A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Dec. 10, 2009
Iran successfully simulates nuclear warhead detonation – report
04 Dec. German intelligence sources report that Iranian scientists have successfully simulated the detonation of a nuclear warhead in laboratory conditions, possibly sidestepping an underground nuclear test like the one that brought the world down on North Korea's head earlier this year. debkafile's Iranian and intelligence sources report that this development is alarming because detonation is one of the most difficult technological challenges in the development of a nuclear weapon. Mastering it carries Iran past one of the last major obstacle confronting its program for the manufacture of a nuclear warhead.
After this breakthrough, the German BND intelligence believes it will take Tehran no more than a year to perfect its expertise and stock enough highly-enriched uranium to make the last leap toward building the first Iranian nuclear bomb or warhead.
December 5 Briefs
· Iran announces Saturday it needs 20 uranium enrichment plants, double the figure announced Sunday.
· Iraq plans to fence in its borders with Syria and Iran with a $40 m electronic barrier.
· Tel Aviv U scientists develop technology at nano-scale level that could lead to a window that washes itself. They started out looking for an Alzheimer's cure, ended with material for saving cleaning solar panels and skyscrapers windows.
Netanyahu's settlement freeze has not bought Israel carte blanche for attacking Iran
05 Dec. Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak intimate that a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction is important to Israel's broader interest, such as Washington's nod for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Ordinary Israelis do not buy this argument. And in the light of the Palestinian refusal to talk peace, they accuse Netanyahu of breaking his promise never to give away assets for no return. In any case, Israel is slammed by Palestinians, Arabs and Europeans alike.
debkafile's analysts report the freeze has gained Israel nothing because the Obama administration is determined to prevent Israel striking the fast advancing Iranian nuclear program whatever Netanyahu does on the West Bank.
The freeze orders carried by uniformed inspectors around the prime minister's core constituency of Jewish West Bank communities look to many like markers for the locations he will eventually cede. Under Netanyahu's "economic peace" program, West Bank Palestinians are experiencing their first economic boom since the post-1967 war period. Israel is also pumping hundreds of millions of shekels a month into the Gaza Strip, silencing gripes about Israel's stifling embargo and hoping to check Palestinian appetites for violence.
US to focus on uranium findings in Syria as evidence of Iranian proliferation
06 Dec. A senior official in the Obama administration described the UN nuclear watchdog inspectors' discovery of traces of highly processed plutonium at the bombed Syrian-North Korean facility at Dir a-Zur as a "smoking gun".
After this proof of Iranian violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as confirmed by UN inspectors on Nov. 30, Obama administration sources are confident that even Russia and China will have to endorse stiff new sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The soil samples collected showed Syria was well advanced in experiments for separating out bomb-grade plutonium from spent nuclear fuel supplied by Iran.
The same traces were found at the Syrian nuclear research reactor near Damascus.
Washington intends to present these findings as solid evidence of the tie-in between the Syrian and Iranian military nuclear programs, together with proofs of Tehran's direct involvement in the planning and construction of the demolished Syria reactor which Israel demolished in Sept. 2007.
December 7 Briefs
· Two explosions in Lahore market leave up to 40 dead, 25 injured. Ten killed, 50 injured by suicide bomber outside court in Peshawar, Pakistan.
· Two women arrested in clashes between protesters and police in annual rally in Tehran central square.
· Israeli naval commando Sgt Gal Azulai, 19, from Zichron Yacov, died during a diving drill near Ashdod port. The IDF has ordered an inquiry.
· Israeli PM: It is in Israel's supreme interest to thwart a nuclear-armed Iran. Israel and US work together, trade information, and coordinate policies to this end.
· debkafile challenges Netanyahu: Iran's nuke program is racing ahead thanks to US-Israeli inaction.
· On eve of Copenhagen summit, Saudi Arabia says "climategate" undermines scientists' credibility on manmade global warming.
· Hackers found East Anglia University scientists emails ordering the suppression of research showing earth was freezing and mankind was not the cause.
· Israeli military intel research chief: Hizballah has deployed thousands of rockets south of Litani able to reach southern Israel.
Flaming row between Palestinian PM and US general puts security cooperation at risk
07 Dec. A loud shouting match erupted Sunday, Dec. 6, between Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad and US Gen. Keith Dayton, who is in charge of training 2,000 Palestinian commandos as the Palestinian Authority first ever effective security force.
The quarrel was serious enough to hang a question mark over US-Palestinian-Israel cooperation in the campaign against Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
The US has invested $260 million in creating, training and equipping the new Palestinian National Security Force. Deployed in Hebron, Jenin and Nablus, it is a major success in imposing law and order in the streets of those towns and keeping them clear of terrorists. A small task force of American, British and Canadian instructors, commanded by Gen. Dayton, act as the high command for the force's officers and men. Egypt supplied firearms with US financing.
But it is derided in the Palestinian street as "Dayton's men." The unpopular Fayyad who is regarded as pro-American, sought to improve his image by putting down the American commander.
Hamas fires same heat missile as al Qaeda, Taliban use in Afghanistan
07 Dec. Unlike Hamas' homemade primitive Qassams, the two advanced C5K anti-tank missiles fired at Israeli forces on guard duty outside Kibbutz Alumim Sunday, Dec. 6, are of foreign manufacture and must have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip very recently. debkafile's military sources report: These weapons are armed with a 4-kilo heat warhead which rides the thermal waves emitted by tanks and armored vehicles and strikes them with destructive fragmentation impact.
In the last four years, al Qaeda fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Taliban, began shooting the C5K developed originally as a Russian airborne weapon as a ground-to-ground missile against American forces.
December 8 Briefs
· At least 118 killed, 261 injured in wave of attacks in Baghdad. Three car bombs hit Iraq's labor ministry, finance ministry, court complex. A suicide bomber struck a police patrol in Dora.
· A Shin Bet-IDF unit picked up in Nablus Salah Mahmad, wanted seven years for several terrorist bombing attacks in Israel.
· US and UK defense secretaries visit Afghanistan.
· Washington: Jerusalem must be part of final-status accord.
New unmanned US stealth jet based in Afghanistan gathers data in Iran
08 Dec. US Air Force spokesmen confirmed this week that the hitherto secret unmanned, high-altitude stealth "Beast of Kandahar" jet was present at the big US air base of Bagram in Afghanistan. Designated RQ-170 Sentinel, it is the first jet drone ever developed for military use. Its deployment was disclosed after secretary of defense Robert Gates asked for increased intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for combatant commanders in Afghanistan. Carefully noted was its ability to fly over the borders of Iran, China, India and Pakistan for collecting "useful data about missile tests, telemetry, signals and multi-spectral intelligence."
The Sentinel's appearance on the heels of Iran's big air defense exercise for guarding their nuclear sites was a reminder to Tehran that its war games, especially in intelligence and electronic warfare, are useless because its has no defense against American drone activity.
December 9 Briefs
· Palestinian man carrying 6 pipe bombs intercepted at the Kalandia checkpoint. He admitted he was on his way to a terrorist attack in Jerusalem.
· Iranian defense minister: Tehran would respond to an Israeli attack by striking its "chemical, microbiological and banned nuclear weapons" production sites.
· Iran's FM Mottaki accuses US of abducting nuclear scientist in Saudi Arabia.
· Israel's Dep. FM Danny Ayalon leads delegation to Vatican to clear up disputes on Catholic Church's Holy Land standing.
· Ayalon: Mount Zion outside the Old City walls will remain under Israeli control. It is the site of the Room of the Last Supper (administered by Franciscans) atop the Tomb of David synagogue and Armenian shrines.
Brazil to sell Iran raw uranium, expand nuclear ties
09 Dec. Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will travel to Tehran early next year, returning president Mahmoud Ahmadienjad's visit to Brazilia last month, when Israeli president Shimon Peres was also received in the Brazilian capital. debkafile's diplomatic sources report that, after the two visitors left, President Lula decide to further expand his ties with Tehran. He has since spurned every US and Israeli request to support the international campaign for curbing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions, openly championing its program as peaceful and its right to enrich uranium.
At the South American (Mercosur) trade bloc summit Tuesday, Dec. 8, Lula and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez decided to work together to help Iran improve its world standing and lift Ahmadinejad' low repute in international institutions.
Another world leader tilting toward Iran, Turkish prime minister Recip Tayyep Erdogan, also rejected US president Barack Obama's bid to slacken Ankara's ties with Tehran when they met at the White House Monday, Dec. 7.
Chicago man's arrest forestalled terror attacks on Jewish-Israeli sites in India
09 Dec. US and Indian security sources say the arrest of the Pakistan-born American David Coleman Headley in Chicago on suspicion of complicity in the Mumbai terrorist atrocity in Nov. 2008 prevented a wave of attacks this month on Israeli El Al airline offices, synagogues and Chabad hospitality centers across India.
Four months after the Mumbai siege, in which 170 people lost their lives including six Americans, he was back in India, this time selecting Jewish and Israel locations for attack, advance surveillance and laying in caches of explosives and firearms for the Lashkar e-Taibe operatives to collect. This group is al Qaeda's operational arm for its campaign of terror in India.
He first booked into a small hotel near El Al offices in New Delhi for the surveillance of comings and goings and the security set-up. He then rented a room in the Holiday Inn hotel opposite the Chabad center in the Indian capital, posing again as an Orthodox Jew and potential donor.
From Delhi, Headley travelled to Pushkar in Rajasthan and booked into a hotel room overlooking the synagogue and, three days later, he was in the popular resort of Goa watching young Israeli tourists.
When arrested in October, Headley had completed his list of Jewish and Israeli locations in India ready for attack in late November and early December this year.
December 10 Briefs
· Barack Obama, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway Thursday, said violent conflict would not be eradicated in our lifetimes. But even in fighting just wars, America must adhere to moral standards. He warned "nations like Iran and North Korea" that those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.
· Al-Qaeda in Iraq claims responsibility for Baghdad bombings that killed 127 people, wounded 450. Group threatens more attacks in "third wave".
· Five wanted Muslim men from Northern Virginia, USA, held in Pakistan. They were detained at home of Jaish-i-Muhammad jihadist group member implicated in Dec. 2001 attack on Indian parliament.
· More than 15,000 demonstrate outside PM's Jerusalem residence against settlement building freeze.
If attacked, Iran wants Syria to hit back at Israel. Damascus hedges
10 Dec. Tehran wants Syria to attack Israel alongside Iran the moment Israel strikes its nuclear sites.
debkafile's military sources report that this message Iran's defense secretary Ahmad Vahidi brought to Damascus where he is attending a session of the Iranian-Syrian high defense committee which went into its second day Thursday, Dec. 10. He said Tehran expects an Israeli attack within a month, taking its green light from President Barack Obama's forced admission after Christmas that his policy of dialogue and stiffer sanctions has failed.
"The countdown for war is coming close to its end," said Vahidi to the joint defense committee. "And we must get our strategic partnership in shape ahead of time." He openly threatened to respond to a possible Israel attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by striking Israel's "chemical, microbiological and banned nuclear weapons" production sites.
But the Syrians do not appear eager to play and issued a statement of support for Iran without a commitment to specific military action.