Friday, July 12, 2019

From Ian:

Time puts Netanyahu on the cover, says he ‘tests the limits of power’
Time magazine has once again put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on its cover for its upcoming July 22 edition.

Noting that Netanyahu on July 17 will “surpass David Ben-Gurion, the closest thing Israel has to a founding father, to become the longest-serving Prime Minister in the country’s history,” the interviewer, Brian Bennett, writes that the Jewish state’s future “remains mortgaged to Netanyahu’s approach to power.”

The article is less flattering than the last time Netanyahu was on Time’s cover, in a mostly sympathetic 2012 interview that branded him “King Bibi.”

“Inside the country, many Israelis have been alarmed by Netanyahu’s efforts to remain in power,” Bennett tells his readers. “The moves compound the impression, already articulated by critics, that Israel’s Prime Minister has embraced the same populist authoritarianism rising elsewhere around the world.”

Time has occasionally put Israel on the cover in recent years, usually to criticize it. A September 2010 cover story was headlined, “Why Israel doesn’t care about peace.” An August 2012 edition looked at a battle for control over a Jerusalem neighborhood.

The latest cover story follows a similar line, citing “a growing chorus of critics” who “condemn Netanyahu not for any personal indulgences but for undermining Israeli democracy itself.”

It depicts the upcoming September 17 election as a referendum pitting “the Prime Minister’s self-declared role as Israel’s protector, ‘indispensable Netanyahu,’ against ‘Bibi fatigue,’” in the words of former US ambassador Dan Shapiro.

Abe Greenwald: The Magical Misery Tour
On and on it goes, the students were treated to tales of Israel’s razing homes, harassing Palestinians, and restricting their freedom of movement. All of it seemingly without the context of the Palestinians’ unending war on Jews.

Finally, Halbfinger relays how students on the trip were turned off by Israel and Zionism: “By dinnertime, two participants said they were reconsidering their belief in a Jewish state.” He quotes one: “I came in here a very ardent Zionist . . . You never know when a Holocaust might happen again. Yet, coming here, I’m starting to doubt whether a two-state solution is possible—and whether Zionism is even worth pursuing anymore.”

This is, of course, the goal of the entire undertaking. It’s not about painting a nuanced picture of the conflict or moving toward peace. It’s about Jews showing other Jews what a terrible and misguided place Israel has become. Increasingly, that’s J Street’s mission. Despite its denials, the group has supported the boycotting of Israel on college campuses and targeted pro-Israel activists. Now, it’s packaging the supposed evils of the Jewish state for students to see up close.

Birthright, for the record, doesn’t ignore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It just operates with an understanding that Israel is more than its efforts to combat terrorism. And those efforts are overwhelmingly noble.

The good news is that J Street has taken only 28 kids on a single trip. Put that against Birthright’s estimated 650,000. It will take a lot of David Halbfingers to make up the difference.
In NY Times Coverage of J Street, Advocacy Journalism for Anti-Israel Advocates
Later, the lens turns to Israel: “While the Israeli government and news media usually say the same things in Hebrew and English, Palestinians and Israeli critics say they also do little to promote the idea of a Palestinian state.”

Then there is the rationalization: “Some explain the overheated language [by Palestinians] as a natural expression of such a long-running conflict, and say that any real education in the language of peace is unlikely to come before negotiators resolve the core issues.”

And again, skepticism of the critics: “Some Israelis struggle with the practice of monitoring the Palestinian news media, acknowledging the importance of knowing what is being said in Arabic, yet disturbed by how its dissemination is exploited by those not eager to see Israel make concessions.”

It would be one thing if this were how the Times reports on critics of both Israel and the Palestinians. But as the J Street story reminds us, the newspaper’s standards are shifty. There is no commentary about J Street and their fellow critics looking to score “propaganda points.” No “arguable” interpretations. No “natural expression” of the conflict. No “exploitation” by anti-Israel extremists. The journalistic skepticism and right of reply that was seemingly important when reporting on Palestinian Media Watch disappears entirely in the report on J Street.

This isn’t impartial, hard-hitting journalism. It’s advocacy for anti-Israel advocates. And despite repeated promises of fairness, the paper can’t seem to avoid such partisan reporting.



Let's Have Some Truth about the Situation in Gaza
In late June, the Globe and Mail published a front-page feature article by former Mideast bureau chief Mark MacKinnon concerning the depressed situation of Palestinians and Gazans under Israeli rule. The article does point to the damage done by Hamas to its own people, but any balance is undermined by the accompanying art — seven photos illuminating Palestinians’ poor health conditions, lack of city infrastructure and buildings destroyed by Israeli bombs.

The use of scare quotes around “terrorists” to describe Hamas, officially designated a terrorist organization by our own and many other governments, including the EU, does not help either.

These observations and many more are included in a trenchant response to MacKinnon’s article by ever-vigilant Honest Reporting Canada.

Another, radically different, view on the lives of Gazan and West Bank Palestinians is available in Israeli writer-scholar Ben-Dror Yemini’s new book, Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Chapter 12 of Yemini’s book, for example, debunks “the Auschwitz Myth” (Google “Gaza Auschwitz”: over two million citations). One graph shows that in 1967, when Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza began, life expectancy stood at 48. By 2000, it had leapt to 72, higher not only than in most Arab countries, but higher than in South America and some EU countries. In 1967, infant mortality amongst Palestinians was about 157 per thousand births. In 2006 it was 21 per thousand births, significantly lower than in neighbouring Arab and North African countries. Indeed, Palestinian infant mortality rates are now better than in Turkey and Bulgaria, and Gaza ranks third in the world for natural population increase due to high birth rates and low death rates. (Some “Auschwitz”!)
Exposing cheating human rights organizations
Israel seems to have increasing difficulties combating the asymmetric warfare of Hamas. Fire balloons are frequently sent by children from Gaza to create arson in Israel. Sometimes, the balloons even carry explosives. Hamas uses hospitals and ambulances for military purposes. These are difficult for Israel to attack without violating human-rights law. During various Israeli campaigns, Hamas used human shields for its terrorist activities.

By following international humanitarian law, Israel fights with one hand tied behind its back against Palestinian terrorist organizations with genocidal plans. That can remain only reasonable as long as it defeats the terrorists resoundingly. Protected by international humanitarian law, Hamas can further improve the techniques of its asymmetric warfare. The damage done by Hamas long ago exceeded what is considered “reasonable” by many Israelis.

Over the years, a false aura of humanity and decency has surrounded all human rights organizations. A first step for Israel toward changing policies in fighting asymmetric warfare has to be a profound analysis of the human rights community. This would include detailed exposure of those in the human rights realm who, to various degrees, are characterized by evil.

A detailed study should calibrate human rights bodies on a scale from genuine to evil. At the top of the list of those classified as evil should be the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Many of its member states are dictatorships. UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer has summed it up: “The United Nations Human Rights Council, located in Geneva, has a standing agenda item against Israel. Israel is the only country specifically targeted at every meeting. Not even major human rights abusers like China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria or Zimbabwe are subjected to such treatment.”

The Israeli government, Israeli media and friends of Israel should start to call this body the UNHRD – United Nations Human Rights Distorters. If this is done consistently, this expression will slowly creep into the public domain.
JPost Editorial: The US and Hezbollah
The US has blacklisted around 50 Hezbollah members. This is an important signal, telling the world that the US makes no distinction between Hezbollah’s activities, between its political activity and its so-called military wing.

Eisenkot said that it is also time for the US to condition its support for the Lebanese military – the Lebanese Armed Forces has received more than $1.7 billion from the US since 2006 – on Lebanon’s army taking over the role it is supposed to have: not allowing Hezbollah to run a mini-military state in southern Lebanon, and not letting it take delivery of Iranian arms.

Eisenkot also supports the reinvigoration of UNIFIL, the UN mission in Lebanon. And because Lebanon depends on foreign aid, the US has leverage. Moreover, as Iran has become increasingly weakened by US sanctions and cannot continue to support Hezbollah at previous levels, now is the best time to pressure Lebanon.

The Trump administration’s efforts against Hezbollah are welcome news. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton understand the Hezbollah threat, and how it plays into Iran’s regional Middle East ambitions as well as its larger global ambitions.

Make no mistake, Hezbollah is a global threat. Reports about its drug trafficking and terrorist threats in Europe show that it is not just Israel’s problem, or Lebanon’s problem, but a problem for everyone.

It is time to pull the mask off of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Sanctioning its members in Lebanon’s parliament is a direct message that Hezbollah can no longer pretend to have a military and political wing. Hezbollah is one entity, one that is increasingly trying to digest Lebanon. It must be stopped.
Argentina to designate Hezbollah as terror group - Report
Argentina's government is planning on designating the Lebanese-based Hezbollah group as a terror organization for its role in the terror attacks against the Israeli embassy and the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentinian newspaper La Nacion reported on Tuesday.

"We are evaluating different possibilities. One of them is to pass a decree," sources in the Ministry of Security and the Financial Intelligence Unit told the newspaper. The two entities have been tasked by President Mauricio Macri to find the "most rapid" solution to achieve the goal of including the Iranian-backed group in the list of terror organizations.

"We do not have a majority in Parliament, and it would take too long to pass a law there," highly-placed sources in the Argentinian government explained to La Nacion.

July 18, 2019, will mark the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in the country's capital. The attack left 85 people killed and 300 injured.

The report added that on that day Macri would pay tribute to the victims with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is scheduled to visit the country next week.

Pompeo will participate in the Western Hemisphere Ministerial anti-terrorism summit that the government of Argentina will host commemorating the bombing on July 19.
Greenblatt Tells i24NEWS US' Mideast Plans Post-Bahrain Prosperity Conference
US Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt sat down with i24NEWS’ senior Washington correspondent Dan Raviv to discuss his proposed future prosperity plans for the Palestinians following an economic summit held in Bahrain earlier this month. “If there’s no full peace, nothing is going to happen,” Greenblatt told Raviv.


Arab newspapers turn spotlight on Israel Hayom opinion piece
News outlets in the Arab world have historically tended to ignore the Israeli media, but that appears to be changing as the process of rapprochement and steps toward normalization with the Gulf states have opened the door for Arab countries to more openly examine the Israeli viewpoint.

Such was the case this week when an op-ed published by Israel Hayom was covered by at least three prominent Arab newspapers.

The op-ed by Middle East researcher Dr. Nirit Ofir, titled "Israel and the Gulf: Cautious optimism," was translated from Hebrew into Arabic by the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya, and Bahrain-based Al Ayam.

In her piece, Ofir argues that despite the limited success of the US-sponsored economic summit in Bahrain, the process of normalization between Israel and the Gulf states is ongoing and directly linked to developments in those countries in the wake of the Arab spring.

Ofir writes that "plenty of senior Gulf officials see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an outstanding diplomat even if he is controversial, while the Palestinians are losing status, mostly because of the split in the PLO and the fact that the vast sums of money Gulf states have sent the Palestinian people are being wasted on illicit gifts for PA officials and terrorism."
Move over, Bahrain? Iraq signals interest in better ties with Israel
That Israel and the Sunni-Arab Gulf states cooperate closely is the Middle East’s worst-kept secret. Despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations, everybody knows Jerusalem has clandestine yet robust ties with Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Manama and other capitals in the region, due to shared concerns about an increasingly belligerent Iran.

The most striking indication of this Arab-Israel detente was the US-led economic workshop last month in Bahrain, during which the kingdom’s foreign minister declared that his government views Israel as an integral part of the Middle East and desires closer ties with it.

Less known is the Jewish state’s effort to improve relations with Iraq. A few days ago, Baghdad’s US envoy appeared to reciprocate Israel’s continual overtures, speaking openly about the potential benefits of establishing ties with the Jewish state, though the country’s Foreign Ministry quickly disavowed his comments.

There are several reasons Jerusalem has determined that Iraq is ripe for rapprochement: its historically good relations with the Kurds; the fact that Iraqis, preoccupied with their own challenges, are not deeply invested in the Palestinian cause; and of course the affinity to Iraq that many Israelis with roots there still have.

As with the Gulf states, full normalization with Iraq look to be elusive as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unsolved.
PA ready to resume contact with U.S. if it commits to accepted rhetoric
The Palestinians are prepared to resume contacts with the US administration if it declares its commitment to the “references” of the peace process, Palestinian Authority presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said on Thursday.

Abu Rudaineh’s statement came in response to recent remarks by US administration officials criticizing Palestinian leaders for their responsibility for the continued stalemate in the peace process.

“The PLO affirms that it has never rejected any negotiations or initiatives to achieve peace based in the two-state solution,” Abu Rudaineh said in a statement. Such a solution, he said, must be based on the “borders of June 4, 1967, and within the framework of international legitimacy resolutions and the [2002] Arab Peace Initiative, which considers East Jerusalem an occupied territory.”

The PLO, the spokesman added, “is fully prepared to resume relations and contacts with the US administration if it declares its commitment to these references.”

However, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday evening that the Palestinians will not deal with the US administration unless it backtracks on a series of decisions it took since December 2017.
Egyptian intelligence officials meet Fatah leaders in Ramallah
Egyptian intelligence officials met in Ramallah on Thursday with leaders of the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction. The talks focused on ways of ending the ongoing dispute between Fatah and Hamas and the financial crisis facing the Palestinian Authority.

The Egyptian delegation was headed by senior General Intelligence Service officials Ayman Badi’ and Ahmed Abdel Khaleq.

The Fatah team included Azzam al-Ahmed, Rouhi Fattouh, Hussein al-Sheikh and Majed Faraj, head of the PA General Intelligence Service.

The Egyptian security team’s visit to Ramallah came amid reports that Cairo has decided to resume its efforts to solve the Fatah-Hamas rivalry, especially in wake of US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “Deal of the Century,” the official PA news agency Wafa reported.

It said that strengthening Palestinian unity was needed “in light of the challenges and dangers facing the Palestinian cause, as well as attempts to liquidate it.”
UNESCO World Heritage Committee – Azerbaijan restrains Palestinian mayhem
As the 11-day World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Baku winds down, it behooves us to review Jewish-related issues in the context of a UNESCO without the United States and Israel as members.

Of course, the perennial resolutions of Jordan and the Palestinians in Item 7 on “The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” and “Hebron/Al-Khalil with the Cave of the Patriarchs,” have become banners in the battlefield of heritage.

Their cause had, however, become tempered among the Arab group and the larger number of Muslim member states:

1) A Jordanian apparent fear of a Saudi takeover of the custodianship for Jerusalem’s holy sites and a Palestinian suspicion of US support for Riyadh, in the atmosphere of President Donald Trump’s US Embassy move to Jerusalem.

2) The Sunni/Shia split and the role of moderate states, such as Tunisia, conscious of a Palestine fatigue in their heritage demands.

3) The discipline of the host, Azerbaijan – a moderate Muslim friend of Israel, with a successful Jewish community absent of antisemitic threats.

In 2017, at the WHC in Krakow, I found myself in the company of a former mayor of Hebron. When I stood to speak, as an NGO delegate, I was handed a slip of paper advising that my neighbor had reportedly shot six yeshiva boys praying in the Machpela Cave. Such an invitation travesty could not happen in Baku.
New Evidence Shows U.N. Engulfed In Bin Laden-Linked Charity Scandal
U.S. Treasury Department documents obtained by the Middle East Forum through a Freedom of Information Act request shed new light on the terror-finance scandal that first erupted last year concerning the Obama-era United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the international evangelical charity, World Vision.

These new documents reveal that not only was World Vision funding Sudan-based Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) — which has extensive links to Osama bin Laden — with grants from USAID. World Vision was also funding ISRA with grants from the United Nations (U.N.). The documents also disclose that once World Vision’s relationship with ISRA was exposed by a whistleblower from the Swiss-based intergovernmental organization, International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Vision mounted a full-court press to strong-arm the Treasury Department into allowing the relationship to continue unabated. This effort involved high-ranking members of Congress, who advocated for World Vision, as well as threats of lawsuits aimed at the Obama administration’s Treasury Department.

When this scandal initially broke last year, all that was known was that in 2014, World Vision had subcontracted charitable work in the hotly contested Blue Nile region of Sudan to ISRA, which was designated as a terrorist entity in 2004 for giving millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden and raising funds for Palestinian-Arab suicide bombings. Initially, this arrangement appeared to be a one-time event. But it soon emerged that World Vision had “prior work experience” with ISRA and had used “other funding streams” to fund projects with the terror-linked charity. Previously, the source of these revenue streams was unknown.

But according to a May 2015 “Case Summary” written by U.S. Treasury officials, World Vision gave ISRA $323,928 for the controversial project paid for by USAID, Irish Aid, and the U.N. — with the U.N. likely paying the lion’s share.
Biden says he would keep US-Israel relationship ‘ironclad’ as president
In a talk laying out the foreign policy principles he would hew to as president, Joe Biden said the United States’ relationship with Israel must be “ironclad,” whatever one’s feelings about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Sustaining our ironclad commitments to Israel’s security regardless of how much you may disagree with its current leader,” the former vice president said Thursday at the City University of New York.

Biden, who is leading in the polls among 25 Democrats running for their party’s nomination, also said he would re-enter the Iran nuclear deal, abandoned last year by President Donald Trump. Most of the Democratic field has made the same commitment.

In response to Trump’s pulling out of the deal, Iran has recently begun to breach some of the agreement’s restrictions.

“If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal I’d rejoin the agreement and work with our allies to strengthen and extend it,” Biden said, “while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s more destabilizing activities which under the agreement we were allowed to do — we had partners to do with us.”
What’s Kamala Harris’s record on Israel?
On the conflict

In 2016, while running for Senate, she was asked by The Jewish News of Northern California if she would support or oppose legislation characterizing the settlements as illegal. While she did not directly answer the question, her response is surprisingly similar to a phrase that we often hear from Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt about the prospects of peace with the Palestinians.

“The terms of any agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians cannot be imposed by others in the world,” she told the Jewish outlet. “The US and our allies in Europe and the Arab world can and should help facilitate an agreement to create peace and bring both parties to the table, but the Israelis and Palestinians themselves must negotiate and approve the terms of any peace agreement. Lasting peace can only be found through bilateral negotiations that protect Israel’s identity, ensure security for all people and include the recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”

She also expressed objection to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and said that it is “based on the mistaken assumption that Israel is solely to blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” She added that “the BDS movement seeks to weaken Israel, but it will only isolate the nation and steer Israelis against prerequisite compromises for peace [...] I believe we should not isolate Israel, the only democracy in the region.”


Jewish Museum in Munich mounts 'libelous' anti-Israel exhibit
A new temporary exhibit about borders and ethnic conflicts that opened a few days ago at the Jewish Museum Munich includes material that is being described as anti-Israel for its portrayal of Israel's policies on "making the desert bloom," which is one of the central tenets of Zionism.

The exhibit, by Afghani-American photographer Fazal Sheikh, who lives in Switzerland, includes 12 images that, according to the explanatory material included in the exhibit, focus on the "violent and devastating effects of Israel's settlement and cultivation policy in the Negev [Desert] towards the local Bedouin population."

The images, according to the museum, "tell of the forced evacuations of 'unrecognized' Bedouin villages, narrating the intricate policies and actions which have been employed to displace the local communities for whom the desert has been both a home and a source of livelihood for generations."

The exhibit goes on to claim that the Jewish National Fund "flattened Bedouin villages, uprooted trees and gardens, [and] leveled the terrain."

According to the exhibit, "the alteration of the land through militarization, industrialization, settlement, and afforestation demonstrates just how unnatural a 'natural' border can be."
AG Mandelblit to Support Anti-Zionist NGO’s Petition Against Afula’s ‘Residents Only’ Park
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit opposes the Afula municipality’s decision to close the municipal park to non-residents (see: Afula Municipality Under Attack for Blocking Arab Invasion of New Park). On Thursday, he informed the Administrative Affairs Court in Nazareth that he would like to appear in support of a petition filed by the NGO Adalah against Afula. The petition claims that the real reason for the municipality’s decision is to prevent the entry of Arab residents from nearby communities.

Adalah’s stated goals are “achieving individual and collective rights of the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel” and protecting “the human rights of Palestinians living under occupation, based on international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”

Based on financial information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, in accordance with the Israeli NGO transparency law, Adalah received $4.67 million from foreign governmental bodies from 2012-2018. In 2016 alone the group received $1.3 million. Its donors include: Switzerland (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs), European Union, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Bread for the World-EED (Germany), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Christian Aid (UK), UNDP, and Open Society Foundation (Source: NGO Monitor).

Nice friends you got there, Mr. Attorney General.
Arab Israeli convicted over fatal stabbing of rabbi in West Bank
The Lod District Court on Wednesday convicted Abed al-Karim Assi, an Arab Israeli man, for the murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal at the Ariel Junction in the West Bank last year.

On February 5, 2018, Assi, who was 19 at the time, stabbed Ben-Gal, 29, at a bus stop outside Ariel. Assi then fled the scene, leading security forces on a month-long manhunt that ended with his arrest in the Palestinian city of Nablus.

Attorney Haim Bleicher, from the right-wing Honenu legal aid organization representing the Ben-Gal family, said he will ask for the maximum possible sentence.

“The cursed terrorist who tried to harm the basic right of the Jews to exist in our land doesn’t deserve to see the light of day any more,” Bleicher said in a statement Thursday.

The court deliberations on sentencing are to be held in two months’ time.

According to court papers, Assi, who confessed to the crime, decided to commit a terror attack and kill Jews after he had an argument with an Israel Defense Forces soldier at a junction outside Ariel.


Mossad led IAEA to radioactive material at Iran site, proving it broke deal - report
The IAEA has found signs of radioactive material which would violate the 2015 nuclear deal at an Iranian nuclear site identified to the agency by Israeli intelligence, Channel 13 reported late Thursday.

According to Channel 13, top Israeli sources revealed to it that the IAEA is sitting on the information and has avoided making it public to date.In April, Reuters reported that the IAEA had finally visited the secret Iranian nuclear site at Turquzabad revealed in a September 2018 UN speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Since then, all parties to the US-Iran nuclear standoff have been waiting for the IAEA’s June announcement of its findings from that visit.

During that visit, the IAEA took samples from the site and it had been expected to announce the results of the samples in June, but then did not mention the issue.

Rather, the IAEA and other parties more recently have been distracted by Iran's open violations of uranium enrichment limits.

Some expectations had been that the IAEA had waited so long to review the site noted by Netanyahu that, by the time it came, Iran had likely already “cleaned” the site of any evidence of nuclear activity which would violate the 2015 nuclear deal.

But there have been instances in the past where the Islamic republic’s cleaning crew was not careful enough and left behind traces which inspectors picked up on.
Report: Iranian Nuclear Facility ‘Has Never Been Repurposed’ as Promised Under 2015 Nuclear Deal
Iran’s underground Fordow uranium-enrichment facility has not followed the 2015 nuclear deal, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Institute for Science and International Security. Apparently, it has “never been repurposed” in that “everything required to enrich uranium to weapons grade could be quickly reconstituted in the underground portion of the facility,” continued the report.

The deal stated, “Iran will convert the Fordow facility into a nuclear, physics and technology centre. International collaboration including in the form of scientific joint partnerships will be established in agreed areas of research.”

“Fordow is potentially part of Iran’s current threats to progressively go to higher enrichment levels and increase its stocks of enriched uranium,” stated the report.

It mentioned that Iranian officials have discussed increasing the level of uranium enrichment to 20 percent at the site—a figure most experts say can be achieved fairly quickly.

The nuclear accord caps uranium enrichment at 3.67 percent. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on Monday that Iran has exceeded the limit.

According to a report to IAEA member states, the agency verified the enrichment level using online enrichment monitors, and that samples had been taken on Monday for analysis. Based on the IAEA report, the agency said the enrichment level was about 4.5 percent.
LAT: The Best Deal for the U.S. Isn't a New Nuclear Agreement But an Entirely New Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran's march toward a nuclear weapons capability is not only a threat to U.S. national security interests but to global peace. And merely engaging the regime and hoping for its evolution is completely unrealistic.

Tragically, the U.S. did not support the massive 2009 Green Movement political uprising. A time of great vulnerability for the regime, the uprising provided the U.S. with an ideal opportunity to further undermine a deeply hated regime and gain even more leverage in nuclear negotiations. Instead, millions of Iranians protesting the fraudulent reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were met with a stony silence from Washington, a decision senior officials, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, later said they regretted.

The Islamic Republic, much like the corrupt and bankrupt former Soviet Union, is destined to fail. The fight against the Khamenei regime's tyranny is in principle the same as the fight against Soviet tyranny. The best deal for the U.S. is not a new nuclear agreement, but an entirely new Iran.
How Much Has Iran Been Violating the Nuclear Deal?
A new UN finding shows Netanyahu was right when he said Iran had removed the radioactive material from a Tehran warehouse that violated the nuclear deal. How far have they gone to violate the agreement? INSS' Emily Landau analyzes.


Britain sending destroyer to Gulf amid Iranian threats
Iran on Friday demanded the British navy release an Iranian oil tanker seized last week off Gibraltar, accusing London of playing a “dangerous game” and threatening retribution, while London announced it was sending a destroyer to the Persian Gulf.

The comments from Iran’s Foreign Ministry came the day after police in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, said they arrested the captain and chief officer of the supertanker suspected of breaching European Union sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told Iranian state news agency IRNA that “the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid … the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest.”

“This is a dangerous game and has consequences,” Mousavi warned.

During Friday prayers, Kazem Sedighi, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened retribution.

“Rest assured, Britons will soon feel the slap of the powerful hands of the Islamic Republic,” he said.
US reportedly backs off threat to sanction top Iranian diplomat Zarif
The United States has reportedly decided to hold off on leveling sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in apparent hopes of reviving dormant negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.

The decision, first reported on by the Reuters news agency, marks a reversal for the administration after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had announced the US would impose sanctions on the diplomat late last month.

A source familiar with the decision quoted by Reuters said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had opposed blacklisting Zarif.

“Cooler heads prevailed. We … saw it as not necessarily helpful,” the source was quoted saying.

The reported move comes as the US has both pushed ahead with a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and also tried to cajole it into talks for a new nuclear deal, after the US withdrew last year from the 2015 pact that Zarif helped negotiate. Trump has long rejected the nuclear deal, saying it was too generous to Tehran and did not address its involvement in regional conflicts.
Russia delivers missile system to Turkey in challenge to NATO
Russia began delivery of an advanced missile defense system to Turkey on Friday, a move expected to trigger U.S. sanctions against a NATO ally and drive a wedge into the heart of the Western military alliance.

The first parts of the S-400 air defense system were flown to a military air base near the capital Ankara, the Turkish Defence Ministry said, sealing Turkey's deal with Russia which Washington had struggled for months to prevent.

The United States says the Russian military hardware is not compatible with NATO systems and that the acquisition may lead to Ankara's expulsion from an F-35 fighter jet program.

Investors in Turkey have been unsettled by the deal. The Turkish lira weakened to 5.717 against the dollar from 5.683 before the ministry announced the arrival of the S-400 consignment to the Murted Air Base, northwest of Ankara.

"The delivery of parts belonging to the system will continue in the coming days," Turkey's Defence Industry Directorate said. "Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by the relevant authorities."



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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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