Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How to Build U.S.-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout   

          Published on Sep 24, 2012 by
Dennis Ross, Patrick Clawson, and David Makovsky discuss how the United States and Israel can regain the initiative in halting Iran's progress toward nuclear weapons.

Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is the declared policy of both the U.S. and Israeli governments. This past spring and summer, The Washington Institute convened strategic dialogues with a small group of knowledgeable and influential Israelis and Americans to discuss bilateral consultation on advancing the policy of prevention. In the wake of those meetings, Patrick Clawson and David Makovsky have written a soon-to-be-released report regarding the various issues and tensions that affect such consultation. The report includes a variety of proposals for how the United States and Israel can get back the initiative in halting Tehran's nuclear progress.

To discuss their findings, The Washington Institute held a Policy Forum luncheon with the authors, joined by Ambassador Dennis Ross, in Washington, DC, on Friday, September 21, 2012.

Dennis Ross rejoined The Washington Institute as counselor in December 2011 after serving as special assistant to President Obama, senior director for the central region at the National Security Council, and special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, focusing on Iran. Previously, he played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the peace process for more than twelve years, dealing directly with the parties in negotiations.

Patrick Clawson is director of research and head of the Iran Security Initiative at the Institute. A Persian speaker, he is the author or editor of eighteen books and studies on Iran as well as more than 150 articles on the Middle East. Previously, he served at the National Defense University, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, among other institutions.

David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Institute, where he directs the Project on the Middle East Peace Process and has chaired two rounds of U.S.-Israeli dialogue on Iran. His publications include a just-released New Yorker essay on Israel's 2007 bombing of Syria's nuclear reactor titled "The Silent Strike."

Tensions between Israel and U.S. over Iran's nuclear program


          Published on Sep 4, 2012 
By Samuel Burke, CNN

Reports that Iran is drawing still closer to nuclear weapons capability are ratcheting up the already high tensions between Israel and its ally the United States.

According to the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges it has installed underneath a mountain at the Fordo complex, beyond the reach of an Israeli attack.

Karim Sadjadpour, an expert on Iran at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says there are two ways of looking at that report.

"One is that Iran has made some forward progress. But another way of looking at it is that Iran's approach has been fairly deliberate and mindful of not wanting to cross certain red lines that could trigger military action."

But Israeli officials have publically stated they believe Iran is ramming ahead.

"Well, I would argue that they're not in a nuclear sprint," Sadjadpour says. "They have taken a much more deliberate approach -- it's more about a nuclear brisk walk."

Diplomatic talks on Iran's nuclear program have gone nowhere. And with no progress to report, the media is filled with rumors and speculation; among them is that an Israeli attack on Iran is imminent.

In the Israeli press there are reports that frustration over the U.S.' lack of support for an attack on Iran resulted in a shouting match between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.

The U.S. government is denying these rumors.

David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent for The New York Times says there's been tension for a number of years, but right now, with the U.S. Presidential election looming in November, the pressure is mounting.

"[Israel's] leverage is highest before the election, because if they did act, President Obama would have very little choice other than to back them completely, even though he has said that an attack right now would be counterproductive. That's the core of this increasingly tense back-and-forth between the U.S. and Israel, but also involves the question of whether sanctions or other covert action would be more useful at this point."

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Britain's Guardian newspaper, "I don't want to be complicit," if Israel attacks Iran. The Israeli press focused on his use of the world "complicit."

But Sanger says he thinks the message is actually that if Israel acts unilaterally -- without a U.N. blessing and without a broader coalition -- then it could be increasingly isolated in the region.

"You might actually see a wave of sympathy toward Iran at a time that the U.S., working with its European allies and working with Israel, have been trying to build up this big coalition to squeeze Iran's oil revenues, to participate in other activities, including some covert activities, to make it much harder for the Iranians to get to nuclear fuel."

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