Iran conducted a test of a new generation guided surface-to-surface ballistic missile called Pillar, or Emad in Farsi, on Sunday, according to Iranian state media. If true, the test violates the recently-inked United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231. Following the announcement, Reuters' UN bureau chief, Louis Charbonneau, tweeted: “#Iran tests new precision-guided ballistic missile (NOTE: if true, it's a blatant violation of UNSC sanctions).” The ballistic missile test has prompted some to question whether it violates the Iran nuclear deal reached on July 14.
UN Resolution 2231 endorses the Iran nuclear deal and calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” The Wall Street Journal reported that “[a]ny missile capable of carrying a large conventional payload—including the Emad—is technically capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.” The resolution keeps the ban on ballistic missile activity in place for 8 years, but following the passage of UNSCR 2231, Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati stated, “Let me stress that the missile issue and the defense capabilities of Iran are not at all part of the agreement. Iran has never, and will never, negotiate with other countries…about the quality and type of the missiles that Iran produces or controls, or what type of defensive military equipment Iran requires.” Sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, “Iran has made it clear that it has no intention of complying with UNSCR 2231 (2015) and sees missile tests as permitted under the JCPOA.”
In testimony before Congress in August 2015, Michael Singh, former senior advisor for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, explained that the Iran nuclear accord’s failure to include limitations on ballistic missiles means that by Implementation Day, “Iran will not be barred from conducting ballistic missile launches or pursuing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which are an essential part of any modern nuclear weapons program.” Iran already boasts the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the region. The Emad long-range missile surpasses Iran’s Shahab-3 missile because of its precision-guided capabilities. Experts debate the exact specifications (range, accuracy, and payload) of the new missile. Some suggest, however, that the missile could reach up to 800 miles, “putting it within striking distance of regional adversaries, including Israel.”
The Washington Post‘s correspondent in Tehran, who was arrested by Iranian authorities more than a year ago and was held for nine months without charge, has been convicted in an espionage trial.
Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American journalist, had been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for longer than the 444 days of the Iran hostage crisis three decades ago. Rezaian’s lawyer said that she was not present in the courtroom at the announcement of the verdict; early reports were unclear whether Rezaian himself was there either. The announcement of his conviction was made on state TV.
The verdict was condemned in a statement by Post executive editor Martin Baron:
Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing.
State Department spokesperson John Kirby also called on Iran to drop all charges against Rezaian.
The Post reported more:
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has repeatedly suggested a prisoner exchange in recent weeks. He has said Iran might push to expedite freedom for Rezaian and two other Iranian Americans if the United States released Iranian citizens convicted of sanctions violations. Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho, is a pastor imprisoned for organizing home churches. Amir Hekmati of Flint, Mich., is a former Marine who has spent four years in prison since his arrest during a visit to see his grandmother.>
Rezaian’s case attracted international attention as an example of Iranian government repression, despite Rouhani’s desire to expand personal freedoms in Iran and improve relations with the West.
Iranian authorities accused Rezaian of “collaborating with hostile governments as well as writing a letter to President Obama.” They also restricted his access to legal counsel and prohibited his family from attending the trial or speaking with him. Abolghassem Salavati, the judge presiding over Rezaian’s case, has been sanctioned by the European Union for his human rights record, especially for actions taken against journalists. Salavati also presided over the case of three American hikers who were arrested after they inadvertently entered Iran. The hikers were released after paying $1.5 million in bail.
A Post editorial late last year asked, “If Iranian officials are unresponsive in the case of Mr. Rezaian, how can they be expected to deliver on commitments they make with respect to the nuclear program?”
In Why Does Iran Keep Taking American Hostages, published in the September 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Bridget Johnson analyzed Rezaian’s case, as well as the status of Abedini and Hekmati, and explored the history of Iran using American prisoners as bargaining chips for international deals. (via TheTower.org)
The world is in a water crisis, one that will grow more severe in the coming decade. Water shortages will soon lead to increasing political instability, displacement of populations, and, more likely than not, political unrest and war.
Though this water crisis overlaps with the more widely-discussed problem of climate change, it is different in many ways. It is more acute and more concrete, in that it focuses on a single resource without which humanity cannot live. Its causes are less controversial. Its dimensions are more easily measured. And its catastrophic effects are playing out more clearly and more quickly.
It is also a problem that can be decisively solved without anything remotely resembling the economic restructuring and political acrobatics required to address climate change. Fully effective solutions to the water crisis have already been found. They only need to be implemented.
The world’s water problem is being caused by multiple simultaneous factors: Reduced rainfall, increased population, and the rapid development of impoverished societies have all come together to deplete the amount of water available to humankind. None of these causes are going away. Solutions will come only from changing the way we find and use water.
To make sure supply stays ahead of demand, we need to talk about where we get water, how we use it, and what happens to it afterwards. We need methods for procuring usable water, not just from lakes and rivers and rain, but also from the sea and our own waste. We need farming methods that use much less water, and better ways to prevent leakage and contamination. We need policies that encourage all of these things without undercutting economic growth and our way of life. If we had to start today, it would take decades to come up with the answers.
But we don’t have to start today. All these solutions have been in the works for more than half a century.
The country that has dedicated the greatest resources, innovation, and cultural attention to the problem of water scarcity is Israel. Founded on a dry strip of land smaller than New Hampshire, saddled with absorbing millions of immigrants, Israel has been worrying about water for a very long time. Today, it leads the way in solving problems of water supply, spearheading efforts to deal with water leakage, farming efficiency, recycling waste, desalination, pricing policy, and education. This has resulted in a water revolution unlike anywhere else on earth; a revolution not just of technology, but of thought, policy, and culture. For this reason, Israelis will be at the heart of any effort to solve the global water crisis.
In fact, as a new book shows, they already are. ...
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