Unknown assailants killed five nuclear engineers on Sunday while they were on a bus just north of Damascus near the research center where they worked, AFP reported on Sunday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of sources on the ground for its reports, later told AFP four of the engineers were Syrian, while one was Iranian.
“Unidentified attackers murdered five nuclear energy engineers who worked in the scientific research centre near the neighborhood of Barzeh, northern Damascus,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, according to the report.
He later said, “Four of the engineers were Syrian, and one was Iranian. Their bus was ambushed while they were on their way to the research centre. Their assailants shot them dead.”
You know who loves ISIS? You know who sends amorous epistles to Putin? You know who thinks Hamass is just the dreamiest? You know who I bet is behind all the chaos, conflict, and cacophony in the world today, including ebola?
Iran has failed to address concerns about suspected atomic bomb research by an agreed deadline, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday, a setback to hopes for an end to an international stand-off over Tehran’s atomic activity.
The Islamic Republic has implemented just three of five nuclear transparency steps that it was supposed to by Aug. 25 under a confidence-building deal it reached with the IAEA in November, according to the quarterly report.
Crucially, it has not provided information on the two issues that are part of the IAEA’s investigation: alleged experiments on explosives that could be used for an atomic device, and studies related to calculating nuclear explosive yields.
And Iran wonders why nobody believes them. But as a rational actor, Iran is John Gielgud. Who or what is going to stop them? The UN? Not worth discussing. NATO? What NATO country is threatened? Obama? Any worries Iran might have harbored about Obama have been swept away like a morning fog. In the clear light of day, they see the field is theirs. Now they’re just having fun:
The report said Iran, where a president seen as pragmatic took office in 2013 and revived diplomacy with the West, told the IAEA last week that most suspicions over its program were “mere allegations and do not merit consideration”.
A Vienna-based diplomat called that statement “worrying”.
The way a captured mouse is “worried” by the cat who has him at her mercy.
There has come into being a kind of a Shia belt from Tehran through Baghdad to Beirut. And this gives Iran the opportunity to reconstruct the ancient Persian Empire — this time under the Shia label.
From a geo-strategic point of view, I consider Iran a bigger problem than ISIS. ISIS is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can became a geo-strategic, permanent reality. I think a conflict with ISIS — important as it is — is more manageable than a confrontation with Iran.
Not sure I’d have used that word “manageable”—didn’t do Obama any good—but of course he’s right. Iran has decades of crimes to its rap sheet. The only difference between the mad mullahs of Tehran and the criminally insane sh*ts of ISIS is that the former leave the heads on when they execute innocents. Can’t hang a person by the neck until dead if they’ve got no neck. Otherwise, Iran is ISIS with nukes, or soon will be.
The recent positions by the White House officials on certain issues are “not acceptable,” said Mohammad Hassan Asafari, who sits on Iran’s Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, on Thursday.
“They should remember that Iran’s missile issues are not part of the negotiations in the Geneva agreement and are by no means negotiable; and the P5+1 [group] (the five parties to the nuclear talks with Iran) cannot launch such a scenario,” he said.
Earlier, Wendy Sherman, the US top nuclear negotiator at the talks with Iran, said during a Senate hearing last week that the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program would be addressed as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal.
However, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday that Tehran had no intention of discussing its ballistic missile program with major powers.
“The subject of the talks with the P5+1 group is only the nuclear issue; and we will not discuss any other issues,” he said, adding that the country’s defense issues “are not negotiable and are our red line.”
“Red line” as it is commonly meant, non-negotiable, a deal breaker? Or “red line” as Obama means it, a policy as easily cast off as a dirty sock? Something tells me Iran means what it says it more than Obama ever did.
Thank goodness these fiascos don’t actually hurt anybody. Just good for a laugh, right Syria?
A truck carrying a dangerous radioactive source used in medical treatment has been stolen in Mexico, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday.
Mexican authorities told the IAEA that the truck, which was transporting the cobalt-60 teletherapy source from a hospital in Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage center, was stolen Monday in Tepojaco, near Mexico City.
“At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded,” the IAEA said. “However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged.”
I should be obsessing about a hijacked truckload of radioactive material tooling around the lawless land on our southern border, but it’s the “hospital in Tijuana” that haunts my imagination.
Sorry if this blog gets a little Saudi-centric (three of the last four posts?), but there’s a method to our madness:
The US Pentagon said on Thursday it plans a large arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates worth $10.8 billion.
The weapons include bunker-buster bombs and air-launched cruise missiles that can hit targets from a long distance, AFP reported. The missiles can hit air defense systems from a safe distance, out of range of anti-aircraft systems.
The weapons will be used on US-made F- 15 and F-16 fighter jets, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The Gulf states are very concerned about Iran and its mission to extend its influence throughout the region. This worry has only increased as Iran gets ever closer to attaining nuclear weapons.
And again, hmmm.
We don’t want to bomb Iran to kingdom come. We’ve ordered Israel not to bomb Iran to kingdom come. But there is a very interested party that has been practically begging for Iran to be bombed to kingdom come. And now has the means.
[T]he Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the manner, the mechanisms of action and double standards existing in the Security Council prevent it from performing its duties and assuming its responsibilities towards preserving international peace and security as required, leading to the continued disruption of peace and security, the expansion of the injustices against the peoples, the violation of rights and the spread of conflicts and wars around the world.
The failure of the Security Council to make the Middle East a free zone of all weapons of mass destruction, whether because of its inability to subdue the nuclear programs of all countries in the region, without exception, to the international control and inspection or to prevent any country in the region from possessing nuclear weapons, is another irrefutable evidence and proof of its inability to carry out its duties and hold its responsibilities.
Here ya go, SA. You want to “subdue the nuclear programs of all countries in the region, without exception,” here’s your big chance.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s arrival in Tehran Saturday was marked by an incident during which a shoe was thrown by a protester in his direction, Iran’s semi-official Fararu news agency said.
A group of Iranian protesters, opposed to dialog with the United States, were at Tehran’s airport where Rouhani supporters had also gathered to welcome the president home, Fararu said.
Rouhani left the airport with his entourage without any further incident, and was accompanied by his supporters shouting, “Rouhani, Rouhani we support you,” according to Fararu.
Shoe throwing is seen as highly offensive in the Middle East for cultural and religious reasons.
If President Obama had had the wisdom to drop a payload of loafers over Damascus, he would have made his point infinitely stronger than his empty threats to fire off a battery of cruise missiles. He had no such wisdom, obviously.
Who is Mr. Rohani? If all you did over the weekend was read headlines, you would have gleaned that he is a “moderate” (Financial Times), a “pragmatic victor” (New York Times) and a “reformist” (Bloomberg). Reading a little further, you would also learn that his election is being welcomed by the White House as a “potentially hopeful sign” that Iran is ready to strike a nuclear bargain.
All this for a man who, as my colleague Sohrab Ahmari noted in these pages Monday, called on the regime’s basij militia to suppress the student protests of July 1999 “mercilessly and monumentally.” More than a dozen students were killed in those protests, more than 1,000 were arrested, hundreds were tortured, and 70 simply “disappeared.” In 2004 Mr. Rohani defended Iran’s human-rights record, insisting there was “not one person in prison in Iran except when there is a judgment by a judge following a trial.”
Just like there are no gays in Iran, right?
Mr. Rohani is also the man who chaired Iran’s National Security Council between 1989 and 2005, meaning he was at the top table when Iran masterminded the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people, and of the Khobar Towers in 1996, killing 19 U.S. airmen. He would also have been intimately familiar with the secret construction of Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities in Arak, Natanz and Isfahan, which weren’t publicly exposed until 2002.
The West looks on this mullah differently because he seemed so reasonable during nuclear negotiations. Seemed:
Now the West is supposed to be grateful that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s scowling face will be replaced by Mr. Rohani’s smiling one—a bad-cop, good-cop routine that Iran has played before. Western concessions will no doubt follow if Mr. Rohani can convince his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, to play along. It shouldn’t be a hard sell: Iran is now just a head-fake away from becoming a nuclear state and Mr. Khamenei has shown he’s not averse to pragmatism when it suits him.
Iran will chair a United Nations conference on disarmament in Geneva this month, raising eyebrows from Western powers skeptical of Iran’s own nuclear ambitions.
The UN conference addresses not only nuclear proliferation but policies concerning the race to weaponize space, the production of radiological weapons and the stockpiling or use of other weapons of mass destruction.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the United States said it would withdraw ambassadorial representation at the conference in protest so long as Iran retained its chair. Calling Iran’s chairmanship “highly inappropriate,” the statement from the US mission to the UN noted that the Islamic Republic was under UN Chapter VII sanctions for weapons proliferation and human-rights abuses.
“While the presidency of the CD is largely ceremonial and involves no substantive responsibilities, allowing Iran–a country that is in flagrant violation of its obligations under multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and to the IAEA Board of Governors–to hold such a position runs counter to the goals and objectives of the Conference on Disarmament itself,” the statement read.
I won’t waste my breath railing against the UN. They do it so well themselves.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman gave his only on-camera interview about the change in his position on same-sex marriage to CNN’s Dana Bash on Thursday. He also discussed it with a few print reporters from Ohio and wrote an editorial explaining the change that appeared Friday in The Columbus Dispatch.
“I’m announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples’ opportunity to marry,” Portman told CNN.
It has to do with another revelation, one deeply personal. His 21-year-old son, Will, is gay.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay,” said Portman.
Will Portman told his father and mother he is gay two years ago, when he was a freshman at Yale University.
“My son came to Jane, my wife, and I, told us that he was gay, and that it was not a choice, and that it’s just part of who he is, and that’s who he’d been that way for as long as he could remember,” said Portman.
What was the Republican senator’s reaction?
“Love. Support,” responded Portman.
I guess I can see how this is news, even if (especially if) it’s personal. Certainly Portman treated it as news.
“I have been crystal clear about my position on Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. That is a red line for us. It is not only something that would be dangerous for Israel. It would be dangerous for the world,” Obama told CNN affiliate Israeli Channel 2 TV before a scheduled visit next week to the country.
“…I’ve also said there is a window — not an infinite period time, but a window of time — where we can resolve this diplomatically.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly called on Obama to establish a clear line that Iran cannot cross with its nuclear program, if it wants to avoid war.
Obama has resisted such a move, and Netanyahu has shown growing impatience with what he has previously called a lack of clarity by the Obama administration on articulating red lines over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
U.S. intelligence officials have said they do not believe Iran has decided to develop a nuclear weapon, even as evidence continues to mount that the country is improving its ability to do so.
When pushed during the interview to define those options, the president responded: “When I say all options are on the table, all options are on the table. The United States obviously has significant capabilities.”
Translation: we’re going to bomb the shiite out of you. Again, glad to hear it. Welcome to Planet Reality, sir.
But what took so long? Wasn’t it mere moths ago that Vice President Bite Me ridiculed the very idea of employing such “significant capabilities”?
The media has played the Obama administration tune all along. Keeping the truth of Benghazi under cover, leaving Biden’s misstatements and evasions unchallenged. Now, President Obama confesses that the sanctions have left Iran perhaps a year away from possessing a nuclear weapon.
Yet again, I’m glad Obama and Biden have swung around to the Bush/Cheney position in the war on terror: drones a-swarming, Gitmo open for business, extrajudicial executions, red lines on Iran. But if they had been a little more honest, and the media a little more responsible, we might have actually elected Republicans in 2008 and 2012, and not just Republican policies.
PS: Maybe this poll helped convince the president. Most polls do:
Americans’ sympathies for Israel matched an all time high according to a Gallup poll released Friday, just five days before US President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit Israel for the first time as president.
According to the poll, Americans’ sympathies lean heavily toward the Israelis over the Palestinians, 64 percent vs. 12%.
Republicans (78%) were much more likely to sympathize with Israel than Democrats (55%), according to the poll. Democratic support for Israel has increased by four percent since 2001, while Republican support for the Jewish state has jumped 18 percentage points in the same period.
The percentage of respondents favoring the Palestinians increases with formal education, ranging from 8% of those with no college experience to 20% of postgraduates.
“Palestinians receive the highest sympathy from Democrats, liberals, and postgraduates, but even among these, support tops off at 24%,” according to Gallup.
Iran is recruiting staff relentlessly to work on its nuclear program, is making steady progress in its uranium enrichment, and has constructed several facilities for nuclear testing outside Tehran whose precise location is known only to high-ranking officials, according to an Iranian source who said he was hired recently as a researcher at one of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In a telephone interview with this reporter, who has made several reporting trips to Iran in recent years, the source — who spoke on condition of anonymity — said it had been “very hectic” of late at the facility where he is employed. “More and more young graduates and people are brought in every day,” he said. “We have been working non-stop.”
The Iranian researcher said he was speaking because he wanted the outside world to know that, despite attacks on Iran’s top scientists and other pressures aimed at halting the nuclear program, “we are not afraid and we have continued to progress.”
[S]ources told Al-Manar that in the framework of arrangements for an Israeli strike against Iran, Israel has succeeded recently in reaching a series of agreements for regional security with the countries in the region that have a common border with Iran that would not only enable Israeli military forces to pass through these countries but to also, according to the secret agreements, use military bases specified in those countries as alternative bases for Israeli warplanes… in the event that Israel needs to secure bases outside its borders.
The sources add that these security agreements are an important achievement for Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who oversaw much of the communication with political leaders. Sources indicate that those countries that have responded to the demand of Israel share with Tel Aviv in its desire to get rid of the Iranian threat which threatens its stability.
Arab countries are looking to Israel over the United States to save their metaphorical bacon.
PS: How much you wanna bet Obama is going to count the Iranian nuclear workers as jobs “created” by his policies? He wouldn’t be wrong.
Our UN ambassador, last heard from selling the lie that Benghazi was a spontaneous response to an internet video on 5 Sunday shows, was simply too busy to honor the Prime Minister of Israel’s speech to the UN General Assembly with her attendance. This body language amplified Obama’s snub of Netanyahu when both men were at the UN, communicating a clear message to the mullahs in Tehran and the rest of the world: The US is backing away from its relationship to Israel. And after the election, Obama will have a lot more flexibility.
Good thing the president himself took the time to talk with Netanyahu about the most pressing issues of the day: nuclear proliferation and world war.
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone on Friday, the day after the Israeli leader publicly urged the international community to draw a “clear red line” with Iran over its suspected nuclear development program.
The White House released a statement on the president’s phone call shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Obama’s call with Netanyahu was more than 20 minutes, according to a senior administration official.
This couldn’t be better news… if it were reported. Obama spends about two golf holes of time (a par three and a par four) on Netanyahu, and his UN Ambassador chooses a turkey club on wheat toast over the Prime Minister’s speech. They’re practically daring American Jews not to vote for him.
The only person treated more shabbily was the Dalai Lama.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that his speech at the UN is now “reverberating” around the world, Netanyahu said Friday. Following their meeting, US President Barack Obama expressed solidarity on the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but stopped short of endorsing Netanyahu’s red line approach.
A spying device disguised as a rock at Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility blew up when it was discovered by Iranian security forces, Western intelligence officials told The Sunday Times.
The device, which was discovered last month but only reported on Sunday morning, was capable of collecting data from computers at the nuclear site, which is one of the country’s main enrichment facilities.
The device was happened upon by soldiers on patrol and its remains were examined by Iranian experts after it exploded, according to the Sunday Times.
A significant amount of information tracking Iran’s uranium enrichment activities could have been lost in the explosion, the British paper reported.
Except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews.
You’ll never take me alive, you persnickety Persians!