Pro-Israel News

Date:
Friday, May 1, 2015

by TheTower.org Staff 

 

According to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday, sixty-five percent of Americans believe that any agreement with Iran should be subject to congressional approval—increasing the public pressure on the White House to ensure Congress’ role in any final agreement reached. The current bipartisan legislation before the Senate, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, also known as the Corker-Menendez bill, is set for debate in the Senate starting today. The bill provides Congress thirty days to review any final deal reached.

 

There has been ongoing bipartisan support in Congress for passing legislation that would provide a role for the legislature on any nuclear deal reached between the P5+1 global powers and Iran. Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-Md.) declared, “I have always supported Congressional review of any final agreement with Iran.” Following the understanding reached in Lausanne on April 2, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said, “I look forward to a full and frank discussion with the Administration on these issues and the questions the framework leaves open, specifically including the necessary role Congress must play going forward.”

 

President Barack Obama originally threatened to veto any legislation relating to the current negotiations with Iran. However, On April 14, the Senate Foreign Relations Committeeunanimously passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 after Corker and Cardin worked together to make changes to the original draft that would garner support from Republicans, Democrats and the White House. Following the committee vote, the White House signaled that the President would sign the legislation agreed to in committee. Following the announcement, Senator Bob Corker (R – Tenn.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “The reason the administration in the last two hours has chosen the path they’re now taking is the number of senators they realized were going to support this legislation.”

 

Date:
Thursday, April 30, 2015

After lawmakers vote against making nuclear accord a treaty, US president warns against interfering legislation

 
BY AP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF April 30, 2015, 2:18 am| The Times of Israel| 

 

US President Barack Obama plans to veto any legislation that would depart from a deal between the White House and US lawmakers over Congress’ role in the Iranian nuclear negotiations, an administration official said Wednesday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also said Obama also would not support any bill that would interfere with the negotiations between Iran, the US and other world powers over its nuclear program, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Senate turned back an attempt to elevate any nuclear deal with Iran into a treaty, a vote that gave momentum to lawmakers trying to pass a bill giving Congress a chance to review and possibly reject any agreement with Tehran.

The amendment, filed by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, failed 39 to 57.

Supporters want the bill passed free of controversial add-ons they claim could scuttle negotiations with Tehran, draw a presidential veto or leave lawmakers with no say on a national security threat.

 

As written, the legislation would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers weigh in on any final deal the US and five other nations can reach with Iran. And it would stipulate that if senators disapprove the deal, Obama would lose authority to waive certain economic penalties — an event that would certainly prompt a presidential veto.

The bill has gained tacit approval from Obama. He says he will sign it as written, but the White House warns that he will reconsider if the measure is substantially changed. Sen. Bob Corker, a lead sponsor of the bill and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the measure in its current form, has 67 backers, enough to override a presidential veto.

Corker and his supporters are trying to bat down more than 50 amendments have been introduced so far — all by Republicans.

 

Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid warned Republican presidential hopefuls in the Senate not to use it as a “platform for their political ambitions.” He said the full Senate should pass the bill with the same bipartisanship that occurred in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which unanimously approved the measure 19-0.

The alternative to the bill is not a better bill, he said, “it is a deal without any meaningful congressional input.”

 

Johnson’s failed amendment would have turned any final nuclear agreement with Tehran into a treaty, requiring ratification by two-thirds of the Senate.

The amendment failed just hours after former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was national security adviser under President George W. Bush, said any Iran nuclear deal is an executive agreement that doesn’t need to be a treaty. “The proposed Iranian nuclear agreement is classically an executive agreement and doesn’t need to be a treaty with advice and consent of the Senate,” she said. “But Congress should be able to opine, given that congressionally mandated sanctions would have to be lifted.”

Date:
Wednesday, April 29, 2015

 

APRIL 27, 2015 2:51 PM | By ELIEZER SHERMAN| The algemeiner| 

 

Americans believe by an overwhelming majority that U.S. President Barack Obama should be a better friend to Israel, a poll of voters by Quinnipiac Universityrevealed on Monday.

When asked, “Do you think the President of the United States should be a stronger supporter of Israel or not,” 67% said yes. Twenty percent replied no, and 13% said they were undecided.

But, only 38% of respondents said they felt Obama actually was a strong supporter of Israel. Forty-eight percent said he was not, while 15% said they did not know.

 

The divide was clear along party lines, as 83% of Republicans said they felt Obama was not a strong supporter of the Jewish state, while 65% of Democrats said they felt he was.

Voters aged 55 and up were also less likely to believe Obama was a strong Israel supporter, with 56% saying no.

The poll also showed that most people disapproved of Obama’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian “situation.”

Near the start of Obama’s second term, Secretary of State John Kerry launched a nine-month push in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which were ultimately followed by a 50-day war between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip last summer.

 

Only 31% of voters approved of Obama’s handling of the situation, while 55% disapproved. Among nine categories of voters, only Democrats (59%) approved by a majority the way the Obama administration has dealt with the conflict.

And on Iran, the numbers were quite similar, with 52% of voters disapproving of the way Obama has handled negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

But despite disapproval of Obama’s handling of Iran, 58% said they supported the recent framework agreement that was announced by the negotiators in Switzerland, in which sanctions would be lifted in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program. More than a third of Republican voters even supported a deal in that language.

This perhaps reflects the 77% of voters that supported a negotiated settlement to the Iranian issue over military intervention (13%).

The most recent Gallup poll put Obama’s overall approval rating at 48%.

Date:
Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Lawmakers work out proposed legislation that would require approval for nuclear agreement


BY DEB RIECHMANN April 28, 2015, 3:15 pm | The Times of Israel| 

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate begins debate Tuesday over legislation empowering Congress to review and possibly reject any nuclear pact the Obama administration develops with Iran.

The bill approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has gained the tacit approval of Obama, and proponents are trying to discourage any changes. They recognize that politically driven amendments could undermine Democratic support and sink the carefully crafted measure.

The legislation would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers weigh in. And it would stipulate that if senators disapprove the deal, Obama would lose authority to waive certain economic penalties — an event that would certainly prompt a presidential veto.

 

Among proposed additions to the bill are demands that Iran release any US citizens it is holding and refrain from any cooperation with nuclear-armed North Korea. Another insists that any agreement be treated as an international treaty, requiring two-thirds ratification by the Senate.

Another set of amendments would block any sanctions relief for Iran until it meets goals the US set years ago as negotiating stances and has long since abandoned.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Monday in New York for the first time since April 2, when world powers and Iran sealed a framework agreement. They now have little more than two months to meet their own June 30 deadline for a comprehensive accord.

 

Neither man spoke to reporters as the meeting got underway, but earlier Kerry told a UN conference on nuclear non-proliferation that a deal would make the world a safer place. “I want you to know the hard work is far from over and some key issues remain unresolved,” he said. “But we are, in fact, closer than ever to the good comprehensive deal that we have been seeking. And if we can get there, the entire world will be safer.”

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates are lining up to oppose any deal with a government the US considers the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and to show their support for Israel.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wants to require Iran’s leaders to publicly accept Israel’s right to exist, a nearly impossible mandate. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas hopes to put the onus on advocates to win congressional approval of a deal, and not on opponents to gather enough votes for rejection

Date:
Monday, April 27, 2015


After 20 years, Israeli delegation will attend UN conference to encourage negotiations with ‘moderate countries,’ official says


 
BY JUDAH ARI GROSS April 26, 2015, 7:36 pm | The Times of Israel| 
 
Israel will attend, as an observer, a nuclear non-proliferation conference at the United Nations for the first time in 20 years, an Israeli official said according to a Sunday report.

 

After a two-decade absence at summits of this type, Israel hopes that its appearance Monday — even in a limited capacity — will signal to Arab states a desire for dialogue, Reuters reported.

“We think that this is the time for all moderate countries to sit and discuss the problems that everyone is facing in the region,” an Israeli official, who requested anonymity, told the news outlet Sunday.

 

Israel is one of the few remaining non-signatories to the NPT, and holds a large nuclear arsenal, according to foreign media reports. It has chafed at efforts over recent years from Arab states and some European countries to push it into signing the treaty and opening up its nuclear holdings.

Israel began protesting in 1995 after a number of resolutions were directed against it, including an Egyptian resolution that called on Israel to sign the NPT out of “deep concern at the continued existence in the Middle East of unsafeguarded Israeli nuclear facilities.”

But Israel has grown closer to Egypt and other Arab states in the past few years with the rise of mutual enemies — notably, Hamas and Iran.

“I see this, coming as an observer to the conference now, as trying to demonstrate our good faith in terms of having such a conversation,” the official went on. “We need direct negotiations between the regional parties, a regional security conversation, a conversation based on consensus. This (attendance at the NPT conference) is meant not to change our policy. It’s meant to emphasize our policy.”

 

Saudi Arabia has quietly lobbied against Iranian nuclear plans, as have other Sunni Arab countries, concerned about the Shiite country’s ambitions.

Israel, according to the senior official, hopes the summit, which will last from April 27 to May 22, will be an opportunity to find common ground with those countries.

The review of the 1970 treaty takes place every five years.

Egypt, which introduced the 1995 resolution that targeted Israel specifically, is now adopting a gentler tone, possibly due to the two countries’ increased military cooperation in fighting Hamas.

“Our initiative for a Middle East free of nonconventional weapons is a principle,” an Egyptian official told Reuters on condition on anonymity. “It will not change. But nothing is against Israel itself. It’s for everyone — Iran, Israel, everyone.”

Date:
Friday, April 24, 2015

 


Fox News survey finds 51% believe Obama administration ‘too soft’ on Tehran; over 60% say US fight against Islamic extremism going badly


BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF April 24, 2015, 5:51 pm 

 

Majority of Americans disapprove of US President Barack Obama’s handling of the Iranian nuclear issue and his administration’s approach to combating terrorism, a new poll has found.

According to a survey released by Fox News on Friday, 57 percent of those polled said they were unhappy with “the job Barack Obama was doing” on Iran, compared to 32% who approved and 11% who did not know. Some 65% said they felt Iran posed a real security threat to the United States.

 

Fifty one percent of respondents said the Obama administration was “too soft” on Iran in negotiations to curb its nuclear program, while 34% believed it was “striking the right balance.”

Similarly, of those polled, 50% said negotiating with Iran was the “wrong thing” to do “because Iran can’t be trusted to honor any agreement so a deal won’t stop them from getting nukes.” Forty percent felt negotiating with Tehran was the right thing to do; 10% did not know or had mixed answers.

On terrorism, 53% said they disapproved of the US was handling the issue, 40% approved and 7% said they did not know.

Over 60% of respondents believed the US fight against Islamic extremists was going “very badly” or somewhat badly” and 81% said the the terror group the Islamic State posed a real threat to US national security.

Among issues respondents said were the most important for Congress to work on was the economy and jobs, at 29%, and terrorism at 14%; Iran did not feature on the list.

The poll was conducted among 1,012 respondents and had a margin of error of 3%.

Of the respondents, 42% said they voted Democrat, 38% Republicans, 17% independent while 3% refused to say or did not know.

Iran and the US-led P5+1 world powers were set to negotiate a final accord by a June 30 deadline, having reached what has been described as a “historic” political framework for a potential deal earlier this month in Lausanne, Switzerland. The framework has been highly controversial and has exposed differing interpretations about what the deal would entail, including on restrictions on centrifuges, R&D, inspections and the lifting of sanctions. There have also been contradictory statements by the US and Iran on the initial agreement, which is not a signed text.

Under the deal, Iran is expected to curb its enrichment activities while leaving some 6,000 centrifuges — about 1/3rd of its current stock — spinning, and open itself up to a strict international monitoring regime.

Iran has repeatedly stonewalled the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring agency from fully investigating the scope of its nuclear ambitions.

Date:
Thursday, April 23, 2015

BY JUDAH ARI GROSS April 23, 2015, 11:48 am The Times of Israel| 

 

After a night of fireworks and celebrations, Israelis joined Independence Day festivities around the country Thursday, despite the unseasonably cold temperatures.

 

At the President’s Residence, an official ceremony decorating 120 IDF soldiers took place, and Israelis were gazing heavenwards to watch the air force’s traditional acrobatics across the skies.

Many were flocking to Israel’s beaches and parks to hold barbecues and picnics with friends and family, a tradition in Israel, although rain was falling intermittently in most of the country.

The rain fell for the second year in a row on Independence Day. According to the Israel Meteorological Service, snow fell on Mount Hermon and the surrounding area in the Golan Heights Thursday morning for the first time on Yom Ha’atzmaut in 25 years. Clouds covered parts of the country, including Jerusalem, which saw a chilly 54 degrees Fahrenheit. The coast, however, may be spared the rain.

In addition to the fun, informal outdoor gatherings, Yom Ha’atzmaut is also a day of official ceremonies and events.

 

At 11:00 a.m. the International Bible Contest kicked off. The annual competition pits the 16 bible scholars who qualified against one another to see who knows the Good Book best.

This year’s winner of the youth competition is 15-year-old Eyal Matas of Rehovot. Sixty-seven competitors from 33 countries entered the annual contest, which began earlier this week. That number was whittled down to 16 finalists who competed on Independence Day.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin jokes with soldiers as he inspects the ranks during a ceremony for outstanding servicemen as part of Israel’s 67th Independence Day celebrations on April 23, 2015 at the President’s residence in Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Miriam Alster / Flash90)

At the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, 120 IDF soldiers were recognized by President Reuven Rivlin for their distinguished service and will receive a university scholarship from the Friends of the IDF organization. The recipients are generally soldiers who have overcome hardship and adversity. Many of them are new immigrants who moved to Israel without their families.

The annual ceremony, attended by the president, prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief of staff, features performances by famous singers and soldiers from the army’s various bands.

“It is our responsibility — and truly our privilege — to give of ourselves,” Lt. Omri Gannem a Druze commander in the Nahal Infantry Brigade said in his speech on behalf of the recipients.

 

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot applauded the soldiers’ parents. “To the families: the education you have provided gave these distinguished soldiers the tools they needed to make it here,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the ceremony retained some of the solemnity of Wednesday’s Memorial Day. Looking at the young soldiers, the prime minister discussed the cost of military actions and his responsibility to minimize it. “When I make a decision with the defense minister and the chief of staff,” Netanyahu said, I must ensure “that the cost will be minimal, because every one of you is dear to us.”

“We do not forget anyone — not Hadar Goldin and not Oron Shaul who was here a year ago as an outstanding soldier,” the prime minister said, talking about two soldiers who died in this summer’s conflict in Gaza, one of which received the president’s award last year.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. Israeli Air Force planes took off from southern Israel, making their way around the country in their annual Independence Day flyover. The planes flew past Beersheba at 10:40 a.m. and continue on, making it to Jerusalem at 11:04 a.m., Tel Aviv at 11:24 a.m. and up to Haifa at 11:53 a.m.

 

In addition to the flyover, the air force’s aerial acrobatics team appeared in the skies over the northern air base of Ramat David at 9:40 a.m. Thursday morning and headed to Tel Aviv at 12:10 a.m., the Air Force Museum outside of Beersheba at 1:35 p.m. and above Jerusalem at 2:00 p.m.

Additional planes were flying past Tel Aviv’s famous beaches throughout the early afternoon.

Military buffs and families with small children flocked to army bases across the country for Independence day, as the IDF opened its gates for demonstrations and to show civilians what their sons and daughters do in their military service.

Additionally, most Israeli museums and cultural attractions, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, offered free admission on Thursday, allowing citizens a chance to appreciate the country’s rich history.

Finally, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening the day’s events were set to come to a close with the Israel Prize ceremony. Chaim Topol, Esther Herlitz, Erez Biton and others will receive one of the nation’s top honors for their work.

Date:
Wednesday, April 22, 2015


At ceremonies commemorating IDF fallen and terror victims, Netanyahu speaks of Israel’s strength and insists all Israelis ‘are one family’


BY JUDAH ARI GROSS April 22, 2015, 12:27 pm The Times of Israel| 

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the central memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers at the Mount Herzl military cemetery Wednesday, recognizing the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the State of Israel and urging Israelis to appreciate the meaning of that loss.

 

“Our enemies must know they will not break us,” the prime minister said, quoting a widow who spoke Tuesday in the Knesset’s memorial ceremony.

 

Netanyahu, who was heavily criticized for his statements about Arab voters during last month’s elections, stressed the importance of unity on Memorial Day. “We are one family: Jews and our non-Jewish brothers — Druze, Muslims, Bedouins, Christians, Circassians,” he said.

The prime minister also spoke out against war. “Anyone who has experienced the anguish of bereavement is not eager to go to battle,” he said, mirroring comments the previous day made by President Reuven Rivlin.

“Our sons did not go to battle thirsty for blood,” Rivlin said at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Tuesday night. “Not this past summer, not those before, not in those that, God forbid, are still to come. We are forced to fight.”

“We express our gratitude for everything we have earned,” the prime minister said Wednesday, “for the wonder of our sovereignty, the gift of freedom, the miracle of our renewal.”

The official state ceremony commemorating victims of terror attacks began at 1 p.m. at the Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial on Mount Herzl. Rivlin, Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot were in attendance.

 

There the prime minister lamented what he called the celebration of terrorist acts.

“Many of our neighbors glorify murderers and carry them on their shoulders,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony. “The more they murder, the more they glorify them.”

But, Netanyahu said, “The memory of those killed in terror attacks will be with us forever.”

Earlier Wednesday, a two-minute siren sounded at 11 a.m. throughout the country, bringing the nation to a momentary halt as Israelis stopped where they were and stood silent in remembrance of the dead.

The traditional memorial siren brings highways to a standstill and businesses to a momentary pause in a country where nearly everyone knows one of the 23,320 soldiers who fell in Israel’s wars and terror attacks.

 

Across Israel, families and friends of fallen soldiers flocked to military cemeteries Wednesday to commemorate Memorial Day — Yom Hazikaron in Hebrew — for the 67th time.

More than 3,000 members of the youth group Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed will hand out some 100,000 wreaths to the families of fallen soldiers at the entrances to military cemeteries nationwide.

The central memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers began at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem at 10:30 a.m., attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Eisenkot, as well as other senior IDF officers and politicians.

The IDF’s main ceremony began in the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in northern Tel Aviv, also at 10:30 a.m.

The army provided The Times of Israel on Wednesday with a breakdown of the deaths of the 100 soldiers who died since last Memorial Day. The majority, 67, fell during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza during the summer. Two others were killed in a Hezbollah ambush near the northern border and one more in a terror attack in Tel Aviv.

 

Seven were killed in car accidents — either on base or on leave — and two more in what the army termed “other accidents,” perhaps referring to training accidents. One more soldier was killed in an “operational accident.”

Finally, 14 soldiers died in circumstances classified as “suspicion of suicide,” and six more from disease and sickness.

An additional 16 people were killed in the service of other security services or were civilians slain in terror attacks, the army said.

Some roads were closed Wednesday to allow for foot traffic in the areas surrounding military cemeteries. Jerusalem’s Herzl Boulevard was closed from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Shmuel Bait Road was closed from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Yad Sarah offers free rides for disabled family members of the fallen to the military cemeteries at Jerusalem’s Har Herzl, Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul, Haifa and Beersheba. To order a ride on a special handicapped-accessible vehicle, family members can call *6444 from any cellular service.

 

Trains nationwide provide free transportation to military cemeteries, and bereaved families can ride at half cost to other locations.

In Jerusalem, President Reuven Rivlin opened Israel’s national Memorial Day ceremony Tuesday night at the Western Wall with a plea for Israelis to fight for the country’s character, not just its survival.

Speaking moments after the traditional minute-long siren brought the country to a standstill, the president urged Israelis to consider the meaning of the sacrifice of the nation’s 23,320 fallen, calling on all Israelis to honor their memory by fighting for the “essence and idea for which the State of Israel was established.”

Rivlin said, “The deaths of those who died defending our home force us to deepen our commitment to building that home as a more just home, a more compassionate home, a home where not only those who have fallen, but all those within it are equal.

Date:
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
By Jim Synder | Bloomberg Politics| Apr 20, 2015 10:14 AM EDT 

 

Nuclear inspectors will need unfettered access in Iran as part of a deal to lift economic sanctions, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said a day after an Iranian general said military sites must be off limits.

“We expect to have anywhere, anytime access,” Moniz, a nuclear physicist who negotiated the technical details of a framework nuclear accord, said Monday in a meeting with editors and reporters at Bloomberg’s Washington office.

Inspections of Iran’s military sites under the proposed long-term agreement wouldn’t be “frivolous;” they would be part of “a well-defined process,” he said. United Nations inspectors would need access to any location if they had well-founded suspicions of covert “out-of-bounds activities.”

 

On Sunday, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, said “they will not even be permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams,” according to the state-run Press TV.

The U.S. and five other world powers on April 2 in Switzerland announced a framework for an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. The negotiators have set a June 30 deadline to reach a final deal.

 

Inspectors’ Access

Access for UN inspectors is one of the biggest hurdles to a final deal designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said inspectors would be barred from certain military facilities.

In response to Moniz’s comments, the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said Iran hasn’t agreed to “anywhere, anytime” inspections, saying “negotiations are continuing,” the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.

The other major obstacle to a deal is agreement over the pace of sanctions relief. Iran wants oil and financial sanctions lifted immediately upon signing a deal, while the U.S. and its partners have said Iran first needs to scale back its nuclear program -- a process that Moniz predicted would take six months to complete -- before sanctions will be eased.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest signaled a possible compromise Monday, saying sanctions relief can come after “Iran has begun taking the tangible, measurable, verifiable steps that they commit to.” Until now, U.S. officials have insisted Iran will have to complete -- rather than simply begin -- limiting its nuclear activities before sanctions relief will begin.

 

‘Creative Negotiation’

Earnest said there will be no lifting of sanctions before actions are taken by Iran. On Friday, President Barack Obama said getting agreement over sanctions relief will require “creative negotiations” on the part of Secretary of State John Kerry and his team, including Moniz.

In his interview, Moniz said he thought it would take Iran at least six months to meet the terms of a deal sufficient to warrant relief from the sanctions. Those terms include reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium to 300 kilograms from 10,000 kilograms and cutting the number of centrifuges.

“I would say six months or so, to me, looks to be about perhaps the minimum that will be required to execute all those steps,” so that inspectors can verify Iran’s compliance before sanctions relief is given, Moniz said on Bloomberg Television. “Iran may be able to pick up the pace and lower that somewhat.”

“Sanctions timing and access are going to be the two issues that have to be resolved appropriately,” Moniz said. “And if not appropriately, I don’t see how we can go forward.”

 

Oil Exports

Moniz also discussed calls from lawmakers to permit U.S. oil exports, which have largely been banned since the Arab oil embargo 40 years ago.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican and the chairman of the Senate energy committee, said last week the restrictions were inappropriate given the increase in U.S. oil production, and the prospect Iran would be able to sell its oil on world markets if a nuclear deal is struck.

Moniz said the administration was reviewing the policy, but he noted that the U.S. is still “a very large” importer of oil, unlike Iran.

“I think that perspective has to be retained in this discussion,” he said.

A potential swap of light sweet crude from the U.S. with heavier crude from Mexico, now under review by the U.S. Commerce Department, was an “interesting possibility,” as an interim step, Moniz said. U.S. producers have said U.S. production may outstrip the ability of refiners to process the oil, creating a glut that would discourage more drilling and lead to additional job losses for the industry.

Moniz said U.S. refiners are modifying their facilities to process greater amounts of the light crude produced in places like North Dakota’s Bakken field and Texas’s Eagle Ford formation.

Date:
Monday, April 20, 2015

Khamenei tells army to be on alert after American warning of possible strike on nuclear facilities, calls US and Israel gravest threat to the world

BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND AFP April 19, 2015, 5:49 pm | The Times of Israel|

 

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the country’s armed forces Sunday to increase their “defensive preparedness,” hitting out at a US warning of possible military action. He also reportedly called the US and Israel the most serious threat to the world.

Khamenei told commanders and troops in a speech that Iran “will never accept such silly remarks,” a jab at General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, though he did not name him. Dempsey said Thursday that should ongoing diplomacy with Iran fail, “the military option… to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon is intact.”

 

The United States has long said targeted bombing of Iran’s nuclear sites and other key facilities may be needed if Tehran — which denies seeking the bomb, though the IAEA and UN Security Council have disagreed — does not rein in its atomic activities. “All bodies from the ministry of defense to the army and the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) should increase their military and defensive preparedness.

 

This should be regarded as an official directive,” Khamenei said. His response comes after Iran and six world powers led by the US agreed on April 2 on the key parameters of a nuclear deal, the hard details of which are due to be agreed by the end of June. “After a period of silence by the other side, one of its officials has once again recently talked of ‘options on the table’,” Khamenei said.

“On the one hand they bluff, and on the other hand, they say the Islamic Republic of Iran should halt its defensive progress, which is a silly remark. Iran will never accept such silly remarks and the nation has proved that if it is attacked, it will defend itself quite powerfully. It will stand united and like a strong fist against illogical aggressors.” In remarks translated by Iran’s Fars News, Khamenei blasted what he reportedly called the puppet regimes of the US and Europe for media hype and allegations that Iran sought to acquire nuclear weapons.

 

“Today, the most vital threat posed to the world and the region is the US and the Zionist regime which meddle (with other nations’ affairs) and kill people anywhere they deem to be necessary, without any control or commitment to conscience or religious principles,” Fars quoted Khamenei saying.

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