Posted by Albert Gersh - August 29, 2014
Iran's atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi revealed this week that Iran had tested a new generation of advanced centrifuges that analysts believe would if developed dramatically improve the Islamic republic's ability to go nuclear at will, a development that Reuters suggested might "annoy Western states" committed to rolling back Tehran's atomic program. Mark Dubowitz, the executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, pointedly asked the State Department on Friday why Iran's testing of the so-called IR-8 centrifuges - which he emphasized are 16 times more efficient and much easier to hide than the enrichment technology that Iran currently possesses - was not a straightforward violation of the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). The agreement calls on Iran to freeze progress on its nuclear program in exchange for a series of functionally irreversible financial windfalls from the West, and the Obama administration has been unequivocal that any cheating would trigger a snapback in the estimated tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Friday also saw the publication of a new report [PDF] from the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) identifying Iran's centrifuge research and development (R&D) program as a central threat to the verifiability of any nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. The report emphasized that any comprehensive solution should have to "place further limitations on this program and establish effective and expanded monitoring practices," and more specifically that any agreement should throughout its duration bind Iran to researching only centrifuges "with capabilities comparable to the current IR-2m centrifuge." The report pointed out that next-generation centrifuges would not have any industrial purpose - Iran is decades away from being able to compete with uranium exporters such as Russia - but that they would create a scenario under which Tehran "would need far fewer of these advanced centrifuges in a clandestine plant to make weapon-grade uranium" should it decide to sneak across the nuclear finish line.
Israeli security officials on Thursday announced the July bust of a smuggling ring and arrest of at least four Arab-Israelis who had been coordinating with Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon to bring weapons and drugs into Israel via the country’s border with Lebanon with the possible intent of conducting an attack in the Jewish state during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. The men were connected to five Lebanese citizens involved in the scheme, including known Hezbollah operative and drug dealer George Nimar. Per Algemeiner, "[t]he investigation revealed that Nimar had planned to transfer ammunition and drugs into Israel and that extensive preparatory work had been done" along the Israel-Lebanon border. The Daily Star conveyed a statement from the Shin Bet to the effect that weapons smuggled from Lebanon had the potential to be used to conduct terror attacks inside Israel, amid Jerusalem’s nearly two-month-long hot conflict with Hamas, which had earlier this month boasted that it was looking to the Lebanese terror group to destabilize Israel’s northern border. Ha’aretz reported that the “operation was part of a larger scheme” that would see the “drug dealers smuggling weapons over the border into Israel from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.”
A first-time mother from Syria is happily cradling her newborn at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed (Tsfat), after giving birth to a healthy 2.6 kg girl at the Israeli medical facility on Tuesday (August 26, 2014). This is the seventh birth of a Syrian baby at the northern medical center. “We have already treated a number of mothers and babies from Syria and we do so with devotion and love,” said Esther Ambar, the nurse in charge of the Neonatal Department at the Ziv Medical Center. The latest new Syrian mother to give birth in Israel is a 25-year-old resident of Quneitra. She told the Israeli medical staff that fighting in the Quneitra area made her pregnancy very difficult. “Because of the war there is a shortage of food and there are no health and birthing facilities. I knew that I was already in my 40th week and that the birth was imminent and there was no one who could help me. I heard from relatives and friends that Syrian casualties are transferred to Israel where they receive good care,” she said. When her water broke, the young woman asked family and friends to take her to the Israel-Syrian border. The IDF transferred her to hospital. “I was anxious and afraid, but the Israeli nurses and doctors treated me with sensitivity and respect and the delivery went well. I am very happy that I came here, they are treating me nicely and taking care of me and my new baby,” she said. Ambar, who lives on Kibbutz Ein-Zivan on the Golan Heights which only a few days ago was shelled by rockets from Syria, is helping the mother take care of her new daughter. “We live in a strange reality. On Sunday, we ran to our bomb-shelters when a number of rockets hit the ground close to the kibbutz, yesterday a number of mortar bombs were fired on this area and today we delivered a Syrian baby whose mother arrived from the region from which we were fired upon,” Ambar said. “We hear and see the fighting in Syria daily and we know that the population there is in great difficulty. “Ordinary people are not interested in wars, the Syrian mothers who reach us relay stories of the difficulties they experience in their country and speak about their hope for peace and a better future for their children. Their gratitude is moving and we wish that this will be a bridge to a dialogue between us and them and a hope for peace and quiet in the region.” (via Israel21c)
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