- Netanyahu: Iran's nuclear infrastructure would allow it to cross finish line “within a few weeks”
- Hamas independently manufacturing advanced missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv
- Sinai Peninsula chaos escalates as shots fired at Israeli soldiers
- Erdogan: Morsi is still “my president”
What we’re watching today:
- Iran’s installation of advanced nuclear infrastructure, including IR-2m centrifuges, risks enabling the regime to go nuclear “within a few weeks” once a political decision has been made to do so, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister spoke on CBS’s "Face the Nation" Sunday and emphasized that Iran would not “be allowed to cross the “red line” on enrichment that he had established at the United Nations last September. He also specifically responded to proposals being floated under which Iran would temporarily suspend some enrichment in exchange for a relief in international sanctions. Netanyahu emphasized that the concession was “insignificant and meaningless,” with the result of the deal being to give Iran time to lock in its advanced nuclear infrastructure. At stake is a core assumption behind Western calculations under which further negotiations with Iran can be safely conducted. Western diplomats have argued that – should Iran make a decision to cross the nuclear finish line – the West would have enough time to detect the decision and intervene. The technology being installed by Iran would enhance by orders of magnitude the pace at which the regime could conduct enrichment, creating a situation under which the West might not have time to intervene. The scenario would undermine a core assumption behind ongoing engagement. A meeting of the P5+1 Tuesday will bring together the world’s top powers to discuss moving forward with Iranian negotiations, and Washington has already publicly indicated that it is open to direct talks with Tehran. A new round of negotiations between Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog will not take place until August at the earliest.
- Hamas is manufacturing and testing rockets – including a Gaza version of the advanced Iranian Fajr-5 – capable of striking Israel’s densely packed population centers, risking another conflict like Israel’s November Operation Pillar of Defense, which Jerusalem launched after several months in which Hamas steadily increased the amount and sophistication of weapons it fired at Israeli infrastructure and civilians. Israel substantially degraded the Gaza-based terror group’s arsenal of advanced missiles during that conflict. While in the past Hamas has been supplied and resupplied by Tehran, it has in recent months sought to replenish its supply "less through tunnels and more through self-production," IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Monday. Those weapons that are being imported are, according to a senior IDF officer who spoke last month, smaller in quantity but higher in quality.
- Gunmen from the Egypt-controlled Sinai Peninsula fired on Israeli soldiers Sunday night, underscoring growing concerns that violence from the increasingly anarchic territory will spill over into neighboring countries. Israeli military officials responded to the incident by ramping up security in southern Israel. Jihadists have engaged in a string of attacks on Egyptian security personnel in the Sinai since the July 3rd removal of Egyptian then-President Mohammed Morsi, with at least 10 Egyptian policemen killed in attacks on security checkpoints, police stations, and government buildings. The army linked the attacks to efforts that have “the aim of sowing chaos and harming the stability and national security of Egypt.” The Egyptian military blames Hamas for much of the unrest, accusing the Palestinian terror group of facilitating the movement of materials and personnel between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Egypt. Last week the army reportedly killed dozens of Hamas fighters who had infiltrated the Peninsula to engage attacks on security forces, and a Palestinian man attempting to return to Gaza was detained last week in connection with a bomb blast that targeted a pipeline that supplied natural gas to Jordan. Egyptian intelligence, according to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, is reportedly conducting surveillance on Hamas inside the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Egyptian army said it was set to launch a large-scale military operation in the Sinai "to clean it up from terrorist and criminal cells."
- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turkish media Sunday that former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is still “my president,” and that the army’s actions against Morsi – which came in response to the largest national anti-government demonstrations in the history of humanity – “ignor[ed] the Egyptian people.” Erdogan was an early and consistent supporter of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-linked government, and Ankara reacted to Morsi’s removal with outrage. Cairo had already summoned the Turkish ambassador to Egypt last week after Ankara described Morsi’s removal as an “unacceptable coup.” The decline of the Brotherhood’s political prospects in Egypt has been taken by observers as a severe blow to efforts by Erdogan's Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) to establish regional influence and serve as a model for what had been hailed – in some corners of the foreign policy community – as a new model for democratic Islamism.
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