Nuclear Naivety; This is News? Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

In his column in the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph and Adelaide's Advertiser (6/7), Andrew Bolt vented his disgust at the attempted picketing of a Max Brenner shop by pro-Palestinian activists. He wrote, "[In Australia] I never thought I'd see people picketing shops because their owners were Jewish...I've seen pictures of Jewish shops attacked before, of course, but they were in black and white, in another country at another ghastly time."

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The world's eyes unable to focus on Iran

The world's eyes unable to focus on Iran Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Israel, Quartet, United Nations, Updates    

This blog has been closely following the inexplicable failure of the Western World to apply proper scrutiny to Iran, as well as the internal strife that is currently gripping the Islamic Republic. A very poignant editorial in today's Jerusalem Post argues that the UN, too, has failed to apply adequate attention to the Ayatollah regime. The Post points-out the incredible amount of attention that the Palestinian Authority's upcoming statehood bid in the UN is receiving, juxtaposing this with the relatively negligible consideration given to Iran.

Former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, noted this disturbing fact in a meeting Tuesday with The Jerusalem Post editorial staff.

Will the failed flotilla participants change course?

Will the failed flotilla participants change course? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Iran, Syria, Turkey    

As Stephen Pollard's column in the Guardian explained last night, Israeli diplomacy has all but prevented a repeat of last year's flotilla debacle.

So successful has Israel been in stymieing the flotilla that what is actually setting sail amounts to one small boat with nine activists on board, leaving two weeks late. It is barely worth noting, and poses no threat to the Israeli naval commando unit, Flotilla 13, which played out a range of scenarios in expectation of a more substantial group, from a peaceful takeover of the boats to dealing with activist violence...

Assad's carte blanche is hurting Syrians

Assad's carte blanche is hurting Syrians Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Libya, Syria, Updates    

While ruminating yesterday on the US's decision to intervene in Libya, Middle East scholar Barry Rubin gave several insights as to why the West would choose Libya to attack rather than Syria. The assessement, unfortunately, is not particularly flattering for our leaders:

I would suggest that the actual main reasons revolve around ideology. The administration is now obsessed with...

Internal strife in Iran - time for more tyrants to fall?

Internal strife in Iran - time for more tyrants to fall? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Middle East, Updates    

Whether it was slaughter of innocents in its strong ally, Syria, or proxy attacks on US and allied forces in Iraq, Iran has been making its presence felt throughout the Middle East in recent weeks. What is, perhaps, less widely reported is that the Islamic Republic has been seeing a significant amount of strife itself. One example of almost completely unreported violence inside Iran is the recent suppression of an emerging resistance movement in the Southern region of Ahwaz...

Is Iran really not at war with the West?

Is Iran really not at war with the West? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, International Security, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Updates    

Since the bulk of US forces in Iraq have been withdrawn, the country has been seeing an increasingly worrying spike in violence. What is especially concerning is the alleged source of this renewed upsurge in the conflict. As reported in The Washington Post last week:

BAGHDAD - Three U.S. soldiers were killed this week in a rocket attack at a U.S. base near the Iranian border, the military said Thursday, bringing June's death toll to 15 and marking the bloodiest month for U.S. troops in Iraq in two years....

Egypt's Islamists/ Signs Iran racing toward nukes

Egypt's Islamists/ Signs Iran racing toward nukes Categories: Egypt, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

This Update leads with a long but important feature on how Islamist forces are increasingly dominating politically in Egypt, and especially how they are persecuting and overawing the country's large Coptic Christian minority. The piece by Yamin el-Rashidi, published in the New York Review of Books, takes us inside the Coptic community and lets the reader perceive events in Egypt, including the apparent collaboration of the country's military rulers in the persecution, as they see it. The piece also examines the strong belief by the Muslim Brotherhood and other "Salafis", supported by other observers, that they will dominate the country after the coming election.

More Foxes Guarding Henhouses at the UN Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Asia, Iran, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

The United Nations, in its infinite wisdom, has just allowed North Korea to become the chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament....

This UN decision follows the election last week of Iran as one of the Vice-Presidents of the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly (with Qatar as President). Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon controversially made a statement appearing to endorse an Iranian conference on “Terrorism” where not only were the US, Britain and Israel accused of fomenting terrorism, but  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly alleged that Washington manufactured the Holocaust and the 9/11 attacks as pretexts to put down Muslims.

Saudi proliferation fears as Iran tests missiles

Saudi proliferation fears as Iran tests missiles Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: International Security, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Updates    

One of the strongest arguments in favour of preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons at all costs is the fear that, were Iran to develop a neclear arsenal, the balance of power in the Middle East would be severely undermined and as a result, other countries in that region would quickly start working on their own programs. This would lead to a far more dangerous world - where unstable regimes are in possession of the most devestating weapons known to humanity.

At a recent meeting in the UK, a Saudi diplomat has confirmed that...

Iran gives new meaning to "fashion police"

Iran gives new meaning to "fashion police" Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

Iranian authorities have just announced that they are extending their crackdown on "un-Islamic dress codes" to include various "Western-influenced" men's haircuts and jewellery. Iranian women have traditionally been harrassed by the "moral police" for not following the strict, conservative dress codes that Iran's rulers see as "Islamic", however, as reported by Ali Akbar Dareini and Brian Murphy in The Huffington Post, the authorities appear to be extending this code further each year.

Iran involved in crushing demonstrations in Syria Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Updates    

Haaretz is reporting that they have information from a senior Israeli source that Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Al-Quds force troops are operating throughout Syria to suppress anti-regime demonstrations and that Iran's Revolutionary Guard also helped organise the violent demonstrations attempting to breach the Israeli border on "Nakba" and "Naksa" Day, that is, May 15 and June 6.

Bahrain, Iran and US Policy

Bahrain, Iran and US Policy Author: Simon Henderson Categories: Gulf states, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia    

Neither Saudi Arabia - which bankrolls much in Bahrain, from items on the national budget to King Hamad's personal Boeing 747-400 aircraft - nor the UAE seem amenable to the notion of Bahrain being a test case for the Obama Administration's policy of promoting universal freedoms of political expression.

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Iran and the Middle East wave of protest Categories: Iran, Middle East, Updates    

Today's Update features some views on Iranian reactions to the protests across the Middle East, as well as internal divisions within the Iranian regime.

First up is Iranian-American journalist Azadeh Moaveni, who is not only familiar with the Iranian scene, but also previously reported from Egypt. She notes some contrasts between the protest movements in Egypt and Tunisia and the Iranian one - primarily, she sees the Iranian protest movement having a more coherent vision of their demands than those put forward by the Arab peoples.

Turning Green Again in Iran Author: Omid Memarian & Roja Heydarpour Categories: Iran    

Aside from the imprisonment of its leaders and the isolation from the world, the Green Movement suffers from a lack of direction. The Egyptians had a very clear demand: They wanted Mubarak out. In Iran, there is still some confusion about whether there should be another revolution or reform within the existing Islamic Republic.

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Iran and "Covert Action" Author: Max Boot Categories: America, Iran, Israel    

We're in an era of "covert action." In the US, that phrase went into disrepute in the 1970s, when Congress' Church Committee exposed hare-brained CIA plots to eliminate foreign leaders, such as assassinating Fidel Castro with exploding cigars. President Ford banned assassinations, a chastened CIA cast many veteran officers into the cold, and Congress imposed new limits on covert activities.

Ahmadinejad in Political Trouble? Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

It was reported earlier this week that the Iranian parliament or Majlis, started to move to impeach hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, until he was rescued from the move by the intervention of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This Update looks at what is going on in Iranian internal politics in the context of this news.

From Pyongyang with love

From Pyongyang with love Author: Allon Lee Categories: Asia, International Security, Iran, Middle East, Syria    

North Korean cooperation is a linchpin in Iran's development of ballistic missiles, without which progress would be retarded a very great deal. On Iran's nuclear push, the evidence is less conclusive, but North Korean assistance seems likely to be very significant to Iran’s nuclear progress to date.

Mr. Ahmadinejad goes to Lebanon Author: Avi Issacharoff & Amos Harel Categories: Iran, Lebanon    

Despite the celebrations, the emotional speeches and the tens of thousands of people who came to see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the southern Lebanon town of Bint Jbail on Oct. 14, it is far from clear whether his visit helped or hurt his Hezbollah proxy.

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The Latest IAEA Report on Iran/ Turkey's Referendum Categories: Iran, Turkey, Updates    

As noted in the previous Update, last week the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed some frightening information on Iran's nuclear program in connection within their latest quarterly report - including that Iran has perhaps three bombs worth of low-enriched uranium and has passed the crucial technical hurdle of enriching uranium to 20%.

The State of the Iranian Revolution Author: David Menashri Categories: Iran    

Since coming to power in 1979, the Islamic Revolution in Iran has had two main aims. First, it wished to remain in power and if this was the aim of the Islamic Revolution, 31 years later, it has been successful. But revolutions don't come about simply to replace one regime with another. They come with a promise that their ideology can better the lives of people and advance the country, can make a difference. And in this, the second aim of the revolution – to make the life of the Iranian people better than it was under the Shah – 31 years later, there has not been any meaningful success.

"The Point of No Return" on Iran?/Bushehr Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Updates    

Today's Update leads with a lengthy and controversial article that is generating much comment in the US. Top journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic has written an extended feature piece dealing with the possibility that Israel may launch an airstrike on the Iranian nuclear program - possibly as soon as early next year according to Goldberg. Goldberg has spoken to over 40 Israeli military and political leaders, including PM Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres for his story.

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AIJAC welcomes further Australian sanctions on Iran Categories: Australasia, International Security, Iran, Media Releases    

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today welcomed the Australian Government's announcement that further sanctions are to be placed on Iran. AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler AC said, "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a destabilising factor in an already unstable region. We congratulate the Australian government on imposing these additional sanctions on Iran to help force it to comply with international opinion and UN Security Council resolutions, to stop its enrichment program and open up all nuclear sites to unfettered access for international inspectors."

Iran "vulnerable" to sanctions Categories: International Security, Iran, Middle East    

IRAN is much more vulnerable to pressure than the West realises, and ratcheting up the pressure with sanctions may halt its nuclear weapons program, according to an Israeli specialist on Iran. The European Union's history with Iran taught it that it could mock the West, but sanctions passed on Monday had real teeth, Emanuele Ottolenghi of the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies said in Melbourne yesterday.

Election Face-off Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Security, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Terrorism    

Despite the obvious concern that accompanies any change of government - particularly one that had ruled for 11 years - by and large the changeover to the Australian Labor Party saw a continuity of bipartisanship on a raft of Israel and Jewish communal issues. The sudden change of the prime ministership from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard in late-June does not dramatically change this calculus and may even strengthen it, with the latter's long standing commitment to the Jewish State and the Australian Jewish community not in question. Indeed, Gillard reaffirmed her support for Israel upon assuming the leadership...

The Reset Button Author: Ehud Ya’ari Categories: America, International Security, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

All of a sudden we have seen a different type of meeting between Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Obama. And a major effort on the part of the President, for the first time since his election, to be nice to the Israeli people by giving an interview to an Israeli journalist. They have reached the conclusion that keeping a distance from Israel, picking unnecessary fights with Israel, was not going to advance the peace process. They have reached the conclusion that by distancing themselves from Bibi, from Israel, they are not getting anything in return from the Arab world. And therefore, the change.

Essay: The Turning of Turkey

Essay: The Turning of Turkey Author: Abigail Chernick Categories: Iran, Israel, Middle East, Syria, Turkey    

Since its decisive re-election in 2007, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been re-aligning the country's foreign policy. Under Erdogan's governance, Turkey has been moving away from its 20th century Western orientation and towards an alliance with Iran, Syria and their proxies. But with the upcoming 2011 elections, hope remains for a retreat from these policies and re-alignment with the West, especially if the US and the EU move quickly to demonstrate to the Turkish people what the costs of such a permanent change of alignment would be.

Scribblings: Listening to Abbas Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians    

It is worth noting one more thing that Abbas said in Washington, not to the Jewish leaders this time to but to President Obama. According to Haaretz (June 13), he reportedly told the President he is opposed to lifting the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip because this would bolster Hamas. Analysts have been saying as much, despite what the PA says in public. Informed observers should be aware that, privately, Mahmoud Abbas reportedly wants the Gaza blockade to remain, as the analysts allege.

Essay: Rational Action Author: Amitai Etzioni Categories: International Security, Iran, Middle East    

One of the few points on which there is wide agreement is that for deterrence to work, the leaders of the nations that command nuclear arms must be rational. The same holds for terrorists who may acquire nuclear arms one way or another. In effect, a small cottage industry has developed of popular authors and researchers who argue that both heads of states and terrorists do act rationally, and thus – fearing retaliation from other nuclear powers – they will not employ their nukes.

Additional Autonomous Sanctions on Iran Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update features analysis of the increasing trend of announcements of additional autonomous sanctions directed against Iran's nuclear program in the wake of the passage of the UN Security Council's new sanctions resolution, earlier this month. As noted in previous Updates, this trend incorporates the US, the EU, and Australia as well, with an announcement last week by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith of additional autonomous sanctions against two financial entities and an individual (This comes on top of autonomous sanctions Australia imposed in 2008).

Iran's Green Movement, One Year Later Categories: Iran, Updates    

With this week marking the first anniversary of Iran's fraudulent Presidential election and the mass "Green Movement" protests it sparked, this Update features a sampling of some of the many pieces commenting on the significance of events in Iran over the past year.

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Are they enough? Author: BICOM Categories: International Security, Iran    

Israeli officials privately noted that the draft resolution lacked the tough provisions that Jerusalem believes are necessary to force Iran to rethink its policy. In this regard, the absence of sanctions targeting the energy sector is seen as of particular importance.

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Iran ups the stakes at UN Author: AIJAC staff Categories: International Security, Iran, United Nations, Updates    

Today's Update looks at the shameless spectacle of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's address to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations this week, which saw the delegations from the US, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand and others walk out.

Editorial: Nuclear Elephant in the Room Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran    

Yet Obama's Nuclear Security Summit largely ignored the Iranian nuclear elephant in the room. His sanctions efforts against Iran are likewise taking much too long, as the Iranians continually announce the achievement of new nuclear milestones while deadline after deadline is postponed.

Nuclear Fallout Author: Michael Crowley Categories: International Security, Iran    

Critics may complain that the nuclear summit was a glorified photo-op. But even merely gathering world leaders to discuss nuclear terrorism is an achievement.

Child of the Revolution Author: Michael J. Totten Categories: Iran    

One young Iranian man, who now goes by the name Reza Kahlili, joined Khomeini's Revolutionary Guards right at the beginning. He quickly became disillusioned, however, when he saw young people tortured and murdered in Teheran's notorious Evin Prison.

Is Washington's Iran policy "confused" Author: AIJAC staff Categories: America, Iran, Updates    

Much debate has been sparked by the revelation in the New York Times last weekend that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had written a secret memo stating that, in the paper's words, the US lacks "an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability."

Iran and the Nuclear Security Summit Author: AIJAC staff Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

As readers will be aware, US President Obama earlier this week hosted a 47-nation summit on the subject of potential nuclear terrorism, designed to create additional safeguards against that threat. This Update is devoted to analysis looking at how the achievements of the Summit relate to the ongoing efforts to halt Iran's illegal nuclear program.

Fade to Green? Author: Mehdi Khalaji Categories: Iran    

Khamenei had spent months worrying that the opposition Green movement would hijack the anniversary. On Feb. 11, he seemed to regain his self-confidence by proving that he could manage Teheran's streets.

What's next for the Iranian Opposition Author: Reuel Marc Gerecht Categories: Iran    

Supreme leader Ali Khamenei had a good day on February 11. If the pro-democracy Green movement had managed to send hundreds of thousands of demonstrators once again onto Teheran's streets, his heybat - the indispensable awe behind dictatorship - would have been finished.

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Clashes expected in Iran tomorrow amid latest nuclear crisis Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

It is widely being predicted that tomorrow, February 11, which is the anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution, there will be widespread clashes in Iran between the regime and opposition demonstrators, with both sides reportedly mobilising their forces onto the streets of Iranian cities, especially Teheran.

Essay: The Great Satan Myth Author: Abbas Milani Categories: America, Iran    

The Iranian regime has never found itself more vulnerable. And, with this vulnerability, it has never leaned more heavily on its own narrative of history. This narrative, of course, has a central antagonist, a character conjured as the "Great Satan".

Inside Iran's Opposition Movement Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

This Update features some new insights into the goals and motivations of Iran's "Green" opposition movement. The first entry comes from Iranian-American analyst Mehdi Khalaji, who writes about the experience of his own father, an ayatollah now languishing in an Iranian prison.

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Iran's Green Movement: Ashura and the death of Montazeri Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

The Iranian regime has had a bad few weeks internally, resorting to considerable violence to suppress dissident protests first during the annual Ashura Shiite religious festival and then again during the funeral and other mourning ceremonies for leading dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hosein Ali Montazeri.

Iran, Gaza and Gilad Shalit Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Today's Update concerns the linked issues of Iran, Egypt, Gaza and the fate of Gilad Shalit. It opens with a discussion in the Wall Street Journal of "The Peoples' Revolt in Iran," an editorial discussing the mass protests at this week's funeral for opposition figure (but former heir apparent to the Islamic Republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) Hossein Ali Montazeri.

Time's Up for Iran Sanctions Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

If anyone still had any doubts about Iran's nuclear intentions, these should have been dispelled by last week's revelations in The Times of documents showing Iran experimented with neutron trigger technology. Such technology can only be used in nuclear weaponry.

Editorial: Time's Up Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran    

If the US and European Union want to avoid the associated horrors of an Iranian nuclear bomb and the costs of a military attack to pre-empt it, either the UN Security Council must impose meaningful, enforceable and targeted sanctions against Iran or the US, with like-minded allies including the EU and Australia, will have to do it themselves.

IAEA: End of an era Author: Efraim Asculai Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Syria    

On December 1 Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the three-term International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general passed the keys to his office to his successor... He will probably be remembered as the director-general who politicised his position more than any of his predecessors.

An Iranian nuclear "smoking gun"? Author: AIJAC staff Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

As has been widely reported, the Times (UK) has revealed what appears to be a "smoking gun" on the Iranian nuclear program - documents which appear to reveal work on a neutron initiator, a nuclear component which has no other use than triggering a nuclear weapon.

Iran: Last Chance for Sanctions? Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

Today's Update features a number of pieces on the state of the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program - with a special focus on the prospects of additional sanctions now that the end-of-year deadline for negotiating progress set by the US administration is looming.

Iran's rejection of the uranium deal/ Iran's unpopular regime Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

This Update looks at the state of the P+1 (US, Russia, China, Britain, France. Germany) group's negotiations with Iran, and especially the apparent de facto rejection by Iran of the major deal on offer - which would take some Iranian uranium out of the country to be enriched for purely civilian use in Russia and France.

Iran's protest movement Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

Today's Update focuses on the ongoing, though under-reported, opposition movement in Iran. Six months have passed since the fraudulent election that saw Iranian incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 'win' a new-term.

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Khamenei vs. Khomeini Author: Ali Reza Eshraghi Categories: Iran    

The opposition is going straight to the source in their search for legitimacy, accusing Khamenei of disrespecting Khomeini's legacy and claiming Khomeini's mantle for itself.

Swedish libels / Iranian cabinet choices Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Israel, Updates    

This Update focuses on two stories making headlines in Israel for the last couple of days; the story in a Swedish newspaper alleging that Israel harvests Palestinian organs, and the appointment as Iranian defence minister of a man wanted in Argentina on terrorism related charges.

Sanctions next for Iran? Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

According to Israeli sources - reporting on the recent visit to Israel of a high level team from Washington - officials in the administration are starting to lose hope that a substantive dialogue with Iran will occur and will resolve the nuclear issues, and the Administration is starting to think about what sort of sanctions will follow if it does not.

After the Earthquake in Iran Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Iran, Israel    

The good news is that 30 years on, the Islamist Revolution is finally on the defensive. The bad news is that even the crisis in Iran has so far failed to produce a Western treatment plan for the Middle East's many ailments.

The Last Word: Unspeakable Cruelty Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Iran, Islamic Extremism    

When speaking with a leader of the Baha'i community in Australia recently, our conversation inevitably turned to events in Iran. In May 2008, seven leaders of this community were seized from their families, imprisoned and faced allegations of grave seriousness. For 15 months, there have been regular indications that trials will occur and that people whose only real offence seems to be their religious beliefs will have the chance to mount legal defences. But the Iranian regime is not only authoritarian and brutal, but almost unspeakably cruel.

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Iranian clerics denounce election results Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

This Update focuses on a dramatic development in the Iranian political situation - with a major faction of Iran's clerical elite on the weekend denouncing the disputed election result as illegitimate and essentially placing themselves in opposition to the regime.

Editorial: Iran between two revolutions Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Middle East    

The sight of hundreds of thousands of Iranians protesting the rigging of their recent presidential election instilled hope in many that the Islamic Republic of Iran might be going the way of the Shah. This is now looking less likely, but whatever happens it is clear that Iran is never going to be the same again.

The June Revolution Author: Reuel Marc Gerecht Categories: Iran    

We may well look back on it as the "June 12 Revolution" even if the regime cracks down on the supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the candidate who ran second to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the dubious official vote tally.

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Was there a "Natural Growth" settlements deal?/ History and Iran's internal struggle Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update leads with an important entry into the debate about the US demand that Israel halt the "natural growth" of West Bank settlements. Elliot Abrams, the head of Middle East affairs at the US National Security Council during the Bush Administration, writes that it is true, as Israel has argued, that there was an agreement between Washington and Israel that Israel was permitted to allow building within the existing boundaries of existing settlements.

Was Iran's Election result rigged? Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Israel, Middle East, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, there were two major events in the Middle East over the weekend - Iran's election, which led to a landslide victory to the radical incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid widespread accusations of massive fraud and large-scale street demonstrations, plus Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech at Bar Ilan University on his approach to peace.

Iranian Election Preview Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Updates    

Today's Update offers some important background on the Iranian presidential election taking place today. First up, British journalist and author Con Coughlin reminds everyone that 475 Iranians put their names forward to run for the presidency but only four of these 475 were actually allowed by the ruling clerics to run.

Elections in Lebanon and Iran Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Lebanon, Updates    

Today's Update looks at the upcoming elections in Lebanon, scheduled for June 7, and Iran, scheduled for June 12. Our first piece comes from journalist Michael Totten, a frequent visitor to Lebanon, who says that his sources are telling him that a victory by Hezbollah and its allies looks like a distinct possibility.

Washington and Teheran Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, America, Iran, Updates    

This Update adds more on Washington's possible policy toward Iran, as th Obama Administration pursues engagement, at a time when both the US Congress and the Israeli government are attempting to maximise the leverage the US President will have.

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Proliferation, North Korea and Iran/The Haaretz allegations revisited Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Asia, International Security, Iran, Israel, Updates    

Israeli commentators have watched with interest the reaction to North Korea's illegal ballistic missile launch - under cover of a "civilian satellite" launch - on Sunday. They see the reaction of the US administration and international community as important signposts for their treatment of the Iranian nuclear and missile proliferation threat.

Editorial: The Rules of Engagement Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Iran, Israel    

First, it's important to note – as demonstrated by the West's attempts to improve relations with Iran under Khatami – that Obama's approach is not actually a new policy. To the contrary, for the past 30 years every US administration has tried to use diplomacy and "engagement" to resolve the West's conflicts with Iran

Khatami is just as rigid as the rest Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Antisemitism, Iran, Op-eds    

What credibility can Khatami maintain in calling for a dialogue of civilisations when he excludes Israel and Israelis? Or when he argues there is no anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, when under his presidency Iran became a sanctuary for Holocaust revisionists?

Iran's enriched uranium and satellites Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Iran, Updates    

As readers may have seen, the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report says Iran probably now has enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb, if it were further processed. Meanwhile, a few weeks ago, Iran launched a small satellite, indicating improvement in its ballistic missile technology...

Essay: The Great Rift Author: Y. Carmon, Y. Yehoshua, A. Savyon and H. Migron Categories: Iran, Middle East, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Syria    

The Saudi-Iranian conflict, whose various aspects - geostrategic, religious, ethnic and economic - have been affecting the Middle East for the past 30 years, began with the Islamic Revolution in Iran, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran's the winner if ceasefire fails Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

This latest fighting was part of the region-wide struggle between moderate Arab states on the one side, and Iran and its terrorist proxies on the other. A successful military operation against Hamas, followed by an effective ceasefire, will set back Tehran's regional ambitions and attempts to destabilise the region, and help prospects for a two-state resolution to the conflict.

Teheran's Gaza Gambit Author: Yoram Schweitzer Categories: Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Palestinians    

Behind the scenes in the war between Hamas and Israel, there was a party playing a key role that aspires to be the big winner in the fighting - Iran. As in the Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, Iran is gaining precious time to promote the leading strategic goal of its policy in recent years: attaining nuclear weapons capability.

A Year of Turmoil Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria    

Israeli analyst and journalist Ehud Ya'ari is known not only for his encyclopaedic knowledge of everything going on across the whole Middle East, but for his extraordinary personal contacts throughout the region extending even into the ranks of many of Israel's most bitter enemies.

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How to Put the Squeeze on Iran Author: Orde F. Kittrie Categories: America, Iran    

If Barack Obama is to persuade Iran to negotiate away its illegal nuclear weapons program, he will first need to generate more leverage than what the Bush Administration is leaving him with.

Scribblings: The Talking Cure Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: America, Iran, Iraq, Middle East    

US President-elect Barack Obama is going to change US policy toward Iran and end the Bush Administration approach of refusing to directly engage Teheran diplomatically, right? Actually, things are not nearly so cut and dried as this conventional wisdom holds.

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The Last Word: Lack of Debate Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Iran, Media/ Academia    

As Adelaide's Fredrick Toben awaits judgements on whether he will, on appeal, be extradited from the UK to Germany, and/or will be found to be in contempt of the Federal Court of Australia due to the Holocaust denial material he has published over many years, reports reached Australia of the publication in Iran, of a "100-page book of cartoons on the Holocaust".

Essay: The Iranian Nuclear Challenge Author: Bipartisan Policy Center Categories: America, International Security, Iran    

A nuclear weapons-capable Islamic Republic of Iran is strategically untenable. This report is about preventing the untenable. While a peaceful, civilian nuclear program in Iran might be acceptable under certain conditions... it is the decided judgment of this group that continued Iranian enrichment of uranium... threatens US and global security, regional stability, and the international nonproliferation regime.

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Scribblings: Mixed Messages on Iran Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

In my view, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got his policy message on Iran pretty much right the other day in remarks to Greg Sheridan in the Australian (July 19). He endorsed diplomacy as "a critical means by which to secure an outcome" but he also, according to Sheridan, appeared to agree with the American position of refusing to take a military option off the table as a last resort.

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Preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is the issue Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Op-eds    

IN the nuclear crisis with Iran, the focus of the international community must be to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state, full stop. It is cavalier and dangerous to assume that we can "manage" the threats from a nuclear armed Iran by strategies such as deterrence.

Iran's response to the latest nuclear offer Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, International Security, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Updates    

Today's Update offers analysis of the ostensibly ambiguous, but actually very negative, Iranian response to the latest international offer of incentives (called the "P5+1" proposal, because it is signed by the 5 permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany) to halt its nuclear enrichment efforts - which have been repeatedly declared illegal by the UN Security Council.

Don't downplay the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

THERE is international consensus that Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions pose a real and significant threat. Since 2003, the UN Security Council has passed three legally binding resolutions calling on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, while Britain, France and Germany have led negotiations with Iran to bring a halt to its nuclear program.

Countering Iran/Jimmy Carter and Hamas Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Iran, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update leads with some comment from the Washington Post on the latest revelations about the degree of Iranian involvement in the violence in Iraq. The editorial notes that the testimony of US Commander in Iraq General David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker about the role of Iranian "special groups" in recent fighting in Iraq only adds to a general profile of Iranian regional aggression, including in Gaza and on the nuclear front.

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Iran's Parliamentary Election/ Iraq and Al-Qaeda Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Iraq, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update opens with a good backgrounder and summary on the Iranian parliamentary elections, held last Friday. Prepared by the British/Israel Communications and Research Institute (BICOM), the backgrounder makes it clear that these elections must be seen in the context of the Iranian political system, where the parliament has very limited power and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, predominates.

Iran and Israel / Iran and Iraq Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update leads with an important new piece by the top Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi, in which he points out that the current Israeli conflict with Palestinian terror groups, and standoff with Hezbollah in Lebanon, can rightly be seen as a limited war with Iran.

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The NIE and the Iranian Bomb Author: Patrick Clawson Categories: International Security, Iran    

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released at the beginning of December, "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities", is about weaponisation, not the enrichment and fuel cycle issues that have been the focus of multiple UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board resolutions regarding Iran?s nuclear program.

Dealing with Iran after the NIE Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, International Security, Iran, Updates    

Iranian President Ahmadinejad is claiming that the controversial US National Intelligence Estimate earlier this month, which asserted that Iran had stopped its nuclear weaponisation efforts in 2003, was a US "declaration of surrender." Iran is also hailing the Russian delivery of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor a "great achievement".

Nukes or not, Iran remains a threat Author: Bren Carlill Categories: America, Iran, Op-eds    

AMERICAN intelligence agencies believe Iran has halted its nuclear weapons program. Since an Iranian nuclear bomb would risk destabilising the entire Middle East, this sounds like great news. But it's worth looking beyond the headlines.

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We're MAD if we do not rein in Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran    

Most analysts agree that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. There are many reasons why Iran shouldn't be allowed to do so. Iran is already the chief source of instability throughout the Middle East - it funds and arms Hezbollah, Hamas, Shi'ite terrorists in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Iran, the IAEA and the Bomb Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update is devoted to the Iranian nuclear issue, and the debate sparked in recent weeks by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamed elBaradei, who has been making statements opposing both sanctions and force as a response to the Iranian nuclear stand-off, saying there is no evidence Iran is planning to make weapons, and anyway, it would take them three to eight years.

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The latest sanctions on Iran Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran    

As readers will be aware, the US government instituted some new unilateral sanctions against Iran last week, directed against the elite al-Quds Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards, and against certain financial institutions dealing with them. This Update analyses the likely and intended effects of these sanctions.

Russian Roulette on Iran Categories: International Security, Iran, Russia    

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been the most important barrier to stronger UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, visited Iran this week and made some statements that seem likely to reinforce Iranian intransigence and also promised to finish the Bushehr nuclear reactor.

Dealing with Iran Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran    

In view of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's well publicised visit to New York, in which he declared, among other things, that Iran's nuclear program is "closed" as a political issue and that there are no homosexuals in Iran, this Update is devoted to reactions to the continuing problems posed by Iran's behaviour.

Teheran's Trajectory Author: Ephraim Sneh Categories: Iran, Israel    

The Jewish people cannot allow that someone who declares that the Jewish state will be wiped out, will have the means to do so.

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Pressuring Iran: The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran    

As readers may be aware, it was reported last week that the US government was considering listing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a designated terrorist organisation, which will lead to legal targeting of the organisation's members, and likely curtail the Revolutionary Guards' extensive economic activities.

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Reaching Critical Mass Author: Ephraim Asculai Categories: International Security, Iran    

The facts concerning the status of Iran's nuclear project are quite clear. Their implications are unequivocal. Yet there are those in the corridors of power who would lead us to believe that business is still as usual ...

The Return of the Mediator

The Return of the Mediator Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: America, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

The Review spoke to Ambassador Dennis Ross in May 2001, a bare six months after he was a central player in the US Clinton Administrations last-ditch attempt to create an Israeli-Palestinian peace in December 2000. At the time, he remained the unflappable diplomats diplomat, controlled and punctilious in speech.

Iran Crises Escalates Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Iraq, Middle East    

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1747 on the weekend, imposing additional sanctions on Iran after it failed to comply with a previous resolution, passed in December, demanding Iran halt uranium enrichment which is widely viewed as part of Iran's program to illegally build nuclear weapons.

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Israel and the Iranian Nuclear Threat Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Israel    

Last week, the annual Herzliya Conference was held in Israel. The Conference is an important event in the political calendar, where all major leaders generally speak, and major initiatives are often announced.

AMIA Revisited Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Europe, International Jewry, Iran, Terrorism    

On November 9, there was an extraordinary development in an 11-year old case of terrorist mass murder. Argentina finally identified and named the Lebanese Hezbollah member, Ibrahim Hussein Berro, allegedly responsible for the suicide bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Aid Association (AMIA) Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in July 1994.

Terrorism Teheran Style Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: International Jewry, Iran, Op-eds, Terrorism    

YOU know it's not business as usual when prosecutors from one country file a criminal indictment against another country's head of state. But that's precisely what happened late last year when Argentine authorities laid terrorism charges against former Iranian president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.

The barriers to peace in Middle East Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians, Syria    

The resurgence of internal Palestinian conflict in recent days sheds some light on the assertion advanced again by the report of the Iraq Study Group in Washington. This claim is that the Israeli/Palestinian question is the "core" of the problems radiating out of the Middle East. Everyone of goodwill wants Israeli-Palestinian peace as quickly as possible. However, the belief that it is the key to the region's problems is not only incorrect, it is counter productive.

Too high a price for peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

The bipartisan Iraq Survey Group report to US President George Bush makes some reasonable if unsurprising recommendations about military strategy in Iraq, but also two recommendations about wider Middle Eastern policy that are fundamentally flawed.

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Totalitarianism Rising Author: External author Categories: Iran    

As part of the current close consultation over how to respond to the Iranian nuclear challenge, a key consideration is, who are the key decision-makers in Iran? In particular, what are the relative roles of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Yes, the Problem is "Islamic Fascism" Author: External author Categories: Iran, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Syria, Terrorism    

It took US President George W. Bush to tell the truth to Britain about the massive plot to blow US-bound airliners out of the sky. In his first comment on the apparently foiled attempt to explode airliners flying from Britain to the US, Bush put it simply: "This was a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists."

A good resolution, but can it be put into lasting effect? Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Op-eds, Syria    

THE principles enunciated in UN Security Council Resolution 1701 on Lebanon, passed on Friday, are a positive step towards a sustainable end to the bloody conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The overarching problem, unfortunately, is that this resolution appears to lack adequate mechanisms to implement those principles.

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Hezbollah stands in way of peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

When the Hezbollah-Israel war began in mid-July, many in the Arab world made some startling comments. "The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community," wrote the editor of the Kuwaiti Arab Times. Milder statements in the same vein - blaming Hezbollah for the violence - came from across the Arab world, including the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Bloodbath blurs war truths Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Multimedia, Op-eds, Palestinians, Syria    

Amidst the front-page photos of bleeding children, it?s difficult to find clarity regarding the conflict raging in Israel and Lebanon. We all know the spark that set the region alight ? an unprovoked Hizbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers under the cover of missiles fired at Israeli cities. This was preceded by a Hamas-led attack from Gaza, which also involved kidnapping and rockets fired. The depressing sight of dead and injured civilians has since helped blur the reasons behind the violence.

Autonomy key to peace in Lebanon Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria, Terrorism    

IN AN extraordinary statement, the editor of a Kuwaiti newspaper, the Arab Times, argued last week that ``the operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community''. Milder statements in the same vein, blaming Hezbollah for the violence, have come from across the Arab world, including the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

A Particular Madness Author: External author Categories: Iran    

Elected less than a year ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a president unlike any other. He is doing his utmost to alienate the entire West, mobilising as much military technology as possible...

Brewing calamity Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds    

"The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence." Sound familiar? But these are not the genocidal rantings of crisis-present uttered by Iran's Jew-hater in chief, President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad.

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Unhidden Agenda Author: External author Categories: International Security, Iran    

One wonders what will it take for the international community to understand that Iran seriously intends to use its nuclear power to attack the "infidels."

Editorial: Much Ado About Nothing Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Iraq, Middle East    

The presidential elections in Iran have been about as fairly played as a crooked hand of blackjack. The deck was stacked through an edict of the unelected Council of Guardians that disqualified the candidacy of anyone who did not toe the line of the ruling Islamic theocracy in Teheran. And bottom dealing appeared in the form of ballot stuffing and graveyard voting incidents that were rampant throughout the country.

Party Games Author: External author Categories: Iran, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Multimedia, Syria, Terrorism    

Since the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah was created by Iran in 1982, it has metamorphosed from its early beginnings as a localised terrorist organisation into a significant armed presence in Lebanon that has demonstrated its ability to carry out terror attacks far beyond the borders of the Middle East. Today Hezbollah is the only armed force that controls a political party in Lebanon. For its supporters in Lebanon, Hezbollah is the sponsor of social welfare agencies that provide education, health care, employment, and other services. Hezbollah uses these institutions as a mechanism for indoctrination and a pool for recruiting new members.

Editorial: Endgame Iran & Crime and Punishment Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East    

It has all the drama of a Melbourne Cup, but it is infinitely more important. The outcome of a horse race can be measured in dollars and cents. We are witnessing a contest between a simmering grassroots yearning for democracy in Iran and an obsessive pursuit of nuclear weapons by the junta of Islamic extremists who rule that nation.

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If not now, when? Author: External author Categories: America, Iran    

In his January 20, 2005, inaugural speech, President George W. Bush declared, "America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude."

Bomb Threat Author: Douglas Davis Categories: International Security, Iran, Iraq, Middle East    

The Middle East is on the brink of going nuclear, and the rest of the world is fiddling or looking the other way. The United States is draining its energies in Iraq, the Europeans are fussing over "soft power" diplomacy, and the UN monitoring agencies are dithering.

Iran's nuclear scientists are no civilians

Iran's nuclear scientists are no civilians Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Updates    

Following the recent deaths of Iranian nuclear scientists, a number of people seem to have not only attributed their killings to Israel, but also condemned them as the murder of "innocent civilians" or even "terrorism" (for an explanation of why the killings may not have been Israel, see Iran expert Emanuele Ottolenghi -- soon to be visiting Australia -- here). The characterisation of the scientists connected to Iran's nuclear program as "civilians", however, is false. The International Atomic Agency report on Iran's nuclear program released late last year detailed extensively how the Iranian nuclear program falls under Iran's military complex, summarised in the image below...