Iranian Atomic Urgency
• A great Times of London staff-ed gave a thumbs up to the possible sabotage of Fordow.
Another report yesterday suggested that an explosion had damaged the Iranian facility at Fordow, which is used for enriching uranium. That, again, is not confirmed and Iran denies it. But if it did happen and was deliberately engineered, it is an encouraging development.
• The Times of London raises questions about recent reports of Iran monkeying around in space:
The regime asserted that the creature was launched heavenwards in a capsule named Pishgam — Farsi for ‘Pioneer’ — and reached a height of 75 miles before returning to earth intact and alive. It offered no proof, no filmed footage, not even the name of the country’s first astro-chimp — just still pictures of the capsule and a monkey in a vest being buckled into a seat . . .
The regime insists its space programme — like its nuclear programme — is for civilian and scientific purposes only . . .
The rest of the world is not convinced. It fears the real purpose of the programme is to develop long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, which is why the UN Security Council has imposed an almost total embargo on the export of nuclear and space technologies to Iran since 2007.
For what it’s worth, animal rights activists like PETA condemned Iran too.
• Jerusalem Post: The IDF shot and injured two gunmen trying to infiltrate the Israeli-Egyptian border.
The IDF declined to say whether it was treating the incident as an attempted terror attack or a drug-smuggling effort.
• A former Muslim Brotherhood associate of Mohammed Morsi told Der Spiegel that Egypt’s president hates Israel to the core, and anything to the contrary is a “pretense.”
“Agitation against the Israelis is in keeping with the way Morsi thinks. For the Morsi I know, any cooperation with Israel is a serious sin, a crime.” Morsi’s choice of words is also nothing new, says Sharnoubi. As proof, he opens his black laptop and shows us evidence of the former Muslim Brotherhood member’s true sentiments.
Indeed, the video gaffes do not appear to be a one-time occurrence.
• Big Media discovered The Black Bloc, a group of masked Egyptians opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood. Both BBC and AP label them as anarchists. See also NY Times and LA Times coverage of the unrest. AP looks at the implications for foreign aid.
• Here’s a measure of improvement for Egyptian press freedom: the nation’s papers are debating the government’s handling of ongoing riots and the state of emergency declared in three provinces.
• Naughty naughty. An Iranian arms ship carrying surface to air missiles — among other things — was intercepted off the coast of Yemen. US and Yemeni officials quoted by Reuters says the weapons were en route to the Houthi insurgents.
“This demonstrates the ever pernicious Iranian meddling in other countries in the region,” said the second U.S. official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
• I’m sure this will spark snark in the comments section. Bashar Assad mentioned offhand (or perhaps deliberately) to an Arab reporter that Asma Assad is pregnant.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Worth reading: Jose Maria Aznar and David Trimble call on the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terror organization. The two write in the Times of London:
Hezbollah is committed to violent revolution. It sees itself as being in total confrontation with our way of life. The idea that engaging Hezbollah through the Lebanese political process and institutions would moderate it has proved to be a dangerous illusion. And today it is actively intervening in Syria on behalf of Bashar Assad; we will know soon about the atrocities conducted by its militants there.
There are some governments in Europe that argue that the time to put Hezbollah in the EU terrorist list has not yet arrived. But what more is needed to let us take such a decision? . . .
We know from our own experience in Spain and Northern Ireland that terrorism cannot be defeated unless you tackle all the tentacles that serve the purposes of the terrorists, and that includes the political and financial front organisations. Make no mistake — terrorist groups use all the means at their disposal to survive, flourish and achieve their plans.
• Bank of Israel boss Stanley Fischer is stepping down from his post. According to Globes, Fischer will remain in office till the end of June. A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow. Related reading: Fischer leaves economy without a responsible adult.
• The Atlantic wonders if Israel’s next government will be able to mend fences with Turkey. Spoiler alert: Don’t hold your breath waiting.
Prime Minister Erdogan, who is an astonishingly talented politician and has a keen sense of what makes average Turks tick, understands the political benefits that are derived from strained relations with Israel.
• France isn’t in any rush to free terrorist George Abdallah, and the Daily Star describes Lebanese impatience. Abdallah killed an Israeli diplomat and a US military official in Paris in 1982. A hearing on his release was postponed to February 28.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.