Posts tagged iran
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.” Zechariah 12:9
When you read, and believe, what God has written in His Holy Word regarding Israel a much different picture begins to emerge than that which is presented to you in the daily news. Israel, God says, will be repeatedly besieged by nearly every nation on earth and none but the Lord of Hosts will come to her aid. In that day, even America will turn on Israel and the chosen people. So these recent developments at the United Nations shocks none of us who read and believe what the prophets have already spoken.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Mortified that the world may be warming up to Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking an unpopular message to the White House and the United Nations this week: Don’t be fooled by Tehran’s new leadership.
Netanyahu contends Iran is using conciliatory gestures as a smoke screen to conceal an unabated march toward a nuclear bomb.
He will deliver those strong words of caution — and fresh intelligence — in an attempt to persuade the U.S. to maintain tough economic sanctions and not allow the Islamic republic to develop a bomb or even move closer to becoming a nuclear threshold state.
With the White House cautiously optimistic about its dialogue with Iran, Monday’s meeting between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama could be tense.
“I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles,” Netanyahu said before boarding his flight to the U.S. on Sunday. “Telling the truth today is vital for the security and peace of the world and, of course, it is vital for the security of the state of Israel.”
Israeli leaders watched with great dismay what they derisively call the “smiley campaign” by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, last week. Rouhani delivered a conciliatory speech at the United Nations in which he repeated Iran’s official position that it has no intention of building a nuclear weapon and declared his readiness for new negotiations with the West.
Capping off the visit, Rouhani and Obama held a 15-minute phone call as the Iranian leader was traveling to the airport. By the end of the call, the first conversation between the nation’s leaders in 34 years, Obama was suggesting that a breakthrough on the nuclear issue could portend even deeper ties between the U.S. and Iran. U.S. and European diplomats hailed a “very significant shift” in Iran’s attitude and tone.
For Netanyahu, such sentiments are nothing short of a nightmare.
For years, he has warned that Iran is steadily marching toward development of nuclear weapons, an assessment that is widely shared by the West because of Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium and its run-ins with international nuclear inspectors.
The Israeli prime minister contends Rouhani’s outreach is a ploy to ease international sanctions and buy time. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran an unacceptable threat, given repeated Iranian assertions that the Jewish state should not exist. Israel has a long list of other grievances against Iran, citing its support for hostile Arab militant groups, its development of long-range missiles and alleged Iranian involvement in attacks on Israeli targets in Europe and Asia.
On Sunday, Israel announced the arrest of a Belgian-Iranian businessman on espionage charges.
Netanyahu says the new Iranian leader must be judged on his actions, not his words. In the meantime, he says sanctions and other international pressure, including the threat of military action, must be increased. He has likened Iran to North Korea, which used the guise of international negotiations to secretly develop a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu appears to enjoy widespread domestic support for his tough approach. Israel’s Channel 10 TV released the results of a poll Sunday night showing that 78 percent of respondents don’t believe Iran wants to resolve the nuclear problem. Fifty-nine percent said they do not think the U.S. will reach an agreement with Iran, while just 29 percent said they expect a resolution. The station did not say how many people were questioned or provide a margin of error.
Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. who now serves as an adviser to Netanyahu, said the prime minister would present Obama with “some very hard facts” based on intelligence showing that Iranian behavior has not changed.
Similarly, in his speech at the U.N., “he will make it very clear that Israel and the world at large should continue to be on guard,” he said.
Over the years, Israel has issued shifting assessments of how close Iran is to producing a weapon. Last year, Netanyahu presented a cartoon diagram to the U.N. showing that Iran would enter the final phase of weapons production by mid-2013. Israel has since backed off that assessment.
Netanyahu’s intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, said international pressure forced Iran to slow production.
While American officials are well aware of Israel’s concerns, they say there are no plans to reverse the latest diplomatic push.
Two senior Obama administration officials said that the U.S. expects Israel to be skeptical about Iran’s overture, and that the U.S. is similarly skeptical.
Obama will try to convince Netanyahu that the U.S. won’t consider lifting sanctions until Iran takes concrete actions to show it is serious about a verifiable, transparent agreement, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
Obama will also seek to assure his Israeli counterpart that if the U.S. reaches a deal with Iran, it will ultimately advance Israel’s security interests by resolving the nuclear issue without the need for military intervention.
Obama’s bottom line remains that Iran can’t be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, the officials said.
Israel, though, wants the U.S. to establish clear “red lines” to prevent Iran from pressing forward with its nuclear program and moving toward threshold status — having the capability to build a nuclear weapon without actually possessing one. That scenario is unacceptable to Israel.
Netanyahu has laid out four demands: that Iran stop enriching uranium; that its stockpiles of enriched uranium be removed from the country; that a fortified underground enrichment facility be closed; and that Iran not make plutonium, another possible path toward nuclear weapons.
Eytan Gilboa, an expert on U.S.-Israel relations at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, predicted a “very difficult conversation” on Monday.
The Americans “like Rouhani. They think he represents a new policy, a new approach and therefore should be given at least a chance. Netanyahu’s strategy is to say that this whole thing is a big hoax,” Gilboa said. “There are no buyers for his message.” source – Yahoo News
Iran is ramping up its threats to the United States even as the American effort against Iranian client state Syria has ground to a crawl.
President Obama made his case to the American people and the world community Tuesday night that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad must not be allowed to escape the consequences of using chemical weapons on civilians as the two-year-long Syrian civil war drags on.
Iran, a staunch ally of the Assad regime, is warning that any military action against Syria will cause a military and terrorist reaction on U.S. targets and allies. Despite overwhelming evidence from the horrific August 21 sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 civilians, hundreds of them children, Iran says it won’t sit idly by if the U.S. attacks Syria.
For now, Obama said in an East Room address Tuesday night, he will delay any proposal to Congress authorizing a punitive strike if diplomatic efforts result in Syria agreeing to verifiable destruction of its chemical weapons cache. Obama warned that to not act against Syrian atrocities would give the green light to Iran to develop nuclear weapons and terrorists to use chemical weapons.
But if diplomacy fails, unintended consequences could result from a U.S. assault. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both should know that all options are on the table, including the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv, should the U.S. attack Syria, Iran has declared.
That blunt warning came in Mashregh News, the Islamic Republic’s official media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit, in an alarming commentary last week.
“Despite the analysis by some in the country (Iran),” Mashregh wrote, “the U.S. posture and its saber-rattling are just a psychological war against Syria. The fact is that the current military preparation of the (U.S.) enemy points to a military confrontation and today we are facing a complete security and military scenario.”
Mashregh said the most important part of this scenario is how Iran would respond to a limited attack on Syria. The goal of the American strategists is not to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for the use of chemical weapons or even Russian President Vladimir Putin, a strong supporter of Syria, but rather to impose a “small military punishment” against Iran.
If Iran is going to respond to such U.S. aggression, “the response must be firm, decisive and powerful,” Mashregh said. The Islamic regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday warned that America was sure to “suffer loss” should it attack Syria. source – Daily Caller
The dirty little not-so-secret behind President Obama’s much-lobbied-for, illegal and strategically incompetent war against Syria is that it’s not about Syria at all. It’s about Iran—and Israel. And it has been from the start.
By “the start,” I mean 2011, when the Obama administration gradually became convinced that it could deal Iran a mortal blow by toppling President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a secular, Baathist strongman who is, despite all, an ally of Iran’s. Since then, taking Iran down a peg has been the driving force behind Obama’s Syria policy.
Not coincidentally, the White House plans to scare members of Congress into supporting the ill-conceived war plan by waving the Iranian flag in their faces. Even liberal Democrats, some of whom are opposing or questioning war with Syria, blanch at the prospect of opposing Obama and the Israel lobby over Iran.
Item for consideration: a new column by the Syria analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the chief think tank of the Israel lobby. Andrew Tabler headlines his piece: “Attacking Syria Is the Best Way to Deal with Iran.” In it, he says:
At first glance, the festering Syria crisis seems bad news for diplomatic efforts to keep Iran from developing nuclear capabilities. In actuality, however, achieving U.S. objectives in the Syria crisis is an opportunity to pressure Iran into making hard choices not only in Syria, but regarding its nuclear program as well. More U.S. involvement to achieve its objectives in Syria will inevitably run counter to Tehran’s interests, be it to punish the Assad regime for chemical weapons use or to show support for the Syrian opposition in changing Assad’s calculus and forcing him to “step aside” at the negotiating table or on the battlefield.
Many in U.S. policymaking circles have viewed containing swelling Iranian influence in Syria and preventing Iran from going nuclear as two distinct policy discussions, as the Obama Administration only has so much “bandwidth” to deal with Middle East threats. But the recent deepening of cooperation between Tehran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime, combined with their public acknowledgement of these activities, indicates that they themselves see these activities as furthering the efficacy of the “resistance axis.”
Like every alliance, its members will only make hard policy choices if the costs of its current policies far outweigh the benefits. U.S. strikes on the Assad regime, if properly calibrated as part of an overall plan to degrade the regime, would force Tehran to become more involved in Syria in order to rescue its stalwart ally. This would be costly for Iran financially, militarily and politically. Those costs would make the Iranian regime and its people reassess aspirations to go nuclear.
Needless to say, such a strategy is bound to be counterproductive, since—by slamming Syria, never mind toppling Assad—Washington is likely to undermine doves and bolster hawks in Tehran and undermine the chances for successful negotiations with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, who’ll be speaking at the UN General Assembly later this month.
In fact, both Russia and Iran have signaled recently, in the wake of Syria’s obvious deployment and use of sarin gas and other deadly weapons that they might be getting ready to join the rest of the world in condemning Syria’s chemical warfare, and that makes it far more likely that the much-postponed US-Russia “Geneva II” peace conference on Syria might work. The hawkish Washington Post today notes Rouhani’s new administration in Tehran is softening its tone on Syria, and it reports that the new Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has acknowledged the Syria has erred, saying: “We believe that the government in Syria has made grave mistakes that have, unfortunately, paved the way for the situation in the country to be abused.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, while issuing scathing denunciations of the coming U.S. attack on Syria, has dropped broad hints that he might be willing to join with other nations if and when the United Nations weapons team concludes that Assad used nerve gas, suggesting that Russia might not block a UN Security Council resolution against Syria. In hismuch-reported interview with the Associated Press, Putin insisted on waiting for the UN report:
“If there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the U.N. Security Council. And it ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by intelligence agencies through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”
Then, according to the Washington Post, Putin declared that he might join a UN-sponsored coalition on Syria:
He said he “doesn’t exclude” backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without U.N. approval, saying it would represent an aggression. Russia can veto resolutions at the U.N. Security Council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.
But a change in tone on the part of Russia and Iran—the latter of whom the Obama administration still refuses to invite to Geneva II if and when it occurs—won’t mean a thing if the object of war with Syria is to send a message to Iran. As Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for Bloomberg, says, for Israel it’s all about Iran:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would prefer that Obama enforce his red line on chemical weapons use, because he would like to see proof that Obama believes in the red lines he draws. From Netanyahu’s perspective, Israel isn’t unduly threatened by Assad. Syria constitutes a dangerous, but ultimately manageable, threat.
Netanyahu believes, of course, that Iran, Syria’s primary sponsor, poses an existential threat to his country, and so would like the Iranians to understand very clearly that Obama’s red lines are, in fact, very red. As Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me last night, the formula is simple: “If the Iranians do not fear Obama, then the Israelis will lose confidence in Obama.”
In his round-robin television appearances on Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry—now the administration’s über-hawk—repeatedly said that bombing Syria would send a message to Iran. As he told Fox News on Sunday:
“The fact is that if we act and if we act in concert, then Iran will know that this nation is capable of speaking with one voice on something like this, and that has serious, profound implications, I think, with respect to the potential of a confrontation over their nuclear program. That is one of the things that is at stake here.” source – The Nation
Behold the days of the prophets cometh
The Associated Press quoted Hossein Sheikholeslam, a member of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly, as saying that “the Zionist regime” — a reference to Israel — “will be the first victim of a military attack on Syria.”
“And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.” Ezekiel 38:16
With the White House closer to launching a surgical military strike on Syria, questions swirl over the extent to which such an attack could trigger a wave of terrorism directed at the U.S. and Israel.
Some analysts say that Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia fighting in support of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, likely would be inspired to ramp up operations in Iran’s “shadow war” with the U.S. and its allies.
Tensions between the West and Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program have fueled the protracted and secretive war — a tit-for-tat exchange marked most often by operations and attacks carried out from the Middle East to Eastern Europe and Asia by Hezbollah and Israel’s lead intelligence agency, the Mossad. source – Washington Post
Calls Israel an ‘old wound’
“The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:2,3
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Ahead of his inauguration, Iran’s new president on Friday called Israel an “old wound” that should be removed, while tens of thousands of Iranians marched in support of Muslim claims to the holy city of Jerusalem.
Hassan Rouhani’s remarks about Israel — which Iran considers to be its archenemy — echoed longstanding views of other Iranian leaders and could tarnish his image in the West as a voice of moderation in Iranian affairs.
New Iranian president Hassan Rouhani takes over
But no Iranian leader is likely to diverge from Iran’s longstanding denunciations of Israel and the remarks are not necessary evidence that Rouhani would roll back his support for calmer relations with the West, including possible one-on-one dialogue with Washington.
“The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
The president-elect also expressed doubts about the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal even as the two sides resumed negotiations in Washington this week, ending a five-year freeze in Mideast talks.
“Israelis show a compromising face to the world but continue their expansionism in practice,” Rouhani said according to Fars, another semi-official news agency.
However, Rouhani’s official website later Friday published somewhat different comments, citing him only as saying that “the occupation of Palestine and Jerusalem … is a wound on the body of the Islamic world,” without any direct reference to Israel or saying that this wound should be removed.
The two versions of his comments could not immediately be reconciled.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promptly condemned Rouhani’s remarks. The Israeli leader has urged the world to step up pressure on Tehran to halt its disputed nuclear program with tougher sanctions and threats of military action.
Rouhani won a landslide victory in Iran’s June 14 presidential election and is to officially replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday.
“The real face of Rouhani has been exposed earlier than expected,” Netanyahu said. “This is what the man thinks and this is the Iranian regime’s operational plan … A country that threatens to destroy Israel must not be allowed weapons of mass destruction.”
Rouhani spoke at an annual pro-Palestinian rally marking “Al-Quds Day” — the Arabic word for Jerusalem — and although his remarks appear contrary to his outreach efforts to the West, they should also be seen in the context of internal Iranian politics where softening the establishment’s anti-Israeli stand is not an option.
Iran does not recognize Israel and has since the 1979 Islamic Revolution observed the last Friday of the Islamic month of Ramadan as “Al-Quds Day.” Tehran says the occasion is meant to express support for Palestinians and emphasize the importance of Jerusalem for Muslims.
Jerusalem’s eastern sector houses sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim shrines and is sacred to all three religions. Jerusalem is the holiest place in Judaism and the third holiest city in Islam, after the Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina.
Anti-Israeli rallies were held in cities and towns across Iran. In the capital, Tehran, tens of thousands took to the streets, chanting “Down with America” and “Death to Israel.” Some protesters also burned American and Israeli flags.
Outgoing President Ahmadinejad – who was known for vitriolic anti-Israeli rhetoric while in office, including calls that Israel be destroyed – spoke to the crowds after Friday prayers at the Tehran University campus in his last public speech before his term ends.
“You Zionists planted a wind but you will harvest a storm,” said Ahmadinejad. “A destructive storm is on the way and it will destroy Zionism.”
Israel has not ruled out a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, which the West suspects are geared toward making a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies the charge and insists its nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes only. source – Yahoo News
Welcome to Ezekiel 38
Doctrinally, the battle of Gog and Magog does not happen until after the 1,000 Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, but it sure is nice to see all the major players warming up for the roles that Ezekiel says they will play.
From FT: Iran, Russia and China are propping up Syria’s war-ravaged economy, with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime doing all its business in rials, roubles and renminbi as it seeks to beat western sanctions, according to the country’s senior economics minister.
Syria’s three main allies are supporting international financial transactions, delivering $500m a month in oil and extending credit lines, Kadri Jamil, deputy prime minister for the economy, said in an interview with the Financial Times. He added that its allies would also soon help with a “counter-offensive” against what he called a foreign plot to sink the Syrian pound.
Mr Jamil’s combative remarks on the deepening economic crisis highlight a wider show of regime assurance, founded on recent military gains and a belief that its biggest international supporters remain solidly behind it.
“It’s not that bad to have behind you the Russians, the Chinese and Iranians,” Mr Jamil told the FT. “Those three countries are helping us politically, militarily – and also economically.”
Mr Jamil said Syria had an unlimited credit line with Tehran for food and oil-product imports. Damascus, he said, had also corrected its pre-crisis “mistake” of trading in western currencies and had switched transactions to Russian, Chinese and Iranian currencies instead.
“Now we have a straight line between the Syrian pound and those three currencies, and we have got out of the circle of euros and dollars,” he said.
The minister, who studied in Moscow and has been closely involved with the Assad regime’s discussions with the Kremlin during the conflict, said ships “under the flag of the Russians” were delivering oil products to Syria’s government-controlled coast, although he declined to give details.
“We are waiting for someone to attack them,” he said.
Russia and Iran have both been very public in their support for Mr Assad’s regime; China has been less open. source – FT
The coming nuclear showdown
(Reuters) - Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday, a defiant step that will worry Western powers ahead of a resumption of talks with Tehran next week.
In a confidential report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said 180 so-called IR-2m centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings had been put in place at the facility near the central town of Natanz. They were not yet operating.
If launched successfully, such machines could enable Iran to speed up significantly its accumulation of material that the West fears could be used to devise a nuclear weapon. Iran says it is refining uranium only for peaceful energy purposes.
Iran’s installation of new-generation centrifuges would be “yet another provocative step,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.
White House spokesman Jay Carney warned Iran that it would face further pressure and isolation if it fails to address international concerns about its nuclear program in the February 26 talks with world powers in the Kazakh city of Almaty.
Britain’s Foreign Office said the IAEA’s finding was of “serious concern”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the report “proves that Iran continues to advance swiftly towards the red line” that he laid down last year.
Netanyahu, who has strongly hinted at possible military action if sanctions and diplomacy fail to halt Iran’s nuclear drive, told the U.N. in September that Iran should not have enough higher-enriched uranium to make even a single warhead.
Iran denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop a capability to make atomic bombs. Tehran says it is Israel’s assumed nuclear arsenal that threatens peace.
The IAEA’s report showed “no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes,” Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Iranian media.
U.S. lawmakers meanwhile are crafting a bill designed to stop the European Central Bank from handling business from the Iranian government, a U.S. congressional aide said on Thursday, in an attempt to keep Tehran from using euros to develop its nuclear program.
In the early stages of drafting, it would target the ECB’s cross-border payment system and impose U.S. economic penalties on entities that use the European Central Bank to do business with Iran’s government, the aide said on condition of anonymity.
The aide disclosed the new push for sanctions ahead of fresh talks on Tuesday in which major powers hope to persuade the Iranian government to rein in its atomic activities, which the West suspects may be a cover to develop a bomb capability.
RISING WESTERN PRESSURE
It was not clear how many of the new centrifuges Iran aims to install at Natanz, which is designed for tens of thousands. An IAEA note informing member states late last month about Iran’s plans implied that it could be up to 3,000 or so.
Iran has for years been trying to develop centrifuges more efficient than the erratic 1970s IR-1 model it now uses, but their introduction for full-scale production has been dogged by delays and technical hurdles, experts and diplomats say.
The deployment of the new centrifuges underlines Iran’s continued refusal to bow to Western pressure to curb its nuclear program, and may further complicate efforts to resolve the dispute diplomatically, without a spiral into Middle East war.
Iran has also started testing two new centrifuge types, the IR-6 and IR-6s, at a research and development facility, the IAEA report said. Centrifuges spin at supersonic speed to increase the ratio of the fissile isotope in uranium.
In a more encouraging sign for the powers, however, the IAEA report said Iran in December resumed converting some of its uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent to oxide powder for the production of reactor fuel.
That helped restrain the growth of Iran’s higher-grade uranium stockpile since the previous report in November, a development that could buy more time for diplomacy.
The report said Iran had increased to 167 kg (367 pounds) its stockpile of 20 percent uranium – a level it says it needs to make fuel for a Tehran research reactor but which also takes it much closer to weapons-grade material if processed further.
NEW OFFER TO IRAN
One diplomat familiar with the report said this represented a rise of about 18-19 kg since November, a notable slowdown from the previous three-month period when the stockpile jumped by nearly 50 percent after Iran halted conversion.
Israel last year gave a rough deadline of mid-2013 as the date by which Tehran could have enough higher-grade uranium to produce a single atomic bomb if processed further. Experts say about 240-250 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium would be needed.
But a resumption of conversion, experts say, means the Israeli “red line” for action could be postponed. Refined uranium can fuel nuclear energy plants, which is Iran’s stated aim, or provide the core of an atomic bomb, which the United States and Israel suspect may be its ultimate goal.
Next week’s talks between the six powers and Iran to try again to break the impasse in the decade-old dispute are their first since mid-2012 but analysts expect no real progress toward defusing suspicions that Iran is seeking atomic bomb capability.
The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany want Iran to halt 20 percent enrichment and shut the Fordow underground plant where this takes place. Iran wants them to recognize what it regards as its right to refine uranium for peaceful purpose and to relax increasingly strict sanctions battering its oil-dependent economy.
In Paris, French deputy foreign ministry spokesman Vincent Floreani said the powers were ready to make a new offer to Iran with “significant new elements” and that they hoped Tehran would engage seriously in the negotiations. source – Reuters