A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Oct. 2, 2008

US-Russian deal lets Iran’s nuclear bomb program off the hook


26 Sept. Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 was the day the policy pursued by Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres, of reliance on the international community to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb, sank without a trace. A deal between the US and Russia in New York sealed a very brief non-sanctions draft reaffirming previous council decisions for the five permanent Security Council members and Germany to table and calling for Iran’s compliance.

The reality is that Tehran openly flouts all previous sanctions resolutions, continuing to enrich uranium, reprocess plutonium, build nuclear-capable missiles and stonewall on nuclear watchdog questions.

Yet no comment has come from Israel, either from the Kadima-nominee for prime minister Tzipi Livni or defense minister, Labor’s Ehud Barak.

The collapse of Israel’s foreign policy on Iran came at an unfortunate juncture:

1. The pandemonium in the US-led financial world has removed the Iranian threat from international consciousness.

2. Moscow, Iran and Syria are cementing their partnership, giving Tehran’s nuclear aspirations a strong diplomatic umbrella.

3. Moscow is pursuing cold war tactics in two new spheres: the Middle East, from its center of gravity in Tehran, and Latin America, resting on Venezuela’s anti-American posture and friendly relations with Iran.


Iran on way to atom bomb capability – ElBaradei


26 Sept. Iran is on its way to mastering technology that would enable it to build atomic bombs, International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei said Friday. Asked if Iran was on the way to “virtual” nuclear-weapons power status, ElBaradei replied: “That is correct,” but added: Tehran could not “break out” to a bomb as long as IAEA monitors remained at nuclear sites.

debkafile notes that the inspectors are restricted to a few declared sites, whereas US satellites have caught covert facilities hidden from the oversight of the nuclear watchdog where suspected weapons activity is underway. Only last week, ElBaradei himself complained of Tehran’s stonewalling and non-cooperation with the inspections.


A 14-plane US airlift lands high-powered FBX radar in Israel with US personnel


27 Sept. Huge US Air Force C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Gobemaster III transports have ferried the high-powered FBX-T anti-missile radar to Israel’s Nevatim Air Base south of Beersheba. debkafile‘s military sources report that the transportable radar surveillance/forward-based X-band radar was accompanied by some 120 American European Command personnel. The area of its deployment at the Negev base has been fenced off and made off-limits to non-American personnel.

This is the first time an Israel Defense Forces facility housing an American weapons system has been closed to Israeli military.

The Raytheon system can detect a flying object the size of a baseball at a distance of 4,700 km, fix on its speed and trajectory and convey the data to the Israeli Arrow anti-missile battery. This equals detecting an Iranian Shehab-3 ballistic missile 5.5 minutes after its launch, which means that it is picked up halfway on its 11-minute flight from Iran to bomb targets in Israel, adding precious minutes to Israel’s response time for incoming missile attacks.

Israel has furthermore been given improved access to US satellites capable of identifying missiles at the instant of their launch. Israel will now be directly linked to the satellites – albeit through the US Joint Tactical Ground Station – JTAGS in Europe.

Commenting on the FBX radar deployment, a Pentagon source said: First, we want to put Iran on notice that we’re bolstering our capabilities throughout the region, and especially in Israel. But just as important, we’re telling the Israelis, ‘Calm down; behave. We’re doing all we can to stand by you and strengthen defenses.'”


US warship monitors Somali pirates to keep arms cargo from al Qaeda


28 Sept. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources disclose that the Faina was seized by pirates carrying 33 T-72 tanks, RPG rocket-propelled grenades, ZU-23 automatic anti-air guns, and a quantity of ammunition and spare parts.

A spokesman for the pirates, Sugule Ali, said his men would fight to the death to protect their booty, but would release the ship on payment of a $20 million ransom.

There is some suspicion that the pirates did not capture the ship at random but lay in wait for it in three fast boats 200 miles out to sea. It was apparently a planned ambush, which would indicate collusion between al Qaeda networks of East Africa, the Somali militias and some of the pirate bands infesting its waters. The inference would be that terrorism was at work here in the guise of piracy and explain the convergence of US, European and Russian warships in these dangerous waters.


Syria resumes covert nuclear projects in partnership with North Korea


28 Sept. debkafile‘s intelligence sources report that this time the nuclear installations are scattered in different parts of the country. North Korean nuclear experts are back too.

Western intelligence sources note that Syria has been hit in the past year with attacks associated with its clandestine nuclear activities.

The El Kibar reactor was knocked out on Sept. 6, 2007 while it was under construction. On Aug. 2, 2008, Gen. Muhammad Suleiman was shot dead by a sniper in Latakia. He was a key man in the Syrian nuclear program and acted as liaison officer for Damascus with Iran and North Korea.


Police on high terror alert detain Palestinian terror suspect in Jerusalem


29 Sept. With scores of terror warnings current for the Jewish New Year starting sundown Monday, Sept. 9, a beefed up Jerusalem border police squad detained a Palestinian from the West Bank of Jenin heading for a knifing attack on the route leading to the Western Wall in the Old City. In his pockets were a large knife and letters stating his intention to be a “martyr.”

Advance intelligence has been received of plans to kidnap Israel security and military personnel. The West Bank is sealed off for the three-day festival and police patrols stepped up in the main cities, markets and transport terminals. Volunteer sentries will stand duty at synagogues.


US approves 25 F-35 stealth fighter aircraft to Israel


The Pentagon has approved the $15.2 billion sale of 25 F-35 stealth Strike Fighters to Israel with an option for another 50, saying assisting Israel develop a strong and ready self-defense capability is vital to US national security interests.

debkafile‘s military sources report that President George W, Bush, in mid-financial crisis, fully discharged his promise of a defense package for Israeli before he left office. Israel is the first foreign nation to receive the Lockheed Martin F-35 Strike Fighter, the plane of the future, which will enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground defenses and replace the older Air Force F-16 fighters by virtue of five exceptional features:

1. An advanced radar for striking ground or air targets long distance while destroying any threat in its immediate environment.

2. An electro-optical targeting system (EOTS).

3. The pilot’s helmet-mounted displays (HMD).

4. It is the first fighter plane in the world with a communications system linked to satellites.

5. The capacity for carrying large quantities of ordnance from joint direct attack munitions to AIM-120 and AIM-132 air-to-air missiles.


Russian nuclear missile cruiser to dock at Syrian port on Yom Kippur eve


1 Oct. debkafile‘s military sources report that a four-ship Russian squadron led by the Peter the Great nuclear missile cruiser will visit Syrian ports after calling in at Tripoli, Libya. It will then proceed to the Caribbean for joint maneuvers with Venezuela.

Coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the Egyptian-Syrian Yom Kippur attack on Israel, the Russian warships’ arrival in Syria has serious connotations:

1. It means that prime minister Ehud Olmert will be wasting his time if he intends using his talks in Moscow next week with president Dmitry Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin to ask them to drop their plan for a permanent base at a Syrian port. That plan is clearly going full steam ahead.

2. The Yom Kippur War of 1993 is recorded in Russian and Arab military annals as the high point of Russian-Arab military and intelligence cooperation. The Soviet Union as it was then was responsible for the great deception which disguised Arab war preparations behind a screen of misdirection and gulled Israeli intelligence into complacence.

Moscow is signaling Jerusalem that it is reverting to its old military ties with Damascus.

3. Moscow attaches high importance to its new Damascus-Tehran-Caracas alignment opposite the US-Israel alliance.


Somali FM: International community may use force against hijacked ships


1 Oct. The announcement by the Somali foreign minister is intended to end the standoff between surrounding warships and the pirates holding the Ukrainian Faina, crew and its arms freight. The US warship, Howard of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, and European vessels have surrounded the distressed freighter since Sunday, Sept. 28.


The UN orders staff children to leave Islamabad


2 Oct. The U.N. ordered children of its international staff to leave the Pakistani capital and other areas it considered unsafe, raising its security level following the bombing of the Marriott Hotel, officials said Thursday.

The move, which came a day after Britain decided to repatriate diplomats' children, underlines the deteriorating situation in Pakistan amid spreading terrorist attacks byTaliban insurgents and their al Qaeda partners.

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