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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

Rare Photos of Israeli Nuclear Research Center Released

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

The architectural firm responsible for the construction of the Dimona nuclear plant in the 1960s has released rare photos of the project for the first time.

The architect, Dan Eitan, sent President Shimon Peres the black and white photos to recognize the president’s role in the construction of what originally was called “a Negev civic center” and now officially is known as the Nuclear Research Center in the Israeli Negev.

The Israel Defense website published the photos that were taken during the construction of the reactor, which it noted that “according to foreign reports, manufactures hundreds of nuclear and hydrogen bombs for Israel.”

Pictures that were posted include the library, the water tower and residences as well as satellite photography of the reactor taken from space and a sketch of the plant.

The photos were taken by architect Dan Eitan, and were sent by him to Shimon Peres (current president of Israel) in recognition of the latter’s contribution to the construction of the complex.

Israel maintains a policy of “nuclear ambiguity,” meaning that it does not admit nor deny that it possesses nuclear warheads, although most defense analysts estimate the country has at least 200.

Israel has promised it would not be the first country in the Middle East to “introduce” nuclear weapons in the region.

The Arab world has been pushing for the declaration of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East as a way to force Israel to divulge its nuclear capability.

Israel questions the usefulness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty particularly in light of Iran’s constant denial of circumstantial evidence that leaves no doubt that it is trying to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

Blueprint of the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev

Blueprint of the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev

Residence units for Dimona nuclea rplant staff

Residence units for Dimona nuclear plant staff

 

dimona courtyard.jpg

‘Moderate’ Rouhani Misled West, Sneaked in Centrifuges?

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

There is a particularly interesting aspect to the video that has recently surfaced, in which Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, gloats over Iran’s success in coopting European negotiators to keep the Iranian nuclear program on track in the mid-2000s, in spite of pressure from the United States.

The video clip, from an Iranian news-program interview of Rouhani in Farsi, was published by Reza Khalili.  Ryan Mauro highlights it at the Clarion Project, tying it to a report from 31 July in which Mauro outlined Rouhani’s extensive history of using deception about the Iranian nuclear program back when he was the chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran.

The deception and Rouhani’s gloating are important (see especially his characterization of the top-cover he received from European negotiators); I will let readers visit the reports and soak in the information at your leisure.  What I want to focus on here is the timeline Rouhani refers to in the video.  If he is telling the truth – and there is no obvious reason why he would lie about the timing he refers to – the timeline he outlines for bringing Iranian centrifuge cascades online in substantial numbers makes a poignant contrast with the reporting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the time.

The contrast highlights just how in the dark IAEA was during this period, at least about the centrifuges.  (It’s also worth highlighting, in general, the timeline of what was going on during the EU-brokered negotiations Rouhani refers to in the video.)  Certainly, many in the West had an uneasy suspicion that, by the end of 2005, Iran may have accomplished more than IAEA was officially aware of.  But, as late as February 2006, IAEA acknowledged the following decisive condition:

Due to the fact that no centrifuge related raw materials and components are under Agency seal, the Agency is unable effectively to monitor the R&D activities being carried out by Iran except at the [Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant],* where containment and surveillance measures are being applied to the enrichment process.

Rouhani’s timeline

The full timeline from the video develops as follows.  Rouhani summarizes it between the time hacks of 3:45 and 4:30.  His overall allusion is to the period from October 2003 to August 2005, when he was the chief negotiator for the Iranian nuclear program.

His initial discussion of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr contains no surprises; it is couched in the following terms:

- First phase of Bushehr project completed – Beginning of 2004

- Next phase completed – Fall of 2004

These references are presumably to Russia’s completion of facility construction, which was noted at the time in Western reporting.

- Project completed – March 2005

This is probably a reference to an agreement between Russia and Iran, concluded in February 2005, under which Moscow would supply the enriched-uranium fuel for the light-water reactor at Bushehr.  (See here as well for a summary from 2006 alluding to the 2005 agreement.)

iran-nuc-facs

So far, so good.  Next, Rouhani speaks of the heavy-water reactor, or the plutonium reactor at Arak.

- “Production” started at the heavy-water plant – Summer of 2004

Construction of the reactor was begun in June of 2004, but Rouhani here appears to be referring to the heavy-water production plant (HWPP), a particular component of the Arak reactor system, which reportedly began operation (i.e., the production of heavy water) in November 2004.

In this walk back through the Iranian nuclear program, it is worth recalling what the official line was about Arak at the time, in the big middle of the EU-3 talks with Iran:

Iran has started building a research reactor that could eventually produce enough plutonium for one bomb per year, ignoring calls to scrap the project, diplomats close to the United Nations said on Thursday. …

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran had created a “confidence deficit” by concealing parts of its atomic program for nearly two decades and urged Tehran to improve its transparency and cooperation with U.N. inspectors. A concluding statement from this week’s IAEA governing board meeting said the 35 members unanimously said it was “essential that Iran provide full transparency and extend proactive cooperation to the agency.” …

Israeli Source: Obama No Longer Committed to Iran Attack Option

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

A senior Israeli government official has told Kol Israel this morning that he doubts the Obama Administration’s commitment to prevent Iran “at any cost” from attainting a nuclear weapon.

The official explained that the Administration’s behavior in Syria, in complete contradiction of President Obama’s declarations, shows Israel that it cannot rely on American promises.

The senior official added that Israel could execute a strike against Iran without American operational support, but such an attack would be less effective than an American operation.

Israel is extremely concerned that the U.S. might be seeking direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran, leading to easing the sanctions against Iran in return for Iranian concessions that would fall short of Israel’s demands.

It’s likely that the high level official’s statement is an expression of the Netanyahu government’s anxiety over the glee with which the Obama Administration has welcomed the election of a new Iranian president. A White House statement following the inauguration of President Hasan Rouhani Sunday read:

“We congratulate the Iranian people for making their voices heard during the election. We note that President Rouhani recognized that his election represented a call by the Iranian people for change, and we hope that the new Iranian Government will heed the will of the voters by making choices that will lead to a better life for the Iranian people. We do believe that his inauguration presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. And, as we’ve said all along, should the new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations, we are ready to talk to them when they are ready to do so.”

Direct talks, as suggested by the White House statement, always begin with “confidence building measures,” and the Netanyahu government must be worried that it would be picking up the tab on the new couple’s honeymoon.

In the State Dept. daily press briefing yesterday, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf was asked: “The Israeli Government said over the weekend it does not trust Rouhani because of statements which they say indicate, again, an existential threat to Israel’s existence. Is the U.S. taking that concern under consideration when it looks at how it might want to engage with Rouhani?”

Harf answered that the U.S. will take “the whole range of security concerns, the security problems Iran has presented for the region into account,” when it decides how to deal with the new Iranian Government. She reiterated that it’s important “to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon because of the threat they could pose to Israel, to the region, and indeed to us as well.” But, finally, hope sprang eternal, and Harf acknowledged that the U.S. is “waiting to talk to them when they are ready to engage substantively.” Meaning – one on one.

Harf was next asked “What’s the first step that you would want to see Rouhani take on the nuclear issue?”

“We have a proposal on the table,” she said. “We’ve had it on the table for some time and we’re waiting for a substantive response from the Iranian side on how to move forward. And we’ve been clear that that’s what needs to happen next.”

All of which suggests that the Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei has played a brilliant game in picking his new “moderate” president.

Khamenei made Rouhani chief of Iran’s nuclear negotiations in 2003, for the same reason he made him president this time around – the man can talk a candy out of the western babies’ hands. Rouhani ran the negotiations between Iran and three European states in Tehran and continued later in Brussels, Geneva and Paris.

Rouhani’s team back then was described as “the best diplomats in the Iranian Foreign Ministry.” They prevented further escalation of accusations against Iran, and so prevented Iran’s nuclear case from going to the UN Security Council. They figured out how to temporarily suspend parts of Iran’s nuclear activities to appease the West.

And so, while building confidence, insisting on Iran’s rights, reducing international pressures and the possibility of war, and preventing Iran’s case from being reported to the UN Security Council, Iran succeeded in completing its nuclear fuel cycle and took groundbreaking steps to produce a nuclear weapon.

Monsour Backtracks: ElBaradei Not Appointed PM

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Interim Egyptian President Adly Monsour backtracked on Saturday night, and said that ElBaradei was not appointed as Prime Minister of Egypt, following the military coup that deposed the democratically elected Muslim Bortherhood leader Mohammed Morsi.

The appointment was opposed by the strict Islamic party Salafi al-Nour, and the newly appointed Eyptian president apparently decided to not oppose them.

There have been violent clashes in the streets of Cairo between supporters and opponents of Morsi and the revolutionaries.

 

 

Iran Says It Will Build New Nuclear Reactor

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Iran’s state-controlled media announced it will build a new nu clear “research center” for the production of medical isotopes.

The new reactor is to be built approximately 420 miles south of Tehran and  will supplement Iran’s Bushehr reactor.

Iran Launches Two Uranium Facilities while Talking with West

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated two uranium processing facilities on Tuesday at the same Western diplomats are trying to jawbone him into surrendering work on uranium enrichment.

Marking “National Day of Nuclear Technology,” Ahmadinejad, via video, launched the production plants in the central province of Yazd.

Two days earlier, European Union Policy Chief Catherine Ashton admitted that Iran and the six world powers “remain far apart” from advancing in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

Western diplomats stubbornly insist it is worthwhile to continue talks with Iran, with one diplomat, speaking anonymously, going so far as to state, “There is enough substance for these negotiations to continue.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Israel on Sunday, negotiations cannot continue forever, but, as usual, no deadline was stated. nor is it clear what the United States would do if a deadline were not met.

Meanwhile, more concerns have been raised supporting Israel’s years-old contention that Iran has been actively working towards producing a nuclear weapon.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a nuclear nonproliferation in Washington that Iran’s refusal to allow nuclear inspectors into the Parchin military base raised serious suspicions.  “We have credible information that Iran continued its activities beyond 2003,” he said. American intelligence previously has claimed that Iran suspended work on nuclear development in that year, while Israel insisted no such halt occurred.

Pentagon Asking Congress to Sell Israel 1,725 Bunker Busters

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress that it intends to sell Israel some 6,900 tail kits which can turn “dumb” bombs into satellite-guided “smart bombs,” including bombs capable of penetrating hardened targets, Bloomberg Business Week reported.

Some of the hardened targets one would immediately think about are those underground nuclear plants the Iranian government has been so chatty about this past decade or so.

According to BBW, the sale will includes 1,725 all-weather satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM tail kits with BLU-109 bombs, which are 2,000-pound, hard-target penetrators.

Bombs delivered this way are among the most precise weapons in the U.S. and Israeli arsenal. They can be dropped by F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

The BLU-109 is a so-called bunker buster, designed to “defeat an enemy’s most critical and hardened targets,” such as protected weapons storage sites, and penetrate as much as six feet of reinforced concrete, according to a U.S. Air Force fact sheet.

The BLU-109 has a steel casing about 1 inch thick, filled with 530 lb of Tritonal. It has a delayed-action tail-fuse.

The sale will replenish Israel’s inventory after the attacks on Arab terrorist enclaves in Gaza last month. During Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, Israeli forces carried out more than 1,000 attacks in Gaza

According to equities.com, the Government of Israel has requested a sale of 6,900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits (which include 3,450 JDAM Anti-Jam KMU-556 (GBU-31) for MK-84 warheads; 1,725 KMU-557 (GBU-31) for BLU-109 warheads and 1,725 KMU-572 (GBU-38) for MK-82 warheads); 3,450 MK-84 2000 lb General Purpose Bombs; 1,725 MK-82 500 lb General Purpose Bombs; 1,725 BLU-109 Bombs; 3,450 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs; 11,500 FMU-139 Fuses; 11,500 FMU-143 Fuses; and 11,500 FMU-152 Fuses.

Also included are spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and technical support, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $647 million.

Worth every penny.

According to the Pentagon, the proposed sale of munitions will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

That’s good.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pentagon-asking-congress-to-sell-israel-1725-bunker-busters/2012/12/11/

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