Israel and Iran: Everyone Is Asking the Wrong Question

Should any hostile nation in the region or their respective terrorist proxies (Hezbollah/Hamas) go beyond conventional warfare and use chemical or biological weapons that could result in depopulating entire cities, they will have crossed the line drawn in the sand of warfare. For those that pay heed to Bible prophecy, one must also consider a nuclear strike on Syria as well, in particular the city of Damascus. Isaiah 17:1 underscores this point.

No private citizen is truly in a position to judge the rationality and the intentions of a government such as is now in control of Iran. The opacity of lines of responsibility and decision making processes in Iran make such a judgment properly within the purview of national intelligence organizations of the various sovereign governments. With that said, the public statements of the Iranian leadership lead me to believe that they will not be diverted from their goal of achieving nuclear weapons. The same public statements also do not engender much confidence in the rationality or judgment of Iran’s leadership.

The history of the Israeli state and its location in a sea of enemies has in an almost unique way trained the leaders of Israel to think the unthinkable. If Israel determines the Iranian nuclear program is in fact a threat to its very existence, then it will strike, and strike in such a manner as to be successful. This will require nuclear weapons. If Israel determines it can live with Iran as a nuclear state, then expect there to be no overt military action but a continuing series of low-level sabotage and covert intelligence actions.

Full article: Israel and Iran: Everyone Is Asking the Wrong Question (Foreign Policy Research Institute)

Netanyahu to Obama: We can’t wait much longer, Iran has not one but ten Fordows

Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu brought 14,000 pro-Israel lobby cheering delegates to their feet repeatedly – especially when he pledged Monday night, March 5, “Never again will our people have to live in the shadow of annihilation.”

While publicly reiterating that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution of the issue, Obama admitted privately to Netanyahu that the Fordow underground uranium enrichment plant can no longer be destroyed by bombs and missiles; American commanders say all that can be done is to block the vents of this underground facility and slowly stifle the personnel inside. Time and several strikes would be needed to accomplish this.

Then, in his speech to AIPAC, he set the record straight by declaring Israel can’t afford to wait much longer” and lauded the president for affirming Israel was entitled to “defend itself, by itself.”

How much is “much longer” is the subject of debate, but one thing is clear:  Israel won’t wait beyond 2012 or until after the US presidential election in November.

“Israel has waited six years for sanctions to stop Iran,” he told the AIPAC audience, but they have failed.

Full article: Netanyahu to Obama: We can’t wait much longer, Iran has not one but ten Fordows (DEBKAfile)

Israel delivers ultimatum to Barack Obama on Iran’s nuclear plans

Two years ago, Barack Obama reportedly left Benjamin Netanyahu to kick his heels in a White House anteroom, a snub delivered to show the president’s irritation over Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank. In May, the Israeli prime minister struck back, publicly scolding his purse-lipped host for the borders he proposed of a future Palestinian state.

When the two men meet in Washington on Monday, Mr Obama will find his guest once more at his most combative. But this time, perhaps as never before, it is the Israeli who has the upper hand.

Exuding confidence, Mr Netanyahu effectively brings with him an ultimatum, demanding that unless the president makes a firm pledge to use US military force to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb, Israel may well take matters into its own hands within months.

The threat is not an idle one. According to sources close to the Israeli security establishment, military planners have concluded that never before has the timing for a unilateral military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities been so auspicious.

Full article: Israel delivers ultimatum to Barack Obama on Iran’s nuclear plans (The Telegraph)

Commentary: Geopolitical maelstrom

Iran can close the Strait of Hormuz, not just for a few hours, as the Israelis say, but long enough to drive oil prices into the stratosphere. An admiral with years of experience in the region at different times of his career said privately Iran can sow thousands of mines in an area that handles one-fifth of the world’s daily oil requirements. They are below the surface and can be detonated by remote control as a warship sails over them. Iran’s shore line, which covers the entire eastern side of the Persian Gulf, is pock-marked with concealed missile sites.

The Iranians would also use hundreds of small boats in a swarming configuration that U.S. warships are prepared to cope with — but one or two are bound to get through a curtain of fire and punch a hole in the hull of a U.S. or NATO minesweeper.

Such a small boat in Aden harbor in October 2000 punctured the hull of the USS Cole, a $1 billion Arleigh Burke class destroyer, killing 17 sailors, and putting the warship out of service for 18 months with a $220 million repair bill. Cost of the operation to al-Qaida: $10,000 plus three volunteer suicide bombers.

The response of Israeli naysayers is that such tactics would hurt Iran far more than any of its intended targets. U.S. generals and admirals respond that the Iranian leadership wouldn’t be averse to cutting off its nose to spite its face.

The Iranians can also absorb temporary belt-tightening far more readily than Western Europeans. And with gas at the pump suddenly selling at $10 to $15 a gallon, U.S. President Barack Obama’s updated resume wouldn’t look too appealing at the ballot box in November.

The arguments about whether Iran really wants a nuclear capability seem disconnected from reality. Pakistan’s nuclear black marketer A.Q. Khan sold the ayatollahs nuclear secrets two decades ago. By all accounts, Tehran is very close to achieving deliverable nuclear payloads.

U.S. Navy 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain is vulnerable; two-thirds of its population is Shiite Muslim and rooting for Tehran in the current conflict.

Full article: Commentary: Geopolitical maelstrom (Space War)

U.S. stops fighting, starts coordinating with Israeli plans for Iran strike

The coming war with Iran is inevitable. It’s been quite clear for some time now that Iran will not give up its nuclear ambitions and Israel will not sit idly while its existence is repeatedly threatened. The main question is, who will strike first and what will be the effect of war. Will it be Israel using a preemptive strike or Iran inducing the return of the 12th imam? Will the US assist Israel should it choose to strike first or will it only help should Israel get hit first? Will support be logistical or militarily? Either way, Iran is bent on destroying Israel and the US, and we could be seeing deadly terrorist attacks at home as they possess the capability and have sleeper cells within the country waiting for orders.

Furthermore, what will the role of Russia and China be? Will they sit idly or will they make good on their threats to protect both of their proxies at all costs, even WW3? In addition, being that Syria has a mutual defense pact with Iran, you can expect them to enter the fray — as well as their respective terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah. You can also expect strikes on countries such as Lebanon, Jordan or even on the Gaza strip as terrorist proxies are planted in each of those areas against Israel.

As you can see, an eventual war will open up a can of worms. One can be certain Israel likely won’t make a move until all aspects are covered and it’s fully prepared to withstand an assault on at least four fronts, its cost of war remains low, it’s shielded against retaliation and can complete its objective: The dismantling of Iran’s means of waging a nuclear war — at least for some time.

Western diplomatic sources said the administration of President Barack Obama has agreed to end open opposition to an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

They said the administration, which already reviewed military options against Iran, has instead focused on military and intelligence coordination with Israel as well as reducing dangers of a global oil crisis.

“Israel has to make its own decisions,” Anthony Blinken, a White House security official, said. “We are not in the business of telling our allies and partners what to do when it comes to their own national security.”

The diplomats said the administration’s new policy continued to caution publicly against any attack on Iran. But in private meetings, they said, U.S. officials and diplomats were discussing war scenarios on the assumption that Israel was prepared to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure by the end of the year, Middle East Newsline reported.

Full article: U.S. stops fighting, starts coordinating with Israeli plans for Iran strike (World Tribune)

Iran set to expand nuclear activity in underground facility, sources say

IAEA envoy expects to see Iranian efforts ‘jump’ in Fordo site near Qom, located deep inside a mountain to protect it from possible airstrikes.

“I think we will see a jump in the potential state of readiness of the facility,” one Vienna-based envoy said.

Fordo is of particular concern for the West and Israel as Iran is shifting the most controversial aspect of its nuclear work, refining uranium to a level that takes it significantly closer to potential bomb material, to the site.

Estimated to be buried beneath 80 meters of rock and soil, it gives Iran better protection against any Israeli or U.S. military strikes.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has warned that the Islamic state’s nuclear research could soon pass into what he called a “zone of immunity,” protected from outside disruption.

Full article: Iran set to expand nuclear activity in underground facility, sources say (Haaretz)

UN nuclear agency says Iran blocked attempts to probe alleged atomic arms work in Tehran talks

The double signs of defiance reflected Tehran’s continued resistance to demands that it defuse suspicions about its nuclear activities despite a growing list of international sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency made little progress in talks that ended just three weeks ago, and hopes had been low that a visit by IAEA experts to Iran that ended late Tuesday would be any more successful even before the agency issued its statement.

It was issued early Wednesday, shortly after midnight and just after the IAEA experts left Tehran, reflecting the agency’s urgent wish to tell its side of the story.

Full article: UN nuclear agency says Iran blocked attempts to probe alleged atomic arms work in Tehran talks (Washington Post)

Iran threatens pre-emptive action amid nuclear tensions

“Our strategy now is that if we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran’s national interests, and want to decide to do that, we will act without waiting for their actions,” Mohammad Hejazi told the Fars news agency, NBC News reported.

Iran announced air defense war games to practice protecting nuclear and other sensitive sites, the latest in a series of military maneuvers viewed as a message to the West that Iran is prepared both to defend itself against an armed strike and to retaliate.

Full article: Iran threatens pre-emptive action amid nuclear tensions (MSNBC)

Banking’s SWIFT ready to stop Iran transactions

Belgium-based SWIFT, which provides banks with a system for moving funds around the world, bowed to international pressure on Friday and said it was ready to block Iranian banks from using its network to transfer money further isolating Iran’s economy on the global stage.

Expelling Iranian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication would shut down Tehran’s main avenue to doing business with the rest of the world – an outcome the West believes is crucial to curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

SWIFT, which has never cut off a country before, has been closely following efforts in the United States and the European Union to develop new sanctions targeting Iran that would directly affect EU-based financial institutions.

The United States and EU have already moved to sanction Iran’s central bank.

Full article: Banking’s SWIFT ready to stop Iran transactions (Jerusalem Post)

Russia May Boost Nuclear Potential – Deputy Defense Min.

Russia may have to boost its nuclear potential in future amid emerging nuclear proliferation threats, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s deputy defense minister and a negotiator on the European missile shield, said on Monday.

“New challenges emerge, including missile and nuclear proliferation. Look at how unstable the situation in the Middle East is. That’s why Russia’s military doctrine envisages the use of nuclear weapons in specific cases. I do not rule out than under certain circumstances we will have to boost, not cut, our nuclear arsenal,” Antonov said in an interview with the Kommersant daily.

Full article: Russia May Boost Nuclear Potential – Deputy Defense Min. (Ria Novosti)

Iran has material for 4 nuclear bombs: Israeli general

JERUSALEM — Iran has enough radioactive material to produce four nuclear bombs, Israel’s chief of military intelligence, General Aviv Kochavi, asserted at a security conference on Thursday.

“Today international intelligence agencies are in agreement with Israel that Iran has close to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which is enough to produce four bombs,” he told the annual Herzliya conference.

“Iran is very actively pursuing its efforts to develop its nuclear capacities, and we have evidence that they are seeking nuclear weapons,” he said.

“We estimate they would need a year from when the order is given to produce a weapon.”

Full article: Iran has material for 4 nuclear bombs: Israeli general (AFP)

Nuclear Iran is past its point-of-no-return, yet oil sanctions remain on paper

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Iran has “the bomb” all of a sudden as western powers, the US in particular, have been behind the intelligence curve for at least a decade and has previously been caught by surprise with foreign country technology and capability from time to time.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu advised visiting Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey Friday, Jan.20 that the time for action against Iran was now, for two reasons: First, the conviction that Iran has passed the point of no return for developing a nuclear weapon; and second, the diminishing prospects for a US-led embargo on Iranian oil to catch on before it is too late.

The Obama administration disputes the Israeli prime minister on both points, insisting there is still time for tough sanctions to incapacitate the Iranian economy and stop Tehran before it reaches the point of no return in its drive for a nuke. Israel insists that this pivotal point was reached four years ago in 2008.

Gen. Dempsey was exhaustively briefed on the Israeli position during his whirlwind interviews Friday with President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and three conversations with Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, one with key General Staff officers.

It was not by chance that Maj. Gen. (ret.) Asher Yadlin, until last year Israel chief of military intelligence, maintained in a detailed article in the Tel Aviv daily Maariv: “If Iranian leaders were to convene tonight and decide to go ahead with the secret production of a nuclear bomb, they already possess the resources and components for doing so. This [capability] was once defined as the point of no return. [As matters stand] now, Iran’s nuclear timeline no longer hinges on the calendar; it rests entirely on a decision in Tehran.”

The former intelligence chief was saying that for four years, the US and Israeli governments colluded in propagating the false assumption that Iran had not reached a nuclear weapon capability. Presenting a highly problematic oil embargo in 2012 as capable of putting Iran off its nuclear stride is equally illusory.

Continue reading article: Nuclear Iran is past its point-of-no-return, yet oil sanctions remain on paper (DEBKAfile)