Daily Archives: February 15, 2012

US Jews to ‘back any Israeli decision on Iran’

Malcolm Hoenlein tells Yedioth it’s Jewish leadership’s duty to make Washington, Europe aware of Tehran’s intentions’

ynet

An attack on Iran’s nuclear installations would increase the threat on Jewish institutions in the US and around the world, but we will back any decision Israel makes, said Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Speaking to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily ahead of the organization’s annual conference, which begins Sunday, Hoenlein said it was the Jewish leadership’s duty to make certain that the US and Europe are aware that the “evil” regime in Tehran violates human rights and threatens global stability.

Meanwhile, a number of Jewish-American leaders have been meeting with European Union officials in Brussels, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The leaders hope to convince the EU to impose more severe sanctions against Iran and move up its oil embargo on the Islamic Republic, which is scheduled to go into effect in July.

The Jewish leaders asked that the EU cancel existing oil deals with Iran and boycott Iran’s central bank.

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‘Congress ready to increase Israel defense funding’

jpost.com

US legislators set to more than make up for White House cuts to missile defense spending, Capitol Hill sources tell the ‘Post’; if Israel asks for more money, “without a doubt they would get it,” Congressional aid says.

Congress is set to significantly increase funding for Israeli missile defense to more than make up for White House cuts to the program, Capitol Hill sources told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

The 2013 budget proposal unveiled by US President Barack Obama Monday trims $6 million in defense spending from the Arrow and David’s Sling programs, which is separate from the record $3.1 billion in Israeli military assistance called for under the State Department budget.

The cut to the US-Israel cooperative programs has provoked criticism from some quarters.

“For an administration that tried to claim that it’s the best for Israel’s security, cutting critical funds for missile defense at a time when the threat from Iran has never been greater is extremely dangerous, worrisome and reckless,” said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

But Democrats on Capitol Hill defended the reduced missile defense funding as part of the Obama administration’s effort to rein in overall spending by the Pentagon, whose budget would be slashed by $487 billion across 10 years under Obama’s plan.

“It has nothing to do with the Israeli missile defense program and everything to do with curbing the defense budget in every way possible,” said one aide to a Democratic member on the House defense appropriations subcommittee.

He said Congress would be increasing the missile defense aid once it reviews the budget and determines its own funding levels. The administration budget serves as a blueprint, but it is Congress’s version that is voted on and signed into law.

“Funding for US-Israel missile defense will continue to rise despite the budget request,” he said.

Though the administration’s request for missile defense monies has dropped somewhat in recent years – from $121.7m. in 2011 to $106.1m. in 2012 to 2013’s $99.8m. – during each of those cycles, Congress has consistently increased the final allocation.

The aide predicted the 2013 figure would be in the neighborhood of the record $235.6m. slated for 2012, meaning Congress would be adding at least $100 million to the current figure.

Traditionally, Israel has waited to see the president’s budget request before seeking additional funds on Capitol Hill. Another Congressional aide said that if the Israelis once again asks members for more missile defense funding, “without a doubt they would get it.”

A former Department of Defense official said Obama’s allocation should be seen as part of the larger process, in which all US missile defense spending was cut and even Pentagon staples like the aircraft program faced large reductions.

“Given the budgeting situation, this also indicates support [for Israel], though it’s not exactly the same support as last year,” he said.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta came before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday to defend the scope of the cuts, though he didn’t address missile defense directly.

“You cannot take half a trillion dollars out of the defense budget and not incur risks,” he acknowledged. “We believe they are acceptable risks.”

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, who testified alongside Panetta at the hearing, urged the Senate to drop consideration of an amendment that would cut off aid to Egypt and break the country’s military ties because of Cairo’s current detention of American NGO workers.

“My military judgment is that would be a mistake,” said Dempsey, who recently met with Egyptian military officials to convince them to release the American citizens.

“I spent about a day and a half in conversation with them, encouraging them in the strongest possible terms to resolve this so that our military-to-military relationship could continue,” Dempsey reported. “I am convinced that potentially they were underestimating the impact of this on our relationship. When I left there, there was no doubt that they understood the seriousness of it.”

Obama’s budget proposal maintains the 2012 funding levels for Egyptian aid, comprised of $1.3m. in military assistance and $250m. in economic assistance. In addition, a new $770m. fund for Arab Spring countries could also possibly include payments to Egypt.

The budget would also allocate $370m. in economic assistance and $70m. in law enforcement training to the Palestinian Authority, though the Fatah and Hamas just entered into a power-sharing plan. Hamas is a US-designated terrorist organization and American laws bar transferring money to such entities.

Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger, chairwoman of the House foreign operations appropriations subcommittee, said Congress would follow the same limits on disbursements as laid out this past year when similar issues arose.

“In the FY 2012 appropriations bill we laid out common sense, bipartisan conditions that prepared for, and anticipated, the unknown,” she told the Post. “Whether it is the Palestinian Authority or Egypt, this Congress has been clear that there are limitations on how we spend our foreign aid.

“The President’s budget is a blueprint for what the administration wants out of the Congress. This is not what will be enacted into law.”

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“Israel’s” Hysteria over Iran’s Nuclear Program

By F. Michael Maloof

http://www.almanar.com.lb

In beating the war drums and threatening to launch a pre-emptive military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, “Israel” wants to portray Iran as acting illegally and is involved in using its program to build nuclear weapons.

“Israel” has gotten not only the United Nations to pass four separate sets of sanctions against Iran but coaxed the United States to push separate more stringent unilateral sanctions for doing what Iran is entitled as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT.

These unilateral and multilateral sanctions against Iran have been imposed without any shred of evidence that Iran’s nuclear program is a cover for developing nuclear weapons.

The U.S. and Israel point to a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, of “evidence” of such a program.  However, that “evidence” was generated by assessments from the U.S. intelligence community which has a direct tie into the IAEA.

Such “evidence”  which is designed to cast Iran in the worst possible light internationally brings to mind similar “evidence” of weapons of mass destruction offered by the United States in February 2003 before the United Nations to form the basis to attack Iraq in March 2003.  Once the U.S. occupied Iraq however, no such evidence was discovered.

As a signatory to the NPT, however, Iran has an “inalienable right” to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  It isn’t a question of the West “allowing” Iran to develop nuclear energy as a signatory to the NPT — it is Iran’s “inalienable right” to do so.

Yet, the West has bought into “Israel’s” hysteria that Iran is using its nuclear program to mask the production of nuclear weapons when in fact Iran has a right to uranium enrichment. Just because Iran is involved in an enrichment program doesn’t automatically mean that it is going for a weapons development program.  Indeed, the NPT is explicit in allowing for such enrichment.

By all accounts, Iran has enriched up to 20 percent which is quite suitable for medical purposes. Around 40 percent, it can be used to make “dirty bombs.”   Theoretically, Iran could go to 90 percent – weapons grade – under the NPT.  However, Iran hasn’t given any indication that it intends to enrich to that level.

In terms of the NPT, it is based on three pillars: Non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Under the pillar of non-proliferation in particular, the NPT only says that non-nuclear weapons states will never acquire nuclear weapons and agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology.

The NPT precludes nuclear states from transferring “nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”.  Non-nuclear weapons states who are signatories to the NPT cannot receive, manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons or “seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.”

The NPT’s wording doesn’t preclude a non-nuclear country from building components that could go into making a bomb.  The non-nuclear state just can’t put those components together to make a complete bomb and yet remain in compliance with the NPT.

Here is a summary of the NPT’s articles, to which Iran appears to be in full compliance:

Article I: Each nuclear-weapons state (NWS) undertakes not to transfer, to any recipient, nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices, and not to assist any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacture or acquire such weapons or devices.

Article II: Each non-NWS party undertakes not to receive, from any source, nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices; not to manufacture or acquire such weapons or devices; and not to receive any assistance in their manufacture.

Article III: Each non-NWS party undertakes to conclude an agreement with the IAEA for the application of its safeguards to all nuclear material in all of the state’s peaceful nuclear activities and to prevent diversion of such material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

Article IV: Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

Article VI: The states undertake to pursue “negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”, and towards a “Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.

Article X. Establishes the right to withdraw from the Treaty giving 3 months’ notice. It also establishes the duration of the Treaty (25 years before 1995 Extension Initiative).

“Israel” on the other hand is assessed by U.S. officials to have some 400 strategic and tactical nuclear weapons and, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the NPT.  It maintains what is called a policy of “deliberate ambiguity” and somehow gets away with that nonsense.

“Israel” has given some flimsy excuse for not signing, claiming the NPT isn’t enforceable.  If it were a signatory, it then would have to open up its facilities to international verification, just like Iran has. This reality challenges the very premise by which the “Israelis” can complain about Iran which has no nuclear weapons and not only is a signatory to the NPT but has allowed representatives from the IAEA to visit its nuclear facilities.   However, “Israel” has not permitted the nuclear watchdog agency to inspect its nuclear reactors and related facilities. Despite efforts to compel “Israel” to be a signatory to the IAEA, the West has ignored such calls from countries in the Middle East.  Western countries which have been quick to act to impose sanctions on Iran have refused to impose any sanctions on the Jewish state to adhere to international treaty obligations.

These realities beg the question as to why the West is so eager to be duped by “Israeli” hysteria when the Jewish entity doesn’t do anything that shows transparency of its nuclear program and weapons.

Like “Israel,” neither India, Pakistan nor North Korea has nuclear weapons and are not signatories to the NPT.  Yet, there isn’t the hysteria to attack those countries as “Israel” and the U.S. have sought to do regarding Iran’s nuclear development program.

It reveals once again the tremendous sway and influence “Israel” has over U.S. policy-making.

Ironically, the Obama administration has called for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, even though it knows that the Jewish entity has nuclear weapons.  Such a stand by the American administration reveals a hypocrisy that has not gone unnoticed by countries in the Middle East. It also helps explain why the credibility and influence of the United States in the Middle East has evaporated. If the U.S. and indeed the other Western countries don’t like what Iran is doing, then it needs to reexamine and perhaps update the terms of the NPT itself and not go after Iran which is only exercising its rights under a treaty that the Western countries themselves devised.

Events are at a point where reason and logic need to dictate how to proceed.  The West need not bow to “Israel’s” hysteria that is calculated to lead to a highly ill-advised and unnecessary war with Iran that will have catastrophic consequences for the Middle East and indeed the entire world.

F. Michael Maloof is a former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense.  He can be contacted at michaelmaloof@hotmail.com

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