Tuesday, September 26, 2023

09/26 Links Pt1: Netanyahu made Israel important again; Inside Iran’s influence operation; In historic first, tourism minister arrives in Saudi Arabia

From Ian:

Netanyahu made Israel important again
The left has already begun to criticize the emerging peace agreement with the Saudis, especially the possible agreement to a Saudi civilian nuclear program. But this is irrelevant. If MBS wants a nuclear program, he doesn’t have to do it through an agreement with Israel and the United States. He can always go to Russia and China. It’s better to do it through peace rather than conflict.

Yes, the Palestinian issue is still a problem, but the emerging deal indicates that the Palestinians’ veto on the peace process is dead. Nonetheless, Netanyahu maintained a moderate tone on the issue while still emphasizing Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas’s incitement, antisemitism and use of aid funds to finance terrorism.

Despite all this, Netanyahu told the world that the Palestinians should be part of a peace process, although he eschewed the old cliches like “two states for two peoples.” He knows that the peace paradigm has been turned upside down: First peace with the Saudis, and then Palestinian willingness to reach a compromise.

But Netanyahu went further than regional agreements. He is positing the idea of a new world; a vision of democracy, artificial intelligence and even humanity’s future in space. To him, the sky is no longer the limit. If the goal is so great, one imagines that Netanyahu will pursue peace with the Saudis together with the U.S. even if, in the extreme case, it means a new government must be formed or new elections held.

The revolt against judicial reform has brought masses of citizens into the streets for months, but Netanyahu has now turned the page. He has articulated a vision greater than that of his enemies: Peace and technological innovation for the entire world. These are the most pressing issues of our time, not domestic squabbles over the structure of the Israeli government.

Netanyahu has once again placed Israel at the center of the international arena. It will be difficult to undermine this accomplishment due to the provincial opposition of his domestic enemies.

The truth is that Israel is important once again. It was Netanyahu who made it important. Whoever tries to deny this in the name of anti-Bibi hate is nothing more than a defeatist.

Semafor: ‘Iran Experts Initiative’ included top aides to suspended US diplomat
Newly released documents show that at least three people who were or became top aides to suspended U.S. diplomat Robert Malley were part of Tehran’s 2014 Iran Experts Initiative (IEI), intended to burnish the country’s and its nuclear program’s global image, per a Semafor report.

In June, Malley was placed on leave, and his security clearance has been revoked. The FBI is reportedly investigating the diplomat for mishandling classified information.

Semafor and Iran International, which reported separate stories, obtained “a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails,” according to Semafor.

“The documents offer deep and unprecedented new insights into the thinking and inner workings of Iran’s Foreign Ministry at a crucial time in the nuclear diplomacy—even as Tehran’s portrayal of events is questioned, if not flatly denied, by others involved in the IEI,” it reported. “They show how Iran was capable of the kind of influence operations that the U.S. and its allies in the region often conduct.”

More specifically, a German professor in the IEI offered to ghostwrite opinion pieces for Tehran officials and others in the network sought Iranian Foreign Ministry staff advice about U.S. and Israeli conferences and hearings, per Semafor.

“The IEI participants were prolific writers of op-eds and analyses, and provided insights on television and Twitter, regularly touting the need for a compromise with Tehran on the nuclear issue—a position in line with both the Obama and Rouhani administrations at the time,” it reported.

The IEI had particular access during the final years of former President Barack Obama’s administration; Hassan Rouhani was then the Iranian president. “The Iran Experts Initiative was born from a Rouhani administration eager to end Tehran’s pariah status following eight years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency in which he courted Holocaust denial and promoted the eradication of Israel,” Semafor reported.

“This initiative which we call ‘Iran Experts Initiative (IEI)’ is consisted of a core group of 6-10 distinguished second-generation Iranians who have established affiliations with the leading international think tanks and academic institutions, mainly in Europe and the U.S.,” an Iranian diplomat, who later became spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry, wrote to the head of the ministry’s think tank in 2014, according to Semafor.

Inside Iran’s influence operation
In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues — particularly its nuclear program — by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative.

The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails reported for the first time by Semafor and Iran International. The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: At least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

The documents offer deep and unprecedented new insights into the thinking and inner workings of Iran’s Foreign Ministry at a crucial time in the nuclear diplomacy — even as Tehran’s portrayal of events is questioned, if not flatly denied, by others involved in the IEI. They show how Iran was capable of the kind of influence operations that the U.S. and its allies in the region often conduct.

The emails were obtained and translated by Iran International, a Persian-language television news channel headquartered in London — which was briefly based in Washington due to Iranian government threats — and shared with Semafor. Semafor and Iran International jointly reported on some aspects of the IEI. Both organizations have produced their own stories independently.

The communications reveal the access Rouhani’s diplomats have had to Washington’s and Europe’s policy circles, particularly during the final years of the Obama administration, through this network. One of the German academics in the IEI, according to the emails, offered to ghostwrite op-eds for officials in Tehran. Others would, at times, seek advice from the Foreign Ministry’s staff about attending conferences and hearings in the U.S. and Israel. The IEI participants were prolific writers of op-eds and analyses, and provided insights on television and Twitter, regularly touting the need for a compromise with Tehran on the nuclear issue — a position in line with both the Obama and Rouhani administrations at the time. The emails describe the IEI being initiated following Rouhani’s 2013 election, when he was looking to find an accommodation with the West on the nuclear issue. According to the emails, Iran’s Foreign Ministry, through its in-house think tank — the Institute for Political and International Studies — reached out to ten “core” members for the project, through which it planned to liaise over the next 18 months to aggressively promote the merits of a nuclear deal between Tehran and Washington, which was finalized in July 2015.

Gallant heads to Berlin to sign $3.5 billion Arrow 3 air defense deal
Israel is set to sign a letter of commitment for its largest-ever single defense contract on Thursday, moving forward with selling $3.5 billion worth of the Arrow 3 air defense system to Germany.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will fly to Berlin for a two-day visit on Wednesday night in order to ink the deal for the Defense Ministry, which developed the system in cooperation with the United States. The US gave its blessing to the sale in August.

While in Berlin, Gallant will also meet with his German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, who is hosting the Israeli defense delegation. The two will issue a joint declaration on cooperation between the respective defense establishments.

The deal not only sets a high-water mark for Israeli defense sales and German efforts to beef up defense capabilities amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, but also carries symbolic overtones, with the Jewish state selling defensive systems to a nation that less than a century ago turned its military might toward Jewish extermination.

The sale also would also make Germany the second country, after the US, to obtain the Arrow from Israel, a decision that a Defense Ministry official called significant.

Arrow 3 is considered to be one of the most advanced air defense systems of its kind, crafted to intercept ballistic missiles while they pass through space, beyond Earth’s atmosphere. The system is designed to destroy projectiles and their nuclear, biological, chemical or conventional warheads close to their launch sites, from a distance of up to 2,400 kilometers (1,490 miles). It is Israel’s topmost layer of air defense, complementing the shorter-range David Sling and Iron Dome systems.
In historic first, tourism minister arrives in Saudi Arabia
Amid talk of an emerging deal between the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, Minister of Tourism Haim Katz arrived for a historic visit to Riyadh on Tuesday as part of a delegation representing Israel in the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference. Katz is the first Israeli minister to visit the kingdom publicly.

The conference, attended by key tourism figures worldwide, is part of the events marking International Tourism Day.

"Tourism is a bridge between peoples. Collaborating in tourism can bring people together and stimulate the growth of economies. I will seek to forge partnerships to promote tourism and Israel's international relations."

Israel has strengthened its position within the UNWTO over the past year, and it has recently been elected to an official role in the organization for the first time. It now leads a task force alongside Spain to help boost global tourism.
Supporting a Saudi-U.S. Defense Pact; Rejecting Nuclearization
Israel should not be opposed to a U.S.-Saudi defense alliance. Jerusalem has a vested interest in bolstering the U.S. commitment to its allies in the region, and therefore it should support such a development. As for providing advanced U.S. weapon systems to Saudi Arabia, Israel should condition its support on having Washington take steps to cement its qualitative edge.

There is a big dilemma when it comes to Saudi Arabia's demand for U.S. support in setting up a civilian nuclear program, which would include the ability to enrich uranium. Proposals will be put forward for various arrangements that would ensure that the U.S. keeps control over a Saudi nuclear program in a way that would prevent it from having military dimensions. But it would not be enough to assuage Israel's fears or prevent a nuclear arms race in the region.

As for the Palestinian issue, this could result in Israel being asked to make concessions that it cannot realistically make. The main criteria under which Israel has to formulate its stand is reversibility: Israel must not agree to concessions that are irreversible (or that the price of reversing them is too steep).

The more the proposed draft of a U.S.-Israel defense pact bolsters Israel's deterrence, guarantees its freedom of operation and its ability to defend itself by itself while increasing the U.S. commitment to bolstering Israeli military capabilities and its qualitative edge, and if it all deepens the bipartisan commitment toward the Jewish state, then the Israeli stance will lean more toward a "yes."
FDD: Experts Urge Biden Not to Allow Saudis to Enrich Uranium for Israel Deal
On Sept. 21, a bipartisan group of Middle East regional and nuclear nonproliferation experts urged President Biden "to reject the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's request for uranium enrichment as part of or separate from a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel.... Enrichment could bring Saudi Arabia to the brink of acquiring nuclear arms, and U.S. policy should prohibit it....An enrichment facility operated by Americans inside Saudi Arabia...poses an unacceptable proliferation risk."

The experts included David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security; Ilan Berman, senior vice president, American Foreign Policy Council; Mark Dubowitz, chief executive, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general and head of the Department of Safeguards, IAEA; IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel, former acting national security advisor and head of Israel's National Security Council; and Jonathan Schanzer, former intelligence analyst, U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Saudi envoy to Palestinians: Two-state solution 'central' to Israel deal
Saudi Arabia's first ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Nayef al-Sudairi, arrived in Ramallah on Tuesday morning, implying in a statement to reporters that the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem would be a central pillar of any future deal with Israel.

Sudairi announced as well that the Kingdom intends to open a consulate in east Jerusalem. Such a move would seemingly require the approval of Israeli authorities.

In response to a question about the fate of the two-state solution if Saudi Arabia and Israel normalized relations, the ambassador told reporters on Tuesday that "the Arab Peace Initiative is the central point of any upcoming agreement," according to the Palestinian Authority's WAFA news agency.

What is the Arab Peace Initiative?
The Arab Peace Initiative promoted by Saudi Arabia and other members of the Arab League provides guidelines for peace between Israel and the rest of the Middle East. The initiative calls on Israel to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, to reach a "just solution" to the Palestinian refugee issue, and to withdraw from the Golan Heights.

Once Israel meets these requirements, the Arab countries which signed on to the Initiative will consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended and enter normalization agreements with Israel.

Sudairi to reside in Jordan, will only come to Ramallah when needed
Sudairi is a "non-resident ambassador" to the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia's consul-general in Jerusalem, with his main role being his position as the Kingdom's ambassador to Jordan. Sudairi will reside in Jordan and will visit Ramallah when needed.

"From the beloved state of #Palestine #Land_of_Canaan, the most beautiful greetings, coupled with the love of my master the #Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Highness the #Crown_Prince," tweeted Sudairi on Tuesday.

Israel Says US to Announce It Has Joined Visa Waiver Program, Biden Admin Cautions Process Still Not Complete
Israel‘s Foreign Ministry said on Monday it expects the United States to announce this week that it will be admitted to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which would allow Israeli citizens visa-free entry to America as of November.

The deadline for Israel to show compliance with the US conditions is Sept. 30. If successful, it would offer a win for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist government, whose relations with Washington have been strained over its plans to overhaul the judiciary as well as over its policies towards the Palestinians.

“Israel joining the Visa Waiver Program is a diplomatic achievement and good news for all Israeli citizens,” said Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

A US State Department spokesperson said on Monday that a final decision on Israel‘s candidacy had not been made.

“The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, will make a determination in the coming days,” the spokesperson said.

For admission to the program, Washington requires countries to treat all US travelers equally, regardless of whatever other passports they may hold. In Israel‘s case, that would mean free passage for Palestinian Americans at its airports and when traveling into and out of the Palestinian territories.

Some Palestinians have protested Israel‘s entry into the VWP.

Calls for Canadian Speaker's resignation grow over praising alleged Nazi veteran
It was revealed that Hunka had served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Nazi military unit infamous for its crimes during the Holocaust

Canada's parliamentary speaker is facing growing calls for his resignation on Tuesday after he publicly praised a Ukrainian veteran during a visit by Ukraine's President, who was later revealed to have alleged Nazi ties from World War II.

The incident occurred during President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to the Canadian parliament on Friday when Speaker Anthony Rota gave a standing ovation to 98-year-old Ukrainian immigrant Yaroslav Hunka.

Rota introduced Hunka as "a Ukrainian-Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians" and described him as "a Ukrainian hero and a Canadian hero."

However, it was subsequently revealed that Hunka had served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Nazi military unit infamous for its involvement in crimes against humanity during the Holocaust, according to the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly joined a growing number of voices demanding Rota's resignation on Tuesday, labeling the incident "completely unacceptable" and "an embarrassment to the House and to Canadians."

Multiple political parties in Canada have also called for Rota's resignation.

Rota, who is a member of the Liberal Party, issued an apology on Sunday, expressing regret for his comments about Hunka. He acknowledged that he had later become aware of additional information, and stated, "This initiative was entirely my own ... I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world."

Rota explained that he had mentioned Hunka because he hails from the same electoral district as the veteran.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau characterized Rota's remarks as "shameful" on Monday.

A faction aligned with the Liberal Party has called for Rota's resignation, while the primary opposition party, the Conservatives, criticized the Trudeau administration for not properly vetting Hunka, despite claiming they had no prior knowledge of his invitation to the event.

Hezbollah journalist films self within touching distance of IDF tank on border
A Lebanese journalist for Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV filmed himself Tuesday standing next to an Israeli tank on the border between Israel and Lebanon, as UNIFIL peacekeeping forces appeared to stand idly by.

In video posted to Al-Manar’s website, Ali Shoeib is seen moving within feet of the armored military vehicle, claiming it was encroaching on “liberated” Lebanese soil and deployed to protect nearby Israeli soldiers.

A separate clip shared by Shoeib shared on X showed a number of Lebanese soldiers standing on Lebanon’s side of the unmarked “Blue Line,” opposite Israeli soldiers on the other side of the border. Peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon stood between them, saying that they were in a “state of alert.”

In another video he shared of himself standing in front of the tank, Shoeib said, “this tank will leave, while we children of this land will remain here, and these attackers will leave.”

Al-Manar said the Lebanese army has begun construction on a military road across from an Israeli road in the army.

The incident took place in the Mount Dov area, which Lebanon claims and refers to as the Shebaa Farms. It is one of several so-called enclaves along the border that are part of Israeli territory but on the Lebanese side of the fence.

The tank and Israeli troops were guarding Defense Ministry employees working at the site as part of the “Fortified Galilee” project to build a new security fence along the Blue Line, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Why is Hamas Sending Palestinians to Die at the Border with Israel?
During the past few days, the Iran-backed Palestinian terror group Hamas has again been encouraging Palestinians living under its rule in the Gaza Strip to march toward the border with Israel and attack Israelis.

The latest attacks on Israelis by Hamas, however, appear to be less linked to Israel....

Hamas, instead of directing its grievances toward Qatar [for cutting grants to Hamas], responds by sending young Palestinian men to throw explosive devices, Molotov cocktails, and stones at Israeli soldiers along the border with the Gaza Strip.

Apparently, Hamas is hoping that the "Zionist enemy" (Israel) will come to its rescue by putting pressure on Qatar not to cut the financial grant. With many of its leaders sitting in Doha, Hamas must be rather fearful about coming out in public against Qatar.

The official said that civil servants, including senior Hamas officials, have not received full salaries because of the reduction in the financial grant. Hamas, in other words, is admitting that the renewed violence is not linked to Jerusalem or the Temple Mount, but to its leaders' desire to obtain more funds from Qatar.

The real blackmail, however, is coming from Hamas. First, Hamas is implying that if it doesn't get the funds, it will accuse the Qataris of collaboration with Israel, harming the Gulf state's image in the Arab and Islamic countries. Second, Hamas is openly stating that it will continue to send Palestinians to attack Israeli soldiers near the border if the Qataris do not resume the financial aid.

Will the international community call out the Hamas leaders for sending young men to their deaths for the sake of the money being withheld? Based on experience: not likely Far more likely is that we will hear loud and bitter condemnations of Israel for "opening fire" at Palestinian protesters along the border with the Gaza Strip.

PMW: PA libel: Masked Israeli soldiers are behind the murders of 175 Israeli Arabs in 2023
As the number of killings in Israeli Arab society rises – as of now 175 Israeli Arabs have been killed in internal Arab crime in 2023 – the Palestinian accusations against Israel get wilder and wilder.

The newest libel was voiced by one of the regular columnists for the official PA daily. Bassem Barhoum alleged that the killing of Israeli Arabs is carried out according to a plan devised by “Israeli forces” with the goal of creating fear and that way make Israeli Arabs want to “emigrate”:
“It is clear that the Israeli forces, which stand behind this plan, rely on an atmosphere of strife, fear, and terror prevailing in order to make the Palestinian residents inside the Green Line (i.e., Palestinian term for Israel; see below) think about emigrating and saving themselves and their families.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 5, 2023]

Palestinian Media Watch already exposed that Palestinians and Israeli Arabs have blamed Israel for the surge in crime within Israeli Arab society, claiming it is a “deliberate Israeli strategy” to “dismantle the Arab public” in Israel. But this latest PA libel goes even further by specifying who is responsible. The official PA daily columnist suggested that the masked Israeli Arab killers are in fact “special Israeli forces from the [Israeli] army’s undercover brigades,” who are murdering innocent Arabs “in an intensifying systematic manner”:
“Who said that these masked people who are spreading crime are not special Israeli forces from the [Israeli] army’s undercover brigades?

What we are witnessing today… is an act by a security establishment and dedicated intelligence forces that are managing the acts of crime in an intensifying systematic manner.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 5, 2023]
Young boy “proud” to be named after murderer uncle
Interview with the nephew of terrorist prisoner Yaqub Qaderi, who murdered 1 together with an accomplice

Nephew of terrorist prisoner Yaqub Qaderi: “I am Yaqub Muhammad, I was named after my uncle Yaqub Qaderi (i.e., terrorist, murdered 1). I am proud of his name, proud of my name, and of how I was named after him. Allah will release him. Wherever I go I hold my head up high thanks to him.”
[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, Sept. 14, 2023]

Yaqub Qaderi - Islamic Jihad terrorist who committed a shooting attack on Sept. 18, 2002 with an accomplice in which Israeli Yosef Ajami was murdered and a foreign worker was wounded. Qaderi was sentenced to 2 life sentences and another 35 years. Qaderi was one of 6 terrorist prisoners who escaped from Israel's Gilboa Prison on Sept. 6, 2021; he was recaptured after 5 days.

Fatah celebrates “largest kidnapping operation,” reenacts capture of 8 Israeli soldiers in Lebanon in 1982
Text on screen: “On Sept. 14, 1982, Fatah carried out the largest kidnapping operation in the history of the Palestinian revolution
Fatah captured 8 Israeli soldiers in the Bhamadoun area of Lebanon
Through them it achieved the freedom of more than 5,000 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners and emptied the Ansar detention camp [in Lebanon].”
[Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, Facebook page, Sept. 4, 2023]

The video shows a reenactment of the capture of 8 Israeli soldiers in Lebanon in 1982, in which the camera films from the perspective of a Fatah terrorist aiming a rifle at Israeli soldiers on their knees with their hands behind their heads. Footage from the release of Arab terrorists in exchange for the soldiers is interspliced with the reenactment.

The capture of 8 Israeli soldiers in Lebanon – Eight Israeli soldiers were captured by Fatah terrorists in Bhamadoun, Lebanon on Sept. 4, 1982. Two of them were handed to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and 6 were held by Fatah. Fatah released the 6 soldiers on Nov. 23, 1983 as part of an exchange deal in which Israel released 4,700 terrorists who were held in Lebanon and 65 terrorists held in Israel. The two handed over to the PFLP were released on May 21, 1985, as part of an exchange deal in which Israel released 1,150 terrorist prisoners.

Posted text on Facebook page: “Forty-one years since the largest operation of kidnapping Israeli soldiers in the history of the Palestinian revolution (refers to capture of 8 Israeli soldiers in Lebanon; see note below -Ed.), which was carried out by the Fatah Movement”

PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas To Address Reports Of Mass-Flight Of Youth From Gaza By Forbidding Reporting On Mass-Flight Of Youth From Gaza (satire)
Forty-thousand residents of this coastal territory have sought greener pastures in Europe and North America over the last year, according to official statistics and news items, leading the militant Islamist movement that governs the territory to take steps to reduce the phenomenon by barring journalists from documenting anything of the sort.

Hamas issued amended media guidelines for reporters today who wish to maintain their access to Palestinian officials in the Gaza Strip and not face harassment or expulsion. The new guidelines make explicit a point that a Hamas spokesman acknowledged the organization had assumed to be self-understood: no reporting that makes Hamas look bad. Tens of thousands of mostly young men departing what they called, in international media reports, a repressive place with no future, calls into question the competence and benevolence of the authorities, who are unable to effectively shift blame to Israel for all Palestinian ills.

“Yes, there’s a blockade,” conceded Fazwi Barhoum. “Yes, more imports are entering Gaza each week than before the blockade. No, that does not help with our efforts to paint every misfortune as the result of Zionist perfidy. Of course we have to address the problem of these stories by forbidding the stories.”

Gazans have flocked to every institution that offers some hope of an exit, to Egypt or Turkey, and from there, via risky and exploitative human traffickers, to the more economically promising shores of Italy, Canada, or the US, depending on how much the fleeing Palestinians have to spend. Few of those who attempt the journey, or are preparing for it, mention Israel as the primary factor driving them out.

Israel to IAEA: No doubt Iran conducting military nuclear program
Iran is conducting a military nuclear program and continues to test and deploy long-range nuclear missiles in violation of the UN Security Council, the Israel Atomic Energy Commission Director-General Moshe Edri said on Tuesday.

“Iran is still the spearhead of regional instability, and is a threat to peace and security worldwide,” Edri said as he addressed the 67th International Atomic Energy Agency’s General Conference in Vienna.

Halting Iran’s nuclear weapons activity requires the “full attention of the international community,” Edri stated.

“There is no doubt that Iran conducted a military nuclear program aimed at producing several nuclear weapon devices. Iran continues to advance this program by gaining relevant technology and knowledge, along with fissile material in alarming amounts,” he explained.

“Iran has been conducting covert nuclear activities in undeclared sites for many years. The Agency has found concrete evidence of these activities, including the use of undeclared material," Edri added.

This week’s conference takes place amid global concern regarding Iran’s enrichment of uranium at 60%, which places it on the edge of being able to produce a nuclear bomb.
Israel warns international community as Iran ballistic ban set to expire
Iran has repeatedly violated a U.N. resolution banning ballistic-missile activities even as it is set to expire next month, Israel Atomic Energy Commission director general Moshe Edri told attendees at the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Tuesday.

“Iran continues to develop, test and deploy long-range ballistic missiles in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he charged. “Iran, equipped with nuclear weapons and delivery systems, is not an option that Israel, or the world, can or should tolerate.”

On Oct. 18, provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 regarding Iran’s ballistic-missile activities are set to expire, warned Edri, which he said would allow the Islamic Republic to continue to advance its ballistic missile program “without any formal limitations.”

“There is no doubt that Iran conducted a military nuclear program aimed to produce several nuclear-weapon devices. Iran continues to advance this program by gaining relevant technology and knowledge, along with fissile material in alarming amounts,” said Edri.

“This situation is dangerous and troubling,” the top nuclear official cautioned.

Iran has continued to amass uranium enriched to near weapons-grade levels, according to an IAEA report the AP obtained earlier this month. The nuclear watchdog’s report shows Tehran has 121.6 kilograms (268 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60%, which is a short technical step away from 90%, considered weapons-grade.

Iran continues to stonewall IAEA officials by denying them visas, while the “de-designation of experienced agency inspectors” is also challenging the body’s monitoring work, AP reported.
Iranian leader said to okay direct talks with US on reviving nuke deal
A report Tuesday claimed Iran’s top leader has given the go-ahead for direct talks with the US over its nuclear program, days after Washington said it blocked Tehran’s top diplomat from visiting.

According to the UK-based, Iran wants to resuscitate negotiations over bringing the United States back into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action where they were when they fell apart about a year ago. Those talks, which were conducted via the European Union, collapsed after both sides indicated it was nearly a done deal.

Publicly, the US has expressed little interest in returning to the table. But it has repeatedly touted diplomacy as its preferred option for stopping Iran from nuclear weapons capabilities, and recently negotiated a prisoner swap with Tehran that included unfreezing some $6 billion in Iranian money that had been a major point of contention.

Citing senior Iranian sources, Amwaj reported that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had “granted permission” for direct nuclear talks between Iran and the US.

It said top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri is looking to meet US special envoy Brett McGurk in Oman in the coming weeks. Bagheri had permission to meet with McGurk in New York earlier this month on the sidelines of the United Nations’ annual high-level meeting, according to the report, but the sit-down never materialized.

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?
The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.
Suspected explosion hits area of Iran missile base; Israeli involvement speculated
A suspected explosion rocked the area of the Iranian city of Khorramabad on Monday evening, with some unofficial reports speculating it could have been a sabotage operation in a nearby underground ballistic missile base.

Iranian media outlets affiliated with the country’s Islamic regime reported that a “terrible sound” was heard by local residents, who also said the ground had been shaking.

However, official reports said later that no earthquake had been recorded in the area, and authorities also denied that an explosion had taken place, adding that the source of the disturbance was being investigated.

Situated some 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Khorramabad is the Imam Ali base, one of Iran’s two underground missile silos, where former president Mohammad Khatami ordered the production of Shahab-3 medium-range missiles — new variants of which have a range of 2,000 kilometers and are thought to be capable of hitting Israel and of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that around 10 p.m. on Monday, “strong shocks accompanied by a terrible sound caused tremors in parts of the city of Khorramabad, causing panic and disrupting the peace of the people at night.”

The report added that after it became clear that no earthquake had been recorded, “the occurrence of the explosion became more prominent in the minds of the people.”

Some observers, such as US-based Iranian-American Middle East researcher Erfan Fard of the Counter-Terrorism Center, suggested the incident could have been a successful operation by Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

Unofficial and unverified reports said the operation may have been conducted using attack drones.

Iranian-American Jew dies in Evin prison
Faramarz Javidzad, a Jewish Iranian-American who was jailed in Evin Prison, has died, owing to insufficient medical attention and a delay in his transfer to a hospital, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) has reported.

According to a report obtained by HRANA, Javidzad suffered from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and stomach bleeding. Given his medical history and deteriorating health, it is reasonable to conclude that the delay in getting Javidzad to a hospital contributed to his untimely death.

On Sunday, September 22, he was briefly taken to the prison infirmary but was subsequently returned to the public ward without receiving the proper medical treatment he urgently needed.

A source who spoke to HRANA revealed that, despite a judge’s approval for Javidzad’s transfer to an external hospital, prison officials obstructed his medical care and delayed his transfer.

Javidzad, a 63-year-old resident of Los Angeles, was involved in real estate in Iran. His arrest occurred in February/March 2022, following a complaint filed by the institution “Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order.” After enduring three months of solitary confinement and interrogation in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, he was relocated to the public ward. Some of his fellow inmates had reported to HRANA about his worsening health condition during his detention.

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