Renewed nuclear "red lines" from Iranian Supreme Leader trigger State Dept. debate

 

The Obama administration was pressed on Tuesday to respond to statements from Iranian officials - most recently this weekend from the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - doubling down on Iranian conditions for a nuclear deal that would among other things see the Islamic republic massively expand, rather than roll back, its uranium enrichment program. At Tuesday's daily State Department press briefing, Fox News reporter James Rosen asked Spokesperson Jennifer Psaki about a graphic posted on Sunday to Khamenei's Twitter account that laid out several explicitly described "red lines." Among them: a call for "protecting" Iran's underground military enrichment facility at Fordow, a stipulation that "nuclear science movement should not... even slow down," and a demand that Iran be allowed to build an industrial scale "enrichment capacity" far beyond its current infrastructure. The graphic reemphasized positions - most pointedly, the latter demand for an enrichment capacity of 190,000 separative work units (SWUs), at least 19 times over what Iran has now - that Khamenei published on his website in early July. The 190,000 figure was quickly cited and echoed by top Iranian nuclear officials, including via an Iranian-hosted PR-style webpage known to U.S.-based arms control analysts as one that conveys "quasi-official" Iranian government talking points. The stance is almost by definition a nonstarter, moving as it does in the opposite direction of the basic Western position that Iran must limit rather than expand its nuclear program. Robert Einhorn, a former State Department special adviser for nonproliferation and often a prominent defender of the Obama administration's diplomacy toward Iran, at the time noted tersely that Khamenei's statements "seemed to widen" already-existing gaps between Tehran and the West. Psaki responded to Rosen's Tuesday question by suggesting that the Supreme Leader's Twitter post may have been aimed at a domestic audience, a theory that administration officials have offered before in response to intransigent English-language declarations made by Iranian officials and conveyed via Western media platforms. Journalists had in the past openly mocked the notion, and Psaki's response prompted veteran Associated Press correspondent Matt Lee to ask whether the State Department's position was that "a tweet in English from the Iranian leader is aimed at an Iranian audience." Tehran forbids its citizens from accessing Twitter.

 

On the final evening of a September 2‐10 tour of Israel with Heroes to Heroes , a US Army veteran named Juan said: “Instead of the VA [Veterans Administration] spending money on our medical treatment, they should have spent money on this program, because more healing was done here.” Based in New Jersey, the nonprofit Heroes to Heroes brings over “teams” of war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and often physical injuries as well. Juan, who fought in Iraq in 2004 to 2005, was in the fifth cohort of 10 Americans accompanied by a coach and Heroes to Heroes founder Judy Schaffer, along with six Israeli vets who met them here. “For veterans who are struggling and may have thoughts of suicide or not moving on, the trip helps them get their connection back to what’s important, spiritually and emotionally,” Schaffer said. A recent Ministry of Defense study conducted on 2,235 Israeli veterans diagnosed with PTSD found that they have a lower rate of mortality compared with soldiers suffering PTSD in other countries including the United States. “Our suicide rate is over 20 veterans a day in the US,” says Schaffer. “I want them to understand that they matter, that they have value, that they can have a connection with a higher being, with each other and with people 6,000 miles away.” The opportunity to experience religious sites such as the Western Wall, the Stations of the Cross, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Jordan River helps these veterans discover a purpose and a reason to continue, she explains. The itinerary was arranged by Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israel. Tour educator Daniel Jacobs led the vets from north to south, and honored a request to improvise a stop at Agilite, maker of innovative military and search-and-rescue gear. Many of these men – some of whom served in the Vietnam War – were especially touched by a tree-planting activity in the Lavi Forest in the Galilee. Schaffer and the coaches stay in touch with past participants. “A lot of them come back with a sense of peace and a sense of purpose. And they keep that with them.” (via Israel21c)


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