Even if this was part of the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s campaign of smiles for the West, the visit to the Shiraz synagogue Friday night, May 1, by the head of his assistant for minority affairs, Hojat- Islam Ali Yunessi, was especially noteworthy. He was the first high-ranking Iranian cleric to visit a Jewish synagogue in a decade and, moreover, he delivered a speech in praise of Iran’s ancient Jewish community’s successful coexistence with other groups.
But most remarkably, he admitted that historical research and archeological excavations in the last 150 years had corroborated the Biblical account of the deeds of the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great (550-530 BCE).
(The Bible recounts that Cyrus issued a fabled decree for the emancipation of slaves, including the Jewish people, from Babylonian captivity, and allowed them to return to their homeland in Judah and rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem.) Continue reading
Multiple companies currently exploring new business ventures in Iran are also cashing in on highly lucrative contracts with the U.S. Defense Department, raising questions about whether their dealings with Iran could run afoul of U.S. law.
At least 13 major international companies have said in recent weeks that they aim to reenter the Iranian marketplace over the next several months. The companies have received Pentagon contracts totaling well over $107 billion, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis that tracked DoD contracts awarded since fiscal year 2009. Continue reading
Last month, America’s top Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman had some bad news for ambassadors from America’s Arab allies. In a meeting with envoys from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf states, Sherman said that any bargain with Iran would likely leave Tehran, the Gulf states long-time enemy, with the capacity to enrich uranium, according to U.S. officials briefed on the encounter.
Sherman regularly briefs these allies after diplomatic talks with Iran, but in recent weeks those conversations have been different. While most of America’s Middle East allies—with the exception of Israel—have publicly supported the current Iran negotiations, behind the scenes, envoys from the region have expressed grave concerns that Iran could be left with a break out capacity to make the fuel for a nuclear weapon at a time of their choosing. Continue reading
This is a followup from a previous DEBKAfile article, which can be found here:
Israel’s high command, working on the assumption that an American-Iranian nuclear accord is near its final stage, plans to keep in place advanced preparations for a unilateral military strike on Iran’s nuclear program into 2014 – hence the IDF’s request for a supplemental NIS3.5bn (app. $1bn) defense budget this week.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report exclusively that the main body of the accord is essentially complete. All the same, President Barack Obama plans to announce before Christmas that only partial agreement has been achieved and negotiations will continue.
He will be cagey in public – partly because not all parts of the accord have been finalized, although the pace of US-Iranian negotiations have been accelerated, and partly to avoid coming clean on the full scope of the deal with Tehran. Continue reading