Ex-Advisers Warn Obama That Iran Nuclear Deal ‘May Fall Short’ of Standards

iran misslesFive former members of President Obama’s inner circle of Iran advisers have written an open letter expressing concern that a pending accord to stem Iran’s nuclear program “may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement” and laying out a series of minimum requirements that Iran must agree to in coming days for them to support a final deal.

Several of the senior officials said the letter was prompted by concern that Mr. Obama’s negotiators were headed toward concessions that would weaken international inspection of Iran’s facilities, back away from forcing Tehran to reveal its suspected past work on weapons, and allow Iranian research and development that would put it on a course to resuming intensive production of nuclear fuel as soon as the accord expires.
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The public nature of the announcement by some of Mr. Obama’s best-known former advisers, all of whom had central roles in the diplomatic, intelligence and military efforts to counter Iran’s program, adds to the challenge facing Secretary of State John Kerry as the negotiations head toward a deadline of next Tuesday.

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What to Make of the UN’s Special Commission Report on Gaza?

unThe UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Commission of Inquiry report on the 2014 Gaza war, released Monday, is a bad piece of work—bad in almost entirely predictable and boring ways, but no less bad for being bad and predictable. It is also no less important for being boring. Even if one has no great interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the standards and approaches the UN is embracing will not remain confined to that conflict. Israel is, as always, the canary in the IHL coal mine. Approaches that begin as a way of constraining Israeli military action quickly migrate to constraining U.S. military action. The effort by the Special Commission to find war crimes in civilian deaths in urban targeting situations in which non-uniformed fighters exploit civilians for combat cover is thus worth some attention.

Let’s start with a basic fact: the commission’s job here was impossible. It is impossible rigorously to analyze whether a given strike or set of strikes complies with IHL without a detailed investigation of what the operators and commanders in the moment knew and why they decided to act as they did. It is always tempting to look at large numbers of dead civilians and assume that the fact of the bodies implicates a targeting decision. But that’s rarely right. Without knowing who the target was, what calculations as to civilian deaths commanders made, and what the expected military advantage of the strike was, a rigorous investigation simply can’t be done.

It is thus not simply an inconvenience but a debilitation that the commission got no cooperation from Israel, got no access to Gaza from Israel or Egypt, and did not have key questions answered by Hamas. That the commission received cooperation from Palestinian authorities—who do not control Gaza, in fact—is not much help.

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Israeli man killed in West Bank terror attack

Photo by Amichai Stein @AmichaiStein1

Photo by Amichai Stein @AmichaiStein1

An Israeli man who was critically injured Friday afternoon in a shooting attack in the West Bank succumbed to his wounds.

The 25-year-old was shot in the upper body near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Jerusalem. He was found unconscious and transferred to Tel Hashomer Hospital by IDF helicopter where he died over an hour after the attack.

A second man was moderately hurt in the attack and was also being treated at Tel Hashomer. Read more at The Times of Israel.

Nine People Killed During a Bible Study at a church in Charleston

church in CharlestonA white man walked into a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, and opened fire during a Bible study class, killing nine people Wednesday evening.

The suspect was still at large early Thursday morning. And the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest AME church in the South, is being investigated as a hate crime.

“The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

Eight churchgoers died at the scene; a ninth at a hospital, police said. Among them is the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, according to CNN affiliate WCSC. Read more at CNN.