Wednesday, July 14, 2021

From Ian:

In first, US court rules Syria, Iran, IRGC, banks liable for Hamas attack
In a landmark ruling, a US federal court ruled on Monday that Syria, Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and three Iranian banks were liable for the Hamas terror attack which killed Eitam and Naama Henkin in 2015.

The District of Columbia court ruled on two suits: one filed by the parents and siblings of Eitam and one filed by the Henkins' children and the Henkins' estates. The suits made claims governed by the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, alongside other claims.

The Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act, which amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, established a fund to provide compensation to eligible claimants who hold judgments against state sponsors of terrorism.

In the suit filed by the Henkins' children, the plaintiffs claimed that Hamas relies on Iran and Syria for material support, including but not limited to training, weapons and financing. The children of Eitam and Naama Henkin filed the $360 million civil damages wrongful death lawsuit in 2019, shortly after then US president Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist group.

The plaintiffs said that Iran provides logistical and military support to Hamas through the IRGC’s Quds Force and other entities, and that Tehran funnels much of its financial sponsorship of Hamas through Bank Markazi, Bank Melli and Bank Saderat.

The Central Bank of Iran was sanctioned in 2019 for providing billions of dollars to the IRGC, the IRGC Quds Force (which supports Hamas) and Hezbollah. Bank Melli was sanctioned by the US in the past for providing millions of dollars to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other groups through the Quds Force. Bank Saderat was also sanctioned in the past by the US for being a terrorist financier.

None of the defendants responded to the lawsuit.
IDF: Hezbollah storing massive weapons depot next to a school
The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday revealed the location of an alleged Hezbollah arms cache in central Lebanon, saying a large quantity of explosives was being stored in a building across the street from a school.

According to Israeli assessments, explosives with roughly half the destructive power of the massive blast that leveled huge swaths of Beirut last year were being kept in the building in the village of Ebba.

The military refused to elaborate on the nature of the weaponry it suspected was being kept in the building.

The IDF anticipated that following its exposure of the site, Hezbollah would quickly empty the structure and move any munitions inside elsewhere.

While this would deny the military a target for attack in any future conflict, the army said it was prepared to show its hand now, signaling to Hezbollah the depth of its intelligence-gathering and exposing to the world the terror group’s apparent endangerment of children.

The IDF said it had information about “thousands” more Hezbollah targets.

“Hezbollah intended to use this against IDF soldiers and citizens of Israel. This storehouse was located in the heart of a civilian population in Lebanon, mere meters from a school,” the IDF wrote.

“Like this target, there are thousands of similar ones belonging to Hezbollah, which endanger the lives of Lebanon’s citizens,” the military said.


US lawmakers castigated Abbas for terror payments during ‘tense’ Ramallah meet
A visiting congressional delegation expressed their disapproval over payments to terrorists and their families during a meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week, several members of Congress told The Times of Israel Tuesday.

One congressperson described last week’s closed-door meeting with 10 visiting members of Congress as “tense at times, as it was clear that we didn’t see eye to eye on a number of issues.” The source spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ramallah’s policy of paying stipends to Palestinians jailed for security offenses and the families of deceased attackers has long been a point of contention with Washington. While Israel argues that the payments encourage terror activity, Abbas has vowed to maintain the stipends, which the Palestinians view as a form of welfare and a national responsibility.

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) said there was a “great deal of discussion” on the Taylor Force Act, which was passed by Congress in 2018 and suspended US aid to the PA as long as it continued to implement the existing welfare policy, which awards stipends to prisoners based on the length of their sentence.

“We emphasized that such payments are completely and totally unacceptable,” said Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL).

The congress members said Abbas defended the policy as a necessary form of welfare, without which the families of attackers would be left penniless. When pressed whether the PA offers similar stipends to families after a parent dies of cancer, the Palestinian officials present said they were working to establish such a support system and were in the process of reforming their existing policy.

The sides also failed to come together on the Abraham Accords, which Abbas urged the 10-member bipartisan delegation not to advance until after the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was solved, Schneider told The Times of Israel.
Historic First: United Arab Emirates Opens Embassy in Tel Aviv
In a historic first for the Gulf nations, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) opened its Embassy on Wednesday in the financial heart of Israel, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) building.

The UAE thus has become the first Gulf nation to establish an embassy in the Jewish State. Israel established its embassy in the UAE last month.

The UAE Ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, raised the flag of his country outside the building with recently-inaugurated Israeli President Isaac Herzog standing by his side.

“Since the normalization of ties . . . we have seen for the first time discussions on trade and investment opportunities,” said the UAE Ambassador. “We signed major agreements across various fields including economy, air travel, technology and culture.”

Israel’s president called the opening of the UAE Embassy “an important milestone in our journey towards the future, peace, prosperity and security” for the Middle East. “Seeing the Emirati flag flying proudly in Tel Aviv might have seemed like a far-fetched dream about a year ago. In many ways nothing could be more natural and normal.”

Diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE were established last September with the creation of the Abraham Accords the agreement brokered by America’s then-President Donald Trump that documents the normalization of ties between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and shortly after also Morocco as well.

Since the signing of that agreement, bilateral trade between Israel and the UAE has exceeded $675 million, with more deals expected.


Israel's largest hospital signs deal with Abu Dhabi health authority
The Department of Health-Abu Dhabi has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sheba Medical Center, Israel's largest hospital and one of the top 10 medical institutions in the world.

The MoU aims to create a framework for cooperation in developing and improving healthcare services and enable both entities to consolidate efforts to improve their respective country’s healthcare system.

The two medical organizations also expressed their interest in collaborating on the exchange of knowledge, best medical practices and methodologies.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Jamal Mohammed Alkaabi, undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Health; Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, director-general of Sheba Medical Center; Yoel Har-even, director of the International Division and Resource Development at Sheba; and Israeli Ambassador to the UAE Eitan Na’eh.

“The DoH continues to devote its best efforts to improve healthcare sector outcomes and provide the most advanced healthcare services, in line with the highest international standards, reflecting its keenness to establish effective partnerships with leading local and international medical institutions,” said Alkaabi following the signing of the MoU.

“The Abraham Accords have given Israel and the UAE a unique opportunity to cooperate in healthcare services and advance digital health to benefit our communities. We are delighted to establish partnerships with healthcare institutions in Abu Dhabi, which share a vision that knows no boundaries,” Kreiss said.

The MoU will enable both sides to explore opportunities in the field of health and medical research, which will contribute to a healthier and safer community.
Israel, UAE Ink First Agricultural Agreements Since Abraham Accords
Israel on Tuesday signed its first agricultural agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following last year’s Abraham Accords that normalized relations between the two Middle Eastern countries.

UAE Minister of Food and Water Security Mariam Al-Muhairi joined Agriculture Minister Oded Forer in Tel Aviv for the signing ceremony.

The two countries agreed to cooperate on research and innovation, including developing crops that can thrive in desert environments as well as advancements in water management and irrigation.

“The United Arab Emirates and Israel share many challenges when it comes to food security, and we are cooperating to find innovative and feasible solutions to these challenges,” said al-Muhairi.

The Gulf state will officially inaugurate its embassy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog in attendance.

UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohammad al Khaja will host the ceremony and it will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a reception.


JCPA: Did Israel Lose the Social Media War over Gaza?
This article is part of the forthcoming Jerusalem Center research report: The Gaza War 2021: Hamas and Iran Attack Israel.
- Social media plays a crucial role in shaping public opinion around the 2021 Hamas-Israel conflict. Social media has turned the social discourse into a “battlefield.” There was a storm of sock-puppet accounts, bots, and fake identity accounts [see definitions below] among genuine yet misleading pro-Palestinian narratives posted by celebrities, news organizations, and individuals.
- Many in the United States are drawing parallels to the Black Lives Matter movement due to a perception of state violence.
- Iran and Hamas have a history of social media manipulation. For example, in April 2021, multiple fake accounts were exposed to have links to Iran. Fast forward to May, during the conflict, when the watchdog group Fake Reporter exposed 120 fake accounts that were likely connected to Iran.
- Video media is one of the most powerful ways to influence people. For example, seeing footage from the conflict is far more compelling and emotional than reading about it. This appeal has led to YouTube becoming one of the top platforms for news, with 23 percent of Americans regularly getting their news from YouTube.
- The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian social media war is characterized by the guerrilla, asymmetrical nature of attacks. Activists can warp events, images, and videos around their agenda without any accountability. Print and broadcast media are centralized in different organizations, creating a situation where publishers, editors, and columnists are held accountable. By contrast, social media is decentralized, bordering on chaos.
- The weapons of this asymmetrical social media warfare are not guns, rockets, and bombs. They are TikTok, Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Wikipedia.
Open Letter of Complaint Against UNRWA Commissioner General
On July 3, 2021, UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini, a Swiss citizen, gave an interview to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a respected Swiss newspaper

In that interview, Lazzarini claimed, “Gaza has been blocked for fourteen years.” Since UNRWA refugee camps constitute 82% of the Gaza population. Lazzarini would have to know that at no time has the Gaza Strip been sealed off by the naval restrictions that Israel implemented after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007. Although sea access has indeed been restricted since the takeover, Lazzarini knows that Gaza has fully been open for humanitarian aid and commerce from three crossings: Rafiah towards Egypt, along with Kerem-Shalom and the Erez junction towards Israel.

Why then, would Lazzarini claim that a total blockade of Gaza is in force?

Such an inquiry raises the quesion: Does Mr. Lazzarini represent a UN agency or an organization whose purpose is to denounce Israel?

In the interview with his media colleagues in Zürich, Lazzarini makes matters worse with claims that “The blockade prevents the movement of people and goods as well as interferes with the reconstruction, the economic growth and the perspective for the local population.”

In line wih Lazzarini’s tendentious statement about the naval restrictions, which he calls a blockade, the UN Commissioner blames these naval restrictions for why the people in Gaza cannot dream of a normal life.

Lazzarini avoids any comment on the UNRWA policy, which prevents normal life by confining the 1.7 million descdendants of Arab refugees from the 1948 war to the continuing indignity of eleven Arab refugee camps in Gaza, giving them as the sole option for a future outside of UNRWA a return to Arab villages that existed before 1948.
Israeli filmmakers arrested in Nigeria over alleged contact with separatists
Three Israelis shooting a documentary in a separatist region in southeast Nigeria were arrested last week, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday.

According to media reports, Nigerian authorities arrested and interrogated the trio on suspicion that they had come into contact with Biafran separatists.

Family members of one of the men stressed to the Times of Israel that the allegations were entirely unfounded, and that separatist social media accounts took advantage of the Israelis’ trip to claim that the three were supporting Biafran separatist groups.

The Israeli Embassy in Abuja is following the case closely and is in contact with Nigerian authorities, according to the Foreign Ministry.

One of the Israelis arrested is Rudy Rochman, a Zionist activist with almost 95,000 followers on Instagram. Making the flight with him were filmmaker Noam Leibman and French-Israeli journalist E. David Benaym.

The Israelis were in Nigeria to film “We Were Never Lost,” a documentary exploring Jewish communities in African countries such as Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, and Nigeria.

They took off from Ben Gurion Airport on July 5 and landed in Nigeria the next day.

According to locals, the crew was detained at a synagogue during Friday night services in the Igbo village of Ogidi by Nigeria’s secret police and taken to Abuja.

The filmmakers were aware of the political sensitivity surrounding the filming of the Igbo community. Last Thursday, the We Were Never Lost Facebook page stressed: “We do not take any position on political movements as we are not here as politicians nor as a part of any governmental delegations.”

The group met last week with Igbo leader Eze Chukwuemeka Eri and presented him with a framed Shiviti made in Jerusalem.

Rochman also presented another Igbo community with a Torah scroll whose cover was designed by British-Israeli street artist Solomon Souza.

The Igbo consider themselves a lost tribe of Israel.
Israel bars jailed senior PFLP member from attending her daughter’s funeral
The Israel Prisons Service announced on Monday that it would not allow Khalida Jarrar, a jailed senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, to attend her daughter’s funeral.

Jarrar’s daughter Suha, 31, a well-known Palestinian rights activist, died suddenly of a heart attack in Ramallah on Monday. Suha worked for the Palestinian rights group al-Haq, and had researched the environmental impact of Israeli military rule.

Rights groups, as well as Arab Israeli lawmakers Aida Touma-Sliman and Osama Saadi from the Joint List party, had asked Public Security Minister Omer Barlev to grant Jarrar a furlough to attend her daughter’s funeral. A small cluster of demonstrators also protested for Jarrar’s release outside the Ofer military court on Tuesday evening.

But in a letter to Barlev, an IPS official wrote that they lacked the ability to free Jarrar, as she had been convicted in March of membership in the PFLP terror group for the second time. While Jarrar has not been herself convicted of involvement in terror activities, the PFLP has conducted numerous attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians over the years.

“The prisoner is classified as a security prisoner,” the letter read. “Therefore, her request does not meet the threshold conditions that allow this consideration and as a result, it is not within the authority of officials, including the [prisons] commissioner, to grant this request.”
Associated Press Transforms Convicted Terrorist Into ‘Palestinian Lawmaker’
In a July 13 piece titled, Israel bars jailed Palestinian from daughter’s funeral, The Associated Press (AP) described Israel’s refusal to:
let a prominent jailed Palestinian lawmaker attend her daughter’s funeral, despite a campaign by activists and human rights groups for her to be released on humanitarian grounds.”

However, basic journalistic due diligence would have quickly revealed that Khalida Jarrar, is, in fact, a convicted terrorist. Meanwhile, Suha Jarrar worked for al-Haq, a highly controversial organization with ties to the US-designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), of which her mother was a member. Al-Haq has asserted that terrorists have a “right” to receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority.

AP’s distortions were reprinted by influential outlets such as The Washington Post, ABC News, Yahoo and CBS News.

AP Turns a Convicted Terrorist Into a Mere ‘Palestinian’
Note the vagueness of The Associated Press headline: Israel bars jailed Palestinian from daughter’s funeral. While AP thereafter refers to her as a ‘Palestinian lawmaker,’ it fails to note Jarrar’s history of using her status as a former legislator to cover up her involvement in various illegal activities.

Moreover, it is simply bizarre for AP to open its coverage of Jarrar by referring to her as a ‘lawmaker.’ After all, the Palestinian Legislative Council in which she served has essentially been defunct since 2007 — after the Hamas terrorist group ousted the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip — and was officially dissolved in 2018.

When The Associated Press eventually gets around to reporting on Jarrar’s link to PFLP, the connection is remarkably unspecific, as if she is little more than a fan of the terrorist outfit:


Meet Jibril Rajoub, Possible Successor to Mahmoud Abbas
Jibril Rajoub presents himself as a “man of peace,” indignant that his “people” should be subject to a Holocaust inflicted by Israeli Jews, outdoing in their cruelty the nazifascism of “Goebbels and Mussolini.” But since he can adduce no facts to buttress his claim, he substitutes vitriol on Facebook as a sign of his deep sincerity.

Jibril Rajoub likes to suggest that he is opposed to terror attacks. Of course, it was for taking part in one such attack that he spent time in an Israeli prison — that he was sentenced to 15 years in an Israeli prison acquire a nuclear bomb they should certainly use it against Israel? Was this just a hypothetical, or was it a sinister hope? And why has he always referred to the Arabs who stab Israelis to death as “shahids” (martyrs)? This bespeaks admiration, not condemnation. And indeed he has said of the terrorist who dies while committing his terror act that “we honor him. And we will not ignore the fact that he fought for the Palestinian people. He sacrificed his blood and his life.” That sounds like support of terrorism to me.

If Jibril Rajoub manages to succeed Mahmoud Abbas it will mostly be more of the same, or even worse. For he will continue to liken Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews in the Holocaust, which Abbas – a Holocaust denier – never did. He will still defend terrorists as “shahids” (martyrs) and no doubt follow Abbas’s practice of naming streets and squares after dead terrorists, and continue Abbas’ “Pay-For-Slay” program to reward terrorists, dead or alive, and their families, with generous subsidies. After all, Rajoub was himself a terrorist, throwing grenades at Israelis, as a result of which he spent 15 years in an Israeli prison. Really, the only question is how much he will manage to steal if he becomes President of the PA. Will he try to emulate the two Hamas leaders, Khaled Meshaal and Mousa Abu Marzouk, each of whom managed to accumulate a fortune of at least $2.5 billion? Or will he set his sights lower – say, to acquire only the $400 million nest egg that Mahmoud Abbas has put away for himself, for his sons Tareq and Yassir, and for his grandsons. Or might he do something really extraordinary and take from the aid money meant for the “Palestinian people” a mere $200 million, or even be satisfied with a mere $100 million? In the Arab and Muslim world, and especially among the Palestinians, a leader who steals only $100 million dollars has a special title: he’s known as an “honest man.”
PMW: Saddam Hussein among Fatah’s role models for kids - What did you learn in summer camp today? #2
In a Fatah summer camp, Palestinian children were taught that arch-terrorist Abu Jihad, Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, and ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein are role models.

In a video posted by Fatah showing part of the activities at the camp, kids are seen holding pictures of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat standing with former Iraqi President and dictator Saddam Hussein, while another child is holding a picture of Arafat and Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin. As these images are shown the following text appears on the edited video:
“We do not forget to remind our children of those who brought us glory”
[Facebook page of the Fatah Youth Institution for Young Boys and Girls, July 10, 2021]

The “glory” that Ahmad Yassin founder of Hamas brought to Palestinians is the deaths of hundreds of Israelis from Hamas terror. The “glory” brought to Palestinians by Saddam Hussein are the dozens of missiles fired at Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities during the Gulf War.

Another child at the camp is holding up a collage of three pictures of Yasser Arafat. In the picture on the left, Arafat is seen standing with Khalil Al-Wazir “Abu Jihad,” a terrorist responsible for the murder of at least 125.

Significantly, and sadly, Fatah’s video from the camp did not show any kids holding photos of any Palestinians who did something positive and productive with their lives.

Other kids at the camp, which was held in Aqaba, a village in the Tubas district, held photos of “Martyrs,” among them a young man who was killed during violent confrontations with Israeli police, and a hunger striking prisoner who has been released.
Facebook Blocks Hamas-Affiliated News Agency Based in Gaza Strip
Facebook blocked the Hamas-affiliated Shehab News Agency, based in the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday for violating its terms of service.

“Despite recent outreach to its administrators regarding our policies, we have had to disable the Shehab News Agency Facebook page for repeatedly violating our community standards,” a Facebook spokesperson said, according to i24 News.

Shehab began in 2007. Its Facebook page was created in 2011 and had an estimated 7.5 million followers.

“We have previously explained to the Shehab news team that to keep our community safe and prevent harm, we do not allow praise or support for groups, leaders or individuals who have engaged in violence,” added the spokesperson.

Hamas criticized the social media platform for the move.

“We condemn this decision, and consider it an unjust decision and an attack on media freedoms and freedom of expression,” said Rafat Morra, head of Hamas’ Media Division, according to the report.
Hamas accuses Israel of ‘falsifying’ Jerusalem history
Hamas responded on Wednesday to news about the discovery of a section of Jerusalem’s city wall that was built during the First Temple period by accusing Israel of “falsifying” history.

Hamas spokesman for east Jerusalem, Mohammed Hamadeh, said that Israel’s effort to “falsify history and distort the facts will not help it, and Jerusalem will remain the capital of Palestine and its Arab Islamic identity.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced that the section of the wall that was mostly destroyed by the Babylonian army in 586 BCE has been uncovered by archeologists in the City of David National Park.

Hamadeh dismissed the announcement and accused Israel of “falsifying and stealing history.”

He said that the announcement was “a continuation of previous announcements related to the alleged Temple.”
Caroline Glick: Biden Is Iran's Survival Strategy
From Iran's perspective, the purpose of the deal is far more limited.

All that Iran seeks is an end to the U.S. sanctions. Raisi's "election" is further proof that all talk of a fight between "moderates" and "hard-liners" in the Iranian regime is nonsense that Westerners tell themselves. Iran isn't interested in moderating. It is interested in having the U.S. save it financially by ending its sanctions so that it can build its nuclear weapons, support its terror proxies and maintain their wars against the U.S., Israel and the Sunni Arabs, and still have money to repress the Iranian people.

Desperate to advance its "realignment" policy, the Biden administration is doing everything it can to satisfy the Iranians. Despite Biden's assertion that no sanctions will be removed so long as the Iranians have not curtailed their nuclear activities to come back in compliance with the JCPOA, the administration has already begun removing sanctions. This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken removed sanctions on three Iranians involved with Iran's ballistic missile program. Indeed, the administration has expressed a willingness to remove sanctions imposed against Khamenei himself.

So too, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the administration is developing a new sanctions policy that will "stem sweeping pressure campaigns, avoid collateral damage and act jointly with allies rather than unilaterally." The new sanctions policy is set to be revealed by the end of the summer, and among its goals is "easing economy-wide sanctions against Iran."

In other words, as Iran refuses to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, the Biden administration is looking for ways to remove sanctions anyway by using buzzwords like "multilateralism."

Buoyed by the nuclear deal that gave Iran an open path to a nuclear arsenal, in 2015 Khamenei promised Israel would be eradicated by 2040. In 2017, regime supporters in Tehran held a mass rally where they unveiled a digital clock that counted down to Israel's destruction.

Due to power outages, the countdown clock died last week.

The Iranian regime believes the Biden administration will ensure its survival by giving it a green light to repress its people and save its economy through sanctions relief. In light of the administration's policies, there is little reason to doubt Iran's assessment.
MEMRI: Mutual Accusations In Iran: Who Is Responsible For Security Breaches At Nuclear Facilities? IRGC-Affiliated Website Blames Atomic Energy Organization Head Salehi
The hostile rivalry between the ideological and pragmatic camps in the Iranian regime, which dominates Iran's political scene, recently came to a head over the security breaches at Iran's nuclear facilities in light of several acts of sabotage that occurred there in the recent months. Since securing Iran's nuclear facilities is the responsibility of various security and intelligence apparatuses subordinate to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), criticism of these apparatuses' performance is limited and implicit. Instead, criticism has been directed at the pragmatic Rohani government and elements associated with it. In its April 16, 2021 editorial, the Masregh News website, which is affiliated with the IRGC, blamed the explosion that had occurred that month at the Natanz nuclear facility, which put advanced centrifuges out of commission, on Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, accusing him of neglecting or even deliberately sabotaging the defense of Iran's nuclear facilities.

The editorial accuses Salehi, as well as outgoing Iranian president Hassan Rohani and his government, of pursuing a deficient foreign and nuclear policy characterized by rhetorical efforts to downplay the results of the repeated attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities and convey that no real harm had been done. It also claims that, as head of the Atomic Energy Organization, Salehi allowed the infiltration of Iran's nuclear facilities by enemy agents and thus exposed them to sabotage. Salehi, it says, did not heed the warnings of Iranian experts who could have prevented this, but rather fired them, while at the same time cementing his relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) thus exposing Iran's nuclear scientists to danger. During the nuclear negotiations, the article claims, Salehi also expressed loyalty to Ernest Moniz, secretary of energy in the Obama administration, who had been his teacher at MIT and was a member of the U.S. negotiation team. (See August 2015 MEMRI report for statements by Salehi in which he boasts that Moniz was appointed to the American negotiation team at his request).

It should be noted that Hamed Fakhrizadeh, the son of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of the Iranian nuclear program, also implicitly held the Rohani government responsible for the security breach that had allowed the assassination of his father in late November 2020. In a press conference several days before Iran's recent presidential election, in which he expressed his support for presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi, Hamed Fakhrizadeh said: "I myself voted for Raisi in the previous elections, and if the people had elected him last time, perhaps [my father Mohsen] Fakhrizadeh would have been able to vote this year. According to statements by Supreme National Security Committee Secretary-General Ali Shamkhani, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, and other relevant elements, there was negligence on the part of the relevant organizations and institutions in the context of his assassination. As a consequence, the desperate attempts of the fake Zionist regime and the global arrogance [the U.S.] against this scientist, who had been on [their] terrorist lists for over 20 years, were successful."[1]
Iran says it can enrich uranium to 90% purity - weapons grade - if needed
Iran said on Wednesday it could enrich uranium up to 90% purity -- weapons grade -- if its nuclear reactors needed it, but added it still sought the revival of a 2015 deal that would limit its atomic program in return for a lifting of sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani's remark is his second such public comment this year about 90% enrichment -- a level suitable for a nuclear bomb -- underlining Iran's resolve to keep breaching the deal in the absence of any accord to revive it.

The biggest obstacle to producing nuclear weapons is obtaining enough fissile material - weapons-grade highly enriched uranium or plutonium - for the bomb’s core. Iran says it has never sought nuclear weapons. "Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation can enrich uranium by 20% and 60% and if one day our reactors need it, it can enrich uranium to 90% purity," Rouhani told a cabinet meeting, Iranian state media reported.

The nuclear deal caps the fissile purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67%, well under the 20% achieved before the pact and far below the 90% suitable for a nuclear weapon.

Iran has been breaching the deal in several ways after the United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018, including by producing 20% and 60% enriched uranium.

Rouhani, who will hand over the presidency to hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi on Aug. 5, implicitly criticized Iran's top decision makers for "not allowing" his government to reinstate the nuclear deal during its term in office.
US charges four with plot to kidnap New York journalist critical of Iran
US prosecutors have charged four Iranians, alleged to be intelligence operatives for Tehran, with plotting to kidnap a New York journalist and human rights activist who was critical of Iran, according to a Justice Department indictment unsealed on Tuesday.

In recent years, Iranian intelligence officers have tricked a number of overseas activists to travel to destinations where they were kidnapped and sent back to Iran, US authorities said.

While the indictment did not name the target of the plot, Reuters has confirmed she is Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad, who has contributed to the US government-funded Voice of America Persian language service and reports on human rights issues in Iran.

On Wednesday, Alinejad took to Twitter to express her thanks to the FBI for foiling the kidnapping plan: "I am grateful to FBI for foiling the Islamic Republic of Iran's Intelligence Ministry's plot to kidnap me. This plot was orchestrated under Rouhani."


Biden Admin Waives Sanctions on Iranian Oil Trade As DOJ Announces Charges On Spy Network
The State Department informed Congress late Tuesday that it would waive sanctions on Iran's illicit oil trade so that the country can access frozen funds from South Korea and Japan, the same day the Department of Justice announced charges on an Iranian spy network that sought to kidnap an American.

The waiver, signed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, allows the "transfer of Iranian funds in restricted accounts to exporters in Japan and the Republic of Korea," according to a notification sent to Congress by the State Department. The waiver allows Iranian money that had been frozen as a result of American sanctions to be freed up without violating the law. "Allowing these funds to be used to repay exporters in these jurisdictions will make those entities whole with respect to the goods and services they exported to Iran, address a recurring irritant in important bilateral relationships, and decrease Iran’s foreign reserves," the waiver states.

The waiver was announced on the same day the Justice Department announced new charges against a network of Iranian intelligence agents who sought to kidnap an American journalist and bring her to Iran. The charges include kidnapping conspiracy, sanctions violations conspiracy, bank and wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy charges.

The sanctions relief also comes as the United States and Iran get closer to finalizing a revamped nuclear deal that will even further unwind sanctions on Tehran. Congressional Republicans are likely to oppose the move, which lessens economic pressure on Iran at a time when it is still funding regional terror groups and building out its nuclear weapons program. Sanctions of Iran's oil trade were a hallmark policy of the Trump administration, which sought to cut Iran's exports down to zero and deny the regime a key source of income.

Richard Goldberg, the former director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction on Trump's White House National Security Council, said the waiver will relieve pressure on Iran's floundering economy and give it access to much-needed cash.


Iran denounces US ‘interference’ as Cuba rocked by rare protests
US foe Iran has accused the United States of “interference” in Cuba’s internal affairs after unprecedented protests hit the communist-ruled island which has been under US sanctions for decades.

The protests erupted spontaneously in several cities on Sunday as Cuba endures its worst economic crisis in 30 years, with chronic shortages of electricity, food and medicines.

“While the United States is primarily responsible for the numerous problems of Cuba’s people, it has now come out in support of Cuba’s protests,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement late Tuesday.

He accused Washington of “seeking to interfere in the country’s internal affairs” and said Tehran, also under punishing US sanctions, “expresses solidarity with the people and government of Cuba.”

One person died and more than 100 others, including independent journalists and dissidents, were arrested during the protests, with some remaining in custody on Tuesday, observers and activists said.











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