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The Iranian Nuclear Threat in the Gulf of Mexico

On the November 1, 2015 Lisa Benson Show we asked ex- CIA director, Ambassador R. James Woolsey how easy was it for Iran to launch an Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack on the US?  He responded with the astounding revelation that the entire Gulf Coast of the U.S. had no X-band radar to detect a possible launch of a precision guiding missile with a nuclear warhead. Moreover, given Iranian threats to send naval vessels to the Gulf of Mexico, there would also be the threat of a cruise missile with a nuclear warhead that the U.S. Northern Defense Commander said in Congressional testimony was challenged to defend. Just refer to the stunning surprise of Russian vessels launching cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea that hit targets in Syria.

If Iranian nuclear weapons  could be exploded at any altitude ranging from 30 to 300 miles, the EMP  effect could take out the unprotected national electrical grid and 16 of the important infrastructures critical for running a modern technical economy.  He suggested three means by which Iran could do this. One option was launching a weather balloon with a nuclear bomb in a gondola capable of exceeding the 30 mile altitude. The second was through the launch of a nuclear device in a satellite from a southerly direction that both North Korea and Iran are currently capable of doing. The third means is through a ship borne launch of a Scud missile with a nuclear warhead from a container vessel using the Russian K-Club system that our colleague Ilana Freedman has written about.

The question arises is does Iran, despite the U.S. acceptance of the JCPOA, allegedly have that capability, already.  An August 2015 Washington Times article co-authored by Ambassador Woolsey and Dr. Peter Pry presented the view that Iran may already have several crude nuclear devices. Our colleagues Shoshana Bryen at the Jewish Policy Center and Ilana Freedman have also suggested that Iran could have evaded UN watchdog IAEA inspections by co-developing nuclear devices with North Korea.

emp attack gulf of mexicoAmbassador Woolsey in response to this question said that a nuclear detonation over the central US heartland would be a “hideous prospect.” He said it would put the US  back into the pre electrical agrarian era of the 1880s “with plowshares and seeds.”  It could  possibly resulting in millions of deaths from destruction of the electrical grid and disabling of our food production, distribution and  health care delivery infrastructure systems. Listen to Ambassador Woolsey’s responses to these questions on the November 1st, 2015, Lisa Benson Radio Show beginning at the 30 minute mark.

Ambassador Hank Cooper, a recognized expert in both EMP, and Missile Defense . He is the Former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative program . Cooper confirmed the absence of radar and anti-missile defenses on the vulnerable Gulf of Mexico coast in an email exchange with Lisa Benson, host of the National Security Radio Show.  He wrote:

Aegis BMD ships that are usually operating near the East Coast are inherently capable of defending against off-shore launched ballistic (and cruise) missiles—if the crews train to do so.  And if we had TPY-2 radar in Maine or somewhere in the Northeast, they also could defend against Iranian ICBMs—again if the crews were trained to do so.

Where we are absolutely naked is from launches from vessels in the Gulf of Mexico.  That could be fixed by deploying Aegis Ashore sites (like we are doing in Romania—operational this year–and Poland—operational in 2018) at bases around the Gulf.  I’d begin at Tyndall AFB near Panama City, the home for First Air Force, which is already responsible for the air defense of the entire continental USA and support for our TMD systems.

The difficulty of defending the Gulf Coast against a cruise missile threat followed from a 2013 missile defense exercise.  A Global Security Newswire March 2014 report, “Could the U.S. Face a Cruise Missile Threat from the Gulf of Mexico? noted US Senate Armed Services testimony of Gen. Charles Jacoby of the Northern Command:

A 2013 military exercise pitted systems such as Patriot interceptors, Aegis warships and combat aircraft against potential cruise-missile or short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Gulf. But the drill highlighted a particular vulnerability to cruise missiles lobbed from that region, U.S. Northern Command head Gen. Charles Jacoby indicated in congressional testimony.

He said the Pentagon has “some significant challenges” in countering these missiles, but is exploring “some opportunities to use existing systems more effectively to do that. Many detailed results of the Oct. 11th  drill conducted near Key West, Fla., remain classified, Jacoby said.

“The cruise-missile threat portion of that we are working on very hard,” the general added at the March 13, 2014  Senate Armed Service Committee hearing, in response to a question from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The Global Security Newswire report underlined the difficulties of combating the cruise missile threat from Russia and Iran noting:

Cruise missiles can be particularly challenging to defend against, as they can be more difficult than aircraft to detect on radar and are sometimes tricky to shoot down, according to military experts.

A 2013 U.S. military intelligence report forecasted that cruise missiles would spread into more hands over the coming decade. The document also hints at the ability to evade defenses designed against ballistic missiles.

“Cruise missiles can fly at low altitudes to stay below enemy radar and, in some cases, hide behind terrain features. Newer missiles are incorporating stealth features to make them even less visible to radars and infrared detectors,” says the 2013 assessment by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

Lisa Benson during the November 1st Radio Show asked  Woolsey if states should sue President Obama and U.S. companies doing business with Iran under existing sanctions laws authorized by the Federal 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Law.  Woolsey said that if sanctions are illegally lifted by the President on Compliance Day, December 15, 2015, members of the plaintiffs bar might be “licking their chops “at the prospects of suing U.S. companies.  We have written extensively about the ability of States with enabling sanctions laws bringing such a cause of action in the Federal Courts based on the professional assessments of noted Constitutional litigator, David B. Rivkin, Jr. of the Washington Law Firm of Baker Hostetler. See: Can States Prevent Release of Iran Sanctions Through Federal Litigation?

We launched a twitter campaign directed at the 27 Attorneys General of the Republican Attorneys General Association headed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Ms. Bondi could file such an action with the Attorneys General of Alabama, Mississippi and Texas against the President. It could be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola, Florida presided over by Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson.

The Dallas Chapter of the National Security Task Force of America (NSTFA) undertook a twitter campaign in October 2015  following the October 18th JCOPA Acceptance Date signing by President Obama.  Pam Brown and the Dallas Chapter NSTFA team tweeted information on the ability to sue the President Obama to Texas Governor Abbott, Attorney General Paxton and  125 members of the Texas Legislature.  She posted on the NSTFA Facebook this weekend of the continuing effort to contact Gov. Abbott at a meeting of the Texas Republican Women’s Conference in Lubbock:

Elena Blake, one of the team members, is in Lubbock at the Texas Republican Women Conference and Governor Abbott, our Texas governor, is in attendance. We produced a document that she hand carried with plans to present to Governor Abbott or his scheduler, whom she had just met at a meeting in Dallas on Wednesday. This is an example of jumping on opportunity that presents itself. The background story to our Twitter surge is that Governor Abbott and fourteen other governors signed a letter to President Obama [on September 8, 2015] about their opposition to the Iran Deal: “we intend to ensure that the various state-level sanctions that are now in effect remain in effect. These state-level sanctions are critically important and must be maintained. “. The other governors who signed this letter are from the states of Oklahoma, S. Carolina, S. Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota and Ohio. The letter that Elena Blake took to Lubbock for Governor Abbott urges him to rally six other governors to sue Obama. (NSTFA has determined we only need six or seven to sue.)

An appeal to Gov. Abbott could be the spark to enlist Attorneys Generals in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida to file an action in the Northern District US Court in Florida to halt lifting of sanctions by Obama.   There is still time remaining to file such an action. The prod to do so are the revelations of Ambassadors Woolsey and  Cooper revealing how unprotected these Gulf Coast States and indeed all of America is against an EMP attack by a nuclear armed Iran.

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

CIA Director worries about Iran/North Korea Nuclear Cooperation

There they  were at  a  University of Texas conference, the masters of intelligence disinformation, CIA Director John Brennan and DNI, James Clapper, poring over Kennedy Johnson era mythologies about body counts  as metrics of  success during  the Nam  era of the 1960’s and 1970’s seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. What a consummate waste of taxpayers’ dollars deflecting serious examination of national security failed strategies of an Administration intent on weakening America’s geo-political respect among doubting allies. All while hollowing out our military capabilities.

Brennan’s track record at the White House, before he was appointed as CIA head to  replace Gen. Petreaus,  was as counterterrorism czar overseeing a number of  Obama covert initiatives. There was the drone assassination program, sugar coating the radical Islam threat and running  covert ops under Presidential Findings collecting MANPADS  and shipping them  to Syrian rebels.  More may be revealed in upcoming hearings by the Special Benghazi Committee.

In this Washington Times (WT) report, Brennan raises the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Iran could have outsourced developments of nuclear weapons ad ICBMs to North Korea. Brennan was responded to media reports to that effect. He was cited by the WT saying:

Therefore, we have to make sure that we’re doing whatever we can to uncover anything,” Mr. Brennan said. “I’m not saying that something is afoot at all — what I’m saying is that we need to be attuned to all of the potential pathways to acquiring different types of [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities.

The WT further noted:

Mr. Brennan’s remarks on the Iran nuclear deal come just days after Mr. Clapper revealed that U.S. intelligence officials “are fielding some independent capabilities that will enable us … to have good insight into [Iran‘s] nuclear industrial enterprise” as the accord goes into effect over the coming months.

Mr. Clapper told the conference that he’s “pretty confident” U.S. intelligence officials will be able to verify “from our own sources” the accuracy of future IAEA assessments of whether or not Iran is complying with the terms of the accord.

Mr. Brennan on Tuesday also said that he stands behind the nuclear deal, and that he has “a lot of confidence” that the accord is structured in such a way that will make it extremely difficult for Iran to cheat.

What have my colleague Ilana Freedman, Stephen and Shoshana Bryen, Israeli  Missile defense expert Uzi Rubin, DIA and Office of Naval Intelligence reports been saying for nearly five years about cooperative nuclear weapons and  ICBM developments between these partners in the Axis of Evil?  That they may already  have developed a small number of nuclear weapons, tested warheads to be fitted on Shahab 3 missiles, and launched  missiles with  disposable boosters for satellite bombs and ICBMs.

House and Senate Iran deal hearings didn’t lay a glove on any of the Administration witnesses querying them about these possibilities , whether behind doors, or in front of the klieg lights of TV-cameras. Brennan either knew about those covert development possibilities, or  purposefully evaded responsibility for  informing  Congressional Select Permanent Intelligence Committees  about the status of those joint Iranian –North Korean development efforts.

We knew from what was leaked by the Pentagon regarding the September 2007 IAF Operation Orchard that destroyed the Syrian nuclear bomb factory on the Euphrates at al-Kibar there were intelligence file photos of North Korean and Iranian scientists at the site.  That was under Bush 43.

Would you place any trust in the representations of Messrs.  Brennan and Clapper?  Clapper is now embroiled in another intelligence disaster, the  allegations that as DNI he met frequently with CENTCOM intelligence chief, Gen. Grove to review  assessments of  the coalition aerial campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  Given reports of a veritable revolt by 50 CENTCOM analysts about overly optimistic assessments about progress in defeating or at least achieving a stalemate in the war against ISIS, Clapper may be the subject of a Pentagon Inspector General investigations leading to possible  House and Senate Select Permanent Intelligence Hearings.

A Daily Beast report  in late August 2015 quoted former DIA chief, retired US Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn saying, “The phrase I use is the politicization of the intelligence community. That’s here. And it’s dangerous.”

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

Is the U.S. State Department Taking Reports of North Korea-Iranian Nuclear Cooperation Seriously?

At today’s State Department Daily Press Briefing, spokesperson Jeff Rathke was asked by Matt Lee, AP White House correspondent about reports by the Paris-based Iranian dissident group, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) about alleged North Korean meetings in Iran alleging discussions over nuclear program cooperation an ICBM developments.  Reuters reported the NCRI group allegation that:

Citing information from sources inside Iran, including within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paris-based NCRI said a seven-person North Korean Defense Ministry team was in Iran during the last week of April. This was the third time in 2015 that North Koreans had been to Iran and a nine-person delegation was due to return in June, it said.

“The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems,” the NCRI said.

In response to AP’s Lee question Rathke said, “We are taking these allegations very seriously” citing various UN Security Council Resolutions sanctioning the proliferation behavior of the DPRK. That led Lee and other correspondents to inquire whether this would impact the current P5+1 negotiations in Vienna seeking to conclude a comprehensive Joint Plan of Action by June 30th.  We posted  yesterday that France’s Foreign Minister demanding that Iran agree to  UN IAEA inspectors be  given  full access to military facilities for verification of prior developments.

Watch this C-SPAN video clip on the exchanges between State Department Jeff Rathke and AP’s Lee and other reporters at today’s Press Briefing:

Satellite Image of the Sohae Launch Facility, North Korea

North Korean Sohae Missile Launch site, November 2012. Source: Space.com

The Reuters report gave indications of previous unverified reports about such cooperation between the DPRK and Iran:

The NCRI said the North Korean delegation was taken secretly to the Imam Khomenei complex, a site east of Tehran controlled by the Defense Ministry. It gave detailed accounts of locations and who the officials met.

It said the delegation dealt with the Center for Research and Design of New Aerospace Technology, a unit of nuclear weaponization research, and a planning center called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Reuters could not independently verify the allegations.

“Tehran has shown no interest in giving up its drive to nuclear weapons. The weaponization program is continuing and they have not slowed down the process,” NCRI spokesman Shahin Gobadi said.

U.N. watchdog the IAEA, which for years has investigated alleged nuclear arms research by Tehran, declined to comment. North Korean officials were not available for comment.

Several Western officials said they were not aware of a North Korean delegation traveling to Iran recently.

A Western diplomat said there had been proven military cooperation between Iran and North Korea in the past.

North Korean and Iranian officials meet in the course of general diplomacy. On April 23, Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state and Iran’s president held a rare meeting on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta.

My colleague Ilana Freedman and this writer have reported on Iranian and DPRK on both nuclear and ICBM developments and nuclear tests in NER and Iconoclast posts.  In a March 2014, NER, article, “Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea”, we cited Freedman reporting:

According to my sources, Iran began moving its bomb manufacturing operations from Iran to North Korea in December 2012. Two facilities near Nyongbyon in North Pyongan province, some 50 miles north of Pyongyang, have become a new center for Iran’s nuclear arms program.

Over the last year, Iran has been secretly supplying raw materials to the reactor at Nyongbyon for the production of plutonium. At a second facility, located about fifteen miles north and with a code name that translates to ‘Thunder God Mountain’, nuclear warheads are being assembled and integrated with MIRV platforms. MIRVs are offensive ballistic missile systems that can support multiple warheads, each of which can be aimed at an independent target, but are all launched by a single booster rocket. Approximately 250-300 Iranian scientists are now reported to be in North Korea, along with a small cadre of IRGC personnel to provide for their security.

According to the reports, the Iranian-North Korean collaboration has already produced the first batch of fourteen nuclear warheads. A dedicated fleet of Iranian cargo aircraft, a combination of 747′s and Antonov heavy-lifters, which has been ferrying personnel and materials back and forth between Iran and North Korea, is in place to bring the assembled warheads back to Iran.

In a June 2014, Iconoclast post, “Does Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Preclude A P5+1 Agreement?” we cited a Wall Street Journal report by  Claudia Rosett, journalist in residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:

The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran’s president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran’s supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).

Rosett in the WSJ oped lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeiner reported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

In an April 15, 2015, Iconoclast post, “Obama Administration Knew of Illegal North Korea Missile Technology Transfers to Iran During Talks” we reported:

Bill Gertz has a blockbuster expose in today’s Washington Free Beacon of something we have been hammering away for years: the technology transfer of missile and nuclear technology between North Korea and the Iran, “North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks.”  The stunning disclosure was that U.S. intelligence has known about the illegal transfer in violation of UN arms sanctions, as apparently did the Obama Administration. You recall the statement that Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman made before a Senate hearing in early 2014. Sherman said, “that if Iran can’t get the bomb then its ballistic missiles would be irrelevant.”

Gertz went on to report:

Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Details of the arms shipments were included in President Obama’s daily intelligence briefings and officials suggested information about the transfers was kept secret from the United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions violations.

While the CIA declined to comment on these allegations claiming classified information, others, Gertz queried said that “such transfers were covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary agreement among 34 nations that limits transfers of missiles and components of systems with ranges of greater than 186 miles.”

One official said the transfers between North Korea and Iran included large diameter engines, which could be used for a future Iranian long-range missile system.

The compilation of these reports and today’s exchange at the State Department Press Briefing clearly raises the ante as to why in one reporter’s query, ‘our negotiators” haven’t simply asked  Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna  is there such cooperation going on, backed up by the intelligence reports cited by Gertz and others?  Our suspicion is that French Foreign Minister Fabius has better feed on Iranian nuclear and ICBM developments than our CIA.  Or more likely is the Obama West Wing suggesting not to believe those lying reports in the President’s  Daily Intelligence Briefing? After all, President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman want nothing to stand in the way of an agreement with Iran, even it means evading the truth. Stay tuned for developments.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is from the official site of the President of The Islamic Republic of Iran.

A Saba answers his Granddaughter’s Concerns about the Threats to Israel

Earlier today, my granddaughter, Elana Lipkin, wrote me about her concerns about the media’s treatment and threats to Israel in this latest rocket war with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.  ‘Lana, as we call her, won a scholarship last summer from her local Jewish Federation to spend five weeks visiting concentration and death camps in the Czech Republic and Poland before  spending a month in Israel on a National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) program.  ‘Lana is very active at her family temple frequently serving as a cantorial assistant during Friday evening services given her beautiful singing voice recognized in her high school and regional choral assemblies. She is also a talented dancer. We are very proud of her achievements, a credit to her parents and grandparents.

Elana and a friend donned IDF fatigues and got a taste of what it’s like to train for the IDF at the Gadna training center.

Elana and a friend donned IDF fatigues and got a taste of what it’s like to train for the IDF at the Gadna training center, July 2013.

Last summer, we posted on her prize winning essay and poetry after climbing up the snake path to the top of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea.  (See thisConnecticut Jewish Ledger article “KOLOT-Passing the Torch”). While in Israel, ‘Lana put in a brief training stint in a GADNA (youth battalion) where she learned firsthand what para-military training Israeli youths go through before entering the IDF.  That stint included her familiarization of weapons on a firing range.

The following is an exchange of email between ‘Lana and her Saba (grandfather in Hebrew) that might be used by other concerned supporters of Israel, when their children or grandchildren ask them to explain why this rocket war is happening?   Further, it also illustrates what they can do to support Israeli civilians and IDF service personnel, as well as, keep informed of developments in Operation Preventive Edge.

What follows is the exchange of emails between 17 year old ‘Lana and her Saba.

Lana’s email to Saba:

Hi Saba!

I know it’s fairly early there, but I’m sure you’re up already. The situation in Israel these past few days has really been worrying me. I care about Israel so deeply and it pains me to see it in danger. I am also bothered by the lies the media spreads and the ignorance of those around me regarding what’s actually occurring. I was wondering if you could do two things for me, first of all, I’d love any information you could give to me on the Operation going on right now. Second of all, do you know of anything I could possibly do to help Israel right now?
Thank you so much!

I love you very much and miss you lots, I hope you’re doing well.

-Lana

shabat shalom terrorism will not stop usMy Email to Lana:

Like you I am pained by the bias shown in the media towards the plight of Israel under the daily onslaught of literally hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). These are foreign terrorists groups designated by our State Department and Israel whose charters seek the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.  Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza. The PIJ is backed by Iran.

As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said:  “No other country lives under such a threat. Israel will not tolerate the firing of rockets on our cities and towns,” Prime Minister Benjamin Neyanyahu. We have therefore significantly expanded our operations against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza.”

The IDF conducts daily air, naval and artillery attacks against hundreds of target in Gaza to destroy Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets and launching sites while endeavoring to avoid civilian casualties.  Yesterday, cousins of mine and friends in Jerusalem were shocked by one of the longer range rockets that fell nearby in Ma’ale Adumim. Most disturbing were the two rockets fired from Lebanon by terrorist group Hezbollah that landed in northern Israel. That event may have caused Israelis in the north to seek safety in bomb shelters as they did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.  Much of the Hamas and Hezbollah rockets used against Israel are supplied by Iran or manufactured locally. Your cousin’s United Synagogue Youth (USY) tour group may be prevented from traveling on to Israel from Europe as rockets are ranging on Ben Gurion Airport.

Yesterday, I posted an article on Operation Protective Edge– Is Iran Behind Rocket Blitz on Israel?– and will do more in the coming days. Israel may have to make the momentous decision to go into Gaza to destroy the rocket inventories, launching sites and command infrastructure.  This is a dangerous phase which could result in significant casualties to both civilians and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, as well as IDF forces and even Israeli civilians.
During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, we wrote extensively about the experience of Zach Rowen – Taylor, a young American lonesome soldier who hailed from California and was among the elite Givati Brigade units that entered urban areas in northern Gaza.  We wrote him in a January 4, 2009, Iconoclast post, “A Proud American Mother of an IDF Soldier”.  I know as a former US Army officer that fighting in urban areas is grueling, dangerous and unfortunate casualties may mount.  But, Israel may have no choice but to do what Zach Rowen-Taylor and his mates in the Givati Brigade had to do in Operation Cast Lead.  Perhaps if Israel had stayed in Gaza in 2009, notwithstanding the inauguration of President Obama, it might have achieved victory against these terrorist groups with their arsenal of rockets. However, the reality was that arsenal was replenished by Iran and terrorist groups in the Sinai using smuggling tunnels below the Egyptian Gaza frontier.

Those smuggling tunnels were only closed off when Egypt’s military overthrew its former President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and Hamas supporter, last year. He was replaced by former Defense Minister and now President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.  He plugged up those smuggling tunnels preventing more weapons from Iran reaching Hamas and the PIJ and possibly stopping the flight of terrorist leaders from Gaza in the current Israeli Operation Preventive Edge.

Still Hamas and the PIJ have an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Rockets including longer range rockets supplied by Iran before those tunnels were destroyed by Egypt. That means that this could be Israel’s longest war in Gaza, possibly exceeding the 22 days of Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, just 20 months ago. Hamas and the PIJ have positioned launching sites in schools, office buildings, and even residences using its civilians including children as human shields. Israel goes to great limits to avoid civilian causalities sent text message warnings on cells and even aerial missile “knocks” on roofs of suspected targets warning people to flee.  Fortunately, those dramatic Israel Iron Dome anti-rocket missile interceptions heading to strikes in population centers knock out terror rockets before they reach their targets. They have a 90% success rate.

Remember, Israel is America’s only reliable and democratic ally in the troubled Middle East. The vast majority of Americans support Israel because we share the same Judeo-Christian values.

For information on groups in Israel treating civilians, you might consult the website of American Friends of Magen David Adom.  One of the groups that provide social and other support for IDF soldiers is American Friends of LIBI. You might check out its Facebook page.   To keep abreast of developments in Operation Protective Edge, you might look at the Live blog at The Jerusalem Post.

Your commitment to Israel as a young Zionist is both heartfelt and refreshing among your generation of young American Jews.  You can act as a spokesperson in your community to provide the EMET- the truth about what Israel is facing.  Tonight at Kabbalat Shabbat services pray for the safety of Israel and its defenders the young men and women of the IDF on the frontlines defending this Jewish nation. You met them during your GADNA training last summer in Israel.

I thought the attached graphic sent to me by a colleague and intelligence expert, Ilana Freedman, whose son served in the IDF, might express the feelings of you and countless other Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, who are supporters of Israel -The Eagle and the Flag.  Israel. It is the most ancient of Hebrew Prayers, the priestly benediction, as you know it.

Kol Hakavod (Outstanding), Ahava (Much Love) v Shabbat shalom (peaceful sabbath).  Am Yisrael Chai! (The People Israel Lives!)

Saba

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

Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Precludes a P5+1 Agreement

Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies published a book review in Friday’s Wall Street Journal by former Pentagon official, Matthew Kroenig, A Time to AttackThe Looming Iranian Nuclear ThreatMatthew Kroenig is an Associate Professor and International Relations Field Chair in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. Kroenig, who served under former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, presents a thesis that the only way to stop the Islamic regime in Tehran from achieving nuclear hegemony is for the US, not Israel, to bomb several key facilities in Iran. The suggested targets are the centrifuge enrichment centers at Fordow and Natanz, the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan, and the plutonium producing heavy water reactor at Arak.

timetoattackbookcoverWhy? Because as Gerecht relates, the sanctions regime has not deterred Iran from investing over $100 billion in the project to achieve nuclear hegemony replete with the means of delivery. Further, as he points out in his review, the US has the means to seriously cripple those facilities with 30,000 pound bunker busting deep penetrating bombs. The hoped for Stuxnet malworm and other cyber warfare is past. Gerecht notes in his review, they have only “gummed up” the whirling centrifuges enriching weapons grade uranium. Neither does he believe that targeted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, allegedly by Mossad, has put a dent in Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability. Given that the current P5+1 discussions with Iran seeking to perfect a final agreement with a deadline of July 20th, Gerecht makes this prediction:

Next month in Vienna, Iran and the P5+1 world powers will extend the interim agreement they struck six months ago on Iran’s nuclear program. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold a press conference, offering both sides solemn praise for finding common ground. All the while, through this tough compromise and historic collaboration, the Islamic Republic’s 9,000 spinning centrifuges will keep on enriching uranium; the other 10,000 installed centrifuges won’t be dismantled. Eventually these centrifuges, or thousands of new-and-improved ones, will be able to produce bomb-grade fuel.

Kroenig cautions:

Why would anyone believe that we would fight a nuclear war with Iran if we didn’t even have the stomach for a conventional war with a nonnuclear Iran?

Gericht’s conclusion from his review of Kroenig’s, A Time to Attack:

Mr. Kroenig readily admits that there will be costs for preventive military action. Tehran will likely respond with terrorism, directly or through proxies. But Mr. Kroenig contends that those costs are much lower than allowing Iran to go nuclear. Whether or not he’s right, we will soon find out.

Watch this May 12, 2014  C-SPAN Book TV discussion with Prof. Kroenig about A Time to Attack.

Problem is that the Obama Administration failed to foster regime change in Iran in the fraudulent elections of June 2009. Israel and many others concerned over Iran’s rising hegemony in the Middle East believe that America doesn’t have the will and the unity to undertake what Kroenig suggests. Just look at the President latest tracking poll numbers; less than 37% of American thinks that he is pursuing foreign policies protecting our nation’s interests.

Claudia Rosett in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal  published an op ed, Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:

The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran’s president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran’s supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).

In the March edition of the NER, we published a piece entitled, Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea?  We wrote:

The UN nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA has no access to North Korean nuclear facilities. These developments corroborate the assessment of private intelligence and national security analyst Ilana Freedman. See The Freedman Report on January 31st, “A Friendlier Iran? Or Have They Just Moved Their Nukes to North Korea?

Rosett in the WSJ op ed lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeiner reported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

Kroenig wrote in his book:

Iran is building ICBMs No country on Earth, not even the United States, mounts conventional warheads on ICBMs. Traditionally, ICBMs have had one purpose: to deliver nuclear warheads thousands of miles away. If Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, then why does it have such a robust ICBM development program?

The clock is ticking on  P5+1 and Iran endeavoring to reach an agreement by July 20th. Five days of talks in Vienna ended yesterday. They will reconvene on July 2nd and may or may not conclude with an agreement on July 20th.  The Wall Street Journal in a report on those negotiations contrasted the views of US Negotiator, Deputy Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, with those of Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.  It noted that the talks ended without a joint statement. Sherman said: “We are at a very crucial moment in these negotiations. Our Conversations this week have been very tough but constructive.”  Zarif commented that only a deal could emerge if the US backed away from what he termed were “excessive demands.” “I advised them to think more seriously and to be realistic and to look for a solution.” Translated that means, we are poles apart. Meanwhile those centrifuges at Fordow and Natanz keep whirling enriching uranium while Iranian/ North Korean joint ICBM and MIRV development continue.  If we were bettors, we’d put even money on Gericht’s prediction: no agreement by July 20th or even six months hence.

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