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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

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.

For Israel, What Next In The Matter Of Iran? (2 of 3)

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Steadily, Israel is strengthening its plans for ballistic missile defense, most visibly on the Arrow system and also on Iron Dome, a lower-altitude interceptor that is designed to guard against shorter-range rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza.

Unavoidably, these defensive systems, including certain others, which are still in the development phase, would have leakage. Because system penetration by even a single enemy missile carrying a nuclear warhead could, by definition, be intolerable, their principal benefit would not lie in supplying added physical protection for Israeli populations. Instead, this still-considerable benefit would have to lie elsewhere – that is, in critical enhancements of Israeli nuclear deterrence.

If still rational, a newly nuclear Iran would require incrementally increasing numbers of offensive missiles. This would be needed to achieve or to maintain a sufficiently destructive first-strike capability against Israel. There could come a time, however, when Iran would become able to deploy substantially more than a small number of nuclear-tipped missiles. Should that happen, all of Israel’s active defenses, already inadequate as ultimate guarantors of physical protection, could cease functioning as critically supportive adjuncts to Israeli nuclear deterrence.

In the case of anticipated Iranian decisional “madness,” a still timely preemption against Iran, even if at very great cost and risk to Israel, could prove indispensable. Yet, at least in itself, this plainly destabilizing scenario is insufficiently plausible to warrant defensive first strikes. Israel would be better served by a bifurcated or two-pronged plan for successful deterrence. Here, one “prong” would be designed for an expectedly rational Iranian adversary, the other for a presumptively irrational one.

In broadest policy contours, we already know what Israel would need to do in order to maintain a stable deterrence posture vis-à-vis a newly nuclear Iran. But what if the leaders of such an adversary did not meet the characteristic expectations of rational behavior in world politics? In short, what if this leadership, from the very start or perhaps more slowly over time, chose not to consistently value Iran’s national survival as a state more highly than any other preference, or combination of preferences?

In such acutely threatening circumstances, Israel’s leaders would need to look closely at two eccentric and more-or-less untried nuclear deterrence strategies, possibly even in tandem with one another. First, these leaders would have to understand that even an irrational Iranian leadership could display distinct preferences, and associated hierarchies or rank-orderings of preferences. Their task, then, would be to determine precisely what these particular preferences might be (most likely, they would have to do with certain presumed religious goals), and, also, how these preferences are apt to be ranked in Tehran.

Second, Israel’s leaders would have to determine, among other things, the likely deterrence benefits of pretended irrationality. An irrational Iranian enemy, if it felt Israel’s decision-makers were irrational themselves, could be determinedly less likely to strike first. Years ago, General Moshe Dayan, then Israel’s minister of defense, declared: “Israel must be seen as a mad dog; too dangerous to bother.” With this warning, Dayan revealed an intuitive awareness of the possible long-term benefits, to Israel, of feigned irrationality.

Of course, pretending irrationality could also be a double-edged sword, frightening the Iranian side to a point where it might actually feel more compelled to strike first itself. This risk of unwittingly encouraging enemy aggression could apply as well to an Iranian adversary that had been deemed rational. In this connection, it is worth noting, Israel could apply the tactic of pretended irrationality to a presumptively rational Iranian leadership, as well as to an expectedly irrational one.

On analytic balance, it may even be more purposeful for Israel to use this tactic in those cases where Iran had first been judged to be rational.

The dialectics of such multi-factorial calculations are enormously complex, and also potentially bewildering. Still, they must be studied and worked through meticulously, and by all seriously concerned strategists and decision-makers. For Israel, there is no rational alternative.

There is, however, a relevant prior point. Before Israel’s leaders could proceed gainfully with any plans for deterring an irrational Iranian nuclear adversary, they would first need to be convinced that this adversary was, in fact, genuinely irrational, and not simply pretending irrationality.

The importance of an early sequencing for this vital judgment cannot be overstated. Because all specific Israeli deterrence policies must be founded upon the presumed rationality or irrationality of prospective nuclear enemies, accurately determining precise enemy preferences and preference-orderings will have to become the very first core phase of strategic planning in Tel Aviv.

For Israel, What Next In The Matter Of Iran? (First of Three Parts)

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Israel’s final decision concerning what to do about a nuclear Iran will depend on answers to certain core psychological questions. Is the Iranian adversary rational, valuing national survival more highly than any other preference, or combination of preferences? Or, on even a single occasion, is this enemy more apt to prove itself irrational, thereby choosing to value certain preferences more highly than the country’s indispensable physical security?

It is also possible that authoritative Iranian decision-makers could be neither rational or irrational but mad. In such unlikely, but especially daunting, circumstances, deterrence would no longer serve any conceivable Israeli strategic purpose. At that point, Jerusalem’s only effectively remaining policy choice would be: (1) to hope for regime change in Tehran, but otherwise passively await Israel’s destruction, or (2) to strike first itself, preemptively, whatever the global outcry, and irrespective of the shattering military consequences.

These are not frivolous or contrived descriptions of presumed Iranian leadership orientations. To be sure, the resultant wisdom of any considered Israeli preemption will ultimately depend on choosing correctly, and on reliably anticipating Iranian judgments over an extended period of time. For genuine safety, Israel must prepare to make decisions that are subtle, nuanced, and of protracted utility.

This is not the time to confuse conventional meanings with strategic precision. Even an irrational Iranian leadership could maintain a distinct and determinable hierarchy of preferences. Unlike trying to influence a “mad” leadership, therefore, it could still be purposeful for Israel to attempt deterrence of such a “merely” irrational adversary.

More than likely, Iran is not a mad or crazy state. Though it is true, at least doctrinally, that Iran’s political and clerical leaders could sometime decide to welcome the Shiite apocalypse, and even its associated destructions, these enemy decision-makers might still remain subject to certain different sorts of deterrent threats.

Faced with such extraordinary circumstances, conditions under which an already nuclear Iran could not be effectively prevented from striking first by threatening the usual harms of retaliatory destruction, Israel would need to identify, in advance, less orthodox but still promising, forms of reprisal.

Such eccentric kinds of reprisal would inevitably center upon those preeminent religious preferences and institutions that remain most indisputably sacred to Shiite Iran.

For Israel, facing a rational adversary would undoubtedly be best. A presumably rational leadership in Tehran would make it significantly easier for Jerusalem to reasonably forego the preemption option. In these more predictable circumstances, Iran could still be reliably deterred by some or all of the standard military threats available to states, credible warnings that are conspicuously linked to “assured destruction.”

But it is not for Israel to choose the preferred degree of enemy rationality.

Unless there is an eleventh-hour defensive first strike by Israel – a now improbable attack that would most likely follow an authoritative determination of actual or prospective Iranian “madness” – a new nuclear adversary in the region will make its appearance. For Israel, this portentous development would then mandate a prudent and well thought out plan for coexistence. Then, in other words, Israel would have to learn to “live with” a nuclear Iran.

There would be no reasonable alternative.

And it would be a complex and problematic education. Forging such a requisite policy of nuclear deterrence would require, among other things, (1) reduced ambiguity about particular elements of Israel’s strategic forces; (2) enhanced and partially disclosed nuclear targeting options; (3) substantial and partially revealed programs for improved active defenses; (4) certain recognizable steps to ensure the perceived survivability of its nuclear retaliatory forces, including more or less explicit references to Israeli sea-basing of such forces; (5) further expansion of preparations for both cyber-defense and cyber-war; and, in order to bring together all of these complex and intersecting enhancements in a coherent mission plan, and (6) a comprehensive strategic doctrine.

Additionally, because of the residual but serious prospect of Iranian irrationality – not madness – Israel’s military planners will have to identify suitable ways of ensuring that even a nuclear “suicide state” could be deterred. Such a uniquely perilous threat could actually be very small, but, if considered together with Iran’s Shiite eschatology, it might still not be negligible.

Further, while the expected probability of having to face such an irrational enemy state could be very low, the expected disutility or anticipated harm of any single deterrence failure could be flat out unacceptable.

(Continued Next Week)

New Evidence Shows: Iran Working on Nuclear Bomb

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The Associated Press on Tuesday published a diagram showing that Iranian scientist have run computer simulations that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

A.P. reported that it got the diagram from officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon.

A.P.  furthermore wrote that the International Atomic Energy Agency — the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog — last year reported that it had obtained diagrams indicating that Iran was calculating the “nuclear explosive yield” of potential weapons.

A senior diplomat who is considered neutral on the issue confirmed that the graph obtained by the A.P. was indeed one of those cited by the IAEA in that report.

This alarming news came after the publication of the latest IAEA report that was unusually outspoken about the development of a nuclear weapon by Iran.

The IAEA report contained the following information:

40.  ‘The Annex to the Director General’s November 2011 report (GOV/2011/65) provided a detailed analysis of the information available to the Agency, indicating that Iran has carried out activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.’

Since November 2011, the Agency has obtained more information which further corroborates the analysis
contained in the aforementioned Annex.

42. As indicated in Section B above, since the November 2011 Board, the Agency, through several rounds of formal talks and numerous informal contacts with Iran, has made intensive efforts to seek to resolve all of the outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme, especially with respect to possible military dimensions, but without concrete results.

43. Parchin:…information provided to the Agency by Member States indicates that Iran constructed a large explosives
containment vessel in which to conduct hydrodynamic experiments…

44. As previously reported, satellite imagery available to the Agency for the period from February 2005 to January 2012 shows virtually no activity at or near the building housing the
containment vessel. Since the Agency’s first request for access to this location, however, satellite imagery shows that extensive activities and resultant changes have taken place at this location.

45. …such experiments would be strong indicators of possible nuclear weapon development….the Agency notified Iran of that location in January 2012. Iran has stated that “the allegation of nuclear activities in Parchin site is baseless.”

Originally published at the Missing Piece.

Will the Iranian Threat Go Away? (Podcast)

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

When Bibi Netanyahu addressed the U.N. and challenged the world to take a tough stance on Iran, his call to draw a red line met with comments on his artistic ability and mixed reviews on his political insights.

One can argue that the Europeans take the threat of Iran seriously. The European Union imposed its toughest sanctions on Iran to date with the hope that the economic effects of the sanctions will force the country’s Islamic government to give up its nuclear ambitions. However, without the backing of a threat of military action, the EU’s sanctions may not have much deterrence value against Iran.

America’s stance on Iran isn’t clearly drawn either. I recently spoke with Professor Alan Dershowitz, attorney and political commentator on the subject of Iran and its relationship with the West. Professor Dershowitz believes that, “President Obama means it when he says that he will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, but he’s being undercut terribly by J. Street, which claims to be a pro-Israel organization.”

Furthermore, Professor Dershowitz does not think that sanctions, such as those adopted by Europe, are necessarily effective: “I think sanctions alone will never work, but sanctions combined with a credible military threat could work, but it has to be a credible military threat.”

However, this is not so simple either. In the interview, Professor Dershowitz adds, “The United States doesn’t want Israel to unilaterally attack Iran. It’s concerned about what the implications would be both for Israel and for the international community. I think it’s very clear the United States government doesn’t want Israel to attack Iran. Israel doesn’t want to attack Iran except as an absolute last resort. … I think Iran will stop its development of nuclear weapons only if it believes it will be attacked by the United States.”

So what’s the answer? How will the Iranian threat go away? Watch this video of my interview with Professor Alan Dershowitz to find out more.

Middle East Crises of 2013 Already in Dress Rehearsal

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

If 2011 was the year of the Arab Spring, 2013 looks to be the year of the Arab Fall. The hopes of quick, easy democracy have already been eclipsed by the rise of radical Islamist groups, which are no less extreme for coming to power through elections. And so the coming months are likely to see more disillusion, violence, and the entrenchment of Islamist regimes.

Let’s start with the Gaza Strip. Hamas is determined to fight Israel in the belief that it can win total victory. Its five years in power have had no moderating effect and it doesn’t care how much of Gaza is destroyed, how much the people there suffer, or how many are killed. It puts a priority on jihad and hopes that international pressure will always stop Israel from continuing its retaliation too long, much less overthrowing the regime there.

Hamas may be moved by fearing that the regime might fall, the people might turn actively against it (but with Fatah not trying to overthrow Hamas a real internal threat is unlikely). But the key factor is how much help Hamas can expect from Egypt. Right now and in the current war, Egypt is still cautious. The regime hasn’t really entrenched itself in power, begun Islamizing the country, and consolidated control over the army. But in the coming months, as the regime needs to distract its peoples attention from failures and mobilize support the next war with Hamas might involve some higher level of Egyptian involvement. And that would really be a conflict to shake the Middle East.

Then there was the place where hope for democracy was greatest, Tunisia, where the dramatic events of 2011 began. The Muslim Brotherhood won with just over 40 percent of the votes—with the secularists split into four rival parties—and formed a government that was to oversee the transition and prepare a constitution.

Now, however, there is a violent Salafist movement which has clashed with secularists and is trying to impose its brand of Sharia on the society. There have been street battles, deaths, and attacks on police stations. A local secular party leader was murdered by Islamists; an Islamist stabbed a police chief and in response to that attacker’s arrest, hundreds of armed Salafists went into the streets threatening retaliation. Rioters torched the American school, attacked the U.S. embassy, and plotted to kidnap several members of Tunisia’s small Jewish community.

Islamic clerics are increasingly outspoken in their demands for a total transformation of the country. That doesn’t mean they will win but it does mean there will be a growing atmosphere of intimidation, violence, and extremism. Despite a lot of talk and some international conferences with lots of air travel and nice banquets, there has been no massive international aid effort for Tunisia. Tourism is plummeting.

The “moderate” Islamist Rachid al-Ghannouchi, gives speeches to loyalists explaining that it will take time to impose Sharia law. First, the Islamists have to get their people into controlling the government ministries and the army.

Everything that’s been happening in Tunisia has been taking place on a far larger scale in Egypt. We still haven’t seen a draft of the constitution but since it is being written by the Brotherhood and Salafists the limit on Islamist dictatorship will only be what they are willing to put into it as a sign of their patience and caution. The army was quickly taken over with the forced retirement of lots of officers and their replacement by opportunists willing to follow the Brotherhood’s orders.

During the coming months, we can expect to see more attacks on Christians, women rejecting Islamist restrictions, and secularists. Assaults on American institutions in these two countries are quite likely, even if there is not some new offensive video. What is especially disconcerting is the growing data on the formation of terrorist groups. In the Sinai peninsula, , there is already a low-level war going on as Salafists launch attacks on dissidents, police stations, and across the across the border into Israel.

One factor that has definitely not changed in Middle Eastern politics is how violence and killing—or the threat to do so—is not just a last resort, it’s the first resort.

For example, a Syrian opposition activist and a pro-Hizballah Lebanese journalist were being interviewed on Al-Arabiya television, the more moderate rival of al-Jazira. The activist, Ammar al-Qurabi, director-general of the National Organization of Human Rights in Syria, at one point remarked that Hizballah Secretary-General Nasrallah would end up being found hiding in a sewer like, he said, Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qadhafi. He might also have mentioned that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured while hiding in a hole. Both former dictators were executed.

The journalist, Ghassan Jawwad, angrily responded, “You will be killed” for saying that. The host tried to calm Jawwad in vain.

Qurabi later remarked, “This is their response to any attempt at dialogue,” he said. A Lebanese friend of mine once remarked that a Syrian official could never say anything without including a threat. And thus Qurabi added, “This was the basis for the revolution in Syria.” But it is also the basis for the death of tens of thousands in Syria and increased violence in Lebanon.

Three events that might not make it into 2013—they could take until 2014–but whose signs will be increasingly visible, are:

–The end of the Syrian civil war with the overthrow of the Bashar al-Asad regime and the coming to power of a rebel coalition dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists.

–An economic crisis in Egypt that will drive the Brotherhood regime—and simultaneously give it an excuse—toward greater extremism, a crackdown on dissidents, and a growing hysteria against the United States and Israel.

–Iran obtaining nuclear weapons or being attacked by Israel.

In Libya, though, things may move more quickly. There, in contrast to Egypt and Tunisia, there is no Islamist regime to appease the Salafists or keep them under control. The killing of four Americans in Benghazi seems like a prelude to a new Libyan civil war. Radical Islamists, with support from some of the armed militias that did or did not join the country’s army, try to overthrow what they see as a Western puppet regime despite its winning an election.

The bitter fruits of the Obama Administration’s pro-Islamist policy will be increasingly visible. The only question is whether the Obama Administration will still be around to respond ineffectively or even to keep helping the anti-American forces.

[For a graphic vision of what might be coming elsewhere see this amazing collection of Russian photos from Syrian civil war Photos 5-8: the killing by rebels of a guy in civilian clothes (pro-regime militiaman?) Most of the weapons are AK-47 and other Russian equipment with the exception of a futuristic-looking AUG, Austrian-made assault rifle.]

[And for a really good lecture on the realities of Egypt and of Obama policy there–including the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood and nuclear weapons–see the lecture by Raymond Stock here.]

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/middle-east-crises-of-2013-already-in-dress-rehearsal/2012/11/21/

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