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U.S Spying on the Whole World, including their ‘Friends’

Spy craft, especially Electronic Intelligence or ELINT, is one of the tools of the trade used to collect information on enemy activities. It is also used to monitor allies’ activities. Nothing new there. Thus the latest release by Snowden from his base of operations in exile in Moscow lit up the left media. They spotlighted the latest episode of both Britain’s GCHQ and the NSA. GCHQ and NSA were partners in a nearly two decade operations endeavoring to obtain real time video feed from Israel drones and aircraft in operations over Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and possibly Iran.

1-2010 GCHQ hacked picture of IAI Heron TP with Missile

January 28, 2010 GCHQ hacked picture of Israeli Heron TP (Eitan) UAV with Missile.

If you read the underlying story in The Intercept about hacking video feed from Israeli drones with alleged off the shelf software. See: “Anarchist Snapshots: Hacked Images from Israel’s Drone Fleet”. It is more than apparent that the left media used the Snowden revelations about the “Anarchist” operation of GCHQ and NSA to show how vulnerable the Israeli drone capabilities may be to intercept of real time imagery uplinked from drones and fighter aircraft to satellites. Israel is the world’s leading developer and exporter of drones.  The Israelis are not the only ones vulnerable.  US drone activity in Iraq was intercepted by Saddam Hussein’s ELINT group during the Second Gulf War. Moreover, Iran as we saw in news reports and photos flying over the USS Harry Truman has its own drone capabilities and ELINT capabilities as does its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.

“Anarchist” operations were based in a long term NSA complex at a former Royal Air Force base in the Trodoos Mountains of Cyprus.  The Intercept article reported that the GCHQ has been monitoring Israeli drone video feed since 1998. The atmospheric conditions from that ELINT base are such that it covers virtually most of North Africa and the Middle East.  The NSA listening post may have been involved during the USS Liberty incident in the June Six Days of War of 1967 coupled with airborne ELINT aircraft. The Intercept article describes instances of real time video feed in drone strikes by Israel in Gaza operations against Hamas beginning in 2009.  In one instance, the pictures are from a helmet heads-up display of an Israeli piloted F-16. One of the images captured by “Anarchist” purports to show an Israeli Heron TP  drone armed with missiles under its long wings conflated to be on a possible mission to Iran.

Israel official complaints about Snowden’s revelations from former Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz have focused on the long history of the Anarchist UK-US ELINT ops and recent revelations about U.S. spying on Israeli PM Netanyahu. The Jerusalem Post reported Steinitz saying:

We are not surprised; we know that the. That is disappointing, because for decades we have not spied, collected intelligence or attempted to crack the encryption of the United States.

IAI Heron TP Drone

Israeli Air Force Heron TP (Eitan) UAV.

Israel was alleged to have monitored U.S. negotiations of the nuclear pact with Iran.  It has been common knowledge that Israeli development and tactical use of drones may be the 21st Century offensive weapon of choice. In Israel’s case that is coupled with deep submergence air breathing attack submarines like the five Israeli Navy Dolphin submarines prowling the Arabian Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. They are equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads, as well as covert intelligence ops capabilities for a second strike in the case of a nuclear attack. Moreover, there is the draconian capability of the Israeli Jericho III ICBM to launch a low yield nuclear warhead capable of creating an Electronic Magnetic Pulse against existential threats. That is Israel’s version of a MAD deterrent capability under the triple anti-rocket and missile shield composed of Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the jointly developed Arrow III, ABM system.

We have written about the Israeli drone prowess in NER articles and Iconoclast blogs over the past seven years.  In a 2009 Israeli strike against a convoy of Iranian weapons in the Sudan we noted in an NER article:

The London Times revealed in a later report that Israel may have used armed UAVs, the Hermes 450 manufactured by Elbit that is equipped with two Hellfire missiles.  A Hermes UAV squadron is based at Pachamim air base south of Tel Aviv.  Mossad may have developed the target intelligence. Further, the Israel Air Force may have used the larger Heron TP Eitan UAV with a wingspan of 110 feet to possibly refuel the Hermes UAVs. The Hermes 450 UAV can remain aloft for 24 hours, while the Eitan can stay up for 36 hours.

[…]

What should not be lost on Iran and the Sudan is that the alleged IAF raid on the convoy in January was within the same operational radius of approximately 700 nautical miles-equidistant from Jerusalem to both Port Sudan and Tehran.

When there was speculation in early 2012 about a possible strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities we interviewed Yediot Ahronoth intelligence columnist Dr. Ronen Bergman and had this exchange:

Gordon:  The recent crash of a heavy lift Hermes Drone, disclosed that Israel has the capability of reaching Tehran with UAV’s. Could Israel launch waves of drone attacks on Iranian Nuclear projects and missile sites with any degree of success?

Bergman:  The question refers to my remarks on using drones. I did not say and I didn’t mean that Israel is capable of launching a strategic strike using drones alone. Far from it; however, Israel is using drones for various surveillance and operational activities. These can be very useful in a possible strike. Deploying drones, especially drones that can stay in the air for 48 hours and carry a payload of up to one ton, would be a powerful weapon when you have many of these involved in a massive, coordinated strike over Iran.

Then there was the Israeli attack in 2012 on the Sudan Yarmouk weapons factory that prompted this comment about the use of Israeli drones equipped with the equivalent of the Boeing CHAMP missile capable of producing non-nuclear EMP effects in an Iconoclast blog post:

An AP story in a 2012 Washington Times report successful bomb damage assessment by a disputed IAF raid on the Yarmouk munitions factory near Khartoum in the Sudan drawn from satellite imagery studies.  As noted in the AP/Israel Hayom news story, “Satellite Images Shed Light on Sudan Weapons attack”, Israeli commentators confirmed our NER/Iconoclast assessment that Israel has the conventional capability to attack Iranian nuclear and missile development facilities.  As we commented in that post, Israel may also have unconventional means equal to recent US tests of new high energy electronics killer cruise missiles, as well.

Some Israeli commentators suggested that if Israel did indeed carry out an airstrike that caused the Sudan blast, it might have been a trial run of sorts for an operation in Iran. Both countries are roughly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away from Israel, and an air operation would require careful planning and in-flight refueling.

Israel could have a new unconventional capability given Boeing’s development of the CHAMP cruise missile that could produce high energy non-nuclear EMP effects to take out electronics.  Note this recent Digital Journal report, “New cruise missile will fry electronic targets, change warfare”.

The three IDF operations against Hamas in 2009, 2012 and the 2014 fifty day summer war clearly demonstrated the prowess and accuracy of Israeli drones and aircraft Israeli military maintain disciplined silence about attack victories. For example Operation Orchard in 2007 that took out the Syrian plutonium reactor built with North Korean assistance and some believe paid for by Iran. Launching ground hugging cruise missiles with CHAMP capabilities from Hermes heavy lift drones in a swarming attack against Iranian nuclear facilities just could be Israel’s future prowess. It beats sending in young men and women in aging F-15s and F-16s in what could be suicidal missions.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

The Growing Islamic State threat to Israel: A Clear and Present Danger

Attention has been  brought to bear by recent activities on Israel’s northern and southern frontier by ISIS in Syria and the Salafist affiliate in the Sinai, Ansar Beit al-Makdas (ABAM).  That is independent of the alleged ABAM involvement in the downing of the Russian Metrojet Airbus 321 on October 31, 2015 with a bomb secreted aboard the aircraft that killed 224 passengers and crew in the Sinai.

While ISIS allegedly fears only the Israeli Defense Force, at issue is Israel prepared to deal with these threats on both its Northern and Southern Frontiers.

Moreover, what the U.S. can do given its virtual abandonment of an alliance with Egypt, Israel and neighboring Jordan that collectively face the emboldened  self-declared Islamic State (IS). An Islamic state that has demonstrated its long arm reach planning and fomenting barbarous  terrorism in the Middle East, Europe and even here in the U.S. In the final days of 2015.

Note this Fox/Nation/Townhall  report by a former German Parliament member, now intrepid journalist,  Jürgen Todenhöfer, who with his son spent 10 days in the occupied  Syrian and Iraqi  precincts of the self-declared Caliphate, the Islamic State (ISIS), “Israel Defense Force only Army ISIS Fears”:

German reporter Jurgen Todenhofer went behind enemy lines to spend ten days with the Islamic State. He went with his son, Frederic, but not after spending nearly half a year ensuring that his safety would be guaranteed before venturing into this perilous region of the world. He plans on never going back (good idea), but noted that the only army these Islamic fanatics truly fear is the Israel Defense Forces.

They are confident that they can defeat soldiers from the West, namely British and American troops, but noted that the Israelis might be too tough for them. An aspect of their strategy is to lure Western troops into their territory in order to capture them. Oh, and they plan on killing every Shiite Muslim they can find, and view Muslims living in Western countries who vote as “top-priority enemies…as they give people rather than God the right to make laws.”

The claim from German reporter Jürgen Todenhöfer, a former member of the German Parliament, came after he spent 10 extraordinary days behind enemy lines in Iraq and Syria, accompanied by his son Frederic. He returned saying the group behind the Paris attacks was “preparing the largest religious cleansing in history” and with a “pessimistic” view on what can be done to combat it.

But the author of My 10 Days in the Islamic State told Jewish News: “The only country ISIS fears is Israel. They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot

From left: Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Galilee Division Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Baram, and GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi on the northern border, Wednesday  Source: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Today’s Israel Hayom edition had a follow up story about IDF preparing for possible ISUS attacks on the Golan Frontier, “IDF braces for Islamic State attack on northern border:”

Army on high alert for possible terrorist attacks by Shuhada al-Yarmouk Brigades, affiliated with Islamic State, or other jihadist groups such as Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaida.

[…]

Based on the modus operandi of the Nusra Front and Islamic State, the Israel Defense Forces examined several possible ways these groups could act against Israel. One scenario for an attack, according to the assessments, is smuggling explosives-laden vehicles into Israel. Additionally, officials were not negating the possibility of a terrorist ground force infiltrating Israel, firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli targets, planting explosive devices and launching rockets.

The Shuhada al-Yarmouk Brigades controls the border area shared by Jordan, Israel and Syria, extending over around 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). According to estimates, the organization comprises some 600 fighters who impose their will on some 40,000 locals. The organization itself is surrounded by numerous other rebel groups with which it is fighting, including the Nusra Front, and is “besieged” in a type of enclave in the southern Syrian Golan Heights.

ABAM  ISIS affiliates beheading “Israeli spies” in Sinai

ABAM  ISIS affiliates beheading “Israeli spies” in Sinai.

However, Israel’s  Northern Frontier is not the only threat from ISIS.  Dr. Ronen Bergman, intelligence columnist for Israeli daily Yediot Ahranoth  had an extensive investigative article on the ISIS  affiliate, threat on the Southern Sinai frontier with Egypt, Ansar Beit al-Makdas (ABAM), “The Battle Over Sinai: ISIS’s Next Strong Force:

As the world’s eyes are focused on the Islamic State in Syria and its activity in Europe, the organization’s branch in Sinai – Ansar Bait al-Maqdis – is gaining strength, and the Russian plane bombing may be just the beginning of its integration into ISIS’s international war. Bergman outlines the profile of one of the most threatening and intriguing challenges faced by the Israeli and international security community, only a few kilometers south of Eilat.

[…]

The Russian plane crash in Sinai on October 31st, which left 224 people dead, is still preoccupying intelligence organizations around the world. Updated intelligence received by Western intelligence agencies reveals that the few days before the attack saw a significant increase in the volume of written and spoken communication between senior members of the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (ABAM – “Supporters of the Holy House”) terror organization, which has been calling itself Sinai Province in the past year after swearing allegiance to the Islamic State, who are active in the Sheikh Zuweid area in the northern part of the peninsula.

In addition, there has been a sharp increase in volume of communication between these activists and elements affiliated with ISIS’s Security and Intelligence Council in Iraq and Syria. This body is responsible for ISIS’s most important secret activities, including special operations and aiding organizations outside Syria and Iraq, where the organization’s power base is, including al-Maqdis.

Key Players in ABAM  Hamas origins and ISIS support:

The names of several key activists in this organization is repeatedly raised in the investigations into the matter: The widely mentioned name is Abdullah Mohammed Sayyid Kishta, a main force in improving ABAM’s abilities in the past two years, who served in the past as an operations officer in Hamas’ military wing. Kishta then left for Sinai, through one of the tunnels under the Philadelphi Route (which separates between Egypt and the Gaza Strip), and became head of instructions at ABAM in regards to the operation of antitank missiles and advanced explosive devices.

He is considered one of the senior antitank warfare experts in the region. Since he began his work in the organization, there appears to be an extremely significant increase in al-Maqdis’ use of antitank missiles and in their improvement. Up to two years ago, they mainly used RPGs, moving on to more advanced missiles like the Kornet.

Kishta is helping the organization improve its terror abilities in developing and assembling advanced bombs, including armor-piercing antitank explosives and explosive devices against roads and armored bunkers of the Egyptian army.

Intelligence groups in the West received information in March and April this year about ties between senior ISIS members in Iraq and members of al-Maqdis’ bomb units, including Kishta. A decoding of these messages revealed that ISIS’s R&D experts in Iraq are convinced that they have managed to develop a certain formula for putting together explosives with relatively low effectiveness, but which cannot be detected through regular means.

Israeli Intelligence on the origins of ABAM :

Israeli intelligence first heard the name Ansar Bair al-Maqdis in Gaza.

“In the early 2000s,” Haim Tomer recalls, “we heard there were radical Salafi cells in Gaza which go by that name. At the time, it was a local organization which attracted former activists from all kinds of other organizations who were discharged from them or found Hamas’ policy to be too moderate after different agreements signed with Israel.

ABAM was first comprised of a mixture of fragments of organizations and people and did not appear to be a big success. Israel’s security control and Hamas’ dominance made it impossible for the organization to really thrive and it didn’t leave a significant mark. But in 2002, its name emerged again in organizations of Bedouin in northern Sinai, and then in all of Sinai.

“We were confused for a moment,” says a senior source in the AMAN (Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate) research division. “We didn’t know if these were the same people we knew from Gaza or that they were just using the same name.”

But an examination conducted in Israel at the time revealed that global jihadist elements – mainly Egyptian, Libyan and Saudi – arrived in Sinai in order to take advantage of al-Qaeda’s international success at the time, after the September 11 attacks and the wave of attacks which washed through the world afterwards, and establish a terror organization there. These activists used a local infrastructure of Bedouins and Salafi Sunni activists who had escaped from Gaza.

The Sinai has seen significant attacks  by ISIS affiliate  – Ansar Bait al-Maqdis on Egyptian security forces, despite Egyptian forces  engaged in destruction and flooding smuggling tunnels along the frontier with Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel has built a 200 mile security fence and positioned IDF combat battalions.  Along its southern frontier.  Notwithstanding, the Eilat port and resort complex is still vulnerable to possible ISIS attack.  The Multilateral Force and Observers, set up to monitor the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, have been hit with IED attacks, prompting the US Army to send additional troops. This begs the question of why the MFO is not engaged in coordinating ISIS counterterrorism threats in the Sinai with both Israel and Egypt.  Moreover, ISIS presents a possible threat along the Israeli Jordanian border above the neighboring port of Aqaba where sympathetic groups have arisen and are allegedly under surveillance of Jordanian security forces.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

What Israeli Intelligence Knew About Iran Nuclear Negotiations

Dr. Ronen Bergman is the Intelligence affairs columnist for Israeli daily Yediot Ahronoth. He’s the author of The Secret War with Iran: The 30-Year Clandestine Struggle Against the World’s Most Dangerous Terrorist Power, 2007In February 2012, we published an interview with him on a possible Israel attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, “Is the Clock Ticking on a Nuclear Iran?” At the time, some Israeli action appeared imminent, which did not materialize that year, perhaps because of the intervening U.S. secret discussions with Iran.

Bergman, published a dossier in The Tablet, July 29th, obtained from Israeli intelligence on Iran and from Western intelligence sources on U.S. capitulation on concessions repeatedly over the past several years, “What Information Collected by Israeli Intelligence Reveals About the Iran Talks.”

There was also evidence that the U.S. was not immediately forthcoming with ally Israel as to the timing, scope and content of these secret discussions with Iran.  This is reflected in the run up to the climactic JCPOA announced on July 14th and endorsed by the UN Security Council on July 22nd. The JCPOA is presently undergoing review by  both U.S. Senate and House Committees under The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA) with a votes by both the Senate and House targeted by mid-September.  Recent Congressional revelations about secret side deals between the UN nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and last minute lifting of conventional arms and ballistic missile technology have raised questions about the circumstances behind U.S. and world powers capitulations to demands of Iranian negotiators. This has given rise to both Congressional and public skepticism. Public  opinion polls suggest that a majority of Americans want  Congress to reject the Iran nuclear pact.

The following are excerpts from Dr. Bergman’s Tablet article:

bergman

Dr. Ronen Bergman. Source Dror Malka.

What Information Collected by Israeli Intelligence Reveals About the Iran Talks

By Ronen Bergman

The West’s recognition of Iran’s right to perform the full nuclear fuel cycle—or enrichment of uranium—was a complete about-face from America’s declared position prior to and during the talks. Senior U.S. and European officials who visited Israel immediately after the negotiations with Iran began in mid 2013 declared, according to the protocols of these meetings, that because of Iran’s repeated violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, “Our aim is that in the final agreement [with Iran] there will be no enrichment at all” on Iranian territory. Later on, in a speech at the Saban Forum in December 2013, President Barack Obama reiterated that in view of Iran’s behavior, the United States did not acknowledge that Iran had any right to enrich fissile material on its soil.

In February 2014, the first crumbling of this commitment was evident, when the head of the U.S. delegation to the talks with Iran, Wendy Sherman, told Israeli officials that while the United States would like Iran to stop enriching uranium altogether, this was “not a realistic” expectation. Iranian foreign ministry officials, during meetings the Tehran following the JPOA, reckoned that from the moment the principle of an Iranian right to enrich uranium was established, it would serve as the basis for the final agreement. And indeed, the final agreement, signed earlier this month, confirmed that assessment.

The sources who granted me access to the information collected by Israel about the Iran talks stressed that it was not obtained through espionage against the United States. It comes, they said, through Israeli spying on Iran, or routine contacts between Israeli officials and representatives of the P5+1 in the talks. The sources showed me only what they wanted me to see, and in these cases there’s always a danger of fraud and fabrication. This said, these sources have proved reliable in the past, and based on my experience with this type of material it appears to be quite credible. No less important, what emerges from the classified material obtained by Israel in the course of the negotiations is largely corroborated by details that have become public since.

In early 2013, the material indicates, Israel learned from its intelligence sources in Iran that the United States held a secret dialogue with senior Iranian representatives in Muscat, Oman. Only toward the end of these talks, in which the Americans persuaded Iran to enter into diplomatic negotiations regarding its nuclear program, did Israel receive an official report about them from the U.S. government. Shortly afterward, the CIA and NSA drastically curtailed its cooperation with Israel on operations aimed at disrupting the Iranian nuclear project, operations that had racked up significant successes over the past decade.

On Nov. 8, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw him off at Ben Gurion Airport and told him that Israel had received intelligence that indicated the United States was ready to sign “a very bad deal” and that the West’s representatives were gradually retreating from the same lines in the sand that they had drawn themselves.

The West’s recognition of Iran’s right to perform the full nuclear fuel cycle—or enrichment of uranium—was a complete about-face from America’s declared position prior to and during the talks. Senior U.S. and European officials who visited Israel immediately after the negotiations with Iran began in mid 2013 declared, according to the protocols of these meetings, that because of Iran’s repeated violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, “Our aim is that in the final agreement [with Iran] there will be no enrichment at all” on Iranian territory. Later on, in a speech at the Saban Forum in December 2013, President Barack Obama reiterated that in view of Iran’s behavior, the United States did not acknowledge that Iran had any right to enrich fissile material on its soil.

In February 2014, the first crumbling of this commitment was evident, when the head of the U.S. delegation to the talks with Iran, Wendy Sherman, told Israeli officials that while the United States would like Iran to stop enriching uranium altogether, this was “not a realistic” expectation. Iranian foreign ministry officials, during meetings the Tehran following the JPOA, reckoned that from the moment the principle of an Iranian right to enrich uranium was established, it would serve as the basis for the final agreement. And indeed, the final agreement, signed earlier this month, confirmed that assessment.

One of the promises made to Israel was that Iran would not be permitted to stockpile uranium. Later it was said that only a small amount would be left in Iran and that anything in excess of that amount would be transferred to Russia for processing that would render it unusable for military purposes. In the final agreement, Iran was permitted to keep 300kgs of enriched uranium; the conversion process would take place in an Iranian plant (nicknamed “The Junk Factory” by Israel intelligence). Iran would also be responsible for processing or selling the huge amount of enriched uranium that is has stockpiled up until today, some 8 tons.

The case of the secret enrichment facility at Qom (known in Israel as the Fordo Facility) is another example of concessions to Iran. The facility was erected in blatant violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty, and P5+1 delegates solemnly promised Israel at a series of meetings in late 2013 that it was to be dismantled and its contents destroyed. In the final agreement, the Iranians were allowed to leave 1,044 centrifuges in place (there are 3,000 now) and to engage in research and in enrichment of radioisotopes.

At the main enrichment facility at Natanz (or Kashan, the name used by the Mossad in its reports) the Iranians are to continue operating 5,060 centrifuges of the 19,000 there at present. Early in the negotiations, the Western representatives demanded that the remaining centrifuges be destroyed. Later on they retreated from this demand, and now the Iranians have had to commit only to mothball them. This way, they will be able to reinstall them at very short notice.

Israeli intelligence points to two plants in Iran’s military industry that are currently engaged in the development of two new types of centrifuge: the Teba and Tesa plants, which are working on the IR6 and the IR8 respectively. The new centrifuges will allow the Iranians to set up smaller enrichment facilities that are much more difficult to detect and that shorten the break-out time to a bomb if and when they decide to dump the agreement.

The Iranians see continued work on advanced centrifuges as very important. On the other hand they doubt their ability to do so covertly, without risking exposure and being accused of breaching the agreement. Thus, Iran’s delegates were instructed to insist on this point. President Obama said at the Saban Forum that Iran has no need for advanced centrifuges and his representatives promised Israel several times that further R&D on them would not be permitted. In the final agreement Iran is permitted to continue developing the advanced centrifuges, albeit with certain restrictions which experts of the Israeli Atomic Energy Committee believe to have only marginal efficacy.

As for the break-out time for the bomb, at the outset of the negotiations, the Western delegates decided that it would be “at least a number of years.” Under the final agreement this has been cut down to one year according to the Americans, and even less than that according to Israeli nuclear experts.

Over the past 15 years, a great deal of material has been amassed by the International Atomic Energy Agency—some filed by its own inspectors and some submitted by intelligence agencies—about Iran’s secret effort to develop the military aspects of its nuclear program (which the Iranians call by the codenames PHRC, AMAD, and SPND). The IAEA divides this activity into 12 different areas (metallurgy, timers, fuses, neutron source, hydrodynamic testing, and warhead adaptation for the Shihab 3 missile, high explosives, and others) all of which deal with the R&D work that must be done in order to be able to convert enriched material into an actual atom bomb.

The IAEA demanded concrete answers to a number of questions regarding Iran’s activities in these spheres. The agency also asked Iran to allow it to interview 15 Iranian scientists, a list headed by Prof. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whom Mossad nicknamed “The Brain” behind the military nuclear program. This list has become shorter because six of the 15 have died as a result of assassinations that the Iranians attribute to Israel, but access to the other nine has not been given. Neither have the IAEA’s inspectors been allowed to visit the facilities where the suspected activities take place. The West originally insisted on these points, only to retreat and leave them unsolved in the agreement.

In mid-2015 a new idea was brought up in one of the discussions in Tehran: Iran would agree not to import missiles as long as its own development and production is not limited. This idea is reflected in the final agreement as well, in which Iran is allowed to develop and produce missiles, the means of delivery for nuclear weapons. The longer the negotiations went on, the longer the list of concession made by the United States to Iran kept growing, including the right to leave the heavy water reactor and the heavy water plant at Arak in place and accepting Iran’s refusal of access to the suspect site.

The intelligence material that ‘[Prime Minister Netanyahu] was relying on gives rise to fairly unambiguous conclusions: that the Western delegates crossed all of the red lines that they drew themselves and conceded most of what was termed critical at the outset; and that the Iranians have achieved almost all of their goals.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of U.S. and Iranian Negotiators, Vienna, June 2015. Source: Reuters.

The Growing Missile Threat to Israel

Dr. Ronen Bergman, intelligence and military columnist for Israeli daily Yediot Ahronoth confirmed, Wall Street Journal reports that Syria and Iran’s Qod’s Force may have successfully disassembled and  transferred  to Hezbollah 12 Russian Yakhont anti- ship cruise missiles. See New York Times article, “Hezbollah Moving Long-Range Missiles From Syria to Lebanon, an Analyst Says”.

This despite the IAF five attacks conducted against Syria facilities and supply trains in 2013 using advanced missiles fired on targets from Lebanese airspace. The IAF attacks reported to have destroyed a shipment of  advanced mobile air defense  Russian SA-17’s in January 2013, Iranian Fateh-110 surface to surface missiles in May and  a shipment of  Russian Yakhont missiles in July. Further, according to the New York Times account, Bergman said:

Hezbollah, which is also Lebanon’s strongest political party, has a network of bases that were built inside Syria, near the border with Lebanon, to give the group strategic depth and to store the missiles, Mr. Bergman said. But with a nearly three-year insurgency threatening President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, an ally of Hezbollah, keeping the missiles in Syria is no longer as secure, Mr. Bergman said.

The missiles being moved, he said, include Scud D’s, shorter-range Scud C’s, medium-range Fateh rockets that were made in Iran, Fajr rockets and antiaircraft weapons that are fired from the shoulder.

Bergman also noted the comments of former Mossad head, Meir Dagan about Hezbollah bases in Syria during the Second Lebanon War in 2006:

 Meir Dagan, advised the government not to start an attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon without first hitting the militia’s bases in Syria, which were built on the strategy that Israel would not dare to strike Syria. The bases were believed to contain much of Hezbollah’s long-range missile capability,

The Wall Street Journal report,  “Hezbollah Upgrades Missile Threat to Israel” noted the potential game changer on Israel’s strategy to counter this missile threat on its doorstep:

Hezbollah already has around 100,000 rockets, according to Israeli intelligence estimates, but those are primarily unguided weapons that are less accurate. Its longer-range rockets are spread across Lebanon, meaning Israel’s next air campaign—should one come—would have to be broad, Israeli officials have told their U.S. counterparts, according to American officials in the meetings.

Hezbollah’s possession of guided-missile systems would make such an air campaign far riskier.

Current and former U.S. officials say Iran’s elite Quds Force has been directly overseeing the shipments to Hezbollah warehouses in Syria. These officials say some of the guided missiles would allow Hezbollah to defend its strongholds in Lebanon, including Beirut, and attack Israeli planes and ground targets from regime-controlled territory in Syria.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system can intercept and destroy short-range rockets. Its Arrow missile-defense system can intercept the sort of long-range ballistic missiles Iran possesses. A third system the Israelis are developing to deal with mid range guided missiles, called David’s Sling, won’t be operational until 2015 at the earliest.

                                 Arrow Anti-Missile System

Coincidentally, Israel completed another successful test of the  Arrow III anti-Missile system over the Mediterranean today. The Arrow III is a joint development of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Boeing. According to a Defense News, article,  “US-Israel Arrow-3 Marks Milestone Test”, “ IAI also provides the Super Green Pine fire control radar, while Elbit’s Tadiran provides the system’s battle management control center.” Defense News  further reported:

The US-Israel Arrow-3 upper tier intercepting missile passed another developmental milestone with a successful exo-atmospheric maneuvering flight after launch over the Mediterranean Sea on Friday.

In a joint statement, Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency said the Arrow-3 “successfully launched and flew an exo-atmospheric trajectory through space, according to the test plan.”

The fly-out of the two-stage, hit-to-kill missile marked the second in a series of developmental milestones aimed at readying the system for a full-up intercept test in early 2015. It follows a successful maiden flight in February 2013.

Planned for initial fielding in late 2015 or early 2016, Arrow-3 is designed as Israel’s first line of defense against emerging threats from Iran. Supported by the samefire control radar and battle management systems developed for Israel’s operational Arrow-2, the smaller and much more agile Arrow-3 aims to destroy advanced, maneuvering, unconventionally tipped Shahab-class missiles in space before they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Hezbollah with upwards of  80,000 rockets and missiles would be a formidable threat for Israel to reduce to assure that its rocket and missile  defense umbrella can safeguard its population should it elect to undertake a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. This is presuming no final agreement is reached with Iran under the current P5+1 interim agreement.  Moreover, a recently introduced bi-partisan US Senate bill, the Nuclear  Weapons Free Iran Act directed at prodding  Iran to reach an agreement  may be posed for action when Congress returns from its holiday recess. Given Iran’s addition of so-called hard liners to the Islamic regime’s negotiating team, the prospects for achievement of a definitive agreement  quickly seized upon by Obama Administration could be illusory.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.