U.S., G8 GIVES IRAN A SEPTEMBER DEADLINE

* Russian president warns Israel not to strike
* Concern growing that Russia could attack Georgia again.

By Joel C. Rosenberg

(WASHINGTON, D.C., August 18, 2009) — The Obama administration and the leaders of the G8 industrialized nations have given Iran a deadline of September to accept serious, high-level negotiations over its nuclear program or risk stiffer economic sanctions. Thus far, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his senior aides have rejected any negotiations with the "infidels." And the clock is running.

In that context, Israeli President Shimon Peres met with his Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev, in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi Monday. During the meeting, Peres expressed Israel’s serious and growing concern about the state of the Russian-Iranian alliance, Russia’s continued assistance to Iran’s nuclear program, the extreme views of the Iranian regime, and the gravity of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

"The problem in Iran is not just the desire to develop nuclear weapons but the character of the regime," said Peres. "Mr. President, I am a Jew, and a large part of my family [from Belarus] was murdered by the Nazis and I cannot sit with my hands folded while I hear the declarations of the president of Iran calling for the destruction of the state of Israel."

"From my standpoint, a nuclear bomb in Iran’s hands means one thing – an airborne death camp," Peres said.

Medvedev gave no indication that Russia intends to change it’s policy towards Iran, though he reiterated Moscow’s official policy that it does not want Iran to develop nuclear weapons. On Friday, however — before Peres’ arrival — Medvedev publicly declared the Kremlin’s opposition to more economic sanctions against Iran and then went further to warn Israel of the grave dangers of launching a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

It’s too soon, of course, to know whether Iran will eventually agree to negotiations (perhaps to buy more time to complete its nuclear weapons development), or will stiff the West entirely. The Obama administration has pinned a lot of hope on the President’s ability to persuade Tehran to "engage." We will see if he is successful.

In a separate but related note, there are growing concerns expressed by evangelical Christian leaders in Georgia that Russia may be preparing to attack the small democratic republic. More details and analysis are available on my weblog.

P.S. — For an update on the Iran nuclear crisis, please join us on Friday night, September 11th for the "National Town Hall Meeting on the Threat of Radical Islam and the Church’s Response." By then, we should have a somewhat clearer sense of what is happening and whether the prospect for another war in the epicenter is rising or diminishing.

Nearly 300 churches have signed up to show the two-hour webcast to their congregations that night, 7pm to 9pm eastern. We hope you can join us. More information is available at http://www.insidetherevolution.org, including a partial list of churches that are participating and details on how your congregation can sign up to show a high-resolution webcast in your sanctuary.

To learn more about the Peres-Medvedev meeting, the Russian-Georgian crisis, or the 9/11 webcast, please click here

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