World Briefs 12-13-11

Click photo to download. Caption: Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, souther Iran. Credit: EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh.

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Iran Update: Attempts to simulate fallen drone, Barak calls for “paralyzing sanctions”, Fourth mysterious explosion

  • Attempts are underway to simulate the design of the U.S. RQ-170 drone that crashed in Eastern Iran last week, according to Iran’s armed forces. The drone is considered to be a highly guarded technological secret, made famous recently for monitoring Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.“

    Relying on their scientific capabilities, the Armed Forces will be able to simulate the RQ-170 aircraft soon,” Vice-Charman of the parliament’s National Security Foreign Policy Commission Hossein Ebrahimi told Fars News Agency on Sunday.

    However, U.S. officials said last week that the impact of the crashing done would leave only small pieces available for study. Not enough, they said, from which Iran could glean valuable information. 
  • Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for the world to impose crippling sanctions on Iran, Reutersreported. Barak said on Sunday that sanctions targeting the Iranian oil trade and Central Bank were the only valid option, adding “nothing short of this kind of sanction will work.” Earlier this month Barak said that there was still time left to decide whether or not Israel will attack Iranian nuclear sites, and said that such an attack was not imminent.

    He did air his hopes that the Arab spring would infiltrate Iran more successfully. “This regime in Iran, the ayatollahs, they will be not be there I believe in 10 or 15 years. It is against the nature of the Iranian people and what happens all around the world,” he said according to Reuters. Were Iran to gain nuclear weapons, he continued, it would acquire another “layer of immunity” for its regime, similar to that of North Korea. 
  • An explosion, the third in a month, hit a steel mill in the Iranian city of Yazd on Sunday, the Washington Times reported. The blast, which killed 7 people and wounded 12 others, served to fuel speculation that foreign powers are at play, attempting to slow Iran’s progress in building a nuclear arsenal.

    Ali Akbar Oliaw, a local member of parliament, said the blast had been set off by defective ammunition. Although Iran has not disclosed the kind of steel being manufactured at the plant, German newspaper Die Welt reported last month that North Korea has been supplying Iran with a particular kind of steel that can be used in centrifuges that enrich uranium.

    Israeli military analyst Ron Ben-Ishai wrote in
    Yediot Achronot “it is hard to reject the possibility that [the explosion] was intentional sabotage.”

--JointMedia News Service

Hezbollah outs CIA operatives working in Lebanon

Click photo to download. Caption: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Credit: EPA/Wael HamzehIn a broadcast on Lebanese television station al-Manar, Hezbollah revealed the names of CIA operatives working undercover in Lebanon, Haaretz reported. Former U.S. officials claim Hezbollah discovered the identities of the operatives after running a double agent.

The CIA has so far rejected Hezbollah’s claims, with a spokeswoman calling the accusations “spurious” and referring to al-Manar as Hezbollah’s “propaganda arm”, according to Haaretz.

According to Intelligence Online, all officers stationed in Beirut have been transferred to Cyprus for security reasons.

--JointMedia News Service

The discovery from Amsterdam’s Jewish community

The discovery of two 18th century books unveiled some secrets about Amsterdam’s Jewish community, Haaretz reported.

Stefan Litt, a man of German descent who married an Israeli woman and currently lives in Israel, is an archivist at the National Library in Jerusalem. In his research into the community registries of the 17th and 18th centuries, he found that the chief executive of Holland, William V of the House of Orange, and his wife Wilhelmina of Prussia, visited the Jewish quarter and synagogue on June 3, 1768.

That day, a community elder, Gumpel Klev, gave a gift from the community to the couple: two books of psalms printed on white satin. Litt found one of these books two weeks ago, in the storerooms of the National Library of Jerusalem.

The books and registries demonstrate the community’s yearning to be close to the royal court, Litt said according to Haaretz.

--JointMedia News Service


Netanyahu to go to Africa to stop illegal immigration

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to travel to Africa in order to see if returning illegal African immigrants in Israel to their home countries is a feasible possibility, Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu plans to travel in February 2012. The decision was announced at a cabinet meeting where a NIS 630 million plan to stop illegal African immigration to Israel was approved. According to data presented at the meeting, 52,487 illegal labor migrants currently live in Israel.

“I intend to travel to Africa later to discuss and advance procedures for returning them to Africa.  In any case, this is unjustified…. These are very important steps to ensure the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” the Prime Minister said at the meeting, according to the Israel National News.

Netanyahu also said the phenomenon is a “blow to [Israel’s] economy, society, infrastructure, welfare and internal security.” Among several policies, the government also plans to raise fines for companies who hire illegal immigrants.

—JointMedia News Service


Turkish President refuses to attend luncheon with Barak

Click photo to download. Caption: Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Credit: Agencia Brasil. Turkish President Abdullah Gul did not attend a luncheon at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna after he learned that Defense Minister Ehud Barak was going to attend, Israel Hayom reported.

The Turkish delegation received the list of attendees just before the start of the event and the President immediately decided not to attend. The event was hosted by Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

Gul also refused to participate in a photo session with the attendees due to Barak’s participation. Turkish officials, however, said that it was the Israeli delegation that snubbed them by walking out of the earlier conference just before Gul was supposed to speak.

The relationship between Turkey and Israel has soured ever since the 2008 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and since the publication of a U.N. report on the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in May 2010. Nine Turkish activists were killed in that incident. Turkish officials refuse to renew a positive diplomatic relationship with Israel unless it apologizes for the raid or faces trial in an international court. Israel refuses both.

—JointMedia News Service


Israeli receives the Nobel prize in chemistry

Click photo to download. Caption: Dan Shechtman. Credit: Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Saturday. He has become the tenth Israeli to receive the prize at the Stockholm ceremony, receiving the award from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Haaretz reported.

Shechtman, who teaches at the Haifa Technical Institute, received the prize for his crystallography work. He discovered atom patterns called quasicrystals, chemical structures that put crystals in an entirely new chemical category of solids.

Although Shechtman’s research wasn’t taken seriously for many years, scientists were eventually able to replicate his findings. His research led to the development of very strong materials, the Jerusalem Post said.

“The laws of nature are neither good nor bad. It is the way in which we apply them to our world that makes the difference,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Prior to Shechtman’s win, Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute won the chemistry Nobel Prize for her work on the ribosomes. Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin all have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

--JointMedia News Service


Clashes between Syrian troops, defectors continue after fierce day of fighting

Syrian activists say battles between troops and army defectors are spreading after a day of fierce clashes in the south, according to Israel Hayom.

The 9-month-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad has grown increasingly violent in recent months as defecting soldiers fight back against the army.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says new clashes were reported Monday in the northwestern region of Idlib. It says fighting also continued for a second day in the southern province of Daraa.

Syria's state media also reported that voting started in scheduled municipal elections, but witnesses say turnout was low. The opposition does not consider the vote a legitimate concession by the regime because it coincides with a deadly crackdown.

Monday's fresh round of clashes came a day after Syrian troops and army defectors on Sunday fought one of the biggest battles yet in Syria's nine-month uprising, while a protest strike shut businesses in a new gesture of civil disobedience, residents and activists said.

Conflicting reports said the fighting and other violence around the nation killed between eight and 18 people.

--JointMedia News Service







Posted on December 12, 2011 and filed under Briefs, World.