29 May 15. Reporters showered the State Department with questions over a report from an Iranian opposition group carried in Reuters on Thursday alleging that a North Korean delegation of nuclear-related experts visited Iran the last week of April. According to the report, the North Korean delegation comprised of “nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems.” This report comes as the latest in a series of reports that have surfaced over the two countries’ shared work on ballistic missile technology and efforts relating to Iran’s nuclear program. In late March, Gordon Chang in The Daily Beast underscored the likelihood that Iran conducts nuclear-related activity in North Korea. He writes that, if true, the efficacy of a nuclear deal would be nil: “Inspections inside the borders of Iran will not give the international community the assurance it needs…. while the international community inspects Iranian facilities pursuant to a framework deal, the Iranians could be busy assembling the components for a bomb elsewhere.”
Back in January 2014, in The Daily Beast, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake, citing a U.S. intelligence report, warned about the threat of North Korea exporting sensitive nuclear technologies to Iran. Rogin and Lake wrote that according to the intelligence community, “Iran would not be able to enrich enough uranium to weapons-grade levels to produce a nuclear bomb before the world detected that activity…That’s where North Korea could come in.” They go on to quote expert and scientist David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, as saying, “You don’t want North Korea to become Iran’s supplier for critical components for their centrifuge program… If Iran can buy the raw materials they need from North Korea, there’s no way to control that or stop it.”
The Iranians maintain that their program is for entirely peaceful purposes. However, at an event at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, French Ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud implored the audience “to understand [that] the Iranians have spent billions of dollars on this program, on the program which doesn’t make any civilian meaning — doesn’t have any civilian meaning.” The P5+1 and Iran are in the final weeks of negotiations before the impending June 30 deadline, but the issues of verification and monitoring remain unsolved. There is a third option beyond a bad nuclear deal or war with Iran, Yishai Schwartz argued in a post Tuesday for the Brookings Institution’s Lawfare blog. Schwartz acknowledged the weaknesses in the emerging deal—the sunset provision allowing Iran an unconstrained nuclear program in ten years, the unlikelihood of being able to reimpose sanctions, and Iran’s continued efforts to destabilize the Middle East—and argued that an alternative path could be taken that would strengthen the hands of American negotiators.
The scenario he laid out would be to declare the talks a failure for now, but to stay engaged with Iran while maintaining most of the remaining sanctions.
Schwartz dismissed the fear, expressed by proponents of a deal, that that without an agreement Iran will simply make a rush for bomb. He observed that Iran doesn’t want an escalation of sanctions or a military attack. The advantage to holding an occasional “summit and announc[ing] progress” is that it will keep “Iran from a nuclear capability, but never fully [relax] the vise.” Some time in the future, according to Schwartz, when the pressure from the sanctions has eroded Iran’s will it might be possible to “pursue another comprehensive deal on more favorable terms.”
(Source: theisraelproject.org/via TheTower.org)
28 May 15. Israel Air Chief: Nothing Can Stop Our Air Force. Israel’s top Air Force officer said Wednesday that Russian S-300 air defense systems, if or when deployed by Iran, would constitute more of “a strategic issue than an operative issue” because it would em