Netanyahu Challenges Credibility of US Threat Against Iran
Speaking next to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned, “Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program.”  Panetta responded by reiterating that “If they make the decision to proceed with a nuclear weapon…we have options that we are prepared to implement to ensure that that does not happen,” (Reuters 8/1).
Beijing “Furious” Over Sanctions on Chinese Bank
Beijing has reacted furiously to new US sanctions imposed on a Chinese bank, Bank of Kunlun, over transactions with Iran, and urged the US to revoke the “groundless” sanctions, saying the sanctions violated “norms of international relations” (AP 8/1).
Iran, OPEC Oil Production Falls
OPEC oil production fell 1.2 percent in the last month, as Iranian production decreased 300,000 barrels from June to 2.86 million bpd (Bloomberg 7/31).
Russia Attempts to Block Iran from Caspian Sea Port
Russia is taking action to block companies controlled by Iran from acquiring the strategic Astrakhan port on the Caspian Sea, which both Russia and Iran border. Russia alleges that Iran’s access to the sea port would violate sanctions, and Russia was successful in blocking Iran’s acquisition of the strategically significant port two years ago (Bloomberg 7/31).
Iran Allows Taliban to Open Office in Eastern Iran
Iran has recently allowed the Taliban, its historical foe, to open an office in the eastern Iranian city of Zahedan. According to a U.S. official, Iran views providing insurgents in Afghanistan with surface to air missiles as a potential contingency option should the U.S. attack Iran’s nuclear facilities (Wall Street Journal 7/31).
Former Intelligence Officers Call for US-Iran Crisis “Hot-Line”
Eleven former US intelligence officials have proposed the adoption of a “hot line” between the US and Iran for communication in the event of a crisis. The officials urge the adoption of such a measure in a letter to the President , referencing the merit of the US-USSR hotline during the Cold War (Consortium News 7/31).
US State Department Expresses Concern About Camp Ashraf

The US State department  deputy spokesperson, Patrick Ventrell, released a press statement today voicing concern regarding the Iraqi government’s reference yesterday to the involuntary relocation of Mujahideen-e Khalq, or M.E.K., members remaining at Camp Ashraf (US State Department 8/1).
Azerbaijan Excludes Iran from Pipeline to Europe
Azerbaijan has announced it will exclude Naftiran Intertrade Co. (NICO) from a pipeline project to Europe from the Caspian region.  Vaqif Aliyev, head of State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan’s investments department commented , “Nico’s participation in the Trans-Anatolia pipeline or other pipelines is not being considered,” (Bloomberg 8/1).
State Department Terror Report Describes Growing Iranian Threat
The newly released annual State Department terrorism report for 2011 reveals increased concern regarding the growing terrorist threat of Iran as well as the emerging threat of the al Qaeda presence in Syria. Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism chief said, “We are increasingly concerned about Iran’s support for terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities” (WSJ 7/31).
Iran Denies AC/DC Cyber Attack
Iran has denied that its nuclear facilities suffered a cyber attack that led to computers being shut down and playing AC/DC music, reports Iranian news sources (Bloomberg 8/1).
Notable Opinion: “Searching for yet Another Alternative to War with Iran”
Farideh Farhi discusses Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s recent letter to Secretary Clinton, urging her to support a Azeri separatists within Iran:

What is most troubling, though, is the desire – you can also call it a dream or an urge – to harm contemporary Iran in any way possible and without any concern for implications. Rohrabacher’s letter was apparently prompted by recent news stories concerning a budding military cooperation between Israel and the Azerbaijan Republic.
“It would be wise for the United States to encourage such cooperation, as the aggressive dictatorship in Tehran is our enemy as well as theirs,” writes Rohrabacher. “The people of Azerbaijan are geographically divided and many are calling for the reunification of their homeland after nearly two centuries of foreign rule.”
Let’s decode this. In a single sentence, a people and a territory are joined and the separation of one territory from a country so that it can be joined to another country is made simple. Given the desire to pose a danger that is even “greater than…bombing its underground nuclear research bunkers,” there seems to be no need to contemplate the fact that millions of Iranian Azeris live outside of the four Iranian provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardebil, and Zanjan wherein Azeris are prominent, and a large percentage of the population in West Azerbaijan are Kurds and not Azeris. These are apparently irrelevant facts for Rohrabracher and most of the Iran-obsessed US politicians who also cannot be bothered with inconvenient details.


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