Monday, June 5, 2023

IAEA chief: Iran only cooperating with a ‘fraction’ of nuke inspection demands

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi on Monday told the agency’s Board of Governors that Iran is only cooperating with a “fraction” of the nuclear inspection requirements he expected them to comply with under a deal between the sides from March 4.

After detailing to the Board some positive steps by the Islamic Republic in restoring some aspects of the agency’s nuclear monitoring, he said, “But this is a fraction of what we envisaged and what needs to happen now is a sustained and uninterrupted process that leads to all the commitments contained in the Joint Statement being fulfilled without further delay.”

Grossi said, “the Agency has not been able to perform JCPOA verification and monitoring activities in relation to the production and inventory of centrifuges, rotors and bellows, heavy water and uranium ore concentrate [all materials related to nuclear weapons] for two and one quarter years, including the period after June 2022 when no surveillance and monitoring equipment related to JCPOA was installed and operating.” READ MORE

US, British navies come to rescue of ship ‘harassed’ by Iran in Persian Gulf

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The US Navy said Monday that its sailors and the United Kingdom Royal Navy had come to the aid of a ship in the crucial Strait of Hormuz after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard “harassed” it.

Three fast-attack Guard vessels with armed troops aboard approached the unidentified merchant ship at a close distance Sunday afternoon, the US Navy said in a statement. It offered black-and-white images it said came from a US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon overhead, which showed three small ships close to the commercial ship.

The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul and the Royal Navy’s frigate HMS Lancaster responded to the incident, with the Lancaster launching a helicopter. READ MORE

Economy Minister: 'We will not allow Iran to sleep at night'

Economy Minister Nir Barkat participated this evening (Sunday) in the Arutz Sheva Jerusalem Conference in NYC began today, and addressed Iran's threats against Israel, which are manifested in the operation of terrorist organizations in the region.

"Iran uses terrorist organizations that threaten us with thousands of rockets. This reminds me of what the US president did in the Cuban missile crisis - when he said missiles from Cuba would be answered with missiles at Moscow," said Barkat.

He stated that "If there is a missile attack on us by Hezbollah from the north, Hamas in Gaza, Syria and Iraq, and by Israeli Arabs, the Iranians will not be able to sleep well at night. We understand their strategy and will not allow the Iranians to sleep at night in a situation where our citizens will be threatened."

Barkat was asked how to solve the cost of living crisis and answered: "Our Prime Minister understands that we now need to focus on reducing the cost of living. As the Minister of the Economy, we are trying to reduce food costs. We will make moves that will allow parallel imports and slowly in the near future you will see a drop in prices that will be felt in the pocket of the Israeli citizen ".

Cabinet convenes in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu: We can deal with every threat by ourselves

The Security Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, convened on Sunday evening in the framework of the “Firm Hand” military exercise, at the IDF command center at the Kirya in Tel Aviv.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet ministers are taking part in the exercise, which simulates conflict erupting in the north and spreading to other arenas.

Netanyahu said at the start of the simulated Security Cabinet meeting, "The reality in our region is changing rapidly. We are not stagnating. We are adapting our combat doctrine and our possibilities for action in keeping with these changes and our goals, which are not changing."

"We are committed to acting against the Iranian nuclear program, against missile attacks on the State of Israel and against the possibility of the fronts becoming linked, what we call a multi-front campaign," he added.

"This requires us to evaluate, if it is possible to do so in advance, many of the main decisions that the Security Cabinet and the Government would need to make together with the security establishment, the IDF and other security elements," continued Netanyahu.

"This is the goal of the exercise. We are certain that we can deal with every threat by ourselves, and also by other means," he concluded.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

An Entire Month That Is Going To Show Exactly Where Everybody Stands

You have probably noticed that cultural issues are bitterly dividing our nation right now.  Bud Light, Target and other companies that have taken controversial stands on cultural issues have been dominating the headlines for weeks, and now the month of June is here.  

An entire month is set aside to celebrate "Pride", and you can't escape it even if you wanted to do so.  Not even pet snacks are safe from the left's radical gender agenda this year as the dog biscuit brand Milk-Bone has unveiled a new "pride-themed" snack box to help canines "celebrate the LGBTQ+ community." 

Milk-Bone said its "pride treats" are baked in the colors of the rainbow in order to "celebrate love." The company has also laid out several ways in which dogs can become allies to the LGBT community.

It asks consumers to "dress them up in rainbow colors, and/or get them rainbow accessories" and also to take them to "a dog-friendly Pride event, such as a rally or parade."

Meanwhile, LEGO House is celebrating pride month with a new display that features dozens of building sets that offer children an "inclusive" and "diverse" environment to interact with gender identity and LGBT-related building sets. READ MORE

How AI could take over elections – and undermine democracy

THE CONVERSATION via AP — Could organizations use artificial intelligence language models such as ChatGPT to induce voters to behave in specific ways?

Sen. Josh Hawley asked OpenAI CEO Sam Altman this question in a May 16, 2023, US Senate hearing on artificial intelligence.

Altman replied that he was indeed concerned that some people might use language models to manipulate, persuade and engage in one-on-one interactions with voters. READ MORE

Biden envoy said to meet Iran’s UN ambassador as West looks to restart nuke contacts

The Biden administration’s special envoy for Iran has reportedly held several recent meetings with the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, as Western powers look to restart dialogue with Tehran on its expanding nuclear program.

According to a report Friday in the Financial Times, Robert Malley’s contacts with Amir Saeid Iravani were believed to be the first direct interaction between American and Iranian officials since then-president Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018.

The newspaper, which cited diplomats and analysts, noted Iravani was a senior member of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council before his posting to UN headquarters in New York last year. The council’s previous head, who was replaced last month, played a key role in the negotiations that led to the 2015 nuclear deal. READ MORE

Report: Saudi Arabia and Iran discuss naval alliance

Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani has announced a regional naval alliance.

Speaking on television on Friday night, Irani said that the Gulf countries understand that cooperation is necessary in order to ensure their security.

According to him, there is already a three-way naval alliance between Iran, Russia, and China, with the three countries carrying out joint exercises each year.

"Soon we will bear witness to the fact that our entire region will be rid of any illegitimate force, and the peoples of our region will have control on the matter of security, by means of their own forces," he said.

Iran has consistently demanded the removal of US forces from the Persian Gulf, and it has territorial claims in some of the Gulf countries.

Regarding the other countries in the region, Irani said, "In the past we had joint activities with Oman, and now Saudi Arabia is moving in this direction, and there is also the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, and India."

"Almost all of the countries in the area of the northern Indian Ocean have come to the understanding that they must stand by the Islamic Republic of Iran and achieve shared security."

According to Tasnim, Irani confirmed that the United Arab Emirates has withdrawn from a US-led naval coalition in the Persian Gulf.

"Today, the regional countries have realized that establishment of security in the region requires synergy and cooperation," Irani said, according to Tasnim.

More details come out about Egypt border attack: Quran found on terrorist

New details are coming out about the attack on the Egyptian border early Saturday morning, which left three IDF soldiers, Ori Yitzhak Illouz, Lia Bin-Nun, and Ohad Dahan, dead.

Among the items the terrorist had on his person was a Quran, which may be a sign that he had become radicalized. The IDF estimates that that drove him to carry out the attack.

Galei Tzahal reported that a knife was found on the terrorist, with which he cut the zip ties that held the gate he entered closed. He was also found to have six weapon magazines, showing that the attack was well-planned.

Maariv published details about the terrorist's plan of action: he walked a distance of about six kilometers (approx. 3.7 miles) from the installment where he was based, climbed a cliff, and arrived at the border fence while carrying a backpack full of gear. Using one of the knives in his possession, he opened a gate on the fence, which was meant to be opened quickly and was closed using only a zip tie, and approached the soldiers who did not notice him. READ MORE

Saturday, June 3, 2023

World Health Organization Grants North Korea Spot on Executive Board

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) concluded its annual meeting on Tuesday with the astonishing spectacle of electing North Korea – among the world’s deadliest regimes, a psychopathic nuclear-armed dictatorship that routinely murders dissidents and has deliberately starved a sizable portion of its population – to a seat on the ten-member W.H.O. executive board.

“What this means is that one of the world’s most horrific regimes is now a part of a group that sets and enforces the standards and norms for the global governance of health care. It is an absurd episode for a key U.N. agency that is in much need of self-reflection and reform,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the watchdog group U.N. Watch.

“A seat on the executive board provides North Korea with a vote on the appointment of the W.H.O.’s six regional directors, and potentially on an eventual replacement for Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general now serving his second and final term,” Neuer pointed out. READ MORE

Iran pushes for naval alliance in Indian ocean, claims Gulf countries may participate

Iran is hoping to bring Saudi Arabia and other countries into a naval alliance in the Indian Ocean, in what appears to be an Iranian attempt to encourage US partners to also work with Iran.

Iran has previously worked with China and Russia but its new initiative may try to capitalize on reports of the UAE leaving the US-led Combined Maritime Forces.  

Iranian pro-regime media said that “a number of regional countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, are going to form a new naval coalition in the northern parts of the Indian Ocean, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani said.” READ MORE

Casting wary eye on IAEA, Israel fears US laying groundwork for new Iran deal

Signs are pointing in a worrying direction for Israel. A smattering of reports, meetings and announcement appear to indicate that the US is moving toward a new deal with Iran over its nuclear program, and Israeli officials have broadcast fears that Washington is bowing to key demands from Tehran to finalize the pact.

The question for Israeli policymakers is how far along that path the sides have traveled.

Israeli officials are clearly spooked, especially after news emerged that the International Atomic Energy Agency decided this week to close its probe into traces of human-made uranium found at Marivan, some 525 kilometers (325 miles) southeast of Tehran. READ MORE

Egyptian policeman kills 3 IDF soldiers in border shooting, clashes; is shot dead

An Egyptian policeman shot and killed two Israeli soldiers who were manning a guard post near the border on Saturday morning, the military said. The Israel Defense Forces said there was a further exchange of fire in the area hours later, in Israeli territory, in which the gunman and another IDF soldier were killed.

The incidents occurred between Mount Sagi and Mount Harif in the Negev desert. The circumstances were under investigation by the military, including how the gunman, an Egyptian policeman, managed to infiltrate into Israel from Egypt.

The motivation of the attacker was not immediately clear and there was no comment from Cairo after what appears to be one of the most serious incidents on the border since the signing of a 1979 peace deal between the two countries. READ MORE

Ambassador Erdan: Not inviting Netanyahu is a serious mistake on the part of the US

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, who will take part in the Jerusalem Conference in New York this coming Sunday, told Asaf Mishnayot of the Besheva newspaper in an interview, that the Americans are making a “serious mistake” by not having yet invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Washington.

"This is without a doubt problematic. This is a serious mistake by the Americans in my eyes. This is not the way to behave between friends, even when they disagree on issues. We are one of the closest allies the Americans have. There are always disputes, even within a family, but in the end everyone gets together at the holiday table. The visibility of such a situation has great importance," said Erdan.

At the same time, he stressed that the fact that Netanyahu has not yet been invited to the White House has not had an effect on the cooperation between Israel and the US. READ MORE

Because of the heat? Explosions heard at Hamas military site in Gaza

Explosions were heard on Friday night at a Hamas military site in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Arab media outlets reported.

According to the reports, the explosions occurred at the Bader outpost, which is located west of Gaza City and is used by Hamas for the production of weapons.

There were no reports of injuries.

Palestinian Arab reports said three explosions in total were heard in the area. Footage from the scene showed a large fire raging in the area.Emergency forces and ambulances were called to the scene.

The cause of the explosions remains unclear, but the PA reports suggested they were caused by the heat wave which may have caused materials at the military site to ignite.

Friday, June 2, 2023

It Isn't Just The Economy That Is On The Verge Of Collapse...

We are in far more trouble than most people realize.  In recent months, our rapidly growing economic problems have gotten a lot of attention, and without a doubt our economy is heading into really hard times.  

The greatest debt bubble in the history of the world has started to implode, and the end of this "mega-cycle" is going to cause an immense amount of pain.  But if every other element of our society was strong, we could survive that.  

It may surprise a lot of you to hear me say that, but it is true.  If all that we were facing was an economic collapse, it would cause an enormous amount of turmoil in this country but we would make it through.

Unfortunately, we are not just facing an economic collapse.

I like to call what we are facing "the everything collapse", because virtually every element of our society is steadily breaking down right in front of our eyes.

So once our economic and financial systems implode, it won't just be a matter of patching them up and returning to "normal", because "normal" doesn't exist anymore. READ MORE

Close to midnight on an Iranian nuke – what matters now and what doesn’t - analysis

Iran is closer to nuclear “midnight” in being able to obtain nuclear weapons than it has ever been before.Note that the talk has shifted from weapon (singular) to weapons (plural).

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Iran had enough enriched uranium to produce 90% weaponized uranium for up to five nuclear bombs in short-shift if it decided to do so.

This came after multiple top US officials said that the Islamic Republic could jump from the 60% medium uranium-enriched level to the 90% level in 12 days. READ MORE

30,000 march in Jerusalem Pride Parade under tight security but without incident

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in central Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon for the Jerusalem Pride Parade to call for tolerance toward the LGBTQ community and its right to equality, while expressing overtly anti-government sentiment and opposition to its currently frozen judicial overhaul program.

An estimated 30,000 people turned out for the parade amid heavy security and the presence of some 2,000 police and riot police officers, as well as several lines of police barriers separating the parade from a far-right protest across the road.

The event passed smoothly without any security incidents. READ MORE

Security cabinet set to meet to discuss threat of multi-front clash with Iran

The security cabinet is set to convene next week to discuss a potential multi-front conflict including Iran and Hezbollah, amid concerns over Tehran’s progress toward nuclear weapons capabilities.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will also hold a security assessment before the security cabinet meets Sunday, Channel 12 news reported Thursday.

The meetings were set up amid escalated tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and Israeli warnings that a broad conflict could break out over the issue. READ MORE

Amid concerns over Iran: Biden's national security adviser meets Israeli officials

US President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, on Thursday Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi and Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer at the White House to discuss a broad range of global and regional issues of mutual concern.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, the White House said, “Following up on the March US-Israel Strategic Consultative Group, they continued discussions on enhanced coordination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and ways to counter threats from Iran and its proxies.”

Sullivan, the statement added, “reaffirmed the Administration’s goal of further enhancing Israel’s security and economic integration throughout the Middle East. Sullivan also stressed the need to take additional steps to improve the lives of Palestinians, critical to realizing a more peaceful, prosperous, and integrated region. READ MORE

Rollercoaster ride to reality for Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine?

The 2022 Saudi-based Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine solution (HKOPS) continues its rollercoaster ride from dream to reality – in spite of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) refusing to acknowledge that such a solution even exists.

These four organizations amazingly continue to call for the creation of the two-state solution: a Palestinian Arab state between Jordan and Israel for the first time in recorded history.

New York Times columnist - Thomas Friedman – sums up the inevitability of the two-state solution’s demise:

“A week of reporting from Israel and the 'West Bank' has left me feeling that the prospect for a two-state solution has all but vanished. But no one wants to formally declare it dead and buried — because categorically ruling it out would have enormous ramifications. So, diplomats, politicians and liberal Jewish organizations pretend that it still has a faint heartbeat. I do as well. But we all know that the two-state option is not in a hospital. It’s in hospice. Only a miracle cure could save it now.” READ MORE

What if Bernard Lewis was right about Iran?

What If Bernard Lewis was rIght about nuclear Iran welcoming Apocalypse rather than seeking deterrence?

In that case, he said that "mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the
Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead -- hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement." Bernard Lewis - The Wall Street Journal Aug. 8, 2006

It would appear that the overwhelming majority of Israelis participating in policy discussions relating to the Iranian nuclear challenge think that Iran seeks nukes to protect their leadership from regime change.

Unfortunately, these policy makers and analysts simply cannot comprehend that Iranian Twelvers could actually welcome an apocalypse set into motion by an Iranian nuclear strike and the response that would follow. Without saying it explicitly, they are arguing that there is some set of universal values that has some kind of veto power over belief systems when adhering to those beliefs can have unsavory results when judged by these "universal values".

This is not an inconsequential academic disagreement.

The attitude of policy makers and analysts towards the threat of a nuclear Iran would be radically different if they thought that there was even a 25% chance that Bernard Lewis is correct.

I daresay that if they gave Bernard Lewis the weight his opinion deserves that we would have already "pulled the trigger" on a massive operation long ago.

Israel blasts IAEA: The yielding to Iranian political pressure is very disappointing

Israel on Thursday blasted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over its decision to close two probes of highly enriched uranium particles and a site where man-made uranium was found.

“The closure of the Marivan Iranian safeguard case by the International Atomic Energy Agency is a matter of great concern,” said Foreign Minister spokesperson Lior Haiat.

“The explanations provided by Iran for the presence of nuclear material at the site are not reliable or technically possible. Iran continues to lie to the IAEA and deceive the international community,” he added in a statement.

“The yielding of the Director General of the IAEA and the International Atomic Energy Agency to Iranian political pressure is very disappointing, mainly because the information in the file implicitly points to two faces of blatant Iranian violations of the inspection agreements.”

“Closing the case could have extremely dangerous consequences, and it conveys a message to the Iranians that they are not required to pay a price for their violations and that they can continue to deceive the international community on their way to achieving a full military nuclear program,” said Haiat.

“In addition, closing the case in this manner severely damages the professional credibility of the IAEA,” he concluded. READ MORE

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Not all Iranian nuclear sites restored cameras, monitoring - IAEA

The UN nuclear watchdog has re-installed only some monitoring equipment originally put in place under the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers that Iran then ordered removed last year, the watchdog said in two reports on Wednesday seen by Reuters.

The re-installed equipment is a fraction of what the International Atomic Energy Agency had planned to set up to improve its surveillance of Iran's nuclear activities, as the IAEA said it had agreed with Iran in March in a bid to defuse a standoff between both sides over Iran's cooperation.

The limited progress described in the reports did, however, include the installation of real-time enrichment monitoring equipment on the only lines of centrifuges enriching uranium to up to 60% purity, near weapons grade, at Natanz and Fordow, a senior diplomat said.

At the same time, Iran's stock of uranium enriched to up to 60% has continued to grow and is now roughly enough for two nuclear bombs, one of the two confidential quarterly reports to member states showed.

Iran has been pressing ahead with its enrichment program, which it has been progressively expanding and accelerating, including at its underground Fordow site which was developed in secret and which may have been built inside a mountain to protect it from potential air attack. READ MORE

UN watchdog closes two probes at Iran nuclear sites, one of them prompted by Israel

VIENNA — Iran has resolved two outstanding inquiries from the International Atomic Energy Agency over highly enriched uranium particles and a site where man-made uranium was found, according to confidential reports seen Wednesday by The Associated Press.

The IAEA reports ease pressure slightly on Tehran, which has been escalating its program for years since the US unilaterally withdrew from its nuclear deal with world powers in 2018. However, it continues to amass more uranium nearer than ever to weapons-grade level, worrying nonproliferation experts.

The two confidential quarterly reports by the Vienna-based IAEA, distributed to member states of the organization, said inspectors no longer had questions on uranium particles found to be enriched to 83.7% at its underground Fordo facility. That had sparked tensions over the last several months as uranium enriched to 90% is weapons-grade material. READ MORE

‘Deadly Thursday’: Far-right activists threaten violence at Jerusalem Pride Parade

A far-right group is gearing up for potential violence at Thursday’s Jerusalem Pride Parade, posting many threatening messages in an internal chat group wishing for the deaths of the pro-LGBTQ marchers, a report said Monday.

One group member posted a banner for a counter-protest against the Parade, adding: “Deadly Thursday in Jerusalem,” Channel 12 news reported, citing information from the FakeReporter social media watchdog.

Some of the other messages said: “May all the marchers die from machine gun fire,” “I don’t understand why not to burn all the gentiles coming to defile the land,” and “Maybe Iran’s bomb will restore order here.” READ MORE

New poll shows majority of Jerusalemites don't want 'pride parade'

A new poll conducted by Miskar and initiated by the Bechira Foundation has revealed what Jerusalem residents think of the "Pride Parade" scheduled to take place on Thursday.

A full 87% of residents do not intend to take part in the parade or watch it, and 79% of Jerusalem residents oppose or are indifferent to the parade. Only about one-fifth (21%) of Jerusalemites said that they support holding the parade in their city.

The poll also showed that at least 87% of those who said they will not participate in the parade or watch it feel, among other things, severe hurt, shame, and sadness that the parade is taking place. Approximately 70% of Jerusalem residents believe that the municipality should not support the parade or hang "pride" flags throughout the city.

Over 55% of respondents say that the parade was forced upon the city's residents and that it harms the sanctity of Jerusalem; about 60% say that the Supreme Court should not have been allowed to force the parade to be held by means of emotional and ethics manipulations. READ MORE

Report: US admin. plan seeks Israel-Saudi normalization for Israel's silence on Iran deal

Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and Head of the National Security Council Tzachi Hanegbi, few to the United States this week to meet with administration officials.

According to a report in Israel Hayom, the meetings will focus on two critical issues: The Biden administration's renewed push for a deal with Iran and the possibility of advancing the normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia. Behind the scenes, the Americans see the two issues as connected.

Amid Iran's not-stop effort to enrich uranium, the United States is trying to calm the region down and diplomatically stop Iran from reaching its goals. To overcome Israel's opposition to such a move, the Americans have raised the idea of advancing normalization between Israel and the Saudis in return for Israel's silence in the face of a deal with the Iranian regime.

Former diplomatic officials told Israel Hayom that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be inclined to accept such a deal, but there are those who say that it would show submission.

According to the former officials, "The fact that Israel has not made any public moves to oppose the deal shows that there are agreements behind the scenes. Otherwise, Netanyahu would have acted as he did in 2015."

Despite these claims, Israel denies that it is not working to oppose the deal. A source in Netanyahu's office responded to the report, "The state of Israel did not change its stance. Israel is working in every available way, through every channel, and through every rank to oppose any attempt to allow Iran to obtain nuclear capabilities and weapons," he explained.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

DHS: ‘Likely Targets of Potential Violence’ in Coming Months Include Churches, Feds

The Department of Homeland Security warned in a recent bulletin the U.S. is in a “heightened threat environment” that could portend violence in the coming months over the “2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues.”

The May 24th bulletinreported by Just the News on Tuesday, states:

In the coming months, factors that could mobilize individuals to commit violence include their perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues. Likely targets of potential violence include US critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, individuals or events associated with the LGBTQIA+ community, schools, racial and ethnic minorities, and government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement. READ MORE

Iran makes moves with IAEA, ballistic missiles – what are they up to? - analysis

Iran on Tuesday started to claim that it has closed two IAEA probes into either undeclared sites or unexplained traces of molecules of uranium enriched to the 84% level, leaving only two outstanding probes.

The claims come only days after the Islamic Republic last week said it had tested a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers and only days before the IAEA Board of Governors is set to meet next week.

What is Tehran’s game at this time? It is clearly trying to convince the IAEA Board not to refer its nuclear violations to the UN Security Council for a potential global snapback of sanctions? But is this campaign being done by using “carrots” (giving the IAEA more data that it had previously withheld), by “sticks” (new and longer range tests of ballistic missiles) or both? READ MORE

Iran claims to test hypersonic missile that can breach all defense shields

Iran on Monday announced that it had finished testing a new hypersonic missile capable of penetrating all defense systems and that it will soon be unveiled.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s aerospace unit, said the development marked a “great leap in the field of missiles,” and that  “the hypersonic missile has a high speed and can maneuver both in and out of the Earth’s atmosphere.”

Hajizadeh first revealed the development of the hypersonic missile last November. READ MORE

US reportedly looking to Oman to broker new Iran nuclear talks

US officials have made contact with Omani counterparts to explore the possibility of reviving mediated nuclear talks between Washington and Tehran, with Israeli officials accusing them of seeking an interim agreement that would allow Iran to continue enriching uranium, according to a report Tuesday.

The report in Axios came some nine months after indirect talks aimed at reenergizing the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers collapsed, with the US saying the negotiations were no longer a top priority.

But on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden’s top official on Iran indicated that the US was looking to try again for a diplomatic solution to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, which Israel alleges constitutes an existential military threat. READ MORE

Report: Saudi Arabia nowhere near reaching deal with Israel

Saudi Arabia and Israel remain far from reaching a deal to normalize relations, senior Israeli officials said recently, according to a report by Ha'aretz Wednesday.

The report contradicts media reports in the past few weeks which suggested a breakthrough in ties between the two countries is in the offing.

According to the report, several issues complicate the chances of reaching a normalization agreement, including Saudi demands the US back its bid to establish a civilian nuclear program, which has raised serious concerns in both Israel and the United States.

In addition, plans for confidence-building steps that would precede a major agreement, such as the inauguration of a direct flight route between Israel and Saudi Arabia during the Hajj period for Israeli Muslims making the pilgrimage, may not materialize this year.

One political source cited by the report said: "Biden wants to achieve an Israeli-Saudi agreement and present it as an international achievement in the next election campaign, but he will have a problem if the price is a nuclear program in Saudi Arabia."

The Head of Israel's National Security Council, Tzahi Hanegbi, told Galei Tzahal Tuesday that "The Saudi demands are aimed at the United States. It's an American dilemma, what the US is willing to pay in exchange for an agreement. We are not always aware of what is happening in the Saudi-American relationship. There are issues that require approval from the US Congress, and we are not involved in that."

Regarding the demand for a civilian nuclear program, he added, "The Americans will not move forward on this issue with Saudi Arabia without being closely in touch with us. If a country wants a civilian nuclear program, it [may be] because it wants to exploit it for military capability."

Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ronen Levy, said this week that while Israel does hope to reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem is also working to develop ties with smaller Muslim states, and has not invested all of its efforts solely in courting Riyadh.

Report: IDF airstrikes kill 5 terrorists on Syrian-Lebanese border

The Israeli Air Force carried out an airstrike on a terrorist position on the border of Syria and Lebanon Wednesday morning, Al-Jazeera has reported.

According to the report, the strike targeted a position controlled by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Five terrorists were reportedly eliminated in the strike, which hit just inside the Lebanese side of the frontier.

Israel has denied the report, though a senior terrorist from the PFLP confirmed to Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen that Israeli forces had struck a PFLP base.

He said that five terrorists had been killed and ten injured in the airstrike.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Egypt seeks larger diplomatic role in Middle East - analysis

Ankara. While in the past Egypt and Turkey had tensions, today Egypt is not only reaching out to Ankara but also hosting a large delegation from the Palestinian Authority and also doing outreach to Iran.

This showcases Cairo’s new role in the region in which it is channeling the larger diplomatic engagement that is taking place across the Middle East. In addition, this is part of Egypt’s return to its historic role as a powerful country in the region and a center of dialogue. 

The spokesman for the Egyptian presidency posted online about Egypt and Turkey working to build on their current diplomatic ties. The VOA noted on Tuesday that “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Cairo on Saturday to push to restore full diplomatic relations between the two countries despite Ankara's ongoing support for the Muslim Brotherhood group.” READ MORE