Category Archives: Israel

Kernmacht Israël heeft 5de Dolphin

JaffaDok | Jan Schnerr | 17 december 2015

NUCLEAIRE DREIGING NU MOGELIJK VAN MIDDELLANDSE ZEE TOT INDISCHE OCEAAN. GAAT SAOEDIE-ARABIË ‘ZIJN’ ISIS BESTRIJDEN?

Israël heeft zijn vijfde ‘kernraketten’-Dolphin

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Op een 6e Dolphin was nog gerekend, maar Duitsland stopt ermee

De vijfde onderzeeër in de Dolphinklasse is vanuit een Duitse werf aan Israël geleverd. Evenals andere vaartuigen in deze klasse zal het in Israël worden voorzien van installaties die met kernkoppen geladen raketten kunnen lanceren op doelen tot 1.500 km afstand. De onderzeeër kan zeer lang onder water blijven en kan gedurende die tijd ongezien vlak voor de kust van een land verblijven. Al enkele jaren is bekend dat Israël aanwezig is in de Perzische Golf. Israël bevestigt hiermee zijn status van regionale atoommacht die actief is in de Middellandse Zee, de Rode Zee, de Indische Oceaan en de Perzische Golf. De Dolphins zijn ook belangrijk in het inlichtingenwerk.

Uitlatingen van hoge Israëlische politici en militairen in verband met de levering van de vijfde Dolphin geven aan dat zij deze vaartuigen ook als offensieve wapens zien: ‘The “force multiplier” and “fighting arm” remarks of Israeli officials might as well point out that the alleged nuclear missiles in the possession of the state of Israel could be regarded not only as a shield, but as a sword as well.’ Global Research schreef enkele maanden geleden: ‘Israel’s coastline in total, including islands, is a mere 273km, and it is no exaggeration to say that there is no other country with so many submarines to protect so short a sea border.’

De Duitse rol is opvallend. Alle Dolphins werden in Duitsland gebouwd. De Duitse financiële bijdrage is zeer aanzienlijk. Het blad Der Spiegel heeft hier de laatste jaren veel informatie over naar de oppervlakte gebracht: ‘In June 2012, Der Spiegel reported that Germany is actually strengthening Israel’s nuclear capabilities.’ Officieel verklaard Duitsland dat het geen weet heeft van een eventuele ombouw van de Dophins tot platforms voor nucleaire aanvallen: ‘Officially, Germany has always maintained that it doesn’t have a slightest idea about Israel’s military nuclear program and possible deployment of nuclear missiles on German-built submarines. However, according to Der Spiegel’s research, several former high-ranking German officials have never doubted Israel was putting nuclear missiles on its subs.’

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-security-of-israel-fifth-nuclear-capable-submarine-cruise-missiles-with-nuclear-warheads-deterrent-against-iran/5473414

Trend: afsluiting bezet gebied voor buitenlandse waarnemers

Internationale waarnemers in Hebron zijn aangevallen door kolonisten. Het leger keek daarbij toe. Het weren van ‘pottenkijkers’ bij het optreden van militairen en kolonisten (die meestal samenwerken) begint een trend te worden in de bezette gebieden. Zie bijvoorbeeld op Twitter de bekende publicist Ben White (Benabyad):

Voortdurende razzia’s in Palestijnse buurten

De (meestal) nachtelijke razzia’s door het Israëlische leger in Palestijnse dorpen, wijken en vluchtelingenkampen blijven routinematig doorgaan. Geregeld worden Palestijnse ambulances en hulpverleners verhinderd hun werk te doen voor gewonden. Zie bijvoorbeeld:

http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769375

Saoedische coalitie verenigt volgens Ynet ‘gematigde regiems’
Prins Salman in zijn biotoop: geld, wapens en erfelijke macht.

In een uitgebreide analyse in Yedioth Ahronot vandaag geeft columnist Ben Yishai een Israëlische visie op de door de Saoedies in elkaar gezette ‘Islamic coalition to fight jihadist terror‘. Terwijl in sommige westerse media steeds meer kritiek op de schatrijke oliestaat begint door te klinken (ook maar niet alleen, voor zijn rol in het religieus geïnspireerde terrorisme) beschrijft de analyse Saoedie-Arabië en zijn coalitie als het gematigde gezicht van de soennitische wereld: ‘The coalition’s establishment points to Saudi Arabia’s unshakable standing as the leader of Islam’s moderate Sunni stream.’ Tot de coalitie die ISIS moet gaan bestrijden behoren niet Irak en Iran, de twee staten die tot de grootste vijanden van ISIS worden gerekend. Ook Hezbollah, dat ISIS concreet en op de grond bestrijdt zit niet in de coalitie. Wel mochten toetreden Libanon en de Palestijnse Autoriteit (PA).

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4740583,00.html

Commentaar:

Libanon loopt groot risico meegezogen te worden in de Syrische oorlog, mede als gevolg van de wapenleveranties door Saoedie-Arabië die tegen Hezbollah zijn gericht. De PA speelt in dit spel geen rol. De PA is voor een deel financieel afhankelijk van Saoedie-Arabië en heeft waarschijnlijk stilzwijgende goedkeuring van Israël en de VS gekregen om toe te treden. Egypte is (aarzelend) lid van de coalitie geworden en zal daar naar het zich laat aanzien een beloning voor eisen: dat Saoedie-Arabië zich weer kritischer opstelt ten opzichte van de Moslimbroederschap, die in Egypte een bedreiging vormt voor het generaalsbewind. Voor Israël zal vooral belangrijk zijn of de Saoedische verklaring dat de coalitie ‘alle terreur’ wil bestrijden, ook betrekking heeft op Hamas en Hezbollah.

Atlantisch gezinde kranten die zich de laatste tijd kritischer zijn gaan opstellen ten opzichte van de westerse ‘bondgenoot’ Saoedie-Arabië zijn (naast andere grote Duitse kranten), de Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung en de NRC. De FAZ wijst op de Amerikaanse wens dat de islamitische wereld zelf het voortouw neemt in de strijd tegen teligieus geïnspireerde terreur. De krant wijst ook op de interne strijd binnen de Saoedische elite die een rol speelt in het naar voren schuiven van prins Salman.

achtergrond:

http://jaffadok.nl/saoedi-arabie-jemen/

http://jaffadok.nl/libanon/

How is Israel a Non-Nuclear Weapon State?

Arms Control Law | Dan Joyner | October 8, 2015

I just ran across this recent report by David Albright and ISIS. Before proceeding, I just have to take this opportunity to share a chuckle of incredulity with others who have similarly noted Albright’s decision to change ISIS’ Twitter handle to . . . wait for it . . . @TheGoodISIS. Talk about self delusion. I’ve enjoyed some schadenfreude-filled moments lately seeing even the arms control wonk establishment bashing Albright on Twitter.

But back to the report. On the whole it’s innocuous enough – an accounting of civil HEU stocks around the world. But what caught my eye is that on Page 5, Israel is listed in the portion of a table titled “Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) that received US-origin HEU.” It made me wonder what possible criteria ISIS was using to categorize Israel as a Non-Nuclear Weapon State? Israel is of course not a party to the NPT, which is the legal source for the term Non-Nuclear Weapon State. So Israel clearly can’t be called an NNWS based on its membership in that category of states parties the NPT.

I don’t know if Albright is trying to play some game of semantics here by reference to NPT Article IX(3), which defines a nuclear weapon state as “one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967,” and therefore by exclusion determining that Israel can’t be categorized as one of those, and so must be a non-nuclear weapon state. But if that’s the game, Albright should note that this sentence in Article IX(3), read in full, makes it clear that this definition is only applicable “For the purposes of this Treaty . . .” So this definition, and any negative extrapolation, does not apply to Israel.

So what about just a colloquial use of the term non-nuclear weapon state? If that’s what Albright means here, then he’s being pretty disingenuous in referring to Israel by this term. It’s well documented that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, and willfully turning a blind eye to this evidence – if that is what he’s doing – just makes Albright look like he’s whitewashing over it.

Not very “scientific,” ISIS.

Israel and the Atomic Bomb

IMEU | September 25, 2015

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View of the Israeli nuclear facility in the Negev Dest outside Dimona (Reuters)
  • Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons, with an arsenal estimated at 60-400 warheads, although most experts put the actual number in the range of 80-200.
  • In addition to other delivery methods, Israel has nuclear-armed submarines that allow for first and second-strike capabilities. The Dolphin-class submarines were sold to Israel by Germany, which was aware that they would be armed with nuclear missiles. In 2010, the Sunday Times newspaper reported that Israel was in the process of deploying three nuclear-armed submarines off the coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf as part of a plan to maintain a permanent nuclear presence there.
  • Israel developed the bomb secretly at its nuclear facilities in the town of Dimona in the 1950s and 1960s. While a number of countries helped Israel acquire nuclear weapons capabilities, France in particular played a key role, assisting in the construction of a reactor and reprocessing plant, and providing engineers and technical assistance. Israel is also believed to have stolen intelligence and materials necessary for making atomic weapons, including from the United States.
  • Israel has maintained a policy of neither acknowledging nor denying having the bomb, and is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). This policy of ambiguity is the result of a secret agreement reached between President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969. According to the deal, Israel agreed not to test nuclear weapons or publicly acknowledge having them and in return the U.S. stopped pressuring Israel to allow inspections of its secret nuclear facilities and to sign the NPT. Among other concerns, the Nixon administration feared that Israel’s possession of the bomb would start a nuclear arms race in the region. Since 1969, the U.S. has worked to prevent Israel’s nuclear program from being discussed publicly or scrutinized by bodies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency.
  • Israel’s nuclear weapons program was revealed to the world in 1986 by whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at Dimona who approached the Sunday Times with proof of its existence. Before the Times’ exposé was published, Israeli agents lured Vanunu to Rome where he was kidnapped and taken back to Israel to stand trial. After being convicted of espionage and treason, Vanunu served 18 years in prison, including 11 in solitary confinement. Since his release in 2004, the Israeli government has continued to impose severe restrictions on Vanunu, including preventing him from talking to journalists or foreigners or traveling abroad. In a 2014 statement, an Amnesty International spokesperson declared: “The authorities’ continued punishment of Mordechai Vanunu appears to be purely vindictive. The government’s arguments that these severe restrictions are necessary for national security are ludicrous.”
  • In 1975, Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa at a time when the two countries were developing a close alliance. The offer was made by then-Defense Minister and future Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who played a central role in Israel’s nuclear program. Although the apartheid regime declined, Israel subsequently helped South Africa develop the bomb, while South Africa provided Israel with the yellowcake it needed to make nuclear weapons. The two countries also collaborated on the testing of a nuclear bomb off the coast of South Africa in 1979, in violation of the secret agreement made between Israel and the U.S. in 1969.
  • In 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released previously classified documents revealing that an investigation begun during the 1980s concluded that Benjamin Netanyahu was part of an Israeli smuggling ring that illegally purchased nuclear triggers from the U.S. without export licenses from the State Department, using a front company called Heli Trading, which Netanyahu worked for.

Ellsberg Seeks Justice for Vanunu

Consortium News | September 12, 2015

Famed Defense Department whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says Israel should cease its nearly three-decade-old persecution of Mordechai Vanunu, the former nuclear technician who exposed the existence of Israel’s clandestine nuclear program in 1986 and was jailed for 18 years.

Former U.S. Defense Department official Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, says Israel should finally recognize that former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu did the right thing when he disclosed the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons program in 1986, which led Israeli agents to kidnap him from Italy and spirit him back to Israel.

In an interview with RT, Ellsberg, who himself was branded a “traitor” to the United States for revealing the Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War in 1971, added that the Israeli government should finally lift restrictions on Vanunu’s civil rights. Further, Ellsberg said, Israel should come clean about the existence of its nuclear weapons program and admit that it violated its promise not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.

A photograph of a control room at Israel's Dimona nuclear weapons plant in the 1980s. (Photograph taken by nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, who was later kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel as punishment for revealing its secret nuclear arsenal.)

RT: Ten years since his release, Vanunu is still under constant government pressure, is in constant fear of arrest. Why is that happening, do you think?

Daniel Ellsberg: I think it’s essentially what they want to be a life-time punishment, in effect, for embarrassing them, actually, in a policy that really can’t be defended in the nuclear era. Is it really legitimate for a country to develop nuclear weapons in secret and continue to maintain the secrecy, then, indefinitely from the world, or pretend to keep that secret? I think not.

I think Vanunu did exactly the right thing by telling his fellow citizens, and the rest of the world, that Israel had a large nuclear program. And for that, he served 18 years in prison: 10 and a half in a very small cell of isolation – a 6 by 9 foot cell – what Amnesty called “torture,” essentially, for that long period.

The idea that he’s restricted after serving the full sentence – nothing off for good behavior or any pardon of any sort – after serving the full sentence of 18 the idea that he should be subject to further restrictions about who he can talk to, and whether he can leave the country, is actually a relic of the British colonial policies, when they ruled Israel entirely and they were just incorporated into Israeli law that’s not regarded under human rights legislation anywhere else in the world, actually, as a fair thing to do.

He wasn’t let out a day early. He served the entire sentence, and was then he was given, as I say, these further restrictions as the British occupation regulations had allowed and Israeli law simply continued those into its own law in clear violation of the UN Charter on Human Rights.

RT: For some people Vanunu is a hero, for others, he is the exact opposite. They say he should be put in prison for life. What impact do you think his revelations have had?

DE: Well, I can’t say that his revelations affected Israeli policy, though they should have, I think. Many Israelis feel that they should have been honest and open about their nuclear policy many years ago, and right now are still saying that. He’s called a traitor. I was called a traitor, though not charged with that under the American Constitution.

Virtually everyone, I think, who gives out truth that the officials, the government doesn’t want revealed, gets that terrible name. If you’re not willing to be called names, you really can’t tell the truth, I would say, about wrongful things your government is doing. And I’m speaking here not so much about the Israeli nuclear program, as about the fact that they have lied about it ever since.

RT: Has it been effective in the sense that he was the first to publicly speak out about the alleged existence of the Israeli nuclear program? Has it been effective in that it’s inspired others to follow his lead?

DE: I’m glad that it has. Actually, there were those who felt at the time that he had improved Israeli security by making it clear to their neighbors that they were confronting a nuclear state – something I think they were, on the whole, even the government, was happy to have out. But they wanted to “A” – punish the person who had taken it on himself, the initiative to reveal that, and discourage other whistleblowers. And, on the other hand, they wanted to continue their policy of the so-called “ambiguity,” which is just a policy of lying to the public – to their own public and to the world.

By the way, they’ve said forever they would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East – they’ve said that over and over. That’s simply a flat government lie. No better, no worse than lies by my own government, or any other government.

RT: Now, Vanunu is not even allowed to leave the country. The government says he could still reveal more secrets. You can speak from a position of experience here, how you feel about that. Is it legally acceptable, though?

DE: I can’t go on my own judgment on that, but every nuclear expert – which I’m not, I’ve worked on nuclear war plans, but not on design or having to do with nuclear weapons – everyone says that what he knew as a technician in Dimona in 1986, more than 20 years ago, could [not] possibly have any security relevance today. And that that’s just a threadbare excuse for continuing his punishment indefinitely, beyond what even a military type court assigned to him so many years ago.

RT: What’s the stance of other countries when it comes to Israel’s refusal to admit any program of nuclear weapons or any possession? Where do the stand on this? How do they view Israel?

DE: Well, apparently, the fact that Vanunu was given permission to give this interview at all was taken by various media, major media, as indicating a real shift in Israeli policy, and coming very close, at last, to coming clean about what their status is.

By the way, what Vanunu indicated was, is that their nuclear stockpile was far larger than even our American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had estimated. He’s described these stories, saying that it was at least 100 weapons. People who’d guessed earlier, thought it was much lower.

Actually, Vanunu was saying at that time that he thought the material was far larger than that, enough for some 300 or more weapons, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, to this day, the Israeli stockpile is being very underestimated. That might indicate, for example, that they actually have the third-largest stockpile in the world, after the U.S. and Russia, rather than lagging behind France, for example.

RT: How do you think things have changed over the decades that have past? Do you see governments now putting in more controls and more protections to prevent whistleblowers? Is it becoming harder?

DE: Well there are people who can’t be deterred by the threat even of very heavy, indefinite or lifetime sentences. Ed Snowden, obviously, living in exile now and probably in danger of his life indefinitely, is willing to take on that risk. Chelsea Manning, who is in prison right now, for revealing this. I think all of those, including Vanunu. Let me just say they are my personal heroes. I admire them.

I regard Vanunu as a friend, having met him several times and corresponded with him. I went to Israel to intercede for him in an appellate hearing. I think he is the preeminent prophet of the nuclear era. Someone who not only risked life in jail or death, but actually served a tremendous long time – as I say, 10 and a half years in solitary confinement in 18 years.

So, I think he deserves to be honored, really, throughout the world, and he is in much of the world. And to be allowed, certainly, to join his new wife – I’m very happy for her, that they’ve gotten together – to join his wife in Norway and live his life.

But he’s clearly not willing to be entirely muffled on his views about nuclear weapons and his belief, actually, that the nuclear policy of Israel is shortsighted, and dangerous to the state itself, in promoting proliferation to which Israel is very subject and vulnerable. So, I think he should be allowed, not because he’s suffered enough, but because he did exactly the right thing, and it’s time to recognize that.

[This interview is being republished at the suggestion of Daniel Ellsberg.]

Israel, US working to prevent discussion of ‘Israel’s nuclear capabilities’ at IAEA meeting

The Jerusalem Post | Yossi Melman | September 16, 2015

Israel, the United States and a number of other pro-Israel states are working behind the scenes of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) annual conference to prevent a discussion of a resolution put forth by Egypt and the Arab States on the subject of “Israel’s nuclear capabilities.”

The resolution calls for the IAEA to demand that Israel open for inspection the nuclear reactor in Dimona in which, according to foreign reports, it has developed fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

The resolution has been submitted to be on the conference’s agenda as it has in past years. In previous years, a discussion of the resolution has taken place and it was accepted by a majority of states, but it was non-binding.

The IAEA’s annual conference takes place this week at the organization’s headquarters in Vienna. Some three weeks ago, Israel’s National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy Yitzhak Molcho visited Cairo and met with the Egyptian foreign minister and other officials. They tried to convince the Egyptians to change their approach on the nuclear issue given the current situation in the Middle East and the developing strategic and defense ties between Israel and Egypt connected with the war on ISIS in Sinai and against Hamas’s armed wing.

The Israeli delegation suggested that Egypt and the Arab League states, who are also supported by the Muslim bloc and the Non-Aligned Movement, submit the resolution, but agree to not hold a discussion of it at the conference. As of now it remains unclear if Israel will succeed in convincing them to take such an action. A decision on the matter is expected on Thursday.

On Wednesday afternoon, the head of Israel’s delegation to the conference, the new director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, Ze’ev Snir, was scheduled to deliver an address. In his speech, he was expected to reiterate Israel’s traditional stance that it will be prepared to discuss nuclear disarmament in the Middle East only after countries in the region recognize the Jewish state and sign peace treaties with it as well as security agreements. In his speech he was expected to emphasize the regional states that have violated their obligation to the IAEA by trying to produce nuclear weapons – Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran.

It’s time for Israel to disarm

Aljazeera America | Alex Kane | September 14, 2015

It’s September in New York: the start of a diplomatic marathon that will no doubt bring renewed attention to Israel’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

Since 1974, the United Nations General Assembly has passed a laudable Egyptian-sponsored resolution calling for the Middle East to become a nuclear weapons free zone each year. Starting five years later, the UN began repeatedly passing an Egyptian-authored resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which it would disarm and place its nuclear materials under international inspection. But these resolutions are nonbinding, and the leading Arab state’s calls to focus on Israel’s arsenal of at least 80 nuclear warheads are usually ignored by Western powers.

That reality is unlikely to change this year. But it should.

The July signing of the Iran nuclear accord is certain to produce political clashes at the UN. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t be able to resist railing against the deal in front of the world. But the expected focus on the Iranian nuclear program makes the UN General Assembly, which opens its 70th session on Tuesday, the perfect opportunity to probe another nuclear program in the Middle East — one that has actually produced a weapon, unlike Iran’s.

The Iran accord, which curbs the country’s nuclear enrichment program in exchange for sanctions relief, was a victory for advocates of nuclear disarmament. It blocks the Islamic Republic’s ability to build a nuclear weapon, making the world, especially the Middle East, a safer place.

A probe of Israeli warheads, on the other hand, has been delayed by the United States for too long. But it’s an issue that needs to be taken up to avoid dangerous tensions, setbacks to nuclear disarmament and other states in the region pursuing their own nuclear and chemical weapons programs.

It is now Israel’s turn to renounce nuclear arms, as Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif argued in a July column for The Guardian. Of course, Zarif wants to score points against a state that has long railed against virtually any move Iran makes, be it political or military. But his main point — that the Middle East would be safer without nuclear weapons — is sound.

The American policy of shielding Israel’s nuclear weapons continues to be the main obstacle to nuclear disarmament in the region.

At the very least, Israel — which neither denies nor acknowledges the existence of its stockpile — should join the majority of the world in signing the Nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty. That could be the first step towards reducing regional tensions over the issue and paving the path towards a Middle East free of atomic bombs.

So far, the United States has effectively prevented meaningful action to enable a nuclear weapons free zone. In fact, U.S. officials won’t even talk about the existence of Israel’s nukes. When journalist Helen Thomas asked President Barack Obama about Israel’s arsenal in 2009, he responded, “With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate.” And at the May Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference, the U.S. prevented the release of a statement calling for a UN-led conference on establishing a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. The American policy of shielding Israel’s nuclear weapons continues to be the main obstacle to nuclear disarmament in the region.

The lack of U.S. attention to Israel’s weaponry, and the amount of attention devoted to Iran’s program is a glaring double standard — especially by a country whose leader called for a world without nuclear weapons in a 2009 speech in Prague.

The U.S. stance also ignores history. The historical record shows that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein wanted nuclear weapons as a deterrent to Israel’s nuclear program. Syria developed chemical weapons as a deterrent against Israel’s nuclear capabilities. Today, with Syria and Iraq in terminal internal chaos, there is no chemical or nuclear threat to Israel. But as the Arab revolts proved, change can occur rapidly in the Middle East. A future with Israeli nuclear weapons will continue to destabilize the region.

There is no sign that the U.S. is about to change its policy on Israel’s nuclear capabilities. But as Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, said in an interview, “in the future, possibly, you’re going to have a scenario where other countries have to agree to the same things the Iranians agreed to” in their nuclear accord.

Placing Israel’s nuclear warheads under an international inspection regime, and moving towards disarmament, is a chance to make the Middle East, and the world, a more secure place. It should not be such a long shot.

Alex Kane is a New York–based freelance journalist and a former editor for Mondoweiss and AlterNet.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

Obama: US-Israel ties will improve after Iran deal in place

Washington Post | AP | Julie Pace | August 29, 2015

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President Barack Obama pauses as he delivers remarks at an event commemorating the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is comparing tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the Iranian nuclear deal to a family feud and says he expects quick improvements in ties between the longtime allies once the accord is implemented.

“Like all families, sometimes there are going to be disagreements,” Obama said Friday in a webcast with Jewish Americans. “And sometimes people get angrier about disagreements in families than with folks that aren’t family.”

The president’s comments came as momentum for the nuclear accord grew on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers will vote next month on a resolution to disapprove of the deal. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., became the 30th senator to publicly back the agreement, saying Friday that it was a good deal for America and for allies like Israel.

If Senate Democrats can amass 41 votes in favor of the deal, they could block passage of the disapproval resolution. Obama has vowed to veto the resolution if it passes, and Democrats could hold off Republican efforts to override his veto if they get 34 votes — just four more than they have now.

The looming congressional confrontation has sparked a summer of intense debate between supporters and opponents of the nuclear accord. The deliberations have also divided Jewish Americans, with leaders of many organizations expressing concern about long-term damage to the community.

The president encouraged skeptics of the agreement to “overcome the emotions” that have infused the debate and evaluate the accord based on facts.

“I would suggest that in terms of the tone of this debate everybody keep in mind that we’re all pro-Israel,” he said. “We have to make sure that we don’t impugn people’s motives.”

While Obama was measured in his remarks Friday, he has spoken passionately about the nuclear accord in the past, accusing those who oppose the deal of supporting war over diplomacy. Earlier Friday, his spokesman equated an anti-deal rally Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz plan to hold next month to a “pro-war rally.”

Obama also infuriated congressional Republicans earlier this month when he compared opponents of the agreement to Iranian hardliners who chant “Death to America” in the streets of Tehran.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Friday that Republicans were still waiting for the president to retract that assertion.

The U.S. negotiated alongside Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China for nearly two years before finalizing a landmark accord to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

As he has in previous speeches and interviews, Obama sought to refute criticism of the accord point by point. He disputed the notion that Iran would funnel the bulk of the money it receives from the sanctions relief into terrorism, saying Iranian leaders are more likely to try to bolster their weak economy. He also said the agreement wasn’t built on trusting Iran’s government, which frequently spouts anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric.

“It’s precisely because we’re not counting on the nature of the regime to change that it’s so important for us to make sure they don’t have a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Friday’s webcast was hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and The Jewish Federations of North America. Organizers said thousands of people participated and questions submitted online were selected by the moderators.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the fiercest critics of the nuclear agreement, took part in a similar webcast hosted by the same organizations earlier this month. While Obama and Netanyahu have never had a warm relationship, the U.S. president’s pursuit of diplomacy with Iran has deeply strained ties between the leaders.

Obama said once the nuclear accord is implemented, he expects “pretty quick” improvements in U.S.-Israeli relations. He called for resuming talks with Israel over ways to boost its security in a dangerous neighborhood.

In the weeks following completion of the nuclear deal, Israeli officials have resisted discussing increased security assistance with the U.S. because they say such talks would imply acceptance of the accord.

___

Associated Press writers Erica Werner and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.