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Saturday, October 31, 2009


Conspiracy at UN to rob Israeli military of moral right to strike Iran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis

17 Oct. The Netanyahu government's slow-moving, lackadaisical handling of the Goldstone commission mandated for accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, played into the hands of a coalition formed to strip the Israeli military of legitimacy as a defensive strike force against Iran 's fast-moving nuclear weapons program and its Middle East allies' missile arsenals. Their tactics culminated in the predictable majority vote at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday Oct. 17 to refer Israel 's alleged war crimes to the UN Security Council, while omitting to mention Hamas' culpability.

Saturday, Muslim and Arab media, notably London-based news organizations, "predicted" that Israel would react to its "growing diplomatic isolation" with a "crazy military adventure" that would inflame the entire Middle East . Their purpose was to discredit a priori any Israeli military action against Iran 's nuclear facilities.

But Israel has a boxful of powerful tools for dealing with the fallout of the UN HRC motion which it is not using.

If sanctions are legitimate penalties for Iran , why not economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for setting the UNHRC loose against Israel and its military?

Israeli army chiefs face the problem of sending troops to defend their country knowing that they may face war crimes charges somewhere in the world.
So why should Israeli soldiers, condemned as "war criminals by Palestinians and copycat Israel Arabs, grant special passes for Palestinian VIPs to exit the West Bank at night and go partying in Israeli towns?

Why does the Netanyahu government continue to release INS 220 million (app. $50 million) every month to the Gaza Strip for Hamas?

The Goldstone panel started work on April 3, 2009. Israel had seven months to submit to the international court and UN a counter-report documenting 10 years of Palestinian murderous campaigns targeting Israeli civilians, women and children, and their consistent violation of every rule and standard of armed conflict and human rights. Some of the guilty Palestinians hold responsible positions not only in Gaza but Ramallah too.
Israel is now forced to establish a credible panel of inquiry for the Cast Lead operation, when it could have done so voluntarily from the start.

Tehran : Iran will continue to enrich uranium up to 5% even if some is reprocessed abroad.
If Vienna talks fail, home production will be upped to 20% grade.
Iran will not give up uranium enrichment at home even while sending quantities for further processing abroad.
This statement was issued by Iran as three powers met Iranian officials in Vienna Monday to discuss Russia's reprocessing offer.

Threat of Iranian invasion of Pakistan , "crushing response" against US, UK
DEBKAfile Special Report

19 Oct. The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafary, Monday, Oct. 19, threatened "crushing" retaliation against the US, UK and Pakistan including the invasion of its eastern neighbor. Tehran linked all three to the suicide bombing attack in Sistan-Baluchistan Sunday, Oct. 18, which killed 42 people including seven senior Guards officers.

DEBKAfile's Iranian sources note that was the first time in Iran's 30-year Islamic revolution that a military leader has openly threatened to attack US and British military targets, a measure of the damage the regime and Guards suffered from the suicide attack.
Tehran holds the Sunni secessionist terrorist group Jundallah of Baluchistan responsible and in the past has accused the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency and the CIA of supporting the group.
New Iranian missiles head for Gaza , Syria tops up Hizballah's rocket stocks
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

20 Oct. Iran is making a huge effort to smuggle to the Palestinian Hamas Fajr-5 ground-to-ground rockets that would bring Tel Aviv within range of the Gaza Strip, and Syria, Iran's second ally with an Israeli border, has decided to transfer one-third of its missile stockpile to the Hizballah in Lebanon, topping up its arsenal with medium-range rockets that can cover central as well as northern Israel. Israel's top strategists are asking -

1. Are the 250 Syrian surface missiles destine for Hizballah Scuds B, C and D whose ranges exceed 800 kilometers, or Iranian-Syrian made projectiles whose range is shorter?
2. Do the transfers mean Iran and its allies are gearing up for a major Middle East conflict in the months ahead, possibly in early 2010?
3. Will Syria hand Hizballah chemicals-tipped missiles?
4. Will some batteries be installed atop the mountain ranges running down central Lebanon, together with air defense systems supplied at the same time by Syria ?
Israel is particularly concerned by the Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's recent decision to turn coat against the pro-Western camp led by Saad Hariri in favor of deals with Tehran and Damascus.

Iran May Ship 'Part' of Its Uranium Abroad WATCH THE POWERS CAVE

Published: October 26, 2009

Filed at 7:48 a.m. ET

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's foreign minister said Monday that Tehran may agree to ship part of its stockpile of low enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment, the first official indication that Iran could at least partly sign onto a U.N.-drafted plan aimed at easing nuclear tensions.

The plan is seen by the international community as a way to delay Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon by getting a large part of its enriched uranium stock out of the country, preventing it from being reworked into a warhead. Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Tehran's final decision over the plan will ''will be made in the next few days.''

Iran is weighing between the U.N.-drafted plan or buying its own enriched uranium abroad and keeping its own supply.

''To supply fuel, we may purchase it like in the past, or we may deliver part of (the low enriched uranium) fuel which we currently don't need,'' Mottaki said.

In either case, Mottaki said Iran will continue to enrich its own uranium as well -- a step opposed by the U.S. and its allies over fears they could produce weapons-grade material.

''Iran's legal peaceful nuclear activities will continue and this issue (Iran's enrichment program) has nothing to do with supplying fuel for the Tehran reactor,'' he said.

So far, Tehran's response has been unclear. Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani earlier accused the West of trying to cheat his country with the proposal, raising doubts Tehran will approve the deal.

Iran's top ally, Russia, nudged it to accept the plan.

''Iran has not yet officially confirmed its agreement. But we hope the necessary step will be taken and the agreement proves acceptable to the Iranian side as well,'' Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Russian daily Vremya Novostei in an interview published Monday.

Implementation of the proposal ''would allow for a cooling of emotions and a realistic assessment of the situation,'' said Ryabkov, who has led Russian negotiators in talks on Iran's nuclear program.

The plan was drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency Wednesday after three days of talks between Iran and the U.S., Russia and France in Vienna. The three countries endorsed the deal Friday, but Tehran has said it is still studying the proposal.

The U.N. plan envisages Iran sending up to 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be enriched to a higher degree needed for use in a Tehran research reactor.

The deal is attractive to the U.S. and its allies because it would mean Iran -- for a period of time, anyway -- would not have enough uranium stocks to build a bomb.

Uranium enriched to a low level is used to fuel a nuclear reactor for electricity, and a somewhat higher level is used in research reactors. When enriched to levels above 90 percent, the uranium can be used to build a bomb.

Around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) is the commonly accepted amount of low-enriched uranium needed to produce weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear warhead.

The Vienna plan would require Iran to send 2,420 pounds (1,100 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium to Russia in one batch by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, U.N. experts were scheduled to hold a second day of inspections Monday inside a once-secret uranium enrichment facility that has raised Western suspicions about the extent of Iran's nuclear program.

The four-member delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency had their first look in the Fordo enrichment facility on Sunday. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of building the facility in secret, a claim denied by Tehran.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner echoed the urgency felt by the West over reaching an agreement over Iran's nuclear program.

He told the Daily Telegraph, in an interview published Monday, that time was running out since Israel might well launch a pre-emptive strike.

''They (the Israelis) will not tolerate an Iranian bomb. We know that, all of us. So that is an additional risk and that is why we must decrease the tension and solve the problem,'' he said.
Mottaki on Monday replied that ''the Zionist regime doesn't dare to attack Iran because it is currently in its weakest position.''
ElBaradei's ruse helps Iran keep on enriching uranium for a nuke
DEBKAfile Special Report

21 Oct. Mohammed ElBaradei, the retiring IAEA director, pulled a rabbit out of his hat Wednesday, Oct. 21 to save the Vienna talks with Iran on the future of its enriched uranium from breaking down on its third day. It was a draft proposal for Iran to transfer three-quarters of its enriched uranium to Russia for reprocessing. The US, France, Russia and Iran were given until Friday for their answer.

The only officials to come smiling out of the aborted meeting were the Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili and his aides. But strangely enough, it was greeted with happy applause in the West, from secretary of state Hillary Clinton to Israel's deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai, who should have been wise to ElBaradei's machinations by now. By some magic, the proposal "forgot" three UN Security Council resolutions and six-power demands for Iran to give up uranium enrichment. Iran is also suddenly absolved of the obligation to allow UN inspectors to monitor its facilities and not by a single word is Tehran forbidden to process masses of additional enriched uranium after it ships the 1.200 kilos to Russia , or even to make a bomb. No wonder Jalilee smiled.
Analysis / Expect more trickery from Iran in nuclear talks
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: UN, Iran nuclear, EU

The excited responses, in praise or condemnation, proved to have been too soon. Iran continues operating at its own pace. The last deadline that the international negotiators set was Friday, and the Iranians did not bother to issue an official response to the draft agreement on giving most of their enriched uranium to Europe to be treated.

Instead of a response, Iran issued a rather murky promise of one toward the middle of the week, accompanied, as is customary, by contradictory signals. Last Wednesday's initial positive declaration was replaced with skepticism and further preconditions. We can assume fairly certainly that this is how Tehran will conduct itself in the future: more conditions, more delays, a strategy of making the powers believe is still possible to resolve the crisis by peaceful means while squeezing out more concessions and buying more time for the centrifuges.

From Israel's point of view, there is an inkling of positive news in last week's developments. The draft agreement, as it was presented last week, would not end Iran's nuclear program, only postpone it. If it is adopted, it would make Israel appear to be an eternal skeptic. If on the other hand Iran rejects the deal, it will emerge as the refusenik.

A failure in the negotiations may expedite stricter sanctions against Iran. This will probably not be a Security Council initiative because China opposes this, but rather an American-European plan, which would have a shot at convincing the Iranians to reconsider freezing their race for the bomb. But we are still far from that. On the way there will be further ups and downs, certainly accompanied by other acts of trickery by Tehran.

Israel has responded wisely - it has kept a low profile, while retaining one advantage: its intelligence on the Iranian program is considered largely reliable and accurate, and is readily welcomed by the powers. The difficulty lies elsewhere. The international community, at least at this stage, does not favorably view an attack - by the U.S. or Israel - on the Iranian nuclear sites. It also appears that the declarations of the Iranian leadership, in particular President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, cause more fear in Israel than in the West.

Senior officers, most of them from Europe, visited Israel last week, and one of the hosts was surprised to note that most of their questions were about the Palestinians. When the issue of Iran was raised, the host was told that Israel's two basic assumptions - that Iran poses a serious existential threat, and that the Iranian threat precedes the need for a breakthrough on the Palestinian track - are not convincing.
For eight years, while Hamas indiscriminately shelled Israeli civilians with rockets provided by its patrons in Iran, the UN stood silent. Only when Israel, after years of restraint, moved to put an end to the terror, did the Human Rights Council act -- by condemning Israel. This one-sided body passed a one-sided resolution calling for a one-sided investigation. Last month, the results of this "investigation" were presented by Justice Richard Goldstone to the HRC. Yet instead of dealing responsibly with the report, HRC members engaged in yet another anti-Israel travesty, which even Goldstone acknowledged as one-sided.

There have been dozens of international inquiries into events in the Gaza operation, and Israel has cooperated fully with almost all of them, including one undertaken by the UN Secretary General. Only in those instances where it was clear beyond any doubt that an inquiry was motivated by a political agenda -- and not concern for human rights -- did Israel decide not to cooperate. Unfortunately the HRC's Fact-Finding Mission was one of these.

Even Goldstone is now trying to distance himself from the results of his own handiwork.

Sadly, what was clear to Israel from the outset, has only now become clear to Goldstone. He is now trying to distance himself from the results of his own handiwork.

Last Friday he discussed his disappointment with the action taken by the HRC, telling the Swiss daily Le Temp: "This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel, there is not a single phrase condemning Hamas."

We must now deal with the consequences. The council's adoption of the Goldstone report constitutes nothing less than a prize for terrorism in more ways than one. First, the resolution adopted Friday perverts the reality of Hamas criminality, blaming the victim, rather than the true perpetrator of war crimes in Gaza. For the HRC, it was totally irrelevant that Hamas committed grave war crimes by openly calling for Israel's destruction, purposely firing thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians, endangering Gaza civilians by firing from populated areas and abducting Gilad Schalit.

It was likewise irrelevant to the HRC that Israel had a responsibility to protect its citizens, made every effort to avoid confrontation and did all that it could to minimize civilian casualties. The only relevant consideration for the HRC was the fact that an opportunity had presented itself to demonize Israel in the international arena.

Second, the resolution undermines moderate Palestinians who are interested in peace with Israel. There is a power struggle going on within Palestinian society. It is a zero-sum game, in which any gain for extremism comes at the expense of support for moderation. When the Hamas "tail" is allowed to wag the Middle East "dog," the Palestinian street takes heart and the entire region takes heed. In our neighborhood, everybody loves a winner. So when an international body upholds Hamas's atrocious behavior and exploits it once more to bash Israel, Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority loses face, moderate Arab states lose ground and the Hizbullah-Syria-Iran axis gains strength.

This resolution grants immunity to the terrorists and prevents law-abiding states from defending their citizens.

Thirdly, the resolution creates a new obstacle in the global battle against terrorism. A new form of warfare has emerged, in which terror groups launch attacks against "enemy" civilians from behind a shield of "friendly" civilians. This resolution grants immunity to the terrorists and prevents law-abiding states from defending their citizens. With the blessing of the HRC, this tactic will be repeated by terrorists throughout the world, to the detriment of all other democracies struggling against terrorism, putting millions of innocent civilians in danger.

Finally, and most tragic, this whole episode has led Israelis to doubt the underlying assumptions that have guided them until now in their internal debate on how best to achieve peace. Most Israelis supported the willingness of their leadership to take calculated risks to advance the peace process, with the understanding that the "world" would support such efforts and "hedge their bets." Israelis assumed that if, after making compromises, things didn't work out, they would at least retain the right to defend themselves and the world would support them in their struggle.

Yet now, a nightmare has come true. After taking the tangible risk of leaving contested territory for the sake of advancing peace, Gaza was turned into a lawless enclave of Hamas-led, Iranian-backed terrorism. Yet, when Israel was forced to defend itself, the world reacted not with support and understanding, but with accusations of "crimes against humanity." Damned when they do and damned when they don't, Israelis are now asking themselves "Was the sacrifice worth it?"

While Israelis consider their options, the Goldstone snowball is threatening to gain momentum. From Geneva, the issue has now been passed to the UN General Assembly in New York for further action. But, it is still not too late. An international rejection of the HRC's treatment of the Goldstone report would signal to the Israeli public that the world indeed supports its compromises toward peace. Danny Ayalon is Israel's deputy foreign minister.
Man Friday
Armageddon Time
Peter Robinson, 10.23.09, 12:01 AM EDT
When it comes to Iran, the U.S. may be facing a cataclysm.

Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian; Robert Baer a former CIA field officer. Both have studied the Middle East for decades, traveled to the area repeatedly in recent years and written about the region extensively. And both have become convinced that we may be facing a cataclysm.

Hanson and Baer each presented his analysis during an interview this past week. Although they differ on certain matters, they agree on five observations. The first: If not already capable of doing so, Iran will be able to produce nuclear weapons in mere months.

Baer noted that Iran's scientific and technical capacity is impressive. The country may very well be able to produce enough enriched uranium for several nuclear weapons on its own. If not, Iran can obtain enriched uranium in other ways. "The Iranians are very good at procuring banned materials very easily," said Baer. "They are very close [to having what they need to produce weapons]. They could move very quickly."

How quickly?

"Six months, a year."

The second observation: The Iranians have no interest in running a bluff. Once able to produce nuclear weapons, they will almost certainly do so.

The Israelis cannot wait. They will attack Iran before the end of the year with conventional weapons and destoy as much of Iran's nuclear program as possible. Then they will warn Iran that if Israel

"We see Iran as the power in the region," Hanson said. "But when Iran looks at the region, it sees danger everywhere." In Iraq, a democratic government has achieved stability, which can only incite the dissident movement in Iran. In Lebanon, Hezbollah, Iran's client, has failed in its attempt to capture control of the country, finding itself contained and marginalized instead. The Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and the emirates look upon Iran, a Shia state, with sectarian hostility.

"The Iranians, think, 'My gosh, we are in an unstable position,' " Hanson said. "'Maybe a bomb or two will allow us to do what Pakistan has done. Maybe it will allow us to achieve some autonomy.'"

The third observation: As the Iranians scramble to produce nuclear weapons, the Obama administration appears too feckless, inexperienced or deluded to stop them.

Already, the administration has committed two errors. Last summer, when millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest their country's corrupt presidential election, it failed to encourage the protesters, merely looking on. "Obama could have said to the Iranian people, 'We support your legitimate concerns over constitutional government,'" Hanson argued. "Instead he was saying, 'Let's wait and see who wins.' It did not look good."

Then last month the Obama administration announced that the U.S. no longer planned to deploy anti-missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. These emplacements, which the Bush administration had promised, would have protected Eastern Europe against long-range missiles from Iran. The Obama administration canceled the anti-missile defenses to please Russia, hoping that Russia would pressure Iran in return. "Russia is never going to help," Hanson said. "Tension in the Gulf would raise oil prices, helping Russia. Anything that causes the United States problems, Putin is for."

What options does the administration still possess? "We could get the Europeans to immediately stop exporting gas to Iran," Hanson explained. "We could have some kind of blockade of the Persian Gulf. We are talking about very serious things. But they would put pressure on Iran, ostracizing it." Will President Obama pursue such options? Does he possess the political will? Hanson and Baer doubted it. "We have a president who likes to be liked," Hanson said.

The fourth observation: Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran.

"The Israelis have some bunker busters," Baer said. "They could take out some sites underground. They could set the Iranian nuclear program back years." Would the Israelis be willing to accept the risks a military strike would entail? "This is just 65 years after the Holocaust," Hanson said. "My God, we are talking about 6 million people who were executed while the world watched, and now we have a person [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran] who is promising to do it again."

What is the probability that Israel will strike Iran within the next six months?

"Forty-nine percent," said Baer.

"I would say 50-50," Hanson replied.

The final observation: Iran would retaliate.

"Iran's deterrent doctrine is to strike back everywhere it can," Baer explained. "We should expect the worst." Iran would attack American supply lines in Iraq and command Hezbollah to start a civil war in Lebanon. It would fire surface-to-surface missiles at every oil facility within range, wreaking devastation in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states while removing millions of barrels of oil a day from the world markets. The economy of the entire globe would suffer a paroxysm. The Middle East could descend into chaos. The U.S. would experience the worst crisis in decades.

After the assassination 95 years ago of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the great powers of Europe engaged in meaningless diplomatic maneuvers. "Austria has sent a bullying and humiliating ultimatum to Serbia, who cannot possibly comply with it," British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith confided in a letter. "[W]e are in measurable, or at least imaginable, distance of a real Armageddon."

A big nation attempting to humiliate a small nation in a way the small nation simply cannot accept. Unseriousness among great powers. A gathering sense of impending catastrophe. Once again, it may be Armageddon time.

Peter Robinson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford Universityand a former White House speech writer, writes a weekly column for Forbes.

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