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Monday, September 18, 2017

Lobbying against Iran deal, PM to ‘connect dots’ to Syria, UN envoy says

NEW YORK — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will lay out a comprehensive case against Iran in his speech Tuesday at the United Nations, “connecting the dots” between the nuclear deal and Tehran’s desire to establish itself militarily on Israel’s northern border, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said Sunday.  Netanyahu will make plain that in Jerusalem’s view the Iran nuclear pact must not be left intact, Danon said.

“The issue of North Korea is concerning, but we care about the Middle East. Iran will be major part of the prime minister’s speech, regarding the nuclear agreement but also what they are doing today in the region,” Danon told The Times of Israel.

Preventing Iran’s entrenchment on the Golan Heights, via its proxy Hezbollah, as part of an agreement to end the Syrian civil war “is the most important issue for Israel today,” Danon, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said.

This issue, which is expected to take center stage during Netanyahu’s speech, is intimately connected to the question over the future of the nuclear deal six world powers struck with Iran in 2015.

“Today, the Iranians have more funds, are able to send more troops and buy more weapons, support Hezbollah. It’s all connected,” Danon said. “I think the PM, who is an expert on that, will connect the dots. He will show the whole picture of what has happened since the agreement, and what its consequences are today.”

Said Danon: “I think that today people in the world realize that once we speak about a threat [that we face], eventually it will become their own threat.”

Netanyahu, scheduled to speak at the UN a day after his third meeting with US President Donald Trump, will argue that the nuclear deal needs to be amended or scrapped altogether, Danon predicted. READ MORE

Mossad chief said pushing to ‘act now’ to prevent Iranian nuclear bomb

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen is leading Israel’s “hawkish line” on Iran, calling for immediate action to ensure that Tehran cannot attain the bomb, an Israeli TV report said Sunday.  The report came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, with his focus to again be on confronting Iran.

Channel 2 on Sunday paraphrased Cohen as asserting that “Today’s Iran is the North Korea of yesterday, and so we need to act now so that we don’t wake up to [an Iranian] bomb.”

Other Israeli security officials, the report said, however, are warning that Israel should not be pushing the US into another Middle Eastern adventure, given what happened when the US tackled Iraq and Saddam’s ostensible weapons of mass destruction over a decade ago.

Netanyahu will for the first time directly address Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in his speech to the UN, Israeli sources said.

Netanyahu’s speech, scheduled for Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. Israel time, will focus on Iran and be shorter than in previous years, the sources said.

Speaking to reporters on Friday at his hotel in New York after wrapping up a trip to Latin America, Netanyahu said that the main message of his UN speech will be that “Israel will not tolerate an Iranian military presence on our northern borders. An [Iranian] military presence endangers not just us, but also our Arab neighbors.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly warned against Iran’s military ambitions in the area, Tehran’s bid to establish a territorial “corridor” all the way to the Mediterranean, and an increased Iranian presence on Israel’s northern border. READ MORE

Trump says US will dump Iran deal if watchdog doesn’t bare teeth

VIENNA, Austria — US President Donald Trump warned Monday that Washington will walk away from a nuclear deal it agreed to with Iran and five other nations if it deems that the International Atomic Energy Agency is not tough enough in monitoring it.  The warning from Trump came in a message to the UN agency’s annual meeting, being held in Vienna, that was read by US Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

The United States asserts that Iran is obligated to open its military sites to IAEA inspection on demand if the agency suspects unreported nuclear activities at any of them. That’s something Tehran stridently rejects, and Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi urged the agency and its head, Yukiya Amano, to “resist such unacceptable demands.”

Asserting that Iran is fully complying with terms of the accord, Salehi said the greatest threat to its survival is “the American administration’s hostile attitude.”

But Trump, as quoted by Perry, suggested the deal could stand or fail on IAEA access to Iranian military sites, declaring “we will not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal.”
Amano also has said the IAEA’s policing authority extends to Iranian military sites, if necessary.
But he said Monday that Iran “is fulfilling the commitments it entered into” under the deal, which took effect on October 18, 2015, and offers sanctions relief in exchange for limits on Iranian nuclear programs that could be turned toward making weapons.

“Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he said. “The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented.” READ MORE

Hezbollah fighters filmed near Israeli border raring for battle

Hezbollah fighters stationed near the Israeli border with Lebanon told an American TV crew last week they were watching Israel and waiting for a signal to attack, newly bolstered by fighting experience gained from battles in Syria.  The armed men spoke to NBC from a position near the border, in a possible contravention of a 2006 UN Security Council resolution that was supposed to create a demilitarized buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon.

“Any Israeli movement, we will see it,” one fighter said according to the report, published Saturday. “This area is all Hezbollah members preparing only for [them] … Whether it’s Israelis or Daesh, we fear no one,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Israeli officials have raised alarms and complained to the UN about members of the terrorist organization apparently taking up positions near the border, despite peacekeepers and the Lebanese army tasked with keeping the area clear of armed Hezbollah fighters.

Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, last fought an all-out war against Israel in the 34-day conflict known as the Second Lebanon War. Under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, a ceasefire agreement reached in August 2006, the area must be “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons,” other than UN peacekeepers and the Lebanese military, south of the Litani river, a natural barrier that at in its southern part lies roughly 20 kilometers from the Israeli border.

In the video, the Hezbollah terrorists could be seen holding rifles, which would indicate a breach of the UN resolution, though it was not clear if the “rugged hills close to the Israeli border,” were indeed within the forbidden area. READ MORE

Iran army chief vows to raze Israeli cities if it makes ‘wrong move’

Iran’s newly-appointed army chief on Monday warned the Islamic Republic would raze the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if the “Zionist regime” makes “any wrong move.”  In remarks delivered at an event in the holy city of Qom, General Abdolrahim Mousavi said previous warnings that Israel will not exist in 25 years did not mean it would necessarily last that long.
That we say that the Zionist regime will not see 25 years later doesn’t mean that it will certainly survive for 25 years,” he said according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. “There is a prerequisite for this famous sentence, that is if the Zionist regime makes any wrong move, Haifa and Tel Aviv will be razed down to the ground.”

Mousavi, who issued a nearly identical threat last month, was appointed in August as the commander of the Iranian army, an entity separate from the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

His comments echo a prediction made by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2015.
In a quote posted to Twitter by Khamenei’s official account in September of that year, the Iranian leader addressed Israel, saying, “You will not see next 25 years,” and added that the Jewish state will be hounded until it is destroyed.

The quote was published over a backdrop of a photograph apparently showing the Iranian leader walking on an Israeli flag painted on a sidewalk.

The quote was apparently taken from a speech given earlier in the day.

Israel has raised urgent concerns in various forums over Iran’s presence in Syria near the Israeli border, as well as over Iran’s nuclear program.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in New York for the UN General Assembly, is expected to press US President Donald Trump during a meeting later Monday on leaving or renegotiated the seven-nation nuclear deal designed to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Why Trump Is Right and the Experts Are Still Wrong about the Iran Deal

The experts all agree. They are very nervous about the Trump administration’s continued dithering about whether it will again certify Iran’s compliance in the nuclear deal. As the New York Times helpfully pointed out in an article about a joint letter signed by what we are told is a list of 80 of the world’s leading authorities on nuclear nonproliferation, the experts believe that Trump’s inclination to ditch the deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) has nothing to do with “the merits” of the question. Much of his national-security team reportedly seeks to persuade Trump to keep the deal, despite his publicly expressed belief that it is a mistake. But the letter from the experts should make him doubly suspicious of their arguments.

Among the many factors that led to Trump’s unexpected victory last November was a deep and abiding skepticism among many voters about the wisdom of experts. To his supporters, Trump, the ultimate non-expert on most policy issues, had the savvy to do the right thing even on topics to which neither he nor they had ever previously given much serious thought. While that cynicism is not always wise, the groupthink in the foreign-policy establishment and among nonproliferation professionals is proof that Trump’s instincts are not always wrong.

Like the International Atomic Energy Agency and the other five nations that signed the JCPOA, the 80 experts say that Iran has been complying with its terms. They worry that ditching the deal because of “unsupported contentions of Iranian cheating” would cancel out the deal’s main achievement, which is “reducing the risk” of Tehran’s getting a bomb. They insist that whatever complaints the U.S. might have about Iranian behavior since the deal went into effect are irrelevant because the whole point of the negotiation was to focus solely on the nuclear-proliferation issue and nothing else. They predict that a Trump decision to blow up the deal will only lead to Iran’s resuming nuclear activity and will make it impossible for the international community to do anything about it. READ MORE

Classified report: IDF isn't prepared to fight Syria

A special report from the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee warns of several lacks in the IDF's preparedness for war with Syria Channel 2 reported Monday morning.
The report will soon be submitted to the Knesset.
As a result of the report, a political war broke out between Committee members, after some of the report's authors laid responsibility for the issues on the Israeli government and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The report is signed by Committee Chairman MK Avi Dichter (Likud) and MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid).
Likud MK Yoav Kisch refused to sign the report, partly because of its criticism of Netanyahu.
Most of the report is extremely classified information, and only a small portion will be published. However, Security Cabinet members who read the entire report said it is "profound and wise".

Fix the Iran deal? That's a fantasy'

Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies Executive Director Amos Yadlin on Monday morning tweeted about his upcoming meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu and Trump will meet on Monday, and are expected to discuss the Iran deal prior to its re-certification by the US government.
"Both Trump and Netanyahu believe the 'Iran deal' is terrible, and both would be happy to cancel it," Yadlin tweeted. "It's important to listen to the security and diplomatic sources of the two countries who aren't sure this is the best strategy."
"The idea that we can fix the deal is a fantasy. The agreement is not between Israel and the US, it's between Iran and the six nuclear powers," he explained. "The best would be if the US left the deal, but only after it prepares a realistic strategy which will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Even if the US leaves the deal, it won't cause an automatic cancellation. The other nuclear powers may choose to retain the deal, cooperating with Iran and not sanctioning it.
"We always need to look ahead. We need to ask ourselves if it is in Israel's and America's interests to allow the Iranians, who were set back in their quest (even if not enough) to acquire nuclear weapons quickly."
According to Amos, Netanyahu did not act before now because former US President Barack Obama was not an appropriate partner.
"In 2015, I suggested the Prime Minister sit with the US government and make a strategy for dealing with this problematic agreement," he explained. "Back then, Netanyahu said we didn't have a partner in the White House."
"Thankfully, today we have a supportive government which understands the threat very well, especially in light of what is happening with North Korea. We can't let this opportunity deteriorate into simple rhetoric, we need to make a general strategy. We need to fight Iran determinedly in every way, including those not included in the Iran deal, such as ballistic missiles, Iran's support of terror, and their involvement in Syria. We also need to strengthen our supervision of them and collect better intelligence.
"There needs to be an Israeli-American agreement which supports our understanding that Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, and detailing when and how we will work together to ensure our success."

Kim Jong-un threatens to turn US into ‘sea of flames’ with surprise attack and boasts America’s fate is in his hands after latest missile launch

TYRANT dictator Kim Jong-un has taunted Donald Trump boasting "America's fate is in hands of North Korea" by vowing to turn US into a "sea of flames".
The threat came just a day after the North carried out yet another successful ballistic missile over Japan claiming America is now in "mortal fear" after proving it has the military power to strike US territory.
A spokesman for NK's ruling party said: "Through the two successful ICBM test-launches the DPRK has put the whole U.S. mainland in its striking range and clearly showed that it can turn the American empire into a sea in flames through sudden surprise attack from any region and area.
"Whatever means and methods the U.S. may employ, they will never work on the DPRK. The U.S. fate is in the hands of the DPRK.
"If the US and south Korean warmongers persist in reckless action in disregard of our repeated warnings, we will decisively take a strong retaliatory step."
Meanwhile, an editorial run in one of Korea's state-run newspapers described the US as a "war merchant living on human blood," while the official newspaper said the US "would meet horrible nuclear strike and miserable and final ruin" in the event of an attack.
Footage released on North Korean TV yesterday captured the launch of an intermediate range Hwasong-12 which is capable of reaching the US island of Guam.
Images of the Kim Jong-un were released showing him gleefully watching the missile test.
The brash North Korean tyrant boasted of his "shining victory" and vowed that his final goal is "equilibrium of real force with US". READ MORE

Korean peninsula draws range of military drills in show of force against N.Korea

BEIJING/SEOUL, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. military staged bombing drills with South Korea over the Korean peninsula and Russia and China began naval exercises ahead of a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where North Korea's nuclear threat is likely to loom large.
The flurry of military drills came after Pyongyang fired another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday and the reclusive North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 in defiance of United Nations sanctions and other international pressure.
A pair of U.S. B-1B bombers and four F-35 jets flew from Guam and Japan and joined four South Korean F-15K fighters in the latest drill, South Korea's defence ministry said.
The joint drills were being conducted "two to three times a month these days", Defence Minister Song Young-moo told a parliamentary hearing on Monday.
In Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said China and Russia began naval drills off the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok, not far from the Russia-North Korea border.
Those drills were being conducted between Peter the Great Bay, near Vladivostok, and the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, to the north of Japan, it said.
The drills are the second part of China-Russian naval exercises this year, the first part of which was staged in the Baltic in July. Xinhua did not directly link the drills to current tension over North Korea.
China and Russia have repeatedly called for a peaceful solution and talks to resolve the issue. READ MORE

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Iran claims to have ‘father of all bombs,’ overshadowing American ‘mother’

A top commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) claims that the country possesses the “father of all bombs” which overshadows the most powerful non-nuclear ordnance of the US.
The bomb was developed under a special request of the IRGC, the corps’ Aerospace Force commander, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said in an interview on Friday.
The commander called the device the “father of all bombs,”comparing it to the US GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), commonly known as the “mother of all bombs.” Since the American device weighs 9.8 tons and yields 11 tons in TNT equivalent, the IRGC commander presumably referred to the weight of the new Iranian ordnance rather than its destructive potential.
The MOAB was developed in 2003 and first used in combat this April, when the US dropped the device in Afghanistan on a mountain tunnel complex used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists.
The new Iranian ordnance, however, might trigger a bomb paternity dispute, as Russia already possesses a non-nuclear ordnance known as the “daddy.”
The Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power, known as the ‘father of all bombs’ (FOAB), was successfully tested by Russia in 2007, with impressive results for a non-nuclear device – a 44-ton yield when detonated. The bomb explodes midair, vaporizing its targets, collapsing structures, and leaving a moon-like scorched landscape.

Netanyahu to propose outline on Iran deal

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu intends to propose an outline for significant changes in the Iran nuclear deal when he meets U.S. President Donald Trump in New York this week, Channel 2 News reported on Saturday.
According to the report, the Prime Minister is not only going to speak out and warn against the danger from Iran, but also present a plan that will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Netanyahu also plans to discuss this topic at his address at the UN General Assembly.
The report did not provide details about Netanyahu’s plan, but did note that after many years in which every meeting with an American president was accompanied by tension and apprehension, this time Netanyahu will meet a sympathetic president and an administration that sees eye to eye on most of the issues.
One of those issues on which the sides agree appears to be the Iran deal, which Trump has continuously criticized, describing it as “the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated”.
Trump on Thursday slammed Iran for violating "the spirit" of the nuclear deal, saying again, "The Iran deal is one of the worst deals I've ever seen, certainly at a minimum the spirit of the deal is atrociously kept.
"The Iran deal is not a fair deal to this country. It's a deal that should not have ever been made," he added.
Netanyahu has also been a vocal critic of the Iran deal. This week, during a visit to Argentina, he told Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, "Our position is straightforward - this is a bad deal. Either fix it or scrap it. This is Israel's position.”
Netanyahu has also expressed his concern over Iran and its proxies taking over areas vacated by the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Syria.
A recent Mossad assessment found that the Iranian regime is expanding its control across the Middle East through proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

Iran: 'Wrong move' by US will face Iranian 'reaction'

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a threat to the US on Sunday, asserting that the US would “face the reaction” of Iran should it tamper with the Iran nuclear deal.
"The Iranian nation is standing firm and any wrong move by the domineering regime regarding the [nuclear deal] will face the reaction of the Islamic Republic," Khamenei said, according to Iranian state television.
In the meantime, Iran's Press TV reported on Sunday that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani emphasized the deal's contribution to " security, stability and development," as he prepared to leave for New York to attend the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“Today, there is a consensus in the world that the JCPOA [nuclear deal] benefits security, stability and development in the region and the world,” he said.
“The opponents of the JCPOA are restricted to two or three countries, including some in the US, who feel cheated. They believe that a feast has been set out but that they are deprived of going to the table and having something," Rouhani said.
"This is while they can also choose the right path, enter the room and go to the table; that's fine with us."
US President Donald Trump has continuously criticized the Iran nuclear deal, describing it as “the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated.”
On Thursday, he slammed Iran for violating "the spirit" of the nuclear deal, saying again, "The Iran deal is one of the worst deals I've ever seen, certainly at a minimum the spirit of the deal is atrociously kept.” READ MORE

Russia Unveils Massive Military Force: ‘The Enemy Has No Chance’

Russia has begun its biggest war game in years on land, in the air, and on the sea bordering NATO's smallest and weakest member states. No fewer than 12,000 troops, 70 warplanes, 250 tanks, and 10 warships are officially scheduled to wage mock warfare from Sept. 14 to Sept. 20 in Belarus and Russia and on the Baltic and Barents Seas.
The "Zapad 2017" training exercise, a joint effort between the Russian and Belarusian militaries, involves some of the latest Russian-made weaponry. But the war game is equally notable for the weapons that aren't involved.
Despite a resurgence under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow's armed forces still can't deploy stealth fighters or the latest tank models. And Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the aged Admiral Kuznetsov, is also unavailable for training.
The equipment shortfalls help to explain why Jussi Niinistö, Finland's defense minister, described Zapad 2017 as a propaganda exercise. “Western countries have taken the bait completely," Niinistö said. "They’ve plugged the exercises so much.”
Zapad 2017 is the latest edition of a long-running war game meant to "train troops for combat in isolated areas against the actions of illegal armed formations," according to the Belarusian defense ministry. Putin was scheduled to personally observe the training on Russian soil.
"The exercise is purely defensive, and does not target any country or group of states," the Russian defense ministry stated.
But those assurances did little to calm NATO and neutral countries near the exercise zone. "I believe it is clear that we are witnessing yet another Russian demonstration of power and capabilities," German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen said. READ MORE

Saturday, September 16, 2017

In New York, Netanyahu says Israel will not tolerate Iranians on northern border

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the main message of his upcoming speech at the United Nations for the annual gathering of world leaders at the 72nd session of the General Assembly would be that Israel would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its northern border with Syria, now in its seventh year of a brutal civil war.

Speaking to reporters from his hotel in New York on Friday, after wrapping up a historic trip to Latin America, Netanyahu said that “the central message will be that Israel will not tolerate an Iranian military presence on our northern borders, which endangers not just us, but also our Arab neighbors.”

Netanyahu hosted Shabbat dinner at the hotel.

He is due to address the UN on September 19 and meet with US President Donald Trump a day earlier.

The meeting will be the two leaders’ fourth together since Trump assumed office. The two met once in February when the Israeli premier visited the White House, and twice in May when the American president traveled to the region, which included a two-day stop in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Trump too is slated to address UNGA on September 19.

Netanyahu’s remarks on Iran came a day after a senior Israeli official denied reports that Russia rebuffed Jerusalem’s demand to ensure that Iranian forces and Iran-backed Shiite militants not be allowed to operate within 60-80 kilometers of the Syrian frontier with Israel in the Golan Heights.

The demand was initially raised by Israel in July, when negotiations were underway for a ceasefire deal in southern Syria between President Bashar Assad and Syrian rebels, under the auspices of Washington and Moscow. READ MORE

Watch: Student asks Ben Shapiro why a fetus is human life — his answer leaves student speechless

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro masterfully handled a student’s claim that a first-trimester fetus isn’t human life during a Q&A session at his highly anticipated speaking event Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley.

What did the student ask?

“I just wanted to know why exactly do you think a first-trimester fetus has moral value?” the unidentified student asked.

What Shapiro said

  • “A first trimester fetus has moral value because whether you consider it a potential human life or a full-on human life, it has more value than just a cluster of cells. If left to its natural processes, it will grow into a baby.”
  • “So the real question is where are you gonna draw the line? Are you gonna draw the line at the heartbeat? Because it’s very hard to draw the line at the heartbeat. There are people who are adults who are alive because of a pacemaker and they need some sort of outside force generating their heartbeat.”
  • “Are you going to do it based on brain function? OK, well what about people who are in a coma? Should we just kill them?”
  • “The problem is that whenever you draw any line other than the inception of the child, you end up drawing a false line that can be applied to people who are adults. So either human life has intrinsic value or it doesn’t.”

The tense exchange

“We both agree that adult human life has intrinsic value — can we start from that premise?” Shapiro asked.
“I believe that sentience is what gives something moral value, not necessarily being a human alone,” the student replied. Sentience is the capacity to feel and perceive, or to reason morally.
“OK, so when you’re asleep, can I stab you?” Shapiro asked.
“I’m still considered sentient when I’m asleep,” the student said back.
“OK, if you are in a coma from which you may awake, can I stab you?” Shapiro asked again.
“Well, then, uhh, no,” the student answered. “That’s still potential sentience.”
“I agree it is potential sentience. You know what else is potential sentience? Being a fetus,” Shapiro declared to loud cheers.

How did the student respond?

In response, the student explained he believes the “burden” that “unwanted” children have on potential parents should be weighed when considering abortion policy.
“Now you’re shifting the argument,” Shapiro told him. “I don’t believe that you being a burden on somebody is justification for them killing you.” WATCH