Iran orders its proxies to ‘prepare for war’ – TV7 Israel News 22.05.19

Posted May 22, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized



Pentagon: Iran threat ‘on hold’ thanks to US response

Posted May 22, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Pentagon: Iran threat ‘on hold’ thanks to US response | The Times of Israel

‘Our steps were very prudent,’ Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan says of US deployment of ships, bombers to region amid intelligence warnings of Iranian attack plans

The USS Abraham Lincoln sails south in the Suez canal near Ismailia toward the Persian Gulf, May 9, 2019. (Suez Canal Authority via AP)

WASHINGTON – Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday that the United States had “put on hold” the Iranian threat to its interests, following a spike in tensions that has seen the US dispatch bomber aircraft to the Gulf.

“I think our steps were very prudent and we’ve put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans,” the acting defense secretary said, as he prepared to brief lawmakers on regional tensions.

“I’d say we’re in a period where the threat remains high and our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians,” Shanahan added.

His comments come amid a war of words between Washington and Tehran as both sides accuse the other of dangerously ratcheting up tensions.

Then-deputy defense secretary Patrick Shanahan, right, listens as US President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, in Washington, DC, on April 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

The Pentagon accelerated the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf and dispatched B-52 bombers to the region on May 7 after US intelligence reported Iranian “threats” to US and allied forces.

The nature of the threat has remained vague, although it reportedly included sightings of missiles being loaded on Iranian dhows in the Gulf.

Several tankers in the Gulf, including two Saudi vessels, were reportedly sabotaged as well.

Members of Congress, including some Republicans, have expressed skepticism about the intelligence, however, as well as worries about the potential for miscalculation.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat maneuvers in the Persian Gulf while an oil tanker is seen in background, July 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

“I really want to underscore the credibility of the intelligence,” Shanahan said, adding that he would be giving lawmakers a more detailed briefing about it.

Asked later what he meant by putting the threat “on hold,” Shanahan told reporters, “There haven’t been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold.”

“That doesn’t mean that the threats that we’ve previously identified have gone away,” he said.

“Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region.”


Iran inches towards restarting nuclear program after attacking Gulf oil infrastructure – DEBKAfile

Posted May 22, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Iran inches towards restarting nuclear program after attacking Gulf oil infrastructure – DEBKAfile

How big a threat is Iran’s decision on Monday, May 20, to increase fourfold production of low-grade enriched uranium and halt the “modernization” of its Arak plant?

Iran has stocked no more than 15-16 kg of low-grade, 3.67pc enriched uranium, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources. This is far below the 300kg cap set by the JCPOA – the nuclear accord Iran signed with six world powers in 2015. It would take Iran’s enrichment plants months to reach that maximum amount, and only then if advanced centrifuges were put to work, in direct violation of that accord.

Therefore, the announcement of a fourfold production boost by an official at the Natanz enrichment site on Monday has little practical relevance at this time for Iran’s nuclear development program.

As for the centrifuges, Iran is allowed to operate 6,000 outdated machines at the Natanz plant in central Iran. Another 19,000 centrifuges, some advanced versions, stand idle, in line with the pact’s provisions. Getting all those machines spinning again after four years of unemployment presents a major technological challenge, for which it is hard to see Iran having the manpower and industrial resources to hand.  Natanz is also handicapped by tours of inspection by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Commission and military surveillance satellites some of them Israeli, watching overhead. Under these conditions, Tehran will find it difficult to take uranium enrichment up to the next 20pc level on the way to weapons grade fuel. However, as recently as last December, Ali Akhbar Salehi, head of Iran’s nuclear energy commission, spoke of 1,044 centrifuges “currently ready” at Fordow (the once-secret underground enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom). “If the establishment wants, we will restart 20pc uranium enrichment there.”

The Fordow centrifuges waiting at Fordow are faster than the machines at Natanz. For now, there is no sign that enrichment there has indeed resumed.

Also covered by the JCPOA was the Arak heavy water reactor, which can produce plutonium. Under the pact, Iran was obliged to convert the plant to civilian use. Tehran never met this obligation. Instead, it performed certain deceptive steps which kept the Arak reactor inactive while still capable of restarting its prohibited functions. This is what was meant by Iran’s Supreme National Council statement on My 8 that “Iran would cease implementation of measures related to the modernization of the Arak Heavy Water Reactor.” Those “modernization” measures were never in fact implemented in full and have left Arak still capable of resuming plutonium production if its functions ae fully restored.

That, too, has not happened thus far. Our military and intelligence sources note, therefore, that, after announcing its partial withdrawal from the nuclear pact, Tehran is moving forward cautiously towards reviving the banned elements of its nuclear program. Preparations are being slowly put in place so that in the event of the confrontation with Washington escalating sharply, those preparations could spring into execution at short notice.


Israel approves armored vehicles for Palestinian Authority

Posted May 21, 2019 by Peter Hofman
Categories: Uncategorized

Israel approves entry of ten armored vehicles donated by EU on background of crisis between Israel and PA over tax revenues.

Mordechai Sones, 21/05/19 18:26

Armored vehicleiStock

The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas has received armored vehicles from the European Union according to YNet. Israel approved the vehicle’s introduction after years of postponements, on the background of the crisis surrounding offsetting tax money to terrorists’ families.

The armored vehicles were brought into Samaria via Jordan with Israel’s approval.

In recent years the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly demanded that Israel approve entry of armored vehicles, but their request was allegedly rejected time after time.

The last time PA armored vehicles aroused controversy was in 2000 when a paper published by the Ariel Center for Policy Research identified the PA armored threat to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, saying “Because the IDF limits yishuv self defense to small arms, the growing armor vehicle capability of the PA would render the assault troops it carries invulnerable to yishuv defenders. The IDF gate guards do not have anything to stop these vehicles. The standard sliding gates for all yishuvim would buckle under the impact of such armored vehicles, and many yishuvim lack even this ‘obstacle’ – such that the only thing separating between the attacker and the yishuv is a moving aluminum arm painted red and white.”

The report went on to say that “The PA armored vehicle force is not capable of challenging the IDF, but would be unstoppable in a first strike on yishuvim. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that that is their purpose.

“Although it is possible to gain sudden entry into yishuvim by using commandos or even less prepared troops – as the examples of Ariel and Ofra show – armored vehicles provide a rapid capability to do so that ground troops cannot match.”

At that time, the IDF justification for the PA need for armored vehicles according to Oslo was that Arafat needed them to protect his government from Arab extremist elements, while at the same time trying to deny their existence.

The current shipment of armored vehicles arrived at a time of crisis between Jerusalem and Ramallah around the law to offset terrorist salaries and the Palestinian Authority’s stubborn refusal to accept tax revenues from Israel after it offset the Palestinian Authority’s payment to the families of terrorists.

For more than three months, tens of thousands of members of the PA organizations have received half of their salaries because of the crisis surrounding the PA-Israel offsetting law. In the corridors of the security apparatuses, there was harsh criticism of Israel’s policy, as the PA continues security coordination with the Israeli defense establishment while Israel conducts indirect negotiations with Hamas, allowing tens of millions of dollars from Qatar to be disbursed.

YNet conjectures that the approval of the move during this period is intended to soften the criticism and frustration in the Palestinian Authority and to maintain close security coordination.

About three months ago, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that Ramallah would waive all the tax revenues it receives every month from Israel – about NIS 500 million – in response to the Israeli decision to offset the salaries of the terrorists.

According to the cabinet decision, Israel offsets the taxes it transfers to the Palestinian Authority on payments linked to terrorism. Prime Minister and Defense Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed the security forces to intensify the examination of payments to terrorists and their families and to update the frozen amount accordingly.

In 2000, the IDF repeatedly denied Arab armored vehicles in Judea and Samaria, apparently
intending to convince Jewish residents there that Arab armor would only threaten to concentrate on communities in Gaza. But evidence of attack preparations against yishuvim of Judea and Samaria continued to grow, as reports of PA armor in Ramallah and Shechem began to gain credibility despite IDF denials.

The lunatics run the show

Posted May 21, 2019 by Peter Hofman
Categories: Uncategorized

Women’s movement: Put ‘Mother and Father’ back on IDF forms

Shovrot Shivyon women’s movement slams surrender to LGBT pressure, says there was ‘no public discussion,’ conservatives are ‘silenced.’

Arutz Sheva Staff, 21/05/19 15:02

IDF soldiers (illustrative)Hadas Parush, Flash 90

The Shovrot Shivyon (Breaking Equality) women’s movement on Tuesday called on the IDF “to return ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ to the induction forms and immediately remove the categories of ‘Parent 1’ and ‘Parent 2,’ recently instituted by the IDF.”

The new categories were instituted in response to continuous pressure from LGBT groups and in order to avoid embarrassment during the recruitment process.

According to Shovrot Shivyon, “Identity politics have penetrated the IDF. The minority is forcing its opinion on the majority who believe in the values ​​of the natural family. The IDF Spokesperson stated that the goal was to prevent embarrassment during induction stages. The silent and conservative majority was the one who felt embarrassed by such a form. Progressive values ​​are assimilated by left-extreme groups without any public discussion, with the other side being silenced and modernized.”

“As women and mothers, we call on the army to return to a consensus and avoid political disagreements that shape society at the expense of our children.”

Earlier on Tuesday, an IDF spokesperson explained: “The IDF updates and changes the questionnaires from time to time in accordance with the comments received and the needs that arise during the screening process.”

Iran Accelerates Production of Enriched Uranium as Tensions Rise

Posted May 21, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Iran Accelerates Production of Enriched Uranium as Tensions Rise

Golnar Motevalli

(Bloomberg) — Iran has accelerated the rate at which it’s enriching low-grade uranium four-fold, weeks after threatening to gradually scale back its commitments under a 2015 deal meant to prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, an official at Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, as saying that Iran had increased its output of 3.67% enriched uranium as of Monday, and that the United Nations nuclear watchdog had been informed. The number of active centrifuges has not been raised, it added. Crucially, Iran hasn’t increased the level to which it is enriching beyond the agreed limit.

“This issue does not mean that there is an increase in the purity of the material or that there’s an increase in the number of centrifuge machines or that there’s a change in the type of centrifuges,” Kamalvandi said, according the Tasmin.

Tehran has already announced it stopped complying with a 300-kilogram cap on the storage of enriched uranium and heavy water imposed by the multilateral accord, and said it would abandon limits on uranium enrichment unless Europe throws it an economic lifeline within 60 days, setting an ultimatum for the survival of the landmark agreement.

Tensions in the Gulf have spiked since the U.S. stopped granting waivers to buyers of Iranian oil early this month, tightening sanctions slapped on the Islamic Republic after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal a year ago.

With an economic crisis looming, Iran announced on May 8 it would gradually withdraw from the agreement unless the remaining parties find a way to ease its pain. That was followed last week by so far unexplained sabotage attacks against four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, heading toward the Gulf and a drone attack by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels against Saudi pumping stations, which forced the temporary suspension of an east-west pipeline.

Saudi Prince Says Iran Ordered Pipeline Attack as Tensions Rise

On Wednesday, the U.S. cited growing yet unspecified threats as it ordered the departure of non-emergency staff from Iraq, where Iran provides material and political support to several powerful militias.

By the end of last week, Trump appeared to dial back the tensions, reiterating earlier statements that he’s open to talks with the Iranian government and saying he hopes there isn’t a war. But he’s also signaled that the U.S. will respond to any provocations and asserted that Tehran needs to initiate any talks.

“Iran will call us if and when they are every ready,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday. “In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse — very sad for the Iranian people.”

In a meeting with clerics in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said Monday, “I am a supporter of negotiations and diplomacy, but I do not accept to do it in the current circumstances.”

Though all sides have said they do not want war, heightened concerns have rattled oil markets and become a subject of debate at a meeting of OPEC oil exporters taking place in the Saudi city of Jeddah. Iran says that its nuclear program is for civilian energy and medical uses and that it has never sought nuclear weapons.

The U.S. accelerated the dispatch of an aircraft carrier and moved B-52 bombers to the region in recent weeks, citing unspecified threats from Iran and its proxies.

The Trump administration revoked this month two waivers that enabled Iran to send surplus heavy water to Oman and ship out any enriched uranium above the 300 kg limit in exchange for natural or “yellowcake” uranium. Those measures undermined Iran’s ability to dispose of excess materials, forcing it to choose either between stopping enrichment, as the Trump administration wants, or abandoning its commitment to the storage threshold.


Rouhani: In current situation, Iran chooses path of ‘resistance only’

Posted May 21, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Rouhani: In current situation, Iran chooses path of ‘resistance only’ | The Times of Israel

Iranian president says he won’t walk away from nuke deal because it would bring more sanctions; Trump says willing to talk, but provocations will be met with ‘great force’

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, May 8, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, May 8, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that while he favors talks and diplomacy, these are impossible in the current situation, and so his country has chosen a path of “resistance only.”

“I favor talks and diplomacy but under current conditions, I do not accept it, as today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only,” the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted him as telling leading religious figures.

His comments came hours after US President Donald Trump said that any  provocations by Iran would be met with “great force,” while noting that he’s also willing to negotiate.

According to IRNA, Rouhani told the clerics that there was consensus among the leadership that Iran would stand up to the US and its sanctions.

However, he said Iran would not officially leave the nuclear deal because that would open it up to further sanctions.

“If we walked away from the JCPOA with the US provocative acts, then, in addition to the US, the UN and world would also impose sanctions on us,” he said, using an acronym for the official name of the deal.

Tensions have spiraled in recent days after the Trump administration sent an aircraft carrier and other military resources to the Persian Gulf region, and withdrew nonessential personnel from Iraq, raising alarms over the possibility of a confrontation with Iran.

“We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happen. But if it does, it will be met obviously with great force,” said Trump, speaking to reporters as he left the White House en route to a rally in Pennsylvania. “We’ll have no choice.”

Despite saying there was no indication of a belligerent act from Iran, the president called the Islamic Republic “very hostile” and the “No. 1 provocateur of terror in this country.”

Trump had been downplaying the chances of potential conflict in recent days and again said he was willing to talk to Tehran.

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“If they call we would certainly negotiate, but that’s going to be up to them,” Trump said. “I’d only want them to call if they’re ready. If they’re not ready, they don’t have to bother.”

Trump’s comments come after semi-official news agencies in Iran reported that the country has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium amid tensions with the US over the unraveling nuclear accord.

The Fars and Tasnim news agencies both reported that the production is of uranium enriched only to the 3.67 percent limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, far below the 20% to which Iran was enriching before the deal or the 90% required to produce nuclear weapons.

The fast combat support ship USNS Arctic transports cargo to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during a replenishment-at-sea in the Arabian Sea, May 19, 2019. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman/US Navy via AP)

However, a quadrupling of production would mean that Iran likely will soon go beyond the stockpile limitation of 300 kilograms set by the deal.

Iran said it has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, of its decision. The IAEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The crisis is rooted in Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear accord last year and impose sweeping sanctions on Iran. The Trump administration has criticized the 2015 accord for failing to rein in Tehran’s regional ambitions.

Earlier Monday, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met with his visiting counterpart from Oman, Yusuf bin Alawi. The Gulf nation has in the past served as an intermediary between the United States and the Islamic Republic, including during the early stages of the talks that led to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Overnight Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to warn Iran not to threaten the US or it will face its “official end.”

The USS Abraham Lincoln sails in the Arabian Sea near the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, on May 17, 2019. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur, US Navy via AP)

Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Trump did not elaborate, nor did the White House. However, the tweet came after a rocket landed less than a mile from the sprawling US Embassy in Baghdad in the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone Sunday night.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket launch.

Trump’s tweet was a “genocidal taunt,” according to Iran’s top diplomat, Zarif.

In his own message on Twitter, Zarif said Trump had been “goaded” into “genocidal taunts.”

He wrote that Trump “hopes to achieve what Alexander (the Great), Genghis (Khan) & other aggressors failed to do,” adding: “Iranians have stood tall for a millennia while aggressors all gone.”