The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Suspect in murder of Danny Gonen arrested
A member of the Palestinian Fatah organization is arrested for allegedly carrying out the murder of Danny Gonen, who was shot from point-blank range near a natural spring in the West Bank, close to the Jewish settlement of Dolev, on June 19, the Shin Bet announces.
The suspect, Muhammad Abu-Shaheen, a 30-year-old resident of the Qalandiya refugee camp who receives a regular salary from the Palestinian Authority, confessed to six shooting attacks over the course of the past year, including an incident that wounded a soldier in a-Ram and the killing of Gonen.
Abu-Shaheen was arrested along with four other suspects, all residents of the Qalandiya refugee camp, north of Jerusalem.
The Shin Bet says that the members of the cell admitted to conducting reconnaissance around the spring before launching the attack and that, during questioning, Israeli security forces were able to locate the firearm used to kill Gonen.
— Mitch Ginsburg contributed to this report
Iran press hails new post-sanction era
The Iranian press hails a new era free of Western sanctions following a hard-won nuclear deal with major powers, although skeptical conservative newspapers warned implementation would be the test.
“The World Changed,” headlines reformist daily Etemad, calling Tuesday’s agreement between Iran and the six world powers the “Diplomatic Revolution of July 14, 2015.”
The Financial Asia carries the single word “Deal” beneath its masthead.
Under the agreement, Iran will be freed from Western and UN sanctions that have crippled its economy, in return for curbs on its atomic program for at least 10 years.
Financial daily Donyaye Eqtesad says Iran had “entered the post-sanctions age.”
“Iran Siege Broken,” headlined the moderate daily Ghanoon.
Another reformist daily, Ebtekar, lionizes the deal’s architect, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, with a front-page montage likening him to national hero Mohammad Mossadegh.
A democratically elected prime minister who nationalized Iran’s oil industry, Mossadegh was overthrown in a 1953 coup engineered by London and Washington that ushered in decades of autocracy.
It was left to conservative newspapers that opposed a nuclear deal throughout the long months of negotiations to sound a negative note.
Kayhan says that differing interpretations of the terms of the deal by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his US counterpart Barack Obama raise question marks about what had been agreed.
Its even more conservative rival Vatan-e-Ermooz is also skeptical, headlining: “Awaiting Implementation.”
“The big challenge of such texts reveals itself during implementation,” the paper warns in an editorial.
“The goals of the US in the post-deal stage are not necessarily those written in the nuclear agreement.”
PM lauds security forces for West Bank arrests
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praises Israeli security forces for arresting the alleged murderer of Danny Gonen.
“On the day of the murder I said we would catch the killer, and the Shin Bet, IDF and police did so in short order,” Netanyahu says.
“Now that it is clear that the [murderer is a] PA man, I wonder if the Palestinian Authority will condemn the murder, or continue in its silence,” he adds.
Palestinian teen stabs soldier in West Bank
A Palestinian teenager stabs and lightly injures a soldier near the settlement of Nahliel in the West Bank. The female attacker is arrested by IDF soldiers at the scene and is taken for questioning at a nearby security facility.
The soldier, who suffered wounds in his back, is evacuated to the Tel Hashomer Medical Center for treatment.
Egypt army says it foiled suicide attack
Egypt’s military says its troops foiled a suicide car bomb attack targeting an army outpost on a highway leading to the canal city of Suez.
The Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State jihadist organization known as the “Sinai Province” claimed the attack on a Twitter account.
A suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle attempted to strike the outpost on a highway between Cairo and Suez, the military spokesman says on his Facebook page.
He says the explosives-laden vehicle was destroyed and its driver killed, without giving other details.
British FM heading to Israel to explain Iran deal
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond tells Parliament he is heading to Israel Wednesday to explain the Iran nuclear deal in person.
Hammond says he will speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday “to convey our message about this deal directly.”
Joint List accuses gov’t of Gaza war crimes
In response to the decision of the Knesset Ethics Committee to strongly censure MK Basel Ghattas over his participation in a recent flotilla to Gaza, the Joint List accuses the Netanyahu government of committing “war crimes” and calls for the prime minister to be “punished” for continuing the blockade on the Hamas-controlled Strip.
The Gaza-bound flotilla was intercepted at the end of June, long before reaching the coastal territory, and escorted by the Navy to Ashdod port. Its non-Israeli participants were deported the following day.
Loyalists advance in Yemen’s Aden
Loyalists of Yemen’s exiled president seize more ground Aden as they press their biggest fightback yet against Iran-backed rebels buoyed by their recapture of the airport.
The offensive, dubbed Operation Golden Arrow, is the first major advance by the loyalists since Shiite Houthi rebels entered the port city in March, forcing President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Popular Resistance fighters — a southern militia that has been the mainstay of support for Hadi — recaptured the provincial government headquarters in the Mualla district opposite Aden’s main commercial port, militia spokesman Ali al-Ahmadi tells AFP. They also advanced in Aden’s Crater downtown district, where a presidential palace is located, amid heavy fighting, he adds.
E. Jerusalem man arrested for supporting IS
A resident of East Jerusalem was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of posting messages supporting the Islamic State terrorist group on Facebook.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the man’s remand until Sunday.
Knesset rejects death penalty for terrorists
The Knesset plenum rejects a preliminary reading of a bill which would institute a death penalty for convicted terrorists.
The bill, proposed by Yisrael Beytenu MK Sharon Gal, would have made it easier for military and district courts to sentence to death those convicted of murder with nationalist motives.
Only 6 MKs voted in favor of the bill, while 94 voted against.
Britain hopes to reopen Tehran embassy this year
Britain is hoping to reopen its embassy in Tehran by the end of the year, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says.
“I very much hope that we will be in a position to reopen our respective embassies before the end of this year,” Hammond says, more than a year after plans to reopen the missions were announced by his predecessor, William Hague.
Israel prefers permanent impasse – Hammond
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says Israel would not have been satisfied with any kind of nuclear deal with Iran and that the Jewish state instead wanted a permanent standoff in the region, Reuters reports.
Hammond, who is set to travel to Israel later today, says he will speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday “to convey our message about this deal directly.”
Kerry said to have discussed US hostages with Iran
US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a physicist who participated in the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, says Secretary of State John Kerry broached the issue of Americans still being held in Iran. Even though the main purpose of the talks was to find common ground on the nuclear program, Moniz says Kerry “never failed to raise the issue of Americans held unjustly in Iran.”
Moniz also tells CNN that the nuclear agreement has stronger restrictions on Iran “than would be the case if we had no agreement.”
He says the agreement provides protection against cheating by Iran. He added “we have bought considerable time to respond” should Iran not live up to its commitments.
Four American hostages are currently being held in Iran.
Rightist group Im Tirzu not fascist after all, court rules
The Supreme Court overturns a 2013 ruling by the Jerusalem District Court which held that the right-wing group Im Tirzu draws influence from fascist ideology.
“The court is not the place for such debates,” says Judge Yitzhak Amit.
The previous verdict came in response to a libel lawsuit filed in 2010 by Im Tirzu against eight founders of a Facebook page that regularly criticized the group and accused it of being fascist.
Back in 2013, a number of high-profile witnesses were called to the stand to attest to Im Tirzu’s alleged fascist undertones, among them historian and writer Zeev Sternhell, who argued that the group displayed traits similar to those of early-stage fascist movements, and religious scholar Tomer Persico, who testified that, during a public debate with Im Tirzu founder Ronen Shoval, the latter confessed that he was influenced by thinkers whose teachings later served as a basis for fascist ideology.
During that trial, Shoval admitted that Im Tirzu had hired private investigators to gather incriminating material on human rights organizations that, he claimed, were engaged in “covert anti-Zionist” activity. Shoval further confessed to sending investigators to the office of one of the defendants’ attorneys, Michael Sfard.
Peace ‘an existential threat’ to Israel – Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif claims that Israel needs crises and conflicts in order to conceal its “aggressive acts against the people of the region,” Israel Radio reports.
In an interview with the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel, Zarif adds that “peace is an existential threat” to Israel.
Scott Walker finds support for scrapping Iran deal
Presidential candidate Scott Walker is finding support among South Carolina Republicans for his pledge to scrap the nuclear deal that the Obama administration has negotiated with Iran.
The Wisconsin governor is promising “crippling economic sanctions” instead, but he’s not explaining how those penalties would differ from what’s been imposed for years.
Walker visited a Charleston-area Harley-Davidson dealership during a full day in the state, which hosts the South’s first 2016 presidential primary.
52 IS child soldiers said killed in Syria in 2015
More than 50 child soldiers recruited by the Islamic State group in Syria have been killed since the beginning of this year, a monitoring group says.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it documented the deaths of 52 child soldiers, all under the age of 16, who had been part of IS’s “Cubs of the Caliphate” program. The program provides intense military and religious training to children throughout IS’s areas of control in Syria, the Britain-based Observatory adds.
As many as 31 were killed in July alone, in explosions, clashes, and airstrikes by Syria’s regime and the US-led coalition.
The child soldiers are used to man checkpoints or gather intelligence from areas outside IS control, but IS has been increasingly using them to execute prisoners or conduct suicide attacks.
So far this year, IS has used 18 children as suicide bombers, most recently in its fight against Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria.
“This shows that Daesh is exploiting the suffering of the Syrian people,” says Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “When a child reaches the point of becoming a suicide bomber, this means that he’s been completely brainwashed,” Abdel Rahman tells AFP.
The Observatory said it had received information on dozens more children killed, but that it could not confirm their deaths.
Since the beginning of 2015, IS has recruited more than 1,100 children.
Remand extended for rabbi suspected of sexual abuse
The Kiryat Shmona Magistrate’s Court extended by eight days the remand of a rabbi of Safed suspected of rape and molestation.
So far, ten complaints have been lodged against the rabbi, whose name was not cleared for publication.
3 Israeli hackers arrested in global probe
As part of an international investigation by police forces in 17 countries, the cyber division of Israel’s special unit Lahav 433 arrested three Israelis who were members of the underground internet forum Darkode.com, it is cleared for publication.
The three are suspected of committing a series of cyber crimes, including attacks on websites amd credit card information thefts. One of the suspects allegedly transferred funds to a terrorist organization, Ynet reports.
Military option against Iran still on table, says Biden
The nuclear deal with Iran does not mean military action against the Islamic Republic is off the table, US Vice President Joe Biden tells Democratic lawmakers, according to Reuters.
Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) tells reporters that Biden insisted “nothing in this agreement takes the military option off the table.”
Biden further says that “the entire sanctions regime would crumble” if the US were to have walked away from negotiations with Tehran and fail to seal the agreement, according to Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
Russia, Iran negotiating Sukhoi Superjet deal
Russia and Iran are negotiating a deal over Moscow supplying the Islamic Republic with Sukhoi Superjet passenger planes, Russia’s Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov says, according to Reuters.
“Such talks are being held,” he adds. “And not only Superjets, but also other technology is being met with certain interest from our Iranian comrades.”
IDF raids home of 22-year-old Palestinian stabber
According to Palestinian sources, the IDF raided the home of a 22-year-old Palestinian suspected of stabbing a soldier near the West Bank settlement of Nahliel this afternoon.
The soldier, 20, was moderately wounded from stab wounds to his back and was evacuated to Tel HaShomer hospital outside of Tel Aviv.
The female assailant was arrested by security forces at the scene and taken in for questioning at a nearby security facility.
PM says Iran has too much time ahead of inspections
Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to speak out against the Iranian nuclear deal on international media, saying the terms of the agreement offer Tehran an extended period of time to hide incriminating evidence before UN officials can reach military sites for inspection.
“Iran has here two paths to the bomb. One is if they keep the deal, and the other is if they cheat on the deal,” Netanyahu tells NBC.
“They can cheat on the deal because inspections are not instantaneous, anywhere, anytime, as Foreign Minister of Iran Zarif said correctly. In fact, you don’t have inspections within 24 hours; you have 24 days before you can inspect any site that you find suspicious in Iran.”
“Twenty-four days. Can you imagine giving a drug dealer 24 days’ notice before you check the premises? That’s a lot of time to flush a lot of meth down the toilet,” Netanyahu says.
French Jewish family apparently targeted in home attack
A family that was assaulted and robbed in their suburban Paris home may have been targeted because they are Jewish, a watchdog group says.
The report Wednesday by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, was about an aggravated robbery that occurred earlier in the day in Le Blanc-Mesnil.
Three masked men of African descent armed with handguns sequestered the family, two parents and their daughter, according to BNVCA. One or more of the men also attacked the daughter, causing “serious injuries” that required hospitalization, the report adds. The parents were injured as well and hospitalized.
BNVCA says the perpetrators told the family they had targeted their home because they were Jewish and have money.
The perpetrators stole 2,500 euros, about $2,740, in cash, a Mercedes car and keys to the family’s jewelry shop in Paris’ 10th arrondissement, or district.
“This attack bears an uncanny resemblance to the attack committed recently in Creteil,” BNVCA writes in reference to the rape and robbery committed in December in that Paris suburb against a Jewish couple by robbers who said they were targeted because they were Jews. “The cliche that Jews have money remains strong in people’s minds.”
ANC official threatens students who visited Israel
Jewish groups in South Africa condemn a government official for threatening to punish students who visited Israel.
Obed Bapela, a deputy minister in President Jacob Zuma’s office, charged the students, who visited Israel recently under the auspices of the South Africa Israel Forum, with bringing the ruling African National Congress into “disrepute” and said the party would “summon” them to an investigation.
The director of the South Africa Israel Forum, Dan Brotman, tells the Israeli daily Haaretz that “some of the participants, who will be future leaders in South Africa, were under enormous pressure not to come or received threats over being kicked out of their political parties.”
“The goal is not to make them pro-Israel, but to expose them to a narrative they really don’t hear in South Africa,” he says.
Bapela said Israel was “offering free trips and holidays to embarrass the ANC,” adding that it was a “campaign by Israel to distort our stand on Palestine. We have a clear position that supports Palestinian freedom. No leader of the ANC in a private capacity or for the party will visit Israel. It will be putting the ANC in disrepute.”
There is no official ban placed on members of the government or ANC traveling to Israel.
Denis Goldberg, a South African social activist who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela over the anti-apartheid movement, issued a statement last week slamming “Israeli propaganda holiday trips.”
The South African Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies in a joint statement said it was “deeply disturbing that a member of the South African government should condemn and threaten to punish those who have simply exercised their democratic right to freedom of thought and association. What is so wrong – either legally or morally – about a group of young South Africans travelling to another country in order to broaden their knowledge about the situation there? Is Mr. Bapela afraid that by being exposed to information and opinions that differ from his own, they might end up coming to the ‘wrong’ conclusions?”
The groups charged that Bapela’s attitude goes against South Africa’s approach to engagement with other countries, noting that groups from South Africa have traveled consistently to all parts of the world, “including to countries where serious human rights abuses are taking place. Why is it only Israel that they should not be allowed to visit?”
NATO unveils plan for biggest exercise in 13 years
NATO unveils details of its biggest military exercise in 13 years, mobilizing 36,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen from more than 30 countries.
Officials say that the exercise, named Trident Juncture, has been planned for years, but is being tweaked to test NATO’s ability to respond to new security threats like those highlighted by Russia’s takeover of Crimea and the spread of radical groups like the Islamic State in the Mideast and North Africa.
It will take place in October and November in Italy, Spain and Portugal, and the adjacent waters and airspace.
British Army Lt. Gen. Phil Jones says for NATO, “the challenge is to make sure that we as military, we’re never fighting the last war, whether the last war was 10 years ago or 10 minutes ago.”
Over 30 dead in triple Islamist attack in Nigeria
At least 30 people were killed in three attacks by Islamists in northeastern Nigeria, local officials and inhabitants say.
The three assaults were carried out simultaneously Tuesday. In the deadliest, over 20 were killed outside Ngamdu, a local legislator, Mohammed Sando, tells AFP.
“Boko Haram gunmen… yesterday set up a barricade on the Damaturu-Maidiguri highway just outside Ngamdu, and attacked motorists. They killed over 20,” Sando says.
“They then moved to Ngamdu and began to set houses on fire. Last week they burnt almost half the village in a similar raid,” he adds.
Haruna Kabil, a bus driver, said a large number of people from Ngamdu fled their homes after the attacks.
“Some houses in Ngamdu were smouldering when I passed this morning. I learned from some passengers I took from Ngamdu that Boko Haram invaded the village in the evening and began burning homes after attacking motorists on the highway. They said that many people were killed on the highway, by the attackers,” Kabil tells AFP.
Near Baga, which is located northeast of Ngamdu, Boko Haram attacked residents who had decided to return home from Maiduguri, where they had been living in forced displacement since January.
“Yesterday, they chartered a lorry to (take) them to Baga. On reaching Garin-Giwa, which is just four kilometres (2.5 miles) from Baga, they were ambushed by Boko Haram gunmen who opened fire on the vehicle, forcing dozens of men inside to flee into the bush,” says Abubakar Gamandi, head of the fishermen’s union in Borno state.
“The gunmen however apprehended eight of the passengers and shot them in the head,” he adds.
In Damasak, Boko Haram assailants set fire to the town and “opened fire on everyone they saw,” said local resident Buba Ari.
“We are now going through the burnt area looking for bodies. So far we have covered five.”
The attacks underlined the threat still posed by the Islamists, despite the authorities’ pledges to crush Boko Haram’s insurgency and with a new regional force set to deploy at the end of the month.
Obama offers upgrade package for IDF
US President Obama offered Prime Minister Netanyahu to begin immediate talks on upgrading the offensive and defensive capabilities of the IDF, a senior US official tells Haaretz.
According to the official, who spoke under condition of anonymity, the offer apparently comes as compensation to Israel after Western powers signed a nuclear agreement with Iran, a deal to which the Jewish state was vehemently opposed.
According to Haaretz, Obama had placed the proposal to Netanyahu yesterday, after originally raising the matter in April. Netanyahu has so far refrained from accepting the US offer so as not to imply that Israel had come to terms with the Iranian nuclear deal.
Obama further told Netanyahu that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter would arrive in Israel next week to discuss the offer. It is still unclear whether Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon will agree to the proposal.
Four protesters arrested near West Bank outpost
Four people are arrested during a demonstration near the West Bank outpost of Givat Asaf, in the central West Bank.
The group of protesters, some of them masked, blocked Route 60 and tried to set fire to tires, in protest of home demolitions in the nearby settlement of Beit El, according to the Walla news site.
Christie says Obama lying about Iran deal
Republican presidential contender Chris Christie says President Barack Obama is lying to the American public to try to win support for the Iran nuclear deal.
The New Jersey governor says that “if the president likes his deal then go and sell it, but sell it honestly. Don’t lie to the American people.”
When talking about the deal on Tuesday, Obama had said “inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s nuclear facilities.” That is correct when it comes to designated nuclear facilities. But a more pressing question throughout the negotiations has been whether inspectors could immediately access new, suspicious sites.
Under the latest agreement, if Iran refuses access to a suspicious site, an arbitration panel will decide whether the Iranians have to submit to an inspection within 24 days.
Iran deal cuts off pathway to nuclear bomb, Obama says
US President Obama discusses the agreement between Western powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program, saying that the deal cuts off Tehran’s ability to produce an atomic weapon.
“Without the deal, Iran would have a pathway to a nuclear bomb,” he says.
West ‘willfully blind’ to Iran terror, Ya’alon says
The West has made itself willfully blind to Iran’s terror machine and signed an agreement that will endanger world peace, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says at an army graduation ceremony.
“Iran, which for two decades and for the duration of the negotiations, cheated and swindled the international system… is now rewarded with a tail wind that endangers the world’s peace,” he says.
Ya’alon adds that the agreement signed in Vienna on Tuesday will intensify Iran’s terror activities “in a singularly tangible way.”
Calling Iran “a monster of terror,” he says that the West is “shutting its eyes” and that Iran-backed terrorism may yet “reach their door step.”
Looking ahead and perhaps speaking for some of the Sunni states in the region, Ya’alon adds that Israel will “continue to insist” that the agreement is “a historic mistake, which undermines and destabilizes the few stable foundations that remain in the Middle East.”
“We are,” he tells the graduating class of the Israel National Security College, “pursuers of peace. But we must recognize reality and not fall for fantasy.”
— Mitch Ginsburg
‘Iran deal makes world more secure’
US will maintain its own sanctions on Iran and continue cooperation with Israel, says Obama.
The deal makes the country and the world more secure, and the alternative would endanger the security of the US, the president says.
“The deal is the best means to assure Iran won’t get nuclear weapons,” Obama says, adding that that was America’s intention from the start.
Nuclear deal assures more inspections of Iran sites
Iran will be subject to a more vigorous inspection regime than before the nuclear deal, Obama says.
“Iran will not be in a position to develop a nuclear bomb,” he says.
‘Iran sponsorship of terror still a probelm’
The US cannot assure that Iran will halt its sponsorship of terrorism in the Middle East overnight despite the nuclear agreement, Obama says.
But the US “will be in a stronger position” to work with Israel and other partners to put pressure on Iran in those areas, he says.
Israel has ‘legitimate concerns’ for its security
Obama says the criticism of the nuclear deal is based only on “speculation” and “misinformation,” but nevertheless, Israel has “legitimate concerns for its security in relation to Iran.”
‘What do Iran deal critics offer instead?’
There are only two alternatives, either engaging in diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program, or going to war, Obama says.
‘Iran has right to peaceful nuclear program’
Iran, as signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has a right to a peaceful nuclear program, Obama says.
“The suggestion among a lot of the critics is that a better deal is one in which Iran has no nuclear capacity at all… the problem with that position is that there’s no one who thinks Iran would or could accept that.”
Obama defends Iran deal as only option to avert arms race
President Barack Obama vigorously defends the nuclear deal with Iran, casting the historic accord as the only possibility to avert a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and reduce the chances of war.
A day after the US, Iran and world powers announced the deal, Obama said the US faces a “fundamental choice” about whether to embrace the opportunity to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully. His remarks in a White House news conference appear aimed squarely at Congress, where lawmakers are discussing legislation to try to stop the deal’s implementation.
“I expect the debate to be robust, and that’s how it should be,” Obama says, imploring lawmakers who are skeptical of the deal to “remember the alternative.”
Under the deal announced Tuesday, Iran’s nuclear program will be scaled back and closely monitored as the US and world powers seek to cut off Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. In exchange, Iran will see biting economic sanctions eventually lifted, freeing up billions of dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets.
Obama, taking questions from reporters at the White House, said that in the absence of a deal, the international economic sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table will unravel, and the world community will be unable to put the sanctions regime together.
“Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East, and other countries in the Middle East would feel compelled to develop their own nuclear weapons,” Obama says, adding that such a chain of events would risk a nuclear arms race “in the most dangerous region in the world.”
‘Sanctions targeting Hezbollah still in place’
Obama notes that sanctions and other measures targeting Iran’s support for Hezbollah are “still in place.”
IDF investigating possible soldier crimes in Gaza
The IDF launched investigations into alleged offenses committed by soldiers in the Gaza Strip during last year’s war between Israel and Hamas, an army spokesman says.
The eight probes were instigated on the backdrop of a raging public debate on evidence collected by Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence concerning alleged crimes committed by troops.
‘No normalization of relations with Iran despite deal’
Obama says the US hopes Iran will change its “nefarious” behavior, “but we’re not betting on it.”
He also adds that “unlike the Cuba situation, we’re not normalizing diplomatic relations here.”
US working to free captives in Iran
The US is working “every day” to free three American citizens being held in Iran and another whose whereabouts are unconfirmed but who is believed to be in the Islamic Republic, US President Obama says.
US security adviser flipflops on Iran deal terms
According to CNN anchor Erin Burnett, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes stated yesterday that the US “never sought anytime, anywhere inspections” in Iranian military facilities.
"We never sought anytime/anywhere inspections" – Pres Obama Dpty National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes tells me.
— Erin Burnett (@ErinBurnett) July 14, 2015
However, In April, Rhodes did in fact claim that the arrangements of the deal ensure “anytime, anywhere” inspections of any and every Iranian facility — contradicting complaints by Israel that no such provision was guaranteed.
Asked directly if the IAEA would have anytime, anywhere access, Rhodes said, “Yes, if we see something that we want to inspect.”
“In the first place we will have anytime, anywhere access the nuclear facilities,” he said, referring to “the whole supply chain.”
And, he added, “if there is a suspicious site, for instance somewhere in a military base in Iran, and we want to seek access to that, we will be able to go to the IAEA and get that inspection because of the additional protocol of the IAEA that Iran will be joining and some of the additional transparency and inspections measures that are in the deal.”
Khamenei thanks nuclear negotiators
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sends a letter thanking his country’s nuclear negotiators, though he warns the deal must be scrutinized.
Khamenei, who holds the final word on all state matters, writes that some of the countries involved in Tuesday’s landmark deal in Vienna “are not trustworthy at all.”
He writes: “It’s necessary to put the text of the deal to scrutiny.” He says any possible problems in the text “have to be taken care of and blocked.”
Khamenei’s letter, sent Wednesday, is posted on his official website and carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.
Obama: US ‘working’ to free imprisoned journalists
Obama says his administration is “working every day” to try to free the four American citizens currently imprisoned in Iranian jails.
At a press conference, Obama says “the notion that I am content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails — that’s nonsense.” He adds: “Nobody is content.”
Obama says the US did not include the status of the jailed Americans in the nuclear talks because it would have made it more difficult to walk away from a bad deal. He says he didn’t want to encourage Iran to use the prisoners for leverage.