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Israel Already Preparing For End Of UN Ban On Iran Missile Activity

Israel Already Preparing For End Of UN Ban On Iran Missile Activity

WASHINGTON – Throughout international talks with Iran over its nuclear program, Israeli leadership offered a common refrain: Ten years may be a long time in the life of a politician, but it is nothing in the life of a nation.

In that spirit, Israel’s government is already planning for the expiration of several critical provisions in the deal that resulted from those talks, including two restrictions on Iran that sunset within the next few years on arms sales and its ballistic missile program.

Last month in Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post that he was working with the Trump administration on ways to mitigate the effects of some of the deal’s most challenging sunset clauses. For Israel, Iran is more dangerous if it abides by the deal than if it breaches it, he said.

Asked if he could offer specifics on his strategy, Netanyahu replied, “I could, but I won’t.” But those with his ear tell the Post that discussions have already begun, starting with a clause that lifts a UN ban on Iran’s ballistic missile work in just under seven years.

That ban, in Annex B of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, requires Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” The provision also bans states from supplying, selling or transferring equipment, technology or training to Iran relevant to the advancement of that missile program.

The decision to include such a provision – which extended for eight years what would have otherwise expired upon completion of the nuclear deal– was opposed by Russia and China during the talks. Moscow has been a top supplier of Iran’s missile programs for several years.

Israel now believes that European nations, whose diplomats supported extending the ban during the nuclear negotiations, will be on board with a creative strategy that punishes Moscow through means outside of the UN should it choose to assist Iran with its continued missile work. The strategy would be to maintain de facto sanctions on Iran by threatening those that might supply it, despite the end of an explicit UN embargo against doing so.

The plan already appears popular in Washington.

“Sanctioning Russia is as popular as it has ever been on the Hill right now,” said one lobbyist with an Israel advocacy organization, discussing the emerging strategy. The lobbyist described the plan succinctly: Threatening new, tough sanctions on Moscow for its potential sale of ballistic missile components to Iran would kill two birds with one stone, targeting two of the world’s most destabilizing forces while gaining broad bipartisan support.

While this particular UN provision expires in 2023, Iran is expected to seek partners for collaboration well in advance. Thus Iran’s adversaries are likely to work backward against an unspecified date some time in the next few years.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is intended to prevent Iran from ever building nuclear weapons, but Israel worries that sunset clauses on its work with fissile material will allow Tehran to build an industrial-sized nuclear program, providing the state with a nuclear capacity that could easily be converted into a weapons program on short notice.

The deal allows Iran to expand the number of centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium, as well as the number of facilities it can use to host enrichment, in nine years. It also allows Iran to upgrade the centrifuges it has in use, from 1970s models to modern state-of-the-art machines. As the size and efficiency of their program advances – with full international legitimacy, under the nuclear deal – Israel fears it will be impossible to stop or even catch Iran should it choose to “break out” and build a weapon.

Furthermore, should Iran instead choose to park itself right before a bomb and remain a nuclear-threshold state, Israel believes that Iran will maintain all of the strategic benefits a nuclear power enjoys without facing the costs that rogue nuclear states endure. Israeli leaders seek to prevent Iran from reaching this threshold stage.

Read More: Jerusalem Post

Joint U.S.-Israeli Study Offers New Understanding of Parkinson’s Disease

U.S.-Israeli Study Offers New Understanding of Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers from the Technion and Harvard are offering a new theory on how Parkinson’s disease develops that could change the way the neurological disease is treated.

Associate Professor Simone Engelender of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and her colleague Ole Isacson at Harvard Medical School say the toxic protein behind Parkinson’s may not spread like an infection from nerve cell to nerve, but rather that the protein, called alpha-synuclein, may simultaneously affect all parts of the nervous system inside and outside of the brain.

They describe this “threshold theory” of Parkinson’s for the first time in a report recently published in Trends in Neuroscience.

“Instead of studying how proteins move from one neuron to another and searching for compounds that prevent the ‘spread’ of aggregated a-synuclein, we need to study why a-synuclein accumulates within neurons and how these neurons die in the disease, and search for compounds that prevent the general neuronal dysfunction,” said Engelender.

Parkinson’s disease destroys nerve cells throughout the body, especially key neurons in the brain that produce a compound called dopamine that helps to control movement and posture. The disease grows worse over time, and there is no known cure.

More than one million people in the United States have the disorder, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

The disease is caused by accumulation of a-synuclein, which overwhelms and destroys nerve cells. The most commonly-held theory about the disease suggests that patients get progressively worse as clumps of a-synuclein spread between neurons, almost like an infection.

But Engelender and Isacson think the scientific evidence points to a different model of the disease. Instead of spreading from neuron to neuron, they say, aggregations of a-synuclein develop throughout the body at the same time. Different parts of the nervous system vary in how much of this toxic protein they can tolerate, depending on how well the cells in that part of the system work together to compensate for any destroyed cells.

The researchers say their theory fits better with patients’ symptoms.

“The only specific treatment that is and will continue to be beneficial is the replenishment of dopamine in the brain, through the intake of the supplement L-Dopa, to improve the motor symptoms,” said Engelender. “This has been done for several decades and should be continued to be done since it can at least alleviate the motor symptoms for a few years, even if does not cure and does not prevent the progression of the disease.”

“Nevertheless, I believe that the search for compounds that specifically decrease a-synuclein levels are the only hope to provide a real and more effective treatment for the disease,” said Engelender.

Read more: Israel 21C

IAF ‘Arrow’ battery intercepts Syrian missile, in first reported use of the system

vs151210-003-635x357Israel shot down an incoming Syrian anti-aircraft missile with the Arrow defense battery early Friday morning, military officials said, in the first reported use of the advanced system.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., Israeli “aircrafts targeted several targets in Syria,” the Israel Defense Forces said, prompting a Syrian attempt to down the Israeli jets.

According to Arab media, the target of the IAF strikes was a Hezbollah weapons convoy.

“Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and IDF aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles,” the army said in a statement.

The anti-aircraft missiles were fired from eastern Syria by Bashar Assad’s military, traveling over Jordan and toward the Jerusalem area. They were apparently SA-5 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
The Arrow is primarily designed to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere, intercepting the weapons and their conventional, nuclear, biological or chemical warheads close to their launch sites.
Surface-to-air missiles are designed to detonate at high altitudes to bring down aircraft or other missiles, and so do not pose much of a threat to people on the ground other than the possibility of being directly hit by falling shrapnel or the remains of the missile.

Read more: Times of Israel

IDF says overnight sirens, explosions resulted from Israeli strikes in Syria

Israeli warplanes struck several targets in Syria, the IDF said early Friday, an attack that led to sirens and sounds of explosions in Israel in the middle of the night.

At approximately 3 a.m. local time, Code Red sirens, which warn residents of Israeli towns of incoming rockets, sounded in the Jordan Valley. At least two distinct explosions were heard as far west and south as Jerusalem.

Initial reports said the sirens and explosions were believed to be from rocket launches in either the West Bank or Jordan.

But according to the news site Walla, the sirens sounded when Israeli missile defense systems detected a missile launched at the Israeli Air Force planes during their strike against unnamed targets in Syria.

The explosions, the army said, were launches of Israeli air-defense missiles against an incoming Syrian anti-aircraft missile.

The IDF statement said neither civilians on the ground nor IAF pilots were in any danger at any point during the incident.

The sirens sounded at 2:43 a.m. near the Jordan Valley communities of Gitit, Mesoa, Yitav and Yafit in the Arvot Hayarden regional council, which straddles the Jordan River in the West Bank.

IDF ground forces in the area initially launched a search for fallen rockets in the mountainous terrain.

There was no word about the nature of the targets struck by Israel in Syria, but the IDF has regularly attacked weapons convoys in the war-wracked country in recent years that were destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Read more: Times of Israel