Keeping Iran's Secrets
September 27, 2009

Qom is not a chance locale for a nuclear enrichment plant.  It is one of Shi'a Islam's sacred cities, a destination of pilgrimage, a center of scholarship (whatever scholarship there is in a faith closed off to the world), the site of one of the holiest shrines of the faith. Israel would not dare attack it, and America would not even think of such an assault. In any case, it was kept secret for several years. Yes, the Iranians had kept it secret for several years. Apparently, the United States and some of its allies had known about it and also kept it secret.

The Israeli Prime Minister
September 26, 2009

The New York Times gave about six inches to Bibi Netanyahu's speech at the General Assembly, and this in an article he shared with Hugo Chavez who spoke for four times the duration allowed by the rules. This is a habit among tyrants, and Chavez is no exception. The same Times page carried a 24-inch piece about Gadhafi, not on his filibuster at the U.N. (which it covered more than amply on Thursday), but dealing with the dictator's appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Diplomatic Circles
September 26, 2009

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was back in New York this week, making his fifth annual pilgrimage to the UN General Assembly. In the past, Ahmadinejad's carefully calibrated theatrics before or during his trips--comparable only to his new soul-mate Hugo Chavez, or the equally delusional, self-declared messiah, Moammar Qaddafi--focused all attention on the regime's nuclear adventurism, or his own shameless denial of the Holocaust and repeated demands for Israel's "oblivion from the map." His glib sound bites were broadcast with astonishing repetition.

What Shapes Sanctions
September 26, 2009

The announcement that Iran has been constructing a covert facility to enrich nuclear fuel for the last few years without notifying the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raises the stakes for the upcoming October 1 meeting of six leading countries with Iran. The underground facility is located on an Iranian Revolutionary Guard base outside the religious city of Qom. U.S. officials say Iran was forced to acknowledge the site in vague terms to the IAEA earlier this week only after it became clear that the U.S.

September 25, 2009

So, just one day after Presidents Obama and Sarkozy, together with Gordon Brown, warned Iran that they've determined that"the size and configuration of this [their newly disclosed nuclear facility at Qom] is inconsistent with a peaceful program",the Venezuelan government drops a diplomatic bombshell, as Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz confirms the longstanding rumors that Iran is also helping Venezuela prospect for Uranium in Southern Bolívar State. Iran has helped us on the aereal-geophysics fly-overs, and on geochemical analysis," the chavista minister said, adding that initial evaluat

Toobin: Don't Torture Zazi
September 25, 2009

The New Yorker's Jeff Toobin offers a good response to my open question about how we should be handling Najibullah Zazi, an accused al Qaeda terrorist who may be in league with men still on the loose: Time to break the waterboard out of storage? I think not—and not just because it’s illegal. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn which is bringing the case (and where I was a prosecutor in the early nineties) filed a brief where it outlined the reasons why Zazi should be detained rather than released on bail.

Iran's Secret Nuke Facility Explained
September 25, 2009

A senior White House official, speaking at a background briefing today, explains the grounds for Obama's assertion this morning that "the size and configuration of this [Iranian] facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program": Our information is that the facility is designed to hold about 3,000 centrifuge machines.  Now, that's not a large enough number to make any sense from a commercial standpoint.  It cannot produce a significant quantity of low-enriched uranium.  But if you want to use the facility in order to produce a small amount of weapons-grade uranium, enough for a bomb or two a y

Exposing Iran
September 25, 2009

The dramatic revelation that Iran has a secret uranium-enrichment facility severely undermines one of Tehran's central talking points: that the West is denying Iran the its inherent right to peaceful nuclear power.

The Ticking Zazi Bomb?
September 25, 2009

It's a little weird that there hasn't been more alarm surrounding the apparently major Denver-based terror plot busted up by the feds in the past few days. Last night, ABC News reported that authorities believe Najibullah Zazi's may have co-plotters who are still at large. (The NYDN has reported the same.) Question #1: Doesn't this seem like something approaching the "ticking time bomb" scenario that constantly bedevils debates about interrogation techniques? How hard are the feds working Zazi for information about possible would-be terrorists inside the U.S. right now?

A Just Withdrawal
September 25, 2009

The headlines of the last few months make it clear that there are going to be no free passes for America when it comes to getting its troops out of Iraq. The recent bombing of a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, like the internal warfare in Sunni-dominated Anbar Provice, shows how many Iraqi security problems persist. But as President Obama continues the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, he should do more than pay attention to conditions on the ground.