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Israel: ‘No Choice’ but Military Option against Iran’s Nuclear Program?

Israel - Iran War Scenarios  12-14(2)In 1964, I sat in a darkened movie theater in Washington, D.C. with a fellow Army Intelligence officer watching Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant dark satire film on how to live with thermonuclear warfare, Dr Strangelove: or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. My colleague and I laughed nervously as we had just finished secret intelligence assignments. That memory was triggered by a recent American Thinker article by veteran nuclear war gaming and arms control expert, John Bosum, “Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War”.  That was a reference to books and articles by nuclear game theorist and Hudson Institute co-founder Herman Kahn and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on limited nuclear warfare.

Scary prospects then, scary prospects now with the world on the verge of concluding a nuclear agreement with the apocalyptic Islamic Republic of Iran virtually assuring it of an arsenal of nuclear weapons in a decade, if not sooner funding in part by the lifting of $150 billion in sanctions. The U.S. says it has the means of striking back at Iran if it is found cheating, a reference to possible military actions. The reality is that the Administration has hollowed out the nation’s military capabilities leaving Israel isolated. The Jewish nation would doubtlessly be reviled by world opinion, should it undertake a strike of its own on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The Israeli Limited Nuclear Attack Scenario

There are daunting prospects facing Israel with the looming Congressional vote rejecting the Iran nuclear pact in the face of a likely veto threat by President Obama that may not be overridden. John Bosum, in his American Thinker article vets a possible limited nuclear attack by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities. His credibility stems from his considerable expertise and professional background in nuclear war gaming and arms control.  He posits an attack scenario using conventional air craft equipped with US supplied GBU 28 “bunker busters” followed by tactical nukes or nuclear tipped cruise missiles launched from Israeli Dolphin subs offshore in the Arabian Sea.  That scenario faces the realities of estimated losses by Israel Ministry of Defense planners. They have estimated that such a scenario might result in the loss of 40 percent of air crews-a heavy price to pay for young IAF pilots.  Then there is Bosum’s suggestion that Israel might use a low altitude EMP attack on Iran by a Jericho 2 missile.  Ex-CIA official Chet Nagle suggested that Israel might pursue that during a Capitol Hill EMPact program on the EMP Threat several years ago. There is also the non nuclear option using swarms of Drone- launched CHAMP cruise missiles that could take out specific targets. Examples are computer controllers and major power transformers for underground enrichment and centrifuge R& D facilities as well as command and control networks. Israeli encrypted software managing large swarms of drones may provide a stealth shield against the Russian supplied S300 batteries. In September 2008 the IAF flew simulated missions against Greek S300 systems involving swarms of IAF aircraft that rattled the IRGC military. From that exercise the IAF may have developed electronic means of spoofing these Russian systems version of S-300 air defense systems.

Bosum believes that Israel’s anti-missile umbrella including the Arrow anti-ICBM, David Sling, Iron Beam and Iron Dome systems, might not be able to withstand barrages of Iranian rockets and medium range ballistic missiles. There is evidence from the Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) November 2012 Iran attack simulations that a conventional attack might succeed in setting back the Iranian program by three years.  Moreover, the simulations suggest that the anti-missile umbrella may destroy significant numbers of incoming Iranian missiles sparing Israel’s major population centers. From reliable sources we understand that Israel may have successfully conducted tests against North Korean developed Shahab 3 missiles likely candidates for nuclear equipped MIRV warheads.

The real issues for Israel are priorities and staging of a limited nuclear attack scenario on Iran’s nuclear program.  From release of  interview audio tapes  this weekend on Israeli Channel 2  by the authors of a forthcoming memoir of  former Defense Minister Ehud Barak   there were allegations  that  Netanyahu was thwarted  from undertaking possible Iran nuclear attack missions  because of objections from  former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, “cold feet” of Ministers Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Defense Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon  and  looming joint Israel US military exercises in 2012. There were reports that President Obama threatened to invoke the Brzezinski Doctrine with orders to shoot down IAF aircraft attacking Iranian targets.  Problem is Barak’s representations may have been part of a promotional effort to enhance his reputation and legacy.  There were also rumors that current Minister of Defense, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon may have also revisited the limited Iran nuclear attack option this past year.  He broadly hinted  that “steps” might have to be taken during a May 5, 2015 conference in Tel Aviv hosted by the Israel Law Center, sufficient to bring a reaction from Iran’s UN Ambassador. Ya’alon was cited in a Times of Israel report saying:

“Certain steps” Israel might consider against tyrannical regimes threatening the nation’s security.

Cases in which we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations we might take certain steps that we believe…should be taken in order to defend ourselves.

Of course, we should be sure that we can look at the mirror after the decision, or the operation. Of course, we should be sure that it is a military necessity. We should consider cost and benefit, of course. But, at the end, we might take certain steps.

He was reminded of US president Harry Truman who “was asked how you feel after deciding to launch the nuclear bombs, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000, casualties? And he said, “When I heard from my officers the alternative is a long war with Japan, with potential fatalities of a couple of millions, I thought it is a moral decision.

We are not there yet, Ya’alon then added.

The Hezbollah Attack Scenario

The release in mid-August 2015 of a definitive national strategy document by IDF Chief of State (COS) Gen. Gadi Eizenkot,  criticized failures to combat both Hamas and Hezbollah, raised the risk from non-state fundamentalist Islamic State, but downplayed the Iran threat.   It is not without moment in late August that there was a stream of contradictory declarations from PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon that Iran is behind a series of low intensity and rocket attacks on Northern Israel and the Golan frontier since the beginning of this year. The attacks involved IRGC officers and Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  Israeli PM Netanyahu referencing acceptance of the Iran nuclear pact by world powers said, “You rush to embrace Iran, they fire rockets at us. We will harm those who harm us”

From the assessments of retired Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, former National Security Adviser, the immediate objective is the elimination of the near enemy and proxy of Iran, Hezbollah.  Recently Iran unveiled a new solid fuel surface to surface missile, the Fateh 313, that President Rouhani threatened  ballistic missile exercises would demonstrate the ability of longer range missiles to strike both Israel and Saudi Arabia.  The limited range of 310 miles of the Fateh-113 makes the weapon suitable for possible launch from Syria and Lebanon against population centers in Israel. Further, this threat is bolstered by the turmoil in Lebanon behind the unresolved political crisis over the possibility of a power grab by Hezbollah.

An Israeli preemptive attack scenario is at the heart of Jon Schanzer’s article, “The Iran Nuclear Deal Means War between Israel and Hezbollah”.   Schanzer argues that the Iran nuclear deal may trigger a major war against Hezbollah to eliminate the Iranian- supplied rocket and missile inventories and the command and control echelons of Hezbollah.  Schanzer refers to discussions with senior Israeli defense officials who appear committed   to dislodge Hezbollah and destroy the huge inventory of 150,000 rockets and missiles in Lebanon. Israel has both air and naval combat capabilities to achieve this including interdiction of Iranian and Chinese supplied anti-ship missiles. Further, the IDF would not have to rely on those U.S.-supplied GBU-28’s bunker busters.  It has sophisticated weapons like the Rafael SPICE precision guided glide bombs used to foil weapons deliveries from Syria to Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley. It also has its own variant of the Boeing CHAMP cruise missiles capable of non-nuclear EMP effects against command and control nets. Moreover, unlike the inconclusive Second Lebanon War of 2006, the IDF has learned its lessons about unit training, command and control and effective means of taking out anti-air,  anti-tank rockets and  launching precision battlefield missiles, using the Iron Beam, Trophy and Pereh systems.

This sequencing of threat priorities was reflected in a Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition Interview by Sohran Ahmari with former Saudi General and National Security Advisor Anwar Eshki, “The Saudis Reply to Iran’s Rising Danger.”  General Eshki held colloquies with Dr. Dore Gold   director general of the Israel Foreign Ministry. The most notable one was the public forum at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. General Eshki’s conclusion drawn from a Socratic dialogue on the near versus far enemy decision paradigm was: “Israel is thinking first of all to destroy Hezbollah, to solve the problem with Hezbollah. After that they can attack Iran.”

Walla News in Israel reported a senior defense official   saying that Israel may be capable of undertaking an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and defending Israel against a retaliatory strike:

Every year that passes, the IDF improves. We never stand still. The professional level increases. In the coming year we will receive another submarine, F-35 fighter jets and other platforms. Intelligence is improving as well.

Further, Walla reported IDF COS Eizenkot instructing deputy, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan to revise military plans for a possible military strike. But it cautioned that the military option was off the table until there are ‘significant developments’.  That may be for public consumption. Israel has a tradition of saying nothing or opaquely very little when such events occur

Conclusion

The planners in the Ministry of Defense pits in Tel Aviv have multiple threats and must prioritize resources. By necessity Israel must plan for taking out the near enemy, Hezbollah, which would enable them to have a clear path to attack Iran.  Thus, it must be prepared to accomplish both threats.  At issue is whether Israel I PM Netanyahu and the security cabinet have the resolve to accomplish both despite adverse world opinion and likely intervention by the Obama Administration.

When Israeli PM Begin ordered the “raid against the sun’ in 1981 that took out Saddam Hussein’s  Osirak nuclear reactor , it took a decade for former Vice President Dick Cheney to thank Israel when the US led coalition unleashed the First Gulf War.  No such thanks came from the Bush Administration following the IAF’s successful obliteration of the Syrian al-Kibar nuclear bomb factory following the September 2007 raid.  . The Obama Administration has demonstrated its inability or unwillingness to exercise a possible military option should Iran be found cheating under the terms of the JCPOA. It has hollowed out the US military capability under the Congressional Sequester.  We have the smallest navy since WWI and the smallest Army since before WWII. We have less than 26,000 first line aircraft.  Israel has no choice, but to undertake its sovereign right to defend the Jewish nation against such existential threats.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Iranian President Rouhani and Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan with Fateh-313 Sold Fuel Missile, August 22, 2015. Source: Iranian Presidential office/AP.

Israel Launches ‘Cyber Iron Dome’ to Protect its Electrical Grid

The Israel Electric Company (IEC) is concerned about protection of the Jewish nation’s electrical grid. The recent 50 day summer 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza witnessed more than 2,300 rockets reining death and destruction on Central and Southern Israel. Several hundred rockets headed towards major population centers in the State of Israel were detected and literally knocked from the skies by the Iron Dome system batteries. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets over the period from 2006 to 2014 have targeted the Rutenberg Power Plant of the IEC in Ashkelon. The power plant has also been subject to periodic outages. The vulnerability to physical attack was illustrated by Gaza’s sole power plant destroyed during the conflict.

Physical threats are only one aspect. There are also Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and cyber attacks. Cyber attacks on critical operating systems, such as Siemens’ SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) are something that Israel may know about. There was the development of the Stuxnet malware that disrupted Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. Israel to this day remains silent about any involvement in the malware’s development.  Israel’s electrical network vulnerabilities led the IEC to partner with the Israeli firm of mPrest that had developed the critical sensor and detection software system at the core of the Iron Dome System. The objective was to develop a means of intercepting and deterring cyber threats to the national grid.  On Tuesday, the Information Grid (IG) system was unveiled at a Homeland Security Conference in Tel Aviv.

The Times of IsraelStart Up-Israel technology publication reported this ground breaking development; Israel presents an ‘Iron Dome’ for ‘electricity terror’. Eugene Kaspersky of the eponymous cyber protection concern that discovered Stuxnet recently commented:

“We’ve seen numerous cases of attacks on industrial infrastructure – Stuxnet was far from the only one,” said Kaspersky. “There is an international army consisting of tens of thousands of engineers out there developing SCADA malware. One day, a terrorist organization is going to get the bright idea to acquire one of these tools and deploy it to make their ideological point. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s just a matter of time until it does.”

Because of the terrorist threat to Israel’s national grid, the IEC reached out to mPrest to develop a solution. Start Up –Israel described the process and what IG does:

IEC partnered with a subsidiary of mPrest Systems, called mPrest Electric, which was a member of the IEC’s KARAT Incubator. Drawing on the tech used by mPrest to design and operate Iron Dome, the companies designed the Information Grid, which checks the flow of electricity to ensure that lines are not overloaded, and that electricity “viruses” — attacks on specific sections of the grid – don’t spread, allowing administrators to quickly identify suspicious activity and isolate it.

The heart of IG is:

a command and control system similar to the one that controls Iron Dome. When an attack is detected – if a SCADA system that is controlling electrical flow starts acting “funny,” for example – the Grid will notice it right away, and it will automatically shut off connections to the substation or segment of the system that has been compromised, preventing further damage and allowing security personnel to better track the source of the attack.

The system allows integration and control in real-time of thousands of sensors, which are installed at about 300 different sites in Israel. The sensors measure a wide variety of data, which flows into the Grid and is analyzed in real time. The Grid is based on a unique architecture which allows the integration of an infinite number of systems and assets, with no limitation on the number of links or data, said the IEC, and it can also handle additional information from a wide variety of legacy programs that measure and record data.

Here in the US we had investigative articles by the Wall Street Journal about a purported terrorist attack against the Metcalf substation of Pacific Gas and Electric in Silicon Valley. Aroused by the Metcalf substation attack, Jon Wellinghoff ,the former head of the Federal  Energy  Regulation Commission (FERC),   directed that   simulation studies  of  possible attacks be made  at key substations in the national grid. Those simulations of the national grid alarmingly revealed that terrorist attacks at just 9 strategically located substations in the US could collapse the entire grid.   The Congress has also been concerned about the vulnerability of the national grid arising from a Commission that released a report in 2006 about how to protect the electrical infrastructure from both natural and man-made EMP attacks.  That  led to development of   H.R. 2417 SHIELD (Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act)  and  H.R. 5026 GRID  (Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act) -proposals to harden the nation’s electrical system and protect the infrastructure from EMP, physical and cyber attacks.  Neither of these legislative proposals has progressed due to  opposition by the US electrical power industry because of alleged significant additional investment to achieve security. We wrote in a March 2014 Iconoclast post:

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the principal electric utility standard setting organization, has opposed passage of the SHIELD Act calling the network “resilient”.  Au contraire says an official of Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) cited by the WSJ: “The breadth and depth of the attack was unprecedented” in the U.S., said Rich Lordan, senior technical executive. “The motivation”, he said, “appears to be preparation for an act of war.”  When we checked the websites of the  House Energy and Commerce Committee  Chairman  Fred Upton (R-MI ) and  Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) their major concerns  were the vulnerability of the grid to cyber attack.

The  joint IEC-mPrest  Information Grid cyber protection  development should be of interest to  FERC, NERC and EPRI given  Congressional concerns over the vulnerability  of the  national  grid to terrorists, EMP  and cyber threats.

This latest display of Israeli high tech ingenuity should raise interest in protecting currently vulnerable US, EU and other electrical grids.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured image of a hacker is by Dreamstime.

Israel, the TEA Party and the Media

I am probably not alone in noticing that the mainstream media’s deplorable and unfair treatment of Israel is strikingly similar to how it treats the TEA Party. In both cases, the MSM has chosen a side, spinning its reporting to brand the victims intolerant, racist and hate-filled aggressors.

Israel was minding its own business when it was attacked by Hamas, showering Israeli towns with thousands of rockets. Hamas seeks the total destruction of Israel. If it were not for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, millions of Israelis would be dead.

Now get this folks. It does not get more cold, calculating and satanically evil than this. Hamas stores and launches its rockets from civilian sites, schools, hospitals, mosques and more.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the situation perfectly when he said Israel is using its Iron Dome to defend its people from missiles launched by Hamas who use their people to shield their missiles. So when Palestinian civilian casualties obviously far exceeded those of the Israelis, the MSM went postal on Israel; machine-gunning Israel with negative stories.

The truth is Israel has shown remarkable compassion and restraint, going above and beyond to avoid harming civilians.

Before bombing a Hamas target, Israel texts, makes phone calls and even fires warning firecrackers to alert civilians, begging them to evacuate the premises. Who in the world fights a war in such a humane manner?

Still, the MSM flooded the worldwide airways with images of suffering and dying Palestinian women and children, purposely deleting crucial facts to misrepresent the truth to shape public opinion against Israel. This is exactly what the MSM has done to the TEA Party.

By the way, Israel’s lifesaving Iron Dome system is the same technology launched by Ronald Reagan (Strategic Defense Initiative) that was heavily mocked by liberals and the Democrats. Senator Ted Kennedy laughed at Reagan describing his initiative as a misleading Red-Scare tactic and reckless Star Wars scheme.

The TEA Party which consist of mostly middle-aged adults, seniors, parents and grandparents was birthed in response to Obama’s shock-and-awe attacks on our freedoms and unprecedented unlawful power grabs.

Obama’s desire to fundamentally transform America was hidden in plain sight before his historic election. The millions of white voters who put the first black man in the White House were blinded by MSM hype and their desire to make amends for America’s sin of slavery.

Because the MSM is in favor of Obama’s transformation of America, MSM fellow “transformers” demonized the millions of white former Obama supporters in the TEA Party.

The MSM’s goal is to brand all opposition to Obama’s socialist/progressive agenda hatred for a black president. Blatantly and shamelessly the MSM is shaping public opinion against the TEA Party, instilling division and racial hate.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

I pray that our TEA Party leaders will take a cue from Israel’s strong, brave and courageous Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Regardless of worldwide public opinion and slings and arrows launched by the MSM, Netanyahu will not be intimidated into not defending, protecting and making decisions in the best interest of his people.

We do have a hand full of character driven leaders who have consistently displayed the same backbone as Netanyahu. My list of TEA Party conservative all stars include Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ken Cuccinelli, Steve Lonegan, Mike Sullivan, Trey Gowdy and Joe Carr to name a few.

These people are human beings. They need our encouragement and support to remain strong; keeping their heads down to avoid the Left’s punches while landing right hooks to the head of our evil relentless Nemesis.

The MSM obviously seeks the destruction of Israel and the TEA Party. Like He is with Israel, God is on the side of the TEA Party. I thank God for giving Israel Netanyahu.

With great anticipation, I await the emergence of our charismatic conservative leader who will boldly articulate conservatism; someone who will lead the charge to restore our great nation to a new day of American Exceptional-ism.

Senate Democrats playing disgusting political game with Israel’s security

Call me whatever you want and personally attack me as you like for saying this, but Senate Democrats are playing a disgusting game with the security of Israel for political purposes.

The U.S .Defense Department has asked for emergency funding of $225 million in support of Israel’s Iron Dome protective weapon system that has had over a 90 percent success rate in shooting down incoming Hamas rockets. In the Democrat-controlled Senate, instead of allowing this as a stand-alone appropriations measure, they seek to tie this with funding support of President Obama’s request in the current illegal immigration border crisis. Funny — I didn’t see any caveats when the Secretary of State gave Hamas, a terrorist organization, $47 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Who do you think the American people would rather see their taxpayer dollars support — more mock illegal immigrant courts, an Islamic terror group, or our ally in the Middle East facing an onslaught of incoming rockets?

This is the devious way funding is manipulated on Capitol Hill — and I don’t consent to either side doing this practice, so spare me the partisan diatribe. This is blatantly wrong and demonstrates to Prime Minister Netanyahu that for Democrats it’s not about doing what’s right, it’s about their immigration agenda.

And for you anti-big bank/government bank supporters, Democrats are also looking at linking support for the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank to the illegal immigration funding measure. So you progressive socialist, Occupy Wall Street types, you can see your beloved Democrats will sell out their principles — if they had any — for anything.

And if you want to check, I voted against the renewal of the Ex-Im Bank as it is not the business of the federal government and skews the free market economy.

But just remember, as Israel fires Iron Dome missiles, their supply dwindles. It is a race to conduct a ground operation, Operation Protective Edge, that eliminated Hamas rocket firing points and capability, as well as destroying the Hamas ammunition stockpile, which is funded by Qatar and Iran. And did I mention, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon flew to Israel aboard a flight paid for by the Qataris?

Senate Democrats are playing a very horrible game with the survival of a nation, Israel. Call your Senators and tell them to have a single vote on the emergency funding for Iron Dome. If you choose not to, then we know on whose side you stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.