Archive for June 17, 2019

Iran’s frustration spells growing threat of regional escalation 

June 17, 2019

Source: Iran’s frustration spells growing threat of regional escalation – www.israelhayom.coIran’s frustration spells growing threat of regional escalation

In light of the impasse in the indirect Iran-US negotiations, an upsurge in Iranian terrorism is expected, against Israel via Syria and the Gaza Strip, and against the Persian Gulf states.

In the past month, Iran has escalated its violent activity against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with the aim of bringing the United States into negotiations with it on Iran’s terms – indirect negotiations aimed at lifting the US sanctions.

For the United States, the aim of the negotiations is completely different; it is demanding changes to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and a halt to Iran’s expansion and subversive activity in the region, as well as limitations on Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The US response to Iran’s military escalation has been twofold: it dispatched aircraft carriers to the region and decided to bolster its forces in the Gulf, while at the same time expressing willingness to conduct indirect negotiations with Iran and taking conciliatory measures to make this possible.

These measures included delaying the aircraft carriers’ entrance into the Persian Gulf, delaying the implementation of sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry, and the June 2, 2019, announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the US was willing to negotiate with Iran without the preconditions that he had previously released.

Indirect Iran-US negotiations via intermediaries are apparently already underway but have led nowhere for either Iran or the United States due to the unbridgeable gap between the sides’ demands and goals.

Although the US rejected Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s April 24, 2019, proposal for negotiations for a prisoner exchange deal, it apparently did negotiate, and US permanent resident and Lebanese citizen Nazar Zaka, detained by Iran since November 2015 on accusations of espionage, was released on June 11. Additionally, indirect negotiations are underway in the matter of determining the marine border between Israel and Lebanon, with Israel’s and Hezbollah’s participation, requiring indirect American and Iranian involvement.

These conciliatory US measures have been presented by Iran as shows of weakness. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech at an athletes’ conference in Tehran on June 1:

“The same enemy who up to a year ago declared ‘my aim is to destroy the regime of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]’ announced clearly today that it does not want to do a thing against the [Iranian] regime. The same enemy who up to a few months ago stated that it is the greatest military power in the world, and that if it wanted it could break Iran’s armed forces, announced today that it has no intention of fighting.”

“Up to a few months ago, the Persian Gulf was a place where its aircraft carriers sailed freely, but today nothing is heard from its navy, and it has anchored in international waters, 300 and 400 miles [from the Persian Gulf]. During this time, we have shown that we are not submitting to the bullying and greedy superpowers. We are men of reason and negotiation, provided we sit around the negotiating table fully respected and in the framework of international law, not on orders to negotiate. If that is the case, we will not obey.”

This article is reprinted with permission from JNS.org.

Israel urges world to up sanctions if Iran breaches uranium enrichment limit 

June 17, 2019

Source: Israel urges world to up sanctions if Iran breach uranium enrichment limit – www.israelhayom.com

Spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization says Iran has quadrupled its rate of enrichment, will surpass allowed stockpile level in 10 days.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world powers on Monday to step up sanctions against Iran swiftly should it go through with a plan to exceed an enriched uranium limit set by a 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, the spokesman for the country’s atomic agency said Monday, while also warning that Iran requires uranium enriched up to 20%, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

The announcement indicated Iran’s determination to break from the landmark 2015 accord, which has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal last year and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.

“Should Iran deliver on its current threats, and violate the nuclear deal, the international community will have to implement, immediately, the pre-set sanctions mechanism, what is called ‘snapback sanctions,’” Netanyahu said in a speech.

“In any event, Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weaponry,” Netanyahu added, reiterating a long-standing, if veiled, threat to take pre-emptive military action.

The spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, made the announcement during a press conference with local journalists at Iran’s Arak heavy water facility. It was carried live on Iranian state television.

“We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg [660 lb] limit,” Kamalvandi said on state TV. “There is still time … if European countries act.”

Kamalvandi acknowledged that the country had already quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and said Tehran would increase uranium enrichment levels “based on the country’s needs.”

That increase could be to any level, starting from 3.67%, which is the current limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s needs 5% enrichment for its nuclear power plant in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr as well as 20% enrichment for a research reactor in Tehran, Kamalvandi said.

In May, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the country would enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels within 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the nuclear deal.

When uranium is mined, it typically has about 140 atoms of an unwanted isotope for every atom of U-235. Refining it to a purity of 3.67%, the level the terms of the current nuclear deal allow, means removing 114 unwanted atoms of U-238 for every atom of U-235.

Boosting its purity to 20% means removing 22 more unwanted isotopes per atom of U-235, while progressing to 90% purity means removing just four more extra isotopes per atom of U-235. Ninety percent is considered weapons-grade material.

That means going from 20% to 90% is a quicker process than going from 3.67% to 20%, something that worries nuclear nonproliferation experts.

The development comes in the wake of suspected attacks on oil tankers last week in the region, attacks that Washington has blamed on Iran, and also as tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States, a year after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America for the nuclear deal.

The deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives.

But Trump’s pullout and the US campaign of sanctions hammering Iran’s anemic economy and blocking its sale of oil on the global market only made life worse, putting further pressure on Iran’s Shiite theocracy and its 80 million people.

 

Scott Adams talks with a Navy Demolitions Expert About Iran’s Tanker Attack 

June 17, 2019

 

 

The Unveiling of ‘Trump Heights’ with Netanyahu and David Friedman 

June 17, 2019