November 19, 2010 Briefs
• Palestinians report 6 injured in 3 Israeli air strikes in Gaza Strip after 4 mortar rounds hit Ashkelon district Friday. Earlier, a heavy Grad missile damaged buildings and a vehicle near Ofakim. Altogether 10 mortar shells fired from Gaza in last 48 hours. Four contained phosphorus.
• UN committee denounces Iran's human rights record e.g. public executions.
• Joint NATO-Israel marine exercise postponed by Turkish objections.
• US to deploy first 14 tanks and more Marines in South Afghanistan next month.
US: Building freeze must cover Jerusalem, no F-35 warplanes for free
19 Nov. Obama administration officials deny Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came away from his marathon meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Nov. 11 with a pledged package of major incentives for a 90-day settlement construction freeze, debkafile's Jerusalem and Washington sources report.
The scale of US benefits as presented by the prime minister to Israel's security and foreign affairs cabinet Nov. 13 and the full cabinet Nov. 14 is seen in Washington as misleading.
According to that briefing, Washington was prepared to leave Jerusalem out of Israel's second building moratorium on disputed territory and offered to let Israel have a second batch of 30 F-25 stealth warplanes free of charge, in addition to the first 20 Israel had already purchased.
Our US sources deny Clinton extended any such far-reaching benefits at their meeting and agreed to nothing beyond US political support and diplomatic guarantees.
November 20, 2010 Briefs
• Anti-terrorist teams investigating Scottish forest explosion near Loch Lomond don't rule out al Qaeda link.
• Al Qaeda plans attack on German parliament February or March – Der Spiegel. Two of the attackers already in Berlin.
• Hamas flee Gaza command centers after second round of Israeli air strikes Friday night. Palestinian mortar-missile-phosphorus bomb attacks continued Friday after Israel's first three strikes. Israel complains to UN against Palestinian attacks on civilians from Gaza.
Saudi King Abdullah hospitalized with suspected stroke
20 Nov. debkafile's Saudi experts report a serious deterioration in the medical condition of Saudi King Abdullah, 87, who is suspected of having suffered a stroke. A court bulletin issued in Riyadh Friday, Nov. 19 reported his admittance to hospital after it was found "that his slipped disc had some blood clots causing pressure on nerves close the disc." Medical specialists consulted by debkafile suspect his condition is a lot more serious.
US security guarantees for Israel worthless when Turkey controls missile shield
20 Nov. By bowing to Ankara's demand to omit Iran, Syria and their ballistic missiles as a threat from the NATO agreement to establish a missile shield base in Turkey, President Barak Obama has rendered worthless any US security guarantees offered Israel – especially in view of his quiet consent to placing the facility under a Turkish general.
So what exactly is the missile shield meant to guard against – if not Iran?
NATO's forward missile interceptor may be physically and technically located in Turkey but, under a Turkish commander, its usefulness as an operational shield for the West against the most concrete perils facing NATO members is nil.
American missile defense systems are closely inter-linked with and slotted into corresponding Israeli missile interceptors, air defenses, communications and intelligence. The Lisbon summit confirmed that the new missile shield will complement existing US plans – indeed the US system will also be put at NATO's disposal and eventually be "incorporated into a single coherent defense system." So how can vital US-Israeli missile defense collaboration continue after Turkish generals take control of the NATO defense shield?
November 21, 2010 Briefs
• Building of new Israel-Egyptian 270-km border fence begins Monday morning. It is of top-priority to stop illegal African migrants flooding the county through Sinai at rate of 100-150 per week. It is also a barrier against terrorist infiltration.
• Outgoing Mil Intel chief Yadlin warns current calm is deceptive. Iran poses threat which is not just nuclear. In next conflict Tel Aviv will be front line.
• Israel military tribunal rules against prosecution's jail demand for two Givati servicemen accused of making Palestinian boy open suspect bag during 2009 Gaza war. They were given three-month suspended sentences and demoted from staff sergeant to sergeant.
• Al Qaeda Yemen will send more parcel bombs "to bleed the enemy to death". Security measures cost US billions, package dispatch only $4,200.
November 22, 2010 Briefs
• Shas minister Yishai: Israel-US talks deadlocked. Israel cannot meet US demands for direct Israel-Palestinian negotiations to begin. Therefore no Washington letter.
• SKorea asks US to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons after Pyongyang showed off 2,000 uranium-processing centrifuges.
• NATO reports two Taliban leaders killed in Afghanistan, one captured.
• Part of German parliament closed to visitors on Al Qaeda threat of raid, hostages.
Iran and Hecker's North Korean effect
22 Nov. The 2,000 centrifuges for processing uranium adaptable to the fueling of nuclear weapons, which North Korea showed off to visiting US scientist Prof. Siegried Hecker of Stanford University Nov. 10, told US and Western intelligence that Pyongyang was shifting its weapons program from plutonium to enriched uranium. Washington's response was that it was still open to talks.
In the light of the Hecker report, US and Israel intelligence cannot avoid suspecting that Iran, with characteristic furtiveness, may have perform a similar transformation. Tehran maintains a permanent military mission in Pyongyang matched by a permanent North Korean mission in Tehran. Their primary task is to keep nuclear technology flowing uninterrupted between their two programs and making sure they benefit reciprocally from innovations.
In his report, Prof. Hecker writes: "I have previously stated my concern about potential cooperation and exchanges in uranium technologies between North Korea and Iran."
Our sources stress that Pyongyang, Tehran and Damascus share more than technology; they have the same nuclear image of self and coordinate their diplomatic strategies. As a well-knit nuclear alliance, the trio challenge United States and seek to defy its leverage for dictating which countries are entitled to be nuclear-armed and which are not. This bloc did not rise spontaneously; it was secretly crafted by China as a tool for diminishing America as a military power.
November 23, 2010 Briefs
• Warrant issued for arrest of son of Ahmadinejad's rival ex-president Hashemi Rafsanjani. Mehdi Rafsanjani left Iran after backing opposition protest against 2009 presidential election. debkafile reports: Mehdi has established anti-regime Manoto (I and You) TV station in London, soon to start satellite broadcasts to Iran. The Rafsanjani TV platform is managed by iconic Iranian singer Googoosh.
• Ten Islamists held in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany suspected of plotting a terror attack in Belgium. They are Belgian, Dutch, Moroccan, Chechnya nationals. More suspects in plot previously held in Spain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia.
• Gambia severs ties with Tehran, orders Iranian diplomats out in 48 hours. Arms shipment caught in Nigeria was destined for Gambian rebels.
• Lebanese PM visits Tehran Nov. 27 underlining Beirut's surrender to Iran and Hizballah.
• Knesset passes Israel's first referendum law. It makes handover of sovereign territory contingent on 61-majority in parliament plus referendum. The measure would cover Jerusalem and Golan and other areas. It is denounced by Arabs.
• Roman soldiers' 1,800 years old bathhouse uncovered in Jerusalem Old City Jewish Quarter. It was built in Aelia Capitolina, the pagan city they built after suppressing Jewish Bar Kokhba uprising in 135 CE.
Washington snubs Tokyo's demand for action against North Korea
23 Nov. Washington rebuffed Japanese pressure for joint military action in retaliation for the North Korean Nov. 23 artillery attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's demand for an urgent UN Security Council session was also spurned.
A Pentagon spokesman also said it was too early to discuss redeploying US tactical nuclear arms to South Korea, a possibility raised by South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Tae-young Monday when North Korea's parade of its uranium enrichment and light water plants came to light.
The Japanese prime minister maintained to Obama that North Korea must not be allowed to get away with two armed attacks on the South in the space of eight months without a military response. On March 26, North Korean torpedoes sunk the South Korean Cheonan cruiser. At least 46 seamen were lost. Without suffering punitive action, Pyongyang will stay on the offensive.
Closely in tune with Pyongyang, Tehran is encouraged by the Obama administration's inaction against North Korea to greater pugnacity against Israel who is seen to be as dependent as Seul on Washington's say-so for defending itself.
November 24, 2010 Briefs
• Saudi king Abdullah undergoes successful surgery in New York for blood clot complication of slipped disc. Ailing Crown Prince Sultan is temporary ruler until his return.
• North Korea: South's actions are driving peninsula to brink of war.
• Obama to send USS George Washington air carrier from Japan to South Korea. He promises joint exercise starting Sunday although one is already in progress.
• Two civilian bodies found on targeted island Yeonpyeong, raising death toll to four.
• Strain at another world flashpoint as Damascus accuses US of sabotaging Lebanon reconciliation. Israel's inner cabinet mulls security ramifications of Lebanese crisis ahead of Hariri tribunal report.
• Three workers killed, 7 injured, in work accident at Haifa Refineries from exposure to poison gas. Incident investigated.
Stuxnet knocks Natanz out for a week, hits Iran's air defense exercise
24 Nov. debkafile's intelligence and Iranian sources confirm that the invasive malworm Stuxnet is still making trouble for Iran. It shut down uranium enrichment at Natanz for a week from Nov. 16 to 22 over breakdowns caused by mysterious power fluctuations in the operation of the centrifuge machines.
When work was resumed Monday, about 5,000 of the 8,000 machines were found to be out of commission and the remaining 2,500-3,000 partially on the blink.
On Nov. 17, in the middle of a massive air defense exercise, Iranian military sources reported six foreign aircraft had intruded the airspace over the practice sites and were put to flight by Iranian fighters. The next day, a different set of military sources denied any intrusions. The muddle arose according to debkafile's military sources from malfunctioning radar. Parts of the exercise were abandoned for fear Stuxnet had infected its command and control systems.
November 25, 2010 Briefs
• South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young resigns two days after four killed in North Korean artillery attack. Two days before the incident, Kim asked US to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons in the South.
• Next Wikileaks documents reveal Erdogan government allowed Turkish arms, fighters and funds to reach al Qaeda in Iraq. This is reported by Al Hayat, London.
• Chinese foreign minister postpones visit to South Korea over "scheduling issues".
• South Korea decides to boost military force including ground troops on five Yellow Sea islands on Nkorea's border. Presidential spokesman said Seoul concerned it had become too passive.
• Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh takes over as Dep. Chief of Staff from Benny Gantz who retires
Brits declare war on Stuxnet. Americans say: Use it on North Korea
25 Nov. The Stuxnet virus which has crippled Iran's nuclear program is suddenly the object of a British MI6 Secret Service campaign to convince the British and American public that the virus is the enemy of the West and sold on the black market to terrorists, debkafile's intelligence sources report.
None of the British reporters and experts found it necessary to mention that wherever Stuxnet was discovered outside Iran, such as India, China and Indonesia, it was dormant. For the first time since Stuxnet partially disabled Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr, Iran has found its first Western sympathizer, one who is willing to help defeat the malignant virus. London looks like distancing itself in general from US policies on Iran.
In the United States, Stuxnet's renewed assault on Iran's nuclear program was welcomed. A number of American IT experts said that if the malworm is so successful against Iran, why not use it against to disable North Korea's nuclear program, especially the 2,000 centrifuges revealed on Nov. 20 to be operating at a new enrichment facility?