Netanyahu Blames Iran for Fatal Terrorist Attack in Bulgaria; Vows Retaliation
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for a fatal terror attack in Bulgaria, saying “Iran is responsible for the terror attack in Bulgaria, we will have a strong response against Iranian terror.”
Panetta: U.S. Would Hold Iran “Directly Responsible” for any Hormuz Disruption
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday of a potential Iranian obstruction to the Strait of Hormuz, “The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region, by Iran or for that matter by its surrogate.” He added, “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat, if they make a decision to do that” (Reuters 7/18).
IRGC Official: Sanctions Aimed at Fomenting Regime Change
A senior official of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Ali Ashraf Nouri, has said the U.S. sanctions strategy is designed to “break people’s tolerance threshold and force them [to take to the streets] like during the 2009 sedition” (Radio Free Liberty Radio Europe 7/17).
Iran Condemns Assassination of Syrian Defense Minister
In the wake of a bombing in Damascus that killed the Syrian defense minister and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law, the Iranian foreign ministry released a statement condemning the attacks and criticizing other countries for arming Syria’s rebellion (Reuters 7/18).
Chicken Shortages Ahead of Ramadan
The Islamic month of Ramadan begins this Saturday, but staples such as chicken and meat might be harder of come by. The “chicken crisis” and inflation has prompted Iranian police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam to criticize state television for showing people eating chicken, potentially raising class tensions (The Guardian 7/17).
Parliament Speaker Acknowledges Effects of Sanctions
Iranian press reports that Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani has acknowledged tightened sanctions are hurting Iran, saying that 20 percent of the country’s economic problems are due to sanctions (AP 7/17).
Human Rights Organizations Call for Iranian Activist’s Release
Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and its affiliate, the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LDDHI) have called on Iranian authorities to release 2009 British Press Awards International Journalist of the Year, Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, who is currently serving a 10-and-a-half year prison term for “acting against national security”. Kaboudvand, a human rights activist, has been on hunger strike since May (The Guardian 7/18).
Notable Opinion: “Iran and the Bomb”
Colin Kahl and Kenneth Waltz debate whether a nuclear-armed Iran would have stabilizing or destabilizing effect on the region in Foreign Affairs:
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Kahl: The threat from a nuclear-armed Iran might not be as grave as some suggest, but it would make an already volatile Middle East even more conflict-prone. Preventing Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold should therefore remain a top U.S. priority. Because a preventive military attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure could itself set off a series of unpredictable and destabilizing consequences, the best and most sustainable solution to Iran’s nuclear challenge is to seek a negotiated solution through a combination of economic pressure and diplomacy. It is possible to oppose a rush to war with Iran without arguing, as Waltz does, that a nuclear-armed Iran would make the world a better place.
Waltz responds: Kahl seems to accept that nuclear weapons create stability — or a form of stability, at least. But he notes — as do most scholars of nuclear matters, myself included — that nuclear stability permits lower-level violence. Taking advantage of the protection that their atomic arsenals provide, nuclear-armed states can feel freer to make minor incursions, deploy terrorism, and engage in generally annoying behavior. But the question is how significant these disruptive behaviors are compared with the peace and stability that nuclear weapons produce … [N]uclear weapons prevent minor conflicts from becoming major wars. Indeed, nuclear weapons are the only peace-promoting weapons that the world has ever known, and there is no reason to believe that things would be different if Iran acquired such arms.