War watch: Israeli and U.S. officials discuss military strikes on Iran
This past week has seen an increased amount of war talk in both Israel and the U.S.  Shimon Peres joined in, saying, “the possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option.”  Yet, ex-Mossad chief Ephaim Halevy attacked the justification for such military attacks, saying that Iran is “far from posing an existential threat.”  In the U.S. former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice said that the U.S. needed to “be doing everything it can to bring [Iran] down.”  Former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh said that the U.S. is the only country that has the ability to effectively strike Iran’s nuclear program, and that Israel and Saudi Arabia would not live with a nuclear armed “suicidal theocracy” in the Middle East.  However, an article in International Security Journal points out, just like with the strike against the Osirak reactor in Iraq, attacking Iran’s nuclear program would likely increase proliferation risks not reduce them.
Much speculation regarding upcoming IAEA report
A Washington Post article reports that the soon-to-be-released IAEA report will present evidence that Iran has an active nuclear weapons development program.  Additionally, it is being claimed that Iran has built a large steel container that could be used to test nuclear explosions.  On the overall impact of the report, a western diplomat was quoted as saying that there is no “killer fact” or “smoking gun” that would prove that Iran is building nuclear weapons. (Washington Post 11/6) (Financial Times 11/6)
Standoff between Congress and Obama on Iranian Central Bank sanctions?
On Friday, Obama Administration officials signaled in the LA Times that they will not go forward with the so-called “nuclear option” of sanctions—sanctioning the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).  They say such sanctions could have a negative impact on international oil markets and international economies as a whole, and could fracture international unity against Iran.  Instead they say they are likely to focus on increasing sanctions enforcement through the UN and ramping up other sanctions.  (Los Angeles Times 11/4)
But earlier in the week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislationthat would impose a 30-day deadline for the President to impose CBI sanctions.  And in the Senate, Mark Kirk announced today that he will offer an amendment to the State Department funding bill this week that would force CBI sanctions.  Kirk and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to the President signed by over 90 Senators calling for CBI sanctions in August.
Other notable news stories:
Ron Paul warns that additional sanctions take us closer to war with Iran
Guardian op-ed: Why military strikes against Iran are a bad idea for Israel
Rothkopf Foreign Policy op-ed: How the world is misreading Obama on Iran
Beeman op-ed: Legislation would prevent diplomacy and limit president’s leverage with Iran

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