Iran's Nuclear Breakout Time: 7 to 8 Months - Olli Heinonen (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The breakout time for 6,500 centrifuges with 3.5% enriched UF6 will
be between seven and eight months - less than the goals set by the U.S.
Iran's nuclear infrastructure is much larger than what it actually
needs. Therefore, a monitoring scheme that is merely "good enough" will
not guarantee success in preventing Iran from breaking out and achieving
a nuclear weapons capability.
The writer is former deputy director-general for safeguards at the IAEA.
What Else Is Iran Hiding? - Ali Alfoneh and Reuel Marc Gerecht (Washington Post)
As Olli Heinonen, a former No. 2 at the International Atomic Energy
Agency, has warned, outsiders really can have no idea where and how fast
the mullahs could build a nuclear weapon unless they know what Iranian
engineers have done in the past.
Without "go anywhere, anytime" access for IAEA inspectors and a
thorough accounting of Tehran's weaponization research, we will be blind
to Iran's nuclear capabilities.
The writers are senior fellows at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Former Defense Intelligence Agency Head: Iran Is "Clearly on the March" - Josh Hicks (Washington Post)
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence
Agency, said during an interview on "Fox News Sunday" that recent
developments in the Middle East are moving in a bad direction for the
U.S., with Iran "clearly on the march."
"We have to stop what we're doing and take a hard look at
everything going on in the Middle East because it's not going in the
Arab States Gear Up for War - David Schenker and Gilad Wenig (Wall Street Journal)
Over the weekend, the Arab League met in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and
endorsed the creation of an intervention force to fight terrorism in
the Middle East.
The main driver is Egyptian President Sisi, supported by King Abdullah II of Jordan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
The willingness of Arab states to finally sacrifice blood and
treasure to defend the region from terrorism and Iranian encroachment is
a positive development.
But it also represents a growing desperation in the shadow of Washington's shrinking security role in the Middle East.
Mr. Schenker is the director of the Program on Arab Politics at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where Mr. Wenig is a research
See also Why Yemen Matters - Daniel Pipes (Washington Times)
U.S.: Iran's Revolutionary Guards Training, Equipping Yemen's Houthi Rebels - Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball (Reuters)
U.S. intelligence assessments have concluded that Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps personnel were training and equipping Houthi
rebels in Yemen.
Saudi ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir noted Thursday, "The
first thing the Houthis did when they entered and occupied Sanaa was to
free Iranian Revolutionary Guards operatives and Hizbullah operatives
from the jails."
See also Hizbullah "Operating in Yemen" with Houthis - Sirag Wahab (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Iranian MP: Yemeni Missiles Can Hit Targets 500 Km. Inside Saudi Arabia (Fars-Iran)
"Saudi Arabia is well aware that the Yemeni people and armed forces are
capable of targeting the military bases of Saudi Arabia at a distance of
500 km. inside that country," said Mohammad Hassan Asafari, a member of
the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy
Israeli Rescue and Recovery Team to Assist at Germanwings Crash Site (DPA-Ha'aretz)
An eight-member team of Israeli rescue and recovery experts from
ZAKA with experience identifying body parts will travel to the French
Alps to help with the efforts to gather the remains of the 150 victims
of last week's fatal Germanwings crash, the Prime Minister's Office
Although the team will help with the overall search, a key focus is
tracking down the remains of an Israeli passenger who was on the
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- Iran Backs Away from Key Detail in Nuclear Deal - David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon
Iranian officials on Sunday said they are no longer willing to ship
their atomic fuel out of the country under a proposed nuclear agreement.
For months, Iran tentatively agreed that it would send a large portion
of its stockpile of uranium to Russia, where it would not be accessible
for use in any future weapons program. But Iran's deputy foreign
minister, Abbas Araqchi, told the Iranian media, "There is no question
of sending the stocks abroad," AFP reported.
Western officials confirmed that Iran was balking at shipping the
fuel out, but insisted that there were other ways of dealing with the
material, such as blending it into a more diluted form.
Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said,
"The viability of this agreement as a reliable arms control accord is
diminished by this....One of the core administration arguments has been
that the uranium would be shipped abroad as a confidence building
measure." (New York Times)
- White House May Give Congress Some Oversight over a Nuclear Deal - Carol E. Lee and Jay Solomon
As negotiations with Iran on a nuclear deal come down to the wire, White
House officials have begun to express privately a willingness to accept
legislation that gives Congress some oversight of the nuclear deal.
"There's a recognition that Congress is going to take some sort of vote
after negotiations are complete," said Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.).
White House officials still oppose legislation that would give Congress
final approval of a deal with Iran or apply new sanctions. And officials
don't want lawmakers to vote on any Iran deal until after the June 30
deadline for a comprehensive agreement. But widespread opposition from
lawmakers in both parties has forced the White House to begin
considering a potential compromise with Congress. (Wall Street Journal)
- Clinton Wants to Improve Ties with Israel - Maggie Haberman
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Malcolm Hoenlein,
executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations, on Sunday that she wanted to put the
relationship between the U.S. and Israel back on "constructive footing."
Mrs. Clinton's comments contrasted in tone from recent remarks by
members of the Obama administration, who have publicly criticized Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
"Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the
special U.S.-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back
to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution
pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,"
Hoenlein said. "We must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan
issue," he quoted her as saying.
(New York Times)
- Press Aide to Iranian President Defects - Ahmed Vahdat and Richard Spencer
Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Iranian president
Hassan Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, has sought political
asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear
talks between Tehran and the West.
Motaghi said he no longer saw any "sense" in his profession as a
journalist at the Iran Student Correspondents Association as he could
only write what he was told. "My conscience would not allow me to carry
out my profession in this manner anymore."
In a television interview, Motaghi also gave succor to Western
critics of the proposed nuclear deal, which has seen the White House
pursue a more conciliatory line with Tehran:
"The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran's behalf
with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal," he
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Releases Withheld Palestinian Tax Funds in Exchange for Halt in Further Anti-Israel Moves at ICC - Herb Keinon
Following Israel's decision on Friday to release frozen tax revenues,
the PA is not expected at this time to take steps against Israel in the
ICC regarding settlement construction. In addition, while the ICC
prosecutor has - at the PA's request - opened a preliminary examination
on alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza during last summer's war, the PA
is not expected to take additional legal steps in the ICC regarding the
Gaza operation. The PA also does not intend to stop its security
cooperation with Israel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced Friday that, at the
recommendation of the security establishment, some $500 million will
be freed up, though the PA's electric, water and hospital bills to
Israel will be subtracted from those funds.
- Netanyahu: Iran Is Seeking to Take Over the Middle East
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday:
"The agreement being formulated with Iran in the nuclear
talks...confirms all of our concerns and even more so. Even as meetings
proceed on this dangerous agreement, Iran's proxies in Yemen are
overrunning large sections of that country and are attempting to seize
control of the strategic Bab el-Mandeb straits which would affect the
naval balance and the global oil supply."
"After the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad axis, Iran is carrying out a
pincer movement in the south as well in order to take over and conquer
the entire Middle East. The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous
for humanity and needs to be stopped." (Prime Minister's Office)
- Ya'alon: You Don't Have to Be in Intelligence to Know that Iran Is Lying - Herb Keinon
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that "one does not have to be an
intelligence agency member to know that Iran is lying without blinking."
The "Iranian appetite to export the revolution through terrorism will
only get bigger; and with the seal of approval it receives as a
legitimate state that is a touching distance away from being nuclear,
the danger to the West and its allies in the Middle East will be
Former director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry Yossi
Kuperwasser noted: "We have said many times that we retain the option of
doing whatever we see as necessary in order to slow down the way the
Iranians move forward toward a nuclear weapon." "There are ways to keep
Iran from nuclear capability," he said, without elaborating.
Kuperwasser said that once an accord is signed, "There will be a
reluctance on behalf of many of those signed on the agreement to expose
the violations of the Iranians."
Israel's job will be to be a "watchdog" to tell the world what is
happening inside Iran. (Jerusalem Post)
- U.S. Votes Against Anti-Israel Resolutions at UN Human Rights Council - Tovah Lazaroff
The U.S. was the only country to stand with Israel at the UN Human
Rights Council on Friday and to vote against four resolutions that
dealt with the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights. U.S.
Ambassador Keith Harper said, "We are disappointed that this council
continually singles out Israel for criticism without acknowledging the
violent attacks directed at its people, nor the obligations and
difficult steps required of both sides. In short, such singling out
undermines the credibility of the council." (Jerusalem Post)
- The "Obama Framework" for Israel and the Palestinians - Jackson Diehl
For nearly half a century, the U.S. has taken the position that the
terms for a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians must come
about as the result of negotiations and not as an imposition by outside
parties. Now Obama is contemplating going forward with a UN resolution
that was drafted last year by Secretary of State John Kerry and his
Mideast negotiations team at the State Department.
The administration's language would probably stipulate that
Palestine's territory would be based on Israel's pre-1967 borders with
the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with territorial swaps to allow Israel's
annexation of some Jewish settlements. Most likely it would declare that
Jerusalem would be the capital of both nations.
Israeli officials, who are aware of the U.S. draft, say that while
these terms, much sought by the Palestinians, would be very specific,
some of Israel's biggest priorities would be covered by much vaguer
language. A description of security arrangements would glide over the
question of exactly how the West Bank and Gaza would be prevented from
becoming a launching pad for attacks on Israel, while the question of
Palestinian refugees would be dispatched with a call for an "agreed
The U.S. draft probably would stipulate that Israel would remain
the homeland of the Jewish people. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas'
categorical rejection of that principle helped to cause the breakdown of
Kerry's diplomacy, and it would almost certainly mean that the
Palestinians would join Israelis in rejecting the resolution.
Obama's hope would be that his initiative could win unanimous
support from the Security Council and thus set the terms of reference
for a future settlement. At a minimum, diplomats who now talk of the
"Clinton parameters" from 2000 would henceforth speak of the "Obama
- Yemen Is Part of Iran's Mideast Master Plan - Smadar Perry
During a tour Wednesday of the Saudi-Yemen border, Saudi defense
minister Crown Prince Salman warned the Houthi rebels: "We are
committed to the security of the Yemeni people. If you continue to
undermine the stability and threaten Saudi Arabia, you will get hit
hard." A spokesman for the Houthi rebels responded: "Your army is weak.
Today we are more skilled. When we decide to invade, we won't stop in
the city of Mecca, but will continue on to Riyadh to topple the
Yemen President Hadi appealed to the UN Security Council to declare
Yemen a no-fly zone and thus put an end to Iran's supply by air of
weapons, military equipment and thousands of instructors and fighters to
the rebel forces. Without the help of Yemen's neighbors in the Gulf,
Iran will continue to make progress towards its ultimate goal - regime
change in Saudi Arabia.
"The ayatollahs of Iran seek to take control of the Strait of Bab
el-Mandeb so they can determine who can cross the Red Sea to the Suez
Canal," says Dr. Yasser bin Hilal, a political science lecturer at the
University of Sana'a. "If they are successful, it will also affect the
movement of ships sailing with goods from the Far East to the port of
Ashdod in Israel. Try to picture the nightmare scenario - fighters in
the uniforms of the Revolutionary Guards directing maritime traffic,
boarding cargo ships, checking the cargoes and crew, and blocking
passage to anything that doesn't serve their interests." (Ynet News)
- Free Fall in the Middle East - Walter Russell Mead
The mainstream media will still do all it can to avoid connecting the
dots or drawing attention to the stark isolation in which the White
House now finds itself as ally after ally drops away. It still doesn't
want to admit that the "smart diplomacy" crowd has been about as
effective at making a foreign policy as the famous emperor's
smooth-talking tailors were at making a new suit of clothes.
The shocked silence of the foreign policy establishment, the
absence of any statements of support from European or Asian allies about
our Middle East course, the evidence that the President and the "senior
officials" whom he trusts continue to be blindsided by major
developments they didn't expect and haven't provided for: all of this
tells us that our Middle East policy is in free fall. The writer is
professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and
professor of American foreign policy at Yale University. (American Interest)
Obama Toys with Cutting Israel Adrift in the Security Council - John R. Bolton (Weekly Standard)
Immediately after Israel's March 17 election, Obama administration
officials threatened to allow (or even encourage) the UN Security
Council to recognize a Palestinian state and confine Israel to its
The administration leaks in effect threatened "collective
punishment" as a weapon in U.S.-Israel relations. But more important,
exposing Israel to the tender mercies of its Security Council opponents
harms not only Israel's interests, but America's in equal measure.
America's consistent view since UN Security Council Resolution
242 concluded the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, is that only the parties
themselves can structure a lasting peace. Deviating from that formula
would be a radical departure from a bipartisan Middle East policy nearly
half a century old.
In fact, Israel's "1967 borders" are basically only the 1949
cease-fire lines. Only negotiation could leave the parties content;
externally imposed terms could only sow future conflicts.
Hence, Resolution 242 does not call for a return to the
prewar boundaries, but instead affirms the right of "every State in the
area" to "secure and recognized boundaries." Ignoring this fundamental
reality is fantasy.
U.S. interests extend beyond personalities and temporary
frustrations. The global harm that will be done to common U.S. and
Israeli interests through Security Council resolutions if Washington
stands aside will extend far beyond the terms of one prime minister and
Palestinian statehood resolution would terminate all bilateral
Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy. What would there be to talk about?
The writer, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, served as U.S. ambassador to the UN.
See also U.S. Raises Pressure on Israel over Palestinians - Joe Lauria, Carol E. Lee, and Joshua Mitnick (Wall Street Journal)