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Daily Briefing :A NEW US ADMINISTRATION MUST CONFRONT IRAN’S LONGSTANDING NUCLEAR AMBITIONS

Table of Contents:

 

Flag Of Iran (Source:Farzaaaad2000 in persian wikipedia)

The Shah, the Mullahs and Iran’s Longstanding Nuclear Ambitions:  Ray Takeyh, WSJ, Dec. 10, 2020


Why Was Iran’s Nuclear Expert Fakhrizadeh Secretly Decorated After the JCPOA Went into Effect?:  Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dec. 7, 2020 

Iran Has A New Warship Packed With Drones and Missiles: Seth J. Frantzman, The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2020
______________________________________________________The Shah, the Mullahs and Iran’s Longstanding Nuclear Ambitions
Ray Takeyh
WSJ, Dec. 10, 2020Iran’s nuclear ambitions are again looming over a new American administration. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to resuscitate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that President Trump unilaterally discarded. But after four years of enduring sanctions and targeted assassinations, the Islamic Republic may no longer be listening. Some experts fear that Iran’s pragmatists—led by President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear agreement—have been discredited and that Iran’s hard-liners are too suspicious of the West to reengage with another American leader.
 
As usual, the debate in Washington misreads the realities in Tehran. For the past five decades, under two very different regimes, Iran has pursued essentially the same nuclear strategy. While many Westerners fret over the tussling between Iran’s moderates and hard-liners, the most striking aspect of Iran’s nuclear-arms policy over the decades is its consistency. Mr. Biden is trying to return to diplomacy at the precise time when significant arms-control breakthroughs are all but impossible.
 
Iran’s nuclear program ramped up in earnest during the 1970s, when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi concluded that his ambitions to dominate the region might require the ultimate weapon. In 1975, the shah told the New York Timesthat while he wasn’t seeking the bomb, “if 20 or 30 ridiculous little countries are going to develop nuclear weapons, then I may have to revise my policies.” In his chatty way, the shah was hinting at a nuclear hedging strategy: Iran would build a sophisticated nuclear infrastructure but defer assembling a bomb, depending on events in its dangerous neighborhood.
 
In 1979, Islamist revolutionaries overthrew the shah. The new theocracy destroyed much of the old order but proved protective of its nuclear inheritance. The Middle East was still a disorderly region, and the revolutionaries were as much Persian chauvinists as the monarch they overthrew.
 
Iran’s new clerical oligarchs never made nuclear ambitions a matter of factional dispute. The reformist President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) was as committed to the nuclear program as his reactionary successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-13). Under the watchful eye of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nuclear program didn’t fall prey to Iran’s poisonous domestic politics.
 
The Islamic Republic’s nuclear achievements are impressive. The shah entered the atomic age standing on the shoulders of others. He obtained limited technical assistance under the U.S. Atoms for Peace program established by President Dwight Eisenhower, but only after the rush of oil wealth in the 1970s could the shah afford his nuclear ambitions. Rather than patiently building his own country’s scientific capacity and training specialists, he relied on technologies and expertise from abroad. That left his program vulnerable to the moods of the outside world. In the 1970s, when Congress grew apprehensive about nuclear proliferation in the developing world, the shah couldn’t obtain needed technologies from the U.S. and had to shop around Europe. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Why Was Iran’s Nuclear Expert Fakhrizadeh Secretly Decorated After the JCPOA Went into Effect?
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dec. 7, 2020

The Iranian Islamic Republic made a considerable effort to explain to the Iranian people how grateful they should be to the late Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Brigadier-General Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the mastermind and longtime director of the Iranian military nuclear program. In this context, the government issued portraits of Fakhrizadeh hugging the late commander of the IRGC Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, clarifying how these two generals were responsible for the two parallel vectors to turn Iran into a hegemon superpower in the Islamic world and on the global dimension – exporting the Islamic revolution and acquiring an arsenal of nuclear weapons.
 
The Iranian regime released scores of photographs after Fakhrizadeh’s death, and it was prone to making mistakes. One picture showed the camera-shy “scientist” joining others in a January 2019 meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei.2
 
Besides showing Fakhrizadeh meeting with the Supreme Leader Khamenei, from their perspective, the Iranians showed too many pictures, some showing Dr. Fakhrizadeh receiving a special award from President Rouhani for his role in achieving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, concluded with the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Russia, and China in 2015. The award was given to Fakhrizadeh on February 9, 2016, shortly after the JCPOA came into effect, following the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that certified Iran shared all necessary information about the potential military dimensions of its nuclear program. In attendance was one of Iran’s negotiators on the JCPOA, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi. While the other members of the Iranian negotiating team were awarded similar tokens of appreciation publicly a day earlier, Fakhrizadeh was honored in a closed-door ceremony because of the secrecy that surrounded him.
 
Why was the Iranian leadership so thankful and appreciative to the head of the military nuclear program after the conclusion of a deal that allegedly guaranteed, as President Obama pledged, that any path Iran may take to achieve a nuclear weapon is blocked? One would expect Brigadier-General Dr. Fakhrizadeh to be upset about a deal that limited his work. However, instead, he seems to be happy and satisfied in the picture. Why?
 
Who Guided the Iranian Negotiating Team?
 
The answer, to those who want to return to the JCPOA, is very simple: The nuclear-chain expert, Fakhrizadeh, instructed the Iranian negotiating team what issues they should insist upon to make sure that the deal improves Iran’s capability to acquire a nuclear arsenal. He got everything he wanted. He managed to get his way because of the poor handling of the negotiations by the American team. He had every reason to be gleeful. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Iran’s Global Terror Network Lurks Behind Its Threats of Vengeance
Yaakov Lappin

IPT, Dec. 16, 2020

Iran’s repeated threats Iran to avenge the reported assassination of its chief nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was shot dead outside of Tehran last month, have raised the likelihood of Iranian armed action against Israeli targets.
 
The threats also serve as a reminder that Iran has a long history of both sponsoring terrorism and actively engaging in it with its own personnel, and that it has spent decades building a global, highly active Shi’ite terror network.
 
Fakhrizadeh, who attended North Korea’s 2013 underground atomic bomb test, was responsible for the weaponization phase of the Iranian nuclear program, previously known as Amad. While the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran is in charge of stockpiling uranium, Fakhrizadeh and his team were earmarked by the Iranian regime to take over when the decision would be made to breakout to nuclear weapons.
 
Now, as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) examine retaliation options and possible timing, presumably weighing opportunities to launch painful attacks while attempting to avoid an all-out regional war, it is worth recalling how Iran reacted when four of its nuclear scientists were assassinated on Iranian soil between 2010 and 2012.
 
In the space of two days, in February 2012, Iranian bombers attempted to murder Israeli diplomats in Georgia, India, and Thailand. Israel named Iran’s elite Quds Force, which is responsible for subversion campaigns beyond Iran’s borders, as well as arming and activating international terror networks, as being responsible for implementing those attacks.
 
In New Delhi, an Israeli diplomat’s wife and three other people were injured when an attacker on a motorcycle stuck a magnet bomb on her vehicle. In Bangkok, two Iranian men were arrested and later jailed after an enormous explosion ripped through a home they were staying at. In the ensuing police pursuit, one of the suspects lost his legs in a blast after he attempted to hurl an explosive at Thai police.
 
Thai police said the two were part of a hit team sent to kill Israeli diplomats in Bangkok. A third Iranian was arrested in Malaysia after fleeing Thailand, and was later extradited and jailed.
 
Last month, Thailand freed the three men as part of a prisoner exchange deal to secure the release of Australian-British scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who had been languishing in an Iranian prison for two years on espionage charges, and held as a bargaining chip by Tehran.
 
Israel’s former ambassador to Thailand, Itzhak Shoham, reacted furiously to the release, saying, “It saddens me to see the pictures as [the Iranians] celebrate instead of rotting in prison.”
 
During the 2012 attack wave, a driver for the Israeli embassy in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi noticed an explosive device planted under his vehicle, alerting authorities and preventing a terror attack. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Iran Has a New Warship Packed with Drones and Missiles
Seth J. Frantzman

The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2020

Iran unveiled a new ship over the weekend called the Shahid Roudaki. It is part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was given a spotlight at Bandar Abbas port near the strategic Straits of Hormuz on Thursday. The ship is so interesting to Iran watchers that the United States Naval Institute ran a story about it.
 
On its surface this is just a transport ship, but Iran has crowded its deck with all sorts of weapons to show off what it can do. According to aerial photos and description the ship has been packed with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) that are mounted on fast boats. There is also an advanced 3rd Khordad air defense system and helicopters, as well as drones and anti-ship missiles. It’s a floating armory, or a floating “bazarr” as one report noted. 
 
The Bell 412 helicopter appears to be one of those old American helicopters that Iran has because it once had a bell helicopter Textron factory under the Shah. The 3rd Khordad system is more recent. It was used to down a $200 million American Global Hawk drone in June 2019. The six Ababil drones, noted in the photo, are part of Iran’s expanding drone arsenal. Iran used drones and cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia in September 2019. Iran has also sent drones to Syria and used them to threaten Israel and provided them to Hezbollah.
 
According to H.I Sutton, who wrote the USNI news piece, the ship has four Qader anti-ship missiles, the Iranian version of the Chinese C-802. The ship is 492 feet long and 72 feet wide. It also has a 23 mm anti-aircraft guns. “It seems unlikely that these systems would be arrayed like this in normal operations. The small boats may be a common feature, but the other systems appear only representative of her potential capability and role,” Sutton writes. The assessment is that this ship is capable of long range missions and support.
 
Iran has a relatively weak navy. It relies on the IRGC fast boats to harass US ships. The US warned the fast boats to stop harassing American ships in the spring and US President Donald Trump threatened to sink the Iranian ships. Iran has been training recently against a mock US aircraft carrier, a giant model it keeps sinking and strafing to show off. But Iran’s navy is no match for the American Fifth Fleet. 
 
The US Navy’s Nimitz Carrier Strike Group recently left the Persian Gulf to train with Japan, India and Australia for a drill called Malabar. The US is increasingly working with India on regional security. India is also a close partner of Israel and the UAE. US carriers can be at sea for a very long time. The Abraham Lincoln was at sea for 295 days, during which it also went to the US 5th Fleet base in Bahrain. US ships such as the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and USNS Wally Schirra and USS Winston Churchill are in the area as well. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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For Further Reference:

North Korea’s Scary Weapons Parade and How Iran is InvolvedThe Heritage Foundation, YouTube, Oct. 19, 2020 –– A report recently surfaced that North Korea and Iran have resumed working together on long-range missile cooperation. In addition, at a recent parade celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korea Worker’s Party, North Korea showed off new, powerful weapons suggesting continued growth in their ability to pose serious threats to the US and our allies. On this episode, Tim talks with Bruce Klinger, and examine the relationship between North Korea and Iran – as well as what these new weapons mean for our national security.
 
INSS 2021: Live Conference – Iran 2021INSS, YouTube, Dec. 9, 2020 — Iran Annual Conference at INSS: The best experts on the Iranian arena – including the former US National Security Adviser, former head of the British intelligence agency MI6, and other experts from the UAE, Europe, US, and Israel – discuss the latest developments in the Islamic Republic and the fateful year that is expected in the country, with a new administration in Washington and a new president in Tehran.
 
Iran’s Execution of Dissident Journalist Threatens Push for Diplomacy With Europe:  Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, Dec. 13, 2020 — Iran’s execution on Saturday of a dissident journalist has strained Tehran’s relationship with Europe at a time when the presidential transition in the U.S. has raised expectations of a diplomatic opening between Iran and the West.
 
With Eye on Iran, Israel Tests Missile Defense System:  Ilan Ben Zion, AP, Dec. 15, 2020 — Israel’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday it conducted a series of successful live fire drills with its multi-range missile-defense system, providing protection against threats posed by arch-enemy Iran and its proxies along Israel’s northern and southern borders.
 
Are Israel and Iran On the Brink of War?:  Seth J. Frantzman, The National Interest, Nov. 30, 2020 — Iran’s regime increasingly pointed the finger at Israel over the assassination of a top nuclear military scientist at the end of November.

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