Syrian President Bashar Al Assad didn’t like the recent Israeli strikes in Damascus, but as a ‘levelheaded’ leader his decision to restrain is not an act of weakness, Iran’s Foreign Minister, who met Assad last week, claims. “[Assad] was unimpressed by the military strike. The man I met with is extremely determined and sticking to his course. I had the same impression six months ago, but this time the president seemed even more resolute, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told The Speigel magazine.
Category Archives: Iran
JNO Reports: The United States 5th Fleet has begun a massive naval exercise off Barhain and in the waters of the Gulf that admirals said was not aimed at Iran. Forty-one countries, 35 warships and some 6,500 officers and sailors are taking part in the two-week maneuvers, called the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise. – See Video
The Washington Free Beacon reports: Iran will preside over the United Nations arms control forum this month, despite the fact that it is under U.N. sanctions for illicit nuclear activities and routinely supplies arms to the terrorist organization Hezbollah in violation of international law.
The U.N.’s annual Conference on Disarmament, which Iran is slated to leadfrom May 27 to June 23, is the organization’s primary multilateral forum for negotiating arms control agreements.
Slate via AP: He may be president but that doesn’t mean he’s exempt from Iran’s justice system. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could face 74 lashes or six months behind bars if he is convicted of breaking election rules. On Sunday, the Guardian Council, Iran’s constitutional watchdog, said it will seek possible charges against Ahmadinejad for accompanying his chief adviser to register for elections the previous day, reports the Associated Press. Ahmadinejad isn’t running in the June 14 presidential election because he isn’t allowed to seek a third term. But he has tried to push his protégé, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as his natural successor.
Press TV reports: The registration for the 11th presidential election of Iran has come to an end with 686 individuals having signed up for the race. The registration which began on Tuesday March 7 at Iran’s Interior Ministry ended on Saturday at 6 p.m.
A number of prominent Iranian officials registered to participate in the election including Chairman of Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Head of the Secretariat of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Esfandiyar Rahim-Mashaei, Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei and former First Vice-President and Reformist candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref.
Arutz 7 reports: Member of Knesset Tzachi Hanegbi said, Thursday, that a decision on attacking Iran’s nuclear development program will only be made after the start of 2014. Speaking at the annual gathering of the Washington Institute, the chairman of the Likud party’s central committee said that no Israeli prime minister can depend on the commitment of an American president to attack the Islamic Republic.
The Tower reports: Tonight’s air strikes in Syria targeted sensitive military facilities, including ones staffed by Iran Revolutionary Guard personnel, according to Western government sources who focus on the Middle East and who spoke to The Tower. Those reports have yet to be publicly confirmed.
Ynet reports: US President Barack Obama said on Saturday that Israel has the right to guard against the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah a day after Israel attacked a Hezbollah-bound missile shipment in Syria.
Obama, in an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo as part of a three-day Latin America tour that ended in Costa Rica, would not comment on whether the airstrikes had in fact taken place. ”I’ll let the Israeli government confirm or deny whatever strikes that they’ve taken,” he said.
NYTimes reports: The airstrike that Israeli warplanes carried out in Syria overnight on Thursday was directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese organization, American officials said Saturday.
It was the second time in four months that Israel has carried out an attack in Syria intended to disrupt the pipeline of weapons that runs from there to Hezbollah. And the raid highlighted the mounting stakes for Hezbollah and Israel as Syria becomes more chaotic.
Jpost reports: “Unless the sword is literally on your throat, you don’t use it,” former IDF chief of staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told CNN regarding the military option in the face of the Iranian threat, in a rare interview pwith CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Questioned over Prime Minister Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s request for a “P-plus” plan, reserved for an imminent state of war, Ashkenazi said that the security cabinet eventually decided not to go ahead with this measure.
“The question then was what was the correct time to consider the military option, and we made our recommendations to the cabinet, and my opinion was that we still had time,” he told Amanpour. “I think the military option is the last resort,” he said, stressing that all other options must be exhausted.
Jpost conference NYC 2013: Skeptical of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s timeline for action against Iran before the Islamic Republic acquires a nuclear weapons capability, his predecessor chided the current Israeli leader for repeatedly pitting himself against the American president.
“We don’t need to embarrass the president with public statements, even if we don’t agree with him,” Olmert charged at The Jerusalem Post conference on Sunday. “President Obama does not want to be someone whose legacy is a nuclear Iran.”
JC.Com: Israeli intelligence officials say the moment is fast approaching when the country’s so-called “red line” triggers for military action in both Syria and Iran will have been crossed. President Bashar al-Assad is already believed to have crossed the line in Syria by using chemical weapons.
And there is now a widely shared view within Israeli intelligence that Iran will have the option of a nuclear capability by the end of the year. Analysts made clear at this week’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference at Tel Aviv University that Israel potentially faces two large-scale wars within months.
Haaretz reports: One day after Israeli and U.S. defense ministers finalized a $10 billion sale of American military equipment to Israel, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former director of Military Intelligence, addressed the Iranian nuclear threat on Tuesday saying, “We are headed toward a collision course by the end of this year.”
AP: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel held out hope Sunday for a nonmilitary way to ending the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, but he also emphasized Washington’s willingness to let Israel decide whether and when it might strike Tehran in self-defense.
Hagel, on his first visit to Israel as Pentagon chief, seemed intent on burying the image that Republican critics painted of him as insufficiently supportive of the Jewish state. That portrayal was central to a failed campaign to derail Hagel’s Senate confirmation in February.
Bloomberg News Reports: A group of U.S. lawmakers is proposing to intensify the economic pressure on Iran over its disputed nuclear program by drafting the harshest penalties to date on a nation whose income from oil exports has been cut in half by sanctions since 2011.
A draft Senate bill, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News from a congressional office, would penalize foreign countries that do business with any Iranian entity controlled by the government. It also would bar Iran from using earnings from oil exports to purchase anything other than food and medicine.
BBC Reports: A 6.3 magnitude earthquake has struck in south-west Iran, not far from the country’s only nuclear power station, the US Geological Survey (USGS) says. Initial reports on state media say three people have died. Posts on social media in the region said people felt the quake across the Gulf in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.
INN Reports: Saturday’s second day of talks between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program failed to break the deadlock in the crisis, AFP reported. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the positions were still “far apart.”
The first day of talks in Kazakhstan on Friday saw Tehran being criticized for failing to give a clear response to a proposal aimed at breaking the deadlock. Iran presented a plan of its own, which Western officials said was just a rehash of old ideas that had already been cast aside at a meeting last year in Moscow.
Free Beacon Reports: Former CIA director General Michael Hayden said a “well organized” preemptive U.S. strike on Iran could be the “least worst” option in preventing Tehran from successfully obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“I must admit, as this [standoff with Iran] has spiraled down over the last four years, that option, if not becoming more attractive, looks least worst in my eye,” Hayden said Thursday during a discussion on Iran’s nuclear program organized by the Atlantic Council think tank.
ABC Via Yahoo: “Lines have been drawn before and they’ve been passed,” Kerry said. “That’s why the president has been so definitive this time. This is a very challenging moment with great risks and stakes for everybody because the region will be far less stable and far more threatened if Iran were to have a nuclear weapon.”
Kerry sat down with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz in Qatar as his first overseas trip as President Obama’s secretary of state wound down.
NYT Reports: Talks between Iran and six world powers over its nuclear program resumed here on Tuesday after a break of eight months, but there was a general atmosphere of gloom about their prospects for success, even if narrowly defined.
The first plenary session ended after about two and a half hours with no indication of when the negotiators would resume their discussions.
JTA Reports: Iran has installed centrifuges at its largest nuclear enrichment plant that could be used to produce radioactive material for a nuclear weapon, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report Thursday claiming the Islamic Republic had recently installed 180 advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its plant in Natanz.
According to the report circulated among its 35-nation members, the centrifuges can produce between three to five times more material than the ones now being used there.