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Friday, July 13, 2012

Syria takes weapons of mass destruction out of storage: US: Situation incredibly dangerous

As part of its ongoing war maneuver, Syria Thursday, July 12, this week drilled the firing of advanced Scud D ballistic missiles capable of carrying chemical weapons and nerve gas – a clear message from Bashar Assad that weapons of mass destruction are now in play to save his regime.

American officials, alarmed by the movement out of storage of parts of his vast arsenal of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide, warned it could escalate the Syrian conflict and expand it to other parts of the region. "This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch," one U.S. official said. "This is incredibly dangerous to our national security." The Obama administration has begun to hold classified briefings about the new intelligence.

DEBKAfile’s military sources say that two developments drove the Syrian president Bashar Assad to this extreme threat:
1. The rebels were discovered to have procured roadside bombs capable of crippling the T-72 tank units he has just tried injecting into the battle for the first time this week. Tanks sent in long convoys into Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus were blown up.
2. The balance of war has reached the point that the government controls only those parts of the country where heavy military or security forces contingents with massive fire power are deployed; elsewhere, the rebels have the upper hand.
In the course of its war exercise, the Syrians fired a selection of ground-to-ground missiles which they described as capable of “hitting targets deep within enemy territory.” Our military sources say all the Scuds, the M-600, Fateh-110 and Zelzal can reach any point in Israel. They also tested upgraded C-802 shore-to-ship rockets.

American officials revealed Thursday in Washington that “Syria has begun moving parts of its vast arsenal of chemical weapons out of storage facilities.” They didn’t say to where they were moved.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the missile warheads and shells containing poisonous weapons such as sarin, mustard gas and cyanide are being moved to specific Syrian units ahead of field operations.

Some US officials are quoted by The Wall Street Journal as fearing “Damascus intends to use the weapons against the rebels or civilians, potentially as part of a targeted ethnic cleansing campaign.” Others hope it is a feint to inspire fear. Whatever the case, the alarmed US official said in Washington: This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch" and is "incredibly dangerous to our national security."


27 Things That Every American Should Know About The National Debt

The U.S. government has stolen $15,876,457,645,132.66 from future generations of Americans, and we continue to add well over a hundred million dollars to that total every single day day.  The 15 trillion dollar binge that we have been on over the past 30 years has fueled the greatest standard of living the world has ever seen, but this wonderful prosperity that we have been enjoying has been a lie.  It isn't real.  We have been living way above our means for so long that we do not have any idea of what "normal" actually is anymore.  But every debt addict hits "the wall" eventually, and the same thing is going to happen to us as a nation.  At some point the weight of our national debt is going to cause our financial system to implode, and every American will feel the pain of that collapse.  Under our current system, there is no mathematical way that this debt can ever be paid back.  The road that we are on will either lead to default or to hyperinflation.  We have piled up the biggest debt in the history of the world, and if there are future generations of Americans they will look back and curse us for what we did to them.  We like to think of ourselves as much wiser than previous generations of Americans, but the truth is that we have been so foolish that it is hard to put it into words.
Whenever I do an article about the national debt, Democrats leave comments blaming the Republicans and Republicans leave comments blaming the Democrats.
Well you know what?
Both parties are to blame.  Both of them get a failing grade.
If the Republicans really wanted to stop the federal government from running up all this debt they could have done it.
If the Democrats really wanted to stop the federal government from running up all this debt they could have done it.
So let's not pretend that one of the political parties is "the hero" in this little drama.
The damage has been done, and both parties will go down in history as being grossly negligent on fiscal issues during this period of American history.
Sadly, neither party is showing any signs of changing their ways.
Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is promising to eliminate the federal budget deficit in 2013.  They both talk about how the budget will be balanced "someday", but as we have seen so many times in the past, "someday" never comes.
I didn't mean to get all political in this article, but the truth is that the national debt threatens to destroy everything that previous generations have built, and our politicians continue to give us nothing but excuses.
The following are 27 things that every American should know about the national debt....
#1 It took more than 200 years for the U.S. national debt to reach 1 trillion dollars.  In 1986, the U.S. national debt reached 2 trillion dollars.  In 1992, the U.S. national debt reached 4 trillion dollars.  In 2005, the U.S. national debt doubled again and reached 8 trillion dollars.  Now the U.S. national debt is about to cross the 16 trillion dollar mark.  How long can this kind of exponential growth go on?
#2 If the average interest rate on U.S. government debt rises to just 7 percent, the U.S. government will find itself spending more than a trillion dollars per year just on interest on the national debt.
#3 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
#4 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by an average of more than $64,000 per taxpayer.
#5 Barack Obama will become the first president to run deficits of more than a trillion dollars duringeach of his first four years in office.
#6 If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.
#7 The U.S. national debt has increased by more than 1.6 trillion dollars since the Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives.  So far, this Congress has added more to the national debt than the first 97 Congresses combined.
#8 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more new debt than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that Bill Clinton became president.
#9 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
#10 As Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.
#11 Today, the government debt to GDP ratio in the United States is well over 100 percent.
#12 A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.
#13 The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.
#14 At this point, the United States government is responsible for more than a third of all the government debt in the entire world.
#15 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.
#16 The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.
#17 It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will surpass 23 trillion dollars in 2015.
#18 Mandatory federal spending surpassed total federal revenue for the first time ever in fiscal 2011.  That was not supposed to happen until 50 years from now.
#19 Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.
#20 The U.S. government has total assets of 2.7 trillion dollars and has total liabilities of 17.5 trillion dollars.  The liabilities do not even count 4.7 trillion dollars of intragovernmental debt that is currently outstanding.
#21 U.S. households are now actually receiving more money directly from the U.S. governmentthan they are paying to the government in taxes.
#22 The U.S. government is wasting your money on some of the stupidest things imaginable.  For example, in 2011 the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.
#23 If the federal government used GAAP accounting standards like publicly traded corporations do, the real federal budget deficit for last year would have been 5 trillion dollars instead of 1.3 trillion dollars.
#24 The Federal Reserve purchased approximately 61 percent of all government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department during 2011.
#25 At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when theFederal Reserve was first created.
#26 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 480,000 years to completely pay off the national debt.
#27 The official government debt figure does not even account for massive unfunded liabilities that the U.S. government will be hit with in the years ahead.  According to Professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, the U.S. government is facing a future "fiscal gap" of more than 200 trillion dollars.
As the U.S. economy continues to crumble, even more Americans are going to become financially dependent on the federal government.
For example, spending on food stamps has doubled since 2008.  Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and have needed some assistance from the government.  Since Obama became president the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 46 million.
But the Obama administration believes that a lot more Americans should be enrolled in the food stamp program.  The Obama administration is now spending millions of dollars on ads that urge even more people to sign up for food stamps.  In fact, their efforts to get even more Americans to sign up for food stamps have become very creative....
The government has been targeting Spanish speakers with radio “novelas” promoting food stamp usage as part of a stated mission to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
Each novela, comprising a 10-part series called “PARQUE ALEGRIA,” or “HOPE PARK,” presents a semi-dramatic scenario involving characters convincing others to get on food stamps, or explaining how much healthier it is to be on food stamps.

I'm all for helping those that cannot feed themselves, but do we really need to run ads urging more people to become dependent on the government?
Of course Obamacare is going to cause our debt to balloon in size as well.  It is being projected thatObamacare will add more than 2.6 trillion dollars to the U.S. national debt over the first decade alone.
So where are we going to get all this money?
We can't keep spending money that we do not have.  We have got to prioritize.  Every single category of government spending needs to be cut.
But instead we feel like we can keep ripping off future generations of Americans and that we will always be able to get away with it.
What we have done to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal.
The truth is that we should have listened to the warnings of our founding fathers about government debt.  For example, Thomas Jefferson once said that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a complete ban on all borrowing by the federal government....
I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Where would we be today if we had taken the advice of Thomas Jefferson?
That is something to think about.

Farmers suffer as soaring temperatures worsen drought in Midwest

The Department of Agriculture said 1,016 counties in 26 states are natural disaster areas.

A severe drought is spreading across the Midwest this summer, resulting in some of the worst conditions in decades and leaving more than a thousand counties designated as natural disaster areas, authorities said.

Farmers in the region are suffering, with pastures for livestock and fields of crops becoming increasingly parched during June, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Many areas in the southern Midwest are reporting the poorest conditions for June since 1988.

Corn prices pop after lower production forecast

The farmers' difficulties come amid a record-setting level of hot, dry weather across the nation.

Aerial video from CNN affiliate WISH shows low water levels in Indiana.

As of Tuesday, about 61% of the contiguous United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico) was experiencing drought conditions, the highest percentage in the 12-year record of the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Unusually high temperatures and little rainfall over the past week have led to "widespread deterioration and expansion of dryness and drought" in the Midwest, northwestern Ohio Valley and southern Great Plains, the drought monitor said.

Heat wave: Triple digits

That has left 1,016 counties in 26 states termed as natural disaster areas, the Department of Agriculture said this week.

A county is generally qualified as a natural disaster area if it has suffered severe drought for eight consecutive weeks. Farmers are then eligible for low interest emergency loans from the Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency.

The past 12 months have been the warmest the United States has experienced since records began in 1895, the climatic data center said.


Syrian helicopter fire on villagers in fresh massacre

The village of Treimsa was shelled by Syrian troops and later stormed by pro-government Shabbiha militia, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Many people in the village were killed by the shelling and more were shot later in the head, execution-style, it added.

The body of a doctor was discovered after the sustained attack, apparently shot dead as he tried to save dozens of wounded civilians.

Government troops also reportedly destroyed a village school, a Hama-based activist said, with the number of children killed unknown. "The village school was totally destroyed," the activist, calling himself Abu Ghazi, told AFP via Skype.

Bodies of 30 civilians have been identified but the names of more than 100 remain unknown.

The Telegraph

Maine governor: IRS 'headed' in Gestapo's direction

Maine Gov. Paul LePage doubled down today on his comments comparing the IRS to the Gestapo, saying the agency is "headed" in the path of the Nazi secret police.

LePage, a Republican elected in 2010, first compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo in his radio address last week about the Supreme Court's health care ruling. He issued a statement Monday that he didn't intend to insult anyone or minimize the deaths of Jews during the Holocaust.

In his attempt to clarify his remarks today at a campaign event in Vermont, Le Page didn't exactly retract what he said.

"What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity, and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad -- yet," Le Page said.

"They're headed in that direction," the governor added, according to a story in the Portland Press Herald.

What's with the heated rhetoric? The Supreme Court's decision that President Obama's health care law is constitutional because it falls under Congress' authority to tax has provoked this kind of fiery talk.

A new Quinnipiac Poll shows a majority of voters say the health care law amounts to a tax increase.

On Politics

$10 Billion Away From $10 Trillion

According to the just released M2 update, the broadest publicly tracked monetary aggregate (because the Fed doesn't have enough money to keep track of M3) just hit $9,991.5 billion, a $43 billion increase from last week. In other words, this is the last week in which M2 is under $10 trillion. So enjoy it while the "complete lack of penetration" of the monetary base into broader monetary aggregates, and of the Fed's reserves so tightly locked up in bank vaults, is still only 13 digits (most of it comprising of bank deposits which of course represent no inflationary threat at all). Next week it will be a record 14 digits for the first time, and well on its way to surpassing the $15 trillion held in the deposit-free shadow banking system as the importance (and inflationary convexity) of the two is rapidly interchanged.

Blocking the property and suspending entry into the United States of certain persons by the governments of Iran and Syria

A new law has been approved by the US government in a possible trigger to the war with Iran and Syria
Here is the link:
- - - - - - -
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the commission of serious human rights abuses against the people of Iran and Syria by their governments, facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments, and abetted by entities in Iran and Syria that are complicit in their governments’ malign use of technology for those purposes, threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The Governments of Iran and Syria are endeavoring to rapidly upgrade their technological ability to conduct such activities. Cognizant of the vital importance of providing technology that enables the Iranian and Syrian people to freely communicate with each other and the outside world, as well as the preservation, to the extent possible, of global telecommunications supply chains for essential products and services to enable the free flow of information, the measures in this order are designed primarily to address the need to prevent entities located in whole or in part in Iran and Syria from facilitating or committing serious human rights abuses. In order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergencies declared in Executive Order 12957 of March 15, 1995, as relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and to address the situation described above, I hereby order:
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any foreign branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and
(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with or at the recommendation of the Secretary of State:
(A) to have operated, or to have directed the operation of, information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
(B) to have sold, leased, or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
(C) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the activities described in subsections (a)(ii)(A) and (B) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(D) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.
Sec2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the two national emergencies identified in the preamble to this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:
(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec4. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens who meet one or more of the criteria in section 1 of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons. Such persons shall be treated as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions).
Sec5. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec6. Nothing in section 1 of this order shall prohibit transactions for the conduct of the official business of the United States Government by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.
Sec7. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;
(b) the term "information and communications technology" means any hardware, software, or other product or service primarily intended to fulfill or enable the function of information processing and communication by electronic means, including transmission and display, including via the Internet;
(c) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(d) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States;
(e) the term "Government of Iran" means the Government of Iran, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Iran, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Iran; and
(f) the term "Government of Syria" means the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities.
Sec8. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures
ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the two national emergencies identified in the preamble to this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec9. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.
Sec11. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec12. The measures taken pursuant to this order with respect to Iran are in response to actions of the Government of Iran occurring after the conclusion of the 1981 Algiers Accords, and are intended solely as a response to those later actions.
Sec13. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2012.

Moody's cut Italy's sovereign debt rating

Italian banks came to the rescue on Friday after the country suffered a ratings downgrade, but while Rome cut its three-year borrowing costs at auction, a rise in 10-year bond yields highlighted concern it may fall victim to Europe's debt crisis.

Moody's cut Italy's sovereign debt rating to Baa2 on Friday, citing doubts over Italy's long-term resolve to push through much-needed reforms and saying persistent worries about Spain and Greece were increasing its liquidity risks.

Solid domestic demand helped the Italian Treasury sell the top planned amount of 5.25 billion euros in bonds, paying less than a month ago on three-year paper.

"This was a challenging enough auction without the downgrade which makes the result look all the more impressive," said Spiro Sovereign Strategy Managing Director Nicholas Spiro.

"Once again, the Treasury was able to get its debt out the door, which right now is the overriding priority."

A new 2015 bond was sold at an average 4.65 percent rate, compared with the 5.30 percent Italy paid in June just before a cliff-hanger Greek vote that had stoked fears of a euro exit and soon after an unconvincing first deal to help Spanish banks.

Italian banks' commitment to support Rome's refinancing of its 2 trillion euro debt and a broad domestic investor base have provided a safety net for Italy throughout the crisis.

Foreign investors' reluctance to hold Italian debt, however, keeps the yields under pressure. Benchmark 10-year-bond yields were up nine basis points around 6 percent while Italy's debt insurance costs also rose.

"Does it mean this puts a cap on the rise in Italian yield? Well, not really," said strategist Marc Ostwald at Monument Securities in London.

The U.S. rating agency lauded Prime Minister Mario Monti's commitment to fiscal reforms and structural consolidation. But warned it could again cut the country's marks if the next Italian government failed to continue along this path.

"The negative outlook reflects our view that risks to implementing these reforms remain substantial. Adding to them is the deteriorating macroeconomic environment, which increases austerity and reform fatigue among the population," it said.

"The political climate, particularly as the spring 2013 elections draw near, is also a source of implementation risk."

Analysts say political uncertainty ahead of elections is the main risk for Italy, where frustration with austerity measures and the country's weak and fragmented party system is stoking anti-European sentiment and has helped the meteoric rise of the populist Five Star Movement, led by comedian Beppe Grillo.

Respected technocrat Monti, who was called in last November to pull back Italy from the edge of the cliff and avoid a Greek-style debt crisis, has said he will stand down next year.

Three-times Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has kept a low profile since being forced out to leave room for Monti, announced this week he will return to frontline politics as the centre-right candidate, further muddling the political outlook.

He has taken an increasingly anti-European tone in recent public comments, criticising Monti's austerity policies and openly questioning the value of remaining in the euro.

"Berlusconi seems to have picked up on the increased sense of frustration within the Italian society that the sacrifices being made by the country are not being sufficiently recognised by the markets and that part of the blame lies in the slow EU policy response," said BNP Paribas analyst Luigi Speranza.

Opinion polls suggest that a centre-left bloc would win the elections and it is not yet clear whether Berlusconi's return to front line politics may alter the picture.

Gerald Celente - The Mancow Show

Israel fears window for Iran attack starting to close

Israeli and American officials met in Jerusalem on Thursday for one of their semi-annual “strategic dialogue” meetings, which concluded with a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry noting that Iran’s nuclear program was high on the agenda. Behind the bland public comments, however, one well-placed Israeli source spoke of friction in US-Israeli ties over the struggle to thwart Iran, with the US urging Israel to allow more time for sanctions to bite, and Israel expressing concern that its window of opportunity for military action is starting to close.

Thursday’s talks were led by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. “Iran’s continued quest to develop nuclear weapons, which the United States and Israel are both determined to prevent, the destabilizing role which it plays in the region, and its promotion of international terrorism were all addressed by the parties,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Ayalon noted that these were the fifth such talks between the two nations within the strategic dialogue framework. “Of course, at the top of the daily agenda is the issue of stopping the Iranian nuclear development process. Iran is the most severe and immediate threat to regional security and world peace.”

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (left) with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon in Jerusalem (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

The Foreign Ministry quoted Burns as stressing the importance of the meetings in light of regional changes. Burns was also said to have stressed American commitment to Israel’s security.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have for months been publicly expressing skepticism about the prospect of sanctions thwarting Iran’s nuclear drive, with Netanyahu urging the international community in March to consider the consequences of a failure to act in good time against Iran and Barak stressing how much more complex it would be challenge an Iran that has attained a nuclear capability.

Privately, said the well-placed Israeli source, speaking on condition of anonymity, the issue is causing profound friction between Israel and the US, with Washington urging Israeli patience and Jerusalem responding that time is running out.

The source sketched out four possibilities unfolding on the diplomatic front over the coming months: The first, a negotiated agreement with Iran that resolves Israeli and American concerns, he said, was out of reach. The second, an unsatisfactory negotiated agreement that does not fully address those concerns, was also highly unlikely, he said. In its latest interactions with the P5+1 powers (the permanent members of the Security Council and Germany), Iran rejected proposals to negotiate the safeguards and restrictions that would prevent it attaining a nuclear weapons capability, and referred to plans to build a new enrichment facility and four new research reactors, according to a document obtained by The Times of Israel.

A third possibility, the Israeli source said, was that the international community would declare that the diplomatic track had failed. This, too, was highly unlikely, he stressed, given that a declared failure could be read in Israel as a signal to strike, and given the oft-stated American and European interest in ensuring more time for diplomacy and for sanctions pressure to bite, including the recent EU sanctions on Iranian oil.

The fourth and most realistic possibility, the source said, was that the diplomatic engagement would be maintained, however unsuccessfully. Since the US administration is anxious to avoid a dramatic conflict on the Iranian front ahead of the presidential elections in November, since Europe has no desire to be harsher than the Americans, and since the Iranians are primarily interested in buying time while they make further nuclear headway, there is an unfortunate case of common interests at play.

In early May, when Israel appeared to be destined for early elections,Channel 2 commentator Amnon Abramovich made headlines by asserting that Netanyahu was heading to the polls so that he would safely reelected, at the head of a transition government, and free to strike at Iran in September-October, with no need to worry about voter sentiment and aware that President Barack Obama would be paralyzed by the US presidential campaign. The Likud-Kadima coalition deal staved off elections then, but the September-October period remains potentially significant, given the need for pre-winter clear skies in any potential military intervention.

Iran’s capacity to withstand sanctions should not be underestimated, the Israeli source noted, saying that Turkey and India were among the countries letting Iran off the hook.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s talks also addressed the ongoing bloodshed in Syria. The two sides voiced concern over both the Syrian regime’s continued crackdown on its civilian populace and the assistance Syrian President Bashar Assad receives from Iran and Hezbollah. According to the Foreign Ministry, the situation in Syria “is a source of major humanitarian concern and the violence of the Syrian regime against its citizens could also lead to severe consequences for the entire region.”
The times of Israel

50,000 evacuated as Record Rain & Floods Rips through Japan killing 17