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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

Israel, Gulf States Share Concerns on Iran Nuclear Intentions

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Israel and the Gulf States may not agree about issues regarding the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and how to deal with Arab terrorism — but everyone in the region worries about how to stop Iran from creating a nuclear weapon.

Iran has declined to respond to questions from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear program’s “possible military dimensions.” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano warned on Friday, “We cannot provide assurance that all [nuclear] material [in Iran] is for peaceful purposes… What’s needed now is action,” he added.

Israeli Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz responded with deep concern to the IAEA statement.

“Iran’s refusal to disclose its nuclear past casts a heavy shadow over the future,” Steinitz said bluntly. “Amano’s grave words indicate, in fact, Iran’s first violation of the interim nuclear agreement [of last November.] Signing a final agreement under these conditions would be a reckless act that world powers must avoid.

The prospect of achieving any concrete progress towards that goal by the November 24 deadline for a diplomatic deal is dim at best in any case.

“Failure to conclude a solid agreement that prevents nuclear proliferation could have serious consequences, not only in our region, but far beyond,” commented Answar Gargash, United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs over the weekend. “We must consider it crucial that any future agreement with Iran on the nuclear file be air-tight.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said the same for years, noted Defense News, quoting his oft-repeated warning, “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

Emily Landau, senior research fellow and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv is equally direct.

On October 29, Landau told Defense News, “Now is the time to apply massive pressure. I hope at some point the international community will wake up to the fact that Iran has absolutely no interest in getting a good deal.”

U.S. officials don’t seem to be getting the message, however.

Even when a former American diplomat who has dealt with Iran in the past is the one delivering the news.

Dennis Ross led State Department talks with Iran under former President George H.W. Bush. He has urged the West to resist giving in to Iranian pressure for concessions in order to ensure that some deal is closed.

“It’s no accident that hardly anyone involved inthe Iranian nuclear negotiations has expressed optimism about meeting the November 24 deadline,” Ross wrote in an analysis for the Oct. 16 edition of Foreign Affairs. He listed numerous concessions already won by Iran in talks with the West, simply by holding out and continuing with negotiations, despite numerous ongoing violations.

Whether the Obama administration will hold firm and put the brakes on the current bleed taking place on the sanctions formerly imposed on Iran is anyone’s guess. But unless international powers reassert their authority and put the economic bite back into the sanctions that were already approved by the United Nations and their individual governments, it will soon be too late to do very much at all.

Japan Nuclear Plant Approved to Restart

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

For the first time since the catastrophic 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan has approved the restart of a nuclear power station.

The town of Satsuma Sendai, home to 100,000 residents, has approved the restart of the two-reactor Kyushu Electric Power Company plant.

The Sendai plant is central to the economy of the town, located 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo, providing jobs as well as government subsidies to the population.

The approval signals a rejuvenation in the Japanese nuclear power industry.

The meltdown of three of the plant’s six reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex resulted from a mammoth tsunami that struck the plant following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the Fukushima prefecture on March 11, 2011. Within less than 24 hours, the plant started releasing substantial amounts of radioactive material.

Israel was one of the first nations allowed by Japan to assist in the disaster. The IDF and other Israeli first responder aid specialists sent teams to Fukushima to provide medical and other assistance as needed.

Two planes carried 50 doctors, representatives of the IDF Home Front Command and Foreign Ministry, 62 tons of medical supplies and 18 tons of humanitarian supplies. Included were 10,000 coats, 6,000 blankets, 8,000 pairs of gloves and 150 portable toilets. Also included were medical instruments, fuel, oxygen, medication, food, water, hospital beds and other equipment for establishing a medical clinic.

More than 300,000 people were evacuated from the area, and at least 15,884 people died.

Since that time, Japan has not allowed any nuclear plant to resume operations.

Each nuclear reactor was slowly and carefully monitored as it wound down operations for its periodic maintenance, and then ordered to remain shut down until further notice.

The Kyushu Electric Power Company plant at Satsumu Sendai is the first to be allowed to restart since the disaster.

The cleanup process of continued spills of contaminated water at the Fukushima plant is expected to take decades, according to nuclear scientists. The disaster was the largest nuclear incident since the April 1986 Chernobyl accident, and the second to measure Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

FM Liberman to Meet with US Secy John Kerry in Paris

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday in Paris.

On the agenda, once again, will be the issue of the dead-on-arrival talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Sources close to both sides said Wednesday that relations with Iran are likely to be on the agenda as well, in addition to the matter of the crisis in Iraq.

In addition to the Iran’s continued drive to develop nuclear weapons capabilities, Russia has recently signed a deal to build eight new nuclear power plants in the Islamic Republic.

Iran has refused to slow down on the program, let alone cease its drive to develop nuclear technology, despite sanctions, talks and any other efforts by the international community to persuade Tehran to do so.

However, there is one issue that has begun to concern Iran a great deal – a fear it shares with its neighbors in the region, as well as the United States.

Iran is strengthening its defenses along its border with Iraq against the possibility it may have to fend off an advance from the guerrilla fighters of the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) terrorist organization.

The group, also known as the Islamic State of al-Shams or Syria (ISIS), has been making its way across Iraq and has seized a wide swathe of territory in both Iraq and Syria over the past months.

For the first time ISIS also captured a border crossing between Iraq and Jordan, in addition to two crossings into Syria.

The group also took control of four additional towns, continuing its advance into western Iraq and closer to the border with Jordan.

Hezbollah Most Heavily Armed Force in Region Besides Israel

Monday, June 9th, 2014

The Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrilla fighting force is among the most heavily armed in the region, according to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who told the 2014 IDC Herzliya Conference on Monday that Israel is facing a lethal threat.

Israel’s military chief said just Israel and the top five nations of the world currently have more firepower today than Hezbollah. According to Gantz, the only nations more heavily armed than Hezbollah – which is supplied by Iran – are “the U.S., China, Russia, Israel, France, [and] the UK.”

It was a sobering moment for the audience at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, who heard that Israel is facing a new type of threat, one that originates from underground. Terrorists in Lebanon and in Gaza use bunkers, where they store their arms – in much the same way Israelis used underground facilities to produce bullets during the British Mandate to prepare for the 1948 War of Independence.

Attendees also heard the army chief explain that Israel’s neighbor to the north, Syria, is disintegrating. Regardless of what happens on the other side of the border, none of the options will be particularly good for Israel, Gantz explained. He added that “decades of conflict” are likely to continue in Syria, “perhaps more.” Hezbollah is actively involved in that war, fighting to defend President Bashar al-Assad; the experience gained in that fight may well aid the terrorist organization later in a future war against Israel, Gantz warned.

Moreover, a second front is again developing in the south with Gaza, where mid-to-long range missiles have again been stockpiled for a future war with Israel as well. Both the ruling Hamas terror organization and its allied Islamic Jihad terrorist group are fully backed by Iran, as is Hezbollah. All three would function as proxies for Iran, which has not given up its dream of annihilating Israel.

Nor has Iran abandoned its goal of developing a nuclear weapon of mass destruction, Gantz said.

Israel will take whatever action is deemed appropriate to neutralize that existential threat against the Jewish State, he said.

U.S.: ‘T-Minus 2 Months to Nuclear Iran’

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

The United States has belatedly awakened to the fact that Tehran is ignoring its policies and moving ahead with nuclear development – as Israel predicted more than a decade ago.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday it would take Iran just two months to produce enough fissile material to produce a nuclear weapon of mass destruction.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made the same statement – in fact he warned it would take less time, unless actions were taken to slow or stop the process – in speeches to the United Nations in 2012 and in 2013.

Over the years, the Iranian nuclear program was hit with numerous mysterious problems that slowed down the process, including destructive viruses, assassinated nuclear physicists, and broken components, all of which were generally blamed on Israel.

Netanyahu’s predecessors in office have also warned the international community that Iran has been marching ahead with its nuclear development program. That has continued apace regardless of United Nations sanctions, diplomatic efforts, negotiations and any other attempts to slow down its drive to create nuclear weaponry.

This time as world powers gathered in Vienna to talk about working on a new agreement to slow down Iranian activity on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions, Kerry was warning American lawmakers that time is up.

The best the world can hope for is to get the Iranians to increase the “breakout” window from two months to half a year, maybe a year.

“I think it’s public knowledge today that we’re operating with a time period for a so-called breakout of about two months. Six months to 12 months is… I’m not saying that’s what we’d settle for, but even that is significantly more [time],” he said, according to Reuters.

Still, Kerry claimed Iran only has enough so far for “just one bomb’s worth, conceivably, of material, but without any necessary capacity to put it in anything, to deliver it, to have any mechanism to do so.”

However, a recent shipment of sophisticated missiles and a missile launcher sent by Iran to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Syria proves that may not be the case. The missiles were of a new, advanced design built with a warhead capable of carrying a much heavier payload – possibly one that could carry nuclear material.

The trucks that were carrying the missiles and the launcher to a Hezbollah base were destroyed in an air strike that left four Hezbollah terrorists.

Netanyahu Says Deal with Iran Left It 6 Weeks Away from the Bomb

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The interim deal between the major world powers and Iran left the Islamic Republic “six weeks from a nuclear weapon,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv Tuesday night.

He has previously said that the goal of should not just be to stop Iran from manufacturing a nuclear weapon but rather should make sure it does not have the capability to produce one.

Israel’s Strategic Options at the Eleventh Hour

Friday, December 20th, 2013

In the bitterest of ironies, ongoing diplomatic negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5-plus-1 countries will allow Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. Although these talks could still slow down Iranian nuclearization, long-term strategic objectives in Tehran will likely remain unchanged.

It follows that Israel, the country most imperiled by an “Iranian bomb,” will now have to reassess its most immediate and extended self-defense options. Militarily, the starkly polar alternatives will include both an eleventh-hour conventional preemption against pertinent Iranian hard targets (an expression of “anticipatory self-defense” under international law), and certain carefully nuanced plans for stable and protracted nuclear deterrence.

Still facing an effectively unhindered nuclear threat from Iran, Israel will soon need to choose, prudently and irreversibly, between two discrete and mutually exclusive strategic options. This choice will be between exercising a last minute conventional preemption and accepting a posture, codified or unspoken, of long-term nuclear deterrence. Should it opt for the former, for a defensive first-strike known in correctly formal jurisprudence as “anticipatory self-defense,” Jerusalem could conceivably hold back Iranian nuclearization for a time, but only at extraordinary, and possibly even intolerable, cumulative costs.

These costs, interpenetrating and expectedly synergistic, could include not “merely” the sobering prospect of more-or-less destructive Iranian/Hizbullah non-nuclear reprisals but also a veritable whirlwind of international condemnations and correspondingly injurious sanctions.

Should Israel’s authoritative leadership decide to decline the eleventh-hour preemption option and select instead a promisingly viable plan for long-term deterrence of a conspicuously-impending nuclear adversary, core corollary decisions would be need to be made. These decisions would concern, inter alia, an expanding role for ballistic missile defenses, primarily the finely-tuned Arrow system of interception, and also continuance or discontinuance of deliberate nuclear ambiguity, the so-called “bomb in the basement.”

Once confronting a fully nuclear Iran, this question could quickly assume a distinctly primary urgency; then, it will have become absolutely essential to communicate to Tehran that Israel’s own nuclear forces were adequately secure from all enemy first-strikes; and predictably capable of penetrating all enemy active defenses.

It would also have become necessary to assure a now-nuclear Iran that Israel’s own nuclear weapons were plainly usable; that is, not of such recognizably high yield as to pose implausible threats of deterrence. In this connection, there may be a useful lesson for Israel from another adversarial dyad in world politics. Pakistan, in its own currently protracted nuclear standoff with India, is already tilting toward smaller or “tactical” nuclear weapons.

Since Pakistan first announced its test of the 60-kilometer Nasr ballistic missile in 2011, that country’s “advertised” emphasis upon TNW seems to have been designed to most effectively deter a conventional war with India. By threatening, implicitly, to use relatively low-yield “battlefield” nuclear weapons in retaliation for any major Indian conventional attacks, Pakistan plainly hopes to appear less provocative to Delhi, and thereby less likely to elicit any Indian nuclear reprisals.

Amid the arcane and complex minutiae of strategic planning, Israel vs. Iran is not directly analogous to India vs. Pakistan. For Israel, any purposeful nuclear retaliatory threats, whether still ambiguous or now newly disclosed, would ultimately need to deter an Iranian nuclear attack. Nonetheless, just as Pakistan had apparently calculated the benefit of tactical nuclear weapons-based retaliatory threats in curbing unwanted escalations from conventional to nuclear conflict, so too might Israel figure accordingly.

Here, more-or-less consciously drawing upon the pertinent Pakistani doctrinal changes in Southwest Asia, Jerusalem would reason that it, too, could better prevent the onset of a conventional war with a nuclear foe, by suitably employing credible threats of TNW, or theatre nuclear deterrence.

In the good old days of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cold War, such calibrated strategic thinking had been given its own special name. Then, it was called “escalation dominance.” Already, it had been understood by the bipolar superpowers that fully adequate protection from nuclear attack must include not only the avoidance of “bolt-from-the-blue” missile attacks, but also the prevention of unwitting or uncontrollable escalations, from conventional to atomic war.

Occasionally, in difficult strategic calculations, truth can be counter-intuitive. Regarding Israeli preparations for nuclear security from Iran, there is an obvious but still generally overlooked irony. It is that in foreseeable circumstances of nuclear deterrence, the credibility of certain Israeli threats could sometimes vary inversely with perceived destructiveness. This means that one especially compelling reason for moving from deliberate ambiguity to selectively limited forms of nuclear disclosure would be to communicate to an Iranian enemy that Israel’s retaliatory nuclear weapons were not too large for actual operational use.

Israel’s decision-makers will also need to proceed more self-consciously and explicitly with another basic choice. This closely-related decision would concern a core comparative judgment between “assured destruction strategies,” and “nuclear war fighting strategies.” In narrowly military parlance, assured destruction strategies are sometimes also called “counter-value,” or “mutual assured destruction” (MAD) strategies. Nuclear war fighting strategies, on the other hand, are synonymous with “counterforce.”

To be continued

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/israels-strategic-options-at-the-eleventh-hour-first-of-two-parts/2013/12/20/

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