- U.S. National Security Adviser: Deal with Iran will prohibit uranium enrichment
- U.S. Gulf allies: Iran overtures "honey trap that could ensnare the United States"
- Iran hacking U.S. navy computers, issued order to attack U.S. embassy in Baghdad
- WSJ: "happy to accept" apology from CNN over Rouhani "Holocaust" mistranslation pushback
What we’re watching today:
- National Security Adviser Susan Rice has made clear that Iran would not be permitted to continue enriching uranium under any potential deal with the West, a day before President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met to discussion regional security issues. Rice emphasized that while Iran would be allowed to use enriched uranium delivered from overseas sources, but that Tehran would not be allowed to use its own infrastructure to enrich nuclear material. Iran has been locking in advanced uranium enrichment technology that would allow it to dash across the nuclear finish line, and the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security estimates that Tehran will be able to conduct a so-called undetectable breakout by the middle of 2014. As far as the material needed for enrichment goes, Israeli sources estimated over the weekend that Iran will soon have enough uranium for a bomb within 2 months. At his meeting today with Netanyahu, Obama emphasized that the U.S. would be "enter[ing] into these negotiations very clear eyed."
Israel's left-leaning Ha'aretz
describes a "sense of anxiety," being conveyed to the White House by Jerusalem and by the U.S.'s chief allies in the Arab world, regarding American diplomacy related to Iran and the Iranian regime's nuclear program. Adel al-Jubeir - who is Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Washington and who was two years ago himself the target of an Iranian assassination plot - has reportedly held several "tense" talks with U.S. officials in recent days on the issue. Secretary of State John Kerry also took meetings this week with counterparts from UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait, with each official warning that Iranian overtures were "a kind of Iranian honey trap that could ensnare the United States." The dynamic was also outlined over the weekend in a New York Times article headlined "Israel and others in Mideast view overtures of U.S. and Iran with suspicion." The copy elaborated that by "others" the Times was referencing among others the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, "the other Sunni-dominated gulf countries," and prominent journalists and analysts across the region.
- The Wall Street Journal revealed late last week that Iran has been hacking U.S. Navy computers in recent weeks, a disclosure that the paper suggests "show[s] the depth and complexity of long-standing tensions between Washington and Tehran." The news came only weeks after another Journal scoop describing Iranian activity against the U.S., this one involving an Iranian order to forces it backs in Iraq ordering them to attack the U.S.'s Baghdad embassy and other American interests should Washington act militarily against Syria. The revelations, alongside a domestic wave in executions, have generated concerns that newly inaugurated president Hassan Rouhani is either unable or unwilling to substantially change Iranian behavior. Washington Institute senior fellow Matthew Levitt had already, last June, urged analysts and diplomats to temper their expectations regarding "just how much moderation should be expected from a 'moderate' Iranian president," emphasizing that previous Iranian presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Muhammad Khatami, both described as moderates or reformers, had not dampened Iran's adventurism.
- The Wall Street Journal declared last Friday that it would "be happy to accept" an apology from CNN, after the cable network's Christiane Amanpour declared on Twitter that the Journal had "jump[ed] into bed" with the "Iranian extremist mouthpiece" Fars news agency. Both the Journal and Fars criticized CNN for mistranslating an interview between Amanpour and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, where the mistranslation had Rouhani condemning the "Holocaust" and declaring that "whatever criminality they [the Nazis] committed against the Jews, we condemn." The mistranslation was widely reported, explicitly cited, and broadly described - including by Amanpour herself - as an indication of Iranian moderation. Top Rouhani adviser Mohammad Reza Sadeq has also clarified that Rouhani "did not at all used the word Holocaust even a single time all throughout his five day visit to New York." Iranian media continued to criticize CNN over the weekend, and some of the country's officials are now calling for legal action against CNN for "the distortion of the statements by the president of our country." It is unclear whether CNN intends to issue an apology either to the Journal or to the office of the Iranian president.
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