Khamenei Preparing for a Deal?

There are unmistakable signs coming out of Iran that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei is laying the groundwork for a possible deal with the United States. This shift began in February, when Khamenei reaffirmedhis opposition to nuclear weapons on both religious and strategic grounds. The following month, Khamenei praisedPresident Barack Obama’s “good and wise statement” at AIPAC that time for diplomacy still existed, conveniently ignoring that the U.S. leader had also indicated his willingness to undertake military action if necessary. As negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 got underway, Khamenei’s appointees in the clergyjudiciary, and media all sounded a note of optimism. It’s now being reported that Iran is willing to limit the scope of its uranium enrichment.

Most have speculated that Khamenei’s sudden willingness to compromise is the result of his desire to avoid the looming sanctions against Iran’s oil exports. Although there may be some truth to this, at least as important is surely Khamenei’s recent consolidation of power at home. By purging his political competitors, the Supreme Leader has eliminated a significant source of his past opposition to a deal – his fear that his internal opponents would most benefit from it.

The aging Khamenei is also likely thinking of his legacy. Whereas Imam Khomeini is revered for toppling the Shah, creating the Islamic Republic system, and repelling Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1980, Khamenei’s tenure as Supreme Leader has been rather forgettable. While curbing some of the excesses of the Khomeini era, social and political rights remain restricted, the economy underperforms, and Iran is viewed with suspicion if not hostility abroad. As it stands today, Khamenei’s tenure as Supreme Leader is easily forgotten. By achieving a rapprochement with the United States, Khamenei would ensure himself an eternal spot in Iranian history.

Full article: Khamenei Preparing for a Deal? (The Diplomat)

Iranian naval admiral: ‘If needed, we can move to within three miles of New York’

“The power of our naval forces is such that we have a presence in all the waters of the world and, if needed, we can move to within three miles of New York,” Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said Tuesday during a speech to the students of the University of Yazd in Iran. His remarks were quoted by an Iranian student news agency.

Full article: Iranian naval admiral: ‘If needed, we can move to within three miles of New York’  (The Daily Caller)

Iran ‘mobilizing’ for cyberwar with West: experts

Little do people know, “because power stations are all interconnected,” even in a cyber attack “damage would cascade through the system wiping out equipment that could not be replaced for at least 18 months.”

Iran is busy acquiring the technical know-how to launch a potentially crippling cyber-attack on the United States and its allies, experts told a congressional hearing on Thursday, urging the US to step up its defensive measures.

“Over the past three years, the Iranian regime has invested heavily in both defensive and offensive capabilities in cyberspace,” said Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council.

“Equally significant, its leaders now increasingly appear to view cyber-warfare as a potential avenue of action against the United States,” he told a House Homeland Security subcommittee.

Full article: Iran ‘mobilizing’ for cyberwar with West: experts (Defence Talk)

Iran Begins Cloning Of US Spy Drone

“The Americans should be aware to what extent we have infiltrated the plane,” Iranian Fars news agency quoted the general as saying. “Our experts have a full understanding of its components and programs.”

Full article: Iran Begins Cloning Of US Spy Drone (Eurasia Review)

Iran’s supreme leader embraced concept of nuclear arms, archival document suggests

According to an internal U.N. document, Khamenei embraced the concept of an Iranian nuclear bomb during a meeting of the country’s top leadership more than two decades ago, saying nuclear weapons were essential for preserving Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

The 2009 document, prepared for the International Atomic Energy Agency, is a collection of statements made by Iranian leaders about nuclear weapons, as gleaned from the nuclear watchdog’s intelligence sources. It cites an April 1984 meeting in which Khamenei allegedly endorsed a decision by then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to launch a secret nuclear weapons program.

“According to Ayatollah Khamenei, this was the only way to secure the very essence of the Islamic Revolution from the schemes of its enemies … and to prepare it for the emergence of Imam Mahdi,” states the IAEA document, which was obtained by the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based nonprofit group that analyzes nuclear weapons programs. In Shiite Islam, “Imam Mahdi” is the prophesied 12th Imam who will purge the world of evil in humanity’s last days.

Khamenei allegedly embraced the idea of an Iranian nuclear arsenal that would “serve Iran as a deterrent in the hands of God’s soldiers,” the IAEA memo states.

Full article: Iran’s supreme leader embraced concept of nuclear arms, archival document suggests (Iran Focus)

U.S. Defines Its Demands for New Round of Talks With Iran

The Obama administration and its European allies plan to open new negotiations with Iran by demanding the immediate closing and ultimate dismantling of a recently completed nuclear facility deep under a mountain, according to American and European diplomats.

They are also calling for a halt in the production of uranium fuel that is considered just a few steps from bomb grade, and the shipment of existing stockpiles of that fuel out of the country, the diplomats said.

That negotiating position will be the opening move in what President Obama has called Iran’s “last chance” to resolve its nuclear confrontation with the United Nations and the West diplomatically. The hard-line approach would require the country’s military leadership to give up the Fordo enrichment plant outside the holy city of Qum, and with it a huge investment in the one facility that is most hardened against airstrikes.

Full article: U.S. Defines Its Demands for New Round of Talks With Iran (NY Times)

Obama Has Three More Months to Stop Iran’s Nuclear Progress before Israel Strikes

Israeli political, military and intelligence leaders are uncomfortable with the intensified wrangling between Washington and Jerusalem over the nuclear issue. They frown especially on the way the Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence agency, was dragged into the argument this week, and the way the minority view of one of its retired chiefs, Meir Dagan – that Israel should leave the military option against Iran solely to the United States – was thrown in as though it represented the consensus of Israel’s intelligence chiefs. This was a gross distortion of the truth.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Washington and Jerusalem sources say that, while making much of the broad areas of agreement on Iran between the Israeli government and the Obama administration, the defense minister was saying clearly that if Israel is resolved to attack Iran, it will have to move quite soon.

He was referring to a three-month timeline for Iran to halt its nuclear projects – after which, starting from the end of May 2012, Israel can wait no longer.

Full article: Obama Has Three More Months to Stop Iran’s Nuclear Progress before Israel Strikes  (War Sclerotic)

Iranian Reinforcements Arrive in Syria

Reinforcements from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have just arrived in Syria, raising the number of Iranian and Hezbollah operatives helping the Assad regime to the “high hundreds.” The majority of foreign assistants are training Assad’s thugs and helping them gather intelligence, which presumably means operating the electronic communications monitoring equipment that the Iranian regime uses. Some are even involved in the physical attacks on the Syrian opposition.

The report says that Iran’s financing is being used to stabilize Damascus and Aleppo, two of the regime’s power centers that have yet to erupt into full-blown protests. In recent weeks, the opposition took over some suburbs of Damascus and demonstrations spread to Aleppo. The regime launched a military offensive that took back the suburbs from the rebel forces.

Full article: Iranian Reinforcements Arrive in Syria (World Threats)