Daily TIP

Iranian deployment of Russian missile defense system warrants sanctions under U.S. law

Posted by Tip Staff - August 29, 2016


Iran on Sunday deployed the advanced Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system at Fordow, the underground military bunker outside of the city of Qom that the Iranians converted into a nuclear facility. The move further reinforces a site that was already essentially impervious to a military strike, functionally taking the military option off the table for Fordow. Multiple U.S. laws—going back to the early 1990s—require the President to impose sanctions in response to the transfer and deployment of the S-300s. The laws include the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act; the Iran Sanctions Act; and the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Accountability Act. They explicitly prohibit Iran from developing or acquiring “destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons" and mandate U.S. sanctions.
Before concessions were offered to Iran in the course of nuclear negotiations, the United States and Europe had historically demanded that the Fordow site be dismantled as a condition for sanctions relief. In 2009, President Obama said Fordow “represents a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the nonproliferation regime,” and in 2013, he said that “we know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program.” The very existence of Fordow is highly suspect; there is no benign purpose for a hyper-fortified underground nuclear encampment. With regard to the S-300s, in 2010, the Obama administration said it had successfully blocked the transfer of S-300s to Iran by laying down a red line that the Russians wouldn’t cross. A Daily Beast article from April 2015 noted that the administration “crowed” about Russia’s suspension of the sale of the weapons as “a major foreign policy coup.” But in 2015, when the Russians decided to transfer the S-300s anyway, President Obama said he was “frankly surprised” that it had taken the Russians so long to do so.
Under the nuclear agreement, Iran is allowed to keep spinning centrifuges at Fordow but is prohibited from enrichening uranium there. However, it is possible that the centrifuges can “be reconverted to enriching uranium in a short time,” in the words of Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director-general for safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Simon Henderson, the director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Furthermore, according to David Albright, founder and 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.


Former Israeli defense minister and Labor Party stalwart Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who died Sunday at the age of 80 due to health complications, was remembered by former Israeli President Shimon Peres as a “courageous commander” who was greatly concerned with the welfare of the State of Israel.
Ben-Eliezer, also known by his nickname Fuad, was born in 1936 in southern Iraq. His family immigrated to Israel in 1950 when he was 14 years old, and he was recruited into the Golani infantry brigade four years later. While in the IDF, he underwent training to become an officer and served as one in the Six-Day War in 1967. During the Yom Kippur war in 1973, Ben-Eliezer served as a deputy unit commander and subsequently rose to become divisional commander in the Lebanon area. He was wounded seven times during his service.
From 1978 to 1982, he commanded the Judea and Samaria division with the rank of brigadier general. After he retired from the army in 1984, Ben-Eliezer began his political career with the Yachad Party, which merged with the Labor Party shortly after. He was appointed to serve as minister of construction and housing in 1992 by Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, then as communications minister and deputy prime minister in Ehud Barak’s administration in 1999.
One of Ben-Eliezer’s most notable achievements as a public servant came in 2001, when he was appointed minister of defense by Ariel Sharon and oversaw Operation Defensive Shield, launched in March 2002 after Palestinian terrorists carried out 15 separate suicide bombing attacks against Israelis in a single month. The  of the campaign was a 46 percent decrease in suicide bombings attacks, and a 70 percent drop by the second half of the year.
A Jerusalem Post retrospective of his life and career asserted that together, Ben-Eliezer and Sharon “inspired an atmosphere of unity in the public, a sense of purpose among politicians and a fighting spirit among the troops” that was essential to defeating the terrorism of the second intifada. Ben-Eliezer also backed the initiative to build a security fence along the border of the West Bank, which was linked to a near-total halt in terrorist infiltration in the areas where it was constructed. Nonetheless, he was also a strong advocate for reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. ”The main goal is to contain the terror, and by that, to open the gate to a peace negotiation,” he  in 2002.
Ben-Eliezer eventually ran for president in 2014, but his candidacy was derailed by allegations of corruption. The trial against him was cancelled shortly before his death.
Former President Peres described his late colleague as “a courageous commander in the IDF, a warm person who loves people, whose heart was deep in the land and in the fate of our people.” He expressed sympathy “to the many loyal friends who followed him through thick and thin throughout the years.”
Current President Reuven Rivlin similarly called Ben-Eliezer “a man of many accomplishments who did much for the nation, devoted his life to its defense and security.” Rivlin added that as a public servant, Ben-Eliezer “applied himself to his work with great devotion” to secure Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed condolences to Ben-Eliezer’s family upon his passing, saying, “Fouad served the State of Israel for decades as a fighter, commander, public servant and senior government minister. I knew him and I esteemed his contribution and his special personality. In my many conversations with him, Fouad expressed his concern for – and commitment to – the future of the State of Israel that he loved so much. May his memory be blessed.” (via TheTower.org)

Barley grains from the Chalcolithic period 6,000 years ago have become the oldest plant genome ever to be sequenced, announced a team of Israeli and international researchers in the journal Nature Genetics. The barley grains and tens of thousands of other plant remains were retrieved from the remote Yoram Cave near one of Israel’s most popular heritage sites, the famous Masada fortress overlooking the Dead Sea. The painstaking excavation process was headed by Uri Davidovich from the Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Nimrod Marom from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa. Ehud Weiss of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan led the archaeobotanical analysis. (via Israel21c)


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