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After Iran deploys missile defense system around nuclear complex banned from enrichment, experts warn site still important to monitor

Posted by Tip Staff - August 30, 2016


 

Iran’s placement of the advanced Russian S-300 missile defense system at its underground nuclear complex in Fordow, which the nuclear deal banned from being used for nuclear enrichment, indicates the continued importance of the site despite the deal’s limitations, The Jerusalem Post reported. Tal Inbar, the head of the Space and UAV Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzliya, said that by deploying the S-300s at Fordow, Iran was “poking a finger in the eye of the West.” The Iranians “could have put it at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which produces electricity and is civilian – Bushehr could not produce nuclear bombs,” Inbar continued. “They could have placed it symbolically at a military base in Iran, for example.” Fordow, the expert explained, “is not just another site. It is where the Iranians developed mechanisms for nuclear detonation, where the nuclear ‘physics package’ was developed.” The placing of S-300s essentially takes a military strike on Fordow off the table.
The nuclear deal prohibits Iran from enriching uranium at Fordow, but it can still use around 1,000 centrifuges for non-nuclear purposes. However, it is possible that its centrifuges can “be reconverted to enriching uranium in a short time,” two nuclear enrichment experts wrote in an analysis for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Furthermore, according to David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, Iran would be able to “reestablish Fordow as a uranium enrichment centrifuge plant with a capacity far in excess of its current capacity” once the deal expires. “It’s outrageous,” former Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) told The Israel Project. “The placement of an advanced missile defense system at a nuclear complex that the Iranians constructed underground shows how important the site is to Iran and is exceedingly dangerous because the centrifuges can be repurposed to enrich uranium, either if Iran cheats or when the nuclear deal expires.”
The United States and Europe had historically demanded that the Fordow site be dismantled as a condition for sanctions relief.  President Barack Obama said in 2009 that Fordow “represents a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the nonproliferation regime,” adding in 2013 that “we know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful program.” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed alarm when he learned that the nuclear deal would allow Iran to continue operating centrifuges at Fordow. “We have pivoted away from demanding the closure of Fordow when the negotiations began, to considering its conversion into a research facility, to now allowing hundreds of centrifuges to spin at this underground bunker site where centrifuges could be quickly repurposed for illicit nuclear enrichment purposes,” he warned.

 

The White House’s failure to stop the ongoing slaughter perpetrated by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad stems from President Barack Obama’s “desire to accommodate Iran” so that last year’s nuclear deal will extend past his administration, the president’s former top Syria adviser charged in an analysis on Monday.
Frederic Hof, formerly Obama’s special adviser for transition in Syria and currently the director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, faulted the Obama administration for failing to have “defended a single Syrian civilian from the Assad-Russia-Iran onslaught.”
“In fact the administration’s policy toward Assad Syria (as opposed to ISIS Syria) rests on its desire to accommodate Iran—a full partner in Assad’s collective punishment survival strategy—so that the July 14, 2015 nuclear agreement can survive the Obama presidency,” Hof wrote.
Hof took exception to a recent defense offered for Obama’s Syria policy by White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who told reporters last week that “we’ve got a test case just over the border in Iraq about what the consequences are for the United States implementing a regime-change policy and trying to impose a military solution on the situation.” Earnest then added, “there are some people who do suggest that somehow the United States should invade Syria.”
Hof rejected Earnest’s “dissembling,” arguing that the press secretary “would be unable to name anyone counseling the invasion of Syria” if asked. He would also be unable to explain “why limited military measures designed to end Assad’s mass murder free ride—such as that offered by the 51 dissenting State Department officers—amounts to ‘regime-change’ and ‘trying to impose a military solution,'” Hof argued. (The 51 State Department employees released their letter critiquing the Obama administration’s Syria policy in June.)
Hof wrote that the president could open “a platform for useful debate” by acknowledging that the situation Syria is a “catastrophe,” but one that is a result of his having made “the hardest of calls” by prioritizing the nuclear deal with Iran over action against Assad. Hof also cast doubt on the idea that Iran would “abandon the nuclear agreement if its client gets spanked.” (According to Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon, the White House decided not to strike Assad after he violated Obama’s “red line” on chemical weapons attacks in 2013 when Iran threatened to break off nuclear talks.)
Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said in June 2014 that he resigned from his post because he was “no longer in a position where I felt I could defend American policy.” In May, Hof wrote a similar critique of the Obama administration, noting that it failed to protect Syrian civilians because that would have conflicted with the “pursuit of a nuclear agreement with Assad’s premier long-term enabler and partner in mass murder: Iran.”
In The Mind of the President, which was published in the June 2016 issue of The Tower Magazine, editor-in-chief David Hazony quoted Hof’s earlier critique of the Obama administration and provided context for the scope of the catastrophe in Syria:
That this concern was decisive to the situation in Syria—and the mass refugee crisis now wreaking havoc across the Middle East and Europe—was also reiterated by Frederic Hof, Obama’s former point man on Syria who is one of the few administration officials to resign in protest.
 
For an American president and his principal subordinates to avert their gazes from mass homicide and from doing anything at all to mitigate or complicate it is far from unprecedented. In this day and age, however, knowing what we know about 20th century failures to protect civilians thanks to the research and writings of Samantha Power and others, it is stunningly remarkable and regrettable. For a man of Barack Obama’s evident humanity and values, surely there has been something of transcendent importance that has stayed his hand from protecting Syrian civilians; something of paramount national security significance that has stopped him from acting in support of American friends and allies trying desperately to deal with the hemorrhage of humanity from Syria. Thanks to Ben Rhodes and his chronicler we know now what it has been: Pursuit of a nuclear agreement with Assad’s premier long-term enabler and partner in mass murder: Iran.
 
The result of U.S. inaction, when action was possible and proposed, in order to make sure nothing stopped the Iran deal, has been the perpetuation of Assad’s brutality and the glaring perpetuation of a war that pits radical Sunnis against Shiites against Kurds against less-radical Sunnis against an Alawite regime, with Russia and Turkey and Iran and Saudi Arabia vying for influence, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and many millions displaced. Syria is now a country that will never be whole again but may also never successfully break apart. It is a war that could last a hundred years.
 
“By not intervening early,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told Goldberg, “we have created a monster.” How big of a monster? Estimates range as high as 400,000 dead and tens of millions displaced.
 
Think about it: From a humanitarian perspective, the devastation resulting from the effort to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb may have already exceeded the devastation that would result from Iran actually dropping a nuclear bomb. (via TheTower.org)

 
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness in people over age 60. About 90 percent of those with AMD have the “dry” form for which there is no approved therapy. And so the race is on to find a cure. The potential is huge, as products for treating the much smaller population of those with wet AMD ring up about $5 billion in annual sales. The Israeli company Cell Cure Neurosciences in Jerusalem has thrown its hat in the ring with a treatment of injectable human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells — the essential “helpers” for the eye’s photoreceptor cells — produced from pluripotent stem cells using a propriety technology. CEO Charles Irving explains that with age, RPEs get run down and fail to provide the photoreceptors with the nutrients and pigments they need to function. “The photoreceptor cells can only make it a little longer on their own before dying, and that’s irreversible,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “Our goal is to enable, for the first time, transplantation with new RPE cells so we can save the photoreceptors that haven’t already died and stop the progression of the disease.” He likens AMD to a forest fire burning through the retina. The damage can be tolerated until it reaches the “houses in the village,” in this case the macula’s pinhead-sized fovea. “If disease reaches the fovea, you have essentially lost central and color vision. We want to stop the ‘fire’ before it reaches the fovea. We do that by putting in young cells not susceptible to the aging process,” Irving says. (via Israel21c)

 


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