Friday, April 27, 2012

Netanyahu's interview with CNN

Here is the transcript of the Iran related part of the interview:
Aired April 24, 2012 - 19:00   ET


BURNETT: Mr. Prime minister, thank you so much for inviting us and letting us come and see your home. 

BENJAMIN NETANYAU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, welcome to Jerusalem. Take a look around. 

BURNETT: We came here to your courtyard. I know we had to move -- there was a table here earlier, when we got here, there were two coffee cups on it, I guess it was yours and Tony Blair's, when you were talking this morning, but how important is this space for you? This is sort of your -- this is your getaway space, right? 

NETANYAHU: No this is my prison courtyard, because the prime minister of Israel, like I suppose the president of the United States, and maybe the Pope one or two other people. 

BURNETT: Does it ever feel like you're sort of under house arrest? I mean this -- 

NETANYAHU: Yes, for good reason, but I suppose so. But it doesn't mean that there aren't an endless number of people who want to get into this prison cell -- 

BURNETT: Oh I'm sure -- 

NETANYAHU: -- and live here. 

BURNETT: I'm sure there are. Iran, there's been 16 years of diplomacy as you've talked about. You've said repeatedly, you said it in March; I know you said it to the Army radio this morning. It is not a problem of days but it's also not a problem of years. Now you said that first in March so I would imagine not years, plural. That means you think this will be resolved by next spring? 

NETANYAHU: Well, I hope it is resolved and I hope it is resolved peacefully. Certainly the international community is putting a lot of pressure on Iran and making clear that its nuclear program must stop. If it stops with the sanctions, the combinations of sanctions, diplomacy, other pressures, I, as the prime minister of Israel, will be the happiest person in the world. 

BURNETT: Do you think that sanctions are working? I mean, I saw a story today that about -- I think it was 56 percent of Iranian -- of Iran's fleet, tankers, sitting off the coast with oil, full of oil, because they can't sell it. It would appear that sanctions are working. 

NETANYAHU: Well, they are certainly taking a bite out of the Iranian economy but so far they haven't rolled back the Iranian program or even stopped it by one iota
. I mean, I hope that changes, but so far, I can tell you the centrifuges are spinning. They were spinning before the talks began recently with Iran. They were spinning during the talks. They're spinning as we speak. So, if the sanctions are going to work, they better work soon. 

BURNETT: How do you know what they're doing? 

Oh, we know. 

BURNETT: You know? 

: We know and others know and we share what we know. This is not the case of the questions that people had about Saddam Hussein. 

BURNETT: They say that it is for peaceful purposes -- 

NETANYAHU: They stay it is for peaceful purposes. 

BURNETT: They say it is for peaceful purposes. NETANYAHU: Well you have a sense of humor. I mean they said it is for medical isotopes, right? That's why they are developing ICBMs to carry medical isotopes to Europe or Israel or the United States. That's why they are building these underground bunkers between -- underneath mountains for medical isotopes. You know that's why they are telling the world that they are going to erase Israel, with the medical isotopes. This is a farce. Nobody can seriously -- nobody can take them seriously. 

BURNETT: No nations with nuclear weapons have ever gone to war with each other. I mean, take India and Pakistan. They haven't used them. Could it be that Israel and Iran could end up in a situation like that where the acquisition of the nuclear weapon ensures it would never be used? 

NETANYAHU: Well, I'm not going to comment on Israel's purported capabilities. I will say that to date, since the advent of the nuclear age after Hiroshima all nuclear powers have been very careful with the use or more accurately, the nonuse of the nuclear weapon when it comes to militant Islamic regime, I wouldn't be too sure
. Because unlike, say the Soviets, they can put their ideology before their survival, so I don't think you can bet on their rationality. Iran has given its terror proxies Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, it's given them the most advanced lethal weapons, whatever weapons they have to give them and they fired now 10, 12,000 rockets on Israel's cities. 

They've been helping them to murder diplomats worldwide and to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Think of what they do with nuclear weapons
. And I don't think you want to bet the peace in the Middle East and the security of the world on Iran's rationale behavior. I think it is a much safer bet to do what I and President Obama and others have said, prevent Iran from acquiring atomic bombs. 

BURNETT: One thing it's interesting though and you talk about some of the negative parts about the regime there is a Jewish member of parliament in Tehran and one of the most popular soap operas there, there was a zero degree turn or zero turn, main character, an Iranian falls in love with a Jewish woman. He helps smuggle Jews out of Paris to save them from the Holocaust. And it's very popular in Iran. What makes you so sure that they are anti-Semitic in a way that would cause them to use the weapon against Israel? 

NETANYAHU: Well I'd draw a distinction between the people of Iran and the regime that has terrorized (ph) them, taken over their lives.

BURNETT: The regime let the show air though. 

NETANYAHU: Well the regime is the one that, you know, has to kill people in the streets and goes into their homes after they cull (ph) the Internet and they just make people disappear. So this is a regime that is very brutal to its own people. Iran is not free. Jews in Iran have a lot to worry about. But the Jewish state that Iran openly calls a cancer that has to be excised from the Middle East that has to be eradicated, certainly must take seriously Iran's claims to annihilate it. 

BURNETT: The way the talks seem to be going, U.N. negotiators, U.S. negotiators, Iranian negotiators, (INAUDIBLE) saying that the sanctions are working and that they may, in fact, roll back some sanctions. That's what the Iranians want and there has not been a direct rebuttal to that from the other side, the really tough sanctions that are supposed to take effect this summer -- 

NETANYAHU: Well I think it would be a big mistake -- 

BURNETT: What do you do -- OK.

NETANYAHU: I think it would be a big mistake to rescind the sanctions or lighten the sanctions. I think there has to be a cascade of sanctions and so far, that's the acid test
, the sanctions haven't worked. How do we know that? Because nothing has been stopped. What has stopped in the Iranian program? 

BURNETT: What if they halted full enrichment to 20 percent started importing that, would that be enough? 

NETANYAHU: I think what they need to do are three things. One, they have to stop all enrichment, second to take the -- 

BURNETT: All enrichment, even the three percent for medical? 

NETANYAHU: Yes. Yes, because they say they need it for what medical isotopes? So you can -- the second point is after you stop all enrichment is remove the enriched material and you will get these rods from another country that can allow you to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. And third, dismantle the underground bunker (INAUDIBLE). If they have no military goals, they should respond to this readily. What we want are factual results. We want to see the Iranian program rolled back.
That's, unfortunately, not achieved by talks in which Iran has one goal, to stall, delay, run out the clock. That's basically what they are doing. 

BURNETT: Do you worry that you are going to put yourself in a position though that you may have to strike, a strike which even former head of the Mossad has said would only delay, not end the Iranian nuclear program? That by staying is not days, it's not -- you are going to end up with a date where if you don't do it, you look like you couldn't or you wouldn't so you have to? 

: I'm not worried what we look like. I am worried about stopping this. And I think there are really three principles that should guide us. They have been echoed by the United States and I think any sensible person understands that. The first is that Iran's nuclear weapons program must be stopped. The second is that containment is not an option. And the third is that Israel, the state of the Jewish people, must have the capacity to defend itself by itself against any threat.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Alan Dershowitz on MAD

Alan Dershowitz in Newsmax brings an unexpected perspective to the discussion on the inapplicability of MAD with regards to Iran. However, I believe Dershowitz is wrong and that the death of MAD is due not to the Israelis being ethically incapable of actually launching a nuclear counter attack at Iran but because Iran could not care less if they did.   

Why Deterrence Won’t Work Against Iran  

By Alan Dershowitz
Alan M. Dershowitz's Perspective: Following President Obama’s strong renunciation of “containment” and his expression of willingness to use military force as a last resort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, some on the left continue to oppose any threat to use the military option.

Leading this approach is Fareed Zakaria, who recently on his CNN program, characterized the Obama policy as “a serious error,” and called instead for a “robust policy of containment and deterrence.”
But the policy that Zakaria is proposing is anything but robust. To the contrary, it is a call for inaction. It presumed that Iran will be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, but that it will be deterred from actually using them by the threat of nuclear retaliation.

Zakaria points to the fact that deterrence succeeded in preventing war between the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as between India and Pakistan. He claims that each side was effectively deterred by the threat of mutually assured destruction. He says it will work equally well with Iran.

Let us pause for a moment to understand precisely what a policy of deterrence entails. Any such policy is based on the promise that if one side launches a nuclear attack, the other side will retaliate with an equally devastating nuclear attack, thus assuring the destruction of both societies and the deaths of millions of innocent civilians.

The first question therefore is whether the United States would actually be willing to retaliate against a nuclear attack on Israel by dropping nuclear bombs on Tehran, killing millions of its civilian inhabitants. The second question is whether any civilized country — the United States or Israel — should be willing to kill millions of Iranian civilians because their leaders made a decision to use nuclear weapons against Israel or the United States.

The third question — and the one never asked by advocates of deterrence — is whether it would be legal under the laws of war to target millions of civilians in a retaliatory nuclear attack.

These are the kinds of questions that Fareed Zakaria and his dovish colleagues refuse to ask. And the reason they refuse to ask these hard questions is precisely because we know the answers they would give: They would be categorically opposed to any retaliatory attack that targeted civilians in a tit-for-tat implementation of a mutually assured destruction policy of deterrence.

If you don’t believe me, ask him!

As to the legality of nuclear deterrence, the International Court of Justice issued a decision in 1996, in a case challenging the lawfulness of using, or threatening to use, nuclear weapons. The majority decision declined “to pronounce . . . on the practice known as ‘the policy of deterrence.’” It did rule unanimously, however, that any “threat or use of nuclear weapons” must “be compatible with the requirements of the international law applicable in armed conflict, particularly those of the principles and rules of international humanitarian law . . . ”

These rules, of course, generally forbid the targeting of civilian population centers and require proportionality even in the bombing of military targets. Since nuclear weapons are, by their nature, virtually incapable of destroying military targets without also inflicting countless civilian casualties, it would seem to follow that they could not be used except against remote military targets, such as ships and submarines on the high seas, or armies in isolated deserts or mountains. In a divided vote, the court ruled that:

• “The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict…”

• “However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense in which the very survival of a state would be at stake.”

In other words, it would be unlawful for the United States to threaten or use nuclear weapons as a deterrent, since its “very survival” would not be at stake, but it might be lawful for Israel to do so because it is a small state whose very survival would, in fact, be at stake were it to be attacked by nuclear weapons.

Menachem Begin, the Israeli prime minister who ordered the preventive attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981, expressly renounced mutually assured destruction as a policy. He said that Israeli “morality” would never permit a retaliatory attack against an Iraqi city: “The children of Baghdad are not our enemy.”

A preventive attack, on the other hand, is always directed against a military target. Only one person — a nuclear technician — was killed in the attack Begin authorized.

It would appear to be ironic that Zakaria, and others who purport to be “doves,” would favor a mutually assured destruction policy that threatens the deaths of millions, over a preventive policy that targets military nuclear facilities. But it is not at all ironic, since such doves would be against actually carrying out the threat that is central to any credible policy of deterrence. For them, deterrence is a bluff — a hollow threat and the Iranians would see right through it.

That’s why President Obama is correct in renouncing containment and insisting that he isn’t bluffing when he says Iran will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, even if it takes a surgical military strike to stop them.

I am not here arguing in favor of a preventive attack on Iran at this time. I am arguing against reliance on a policy of deterrence and containment, because I don’t believe it will work in relation to Iran, Israel, and the United States.

What if deterrence and containment didn’t work and Iran were to fire nuclear rockets at Israeli cities? Those who now advocate robust deterrence — of surgical prevention — would simply say to the remaining Israelis: “Woops. We were wrong. Sorry. We’ll build you a new Holocaust Museum.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Israeli leaders understand the concept of takkiya

Amazing! Last night in an interview with CNN Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, demonstrated that he understood what takiyya meant.  This shows that the Israeli leadership understands Islamic concepts used by Iran to confuse and deceive the gullible West.  Only two months ago Ari Shavit in an article in Ha’aretz revealed that Netanyahu held in-depth discussions with Bernard Lewis who convinced Netanyahu that if the ayatollahs obtained nuclear weapons they would use them. 

In contrast to President Obama and the Europeans, Israel’s leaders know what they are doing.  

From the Jerusalem Post:
Barak mentioned a Muslim notion called takkiya, which he said grants Muslims the right to lie in order to deceive non-Muslims, for the sake of the religion.

From CNN:
Aired April 19, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET



AMANPOUR: Right now there is an enormous amount of talk and focus about the fatwa by Iran's Supreme Leader, who's in charge of all the program, not only Iranians are talking about the fatwa, in which he said that Iran would not possess, would not develop, it's a great sin under Islam to have a nuclear weapon or anything, of weapons of mass destruction. 

But it's not just him. It's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It's even President Barack Obama. It's the prime minister of Turkey. It's many people now talking about this fatwa as if it could be some kind of diplomatic exit, an offramp to the crisis.

BARAK: I don't buy it so easily. It is the same Khamenei who said just a year ago, his quote, Gadhafi for buying so easy the pressure to give -- to give up his nuclear (inaudible). He pointed to where he is now. 

Have you heard the term atakia (ph), which means in Islam, especially in the Shia, a kind of permission from heaven to the leader to lie and mislead. (Inaudible) as long as it's really in order to reach the objective, the political objectives of the movement agobo (ph), the tribal (inaudible) of the nation. So it's -- I don't buy it.

I follow the facts on the ground, enrichment continues. They got a pose (ph) of five months, five weeks until the next (inaudible). But, God (ph), everything is still working. It is clear to all of us, to (inaudible) whoever that the Iranians are focused on, which in nuclear military capability, they are already as ever to defy and deceive the whole world.
AMANPOUR: You're obviously very concerned, and so are many, should Iran get a nuclear capability that's military. As I said, the U.S. does not believe any such decision has been made. But there are people --

BARAK: No, no, no. The -- I want to correct you.

AMANPOUR: But that's what they tell us.

BARAK: No, no, listen. Ask them the following question. Are they --


AMANPOUR: -- their intelligence doesn't --

BARAK: No, no. I know, I'm talking for the American intelligence. I've talked to American leaders. There is no difference in the assessment of intelligence. It's true that probably Khamenei did not give an order to start building a weapon or a device. 

But why he's doing this, just because he understands that if he starts to break the IEA and start to actually build a weapon, he might find himself faced with an American response, your response or whatever, in a way that might damage him. And that's the only reason why he did not give the order. But they're clearly heading toward this objective.

AMANPOUR: But if that's the case, then, then surely the pressure is working, that they're not doing it, as you said, because the pressure is there and the threat of (inaudible) what you might do.

BARAK: These are quite effective sanctions. But it's still far away from working.

AMANPOUR: I just want to go back to the fatwa in regard to what you've just said. As I said, many American officials are talking publicly about the fatwa. And there is a thought that President Obama might agree to allow Iran a civilian enrichment program if they can back up their fatwa and prove that they're not going to go the military route. Would you accept that?

BARAK: There's only (inaudible) fatwa if they stop enriching for 20 percent. They stop bringing out of country to a friendly mutually-agreed (ph) state.

One more observation.  Even after Barak mentioned takkiya and the fact that he does not buy anything Iran says Amanpour continues to mention the fatwa as if his answer went completely undetected by her. Either she is faking that she does not understand what Ehud Barak had  just said or she really is incapable of comprehending what he is saying since she automatically rejects this as total nonsense. 

Definition of taqiyya from Sharia: The Threat to America

12. Lying/Taqiyya: It is permissible for a Muslim to lie, especially to non-Muslims, to 
safeguard himself personally or to protect Islam.  

• “Let not the believers take the disbelievers as friends instead of the believers, and 
whoever does that, will never be helped by Allah in any way, unless you indeed 
fear a danger from them.  And Allah warns you against Himself, and to Allah is 
the final return.” (Q 3:28) 

• “‘Unless you indeed fear a danger from them’ meaning, except those believers who 
in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers.  In this case, 
such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but 
never inwardly.…‘We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse 
them.’” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol 2, 141)  

• “Mohammed said, ‘War is deceit.’”  (Bukhari vol.4:267 and 269) 

• “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good
saying good things, is not a liar.”   (Bukhari vol.3:857 p.533)


Friday, April 6, 2012

The Threat from Iran: James Woolsey

Let me jump right in into Iran’s nuclear capability debate because there are several points that I think need to be understood.

The danger from an enemy having a military capability is partly a matter of his intentions and partly a matter of his capability.  Let’s say a word about intentions. There has grown up over the course of the last several years, as Iran’s capability of having a nuclear weapon has grown, the notion that there are really only two types of leaders in the word: There are rational leaders, some are nice, some are not nice, and then there are irrational leaders and the latter are crazed maniacs with no capability for rational action whatsoever.  

And then what we are facing in dealing with Iran is basically a standoff between two rational groups of people, one the American government, the Israeli government, our allies etc. on one side. On the other side an Iranian government that is rational, reasonable, able to be engaged and spoken with, perhaps having some, some  really most improper ideas, things we disagree with, but nonetheless - rational.

Well, I once wrote a paper years ago on Hitler as a diplomat. From 1933 to 1939 Hitler was superbly rational in the tactical sense. He was a total sociopath whose objective was to kill all the Jews and conquer Europe for a 1000 year empire, but tactically, he was as shrewd as they come.  He rivaled Metternich at his best.  He had the chanceries of Europe eating out of his hands. He was a sociopath. And it is important I think to realize that this third category of international national leaders, being a sociopath, is unfortunately more common than many others would like. For example, we know now from Soviet documents that were released or stolen after the Cold War ended, that Castro pushed very hard during the Cuban Missile Crisis for essentially there be a nuclear war. Happily he did not care  if Cuba would be destroyed. He wanted so much that the   United States be destroyed, and he was not even a religious fanatic. He was just a fanatic sociopath.  That almost tipped things into a tragic direction, but happily on the other side the Soviet Union was basically a bunch of thugs with a cover story their ideology was very substantially dead. By the early sixties there were more true believing revolutionary Marxist-Leninists in the bookstores of the Upper-West Side of Manhattan by that time, than I think there were in the Kremlin. Those guys did not want die for the principle of each according to his ability, to each according to his need – they wanted to remodel their dachas.

We were, in a way, lucky with our opponent in the Cold War because they were thugs with a cover story.  They were not, on the whole, sociopaths. Unfortunately, the Castro model, the Hitler model, the model of the sociopath is one we may well need to deal with in Iran.  And it should not provide any kind of relief to hear from either the former head of Israeli intelligence, or anybody else, that they are rational. They may well be quite tactically quite shrewd and rational. The Persians invented chess, they are quite good at it. But rational in that sense doesn’t mean that you are not a sociopath, after the model of Castro and others.

Second point is about capabilities. People tend to think that most change is linear, and so if you hear that it only takes 3 percent enriched uranium to power a nuclear plant and it takes 90 percent enriched uranium for a weapon, most of us tend to think that, well, you have to do 30  times more work on the enriched uranium and only then you will  have enough for the bomb. Wrong. Those curves are not linear.  Once you have 3 percent enriched uranium you have done about 60 percent of  the work you need in order to have weapons grade nuclear material Once you have done enriched uranium to 20 percent, which we know Iran is doing now, you have done 80 to 85 percent of the work you need to get to weapons grade.  And indeed with some types of bomb design, admittedly rather simple, not particularly effective, nothing that any bomb designer from Lawrence Livermore or any place that worked on these weapons would have been proud of,  but something that would go boom and have a mushroom cloud and radioactivity. You can do that under some circumstances with the 20 percent enriched uranium that the Iranians are already producing.

So we do not have a situation where there is a single bright red line that either a CIA spy or a Mossad spy, or anybody else can find has been crossed and then people can say eureka, now the Iranians have a nuclear weapons capability. Now, why am I not talking about the weapons themselves? Because for a simple nuclear weapon of the sort that we dropped over Hiroshima, the weapon itself is unfortunately relatively simple to design. Graduate students get elements of it off the web and do it from time to time at good universities and then it gets locked up.  But it’s unfortunately not that hard to do. A simple so called shot gun design of the weapon where a slug of highly enriched uranium is blasted into a socket of highly enriched uranium, by bringing the two together forcefully the mass goes critical and you have a nuclear explosion. That was Hiroshima.

We dropped that weapon on Hiroshima in the middle of, we thought at the time, actually it was right at the end but were worried  that it might be the middle,  of a brutal war, one of the most brutal humans have ever fought, in the Pacific. And we did it without it ever having been tested in the history of the world.  What we tested in Alamagordo was a plutonium weapon, somewhat more sophisticated, and we did need to test that before we dropped it on Nagasaki. But the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima had never been tested.  Three quarters of a century ago in the history of the world and we were sufficiently confident it would work, we used it and we were right.

So the long pole in the tent is not designing the weapon. If you want to get something that is small and has a lot of yield and you put in on a warhead of a missile   then that takes some time and effort and work. But something that you can detonate in Iran’s desert and have a mushroom cloud and radioactivity, and everybody in the world says ah Iran is a nuclear power, unfortunately, that is relatively easy to do in terms of weapon design. This is the reason that the National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 was so deceptive.
Basically its headline that Iran had stopped working on its weapon may have been right and the footnote that said Iran is still enriching uranium was right, but the headline should have been the footnote and the footnote should have been the headline. The weapon design itself if you are talking about a simple weapon, unfortunately is not that hard to do.

One final point. The only way to use nuclear weapons is not to have intercontinental or even  medium range ballistic missiles. One can put a weapon inside a freighter and blow it up and sink it in a harbor. There are lots, unfortunately, a number of ways that are not the most effective but would still be devastating for nuclear weapons to be used. So we have to deal over the course of the months to come and Bibi Netanyahu said the other day that it is a matter not of days to weeks, yet, but it also is not a matter of years, it is a matter of months.  We have some months. I do not know whether it is three or ten or eight, or what. We have months not years to decide how to deal with this capability that I am afraid we have an enemy who would be entirely capable, in one way or another, using it.