Keeping an eye on Iran

October 31, 2014

What’s Happening

by Robin Mancoll

Are you keeping your eye on the ball? Or, in this case, are you keeping your eye on Iran’s progress as they head toward nuclear weapons capability? With so much taking place in the Middle East, it’s easy to lose sight of what we thought last year at this time, was the scariest possibility in our future—a nuclear Iran.

It’s easy to understand the world’s distraction as news reports share fatalities and casualties across the globe in staggering numbers. Estimated deaths in the Syrian Civil War are more than 191,000. In early October it was reported that in the past six months in Ukraine at least 3,660 people have been killed and more than 8,756 injured. Israel worked to protect her citizens this summer when more than 2,200 people lost their lives. This number is much lower than what could have been, thanks in part to the protection of the Iron Dome, the discovery and destruction of more than 32 tunnels under Israel and the thoughtful and moral practice of the IDF—warning civilians in Gaza—living, worshipping and healing in hospitals above bombs being hidden by Hamas. Last, but certainly not least, and possibly the biggest current distraction for the world, is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). A recently released report claims that more than 9,000 civilians have been killed and over 17,000 injured so far this year by ISIS. Worth a separate mention (at time of press) is the nine separate beheadings the world has had the opportunity to watch via video over and over again.

Israel’s minister of intelligence, Yuval Steinitz, published an op-ed in The New York Times a few weeks ago warning that allowing Iran to keep its enrichment capabilities intact would threaten to “pave the road to nuclear proliferation and herald the dawn of a nuclear arms race in the unstable Middle East.” He advised that while fighting ISIS is a worthy effort, it shouldn’t distract the West from taking a hard line with Iran in nuclear negotiations, as in the end, “the Islamic Republic of Iran remains the worlds foremost threat.”

We must keep our eye on the ball.

Last fall I wrote about my lack of sleep due to concern that Iran is developing nuclear weapon capabilities in an extremely deceptive manner, the range with which Iran could accomplish an attack and the uncertainty that the American public is aware of how real this threat is to our nation. At that time we heard from Bob Feferman, a visiting expert from United Against Nuclear Iran on the threat of a nuclear armed Iran and why that should matter to us as Americans. We’ve seen some changes since Bob’s visit, talks continued, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency, under the United Nations umbrella) was allowed into Arak Heavy Water Production Plant, and more, but on the whole, Iran seems to be stalling.

All indications show that Iran is not budging in areas that are important to the global community and sanctions should not be relieved unless Iran agrees with the conditions set forth. While official talks continue between Iran and the P5+1, experts say that an extension of the latest deadline, Nov. 24, to make a deal with Iran, would be regarded as a success.

As the Nov. 24 deadline edges closer, our eyes should be wide open. This threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is and should continue to be a priority for us all. Israel has not lost focus. A few weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Face the Nation, “If you think ISIS is dangerous, and should be defeated, as I do—and I completely support President Obama’s effort, leadership in this regard —then think how much more dangerous Iran is.”

One of my favorite resources for current analysis of foreign policy and national security is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Their experts focus on the promotion of pluralism, defend democratic values and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism. The executive director of this non-partisan, well-respected, Washington, D.C. think tank is Mark Dubowitz.

Speaking in Tidewater as part of the Community Relations Council and community partner’s Israel Today series, Dubowitz will share insight into the sanctions, talks and efforts to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear weapons capable. At FDD, Dubowitz leads projects to counter the threat Iran represents to America and its allies and has testified before Congress and numerous foreign governments. Dubowitz has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and more. He appears frequently on CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NPR.

As I continue to lose sleep over the thought of a nuclear armed Iran, and at times the civil war in Syria, ISIS—their movement and growth, and the fear of my sixth grader not having studied enough to get an A on her science test, I look forward to hearing from Mark Dubowitz, getting the facts directly from this expert. I hope you’ll join me that night to hear more about the current situation and learn how to advocate for the safety of Israel and America, to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons.

For more information on the Israel Today series, Mark Dubowitz’s visit or to RSVP by Dec. 1, visit www.JewishVa.org/CRCIsraelToday or call 965-6107.

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