- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2011

THREATS FROM HEZBOLLAH

The American ambassador in Lebanon discussed recent Hezbollah threats against the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in talks this week with a leading politician backed by the terrorist group, which dominates the new government.

Ambassador Maura Connelly told Lebanese reporters that she expressed “concerns regarding accusations made by his coalition partner [Hezbollah] against the U.S. Embassy” when she met Wednesday with Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah last week claimed that the embassy is a “nest of spies.”

“The U.S. Embassy is a center for spying and recruiting Israeli agents,” he was quoted as saying on yalibnan.com, an independent Internet news site in Lebanon.

Mr. Nasrallah also declared that Hezbollah uncovered three spies within the organization. Two worked for the CIA, and the third for an unidentified foreign intelligence service, he claimed.

The embassy denied his charges and suggested that his remarks reflected an internal struggle in Hezbollah.

“These are the same kind of empty accusations that we have repeatedly heard from Hezbollah,” an embassy spokesman said last week. “There is no substance to his accusation. It appears as if Nasrallah was addressing internal problems within Hezbollah with which we have nothing to do.”

Hezbollah-backed Cabinet ministers forced the collapse of the Lebanese government in January after a U.N. investigation appeared ready to accuse the terrorist group of involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A government formed later in January is dominated by members of parliament linked to Hezbollah. The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued an indictment and four arrest warrants Thursday, but did not disclose the names of the suspects.

INDIA NERVOUS OVER NUKES

The United States remains strongly committed to a landmark nuclear power deal with India, despite an international trade cartel’s move to toughen the sale of nuclear technology, the U.S. ambassador in New Delhi said Thursday.

In his farewell remarks on his last day in office, Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer tried to reassure a nervous Indian government that President Obama will abide by the atomic energy agreement negotiated under President George W. Bush.

“The White House and the Obama administration strongly and vehemently supports the clean waiver for India,” Mr. Roemer said, referring to India’s exemption from specific rules by the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The Bush agreement allows the United States to sell nuclear power technology to India, even though New Delhi refuses to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India, in return, agreed to allow international inspections of its civilian reactors, but not its nuclear-weapons program.

Last week, the suppliers group tightened rules on the sale of nuclear technology. Although details were not disclosed, Indian news reports said the group will require sellers and buyers of nuclear power technology to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The group’s move “effectively punched a hole in the historic waiver India negotiated” in the nuclear deal with the United States, the influential Hindu newspaper said this week.

Mr. Roemer, however, said the U.S.-India deal is safe.

“Our law clearly points to a clean waiver for India,” he said.

Mr. Roemer, a former president of the Center for National Policy in Washington, is returning to private life after two years as ambassador in New Delhi.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.