Tuesday, August 06, 2013

6-Aug-13: Our moderate Iranian problem and everyone else's

Hassan Rouhani, Iranian moderate [Image Source]
The lead news item on Israel Radio's 8 o'clock radio bulletin this morning (translated from the Hebrew by the good people at Independent Media Review Analysis) deals with rising anxiety here about what the US administration actually plans to do, as distinct from what it says it is going to do, in relation to the Iranian government.

Since Sunday, Iran is under the leadership of a new president, Hassan Rouhani, who is frequently depicted as 'moderate' and who says his government "will be one of foresight and hope", described Israel as a sore, or maybe a wound, depending on whose translation you prefer. The New York Times, in its customary way, has been acrobatic in its bending over backwards and sideways to convey precisely what the new 'moderate' leadership wishes for us Israelis. But at the end it concedes that Iran's leaders past and present
have repeatedly predicted that Israel will cease to exist and openly support militant [sic] groups that are pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state. In some cases, they have even used language similar to what was falsely attributed to Mr. Rouhani on Friday. “The Zionist regime is a true cancer tumor on this region that should be cut off,” Iran’s supreme leader said in a speech last year. “And it definitely will be cut off.” [NYTimes, August 2, 2013]
And Israel's leaders, what do they say (based on IMRA's translation to English of this morning's lead Hebrew radio news bulletin)?
Kol Yisrael, the Voice of Israel from Jerusalem. Good morning, it's 8:00 o'clock and here is the news from (veteran news-reader) Malachi Hizkiyah. A senior Israeli source has expressed doubt about the intentions of the US administration to prevent Iran at all costs from obtaining nuclear weapons. The source told (Kol Yisrael's) diplomatic correspondent Chico Menashe that the conduct of the administration towards Syria contradicts the declarations of President Obama and teaches Israel that it cannot rely on American promises. The state source added that Israel is capable of carrying out a military operation against Iran without US military support. But such a course of action would be of a lower quality than an American action. Our correspondent notes that in Israel there is concern about the possibility of direct negotiations opening up between Washington and Teheran that could bring to an easing of sanctions (against the Iranian regime) in exchange for Iranian concessions that would not meet (would fall short of satisfying) the demands set by Israel. [IMRA, with our small changes to their translation]
A report in yesterday's Wall Street Journal makes that Israeli concern more manifest. It says the Iranian regime is pursuing a second uranium enrichment track that could lead to a nuclear bomb:
In recent months, U.S. and European officials say, the Tehran regime has made significant advances on the construction of a heavy water reactor in the northwestern city of Arak. A reactor like the one under construction is capable of using the uranium fuel to produce 40 megawatts of power. Spent fuel from it contains plutonium—which, like enriched uranium, can serve as the raw material for an explosive device. India and Pakistan have built plutonium-based bombs, as has North Korea.
The Arak facility, when completed, will be capable of producing two nuclear bombs' worth of plutonium a year, said U.S. and U.N. officials.
Iran has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, that it plans to make the reactor operational by the second half of 2014 and could begin testing it later this year. [WSJ]
We think you don't need to understand Hebrew or listen to Kol Yisrael to know that the news emanating from Iran is deeply worrying, and a threat to more than just us. Also, that the patience, forebearance and understanding it gets in some strategic quarters is even more worrying.

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