*[Event notice: Tomorrow at 9:00 am, the New America Foundation will be hosting a panel on the U.S., Israel, and Iran, featuring Middle East Channel co-editor Daniel Levy]*
Iran said it will allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigators access to its Prachin military site, where the U.N. nuclear watchdog reported last year that explosives tests were conducted showing "strong indicators" of nuclear weapons development. IAEA officials made comments that they "have heard about possible sanitation" of the site but were denied access to the complex during a visit in February. According to Iranian diplomats in Vienna, "Parchin is a military site and accessing it is a time-consuming process, therefore visits cannot be allowed frequently." The announcement came as Iran has tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium and IAEA chief Yukya Amano expressed concerns Monday about "activities...ongoing at the Parchin site." Iran has not specified a date for the visit. Meanwhile, concern over Iran's nuclear program was a main topic of a meeting between U.S. President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday, during which Netanyahu claimed that time is running out for stopping Iran's nuclear weapons development, while Obama said all options remain on the table but with a clear preference to pursue a diplomatic strategy.
The Syrian government has agreed to allow visits by the top United Nations relief official and the United Nations and Arab League envoy amid an escalated campaign against rebel-held towns. United Nations humanitarian affairs chief Valerie Amos is scheduled to travel to Syria on Wednesday after the Syrian regime succumbed to mounting international pressure to allow access for humanitarian aid. She said: "my aim is to urge all parties to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so that they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies." Kofi Annan, who was appointed last week as the United Nations and Arab League special representative to Syria will visit Damascus on Saturday, to "initiate the effort to promote a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis." Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain has called for U.S. air strikes to "protect key population centers in Syria." Syria has continued to deny access to Homs for the International Red Cross, and the government is reported to have expanded military assaults elsewhere including in Daraa, where protests began nearly a year ago. Additionally, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian forces bombed a bridge that had been used for evacuation for refugees into Lebanon.
- In a "one-off pilot project" Israel has authorized the export of goods from Gaza for the first time since a ban was imposed in 2007.
- An Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan was bombed for the 13th time since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak.
- Saudi Arabian diplomat, Khalaf Al Ali, was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, in a case being treated as a murder.
Arguments & Analysis
'We can live with a nuclear Iran' (Paul Pillar, The Washington Monthly)
"If Iran acquired the bomb, Israel would retain overwhelming military superiority, with its own nuclear weapons-which international think tanks estimate to number at least 100 and possibly 200-conventional forces, and delivery systems that would continue to outclass by far anything Iran will have. That is part of the reason why an Iranian nuclear weapon would not be an existential threat to Israel and would not give Iran a license to become more of a regional troublemaker. But a war with Iran, begun by either Israel or the United States, would push Israel farther into the hole of perpetual conflict and regional isolation. Self-declared American friends of Israel are doing it no favor by talking up such a war."
'How I would check Iran's nuclear ambition' (Mitt Romney, The Washington Post)
"As for Iran in particular, I will take every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs. Until Iran ceases its nuclear-bomb program, I will press for ever-tightening sanctions, acting with other countries if we can but alone if we must. I will speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents who are fighting for their freedom. I will make clear that America's commitment to Israel's security and survival is absolute. I will demonstrate our commitment to the world by making Jerusalem the destination of my first foreign trip."
'Iran, and a dissident depth-charge' (Nasrin Alavi, Open Democracy)
"Those arrested in the months leading up to the parliamentary elections, however, cannot all be silenced. The respected former editor of the business daily Sarmayeh, Bahman Ahmadi-Amou'ee, is now serving a five-year sentence for criticising the government's economic policies. In a detailed letter to his wife, written on 14 January 2012, he offers a precious glimpse inside Tehran's Evin prison where dissidents of many stripes are held. He tells her, "if the drumbeats of war are ever really played out. It will be to the detriment of the green movement. We are all concerned. When I say 'we', I mean most of our political prisoners.""
--Tom Kutsch & Mary Casey