A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Oct. 31, 2013

Oct. 25, 2013 Briefs

  • Iran may be just a month away from a bomb – report
    Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month, according to a new estimate by one of the USA's top nuclear experts, David Albright. “Shortening breakout times has implications for any negotiations with Iran and currently they are too short and shortening further,” he warned. Negotiators must understand that Iran would have to eliminate more than half of its 19 centrifuges to extend the time it takes to build a bomb to six months.

The Big Fraud: Tehran’s ScanEagle gift to Russia covered handover of secret US R170 drone technology

25 Oct. Iranian video cameras homed in on the presentation of a replica of the US-made ScanEagle drone by Iran’s air force chief Farzad Esmayeeli to Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, the visiting Russian air force chief on Tuesday, Oct. 22. debkafile: This incident, an affront to the US, will also go down as a major military intelligence fraud, because it provided cover for the discreet handover to the Russian general of a replica complete with technology of America’s most secret drone, the sophisticated RQ-170 Sentinel, a prize long coveted by Moscow. The RQ-Sentinel was downed over Iran on Dec. 13, 2011. Tehran has clamed its engineers succeeded n replicating and using its top-line technology in their own drones.

Oct. 26, 2013 Briefs

  • Iran hangs 16 Baluchi activists in Zahedan prison
    After 17 Iranian border guards were killed in an ambush by Baluchi activists who crossed the border from Pakistan. Iran in an eye-for-eye reaction early Saturday hanged 16 activists of the Sunni Baluchi Jundallah Front.
  • Israel puts clocks back one hour at 2 am Sunday, Oct. 27
    The switch to winter time has been adjusted to coincide with the European change.

Al Qaeda’s thrust toward Golan alarms Israelis, Saudis alike

26 Oct. The Golan villages defense units along the Israeli-Syrian border will be put through their paces in an IDF exercise next week to build up their readiness and freshen their tactics against terrorist incursions. debkafile: It is estimated that the figure of 6,000 jihadists of Al Qaeda and affiliates present in Syria will have doubled by next spring. Israeli alarm is shared by Saudi Arabia, which sees al Qaeda massing in Syria and on its borders with Jordan, Iraq and Yemen and threatening to overrun Lebanon and Jordan.
In a lecture at Bar Ilan University, Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz postulated several dire scenarios of terrorist incidents blowing up into full-scale wars.
The Syrian army has meanwhile halted its advance on regions abutting the Israeli and Syrian borders as two Islamist militias stood in their path.

Oct. 27, 2013 Briefs

  • Netanyahu: Iran can now jump from 3.5pc to weapons grade uranium
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the debate over whether Iran should be allowed to produce 20-percent enriched uranium is no longer relevant because the Iranians are now able to jump directly from 3.5 pc to 90 pc – i.e. weapons grade – enrichment.
  • Australian minister slams anti-Semitic attack in Sydney
    Police have charged three men with an unprovoked physical attack on four men and a woman walking home from the synagogue in Bondi, Sydney, early Saturday. Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: ''Violence of this kind and, in particular, racist violence, anti-Semitic violence, is completely unacceptable in our society.” Eight youths began yelling anti-Semitic insults before attacking the victims, who were hospitalized with concussion, a fractured cheekbone, a possible broken nose, lacerations and bruises.
  • Ten car bomb blasts across Baghdad kill 37 people
    Most of the attacks Sunday morning targeted predominantly Shiite Muslim districts. Car bomb targeting Iraqi soldiers in the northern town of Mosul kills another 12 people.
  • Saudi police arrest 12 women for violating driving ban
    Saudi women’s online driving protest against discrimination called for Saturday was initially reported a success with no arrests. However, Sunday morning, police said they had arrested 12 women for driving cars – 5 in Riyadh, five in the Eastern Province, and two in Jeddah.

Oct. 28, 2013 Briefs

  • A pro-Syrian regime group says it hacked Obama’s Twitter account
    Links sent Monday to US President Barack Obama’s Twitter account were redirected to a YouTube video posted by a user named “syrian truth.” An account associated with the Syrian Electronic Army later tweeted: “Obama doesn’t have any ethical issues with spying on the world, so we took it upon ourselves to return the favor.”
  • Three Egyptian soldiers killed in drive-by shooting in Delta town
    Four gunmen on motorcycles opened fire at a checkpoint early Monday on the outskirts of the Nile Delta town of Mansoura, killing three Egyptian soldiers. Heavy security has been deployed in the area.
  • Israeli air strike knocks out two missile silos in N. Gaza
    The Israeli Air Force struck underground missile launch pads in northern Gaza Monday shortly after Palestinians fired two missiles at Hof Ashkelon. One was intercepted by Iron Dome. Neither caused casualties. Sunday, two mortar shells from Gaza exploded in fields of the Eshkol district. Farmers in the region were told to leave the fields until further notice.
  • Israel returns to UN Human Rights Council
    Israel will raise the human rights abuse of southern Israel’s inhabitants living under threat of Palestinian missile attack from the Gaza Strip at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. Sunday, Israel bowed to heavy European pressure to end its eighteen-month long boycott of the council in protest against being systematically singled out for condemnation.

Khamenei’s 3-week seclusion for nuclear deal with US

28 Oct. Spy services have been mystified by the unusual three-week absence from public view of Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Various theories claimed he was ill or in seclusion to escape the furor in Tehran over the future of Iran’s nuclear program and relations with the United States. debkafile: Khamenei stayed home to work on the draft US-Iranian-Russian deal for resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. The accord is now in the bag. This secret will be revealed in stages – first by President Barack Obama, in the third week of December.

Palestinians mark prisoners’ release with tougher negotiating terms

28 Oct. It is hard to see why Israel is going through with the release of 26 Palestinian terrorists convicted and jailed for murder when the Palestinians have slapped down on the negotiating table 16 harsh terms – first revealed here by debkafile – that will even defy even US Secretary of State John Kerry’s bridging skills. Every one of those demands, such as Israel’s withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines, withdrawal from E. Jerusalem, including the holy shrines and acceptance of 1948 refugees, is calculated to finally stall any diplomatic solution of the Middle East dispute. Acceptance of the 1949 lines add extra chunks of sovereign Israel to the Palestinian state over above the West Bank and Jerusalem areas claimed on the basis of the 1967 borders.
Abbas is insisting that all parts of the future Palestinian state will be clear of any Israeli civilian or military presence. Only when the refugee issue is finally resolved will the Palestinians agree to declare their dispute with Israel at an end.

Oct. 29, 2013 Briefs

  • Al Qaeda frees four French hostages in Niger
    The four French hostages were seized by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on 16 Sept. 2010 in raids targeting two French firms operating a uranium mine in Niger.
  • Iron Dome missile defense battery posted at Netivot
    An Iron Dome anti-missile system was posted at Netivot, a town 25 km from the Gaza Strip, following the estimation of an escalation in Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip after Monday’s volley against Ashkelon.
  • Australian PM in Afghanistan: Troops to be home before Xmas
    In a surprise visit Monday to troops in the remote Afghan province of Uruzgan, Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbot declared his country’s longest war at an end and hundreds of soldiers would be home for Christmas."
  • Kerry: We will not succumb to fear tactics
    Late Monday, US President Barack Obama spoke to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu by phone about Iran, Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and other key issues. Sunday, Netanyahu warned that Iran had achieved technological improvements which permit the level of enriched uranium to be raised from 3.5 pc to 90 pc (weapons grade) in weeks. Kerry said in a speech Monday night that “the idea that the United States of America, as a responsible nation to all of humankind, would not explore that possibility (of diplomacy) would be the height of irresponsibility." He added: “We will not succumb to fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise.”

Cairo bids for brand-new Russian SS-25 ballistic missiles

29 Oct. Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Kondrashov, Russian Deputy chief of staff and deputy GRU military intelligence director, spent his first day in Cairo, Tuesday, Oct. 29, with Egyptian military chiefs going through the list of Russian hardware they want to buy in their first major arms transaction in decades. They included advanced weapons withheld by the United States, and medium-range Intercontinental ballistic missiles able to reach Iran and most of the Middle East. debkafile: Cairo appears to be after the new 2000-mile range Russian SS-25 ground-to-ground missile.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he planned to visit to Egypt in the coming weeks.

Oct. 30, 2013 Briefs

  • Danish Crown Prince Frederik arrives in Israel
    Prince Frederik is the first Danish royal to visit Israel. He attends a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Nazi German Aktion against Denmark's Jews. The Danish people and their king are remembered for their valiant effort to evacuate the Jews to safety in neutral Sweden.
  • Israel frees 26 Palestinian terrorists
    Israel released Tuesday night the second of four batches of 26 Palestinian prisoners, as part of a deal to free 104 in for the resumption of peace talks.
    Five prisoners were released in Gaza, while the other 21 were sent to the West Bank. Those freed were all convicted of murders and had spent between 19 and 28 years in prison. Protests by the bereaved families and their petition to the high court to prevent the release were unavailing.

Oct. 31, 2013 Briefs

  • IDF wins battle for supplemental budget
    The cabinet Thursday approved an extra NIS2.7 bn added to the defense budget, almost the amount slashed in the across-the-board cutback of the state budget last May. The high command said funding was needed to speed up preparations for a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program.
  • International team says Syrian chemical equipment destroyed
    Syria's declared equipment for producing chemical weapons has been destroyed before the Nov. 1 deadline, said the OPCW team Thursday. debkafile: Syria’s chemical weapons stocks scattered in more than 50 sites, of which only 19 were declared are untouched.
  • Egypt’s Gen. El-Sisi meets Russian Dep CoS Kondrashov in Cairo
    In the highest-level official meeting in decades, Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi Wednesday received Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Kondrashov, Russia’s Dep. Chief of Staff and director of military intelligence in Cairo.
  • First ever Islamist suicide attack in Beijing
    Chinese police arrest five people in connection with a suicide car crash Monday at the Forbidden City gate opposite Tiananmen Square, which killed two tourists and injured 38 people. The perpetrators, a man, his wife and his mother, were Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang province.

Braced for imminent US-Iranian nuclear accord, IDF stays ready

31 Oct. Israel’s high command, working on the assumption that an American-Iranian nuclear accord is near its final stage, plans to continue preparations for a unilateral military strike on Iran’s nuclear program into 2014 – hence the IDF’s request for a supplemental NIS3.5bn (app. $1bn) defense budget this week.
debkafile: The main body of the accord is complete. All the same, President Barack Obama plans to announce before Christmas that only partial agreement has been achieved negotiations will continue – to avoid coming clean on the full scope of the deal with Tehran.

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