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Saturday, February 23, 2019

TV report: MI6 spy chief makes secret Israel trip amid new Iran nuclear activity


                                                    MI6 chief Alexander Younger

Channel 13: Alex Younger holds talks with Mossad chief as Iran renews centrifuge production; Israeli assessment: Regime has not yet made political decision to break out to bomb

By TOI STAFF and AGENCIES

Britain’s MI6 intelligence chief secretly visited Israel this week for talks with his Israeli counterparts about concerns that Iran may be considering breaching the 2015 nuclear deal and attempting to break out to a nuclear weapons capability, Israeli television reported on Friday night.
Channel 13 news said MI6 chief Alex Younger arrived in Israel on Monday and met with the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, and other Israeli intelligence chiefs.
Israel’s assessment is that Iran is “making preparations” within the provisions of the 2015 deal, and “getting ready,” but has not yet made the political decision to break out to the bomb, the TV report said.
Citing Western intelligence sources, it said the issue was also discussed by participants at last week’s Munich international security conference.
Iran, the report noted, has recently renewed its production of centrifuges, “and is gearing up for the renewal of uranium enrichment” within the provisions of the deal.
The report described Iran’s current activity as “preparing the infrastructure… in an accelerated fashion” should the regime take the political decision to breach the accord.
Hours before the TV report, the UN’s nuclear watchdog in Vienna said Iran was continuing to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal, despite the United States withdrawing from the pact and re-imposing sanctions.
In a confidential quarterly report distributed to its member states, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has been abiding with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The US pulled out of the deal in May and has been pressuring remaining signatories to abandon it as well.
In its report, the Vienna-based agency said its inspectors still have access to all sites and locations in Iran they needed to visit.
“Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access facilitates implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhances confidence,” the report stated, referring to the procedure detailing safeguards and tools for verification.
It noted that Iran’s stock of heavy water and low-enriched uranium continues to be under the limits set under the 2015 pact.
Last June, Iran’s nuclear chief inaugurated a new nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, which Iran said was geared toward producing centrifuges to operate within the limits of the nuclear deal.

Iranian state television broadcast an interview with Ali Akbar Salehi showcasing the facility at Natanz’s uranium enrichment center. In the interview, Salehi said its construction began even before the 2015 deal was signed.
Last month, Salehi bragged in another interview that Iran quietly purchased replacement parts for its Arak nuclear reactor while it was conducting negotiations for the deal under which it knew it would be required to destroy the original components.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns constantly that Iran has never abandoned its ambition to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. Last year, the Mossad spirited a huge haul of documents from what it said was Iran’s nuclear weapons archive, which Netanyahu said proved conclusively that Iran has lied to the world when claiming it has not been seeking to produce nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu said at the UN General Assembly in September that “The reason Iran didn’t destroy its atomic archive and its atomic warehouse is because it hasn’t abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, it planned to use both of these sites in a few years when the time would be right to break out to the atom bomb.

“That won’t happen,” he vowed. “It won’t happen because what Iran hides, Israel will find.”
***

My comment:

Israel better have someone at the helm who understands the magnitude of the Iranian threat. 



Friday, February 22, 2019

Why Russia covets hypersonic weapons




BY STEPHEN BLANK, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR


Russia’s ongoing development of hypersonic weapons proves nuclear weapons are in fact warfighting weapons — contrary to conventional wisdom in the West.
In December 2018, Moscow successfully tested the Avangard and Tsirkon hypersonic missiles. The former travels at speeds up to 20 times the speed of sound and is supposedly invulnerable to any missile defenses. It can carry a nuclear warhead and allegedly hit any spot on the globe within 30 minutes of launch. Therefore, it can be considered a “strategic” nuclear weapon.  
The Tsirkon, meanwhile, can be deployed on submarines, ships and airplanes, including long-range bombers. It possesses a range of approximately 310 miles and is expected to be a particularly lethal anti-ship weapon. 
Another mature Russian hypersonic missile, the Kinzhal, can travel 1,800 miles at up to 10 times the speed of sound. Russian President Vladimir Putin displayed it in 2018 in a simulation that modeled the destruction of Florida
Moreover, these represent just some of the new generation of weapons that Moscow is developing. By 2024, Moscow expects its submarine fleet to be able to launch hypersonic missiles that are capable of carrying either conventional or nuclear warheads. 
Russia’s larger military modernization effort encompasses its entire triad of air, sea and land-based nuclear weapons, from short- to intermediate- to long-range nuclear weapons, along with counter-force and counter-value weapons. According to General Paul Selva (USAF), vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Russia is also developing new tactical nuclear weapons to tailor its forces to virtually any contingency. Thus, Russia is currently working on over 20 nuclear programs, including nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons. 
Equally disquieting is the fact that in the recent Vostok-2018 exercises Russian forces and the Ministry of Energy conducted large-scale exercises to restore electric grids and power supply after an attack. In other words, Russia rehearsed an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) operation, and its aftermath strongly suggesting that it either expects or intends to launch one. Significantly, Moscow sought to conceal the purpose of that exercise and divorce it from Vostok-18. Russia has also rehearsed nuclear operations in the past – such as simulating a nuclear strike against Sweden back in 2013.
Clearly, Moscow sees nuclear weapons as usable instruments of war. In this context, hypersonics are valuable for the Kremlin because they are allegedly invulnerable to U.S. missile defenses. Without any basis in fact or science, Russia has long contended that American missile defenses in the U.S, Europe and Asia threaten its nuclear deterrent. Despite innumerable briefings, scientific facts and the admission of Russian experts that these “threats” are fantasies, the Kremlin persists in seeing nuclear weapons as warfighting instruments against American and allied missile defenses. 
And whatever Moscow declares in its doctrine or rhetoric, its procurements and exercises strongly suggest not only that, in the Russian view, nuclear weapons are warfighting weapons, but also that they will be used in a first-strike against purely conventional strikes. Accordingly, Russian officials informed then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis last year that defending the Baltics would lead to nuclear war — a clear statement of Russia’s intent to use nuclear weapons first.
At its core, Russia’s development of hypersonic weapons reflects its refusal to accept mutual assured deterrence among the superpowers and the self-generating paranoia of a state bent on rebuilding its empire by inhibiting NATO from defending its allies and partners. They embody both the Kremlin’s global ambitions and its own inherent paranoia (including the belief that nuclear weapons can and will be used against it).
Stephen Blank, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, focused on the geopolitics and geostrategy of the former Soviet Union, Russia and Eurasia. He is a former professor of Russian National Security Studies and National Security Affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is also a former MacArthur fellow at the U.S. Army War College.

Putin: Russia Will Target US if American Missiles Are Deployed in Europe!



This blog has been trying to bring to attention the danger from the death of the MAD doctrine in regards to Iran. However, we should also look at how stable is the MAD doctrine vis-à-vis Putin’s recent speech last October and this one two days ago. 





The unilateral withdrawal of the USA from the INF Treaty is the most urgent and most discussed issue in Russian-American relations. This is why I am compelled to talk about it in more detail. Indeed, serious changes have taken place in the world since the Treaty was signed in 1987. Many countries have developed and continue to develop these weapons, but not Russia or the USA – we have limited ourselves in this respect, of our own free will. Understandably, this state of affairs raises questions. Our American partners should have just said so honestly rather than make far-fetched accusations against Russia to justify their unilateral withdrawal from the Treaty.

It would have been better if they had done what they did in 2002 when they walked away from the ABM Treaty and did so openly and honestly. Whether that was good or bad is another matter. I think it was bad, but they did it and that is that. They should have done the same thing this time, too. What are they doing in reality? First, they violate everything, then they look for excuses and appoint a guilty party. But they are also mobilising their satellites that are cautious but still make noises in support of the USA. At first, the Americans began developing and using medium-range missiles, calling them discretionary “target missiles” for missile defence. Then they began deploying Mk-41 universal launch systems that can make offensive combat use of Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles possible.

I am talking about this and using my time and yours because we have to respond to the accusations that are leveled at us. But having done everything I have just described, the Americans openly and blatantly ignored the provisions envisaged by articles 4 and 6 of the INF Treaty. According to Item 1, Article VI (I am quoting): “Each Party shall eliminate all intermediate-range missiles and the launchers of such missiles… so that… no such missiles, launchers… shall be possessed by either party.” Paragraph 1 of Article VI provides that (and I quote) “upon entry into force of the Treaty and thereafter, neither Party may produce or flight-test any intermediate-range missile, or produce any stages or launchers of such missiles.” End of quote.

Using medium-range target missiles and deploying launchers in Romania and Poland that are fit for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, the US has openly violated these clauses of the Treaty. They did this some time ago. These launchers are already stationed in Romania and nothing happens. It seems that nothing is happening. This is even strange. This is not at all strange for us, but people should be able to see and understand it.
How are we evaluating the situation in this context? I have already said this and I want to repeat: Russia does not intend – this is very important, I am repeating this on purpose – Russia does not intend to deploy such missiles in Europe first. If they really are built and delivered to the European continent, and the United States has plans for this, at least we have not heard otherwise, it will dramatically exacerbate the international security situation, and create a serious threat to Russia, because some of these missiles can reach Moscow in just 10–12 minutes. This is a very serious threat to us. In this case, we will be forced, I would like to emphasise this, we will be forced to respond with mirror or asymmetric actions. What does this mean?

I am saying this directly and openly now, so that no one can blame us later, so that it will be clear to everyone in advance what is being said here. Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapons that can be used not only in the areas we are directly threatened from, but also in areas that contain decision-making centres for the missile systems threatening us.

What is important in this regard? There is some new information. These weapons will fully correspond to the threats directed against Russia in their technical specifications, including flight times to these decision-making centres.

We know how to do this and will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the threats to us become real. I do not think we need any further, irresponsible exacerbation of the current international situation. We do not want this.

The work on promising prototypes and weapon systems that I spoke about in my Address last year continues as scheduled and without disruptions. We have launched serial production of the Avangard system, which I have already mentioned today. As planned, this year, the first regiment of the Strategic Missile Troops will be equipped with Avangard. The Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental missile of unprecedented power is undergoing a series of tests. The Peresvet laser weapon and the aviation systems equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles proved their unique characteristics during test and combat alert missions while the personnel learned how to operate them. Next December, all the Peresvet missiles supplied to the Armed Forces will be put on standby alert. We will continue expanding the infrastructure for the MiG-31 interceptors carrying Kinzhal missiles. The Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile of unlimited range and the Poseidon nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle of unlimited range are successfully undergoing tests.

In this context, I would like to make an important statement. We did not announce it before, but today we can say that as soon as this spring the first nuclear-powered submarine carrying this unmanned vehicle will be launched. The work is going as planned.

Today I also think I can officially inform you about another promising innovation. As you may remember, last time I said we had more to show but it was a little early for that. So I will reveal little by little what else we have up our sleeves. Another promising innovation, which is successfully being developed according to plan, is Tsirkon, a hypersonic missile that can reach speeds of approximately Mach 9 and strike a target more than 1,000 km away both under water and on the ground. It can be launched from water, from surface vessels and from submarines, including those that were developed and built for carrying Kalibr high-precision missiles, which means it comes at no additional cost for us.

On a related note, I want to highlight that for the defence of Russia’s national interests, two or three years ahead of the schedule set by the state arms programme, the Russian Navy will receive seven new multipurpose submarines, and construction will begin on five surface vessels designed for the open ocean. Sixteen more vessels of this class will enter service in the Russian Navy by 2027.

To conclude, on the unilateral withdrawal by the USA from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, here is what I would like to say. The US policy toward Russia in recent years can hardly be called friendly. Russia’s legitimate interests are being ignored, there is constant anti-Russia campaigning, and more and more sanctions, which are illegal in terms of international law, are imposed without any reason whatsoever. Let me emphasise that we did nothing to provoke these sanctions. The international security architecture that took shape over the past decades is being completely and unilaterally dismantled, all while referring to Russia as almost the main threat to the USA.

Let me say outright that this is not true. Russia wants to have sound, equal and friendly relations with the USA. Russia is not threatening anyone, and all we do in terms of security is simply a response, which means that our actions are defensive. We are not interested in confrontation and we do not want it, especially with a global power like the United States of America. However, it seems that our partners fail to notice the depth and pace of change around the world and where it is headed. They continue with their destructive and clearly misguided policy. This hardly meets the interests of the USA itself. But this is not for us to decide.

We can see that we are dealing with proactive and talented people, but within the elite, there are also many people who have excessive faith in their exceptionalism and supremacy over the rest of the world. Of course, it is their right to think what they want. But can they count? Probably they can. So let them calculate the range and speed of our future arms systems. This is all we are asking: just do the maths first and take decisions that create additional serious threats to our country afterwards. It goes without saying that these decisions will prompt Russia to respond in order to ensure its security in a reliable and unconditional manner.

I have already said this, and I will repeat that we are ready to engage in disarmament talks, but we will not knock on a locked door anymore. We will wait until our partners are ready and become aware of the need for dialogue on this matter.



Thursday, February 21, 2019

Blue and White ( Israel Resilience Party and Yesh Atid ) on Iran .





Benny Gantz   -  He would wait until Iran attacks

Moshe Ya'alon  -  Now believes there is no existential threat from Iran

Gabi Askenazi - In 2010 along with  Dagan he prevented Netanyahu from attacking Iranian nuclear  sites 

Yair Lapid  -     There is no evidence that he understands that  Iran cannot be deterred. He would not have supported the Iran Deal if he understood that the MAD doctrine would not work with Iran

Conclusion :  If you want not to be nuked by Iran - Bibi is a better choice . In life you make choices based on how much each component weighs - if we are attacked by Iran with nuclear weapons all other choices are meaningless.


But Bibi has a problem. The 'anyone but Bibi' mentality has taken its toll .  And here is the proof. The reaction of a colleague upon reading my post  -" I get it, but I'll be damned if I vote for him. I'd rather suffer a nuclear winter. "

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Israeli election campaign is heating up




Cartoon by Guy Morad

 

Iran                                              Iran, Iran, Iran, Iran,  
                                                    Iran, Iran, Iran, Iran, 
                                                    Iran, Iran, Iran, Iran, 
                                                    Iran, Iran, Iran, Iran
              

                                     Teacher, Benny is copying from me!




However funny this cartoon is,  it still ignores the fundamental difference between Netanyahu and Gantz: Netanyahu is fully aware that Iran cannot be deterred from attacking Israel with nuclear weapons  regardless of the consequences, whereas Gantz does not seem to understand the danger.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Will Iran and MAD be discussed in the coming Israeli elections? Of course not.



In her article Is Gantz falling from grace?, Ruthie Blum writes: “The good news is that Gantz has little to no chance of heading the next government. He couldn’t even sustain positive press coverage for a full week.

This is debatable. The constant attacks at Netanyahu through the years have eroded support for him and the “anybody but Netanyahu” mindset is spreading.  

The fact that Bibi is the only Israeli leader apart from Michael Oren who has quoted Bernard Lewis’s warning about Mutually Assured Destruction not being a deterrent for the Iranian leaders is irrelevant to the majority of Israelis.  First, most Israelis have never heard of Bernard Lewis. Second, most Israelis know nothing about Twelver Shisim and their eschatology and hence many believe that Bibi has being crying wolf regarding Iran for years.  Third, they are convinced that other Israeli leaders could easily take Netanyahu’s place including handling the Iranian threat although none of them ever mentioned Iran having no problem with mutual destruction.

The combination of the above results in that nobody in Israel ever discusses the possibility of an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel due to the death of the MAD doctrine which managed to prevent a nuclear exchange during the Cold War.    

To put it in Orwellian terms, “a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words“  The two words together - Iran and MAD - do not exist in the vocabulary of Newspeak. 
    

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Benny Gantz on Iran

Benny Gantz (R) and Moshe Ya'alon (L) at an event in Tel Aviv, January 29th, 2019. 

In June 2016, at Ben-Gurion University, Benny Gantz put the threat from Iran on 5th place in significance of the dangers threatening Israel, so after the lecture I came up to him and asked him should we not be more concerned about Iran since according to Prof. Bernard Lewis   “for people with this mindset, Mutually Assured Destruction M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an inducement... “ and therefore  Iran cannot be deterred, only preempted.  

His answer – Israel will defend itself if attacked.

I am afraid that would be too late.  It seems Benny Gantz does not take Bernard Lewis seriously enough, if he understood whom I was quoting in the first place.