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Israeli Defense Minister publicly divulges US intelligence report
Iran Syria talks seen short on action
Standard Chartered begins fightback on Iran allegations
Flame and Stuxnet Cousin Targets Lebanese Bank Customers, Carries Mysterious Payload
Iran says abrupt Assad fall would be “catastrophic”
Gulf Nations Aim to Secure Water, Food Supply
U.S. Navy Rescues 10 From Iranian Ship on Fire
Pakistan, Iran agree wheat price in barter deal
Turkey Warns Iran: ‘You Cannot Threaten Us’
Tehran denies kidnapped Iranians killed in Syria
Egypt’s president holds talks with Iran’s vice president
MTN in Talks With U.S. to Unlock Iran Earnings
Notable Opinion: Sanctions Will Kill Tens of Thousands of Iranians

 
Al-Monitor: “Israeli Defense Minister publicly divulges US intelligence report
Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that there is “apparently a report by American intelligence agencies – I don’t know if it’s under the title NIE or under another title – which is making the rounds of high offices,” in Washington, CBS News reported. “As far as we know, it comes very close to our own estimate, I would say, as opposed to earlier American estimates,” Barak continued. “It transforms the Iranian situation to an even more urgent one and it is even less likely that we will know every development in time on the Iranian nuclear program.” Generally, foreign leaders don’t publicly disclose allied nations’ classified intelligence reports in such a provocative manner, intelligence experts said.
Reuters: “Iran Syria talks seen short on action
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on Thursday for “serious and inclusive” talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups, opening a meeting of friendly nations hosted by Tehran as it seeks to expand its influence over the conflict. Twenty-eight nations were present at the hastily convened conference in Tehran which was attended by few high-profile figures, and significantly none of them back the Syrian opposition or have called for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. With most countries participating at ambassadorial level and the absence of Western and many regional nations, analysts do not expect any firm plan to address the violence will emerge.
Reuters: “Standard Chartered begins fightback on Iran allegations
Standard Chartered’s Sands, in his first public comments since the crisis arose, offered no major new information on the allegations, which the bank has been reviewing with authorities for the past two years. “(We) fundamentally reject the overall picture and believe there are no grounds for them to take this action,” he told reporters. The threat to cancel the bank’s license to operate in New York would be “wholly disproportionate,” he said.
Wired: “Flame and Stuxnet Cousin Targets Lebanese Bank Customers, Carries Mysterious Payload
A newly uncovered espionage tool, apparently designed by the same people behind the state-sponsored Flame malware that infiltrated machines in Iran, has been found infecting systems in other countries in the Middle East, according to researchers. The malware, which steals system information but also has a mysterious payload that could be destructive, has been found infecting at least 2,500 machines, most of them in Lebanon, according to Russia-based security firm Kaspersky Lab, which discovered the malware in June and published an extensive analysis of it on Thursday. The spyware, dubbed Gauss after a name found in one of its main files, also has a module that targets bank accounts in order to capture login credentials.
Reuters: “Iran says abrupt Assad fall would be “catastrophic”
Iran said an abrupt end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad would have catastrophic consequences for his country, as Tehran pushed ahead with a diplomatic meeting of allies it says is the best way of resolving the intensifying conflict in Syria. Nations with “a correct and realistic position” would attend a meeting on Thursday in Tehran to discuss the conflict, a senior Iranian diplomat said this week, indicating that no nation that backs the opposition and calls for Assad to leave power would be present.
“The Islamic Republic’s support for Assad’s regime is hardly compatible with a genuine attempt at conciliation between the parties,” said one Western diplomat based in Tehran.
Wall Street Journal: “Gulf Nations Aim to Secure Water, Food Supply
Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz has triggered alarm about the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf, but for the arid, oil-rich countries in the region it poses another uncomfortable question: For how long can they feed their people if the strategic waterway is blocked? Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are among the world’s richest countries, but as much as 90% of food needs for these mostly desert nations is brought in from abroad, according to the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank.
ABC News: “U.S. Navy Rescues 10 From Iranian Ship on Fire
A U.S. Navy destroyer has rescued 10 sailors from an Iranian-flagged vessel that was on fire in the Gulf of Oman. The guided missile destroyer USS James E. Williams came upon the Iranian-flagged dhow as it was on fire Wednesday night. The 10 on board were picked up out of the water by the crew of the destroyer. A Defense official says eight of the 10 are Iranian; the other two are Pakistanis.
Reuters: “Pakistan, Iran agree wheat price in barter deal
Pakistan has agreed a price for 1 million tonnes of wheat it will export to Iran in a barter deal, a senior Pakistani official involved in the negotiations said on Thursday. The deal, first proposed in March with Iran exporting fertiliser and iron ore to Pakistan in exchange for wheat, has been deadlocked for months over price and quality. Iran’s attempts to secure millions of tonnes of wheat through barter deals with Pakistan and India, avoiding Western sanctions aimed at deterring its nuclear programme, have faltered.
Al-Monitor: “Turkey Warns Iran: ‘You Cannot Threaten Us’
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salihi came to Ankara yesterday to ask for help in freeing 48 Iranian pilgrims abducted in Syria, but was shocked by what he heard. As soon as Salihi landed in Ankara he was given the Turkish reaction to Iran’s incessant statements. In their three-hour meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Salihi that statements of Iranian officials accusing Turkey of being responsible for what is happening in Syria were not acceptable. Davutoglu was not satisfied by the Iranian minister’s explanation and gave this message: “Nobody can threaten Turkey. We have been neighbors for so long. Don’t test us.”
Reuters: “Tehran denies kidnapped Iranians killed in Syria
All the Iranians kidnapped by Syrian rebels last week are alive and well, an Iranian foreign ministry official said, contrary to statements by rebels holding them that three of the captives had been killed in an air attack. “Contacts we have made to get information about the fate of the kidnapped pilgrims indicate that all of them are in sound health and there is no indication that some of them were martyred,” Mojtaba Ferdowsipour, head of the Iranian foreign ministry’s Middle East office, told Iran’s Al-Alam television, Fars News Agency reported on Wednesday.
Los Angeles Times: “Egypt’s president holds talks with Iran’s vice president
Signaling a new era in Egypt’s diplomacy, President Mohamed Morsi met with Iran’s vice president Wednesday in the highest-level official contact between the two strategic nations in decades. The brief meeting in the Egyptian capital did not produce any breakthroughs, but it was symbolic. Formal relations between the two countries were broken after the Iranian Revolution and Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
 
Notable Opinion: “Sanctions Will Kill Tens of Thousands of Iranians” – AntiWar.com
Muhammad Sahimi discusses why the effects of sanctions on ordinary Iranians are being ignored:

Since these banks open lines of credit for exports and imports and provide financial guarantees for commerce with the outside world, it has become very difficult, if not impossible, to import vital good and products into the country. An area that has been particularly hit hard is the pharmaceutical sector. Although Iran produces a large part of the medications and drugs that its population needs, based on the generic versions of brand-name pharmaceuticals, it is unable to produce the most advanced drugs that have come to the market over the past 10–15 years that deal with a variety of illnesses and medical problems, simply because their generic versions are not yet available. As a result, Iran must still import a significant amount of drugs every year to deal with illnesses such as leukemia and AIDS. But the sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Iran’s banks and other financial institutions have made importing necessary drugs and medical instruments almost impossible.

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