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Iran will not be able to build a nuclear weapon before 2015

Secretary Clinton said on Monday that Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon has been delayed by sanctions.

The timing of this statement is a bit awkward and insensitive considering the plane crash in Iran the day before, which resulted in the death of at least 77 people. After all, "Aircraft accidents are not uncommon in Iran, where international sanctions have prevented the country from buying new aircraft parts from the West" (FP).

Anyway, this is good news from Israel via the NY Times:

Israel's departing intelligence chief said he believes Iran will not be able to build a nuclear weapon before 2015 at the earliest, Israeli news media reported Friday, in a revised and surprisingly upbeat assessment of Tehran's nuclear capabilities. (...)

Israeli predictions for Iran's ability to make a nuclear bomb, which Israel considers an existential threat, have gradually lengthened in recent years.

In the early 2000s, Israeli intelligence branches spoke of Iran's making a bomb before the end of the decade. As recently as 2009, Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, said he thought Iran could do it by 2011. Last month, Moshe Yaalon, Israel's minister of strategic affairs, said he believed Iran was at least three years away from a nuclear bomb.

About a year ago, Mr. Dagan told a parliamentary committee that Iran would not have the ability to fire a nuclear missile until 2014, Yediot Aharonot reported. He is said to have based his latest estimate on an assumption that no further preventive actions are taken.

Arizona Shooting Victim Was a 9/11 Baby

Making a tragedy even more sad, the NY Times reports:

Christina Green was on the student council of her elementary school, so on Saturday her mother's friend thought she might enjoy seeing government in action: the local congresswoman meeting with constituents outside a supermarket near Christina's home.

"I allowed her to go, thinking it would be an innocent thing," said the girl's mother, Roxanna Green, 45.

It did not turn out that way. A gunman shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords, leaving her in critical condition, and his fusillade killed six people, including Christina, a 9-year-old who loved animals and volunteered at a children's charity.

She was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and she was proud of it, her mother said, because it lent a grace note of hope to that terrible day. "It was an emotional time for everyone in the family, but Christina's birth was a happy event and made the day bittersweet," her mother said in a telephone interview from their Tucson home.

Christina, who was born when the family was living in West Grove, Pa., was one of the 50 "Faces of Hope" representing children from 50 states who were born on Sept. 11. Their images were printed in a book, with some of the proceeds going to a Sept. 11 charity.

"NATO serves no strategic purpose"

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told The Huffington Post: "The liberal community's got to focus more on Afghanistan, Iraq, NATO. NATO is a great drain on our treasury and serves no strategic purpose." Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress agrees: "We ought to rethink the whole idea of NATO."

But:

Korb estimates that approximately 20 percent of the baseline defense budget is NATO-related, resulting in about $100 billion in spending each year. (Pinpointing the exact number is tricky, however, since many of the assets the United States provides NATO are used for other purposes.)