Sunday, May 29, 2011

Obama Shifts Tone on Israel Borders

MAY 23, 2011

President Says Nation Wouldn't Cede All Land Gained in '67; 'Swaps' Key

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama, two days after a frosty meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, restated his call for a resumption of negotiations between Israel and Palestinians based on the Jewish state's borders before the 1967 Six Day War, while trying to soften its impact.

During this Arab spring, the U.S. has struggled to define its role. Seven months after the first demonstrations in Tunisia, the U.S. is crafting an economic strategy for a more democratic Middle East. WSJ's Neil Hickey reports.

The U.S. president, speaking Sunday before Washington's most powerful pro-Israel lobby, combined his call with strong assertions that his administration recognized that Israel won't give up all the lands it gained during the 1967 conflict as part of a final agreement—a point Mr. Netanyahu stressed when meeting the American leader Friday.

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Instead, Mr. Obama more clearly stated his belief that "land swaps" between Israel and the Palestinians must be central to any deal.

"By definition, it means that the parties themselves—Israelis and Palestinians—will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967," Mr. Obama told members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. "That is what mutually agreed swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation."

Still, the U.S. president stressed that Israel's leaders needed to recognize that time wasn't on their side in pursuing peace with the Palestinians. He noted that the demographics were shifting in favor of Arab populations and that Hamas and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah were deploying increasingly sophisticated weaponry.

Mr. Obama leaves for a six-day tour of Ireland, Britain, France and Poland Sunday night, where the Mideast turmoil is expected to be an ongoing theme of discussion.

The president created a diplomatic firestorm last Thursday when he stated during a wide-ranging address on the Middle East his support for a resumption of stalled peace talks utilizing the 1967 baseline. Mr. Netanyahu rebuked Mr. Obama's position a day later during their Oval Office meeting. And many pro-Israel lawmakers and organizations voiced fears that Mr. Obama was significantly altering U.S. policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Agence France-Press/Getty Images
President Obama, arriving onstage for his speech Sunday, greets Lee Rosenberg, president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The president's address to the influential Israeli lobbying organization represented an attempt to restate his views in a package more acceptable to Israel and its supporters. In particular, Mr. Obama this time paired his talk about borders with blanket assertions of his commitment to Israeli security.

Mr. Netanyahu opposes any preconditions on talks with the Palestinians—such as a commitment on borders—that are seen as forcing Israel to make concessions at the front-end of a negotiation. Israel's leader also said last week that reverting to the 1967 lines would make his country "indefensible," because of demographic and military changes in the region.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush provided "assurances" to Israel in 2004 that Washington wouldn't require Israel to give up sizable Jewish settlements in the West Bank as part of any final agreement.

Many of Mr. Obama's aides felt the president's position had been misunderstood, particularly his recognition of the need for land swaps to modify the pre-1967 borders. On Sunday, Mr. Obama argued that his position didn't mark a big shift from the positions of presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Mr. Obama noted that their administrations developed peace processes that inherently used the 1967 borders as a baseline for talks, though they didn't state the position as clearly.

"There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations," Mr. Obama said.


Transcript of Obama's Remarks to AIPAC
U.S.-Israeli Relations Have Been Rocky Before
Mr. Obama also said one reason he was aggressively pursuing a resumption of peace talks was to offset efforts by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to convince the United Nations in September to vote to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state—a plan that many diplomats believe will succeed.

Mr. Obama used his speech to reassure Israel and the thousands of Jewish-Americans in attendance that the White House remained committed to preserving the Jewish state's military edge through billions of dollars in annual U.S. military aid.

He also received standing ovations by citing what he called existential threats posed to Israel by Iran's nuclear program and the militant Palestinian group Hamas, which the U.S. designates a terrorist group.

Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday also moved to defuse diplomatic tension with the White House. "I am partner to the president's desire to foster peace and I value his efforts in the past and the present to achieve this goal," his office said in a statementafter Mr. Obama's speech. The Israeli leader will address the Jewish committee Monday night.

Mr. Obama's comments on the 1967 lines drew a reserved response, and were jeered by a few audience members. But the president's overall speech was received warmly. Committee organizers had privately voiced fears that some members might jeer the president.

"He successfully clarified some of his comments from Thursday," said Jacob Shapiro, a committee member from New York, who said he was initially confused by Mr. Obama's position. "The term '1967 borders' is a loaded term."

"I thought he delivered the exact message he needed to deliver," said Marc Oppenheimer of Las Vegas. He clarified his position."

The committee praised the speech. Still, unease remained among some delegates. "He wanted to demonstrate his support of Israel, but it was not concrete enough to be someone you can absolutely trust. He's a politician," said Arthur Finkle, a committee delegate and chemical sales representative from Fairfield, Conn.

He said Mr. Obama appeared to be reversing his Thursday view on the 1967 borders, even though the president said he was simply clarifying. "He might be trying to reshape it for this audience."

Obama Could Veto Defense Bill Over New START Restrictions

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

President Obama could veto fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill if it retains amendments that would restrict his administration's ability to implement a new Russian-U.S. nuclear arms control treaty, the White House said in a statement released on Tuesday (see GSN, May 19).

(May. 25) - President Obama, shown delivering a speech to the British Parliament on Wednesday. The White House on Tuesday warned Obama was prepared to veto the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill over language that could limit his administration's capacity to comply with a new U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear arms control treaty (Jewel Samad/Getty Images).
Though the administration agrees with many of the bill's components, it "has serious concerns with several provisions that constrain the ability of the armed forces to carry out their missions (and) impede the secretary of Defense's ability to make and implement management decisions that eliminate unnecessary overhead or programs to ensure scarce resources are directed to the highest priorities for the warfighter," the Associated Press quoted the statement as saying.
The bill, which authorizes up to $553 billion in Defense Department funding for the next budget cycle and up to $118 billion more for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, would prevent the White House from spending funds between 2011 and 2017 to retire any nuclear warhead covered by the New START treaty unless the Defense and Energy secretaries provide joint certification that the remaining arsenal is being modernized, according to a previous report (see GSN, May 12).
The legislation would also require the president to notify Congress before adopting any new nuclear targeting strategy or transferring armaments out of Europe.
The White House voiced disagreement with the restrictions, adding that the legislation "raises constitutional concerns as it appears to encroach on the president's authority as commander in chief to set nuclear employment policy -- a right exercised by every president in the nuclear age from both parties" (Donna Cassata, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, May 25).
The bill would make the administration's ability to comply with the treaty contingent on the preparation of new U.S. nuclear weapons complex components "not expected until the mid-2020s," Reuters quoted the released remarks as saying. "The effect of this section would be to preclude dismantlement of weapons in excess of military needs."
Deliberations on the bill are slated for this week in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. The legislation would also require approval by the Senate, where Democrats hold more seats. Congressional approval of the bill might take months, according to Reuters.
The New START pact entered into force on February 5. It requires the United States and Russia to each reduce deployment of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from a cap of 2,200 mandated by next year under an older treaty. It also limits the number of fielded warhead delivery platforms to 700, with an additional 100 systems permitted in reserve (Cornwell/Wolf, Reuters, May 25).
Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's office on Wednesday disputed suggestions that the treaty's implementation has stalled, ITAR-Tass reported.
“To those who are telling scare stories about a new spiral of confrontation I would advise to display greater patience,” said Sergei Prikhodko, Medvedev's senior foreign policy adviser.
"I do not agree that the implementation of the agreement is stalled," Prikhodko said. "We have no evidence pointing to the American side’s noncompliance with the treaty. Nor have there been any statements to this effect from our counterparts in the United States in relation to Russia."
"With regard to the missile defense issue I can say the work on it is in progress, there is time and there is a political and negotiating resource at the disposal of experts," he said, demanding "greater patience."
The Kremlin remains wary of U.S. and NATO missile defense plans for Europe. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev indicated last week his government would pursue a nuclear arms buildup if the sides cannot reach an agreement on antimissile collaboration (see GSN, May 18). Moscow has pressed for assurance that it would not be targeted by the NATO system and for a cooperative program in which Europe would be divided into two sectors of missile defense responsibility, with NATO managing one and Russia the other.
"When it comes to antimissile defense topics, we should focus on finding an algorithm of interaction that would not contradict the interests of the parties, accommodate their concerns, and work for strengthening international security," Prikhodko said.
"Accordingly, there is the need to safeguard the guarantees the missile capabilities of the United States and Russia should not be targeted against each other, including the development of military-technological and geographical criteria," he explained. "The solution of this problem will require the conclusion of a legally binding agreement between our countries," the official said (ITAR-Tass, May 25).

Remarks by the President to Parliament in London, United Kingdom

e May 25, 2011

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

My Lord Chancellor, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, my lords, and members of the House of Commons:

I have known few greater honors than the opportunity to address the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster Hall. I am told that the last three speakers here have been the Pope, Her Majesty the Queen, and Nelson Mandela -- which is either a very high bar or the beginning of a very funny joke. (Laughter.)

I come here today to reaffirm one of the oldest, one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known. It’s long been said that the United States and the United Kingdom share a special relationship. And since we also share an especially active press corps, that relationship is often analyzed and overanalyzed for the slightest hint of stress or strain.

Of course, all relationships have their ups and downs. Admittedly, ours got off on the wrong foot with a small scrape about tea and taxes. (Laughter.) There may also have been some hurt feelings when the White House was set on fire during the War of 1812. (Laughter.) But fortunately, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

The reason for this close friendship doesn’t just have to do with our shared history, our shared heritage; our ties of language and culture; or even the strong partnership between our governments. Our relationship is special because of the values and beliefs that have united our people through the ages.

Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta. It was here, in this very hall, where the rule of law first developed, courts were established, disputes were settled, and citizens came to petition their leaders.

Over time, the people of this nation waged a long and sometimes bloody struggle to expand and secure their freedom from the crown. Propelled by the ideals of the Enlightenment, they would ultimately forge an English Bill of Rights, and invest the power to govern in an elected parliament that’s gathered here today.

What began on this island would inspire millions throughout the continent of Europe and across the world. But perhaps no one drew greater inspiration from these notions of freedom than your rabble-rousing colonists on the other side of the Atlantic. As Winston Churchill said, the “…Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”

For both of our nations, living up to the ideals enshrined in these founding documents has sometimes been difficult, has always been a work in progress. The path has never been perfect. But through the struggles of slaves and immigrants, women and ethnic minorities, former colonies and persecuted religions, we have learned better than most that the longing for freedom and human dignity is not English or American or Western –- it is universal, and it beats in every heart. Perhaps that’s why there are few nations that stand firmer, speak louder, and fight harder to defend democratic values around the world than the United States and the United Kingdom.

We are the allies who landed at Omaha and Gold, who sacrificed side by side to free a continent from the march of tyranny, and help prosperity flourish from the ruins of war. And with the founding of NATO –- a British idea –- we joined a transatlantic alliance that has ensured our security for over half a century.

Together with our allies, we forged a lasting peace from a cold war. When the Iron Curtain lifted, we expanded our alliance to include the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and built new bridges to Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union. And when there was strife in the Balkans, we worked together to keep the peace.

Today, after a difficult decade that began with war and ended in recession, our nations have arrived at a pivotal moment once more. A global economy that once stood on the brink of depression is now stable and recovering. After years of conflict, the United States has removed 100,000 troops from Iraq, the United Kingdom has removed its forces, and our combat mission there has ended. In Afghanistan, we’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum and will soon begin a transition to Afghan lead. And nearly 10 years after 9/11, we have disrupted terrorist networks and dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader –- Osama bin Laden.

Together, we have met great challenges. But as we enter this new chapter in our shared history, profound challenges stretch before us. In a world where the prosperity of all nations is now inextricably linked, a new era of cooperation is required to ensure the growth and stability of the global economy. As new threats spread across borders and oceans, we must dismantle terrorist networks and stop the spread of nuclear weapons, confront climate change and combat famine and disease. And as a revolution races through the streets of the Middle East and North Africa, the entire world has a stake in the aspirations of a generation that longs to determine its own destiny.

These challenges come at a time when the international order has already been reshaped for a new century. Countries like China, India, and Brazil are growing by leaps and bounds. We should welcome this development, for it has lifted hundreds of millions from poverty around the globe, and created new markets and opportunities for our own nations.

And yet, as this rapid change has taken place, it’s become fashionable in some quarters to question whether the rise of these nations will accompany the decline of American and European influence around the world. Perhaps, the argument goes, these nations represent the future, and the time for our leadership has passed.

That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now. It was the United States and the United Kingdom and our democratic allies that shaped a world in which new nations could emerge and individuals could thrive. And even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a century that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just.

At a time when threats and challenges require nations to work in concert with one another, we remain the greatest catalysts for global action. In an era defined by the rapid flow of commerce and information, it is our free market tradition, our openness, fortified by our commitment to basic security for our citizens, that offers the best chance of prosperity that is both strong and shared. As millions are still denied their basic human rights because of who they are, or what they believe, or the kind of government that they live under, we are the nations most willing to stand up for the values of tolerance and self-determination that lead to peace and dignity.

Now, this doesn’t mean we can afford to stand still. The nature of our leadership will need to change with the times. As I said the first time I came to London as President, for the G20 summit, the days are gone when Roosevelt and Churchill could sit in a room and solve the world’s problems over a glass of brandy -– although I’m sure that Prime Minister Cameron would agree that some days we could both use a stiff drink. (Laughter.) In this century, our joint leadership will require building new partnerships, adapting to new circumstances, and remaking ourselves to meet the demands of a new era.

That begins with our economic leadership.

Adam Smith’s central insight remains true today: There is no greater generator of wealth and innovation than a system of free enterprise that unleashes the full potential of individual men and women. That’s what led to the Industrial Revolution that began in the factories of Manchester. That is what led to the dawn of the Information Age that arose from the office parks of Silicon Valley. That’s why countries like China, India and Brazil are growing so rapidly -- because in fits and starts, they are moving toward market-based principles that the United States and the United Kingdom have always embraced.

In other words, we live in a global economy that is largely of our own making. And today, the competition for the best jobs and industries favors countries that are free-thinking and forward-looking; countries with the most creative and innovative and entrepreneurial citizens.

That gives nations like the United States and the United Kingdom an inherent advantage. For from Newton and Darwin to Edison and Einstein, from Alan Turing to Steve Jobs, we have led the world in our commitment to science and cutting-edge research, the discovery of new medicines and technologies. We educate our citizens and train our workers in the best colleges and universities on Earth. But to maintain this advantage in a world that’s more competitive than ever, we will have to redouble our investments in science and engineering, and renew our national commitments to educating our workforces.

We’ve also been reminded in the last few years that markets can sometimes fail. In the last century, both our nations put in place regulatory frameworks to deal with such market failures -- safeguards to protect the banking system after the Great Depression, for example; regulations that were established to prevent the pollution of our air and water during the 1970s.

But in today’s economy, such threats of market failure can no longer be contained within the borders of any one country. Market failures can go global, and go viral, and demand international responses.

A financial crisis that began on Wall Street infected nearly every continent, which is why we must keep working through forums like the G20 to put in place global rules of the road to prevent future excesses and abuse. No country can hide from the dangers of carbon pollution, which is why we must build on what was achieved at Copenhagen and Cancun to leave our children a planet that is safer and cleaner.

Moreover, even when the free market works as it should, both our countries recognize that no matter how responsibly we live in our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff may strike any one of us. And so part of our common tradition has expressed itself in a conviction that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security -– health care if you get sick, unemployment insurance if you lose your job, a dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work. That commitment to our citizens has also been the reason for our leadership in the world.

And now, having come through a terrible recession, our challenge is to meet these obligations while ensuring that we’re not consuming -- and hence consumed with -- a level of debt that could sap the strength and vitality of our economies. And that will require difficult choices and it will require different paths for both of our countries. But we have faced such challenges before, and have always been able to balance the need for fiscal responsibility with the responsibilities we have to one another.

And I believe we can do this again. As we do, the successes and failures of our own past can serve as an example for emerging economies -– that it’s possible to grow without polluting; that lasting prosperity comes not from what a nation consumes, but from what it produces, and from the investments it makes in its people and its infrastructure.

And just as we must lead on behalf of the prosperity of our citizens, so we must safeguard their security. Our two nations know what it is to confront evil in the world. Hitler’s armies would not have stopped their killing had we not fought them on the beaches and on the landing grounds, in the fields and on the streets. We must never forget that there was nothing inevitable about our victory in that terrible war. It was won through the courage and character of our people.

Precisely because we are willing to bear its burden, we know well the cost of war. And that is why we built an alliance that was strong enough to defend this continent while deterring our enemies. At its core, NATO is rooted in the simple concept of Article Five: that no NATO nation will have to fend on its own; that allies will stand by one another, always. And for six decades, NATO has been the most successful alliance in human history.

Today, we confront a different enemy. Terrorists have taken the lives of our citizens in New York and in London. And while al Qaeda seeks a religious war with the West, we must remember that they have killed thousands of Muslims -– men, women and children -– around the globe. Our nations are not and will never be at war with Islam. Our fight is focused on defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies. In that effort, we will not relent, as Osama bin Laden and his followers have learned. And as we fight an enemy that respects no law of war, we will continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard -– by living up to the values, the rule of law and due process that we so ardently defend.

For almost a decade, Afghanistan has been a central front of these efforts. Throughout those years, you, the British people, have been a stalwart ally, along with so many others who fight by our side.

Together, let us pay tribute to all of our men and women who have served and sacrificed over the last several years -– for they are part of an unbroken line of heroes who have borne the heaviest burden for the freedoms that we enjoy. Because of them, we have broken the Taliban’s momentum. Because of them, we have built the capacity of Afghan security forces. And because of them, we are now preparing to turn a corner in Afghanistan by transitioning to Afghan lead. And during this transition, we will pursue a lasting peace with those who break free of al Qaeda and respect the Afghan constitution and lay down arms. And we will ensure that Afghanistan is never a safe haven for terror, but is instead a country that is strong, sovereign, and able to stand on its own two feet.

Indeed, our efforts in this young century have led us to a new concept for NATO that will give us the capabilities needed to meet new threats -- threats like terrorism and piracy, cyber attacks and ballistic missiles. But a revitalized NATO will continue to hew to that original vision of its founders, allowing us to rally collective action for the defense of our people, while building upon the broader belief of Roosevelt and Churchill that all nations have both rights and responsibilities, and all nations share a common interest in an international architecture that maintains the peace.

We also share a common interest in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. Across the globe, nations are locking down nuclear materials so they never fall into the wrong hands -- because of our leadership. From North Korea to Iran, we’ve sent a message that those who flaunt their obligations will face consequences -– which is why America and the European Union just recently strengthened our sanctions on Iran, in large part because of the leadership of the United Kingdom and the United States. And while we hold others to account, we will meet our own obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and strive for a world without nuclear weapons.

We share a common interest in resolving conflicts that prolong human suffering and threaten to tear whole regions asunder. In Sudan, after years of war and thousands of deaths, we call on both North and South to pull back from the brink of violence and choose the path of peace. And in the Middle East, we stand united in our support for a secure Israel and a sovereign Palestine.

And we share a common interest in development that advances dignity and security. To succeed, we must cast aside the impulse to look at impoverished parts of the globe as a place for charity. Instead, we should empower the same forces that have allowed our own people to thrive: We should help the hungry to feed themselves, the doctors who care for the sick. We should support countries that confront corruption, and allow their people to innovate. And we should advance the truth that nations prosper when they allow women and girls to reach their full potential.

We do these things because we believe not simply in the rights of nations; we believe in the rights of citizens. That is the beacon that guided us through our fight against fascism and our twilight struggle against communism. And today, that idea is being put to the test in the Middle East and North Africa. In country after country, people are mobilizing to free themselves from the grip of an iron fist. And while these movements for change are just six months old, we have seen them play out before -– from Eastern Europe to the Americas, from South Africa to Southeast Asia.

History tells us that democracy is not easy. It will be years before these revolutions reach their conclusion, and there will be difficult days along the way. Power rarely gives up without a fight -– particularly in places where there are divisions of tribe and divisions of sect. We also know that populism can take dangerous turns -– from the extremism of those who would use democracy to deny minority rights, to the nationalism that left so many scars on this continent in the 20th century.

But make no mistake: What we saw, what we are seeing in Tehran, in Tunis, in Tahrir Square, is a longing for the same freedoms that we take for granted here at home. It was a rejection of the notion that people in certain parts of the world don’t want to be free, or need to have democracy imposed upon them. It was a rebuke to the worldview of al Qaeda, which smothers the rights of individuals, and would thereby subject them to perpetual poverty and violence.

Let there be no doubt: The United States and United Kingdom stand squarely on the side of those who long to be free. And now, we must show that we will back up those words with deeds. That means investing in the future of those nations that transition to democracy, starting with Tunisia and Egypt -– by deepening ties of trade and commerce; by helping them demonstrate that freedom brings prosperity. And that means standing up for universal rights -– by sanctioning those who pursue repression, strengthening civil society, supporting the rights of minorities.
We do this knowing that the West must overcome suspicion and mistrust among many in the Middle East and North Africa -– a mistrust that is rooted in a difficult past. For years, we’ve faced charges of hypocrisy from those who do not enjoy the freedoms that they hear us espouse. And so to them, we must squarely acknowledge that, yes, we have enduring interests in the region -– to fight terror, sometimes with partners who may not be perfect; to protect against disruptions of the world’s energy supply. But we must also insist that we reject as false the choice between our interests and our ideals; between stability and democracy. For our idealism is rooted in the realities of history -– that repression offers only the false promise of stability, that societies are more successful when their citizens are free, and that democracies are the closest allies we have.

It is that truth that guides our action in Libya. It would have been easy at the outset of the crackdown in Libya to say that none of this was our business -– that a nation’s sovereignty is more important than the slaughter of civilians within its borders. That argument carries weight with some. But we are different. We embrace a broader responsibility. And while we cannot stop every injustice, there are circumstances that cut through our caution -– when a leader is threatening to massacre his people, and the international community is calling for action. That’s why we stopped a massacre in Libya. And we will not relent until the people of Libya are protected and the shadow of tyranny is lifted.

We will proceed with humility, and the knowledge that we cannot dictate every outcome abroad. Ultimately, freedom must be won by the people themselves, not imposed from without. But we can and must stand with those who so struggle. Because we have always believed that the future of our children and grandchildren will be better if other people’s children and grandchildren are more prosperous and more free -– from the beaches of Normandy to the Balkans to Benghazi. That is our interests and our ideals. And if we fail to meet that responsibility, who would take our place, and what kind of world would we pass on?

Our action -– our leadership -– is essential to the cause of human dignity. And so we must act -– and lead -– with confidence in our ideals, and an abiding faith in the character of our people, who sent us all here today.

For there is one final quality that I believe makes the United States and the United Kingdom indispensable to this moment in history. And that is how we define ourselves as nations.

Unlike most countries in the world, we do not define citizenship based on race or ethnicity. Being American or British is not about belonging to a certain group; it’s about believing in a certain set of ideals -- the rights of individuals, the rule of law. That is why we hold incredible diversity within our borders. That’s why there are people around the world right now who believe that if they come to America, if they come to New York, if they come to London, if they work hard, they can pledge allegiance to our flag and call themselves Americans; if they come to England, they can make a new life for themselves and can sing God Save The Queen just like any other citizen.

Yes, our diversity can lead to tension. And throughout our history there have been heated debates about immigration and assimilation in both of our countries. But even as these debates can be difficult, we fundamentally recognize that our patchwork heritage is an enormous strength -- that in a world which will only grow smaller and more interconnected, the example of our two nations says it is possible for people to be united by their ideals, instead of divided by their differences; that it’s possible for hearts to change and old hatreds to pass; that it’s possible for the sons and daughters of former colonies to sit here as members of this great Parliament, and for the grandson of a Kenyan who served as a cook in the British Army to stand before you as President of the United States. (Applause.)

That is what defines us. That is why the young men and women in the streets of Damascus and Cairo still reach for the rights our citizens enjoy, even if they sometimes differ with our policies. As two of the most powerful nations in the history of the world, we must always remember that the true source of our influence hasn’t just been the size of our economies, or the reach of our militaries, or the land that we’ve claimed. It has been the values that we must never waver in defending around the world -- the idea that all beings are endowed by our Creator with certain rights that cannot be denied.

That is what forged our bond in the fire of war -- a bond made manifest by the friendship between two of our greatest leaders. Churchill and Roosevelt had their differences. They were keen observers of each other’s blind spots and shortcomings, if not always their own, and they were hard-headed about their ability to remake the world. But what joined the fates of these two men at that particular moment in history was not simply a shared interest in victory on the battlefield. It was a shared belief in the ultimate triumph of human freedom and human dignity -– a conviction that we have a say in how this story ends.

This conviction lives on in their people today. The challenges we face are great. The work before us is hard. But we have come through a difficult decade, and whenever the tests and trials ahead may seem too big or too many, let us turn to their example, and the words that Churchill spoke on the day that Europe was freed:

“In the long years to come, not only will the people of this island but…the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in [the] human heart, look back to what we’ve done, and they will say ‘do not despair, do not yield…march straightforward’.”

With courage and purpose, with humility and with hope, with faith in the promise of tomorrow, let us march straightforward together, enduring allies in the cause of a world that is more peaceful, more prosperous, and more just.

Transcript of Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to U.S. Congress

Washington— Globe and Mail Update
Published Tuesday, May. 24, 2011 1:05PM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, May. 24, 2011 1:10PM EDT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of U.S. Congress on May 24, 2011

Vice President Biden, Speaker Boehner, distinguished senators, members of the House, honored guests, I'm deeply moved by this warm welcome, and I'm deeply honored that you've given me the opportunity to address Congress a second time.

Mr. Vice President, do you remember the time that we were the new kids in town? (Laughter, applause.) And I do see a lot of old friends here, and I see a lot of new friends of Israel here as well -- Democrats and Republicans alike. (Applause.)

Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel. (Applause.) We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism. Congratulations, America. Congratulations, Mr. President: You got bin Laden. Good riddance! (Cheers, applause.)

In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America's unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American. (Applause.)

My friends, you don't have to -- you don't need to do nation- building in Israel. We're already built. (Laughter, applause.) You don't need to export democracy to Israel. We've already got it. (Applause.) And you don't need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves. (Cheers, applause.)

You've been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own. Thank you all, and thank you, President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to Israel's security. I know economic times are tough. I deeply appreciate this. (Applause.)

Some of you have been telling me that your belief has been reaffirmed in recent months that support for Israel's security is a wise investment in our common future, for an epic battle is now under way in the Middle East between tyranny and freedom. A great convulsion is shaking the earth from the Khyber Pass to the Straits of Gibraltar.

The tremors have shattered states. They've toppled governments. And we can all see that the ground is still shifting.

Now, this historic moment holds the promise of a new dawn of freedom and opportunity. There are millions of young people out there who are determined to change their future. We all look at them. They muster courage. They risk their lives. They demand dignity. They desire liberty. These extraordinary scenes in Tunis, in Cairo, evoke those of Berlin and Prague in 1989. Yet, as we share their hopes --

You know, I take it as a badge of honor, and so should you, that in our free societies you can now protest. You can't have these protests in the farcical parliaments in Tehran or in Tripoli. This is real democracy. (Cheers, applause.)

So as we share the hopes of these young people throughout the Middle East and Iran, that they'll be able to do what that young woman just did -- I think she's young; I couldn't see quite that far --(laughter) -- we must also remember that those hopes could be snuffed out, as they were in Tehran in 1979. You remember what happened then.

The brief democratic spring in Tehran was cut short by a ferocious and unforgiving tyranny. And it's this same tyranny that smothered Lebanon's democratic Cedar Revolution and inflicted on that long- suffering country the medieval rule of Hezbollah.

So today the Middle East stands at a fateful crossroads. And like all of you, I pray that the peoples of the region choose the path less traveled, the path of liberty. (Applause.)

No one knows what this path consists of better than you.

Nobody. This path of liberty is not paved by elections alone. It's paved when governments permit protests in town squares, when limits are placed on the powers of rulers, when judges are beholden to laws and not men, and when human rights cannot be crushed by tribal loyalties or mob rule. Israel has always embraced this path in a Middle East that has long rejected it. In a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out. It is different. And this was seen -- (applause) -- thank you.

There was a great English writer in the 19th century, George Eliot. It's a she; that was a pseudonym in those days. George Eliot predicted over a century ago that, once established, the Jewish state -- here's what she said: "The Jewish state will shine like a bright star of freedom amid the despotisms of the East." Well, she was right.

We have a free press, independent courts, an open economy, rambunctious parliamentary debates -- (laughter) -- now, don't laugh -- (laughter) -- ah, you see? You think you're tough on another -- on one another here in Congress? Come spend a day in the Knesset. Be my guest! (Laughter, applause.)

Courageous Arab protesters are now struggling to secure these very same rights for their peoples, for their societies. We're proud in Israel that over 1 million Arab citizens of Israel have been enjoying these rights for decades. (Applause.) Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel's Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. (Applause.) Now, I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of 1 percent are truly free, and they're all citizens of Israel. (Applause.)

This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East; Israel is what's right about the Middle East. (Applause.)

Israel fully supports the desire of Arab peoples in our region to live freely. We long for the day when Israel will be one of many real democracies in the -- in the Middle East.

Fifteen years ago, I stood at this very podium. By the way, it hasn't changed. (Laughter.) I stood here and I said that democracy must start to take root in the Arab world. Well, it's begun to take root, and this beginning holds the promise of a brilliant future of peace and prosperity, because I believe that a Middle East that is genuinely democratic will be a Middle East truly at peace.

But while we hope for the best and while we work for the best, we must also recognize that powerful forces oppose this future. They oppose modernity. They oppose democracy. They oppose peace.

Foremost among these forces is Iran. The tyranny in Tehran brutalizes its own people. It supports attacks against Americans troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq. It subjugates Lebanon and Gaza. It sponsors terror worldwide.

When I last stood here, I spoke of the consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out. The hinge of history may soon turn, for the greatest danger of all could soon be upon us: a militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.

Militant Islam threatens the world. It threatens Islam.

Now, I have no doubt -- I'm absolutely convinced -- that it will ultimately be defeated. I believe it will eventually succumb to the forces of freedom and progress. It depends on cloistering young minds for a given amount of years, and the process of opening up information will ultimately defeat this movement. But like other fanatacisms that were doomed to fail, militant Islam could exact an horrific price from all of us before its eventual demise.

A nuclear-armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It would give terrorists a nuclear umbrella. It would make the nightmare of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger throughout the world.

See, I want you to understand what this means, because if we don't stop it, it's coming. They could put a bomb anywhere. They could put it in a missile; they're working on missiles that could reach this city. They could put it on a -- on a ship inside a container; could reach every port. They could eventually put it in a suitcase or in a subway.

Now, the threat to my country cannot be overstated. Those who dismiss it are sticking their heads on the stand. Less than seven decades after 6 million Jews were murdered, Iran's leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Leaders who spew such venom should be banned from every respectable forum on the planet. (Applause.)

But there's something that makes the outrage even greater. Do you know what that is? It's the lack of outrage, because in much of the international community, the call(s) for our destruction are met with utter silence. It's even worse because there are many who rush to condemn Israel for defending itself against Iran's terror proxies. Not you. Not America. (Applause.)

You've acted differently. You've condemned the Iranian regime for its genocidal aims. You've passed tough sanctions against Iran.

History will salute you, America. (Applause.)

President Obama has said that the United States is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The president successfully led the Security Council at the U.N. to adopt sanctions against Iran. You in Congress passed even tougher sanctions.

Now, these words and deeds are vitally important, yet the ayatollah regime briefly suspended its nuclear program only once, in 2003, when it feared the possibility of military action. In that same year, Moammar Gadhafi gave up his nuclear weapons program, and for the same reason. The more Iran believes that all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation. (Applause.) And this is why I ask you to continue to send an unequivocal message that America will never permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons. (Applause.)

Now, as for Israel, if history has taught the Jewish people anything, it is that we must take calls for our destruction seriously.

We are a nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. When we say never again, we mean never again. (Applause.) Israel always reserves -- (applause) -- Israel always reserves the right to defend itself. (Applause.)

My friends, while Israel will be ever-vigilant in its defense, we'll never give up our quest for peace. I guess we'll give it up when we achieve it. (Applause.) Because we want peace. Because we need peace. Now, we've achieved historic peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and these have held up for decades.

I remember what it was like before we had peace. I was nearly killed in a firefight inside the Suez Canal -- I mean that literally -- inside the Suez Canal.

And I was going down to the bottom with a 40-pound pack -- ammunition pack -- on my back, and somebody reached out to grab me.

And they're still looking for the guy who did such a stupid thing. (Laughter.) I was nearly killed there. And I remember battling terrorists along both banks of the Jordan.

Too many Israelis have lost loved ones, and I know their grief. I lost my brother. So no one in Israel wants a return to those terrible days.

The peace with Egypt and Jordan has long served as an anchor of stability and peace in the heart of the Middle East. (Applause.) And this peace -- this peace should be bolstered by economic and political support to all those who remain committed to peace. (Applause.) The peace agreements between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan are vital, but they're not enough. We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians. (Applause.)

Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples -- a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state.

(Applause.) I'm willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel, it's my responsibility to lead my people to peace. (Applause.)

Now, this is not easy for me. It's not easy, because I recognize that in a genuine peace, we'll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland. And you have to understand this: In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. (Cheers, applause.)

We're not the British in India. We're not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one god, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw his vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history -- and boy am I reading a lot of distortions of history lately, old and new -- no distortion of history could deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land. (Sustained applause.)

But there is another truth. The Palestinians share this small land with us. (Applause.) We seek a peace in which they'll be neither Israel's subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people living in their own state. (Applause.) They should enjoy a prosperous economy, where their creativity and initiative can flourish.

Now, we've already seen the beginnings of what is possible. In the last two years, the Palestinians have begun to build a better life for themselves. By the way, Prime Minister Fayyad has led this effort on their part, and I -- I wish him a speedy recovery from his recent operation. (Applause.)

We've helped -- on our side, we've helped the Palestinian economic growth by removing hundreds of barriers and roadblocks to the free flow of goods and people, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable. The Palestinian economy is booming; it's growing by more than 10 percent a year. And Palestinian cities -- they look very different today than what they looked just a few years -- a few years ago. They have shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, banks.

They even have e-businesses, but you can't see that when you visit them. (Scattered laughter.)

That's what they have. It's a great change. And all of this is happening without peace. So imagine what could happen with peace. (Applause.)

Peace would herald a new day for both our peoples, and it could also make the dream of a broader Arab-Israeli peace a realistic possibility. So now, here's the question. You've got to ask it: If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear, why has peace eluded us? Because all six Israeli prime ministers since the signing of the Oslo Accords agreed to establish a Palestinian state, myself included; so why has peace not been achieved?

Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.

You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state; it's always been about the existence of the Jewish state. (Applause.) This is what this conflict is about. (Extended applause.)

In 1947, the U.N. voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews said yes; the Palestinians said no.

In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli prime ministers to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six Day War. They were simply unwilling to end the conflict. And I regret to say this: They continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees. My friends, this must come to an end. (Applause.)

President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people -- and I told you, it wasn't easy for me -- I stood before my people and I said, "I will accept a Palestinian state." It's time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, "I will accept a Jewish state." (Cheers, applause.)

Those six words will change history. They'll make it clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end; that they're not building a Palestinian state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it.

And those six words will convince the people of Israel that they have a true partner for peace.

With such a partner, the Palestinian -- or rather the Israeli people will be prepared to make a far-reaching compromise. I will be prepared to make a far-reaching compromise. (Applause.)

This compromise must reflect the dramatic demographic changes that have occurred since 1967. The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and Greater Tel Aviv.

Now these areas are densely populated, but they're geographically quite small. And under any realistic peace agreement, these areas, as well as other places of critical strategic and national importance, we'd -- be incorporated into the final borders of Israel. (Applause.)

The status of the settlements will be decided only in negotiations, but we must also be honest. So I'm saying today something that should be said publicly by all those who are serious about peace. In any real peace agreement, in any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel's borders. Now the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We'll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967. (Applause.) Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967. (Cheers, applause.)

So I want to be very clear on this point. Israel will be generous on the size of a Palestinian state but will be very firm on where we put the border with it. This is an important principle, shouldn't be lost.

We recognize that a Palestinian state must be big enough to be viable, to be independent, to be prosperous. All of you -- and the president too -- have referred to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, just as you've been talking about a future Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people. Well, Jews from around the world have a right to immigrate to the one and only Jewish state, and Palestinians from around the world should have a right to immigrate, if they so choose, to a Palestinian state.

And here is what this means. It means that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel. (Applause.)

You know, everybody knows this. It's time to say it. It's important.

And as for Jerusalem, only a democratic Israel has protected the freedom of worship for all faiths in the city. (Applause.) Throughout the millennial history of the Jewish capital, the only time that Jews, Christians and Moslems could worship freely, could have unfettered access to their holy sites has been during Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Jerusalem must never again be divided. (Applause.) Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel. (Applause.)

I know this is a difficult issue for Palestinians. But I believe that, with creativity and with good will, a solution can be found.

So this is the peace I plan to forge with a Palestinian partner committed to peace. But you know very well that in the Middle East, the only peace that will hold is the peace you can defend. So peace must be anchored in security. (Applause.)

In recent years, Israel withdrew from south Lebanon and from Gaza. We thought we'd get peace. That's not what we got. We got 12,000 rockets fired from those areas on our cities, on our children, by Hezbollah and Hamas. The U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon, they failed to prevent the smuggling of this weaponry. The European observers in Gaza, they evaporated overnight. So if Israel simply walked out of the territories, the flow of weapons into a future Palestinian state would be unchecked, and missiles fired from it could reach virtually every home in Israel in less than a minute.

I want you to think about that, too. Imagine there's a siren going on now and we have less than 60 seconds to find shelter from an incoming rocket. Would you live that way? Do you think anybody can live that way? Well, we're not going to live that way either. (Cheers, applause.)

The truth is that Israel needs unique security arrangements because of its unique size. It's one of the smallest countries in the world. Mr. Vice President, I'll grant you this: It's bigger than Delaware. (Laughter.) It's even bigger than Rhode Island. But that's about it. (Laughter.) Israel under 1967 lines would be half the width of the Washington Beltway.

Now, here's a bit of nostalgia. I came to Washington 30 years ago as a young diplomat. It took me a while, but I finally figured it out: there is an America beyond the Beltway. (Laughter, applause.)

But Israel under 1967 lines would be only nine miles wide. So much for strategic depth. So it's therefore vital -- absolutely vital -- that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized, and it's vital -- absolutely vital -- that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River. (Applause.)

Solid security arrangements on the ground are necessary not only to protect the peace; they're necessary to protect Israel in case the peace unravels, because in our unstable region, no one can guarantee that our peace partners today will be there tomorrow. And my friends, when I say tomorrow, I don't mean some distant time in the future; I mean tomorrow. (Applause.)

Peace can only be achieved around the negotiating table.

The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the United Nations will not bring peace. (Applause.) It should be forcefully opposed by all those who want to see this conflict end. I appreciate the president's clear position on these -- on this issue.

Peace cannot be imposed. It must be negotiated. (Applause.)

But peace can only be negotiated with partners committed to peace, and Hamas is not a partner for peace. (Applause.) Hamas -- Hamas remains committed to Israel's destruction and to terrorism. They have a charter. That charter not only calls for the obliteration of Israel, it says: Kill the Jews everywhere you find them.

Hamas' leader condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden and praised him as a holy warrior. Now, again, I want to make this clear:

Israel is prepared to sit down today and negotiate peace with the Palestinian Authority. I believe we can fashion a brilliant future for our children. But Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaeda. That we will not do. (Applause.)

So I say to President Abbas: Tear up your pact with Hamas! Sit down and negotiate. Make peace with the Jewish state. (Applause.) And if you do, I promise you this: Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations; it will be the first to do so. (Extended applause.)

My friends, the momentous trials over the last century and the unfolding events of this century attest to the decisive role of the United States in defending peace and advancing freedom. Providence entrusted the United States to be the guardian of liberty. All people who cherish freedom owe a profound debt of gratitude to your great nation. Among the most grateful nations is my nation, the people of Israel, who have fought for their liberty and survival against impossible odds in ancient and modern times alike. I speak on behalf of the Jewish people and the Jewish state when I say to you, representatives of America: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you for your unwavering support for Israel. Thank you for ensuring that the flame of freedom burns bright throughout the world.

May God bless all of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America. (Cheers, extended applause.)

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

موضوعات مختلف

Secretary Clinton and EU High Representative Ashton Sign U.S.-EU Framework Agreement on U.S. Participation in EU Crisis Management Operations

Remarks With European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton After Their Meeting

Pakistan ordered about a fifth of U.S. Special Forces trainers to leave the country as relations deteriorated

In Obama's European Trip, Mideast Echoes

Obama's Middle Ground in a Restless Region

The two words Obama didn’t mention on peace process

Obama’s Mideast peace gaffe

Peace and Change

A new Mideast policy

Israel calls on Obama to stick to peace terms

Reaction in Arab Capitals Is Muted and Mixed

Obama speech greeted with wariness, apathy in Mideast

Issue Guide: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

U.S. speeds up direct talks with Taliban

Arab Spring, Turkish Summer?

Gadhafi and the Vanished Imam

The Illusion of Peace with Syria

Kerry seeks to mend fences in Pakistan,0,478444.story

Remarks on the Release of President Obama Administration's International Strategy for Cyberspace

Obama: So Loved in Britain, He Might Consider Staying

Obama’s London visit comes amid British reckoning

Obama, in Europe, to Focus on Mideast

Same Netanyahu, Different Israel

U.S. Presses Nuclear Case Against Damascus

Kerry: U.S. relationship with Pakistan at ‘critical moment’

Amid the Arab Spring, a U.S.-Saudi split

Pakistan to return U.S. helicopter tail, Kerry says

Dim Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

he case for messy multilateralism



Obama, Poland and Russia

World Citizen: Obama's Plea for U.S. Relevance in the New Middle East

Pakistan’s top military officials are worried about militant collaborators in their ranks

Iran reportedly aiding Syrian crackdown

on G-8 Meeting in France, May 2011

The G8 Agenda: Mideast Push

Remarks by President Obama and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France After Bilateral Meeting

Remarks by President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia after Bilateral Meeting in

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom in Joint Press Conference in London

Aid Pledge by Group of 8 to Bolster Arab Democracy

In Shift, Russia Agrees to Try to Talk Qaddafi into Leaving

G-8 to meet with Egypt and Tunisia leaders

G8 leaders want tougher nuclear safety rule

G8 Declaration on the Arab Spring, May 2011

The G8 Proves Its Relevance

Obama's Timely Transatlantic Message

Nuclear Watchdog Details Concerns In Iran, Syria

May 25, 2011

The International Atomic Energy Agency has released troubling new reports on the nuclear activities of Iran and Syria.

The Iran report indicates the production of enriched uranium there is increasing and raises more questions about Iran's possible research into the military applications of nuclear technology.

In the Syria report, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog has reached the conclusion that Syria was very likely building a clandestine nuclear reactor when Israel bombed the site in 2007.

Iran: Uranium Enrichment Increasing

Iran's production of low-enriched uranium is on the rise, and though the facility at Natanz is far from full capacity, it is producing more per month now than in the past.

Iran's enrichment activities were hampered by breakdowns and by a computer attack last year caused by what's come to be known as the Stuxnet worm.

But the IAEA report suggests Iran has surmounted those difficulties, says David Albright, director of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.

"Iran's increase in its low-enriched uranium output by 30 percent since last summer shows ... that it's getting Natanz to work better, and shows that probably any leftover effect from Stuxnet has been reduced."

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The IAEA report does confirm that Iran has not diverted any of its known uranium stocks from civilian to military uses.

The report focuses some attention on the gas centrifuges that are used to manufacture enriched uranium. Since Iran started its enrichment about four years ago, it has used only first-generation centrifuges obtained from Pakistan.

Centrifuge technology has improved since then, and Iranian leaders have boasted that they intend to install new, far more efficient centrifuges in the future. But the IAEA has found no actual evidence that Iran has installed the newer technology.

Open Questions About Weapons Development

There are also ongoing questions about research Iran has done on aspects of nuclear weapons technology. The agency has pressed Iran for years to clear up questions about its military nuclear research. Iran has left many unanswered.

One concerns experiments with a neutron generator and uranium deuteride — this is what might be called a trigger for a nuclear explosion. The agency believes Iranian scientists worked on this particular piece of technology for as many as four years, perhaps longer, says Albright.

"This particular piece is important because it doesn't have any other uses that really are legitimate or credible," Albright says. "And it also shows that Iran is working on fairly sophisticated components of a nuclear weapon. I mean there's a much simpler way to do it. If you want to perhaps do it more secretly, you may want to go this route of uranium deuteride neutron initiator."

The agency's report does not assert that Iran is currently engaged in this work — only that the agency suspects it did the work before and may have continued it in some capacity.

On Wednesday, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency said simply that the IAEA's questions are based on fabricated documents.

EnlargeDigitalGlobe/Getty Images
This site in Syria was bombed by Israeli jets more than three years ago because it was suspected to be a nuclear reactor. It is now showing new construction.
Syria Stalls IAEA Investigation

On Syria, the agency says it's reached the conclusion that a facility under construction there that was bombed by Israel more than three years ago was "very likely a nuclear reactor, similar to one in North Korea."

The IAEA has been stymied for several years in its investigation of this incident. Syria allowed one inspection of the site, after the rubble was removed. There are three other locations in Syria believed to be related to this site, but Syria has not permitted agency inspectors to visit those.

The investigation has reached a dead end, says Albright.

"The IAEA has been under pressure," he says. "They can't let this slide. It's bad for the credibility of the IAEA if Syria gets away with it."

State Department spokesman Mark Toner indicated the U.S. wants to see this discussed by the IAEA in an upcoming meeting of its board of governors.

"The attempt by Syria to construct a clandestine nuclear reactor site is obviously a matter of concern, and we fully expect that the IAEA board will address this issue when it meets, I believe, next week," Toner says.

There's an expectation that the U.S. will urge that Syria be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions.

What Obama did to Israel

Washington Post
By Charles Krauthammer,

Every Arab-Israeli negotiation contains a fundamental asymmetry: Israel gives up land, which is tangible; the Arabs make promises, which are ephemeral. The long-standing American solution has been to nonetheless urge Israel to take risks for peace while America balances things by giving assurances of U.S. support for Israel’s security and diplomatic needs.

It’s on the basis of such solemn assurances that Israel undertook, for example, the Gaza withdrawal. In order to mitigate this risk, President George W. Bush gave a written commitment that America supported Israel absorbing major settlement blocs in any peace agreement, opposed any return to the 1967 lines and stood firm against the so-called Palestinian right of return to Israel.
For 21 / 2 years, the Obama administration has refused to recognize and reaffirm these assurances. Then last week in his State Department speech, President Obama definitively trashed them. He declared that the Arab-Israeli conflict should indeed be resolved along “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

Nothing new here, said Obama three days later. “By definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different” from 1967.

It means nothing of the sort. “Mutually” means both parties have to agree. And if one side doesn’t? Then, by definition, you’re back to the 1967 lines.

Nor is this merely a theoretical proposition. Three times the Palestinians have been offered exactly that formula, 1967 plus swaps — at Camp David 2000, Taba 2001, and the 2008 Olmert-Abbas negotiations. Every time, the Palestinians said no and walked away.

And that remains their position today: The 1967 lines. Period. Indeed, in September the Palestinians are going to the United Nations to get the world to ratify precisely that — a Palestinian state on the ’67 lines. No swaps.

Note how Obama has undermined Israel’s negotiating position. He is demanding that Israel go into peace talks having already forfeited its claim to the territory won in the ’67 war — its only bargaining chip. Remember: That ’67 line runs right through Jerusalem. Thus the starting point of negotiations would be that the Western Wall and even Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter are Palestinian — alien territory for which Israel must now bargain.

The very idea that Judaism’s holiest shrine is alien or that Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter is rightfully or historically or demographically Arab is an absurdity. And the idea that, in order to retain them, Israel has to give up parts of itself is a travesty.

Obama didn’t just move the goal posts on borders. He also did so on the so-called right of return. Flooding Israel with millions of Arabs would destroy the world’s only Jewish state while creating a 23rd Arab state and a second Palestinian state — not exactly what we mean when we speak of a “two-state solution.” That’s why it has been the policy of the United States to adamantly oppose this “right.”

Yet in his State Department speech, Obama refused to simply restate this position — and refused again in a supposedly corrective speech three days later. Instead, he told Israel it must negotiate the right of return with the Palestinians after having given every inch of territory. Bargaining with what, pray tell?

No matter. “The status quo is unsustainable,” declared Obama, “and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.”

Israel too ? Exactly what bold steps for peace have the Palestinians taken? Israel made three radically conciliatory offers to establish a Palestinian state, withdrew from Gaza and has been trying to renew negotiations for more than two years. Meanwhile, the Gaza Palestinians have been firing rockets at Israeli towns and villages. And on the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas turns down then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer, walks out of negotiations with Binyamin Netanyahu and now defies the United States by seeking not peace talks but instant statehood — without peace, without recognizing Israel — at the United Nations. And to make unmistakable this spurning of any peace process, Abbas agrees to join the openly genocidal Hamas in a unity government, which even Obama acknowledges makes negotiations impossible.

Obama’s response to this relentless Palestinian intransigence? To reward it — by abandoning the Bush assurances, legitimizing the ’67 borders and refusing to reaffirm America’s rejection of the right of return.

The only remaining question is whether this perverse and ultimately self-defeating policy is born of genuine antipathy toward Israel or of the arrogance of a blundering amateur who refuses to see that he is undermining not just peace but the very possibility of negotiations.

Iran's Syria Strategy: Heavy Meddle

MAY 27, 2011

A top commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Chizari was hit with sanctions last week by the Obama administration. Given his nationality, one might assume that he was sanctioned in relation to the Iranian regime's nuclear pursuits or its crackdown on dissidents. In fact, Chizari, the Quds Force Chief Qasem Soleimani, and the organization itself were targeted for abetting oppression somewhere else: Syria.

According to the U.S. government, the Iranians are complicit in the Assad regime's "human rights abuses and repression of the Syrian people."

If Chizari's name sounds familiar, it may be because he was arrested by U.S. troops in Baghdad in December 2006. According to media reports, Chizari was detained while inside the compound of Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim with another Quds Force commander. The two men were reportedly in possession of detailed reports about weapons shipments into Iraq, including of so-called explosively formed projectiles, which were responsible for the deaths of scores of U.S. soldiers. Chizari was subsequently expelled into Iran by the Iraqi government.

It should come as little surprise that Chizari has shown up in both hot spots. Wherever there's trouble, he'll be there to aid the troublemakers or stir things up himself.

The Quds Force reports directly to Iran's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and it serves as the linchpin in Iran's regional strategy. Iran funds and arms groups like Hezbollah to threaten Israel and thwart democracy-building in Lebanon. And it equips terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan to stymie U.S. efforts to establish peace and security in those places. In all of these cases, the Quds Force is the regime's instrument of choice.

Iran's leaders crowed when popular uprisings unseated their old foes Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. But the travails of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad have clearly caused concern in Tehran. Assad is a longtime ally of Iran, and under his rule Syria has served as a conduit eastward for foreign fighters to enter Iraq to fight U.S. troops, and for Iranian weaponry to flow westward to arm Hezbollah and Hamas. Damascus is essentially the bar scene from "Star Wars" for terrorists in the Middle East, providing a locale where Iranian allies such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad can coordinate unperturbed.

View Full Image

Associated Press
Syrian President Bashar Assad

Were Assad to fall, a key link in Iran's strategic chain across the region would be broken. While Iran could possibly find work-arounds to supply Hezbollah, such as by sea or air, it would lose both strategic depth and an eager ally. Furthermore, if protesters in Syria were to inspire Iran's own democracy activists to redouble their efforts, the Iranian regime would find itself in serious peril. Thus it is unsurprising that it has dispatched the Quds Force to help Assad stop the Arab Spring at his doorstep.

Iran's latest involvement in Syria should be a wake-up call. Iran's direct assistance in the Syrian regime's crackdown has attracted criticism from many quarters; it's even put Tehran at odds with erstwhile allies such as Turkey. Iran's actions have also contributed to a shift in the Obama administration's approach toward Tehran. In addition to imposing sanctions on Chizari and his ilk, on April 22 President Obama said that Assad was mimicking Iran's "brutal tactics."

Ultimately, tough words and sanctions will not be enough. Chizari and his exploits in Iraq and Syria represent one facet of the threat posed by Iran. If our hopes for freedom and stability in the region are to be realized, we must defeat Iran's efforts to expand its power and influence—above all by denying it the nuclear weapons that would further its destabilizing designs.

Mr. Singh is the managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He was senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration.

Clinton Gets Cold Reception

MAY 28, 2011
Surprise Trip to Pakistan to Urge 'Decisive Steps' Against Islamist Militants Lays Bare Tensions

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Hillary Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen at a news conference at the U.S. embassy after meeting with Pakistani leaders and military officials Friday.

ISLAMABAD—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beseeched Pakistan to take "decisive steps" against Islamist militants in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, at what she called a turning point for the fraying alliance's effort to fight terrorism and bring stability to Afghanistan.

But her message was greeted coolly in a country that was angered by the bin Laden raid and sees itself as stretched to the limit in fighting extremists that have sown terror within Pakistan.

Officials on both sides say relations are at the lowest point since before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The visit laid bare the growing divergence between the allies, who share the broader goal of countering Islamist militancy and stabilizing Afghanistan, but often differ on who and what groups constitute an enemy.

Mrs. Clinton was joined in a tense, daylong sweep through Islamabad by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two were the most senior American officials to visit the country since the May 2 U.S. raid that killed bin Laden and set off a wave of Pakistani anger at the U.S.

The dispatching of such a high-level duo signaled the importance placed by Washington on repairing the relationship in order to help sustain the momentum from bin Laden's death. Both officials praised Pakistan's efforts and noted the sacrifices it has made, losing thousands of its own civilians to terrorist attacks in recent years.

But the tension was clear at the start of the first meeting of the day, with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. There were few of the smiles and warm handshakes that usually open such sitdowns, and reporters were soon shooed out of the room.

President Zardari's office said the two sides agreed to work together against "high-value targets in Pakistan," and to promote peace in Afghanistan.

A senior Pakistani official with knowledge of the talks described them as "better than not talking."

Mrs. Clinton and Adm. Mullen also met military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who in practice wields more power than Pakistan's elected leaders. The chief of Pakistan's main spy agency, Lt. Gen. Shuja Ahmad Pasha, attended.

U.S. officials accuse the spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, of aiding the Afghan Taliban and other militant groups to maintain Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan and for use against rival India. Pakistani officials insist they have cut their ties with militant groups.

Both Mrs. Clinton and Adm. Mullen were blunt in their comments to reporters after the meetings, appearing at the American Embassy without any Pakistani officials. Adm. Mullen described the talks as "candid."

"We have reached a turning point. Osama bin Laden is dead but al Qaeda and its syndicate of terror remain a threat to us both," Mrs. Clinton said. "We both recognize that there is still much more work required and it is urgent."

American officials say their priority now is to work with Islamabad to see more aggressive action taken against the Pakistan-based militant groups that are destabilizing Afghanistan.

Mrs. Clinton said Pakistan had agreed to take "some very specific actions" on its own and with the U.S. in the coming days. She didn't provide details.

A senior U.S. official involved in Mrs. Clinton's outreach effort said the trip was constructive, and that Pakistan has already delivered on some of the things that the U.S. has asked for since bin Laden's death—including granting the Central Intelligence Agency access on Friday to his compound in Abbottabad to scour for clues.

But the proof will come in Pakistani action, the official said. "You might see a lot of activity by the Pakistanis, but it's unclear if that will lead to serious operations."

There is little disagreement between the U.S. and Pakistan on the threat posed by al Qaeda. But Islamabad says it is focusing out of necessity on fighting the Pakistan Taliban, which has launched a series of bloody revenge attacks in Pakistan in the weeks since the al Qaeda leader's death.

With those attacks Pakistan has also faced almost all of the fallout from the bin Laden raid. The latest came Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated a pickup truck laden with explosives near government offices in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 32 people.

Mrs. Clinton noted the attacks and praised what she called Pakistan's "tremendous" commitment to battling militancy. She also stressed that Washington doesn't suspect senior Pakistani officials knew of bin Laden's presence in Pakistan, and that Pakistan's leaders were also eager to find if any of their people helped shield him.

Mrs. Clinton said the U.S. and Pakistan were working together to "untangle the puzzle of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad," the garrison town a few hours from Islamabad where bin Laden lived and died.

Some U.S. lawmakers are calling for the halt of billions of dollars of U.S. security and economic assistance to Pakistan, due to concerns that elements within Pakistan's military and spy service may have played a role in harboring bin Laden.

The raid that killed bin Laden, launched without Pakistan's knowledge, was widely viewed here as a violation of the country's sovereignty, and suggestions from U.S. officials that bin Laden may have been shielded by Pakistani soldiers or spies have only deepened the resentment.

Pakistani officials have indignantly denied bin Laden was given safe harbor. They point out that their security forces have captured many senior al Qaeda leaders and a third of Pakistan's army is deployed in the country's northwest to fight the Pakistan Taliban, an offshoot of the Afghan insurgency.

A series of bloody offensives against the Taliban in the past two years have left nearly 3,000 Pakistani soldiers dead. Even some U.S. officials acknowledge that Pakistan is militarily stretched to the limit, and it is unrealistic to expect fresh offensives against militant havens in the near future.

The senior Pakistani official said Washington needed to fully understand "the ground realities" in Pakistan, where anti-Americanism is rife. "We have to be mindful of what our people want when we consider what we can do," the official said.

"You can't disregard public opinion," the official said. "You have to carry part of that in your policy."


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Mrs. Clinton took a swipe at the conspiracy theories that permeate mainstream discourse in Pakistan. The U.S. is often painted here as a rapacious friend in league with India and Israel and aiming to deprive Pakistan of its cherished nuclear weapons. Other nations, such as Saudi Arabia and China, are portrayed as more loyal friends of Pakistan.

"I think we have some work ahead to try to do a better job to just tell the truth about what we are working on together…I mean, we provide more support than Saudi Arabia, China, and everybody else combined," Mrs. Clinton said.

"Pakistan should understand that anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories will not make problems disappear," she added.

Mrs. Clinton's trip had been kept secret for security reasons and lasted less than a day. The mission has been in the planning stage for more than two weeks, according to U.S. officials. But the Obama administration wanted to make sure that the visit would result in specific advances in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The State Department's top official on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, and Mike Morrel, the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, visited Islamabad last week to pave the way for Mrs. Clinton.

Messrs. Grossman and Morrel specifically asked that U.S. personnel be allowed to visit the compound where bin Laden lived. That visit took place Friday, Pakistani officials said.

Saudi Bid to Curb Iran Worries U.S.

MAY 27, 2011

Saudi Arabia is rallying Muslim nations across the Middle East and Asia to join an informal Arab alliance against Iran, in a move some U.S. officials worry could draw other troubled nations into the sectarian tensions gripping the Arab world.

Saudi officials have approached Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Central Asian states to lend diplomatic support—and potentially military assistance in some cases—to help stifle a majority Shiite revolt in Sunni-led Bahrain, a conflict that has become a symbol of Arab defiance against Iran.

Saudi Arabia's efforts, though against a common enemy, signal increasing friction with the Obama administration. Its invitation to Pakistan in particular could complicate U.S. security goals in South Asia. The push also complicates U.S. efforts to guide popular uprisings in the Middle East toward a peaceful and democratic conclusion.

The chief of the Saudi National Security Council, Prince Bandar bin Sultan al Saud, asked Pakistan's powerful generals in March to lend support for the operation in Bahrain, according to Pakistani, U.S. and Saudi officials briefed on the meetings.

Associated Press
Bahraini soldiers with a portrait of Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on an armored personnel carrier at a checkpoint in Manama.

Prince Bandar—who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for more than two decades—told the Pakistani generals that the U.S. shouldn't be counted on to restore stability across the Middle East or protect Pakistan's interests in South Asia, these officials say.

U.S. officials working with Saudi Arabia acknowledged in recent days Riyadh's frustration with Washington's policies but believe the relationship can be stabilized. "They are not happy with us, and are really nervous about Iran," said an American official. "But I don't think they are going to go too far."

Saudi officials said their campaign was broad. "There are many elements of this initiative," said a Saudi official. "All the major Muslim states are willing to commit to this issue if need be and asked by Saudi leadership."

The official said any potential Pakistani troops could be integrated into the 4,000-man force of mostly Saudi soldiers that deployed to Bahrain in March to defend the ruling Khalifa family against the popular domestic uprising against its rule. But Saudi officials said the current force is adequate, and no formal request for troops has yet been made.

The military intervention was invited by Bahrain's Sunni monarchy, which accused Iran of driving the protest movement. Tehran denied the charge, while volubly defending the rights of the protesters and demanding a withdrawal of the foreign troops.

Security forces from other Gulf Cooperation Council members joined Saudi troops in stifling the revolt, in what Saudi Arabia said was a message to Iran not to meddle in other nations' affairs. The GCC includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Saudi Arabia has sought to expand the GCC to include Jordan and Morocco.

The U.S. opposed the violent crackdown. American officials have objected to the use of force by Arab regimes against protesters, and say they fear violence could drive Bahrain's Shiite protesters into the arms of Iran, a Shiite theocracy that has long vied with the Saudis for influence in the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East.

Saudi diplomats said that after the GCC force entered Bahrain in March, Riyadh dispatched senior officials to Europe and Asia to explain the operation and try to galvanize support. Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal traveled to Europe while Prince Bandar traveled to Asia.

Prince Bandar's stops included India, China, Pakistan and Malaysia. Prince Bandar, who has no spokesman, couldn't be reached for comment.

Malaysia, which is also Sunni-dominated, said this month it was willing to send troops to Bahrain, during a visit to Riyadh by Prime Minister Najib Razak. "Malaysia fully backs all sovereign decisions taken by Saudi Arabia and GCC states to safeguard the stability and security of the region in these trying times," Mr. Najib said in a statement.

Bahraini officials said Thursday that they desire diplomatic support but don't need military assistance at this stage, and haven't made requests to either Pakistan or Malaysia.

A civilian Pakistani official said its military was weighing what it could do to help the Saudis. A senior Pakistani military officer said Pakistan has no immediate plans to send soldiers for "operational purposes."

The officer said a Pakistani battalion has been in Bahrain since before the unrest began to help train Bahraini forces, but hasn't taken part in the crackdown. Bahrain's police force includes a substantial contingent of Pakistani recruits.

Military ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia go back decades. Pakistan receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in Saudi aid, much of it in the form of subsidized oil.

The Saudi overture in Pakistan is a sign of how diplomatic friction in two distinct regions—the Middle East on one hand and Afghanistan and Pakistan on the other—could make it harder for the U.S. to pursue its goals of ending the conflict in Afghanistan, stabilizing nuclear-armed Pakistan, limiting Iran's power and keeping a lid on violent turmoil in the Mideast.

Pakistani and U.S. relations were already souring in March before the U.S. raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, which Pakistan viewed as a violation of national sovereignty.

But Pakistan, like Saudi Arabia, relies heavily on the U.S. The U.S. is Saudi Arabia's closest strategic partner. Last year Riyadh and Washington announced a planned $60 billion arms sale, the largest in U.S. history.

The U.S. provides Saudi Arabia and other allies in the region with an air and naval shield against possible attacks by Iran, with military bases in Qatar, Bahrain and the U.A.E.

Still, U.S.-Saudi relations have soured over the past decade. Saudi Arabia was opposed to the toppling of Iraq's Saddam Hussein because of his role as a bulwark against Iranian power. And Riyadh has been skeptical of the Obama administration's efforts to engage Iran diplomatically, among other disagreements.


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Riyadh upset officials in Washington in another nominal proxy fight with Iran, in late 2009, when Saudi forces entered Yemen to clear rebels from their shared border. Yemen accused Iran of aiding the insurgents; Tehran denied the charge. The U.S. says it has seen no evidence of Iranian involvement in the uprising.

Saudis blame the U.S. in large part for abetting the push to topple Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. The Saudis saw him as the last strong Sunni hedge against Iranian influence and fear Egypt's new government will be too friendly with Tehran.

A senior Saudi official said relations with Washington are strong, and denied that Prince Bandar had spoken ill of the U.S.

The Saudis and Iranians have cobbled together loosely allied camps across the Mideast. Iran holds sway in Syria, and with the militant Arab groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, parties opposed to the West and deeply hostile to Israel.

The Saudi sphere, which is more pro-Western, includes the Sunni Muslim-led Gulf monarchies, Egypt, Morocco and the other main Palestinian faction, Fatah.

Write to Matthew Rosenberg at, Jay Solomon at and Margaret Coker at