Afternoon report: Israeli and Arab experts agree a nuclear conflagration is at least a year off.
Afternoon report: Israeli and Arab experts agree a nuclear conflagration is at least a year off.
Israel Insider is reporting that a seismic event this weekend in southern Iran may in fact have been a massive underground nuclear bomb test. According to the USGS , the tremor measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale took place Saturday night, October 25 just before midnight Iran time, with its epicenter at 26.70Â°N, 55.02Â°E, just north of the strategic straits of Hormuz, opposite Abu Dhabi.
Zoomable map source : Google Maps.
The claim that the tremor was in fact a nuclear test came from an Iranian nuclear scientist who claims to be working in uranium enrichment for the project. A report published by Israel Insider on Friday, October 24 the following night , based on location information previously provided by the Iranian source. included a captionless map that portrayed the area of the seismic event that occurred
Israel Insider’s source reports that the test is in fact the second in a series. A 4.8 Richter scale event occurred on October 21 with an epicenter (26.70N, 54.96E) within 5 km (3 miles) of the October 25 tremor.
Israeli and foreign sources have long speculated that Iran has been in possession of ready nuclear bombs but would only begin testing them when a full production line for nuclear weapons is in place.
The source indicated that Iran is being assisted by China and North Korea. Israel Insider’s Iranian source reports that two "nuclear rockets" have been completed and are intended for use against the Jewish State in the coming months.
The site of the test and the development facility are believed to be in close proximity. The location appears to have been carefully selected. The area is exposed to significant seismic activity, which could serve to mask nuclear tests, although the recent spike in activity in that specific area significantly deviates from historical trends. A tremor measuring 6.2 struck the area on September 10, 2008 (its epicenter was 80km or 50 miles due west), the largest seismic event in the area in more than 33 years.
Source and additional data:USGS
The location on the Persian Gulf near the straits of Hormuz would also facilitate delivery and transport of material and personnel. the strategic importance of the immediate area may also be intended to deter potential strikes against the facilities, which could close down the flow of a substantial percentage of the world’s oil.
”A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi ,” said McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb, citing Obamaâ€™s friendship with Khalidi , who is now a professor at Columbia University.
The LA Times has video of Barack Obama toasting and praising Jew-hating PLO operative (and Yasser Arafat henchman) Rashid Khalidi at a 2003 event.Â The LA Times is refusing to release the video.
Ben Smith at The Politico is puzzled by the Timesâ€™ decision, saying that Politico would have made it public.
The paper hasnâ€™t explained its unwillingness to release the video, and Peter Wallsten, who found the tape and wrote about it, declined to discuss it with me last night. He forwarded an e-mail that the paper has sent readers who have complained as conservative blogs raise the issue.
”Over six months ago the Los Angeles Times published a detailed account of the events shown on the videotape. The Times is not suppressing anything. Just the opposite â€” the L.A. Times brought the matter to light,” wrote the readersâ€™ representative, Jamie Gold.
L.A. Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan wouldnâ€™t discuss the decision not to release the tape in detail.
”When we reported on the tape six months ago, that was our full report,” she said, and asked, ”Does Politico release unpublished information?”
The answer to that question is yes â€” Politico and most news outlets constantly make available videos and documents, after describing them in part, which is why the Timesâ€™ decision not to release the video is puzzling. My instinct, and many reportersâ€™, is to share as much source material as possible.
The Times is now claiming that they canâ€™t release the Khalidi tape because they promised their source they wouldnâ€™t.Â Which just raises more questions.Â Whatâ€™s on that tape that the Timesâ€™ source doesnâ€™t want the public at large to see?
And on top of all of this, who could imagine the Times sitting on a similarly inconvenient video for John McCain?Â Can anyone imagine the Times letting the wishes of some source get in the way of releasing a video that could damage John McCain? Or Sarah Palin? Of course not.
Khalidi directed the official Palestinian press agency WAFA during the heyday of PLO terrorism. If possible, he has become even more radicalized: now he teaches on the Middle East faculty at Columbia, which makes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad look like Bebe Netanyahu. Like other radicals, he is fond of accusing Israel of running an ”apartheid system.” This should give Jews a hint as to where our foreign policy would go under President Obamination.
On the tape, Obama refers to the intimate dinners he had with Khalidi and his wife Mona, as the terrorist propagandist was leaving Chicago for Columbia:
It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation â€” a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid ‘s dinner table â€¦ [but around] this entire world.
By the way, LA Times has officially endorsed Obama for President. No word on whether it favors Khalidi or Osama bin Laden for Secretary of State.
So who is Rashid Khalidi?Â Meet Rashid Khalidi .
Obama met Khalidi when the latter was a Middle Eastern Studies professor at the University of Chicago. Khalidi and young Barack became fast friends and, in 2000, he hosted a successful fundraiser for the Illinois senator. Soon thereafter, Obama served alongside Khalidi–and also Bill Ayers–as a paid director on the board of the Woods Fund, an Illinois-based nonprofit organization which claims to provide help to the have-nots. In 2001 and 2002, while Obama was on the board, the Woods Fund provided a pair of grants totaling $75,000 to the Arab-American Action Network, a controversial group which views Israel as racist and mourns its very establishment. The grants proved to be about 20 percent of the AAAN’s grant income for the two years.
Khalidi helped to establish the AAAN, and his wife serves as president of the group. Over the years, he has had plenty of disparaging things to say about Israel, has supported Palestinian acts of terrorism, and is said to have worked for the Palestine Liberation Organization while it was actively involved in terrorism and deemed by the U.S. Department of State to be a terrorist organization.
Racists, sexists, anti-Americans. Domestic terrorists, foreign terrorists, terrorist sympathizers and corrupt businessmen. These are the people that Barack Obama counts as friends, as supporters, as mentors, as co-workers.
With a potential president with friends like these, who needs enemies? What favors will he owe these terrorists?
UPDATE: Hillary Clinton’s Camp Releases Video to LA Times
With some inside sources informing us, ”we can assure you with almost 100% certainty that the person who allegedly supplied the tape to the LA Times was Hillary Clinton.”Â It makes a lot of sense from several vantage points.Â She does not need the reward money, therefore no takers.Â And,Â the LA Times disclosed the contents of the tape approximately 6 weeks prior to Hillary Clinton conceding the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama which took place in the first week of JuneÂ 2008.Â The Clinton campaign was desperate at the time, consequently the information of the contents surfaced. She was feeling the waters and based upon the media and voters reaction, she decided not to do anything more at the time.
Hillary Clinton anticipated using this tape to win the Democratic nomination, however due to a number of different variables, it was never used.Â Besides it would appear racist, and the race card would be used against her.Â Â With Hillary Clinton the alleged owner of the videotape is enough reason why the LA Times will never release the videotape.Â It will open up an entire can of worms.
And do not forget the political muscle that the Obama campaign is employing against the LA Times.Â They recently used their muscle against the radio station that interviewed Biden.
— Jonas S. Lieberman
Eye witnesses are quoted as describing four US helicopters from Iraq striking a house in al Qaim 17 km from the Iraqi border Sunday night, Oct. 26, and killing 8 people.
Eight US soldiers are said to have disembarked for the attack before being flown out. There has been no US comment on the incident.
Asked if the incident was compatible with Israelâ€™s talks with Syria, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni commented: Damascus must stop aiding al Qaeda as well two other terrorist groups, Hizballah and Hamas.
Sources report previous US strikes on Syrian soil in 2004 and 2005 targeting al Qaeda exit points to Iraq.
Sundayâ€™s operation was an extension of the US-Iraqi offensive to purge the northern Iraqi town of Mosul and their northern Syrian havens of al Qaeda elements.
[tags]syria, damascus, iraq, al qaeda, israel, mosul, terrorist, hizballah, hamas[/tags]
US intelligenceâ€™s amended estimate, that Iran will be ready to build its first bomb just one month after the next US president is sworn in, as having been relayed as a guideline to the Middle East teams of both presidential candidates, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.
The information prompted the assertion by Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden in Seattle Sunday, Oct. 19: â€œIt will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.â€
McCain retorted Tuesday, Oct. 21: â€œAmerica does not need a president that needs to be tested. Iâ€™ve been tested. I was aboard the Enterprise off the coast of Cuba. Iâ€™ve been there.â€)
Military sources cite the new US timeline: By late January, 2009, Iran will have accumulated enough low-grade enriched uranium (up to 5%) for its â€œbreak-outâ€ to weapons grade (90%) material within a short time. For this, the Iranians have achieved the necessary technology. In February, they can move on to start building their first nuclear bomb.
US intelligence believes Tehran has the personnel, plans and diagrams for a bomb and has been running experiments to this end for the past two years. The UN International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna last week asked Tehran to clarify recent complex experiments they conducted in detonating nuclear materials for a weapon, but received no answer.
The same US evaluation adds that the Iranian leadership is holding off its go-ahead to start building the bomb until the last minute so as to ward off international pressure to stop at the red line.
This development together with the galloping global economic crisis will force the incoming US president to go straight into decision-making without pause on Day One in the Oval Office. He will have to determine which urgent measures can serve best for keeping a nuclear bomb out of the Islamic republicâ€™s hands – diplomatic or military â€“ and how to proceed if those measures fail.
His knowledge of the challenge colored Sen. Bidenâ€™s additional words in Seattle: â€œRemember I said it standing here if you donâ€™t remember anything else I said. Watch, weâ€™re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.â€
Israelâ€™s political and military leaders also face a tough dilemma that can no longer be put off of whether to strike Iranâ€™s nuclear installations militarily in the next three months between US presidencies before the last window closes, or take a chance on coordination with the next president.
Waiting for the â€œinternational communityâ€ to do the job of stopping Iran, as urged by governments headed by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert – and strongly advocated Tzipi Livni, foreign minister and would-be prime minister – has been a washout. Iran stands defiantly on the threshold of a nuclear weapon.
[tags]iran, nuclear, terrorist, middle east, israel[/tags]
Israeli sources report that the drill beginning Thursday, Oct. 16 in northern Iran, is Tehranâ€™s rejoinder to Israelâ€™s big aerial maneuver last June.
Then, more than 100 Israeli fighter-bombers went through their paces over the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, roughly the same distance from Israel as Iran.
Tehranâ€™s media claim the exercise will test its air forceâ€™s ability to fly to Israel and back without refueling.
The exercise will also test the US-made FBX-T band anti-missile radar system delivered in September and installed at the IAF Nevatim air base in the Negev. The Iranians say they will be practicing their ”state-of-the-art military equipment and flight tactics,” meaning an attempt to jam US and Israeli electronics and radar.
According to Iranian media, the entire range of Iran’s fighter fleet will take part, including US-made F-4, F-5, F-7 and F-14 fighters and domestic Saegheh fighters. Mid-air refueling will be provided by Boeing 707 aerial tankers.
In mid-August, Iran’s Air Force chief, Brigadier General Ahmad Miqani, maintained that its antiquated fighter jet fleet had been overhauled and upgraded to fly distances of 3,000 kilometers without refueling. That would be more than double the distance between Iran and Israel.
That is why Tabriz, in Azerbaijan, at the northwestern corner of Iran, was picked as the starting point of the exercise. The official communiquÃ© said the planes would be flying from air fields in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz and Hamadan and Dezful.
Our military sources say that this means that the entire maneuver will take place over Iran and not venture out its air space. The planes will have to fly to Tabriz from bases in the south near the Pakistan border in order to replicate the more than 1,200 km distance between Iran and Israel.
The Iranian Air force also aims at deploying more than 100 warplanes for the exercise, matching the number Israel used in its maneuver four months ago.
Tehran has timed this large-scale drill for just three weeks before the US presidential election on Nov. 4, in response to speculation rife in the West that Israel may use the window between the US election and the swearing-in of the new president in January for an attack on Iranâ€™s nuclear installations.
The Iranians aim to show they have a first and second strike capability – not just with ballistic missiles but also by aerial attack.
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[tags]israel, iran, military, ahmedinijad[/tags]
Israel military scouts uncovered a high-powered anti-tank IED trap near Kissufim on the Israeli side of the Gaza border Sunday, Oct. 12. It was composed of four large interlinked devices rigged to blow up in sequence.
A fifth bomb just inside Gaza was located to detonate when Israeli reinforcements and emergency teams came up to tend to the casualties from the first series of explosions.
The IDF command believes the hand behind the bomb trap was the Iranian-backed Jihad Islami. It was intended to provoke a military clash with Israel forces chasing the bombers into Gaza that would shatter the ceasefire that has been more or less in place since June 20.
According to intelligence sources, Jihad Islami has determined to torpedo the truce in order to derail the Hamas-Fatah fence-mending talks taking place in Cairo under Egyptâ€™s aegis. Jihad may even have contracted the Dorghmush clan, which is at daggers drawn with Hamas, to set up the bomb trap.
Middle East sources report that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas failed Sunday to persuade Syrian president Bashar Assad to bring his influence to bear on Hamas leaders to be more accommodating in the Cairo talks. Assad shrugged off Abbasâ€™ appeal and extended a frigid welcome to his Palestinian visitor.
[tags]IED, antitank, mine, israel, gaza, jihad islami, hamas, palestinian authority, mahmoud abbas, syria, bashar assad[/tags]
Thanks to our friends at DEBKAfile, Russian military experts now calculate that the window for an Israeli attack on Iranâ€™s nuclear facilities will shrink to 3-6 months if Moscow sells Iran (and Syria) the sophisticated S-300 system for guarding those sites against air, missile or cruise missile attack.Â Moscow sources report that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert failed in the key missions of his Moscow trip to persuade Russian leaders to discuss Tehranâ€™s nuclear weapons program and to refrain from selling this advanced weapon to Iran and Syria.
President Dmitiry Medvedevâ€™s bureau issued a noncommittal statement Tuesday, Oct. 7, saying that his talks with Olmert were â€œan exchange of opinion on threats, including terrorism and nonproliferation.â€ The word â€œnuclearâ€ was avoided.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who the prime minister met Monday, trotted out the standard Russia claim that Moscow had no definite information that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon and is against tougher sanctions.
Prime minister Vladimir Putin was unable to see him.
Moscowâ€™s mainstream media came out Tuesday with a rerun of the statement made on Sept. 17 by Anatoly Isaikin, director of the Russian arms exports agency Rosoboronexport, that his firm is in advanced negotiations with Tehran for the sale of the S-300 missiles. However, on Monday, the same firm disowned knowledge of these missiles having been shipped to Iran, although negotiations for their sale were not mentioned.
Konstantin Makiyenko, from the center for strategic and technological analysis think tank in the Russian capital, said these utterances put Israel on notice to stop selling arms to Georgia and training its army.
Moscow does not conceal its intention of selling S-300 missiles to Syria. A Russian military expert commented: â€œOur warships if based in Syrian ports will need to be encircled by missile batteries capable of guarding them against air and missile attack.â€
According to Russian experts, the system is capable of pinpointing 100 targets and simultaneously intercepting 12 at a distance of 120 km.
Russian sources made a point of stressing that Moscow is not subject to embargoes on its foreign arms sales or any international restrictions on supplying defensive weapons to other nations.
[tags]russia, s-300, missile defense, iran, syria, israel, weapons program, military[/tags]
Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.
The then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, used the occasion of Bush’s trip to Israel for the 60th anniversary of the state’s founding to raise the issue in a one-on-one meeting on May 14, the sources said. "He took it [the refusal of a US green light] as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office", they added.
The sources work for a European head of government who met the Israeli leader some time after the Bush visit. Their talks were so sensitive that no note-takers attended, but the European leader subsequently divulged to his officials the highly sensitive contents of what Olmert had told him of Bush’s position.
Bush’s decision to refuse to offer any support for a strike on Iran appeared to be based on two factors, the sources said. One was US concern over Iran’s likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on shipping in the Persian Gulf.
The other was US anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran’s nuclear facilities in a single assault even with the use of dozens of aircraft. It could not mount a series of attacks over several days without risking full-scale war. So the benefits would not outweigh the costs.
Iran has repeatedly said it would react with force to any attack. Some western government analysts believe this could include asking Lebanon’s Shia movement Hizbollah to strike at the US.
"It’s over ten years since Hizbollah’s last terror strike outside Israel, when it hit an Argentine-Israel association building in Buenos Aires [killing 85 people]", said one official. "There is a large Lebanese diaspora in Canada which must include some Hizbollah supporters. They could slip into the United States and take action".
Even if Israel were to launch an attack on Iran without US approval its planes could not reach their targets without the US becoming aware of their flightpath and having time to ask them to abandon their mission.
"The shortest route to Natanz lies across Iraq and the US has total control of Iraqi airspace", the official said. Natanz, about 100 miles north of Isfahan, is the site of an uranium enrichment plant.
In this context Iran would be bound to assume Bush had approved it, even if the White House denied fore-knowledge, raising the prospect of an attack against the US.
Several high-level Israeli officials have hinted over the last two years that Israel might strike Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent them being developed to provide sufficient weapons-grade uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Iran has always denied having such plans.
Olmert himself raised the possibility of an attack at a press conference during a visit to London last November, when he said sanctions were not enough to block Iran’s nuclear programme.
"Economic sanctions are effective. They have an important impact already, but they are not sufficient. So there should be more. Up to where? Up until Iran will stop its nuclear programme," he said.
The revelation that Olmert was not merely sabre-rattling to try to frighten Iran but considered the option seriously enough to discuss it with Bush shows how concerned Israeli officials had become.
Bush’s refusal to support an attack, and the strong suggestion he would not change his mind, is likely to end speculation that Washington might be preparing an "October surprise" before the US presidential election. Some analysts have argued that Bush would back an Israeli attack in an effort to help John McCain’s campaign by creating an eve-of-poll security crisis.
Others have said that in the case of an Obama victory, the vice-president, Dick Cheney, the main White House hawk, would want to cripple Iran’s nuclear programme in the dying weeks of Bush’s term.
During Saddam Hussein’s rule in 1981, Israeli aircraft successfully destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak shortly before it was due to start operating.
Last September they knocked out a buildings complex in northern Syria, which US officials later said had been a partly constructed nuclear reactor based on a North Korean design. Syria said the building was a military complex but had no links to a nuclear programme.
In contrast, Iran’s nuclear facilities, which are officially described as intended only for civilian purposes, are dispersed around the country and some are in fortified bunkers underground.
In public, Bush gave no hint of his view that the military option had to be excluded. In a speech to the Knesset the following day he confined himself to telling Israel’s parliament: "America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
Mark Regev, Olmert’s spokesman, tonight reacted to the Guardian’s story saying: "The need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is raised at every meeting between the prime minister and foreign leaders. Israel prefers a diplomatic solution to this issue but all options must remain on the table. Your unnamed European source attributed words to the prime minister that were not spoken in any working meeting with foreign guests".
Three weeks after Bush’s red light, on June 2, Israel mounted a massive air exercise covering several hundred miles in the eastern Mediterranean. It involved dozens of warplanes, including F-15s, F-16s and aerial refueling tankers.
The size and scope of the exercise ensured that the US and other nations in the region saw it, said a US official, who estimated the distance was about the same as from Israel to Natanz.
A few days later, Israel’s deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz, told the paper Yediot Ahronot: "If Iran continues its programme to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The window of opportunity has closed. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear programme."
The exercise and Mofaz’s comments may have been designed to boost the Israeli government and military’s own morale as well, perhaps, to persuade Bush to reconsider his veto. Last week Mofaz narrowly lost a primary within the ruling Kadima party to become Israel’s next prime minister. Tzipi Livni, who won the contest, takes a less hawkish position.
The US announced two weeks ago that it would sell Israel 1,000 bunker-busting bombs. The move was interpreted by some analysts as a consolation prize for Israel after Bush told Olmert of his opposition to an attack on Iran. But it could also enhance Israel’s attack options in case the next US president revives the military option.
The guided bomb unit-39 (GBU-39) has a penetration capacity equivalent to a one-tonne bomb. Israel already has some bunker-busters.
Israeli military and naval commanders were taken by surprise by Rear Adm. Andrei Baranov’s disclosure that 10 Russian warships are already anchored at the Syrian port of Tartus.
Moscow and Damascus have worked fast to put in place the agreement reached in Moscow on Sept. 12 by Russian navy commander, Adm. Vladimir Wysotsky and Syrian naval commander Gen. Taleb al-Barri to provide the Russian fleet with a long-term base at Syrian ports. Israel was not aware that this many vessels were involved in the deal.
What most worries Israeli military leaders is an earlier announcement by Adm. Wysotsky that Russiaâ€™s Mediterranean assets would subjected to its Black Sea fleet command, thereby placing Russiaâ€™s warships near Israelâ€™s shores at the service of Moscowâ€™s contest against the US and NATO in the Caucasian. It is feared that Israel will be dragged into another cold war.
Rear Adm. Baranov disclosed that the warships in Tartus had brought engineering crews to widen and dredge the harbor to accommodate additional, fleet vessels. The crews were also working on expanding Latakia, another Syrian port, possibly for aircraft carriers or guided missile cruisers.
The Russians are making no secret of their intention of using their naval presence in Syrian ports as a deterrent to a possible Israeli air strike against Syria.
AFP – The US Defense Department has notified Congress of plans to sell 1,000 bunker-buster bombs to Israel in a deal worth 77 million dollars.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the possible arms sale of the GBU-39 small diameter smart bombs on its website. The deal still requires approval from Congress.
The bombs, which are touted as more precise than larger munitions, have the capacity to penetrate 1.8 meters (six feet) of reinforced concrete and carry a 50 percent probability of reaching a target within five meters.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the bombs could help Israel in a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear sites, some of which are protected by bunker-like structures.
Last month, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that his country will never accept Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability and refused to rule out “any options.”
Israel, the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear armed state, considers Iran its main strategic threat because of its nuclear programme, which Israel and its staunch US ally suspect is aimed at developing weapons.