Israel on Thursday released footage of warplanes testing their ability to fly long distances — just days before Iran plans to hold talks with other nations over its contested nuclear activities, which have prompted Israeli threats of attack.
The Israeli air force “plays a central role in carrying out Israel’s military option if necessary,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in released comments, which contain no specific reference to Iran. Tehran is scheduled next Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with counterparts from six major governments over concerns that its civilian atomic efforts in reality are directed toward developing a nuclear-weapon capability.
“No deal is better than a bad deal,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Financial Times on Thursday, referring to the Iranian negotiations that his nation will be monitoring closely. “A bad deal would be a partial agreement which lifts sanctions off Iran and leaves them with the ability to enrich uranium or to continue work on their heavy-water plutonium, which is what is needed to produce nuclear weapons.”
In Washington, meanwhile, 15 House Foreign Affairs Committee members on Thursday sent the Obama administration a letter urging it to reinstate U.S. Treasury Department sanctions personnel furloughed during the federal-government shutdown.
“For maximum U.S. leverage, the sanctions pressure must be kept on Iran especially as [President] Hassan Rouhani attempts to present Iran’s government in a new light,” according to comments released by panel chairman Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who co-authored the letter with ranking member Ted Poe (R-Texas).
In the international arena, the United States on Thursday protested an Iranian bid for a leadership role on the U.N. Disarmament Commission, Reuters reported.
Iran’s appointment several days ago as “rapporteur” of the U.N. First Committee — another arms-control body — prompted a critical response from Israel.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."