Israel Daily News Stream 05/16/2012

Iranian Atomic Urgency

New allegations say Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi served as a “front man” for illicit nuclear procurement in 1991 when he headed Sharif University. Nice Reuters scoop:

Salehi knew about or was involved in efforts to create an alleged parallel military nuclear program that is of great interest to the IAEA now,” Albright told Reuters, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

“And the intention of that program was probably to make nuclear weapons, including producing highly enriched uranium,” Albright said.

While senior IAEA officials have in the past told Reuters they suspected Salehi and Sharif University played a role in such procurement activities, the telexes appear to be the first public evidence supporting those suspicions.

The Iranian kick-boxer hanged for allegedly helping the Mossad kill a nuclear scientist, may have been killed because of a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. According to the Times of London (paywall):

Majid Jamali Fashi, 24, was arrested one month after the unauthorised publication of a cable from the embassy, in Azerbaijan, which described one of its sources as an Iranian martial arts expert. Mr Fashi had visited Azerbaijan the previous month for a kick-boxing tournament.

The leak “could have raised Iranian suspicions” about Mr Fashi, Scott Lucas, a Birmingham University professor and an authority on Iran, told The Times. “Alternatively, it could have been used as a pretext against him; to set him up as a person who could take the fall for the assassination.” . . .

WikiLeaks redacted the name of the Iranian source, but the cable — 09BAKU687 — described a diplomat’s debriefing of a person who was a “licensed martial arts coach and trainer”. The source disclosed how the regime had put pressure on Iranian martial arts clubs to train the regime’s Revolutionary Guards and Basij militiamen and used their members as “enforcers” to crush the demonstrations which followed President Ahmadinejad’s hotly contested re-election in 2009.

The cable was dated September 1, 2009; days after Mr Fashi had visited Baku as a member of the Iranian kick-boxing team.

Even if he was not the source described in the cable, the document gave the regime a plausible pretext for charging him with Dr Ali-Mohammadi’s assassination.

Jeffrey Goldberg: In Iran Talks, Ehud Barak is the Man to Watch

Arab Spring Winter

Free Syrian Army and government loyalists clash; 48 reported dead. More at the LA Times.

 Asharq al-Awsat‘s Ali Ibrahim on Al-Qaida in Syria:

Even if the regime is not behind these groups directly, it is indirectly responsible for them. If we cast our memories back to the stories of bloody bombing campaigns in Iraq, and the infiltration of Al Qaeda fighters into Iraq from all over the world, their route always passed through Damascus and the training camps concentrated on the Syrian-Iraqi border. It is not conceivable that all this could have been done without the knowledge of the authorities in a regime known for the iron fist of its security apparatus. Therefore these groups, and the style of their bombings, are the merchandise of this regime, and something that it previously exported across the region!

Rest O’ the Roundup

Worth watching: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO Ester Levanon talks to CNN about doing business in Israel.

The PA finally issued an arrest warrant for Muhammed Rashid, Yasser Arafat’s financial advisor. Rashid’s accused of corruption and embezzling millions of dollars of public money. The Jerusalem Post explains, why now?

The decision to issue an arrest warrant against Rashid came two days after he appeared on the Saudi-owned TV station Al-Arabiya and talked about his work with Arafat and the PLO.

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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