Friday, November 20, 2020
Matthew Kroening explains here what is wrong with the Iran deal. It just does not fundamentally resolve the issue. Snapback sanctions - if Iran is caught in violation the sanctions will supposedly “snapback” in place. Sunset clause - after 15 years Iran could have as many enrichment facilities as it wants.
Nature: To be clear, the science supports using masks, with recent studies suggesting that they could save lives in different ways: research shows that they cut down the chances of both transmitting and catching the coronavirus, and some studies hint that masks might reduce the severity of infection if people do contract the disease.
The number of new infections in the US is approaching 200 000 per day. Michael Osterholm said yesterday: “We are now living in the most dangerous public health moment since 1918 “. His basic message: “Stop Swapping Air!”
President Trump asked for options for attacking Iran last week, but held off.
Why is it that we cannot have leaders who understand the dangers from Iran and the virus at the same time?
So we are back to the article I wrote in 2008. Israel now has two months, till January 20, 2021 to make up its mind.
Facing Iran, Alone.
We are back in 1940
In May 1940 Britain stood alone facing Nazi Germany. The USSR had signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression pact; the US had not entered the war yet.
On May 7, Leo Amery spoke in the Commons, attacking Neville Chamberlain's government, quoting Oliver Cromwell: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"
On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister.
Ever since the US government's National Intelligence Estimate report it has become increasingly probable that Israel will be the one to tackle Iran. With the election of Barack Obama this is now almost certain. We are back in May 1940.
There are many who believe that, for all their talk, the Iranians would never launch a nuclear attack. The 12th Imam is for the masses, the way Marx was, the argument goes, and not to be believed in verbatim. How many Arab or Muslim leaders have become suicide bombers to get the virgins? None.
But comparing Communists with the followers of the Islamic prophet is misleading. For one, the Communists never produced suicide bombers and we already have had 148 explode here in Israel. Muhammad Atta was not the top leader, but he was among the educated, for whom education was just a tool to be used in accomplishing his jihadi goals. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an ardent believer in theMahdi, the Hidden Twelfth Imam, the four-year old who went into hiding in a well 1,140 years ago. The idea that Iran itself may become a nuclear suicide bomber is real.
Those who question Iranian motives are projecting Western values, almost patronizingly so. The privileged party members in the USSR, the so-called priviligentsia, would not dream of sacrificing themselves. They had their closed shops, hospitals and pharmacies, access to foreign media and, most coveted of all, access abroad. They enjoyed their privileges. The Iranian mullahs are no Bolsheviks.
The world watched Hitler rearm, reoccupy the Rhineland in 1936, annex the Sudetenland in October 1938 and the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, and rape Austria in 1938. As Churchill put it, they kept feeding the crocodile hoping they would be eaten last.
Anyone who reads about the policies and the press of the 1933-1940 period cannot but be struck by the similarities. We know what happened then, yet we are following almost the same path. Scary.
Might Israel strike at Iran before Obama takes over? As reported in the Jerusalem Post, Benny Morris says yes. Most other analysts disagree. I believe that it is in the US interest for Israel to destroy the Iranian nuclear sites, since the destruction and the rise in oil prices resulting from a non-nuclear Iranian retaliation would still be much less than the consequences of a nuclear war following an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel and an Israeli nuclear retaliation.
There is only one remaining scenario left.
On February 10 Israel goes to the polls. The leaders we elect will be our last line of defense. Help will not come from the Europeans, the United Nations and not even from the US. The decisions that will determine the survival of this country will come from Benjamin Netanyahu, Moshe Yaalon, Benny Begin or Tzipi Livni. Take your pick.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
I have been reading Robert Harris’s gripping new novel V2 the last two days and have been out of the covid picture but when I glimpsed at the covid-19 data for Serbia I got a shock: +5,613 new cases in one day for a population of 8.7 million! So I call a friend in Belgrade to find out what happened and got an explanation that people just let their guard down and have had huge parties on boats on the Sava river. There were no fines for not wearing masks. They don’t trust the government, he said.
If you don't trust the government, just do the research yourself - read what epidemiologists say* and not what politicians or economists or journalists say! I just cannot believe that people cannot take things seriously when their lives are at stake! But apparently they don’t.
The numbers are skyrocketing throughout Europe and the situation in the US is horrible, so it is not just Balkan disregard for authority – it is pure stupidity almost throughout the world. After all, Trump most probably lost his presidency because he downplayed the dangers of covid-19 and refused to wear the mask.
I do not know what historians of the future will say about the pandemic of 2020. I am sure that they will have to mention that the 2020 pandemic exposed human stupidity like no other event in history.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Stockpile, along with advanced centrifuges and nuclear research, underscores challenge Biden would face in persuading Iran to return to 2015 deal
|A satellite image shows Iran's nuclear facility in Isfahan on Oct. 21|
By Laurence Norman
Mr. Biden, who was vice president when the Iran deal was struck, has criticized the Trump administration’s decision to quit the nuclear deal in May 2018 and impose sweeping sanctions on Tehran. In September, he said that approach “recklessly tossed away a policy that was working to keep America safe and replaced it with one that has worsened the threat.”
Iran has said it is open to negotiation but has placed various conditions on returning to the accord’s terms, including compensation for the U.S.’s withdrawal and sanctions. On Wednesday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, was quoted in Iranian state media saying “the way back is open” for the U.S. to the deal.
Iran has gradually moved away from the nuclear deal’s limits since the summer of 2019 in response to the U.S.’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign.
Mr. Trump, in justifying his decision to take the U.S. out of the deal, said it would fail to stop Tehran from eventually obtaining nuclear weapons and ignored key issues, like Iran’s ballistic-missile capacity and its support for terrorism. Trump administration officials have indicated they could slap new sanctions on Iran in the final weeks before January’s transition.
In its latest quarterly report, sent to member states and seen by The Wall Street Journal, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had now accumulated a low-enriched uranium stockpile of 2,443 kilograms. That compares with a limit of 203 kg under the nuclear deal.
Of the total, which the agency said is enriched up to 4.5% purity, around a quarter has been produced in a way that nuclear experts say would be of little use for further enrichment. Nonetheless, Iran has now accumulated enough enriched uranium to produce the high-enriched uranium needed for two nuclear weapons, according to analysts at the Institute for Science and International Security. Weapons-grade material is of around 90% purity.
Iran denies that it is seeking or has ever sought to build a nuclear weapon.
The report also detailed various moves by Iran to install more-advanced centrifuges, which can produce enriched uranium much more quickly, at its nuclear facilities. That could allow Iran to step up its enriched-uranium production in coming months.
Among the more important changes was Iran’s decision to install a first group of so-called IR-2M centrifuges at its underground enrichment site at the Natanz facility, breaching one of the nuclear deal’s terms.
The IR-2M machines are the only more-advanced centrifuges Tehran has successfully deployed, and Tehran had already said it was intending to place up to three cascades of the machines underground. However, the machines aren’t yet being fed with uranium, the IAEA reported.
“Iran may choose to exploit the U.S. presidential transition period to augment its nuclear programs and manufacture a crisis so that a Biden administration feels compelled to re-enter the [nuclear deal],” said Andrea Stricker, a research fellow at the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has campaigned against the nuclear deal.
“The Biden camp should…recognize it holds all the leverage of sanctions relief built from the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign and seek a better agreement,” she said.
The IAEA report showed the agency is still not receiving adequate explanations from Iran for its discovery of uranium at a site in the outskirts of Tehran last year. The site, first revealed by the Israelis, is believed to be where Iran stored material and equipment used in what Western countries believe was a nuclear-weapons program in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The agency cited a letter it sent Iranian authorities on Monday that said Iran’s explanations for the material were “not technically credible” and urged a “full and prompt” explanation by Iran for the material.
In a footnote to the report, it said the material found at the site was similar to traces found on centrifuges imported into Iran by Pakistan, as detailed in a report in 2008.
It was long believed that Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program was linked to Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan’s global nuclear-supply network.
Under its international commitments, Iran is supposed to declare and account for all nuclear material in the country.
Following the discovery of the nuclear material, and with Iran blocking for months IAEA inspectors’ access to two nuclear sites, now visited by the agency, the Trump administration pressed IAEA members to force Iran to open up about its past nuclear work.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
I have two comments:
1) Regarding “Biden’s not Trump, but he won’t let Israel’s security be compromised” (November 8), the article title is dead wrong.
Biden’s rejoining of the Iran deal whose sunset clause paves the way for Iran to get the bomb soon would be a disaster. Let’s not forget what Bernard Lewis said:
“In this context, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, namely M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) , would have no meaning. At the End of Time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter is the final destination of the dead – hell for the infidels, and the delights of heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an inducement.”
2) “Jerusalem needs to move fast with Democrats” (November 10) got it reversed. It is not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is to blame for ruining relations with the Democratic Party; it is the Democratic Party who is to blame for ruining relations with Israel. That party could not even pass a resolution in the House condemning Representative Ilhan Omar for her antisemitism.
As Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote, “Islamists have understood well how to couple Muslim antisemitism with the American Left’s vague notion of ‘social justice.’ They have succeeded in couching their agenda in the progressive framework of the oppressed versus the oppressor. Identity politics and victimhood culture also provide Islamists with the vocabulary to deflect their critics with accusations of ‘Islamophobia,’ ‘white privilege’ and ‘insensitivity.’ A perfect illustration was the way Ms. Omar and her allies were able to turn a House resolution condemning her antisemitism into a garbled “intersectional” rant in which Muslims emerged as the most vulnerable minority in the league table of victimhood.”
Sunday, November 8, 2020
And my take, as a letter sent to the Jerusalem Post:
Of all the ways Biden’s win will rattle Israel (Tova Lazaroff, Nov 7) https://www.jpost.com/us-elections/10-ways-a-biden-win-rattles-israel-palestinians-middle-east-analysis-648358 no 10 on the list, revival of the 2015 Iran deal is the most serious. Trump just needed to wear a mask and we wouldn’t be in this situation.
Trump lost not to Biden but to covid-19. What really made all the difference was his incredibly absurd denial of the seriousness of covid-19 and many, especially older voters, took notice. Of the most important issues for voters coronavirus topped the list with 41 percent. After all, on Friday the US had 132 979 new cases at the time Trump kept repeating how the US was “rounding the corner”.