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News | US Doesn't Believe Iran Building Nukes; Hamas Backs Syrian Opposition

24 Feb 2012 20:49Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

The New York Times reports that Hamas is now supporting the opposition.

Marking the first public break with its longtime patron, a leader of Hamas spoke out against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, throwing its support behind the opposition and stripping Damascus of what little credibility it may have retained with the Arab street.

Hamas's prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said during Friday prayers, "I salute all people of the Arab spring, or Islamic winter, and I salute the Syrian people who seek freedom, democracy and reform."

...In Cairo, as Mr. Haniya spoke, the crowds also shouted against Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, both of which continue to support Mr. Assad and have long been hailed on the Arab street for remaining defiant toward Israel. That, too, marked yet another significant shift caused by the Arab uprisings.

Marking the first public break with its longtime patron, a leader of Hamas spoke out against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, throwing its support behind the opposition and stripping Damascus of what little credibility it may have retained with the Arab street.

From the Los Angeles Times,

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As U.S. and Israeli officials talk publicly about the prospect of a military strike against Iran's nuclear program, one fact is often overlooked: U.S. intelligence agencies don't believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb.

A highly classified U.S. intelligence assessment circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms that view, originally made in 2007. Both reports, known as national intelligence estimates, conclude that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003.

The most recent report, which represents the consensus of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.

Although Iran continues to enrich uranium at low levels, U.S. officials say they have not seen evidence that has caused them to significantly revise that judgment. Senior U.S. officials say Israel does not dispute the basic intelligence or analysis.

From the CNN blog,

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian charged with leaving Islam, has received a local trial courts final verdict, according to sources close to his legal team, and may now be executed for leaving Islam...

The White House issued a pointed statement on Thursday, strongly condemning the reports and renewed calls for Iranian authorities to release the pastor.

"This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran's international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values," stated a release by the White House. "The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution-a fundamental and universal human right. "

Iran's Press TV denies the report.

A German news site is reporting that friction between Iran and Germany has spiked the price of sausages.

[T]he sausage industry is feeling the rising cost of importing sheep intestines from Iran, leading N├╝rnberger Bratwurst producer Claus Steiner told The Local on Friday.

Sheep intestinal lining - a key ingredient in making the sausage - is largely imported from Iran, which has a 500-year history of trading animal by-products. But this may change, as the price of sheep gut has almost tripled in the past 18 months.

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