Aide Says Romney Would Endorse Israeli Strike
Speaking in Jerusalem, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capability is America’s “solemn duty and a moral imperative”. Romney’s aide, Dan Senor, previewed the speech for reporters, saying that “if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision.” However, Romney apparently stepping back from his aide’s comment, saying only “We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself,” (Huffington Post 7/29).
Senor, the aide, also endorsed a lower threshold for attacking Iran, saying:
It is not enough just to stop Iran from developing a nuclear program. The capability, even if that capability is short of weaponization, is a pathway to weaponization, and the capability gives Iran the power it needs to wreak havoc in the region and around the world.
(Think Progress 7/29)
Israeli Official Denies Obama Advisor Briefed Netanyahu on Iran Contingency Plans
On Sunday, Haaretz reported National Security Advisor Tom Donilon briefed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on US contingency plans for an attack on Iran during a three-hour dinner, sharing information on US weaponry and military capabilities. A senior Israeli official denied the report saying, “Nothing in the article is correct,” (Reuters 7/30; Haaretz 7/29).
Iran Stockpiling Three Month Supply of Foodstuffs
Iran is reportedly stockpiling a three-month supply of foodstuffs for its population, including wheat, cooking oil, sugar, and rice (AP 7/27).
Ahmadinejad and Hardliners Continue “Trading Blows” Ahead of 2013 Election
As the presidentially-appointed head of Iran’s social security organization was dismissed this morning in Tehran, President Ahmadinejad and hardliner rivals “traded blows.” The development is the latest in a series of accusations of corruption and political challenges between Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Khamenei (AP 7/30).
Lawmakers Seek Agreement on Iran Sanctions
With one week left before August’s congressional recess, lawmakers are working to reach a compromise over imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran (AP 7/27).
Delhi Police Link Iranian Revolutionary Guard to New Delhi Bombing
The Delhi Police have concluded the perpetrators of the February 13 terror attack on an Israeli diplomat were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. According to the investigation report, the attack’s main operational head was the same individual responsible for planning the attacks in Georgia, Bangkok, and Delhi, Sedaghatzadeh Masoud (Times of India 7/30).
New Iranian Census Numbers Show Young, Increasingly Educated, Urbanized Nation
New data from the Iranian census data shows Iran has the biggest group of internet users in the Middle East with 11.2 million, although that number is lower than expected. Iran’s total population currently sits at 75.2 million, with 71 percent living in urban areas. Since the last census, there is reportedly a “jump” in the number of individuals with education beyond a secondary degree from 6.9 million to 12.2 million. 55 percent of Iranians are younger than 30 (The National 7/29).
US Family of Ex-Marine Left in the Dark as Son is Retried for Espionage
The family of an ex-US Marine, Amir Hekmati, who was sentenced to death for spying in Iran, say that they have received “little and confusing information” about his condition and the case, since a retrial was ordered in March. A recent statement by the family says, “While it is still unclear to us what is happening, we hope a decision is made soon and you are allowed to come home to your family,” (AP 7/28).
Four Sentenced to Death in Iranian Embezzlement Scandal
Iran has sentenced four people to death for their roles in a billion-dollar embezzlement scandal, wherein forged documents were used to secure loans totaling $2.6 billion to buy state-owned enterprises. 39 people were tried in the case, and, beside the four who are to be sentenced to death, two were given life sentences in prison and other received sentences of up to 25 years (Reuters 7/30).
Iranian Foreign Minister Optimistic Regarding Continuation of Talks
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Austria’s Der Standard of the possibility for a continuation in talks, “I can’t say it with certainty but if everything proceeds normally then there should be further negotiations,” adding, “A breakdown (in talks) is in nobody’s interests. The gaps can only be closed through talking,” (Reuters 7/30).
Iranian Supreme Leader Encourages Reduction in Energy Dependence
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has encouraged Iran to wean itself off of oil as a source of revenue. He said, “Crude (oil) sales are a trap which we inherited from the years before the (1979 Islamic) Revolution,” (Reuters 7/30).
Panetta Downplays Possibility of Unilateral Israeli Strike
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta played down the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, saying, “My view is that they have not made any decisions with regards to Iran and they continue to support the international effort to bring pressure against Iran.” Ahead of a visit to Israel, Panetta portrayed the US and Israel unified in their support for sanctions on Iran, as opposed to military action (Washington Post 7/29).
Documents Implicate Iran in Syria’s Expansion of Chemical Weapons Capabilities
Newly released documents suggest Iran has played a significant role in helping Syria to develop a chemical weapons stockpile. One 2006 cable described the Iran-Syria partnership as follows: “Iran would provide the construction design and equipment to annually produce tens to hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin, and mustard [gas],” (Washington Post 7/27).
Exemptions from Iranian Military Service for Homosexuality Come with Heavy Price Tag
For at least 15 years, the Iranian army has offered gay Iranians exemptions from mandatory military service, but such a pass can come with considerable costs including beatings and lashings, reports The Daily Beast. Many young gays end up fleeing the country to seek asylum, as a permanent record of discharge from the military for homosexuality is highly taboo (The Daily Beast 7/28).
China Petroleum Withdrawals from Development of South Pars Gas Field
China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has withdrawn from a project to develop phase 11 of South Pars natural-gas field, reports Shargh, a Tehran-based newspaper (Bloomberg 7/30).
Iran Expands Insurance for Oil Trade
Iran is expanding insurance to shipments of its oil to include Iranian and foreign tankers, as Iran attempts to compensate for the effects of sanctions on its export industries. Iranian OPEC representative said, “Deliveries that don’t obtain insurance from other countries will be insured by Iran,” (AFP 7/28).
Dubai Property Market Hurting Under Sanctions on Iran
Western sanctions on Iran are effecting the Dubai property market. The National reports that Iranians have been the “backbone” on investment in Dubai, and, even through their investment slipped by a quarter, Iranians still represent the fifth-largest group of investors by nationality in the Dubai property market (The National 7/29).
Notable Opinion: “The Romney Doctrine”
Robert Wright discusses the differences between Obama’s and Romney’s foreign policy:
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Some people are trying to find signs of moderation in Romney’s reference to his “fervent hope” that “diplomatic and economic measures” will succeed. But the fact is that by making the mushy-to-the-point-of-useless term “capability” the red line (or red blur), he has empowered Israel to say at any point, “Sorry, but diplomatic and economic measures have failed; the bombs were dropped this morning.”
I agree with Peter Baker that there aren’t many clear differences between Obama and Romney on foreign policy. But now we do have at least one: Romney says Israel can bomb Iran any time it wants and America will be happy to inherit the blowback. Obama doesn’t say that. I’d call that a difference of doctrinal proportions.