April 23, 2010 Briefs
• Barak to Israel's Channel 1 TV: We accept general consensus that time-limited sanctions are the way to go on Iran for now. If they don't work, we are a sovereign nation.
• Seven coordinated bomb blasts kill 56, injure 112 at Baghdad's Shiite mosques and market during Friday prayers.
• Iran will allow access to new site where uranium enrichment to higher levels began February.
• US ME envoy Mitchell embarks on fresh shuttle between Jerusalem and Ramallah Friday.
• Netanyahu stands by Jerusalem construction non-freeze, offers ideas, concessions on other issues.
• Israel marks Earth Day by switching of for an hour in 17 towns.
• Iran and North Korea sign scientific cooperation and cultural exchange pact (euphemism for nuclear and missile cooperation).
• Quinnipiac University poll shows most American voters disapprove of his Israel policy:
42% don't believe in Obama's avowed support for Israel. 34% do.
Some 44% disapprove of his handling of Israel-Palestinian issues, 35% approve. This disapproval rating rises to 67% among Jewish voters.
Support for Israel among general voter is 57% against 13% who don't.
A majority of Americans polled, 66%, urge Obama to support Israel, compared with 16% against.
Syria sends Hizballah disassembled Scud parts
23 April: Syria has smuggled three consignments of disassembled Scud A ground missile components to the Lebanese Hizballah, debkafile discloses. They do not add up to a complete set of parts for an operational Scud missile. However, another five shipments, awaiting handover at Syrian border bases will provide the missing elements for complete weapons. Tehran urges Syria to hurry up deliveries.
Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak disclosed Friday night that Syria had transferred "Scud missile parts" to Lebanon, refusing to elaborate. But he accused Syria of providing Hizballah with game-changing weapons which jeopardized regional stability.
According to Western intelligence sources, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged Syrian president Bashar Assad to make as many Scud transfers to Hizballah as possible for deployment opposite Israel. He implied Iran was preparing to strike out against US Middle East interests and he wanted Iran's Lebanese proxy ready for all eventualities.
April 24, 2010 Briefs
• Israel navy recovers second Grad Katyusha off Eilat's Almog beach. The first exploded near Aqaba Friday. Both appear to have come from Egyptian Sinai and were aimed at both sea resorts.
• Formerly pro-West Lebanese leader Jumblatt says his country belongs in Syrian-Iranian axis. Lebanon must stay there to maintain national unity. No one can disarm Hizballah, he says in radical flipflop.
Mitchell brings Netanyahu US Jerusalem compromise
24 April: debkafile's Washington sources report that instead of a freeze on all Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, the Obama administration asks Israel to quietly suspend all building licenses and other permits for just four weeks, to give US Middle East envoy George Mitchell a chance to persuade the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to accept US-moderated proximity talks.
Speaking to members of his Fatah party, Abbas called on the US president to impose a Middle East peace solution.
Most American Jewish leaders see no true change in Barack Obama's Middle East policy, which they see as inherently detrimental to Israel, but rather a PR campaign to clear the air with Jerusalem and American Jews.
April 25, 2010 Briefs
• Iran claims it tested five new homemade missiles Sunday, last day of military exercise in Strait of Hormuz. They included land-to-sea, sea-to-sea, short-range Nasr cruise missiles. debkafile: These claims are treated with caution: The" S-300-type missiles" shown at last week's military parade in Tehran proved to be painted pipes.
• Netanyahu says his final conversation with US envoy Mitchell Sunday was "positive and good". He expects to return to the Middle East next Tuesday.
• Israel lifts ban on imports of Apple iPad after tests showed no interference with wireless network.
Pakistani centrifuges launched Iran's nuclear program in 1986
25 April: Iran introduced its nuclear program much earlier than previously believed. Ex-foreign minister Velayati now discloses that in 1986, he brought the first centrifuges from Pakistan to Iran aboard the private plane of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Revolution or Iran. DEBKA intelligence and counter-terror sources add that the centrifuges came with the first Pakistani technical specifications for building a bomb and designing missiles for their delivery.
The key element of his account is the delivery date of Iran's first centrifuges, two years earlier than hitherto believed, when Iraqi missiles were still blasting Iran's cities.
April 26, 20101 Briefs
• Obama unexpectedly drops in on White House conversation between defense minister Ehud Barak and NSA James Jones Monday. He stressed his commitment to Israel's security despite differences on Jerusalem.
• High-profile Hamas terrorist Ali Ahmed Sweiti killed resisting arrest in clash with Israeli commandos at Beit Awa west of Hebron. Wanted for seven years, his home was razed
• British ambassador's convoy in Sanaa, Yemen attacked, killing at least one person. The ambassador was unhurt.
Any rogue bidder can now buy a Russian Club-K cruise missile
26 April: This relatively cheap, extra-smart, easy-to-use Club-K Container Missile System, which Moscow has put on the open market, allows cruise missiles concealed in freight containers to be launched from a prepositioned or moving land or sea platform. It is virtually undetectable by radar until activated. No wonder, Iran and Venezuela were keenly interested when the Club-K was put on the open market at the Defense Services Asia exhibition in Malaysia this week.
In Iranian hands, it would make the targeting of its nuclear facilities very difficult. In Syrian or Hizballah's hands, it would be a game-changer.
Palestinian leader Abbas now willing to renew peace talks
26 April: Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas stated Monday, April 26 that he is willing to go back to negotiations with Israel, without pre-conditions if the Arab League's monitoring committee meeting on May 1 approves the US proposal for indirect negotiations. "Try me," he said in an exclusive interview with Israel Channel 1 TV.
debkafile notes that Abbas appears to have radically changed direction after 15 months of stalling against US efforts to restart the talks on one pretext or another.
Abbas said he had nothing against Binyamin Netanyahu and is ready to talk to him. He is Israel's elected leader, said Abbas, and has a parliamentary majority.
Settlement blocs and territory swaps would be subject to negotiation between the Palestinians and Israel, said Abbas, and a solution could also be found for the Palestinian refugee problem.
Asked about Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayad's pledge to establish a Palestinian state by 2011, Abbas said firmly: "We are against unilateral steps."
April 27, 2010 Briefs:
• Gates accuses Iran and Syria of arming Hizballah with more missiles than most countries have in their arsenals.He is satisfied with Pentagon planning to counter the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program. He spoke at joint news conference with Barak who supported sanctions and diplomacy at this time, provided they were effective and limited in time.
• Netanyahu plans to visit Egyptian president Mubarak next Monday.
• US Senate majority leader Harry Reid calls on Hillary Clinton to reduce tensions with Israel and work with Congress to complete Iran sanctions legislation. Relations with Israel make the US more secure. We cooperate in critical intelligence, weapons systems and rely on Israel as our ally in a volatile part of the world. It is crucial for US leaders to ensure Israel's security.
Israel refuses to sell Turkey advanced naval Barak-8 interceptor
27 April: Israel's advanced military hardware sales to Turkey are petering out under the impact of Tayyep Recep Erdogan's alignment with Syria and Iran and his poisonous attacks on Israel, with detrimental effect on the Turkish army's operational capabilities. debkafile sources report that Israel refused to sell the Turkish Navy the Barak 8 missile interceptor, whose radar provides warships with 360-degree coverage against incoming missiles or air attack, day and night and in all weathers. Its co-developer India is equally adamant against the sale.
Security sources told debkafile that it was decided in Jerusalem not to sell, in case Erdogan let Iranian military intelligence experts study the Barak-8 and analyze its technology, in line with the secret military pact he signed with Iran on Oct. 28, 2009. This interceptor is a key defensive component for the Israeli missile and warships patrolling the Persian Gulf seas opposite Iran, the Red Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean opposite Syrian and Lebanese shores.
April 28, 2010 Briefs
• A senior Pakistan intelligence source claims Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud survived a US drone attack in January. Contrary to former claims that he was killed, the ISI say he is alive and well.
• Gulf military sources report an Iranian aircraft made several passes over the US Eisenhower carrier last week to gather intelligence.
• Sarkozy in Beijing: Iran's progression toward nuclear armament could harm world stability. Everyone is convinced the point for sanctions is at hand.
• Cairo court sentences 26 Hizballah terrorists to 6 months-to-15 years for plotting attacks on Suez Canal and Egyptian tourist sites. Four are still on the run.
Iran, Syria, Hizballah gear up to provoke summer war
28 April: US and Israeli defense chiefs Robert Gates and Ehud Barak told reporters at the end of their talks in the Pentagon on April 27: "Syria and Iran are providing Hizballah with rockets of ever-increasing capability. This is obviously destabilizing for the whole region and we're watching it very carefully" – Gates; and "We do not intend to provoke any kind of major collision in Lebanon or with Syria, but are watching closely these developments" – Barak.
debkafile: Neither sounded ready to halt the headlong Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah drive for a summer war.
In fact, Barak's comment told Iran, Syria and Hizballah they had nothing to fear, even though Syrian instructors have trained two Hizballah brigades in the use of mobile Scud missiles which carry one-ton warheads. Those brigades can operate the missiles against Israel at short notice from either side of the Syrian-Lebanese border.
Barak as defense minister, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Israel's security chiefs need to explain how in the four years since the 2006 war Hizballah was allowed to pile up tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, which in volume and sophistication surpass the weaponry that battered northern Israel then, and which have extended their reach to all parts of Israel.
White House forbids US Gulf units to fire on Iranian military
29 April: The US Fifth fleet and USS Eisenhower refrained from shooting an Iranian spy plane collecting intelligence from the American carrier on April 21 because they are under orders not to respond to hostile Iranian acts without permission direct from Washington. Gulf governments fear US military passivity will encourage Tehran to be bolder and more provocative, emulating Pyongyang which got away with sinking a South Korean vessel scot-free.
The Iranian Fokker F27 spy plane hovered for 20 minutes 900 meters over the carrier and no more than 250 meters away. To explain this incident, US naval sources Wednesday, April 28, claimed the Iranian plane was unarmed and its encounter with the US carrier was not of a threatening nature, although irregular. Gulf sources, talking to debkafile, wondered out loud if the United States would also turn a blind eye to an Iranian attack that caused the sinking of a Saudi, UAE or Israeli ship sailing in the Gulf, as it did in the case of South Korea.