Captured Files Reveal the Extent of Iran’s Nuclear-Weapons Program

June 11 2018

In April Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel had spirited thousands of documents out of a secret Iranian nuclear archive. Having examined some of these files and compared them with publicly available information about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, David Albright testified before Congress last week about what has been learned, about the White House’s decision to leave the 2015 nuclear deal, and about the possibility of the U.S. and Europe cooperating to reimpose sanctions:

These revelations highlight the fundamental mistake made by the [nuclear-deal] negotiators in not settling the issue of Iran’s past and possibly ongoing nuclear-weapons program prior to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA, as the agreement is formally known) in January 2016. Because this issue is so fundamental to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the decision to sweep it under the carpet served not only to weaken the JCPOA but, with this new information, serves to call into question its very purpose. The new information makes the [JCPOA’s sunset clauses, which allow Iran to resume prohibited nuclear activities beginning in 2022] far deadlier, as the documents show that Iran’s nuclear-weapons program is both more organized and more advanced than previously thought, allowing a faster dash to a bomb. . . .

According to the Israelis, this archive was not gathering dust but was part of an ongoing stewardship program meant to enable Iran to reincarnate its nuclear-weapons program on short order. . . . In short, Iran is maintaining and nurturing a reconstitution kit ready for use to build nuclear weapons. The conditions of the existence of this archive and the extent of the information in it suggest that Iran has been violating the JCPOA and the spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed that “under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons.” . . .

The new information makes it more urgent to fix the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections in Iran, even if the JCPOA falters. Iran is still a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its comprehensive-safeguards agreement requires cooperation with the IAEA in determining whether its program is purely peaceful. Iran has a binding legal obligation to grant the IAEA inspectors access to sites, materials, equipment, documents, and personnel to resolve outstanding questions about the military dimensions of its past nuclear activities. The IAEA has an obligation to investigate completely the personnel, sites, equipment, and activities described in the nuclear archive discovered by Israel, including gaining access to military sites. If Iran refuses, then it is in violation of its . . . obligations.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran nuclear program, Mossad, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times