Iran plans one-kiloton underground nuclear test in 2012

An underground nuclear test

According to debkafile’s Iranian sources, Tehran is preparing an underground test of a one-kiloton nuclear device during 2012, much like the test carried out by North Korea in 2006. Underground facilities are under construction in great secrecy behind the noise and fury raised by the start of advanced uranium enrichment at Iran’s fortified, subterranean Fordo site near Qom.
All the sanctions imposed so far for halting Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon have had the reverse effect, stimulating rather than cooling its eagerness to acquire a bomb.

Yet, according to a scenario prepared by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University for the day after an Iranian nuclear weapons test, Israel was resigned to a nuclear Iran and the US would offer Israel a defense pact while urging Israel not to retaliate.

As quoted by the London Times Monday, Jan. 1, INSS experts, headed by Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, deduced from a simulation study they staged last week that. Their conclusion is that neither the US nor Israel will use force to stop Iran’s first nuclear test which they predicted would take place in January 2013.

Our Iranian sources stress, however, that Tehran does not intend to wait for the next swearing-in of a US president in January 2013,  whether Barack Obama is returned for a second term or replaced by a Republican figure, before moving on to a nuclear test.

Iran’s Islamist rulers have come to the conclusion from the Bush and Obama presidencies that America is a paper tiger and sure to shrink from attacking their nuclear program – especially while the West is sunk in profound economic distress.

debkafile’s sources stress that both Tehran and the INSS are wrong: The Tel Aviv scenario is the work of a faction of retired Israeli security and intelligence bigwigs who, anxious to pull the Netanyahu government back from direct action against the Islamic Republic, have been lobbying for the proposition that Israel can live with a nuclear-armed Iran.
Our Washington sources confirm, however, that President Obama considers the risk of permitting a nuclear-armed Iran to be greater than the risks of military action.

Monday, Jan. 9, top administration officials said that developing a nuclear weapon would cross a red line and precipitate a US strike. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: “If Iran takes the step to develop a nuclear weapon or blocking the Strait of Hormuz, they’re going to be stopped.” He was repeating the warnings of the past month made by himself and Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Martin Dempsey.

As for Israel, Dennis Ross, until recently senior adviser to President Obama, reiterated in a Bloomberg interview on Jan. 10: “No one should doubt that President Barack Obama is prepared to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon if sanctions and diplomacy fail.”
As for Israel, Ross said: “I wouldn’t discount the possibility that the Israelis would act if they came to the conclusion that basically the world was prepared to live with Iran with nuclear weapons,” he said. “They certainly have the capability by themselves to set back the Iranian nuclear program.”

Israel’s media screens and front pages are dominated these days by short-lived, parochial political sensations and devote few words to serious discourse on such weighty issues as Iran’s nuclear threat.
This is a luxury that the US president cannot afford in an election year.  Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb and conduct of a nuclear test would hurt his chances of a second term. The race is therefore on for an American strike to beat Iran’s nuclear end game before the November 2012 presidential vote.

The INSS have also wrongly assessed Russia’s response to an Iranian nuclear test as “to seek an alliance with the US to prevent nuclear proliferation in the region.”
This fails to take into account that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, running himself for a third term as president in March, has already committed Moscow to a new Middle East policy which hinges on support for a nuclear Iran and any other Middle East nation seeking a nuclear program. This is part of Russia’s determined plan to trump America’s Arab Spring card. source – DEBKA


As Oil Sanctions Fail, Netanyahu Says Time To Strike Iran Is NOW


Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu advised visiting Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey Friday, Jan.20 that the time for action against Iran was now, for two reasons: First, the conviction that Iran has passed the point of no return for developing a nuclear weapon; and second, the diminishing prospects for a US-led embargo on Iranian oil to catch on before it is too late.

The Obama administration disputes the Israeli prime minister on both points, insisting there is still time for tough sanctions to incapacitate the Iranian economy and stop Tehran before it reaches the point of no return in its drive for a nuke. Israel insists that this pivotal point was reached four years ago in 2008.

Gen. Dempsey was exhaustively briefed on the Israeli position during his whirlwind interviews Friday with President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and three conversations with Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, one with key General Staff officers.

It was not by chance that Maj. Gen. (ret.) Asher Yadlin, until last year Israel chief of military intelligence, maintained in a detailed article in the Tel Aviv daily Maariv: “If Iranian leaders were to convene tonight and decide to go ahead with the secret production of a nuclear bomb, they already possess the resources and components for doing so. This [capability] was once defined as the point of no return. [As matters stand] now, Iran’s nuclear timeline no longer hinges on the calendar; it rests entirely on a decision in Tehran.”
The former intelligence chief was saying that for four years, the US and Israeli governments colluded in propagating the false assumption that Iran had not reached a nuclear weapon capability. Presenting a highly problematic oil embargo in 2012 as capable of putting Iran off its nuclear stride is equally illusory.

Yadlin’s disclosure provided backing for Netanyahu who Thursday, Jan. 19, at the end of a visit to Holland, asserted for the first time: “Iran has decided to become a nuclear state” and called for “action now to stop Iran before it’s too late.”
Some of Israel’s cabinet ministers tried to soften the impact of the prime minister’s words by suggesting that his bluntness aimed at pushing President Barack Obama into implementing the sanctions he signed into law on Dec. 30 targeting Iran’s central bank and oil sales, and giving him an extra lever for bringing the European Union and Asian powers aboard.
But Netanyahu soon put them right. According to debkafile’s Jerusalem sources, he lined them all up to inform Gen. Dempsey – and through him President Obama – that they did not believe in those sanctions and suspected the Obama administration of orchestrating their buildup as a tool for holding Israel back from a unilateral strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Debkafile’s oil sources in Asia and Europe report that updated figures confirm how little traction the oil embargo campaign has achieved so far: There is no evidence that China, Japan, South Korea, India, Turkey and the European Union members, which purchase in total 85 percent of Iran’s total average export of 2.5 million barrels a day, have cancelled any part of their orders.

While China – which in 2011 bought from Iran 550,000 barrels a day, covering 11 percent of its oil – cut its orders down in January by 285,000, this had nothing to do with ab embargo. Beijing was simply exploiting the threat of an embargo to squeeze from Iran a discount on prices and reduction of its debt for previous purchases. China made it clear to the Security Council that is opposed to “sanctions, pressure and military threats” against Iran. After settling its price dispute with Tehran, China fully intends to return to its former level of trade, even if it decides to partially diversify its oil sources to Saudi Arabia following Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s Middle East trip this month.

The European Union, which buys some 450,000 barrels per day from Iran, holds a special meeting Monday, Jan. 23, after failing last week to approve a cutback on purchases from Iran. Iran provides Greece, Italy and Spain respectively with about 25 percent, 13 percent and 10 percent of their oil. They are holding out for a very partial embargo and want it delayed until the end of 2012.
Japan, while pledging publicly to keep reducing its purchases of Iranian crude by 100,000 barrels a day, is waiting to see whether China and India join the ban. “The United States should try and talk more with India and China as they are the biggest buyers of Iranian crude,” said Japan’s foreign minister Koichiro Gemba this week, clearly passing the buck.

South Korea is only willing to forgo 40,000 bpd, but is asking for a waiver.

India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said this week that India, which as Iran’s second biggest buyer after China relies on Iran for 12 percent of its imports (3,500,000-4,000,000 bpd), will continue to trade with Tehran and not abide by sanctions.

In anticipation of a US-led ban on Iran’s central bank, Delhi announced this week that the CBI would open an account with an Indian bank for receiving payment for its oil, partly in Indian rupees instead of US dollars.
Turkey, keen to position itself as broker between the West and Tehran and the venue for future nuclear negotiations, is maintaining its import level of 200,000 bpd of crude from Iran.

Given the snaillike progress of the international oil sanctions campaign against Iran, the Israeli Prime Minister informed Gen. Dempsey Friday that he could not see his way to giving the Obama administration more time for these penalties to work. He stressed that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program had reached the critical point where time was of the essence for preempting a nuclear-armed Iran. source – DEBKA


Tensions flare in crossfire between South Korea and North


North Korea ratcheted up tensions with the South after firing an estimated 30 shells into the two countries’ no-sail zone, which may be a precursor to the testing of short-range missiles.

South Korean Army Helicopters

Seoul, South Korea

By Donald Kirk

North Korea raised the stakes Wednesday in the fight-talk contest for advantage in negotiations with live-fire artillery exercises that once again put tensions on edge between the two Koreas.

In a risky game of punch and counterpunch, North Korean gunners opened the episode in the morning by firing off 30 rounds into the Yellow Sea off the Korean west coast, judging from the number of geysers of water reportedly kicked up in the sea where they landed. South Korea responded with as many as 100 warning shots, according to South Korean defense officials, while the South’s Defense Ministry protested in a faxed message to the North.

The contest resumed in the afternoon with the North firing another dozen or so rounds after asserting its right to stage “exercises” in waters long disputed by the two Koreas. This time, however, the South did not fire warning shots – apparently in hopes of tamping down tensions while pursuing talks on issues ranging from the North’s nuclear program to resumption of tourism.

The shootout dramatized the dangers in troubled waters while North Korea pursues a peace treaty to mark a formal ending to the Korean War that broke out nearly 60 years ago.

North Korea earlier declared the area a no-sail zone, telling ships to stay away during test-firing.

The North Korean warning suggested that the North might plan to test short-range missiles, as it has done in the past, but the firing Wednesday was limited to artillery. Unlike in previous tests, however, the shells landed close to the “northern limit line” (NLL) set by the UN Command in 1956 three years after the Korean War, below which North Korean vessels are banned.

The General Staff of the North Korea’s Korean People’s army said the firing was part of an annual drill, that it had every right to stage live-fire exercises – and may go on doing so. South Korea’s defense ministry called the artillery exercise “a grave provocation” and demanded North Korea rescind the no-sail warning.

North Korea has repeatedly repudiated the NLL, and the area was the scene of bloody shootouts in June 1999 and in June 2002 when a number of sailors on both sides were killed. In the most recent previous incident, on November 10, a North Korean vessel retreated in flames after South Korean ships fired on it when it strayed across the line.

This time there were no reports of casualties, but South Korean officials worried that the firing was a sign of a two-track strategy in which North Korea has appeared interested in negotiations but has engaged in harsh rhetoric against South Korea.

North Korea “has been blowing hot and cold,” says Wi Sung Lac, the South’s chief nuclear envoy, back from four days of talks in Washington last weekend.

North Korea accused South Korea of making “an open declaration of war” after South Korea’s defense minister said the South would have to attack first if North Korea appeared likely to stage a nuclear attack. North Korea also responded with outrage, warning of war, after learning that the South was engaged in “contingency planning” in case of the collapse of the North Korean regime.

Mr. Wi says it’s “difficult” to ascertain the North’s intentions but hopes that North Korea would soon return to six-party talks on its nuclear weapons. South Korean officials have hinted that talks on a peace treaty, long sought by North Korea to replace the Korean War armistice, might be held simultaneously with six-party talks rather than after North Korea has done away with its nuclear program.

After months of tension, South Korea has resumed shipments of aid, mostly fertilizer, to North Korea, and North and South have agreed on talks next week on easing restrictions on South Korean companies and personnel at the economic complex at Kaesong, 40 miles north of Seoul, above the line between the two Koreas. North and South Korean negotiators also are expected to open talks soon on resuming tours to the Mount Kumkang region, suspended in July 2008 after a South Korean woman was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier when she wandered outside the tourist area.

A South Korean spokesperson said Wednesday’s shelling did not endanger a South Korean vessel returning with a load of silica through nearby waters from the North Korean port of Haeju on the Yellow Sea.

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Taipei smugglers facilitate Iran nukes


Key pieces of equipment purchased from Europe, shipped to Tehran

Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

Taiwan city

LONDON – British MI6 intelligence agency investigators have discovered Iran has set up a new smuggling network in Taiwan to obtain specialized equipment used for the production of nuclear weapons, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Insiders report Iran has established companies to buy the equipment on the world markets and then smuggle it into Tehran.

The purchases have involved pressure transducers, which are used to produce weapons-grade uranium, and Secret Intelligence Service officers have established that nuclear scientists from Tehran have held meetings in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to buy the units.

The equipment is stored by the companies in a high-security area on the island.

The companies are fronted by local Chinese businessmen, and MI6 officers believe some of them have worked in China‘s own nuclear industry before moving to Taiwan. The intelligence officers have also traced bank accounts held by the businessmen to banks in the Cayman Islands.

Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.

“It suggests that they are almost certainly well paid for the work on behalf of Iran,” said a senior intelligence source in London.

Iran has been trying to acquire the equipment for more than a year. But Russia and European companies refused to sell Tehran the transducers.

Now China has joined in refusing to sell such specialized technology after Beijing supported a censure motion passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna last month following the revelation that Tehran was building a second uranium enrichment facility at Qom.

At the end of this month, the U.N. will be asked to impose a new round of sanctions against Iran unless it agrees to abandon its nuclear program.

A report passed on by MI6 to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna last week revealed Iran had already acquired 100 transducers from Taiwan.

For the complete report and full immediate access to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, subscribe now.

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Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize?


America reacts to Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize


By Drew Zahn


2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

“It’s not April 1, is it?” a White House aide reportedly asked ABC’s Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos.

Apparently, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue awoke, as many American households did this morning, to some shocking news: President Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

In an official statement, the president says he was “most surprised and deeply humbled.”

Others have expressed similar shock that Obama, in office for less than 10 months, had been awarded the prize. Underlying the shock is the fact that the deadline for filing nominations for the award is Feb. 1 of any given year, meaning the president was nominated after being in office for just 11 days.

“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?'” said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights.”

A shocked Michael Savage further blasted the Nobel Prize committee for its choice:

“What has [Obama] done? Has he discovered a cure for brain cancer I don’t know about?” the talk radio host asked in a Newsweek interview. “We all know what the Nobel Prize committee is ever since Yasir Arafat won. It’s a radical leftist front group that hijacked Alfred Nobel’s prize.”

Fellow radio talker Rush Limbaugh also heaped on criticism, stating that awarding the prize to such an unaccomplished president is a “greater embarrassment” than Obama’s recent failed bid to bring the Olympic Games to Chicago.

“This fully exposes the illusion that is Barack Obama,” Limbaugh told POLITICO in an e-mail. “And with this ‘award’ the elites of the world are urging Obama, THE MAN OF PEACE, to not do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States.”

Limbaugh continued, “They love a weakened, neutered U.S., and this is their way of promoting that concept.”

Other reactions, however, have been glowing:

“Obama got the prize not for doing, but for being. Not for making peace, but for exemplifying something new on the world stage – the politics of dignity,” wrote Robert Fuller, former president of Oberlin College, on the Huffington Post. “What is dignitarian politics? It is the recognition that people the world over actually want dignity more than they want either liberty or equality. In policy terms, it means ensuring dignity for all – within and among nations.”

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement, “We are pleased that our president has been awarded one of the highest honors for any world leader. Under president Obama’s leadership, our nation is beginning to restore its international image as a beacon of peace and justice.”

He continued, “CAIR and the American Muslim community stand ready to partner with President Obama in promoting the ‘mutual interest and mutual respect’ he mentioned in his inaugural address.”

WND readers have sent in their share of comments, too.

“To the best of my knowledge, no American President in modern history with no significant foreign policy experience, no major world-shaking legislation to his credit as a junior senator with two years of experience and only a few weeks in office as president before the deadline for nominations ended has won a Nobel Peace Prize,” writes WND reader Geoffrey Cox. “Surely this could only be accomplished either by a figure of deity, or by the voting of some incredibly stupid or corrupt Norwegians – I’m going with the latter.”

Obama is the third sitting U.S. president to win the award, after Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the former in the fifth year of his presidency for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese war and the latter in the sixth year of his administration, largely for his role in establishing the League of Nations.

Other WND readers have also taken exception to awarding the Nobel Prize to a president with few international accomplishments:

  • “The Nobel Peace Prize nine months into his term for … what?” asks WND reader Henry Frickel. “That’s like giving me, a guy who barely knows how to cut-and-paste and thinks Excel is something you do with that pedal on the right, the Computer World ‘Techie of the Year Award.'”
  • “Obama winning the Nobel, what a joke!” scoffed reader Sherry Perkins. “How do you win a Nobel Prize for peace when you have troops killing people in another country?”
  • “Has President Obama reduced standing armies? Did he speak out for the peace process when thousands of Iranians were slaughtered in the streets? No,” writes reader Louis Frederick. “He managed to convince most the world that America is arrogant, uncaring and not worthy of the superpower status we once held. He stood with hands on hips while Russia rolled over the democratic state of Georgia, and the reward was the removal of a missile shield from Czechoslovakia. He flaps lips while Iran is feverishly working on nuclear weapons to bring ‘peace’ to the Middle East by destroying the democratic state of Israel. Ludicrous.”
  • R.C. Rochte comments, “So, ‘The One’ has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (on credit for more surrenders of American sovereignty in the future, no doubt).”

Other reactions from around the country have challenged Obama’s merit for the award, not on his resume but on his politics. Judie Brown, president of American Life League, released the following statement:

“Bestowing the Nobel Prize on the most rabid pro-abortion president in history is a direct slap in the face to past recipient, Mother Teresa of Calcutta who said, upon receiving her Nobel Peace Prize: ‘the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing – direct murder by the mother herself.'” Brown said. “In awarding the prize to Obama, the Nobel Committee is announcing that abortion is the cornerstone of a hellish ‘peace’ – the damning silence of 51 million aborted children in the United States alone.”

She concluded, “The Nobel Committee has bestowed the ‘Peace Prize’ on a man dedicated to war in the womb.”

Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, however, defended the choice – even stating the vote was unanimous – on ABC’s “Good Morning America”:

“President Obama has changed very dramatically international politics,” Lundestad said. “We feel he has emphasized multilateral diplomacy, he has addressed international institutions, dialogue negotiations. He has inspired the world with his vision of a world without nuclear arms. He has changed the U.S. policy dramatically. There’s a whole list.”

As for the president himself, Obama said from the White House Rose Garden, “I do not feel I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures who have been honored by this prize.”

“I also know this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women … want to build,” Obama said of the prize committee. “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership.”

He concluded, “I will accept this award as a call to action.”

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Exiles Accuse Iran of Working On Detonators

Washington Post

By Edward Cody

Iranian Nuclear Program

PARIS, Sept. 24 — An Iranian exile group said Thursday that it has identified two previously unknown sites in and near Tehran where it says Iranian scientists are researching and trying to manufacture detonators for nuclear weapons.

The allegation, from the Paris-based Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, was designed to reinforce the exiles’ long-standing contention that the Iranian government, despite repeated denials, has an active program to develop a nuclear arsenal under the aegis of the Defense Ministry and the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The announcement was timed to coincide with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s appearance at the U.N. General Assembly and with intensified pressure from the United States and other major powers for Iran to allow full inspection of its nuclear-related facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

There was no way to confirm the authenticity of Thursday’s allegation. But previous MEK information has given Western intelligence agencies tips about some Iranian nuclear activities or provided details about research sites.

Mehdi Abrishamchi, an MEK activist, said that as far as he knew, no Western governments were aware of the existence of the two sites.

As did Ahmadinejad in interviews Wednesday, Iran repeatedly has denied a desire to acquire nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy use. According to statements from Iranian officials, activities connected to making nuclear weapons were halted several years ago.

But Abrishamchi said the two sites house programs designed to research and produce high-explosive detonators for atomic bombs.

The information came from “dozens of sources at different levels of the Iranian regime’s various organs” and was cross-checked with dozens more, he said in a statement.

Abrishamchi, a senior member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an MEK-run umbrella group, said the two sites were part of a complex known as METFAZ — the Farsi acronym for Research Center for Explosion and Impact — that apparently has been in operation for several years under the command of the Defense Ministry.

The first site, a research and administrative facility in eastern Tehran, was bought by the Defense Ministry under the name of Massoud Sadighi Divani, a senior ministry official, Abrishamchi said. Inside, scientists carry out computer simulations and other experiments to reach an effective design for high-explosive impact and penetration devices that could serve to detonate a nuclear weapon, he said.

The second site, about 20 miles to the east, is used to manufacture parts needed to construct the detonators, he said. Lying within a military zone with restricted access, it is surrounded by high concrete walls and includes tunnels dug into a nearby hill, he added.

Abrishamchi said the two sites basically continue work that was being done at Shian, a facility that was razed by Iranian authorities after being denounced by the MEK in 2003. He called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to try to inspect the sites as quickly as possible.

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Obama UN speech: all nations have responsibility to act


At the UN General Assembly, Obama said the US is ready to address global challenges such as nuclear proliferation. But the world cannot expect America to solve such problems alone, he said.

President Barack Obama addresses the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, on Wednesday.

By Howard LaFranchi

UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. – President Obama assured the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that the era of a unilateralist America is over. But, he said, the ensuing era of cooperation in addressing the world’s toughest challenges also requires a new sense of responsibility on the part of all nations.

In his first UN speech as president, Mr. Obama said the United States is ready to address challenges ranging from nuclear proliferation to global economic prosperity. Yet the world cannot expect America to figure out international challenges alone, he said.

“Make no mistake: This cannot be solely America’s endeavor,” he told a receptive General Assembly chamber. “Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.”

At the same time, Obama said, all nations have a role to play: “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility.”

Obama’s “responsibility” theme echoes one he has used extensively in addressing domestic issues as well. But at the UN, the call for responsible action received an immediate rebuff from Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi, who gave a rambling and at times incoherent speech in which he called the UN Security Council the “terror council” and belittled the UN as a dictatorship of the powerful.

Mr. Qaddafi’s speech, which droned on for about 90 minutes, exemplified the challenge before Obama in seeking cooperative action from the 192-nation body. The speech also seems bound to reinforce disdain in the US for the UN.

“President Obama has a very difficult task … if he expects to invest the UN with renewed credibility,” says Christopher Preble, director of foreign studies at the Cato Institute in Washington. “The UN is a weak and fractured institution” of “limited power and credibility,” he adds, saying that the US has been as responsible for that weakness as other countries.

In his speech, Obama pledged a new era of US multilateral action based on “four pillars” of major challenges: nonproliferation, peace and security, preservation of planet, and global prosperity.

On nuclear proliferation, Obama said, the next 12 months could be “pivotal”: The UN is set to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty next year, and the US and Russia are poised to agree on further reductions in their arsenals. But the challenge posed by Iran’s and North Korea‘s nuclear programs are also part of the challenge, he said, and go to the heart of the “responsibility” of all nations to act in ways that solve the world’s challenges.

“A world in which international demands are ignored will leave us all less safe,” he said, referring to Iran and North Korea by name and to their flaunting of Security Council resolutions. “If nations put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of the prosperity of their own people, then they must be held accountable,” he added. “Treaties will be enforced.”

Obama dedicated a large chunk of his speech to his efforts to find peace in the Middle East, placing resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the context of his theme global responsibility.

And he acknowledged his personal popularity around the world, but he insisted that the “expectations about my presidency are not about me” but about rejection of an unsatisfactory status quo in the world – and “the hope that real change in possible.”

To underscore his theme, Obama quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt, saying, “The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man … or one nation,” but must be “the cooperative effort of the whole world.”

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Iran building backup nuke plant in Americas?


Venezuelan site could give Hezbollah door to atomic mischief

Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad

Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

Iran may consider a proposal from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to build a backup “nuclear village” in his nation to produce nuclear energy and also to have a safe fall-back production capability in case there is an attack by Israel or the United States on nuclear facilities in Iran, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Chavez, in a visit last week to Iran, proposed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the idea of building a project in Venezuela.

Security sources have confirmed such a “nuclear village” could become the Iranian nuclear production alternative, or a location to hide especially critical nuclear components from attack.

With the United Nations about ready to take up the issue of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear enrichment efforts, such a prospect of attack, particularly from Israel, is increasingly likely. Israeli officials have stated on numerous occasions that a nuclear Iran would threaten Israel’s existence.

While the U.N. is expected to consider proposals for sanctions on Iran, there is an expectation that Russia and China will reject further sanctions. If that happens, security experts believe that Israel then could declare diplomacy a failure, opening the way for its long-intimated attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The issue of nuclear cooperation between Iran and Venezuela arose in the context of military and security cooperation agreements reached between their two leaders.

Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.

France was quick to object to any nuclear cooperation, saying that it would violate various United Nations resolutions, including U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737. That resolution calls for all U.N. members to refrain from the direct or indirect purchase of nuclear-related technology from Iran.

Iran and Venezuela are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, and their legislatures have ratified it, compelling their compliance. At the same time, it allows them to undertake a peaceful nuclear development program.

The purpose of the NPT is to allow for the promotion of cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy while trying to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. The NPT is the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to disarmament by nuclear countries.

To date, some 187 countries are signatories to the NPT. It offers a safeguard system under the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, to verify treaty compliance through inspections. At the same time, it promotes equal access to nuclear technology.

Security experts believe, however, that efforts to insure effective Iranian compliance with the NPT or the U.N. resolutions would be difficult given the need for policing and investigation, something which most countries are not equipped to undertake and may not have the political will to do.

Iranian interest in nuclear cooperation with Venezuela has come up in the past. In 2006, Ahmadinejad and Chavez voiced the need for similar cooperation. At the time, Iranian parliament speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said that Iran would study the possibility.

For the complete report and full immediate access to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, subscribe now.

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Ahmadinejad says he won’t rule out an Iran nuclear bomb


By Arthur Bright

Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s comments coincide with report that IAEA withheld evidence about Iran‘s nuclear weapon capabilities

Ahmadinejad at Quds Day rally

In a rare interview with Western media, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran has no need for nuclear weapons, but he did not rule out the possibility that Iran might develop them in the future. The broadcasting of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks coincided with a new report, based on previously undisclosed information, that the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has withheld evidence about how close Iran is to making a nuclear bomb.

In excerpts of an interview aired Thursday night on NBC News, Ahmadinejad said that “the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes… will never be closed down here in Iran.” When interviewer Ann Curry asked whether Iran would ever develop a nuclear weapon, Ahmadinejad said Iran had no need for such weapons.

“If nuclear weapons were influential, they would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union — for that matter, the downfall of the Zionist regime,” he said, referring to Israel, long believed to possess 200 nuclear weapons. “Our people have never had a need for nuclear weapons.”

“So, may I assume, then, your answer to that question is ‘no’?” Curry asked.

Again, Ahmadinejad said: “We don’t need such — we don’t have a such a need, nuclear weapons. We don’t need nuclear weapons. Without such weapons, we are very much able to defend ourselves.”

Curry pressed Ahmadinejad again on the question, noting that “people will remark that you did not say no.”  He replied, “You can take from this whatever you want, madam.” Further excerpts of the interview, which was taped a week previously in Tehran, ran Friday morning. The full interview is to be aired Sunday afternoon.

Ahmadinejad’s refusal to rule out Iran building a nuclear weapon comes just a day after President Barack Obama announced plans to scrap the Bush administration’s missile shield plan in favor of a new system which would better deal with short- and medium-ranged missiles launched from Iran. President Bush‘s plan would have placed interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic to defend against long-range Iranian missiles targeting Europe.

Also on Thursday, the Associated Press released a report that experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, believe that Iran is currently capable of building a nuclear weapon. The AP based their report on a confidential document titled “Possible Military Dimension of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was written by senior IAEA officials.

The information in the document that is either new, more detailed or represents a more forthright conclusion than found in published IAEA reports includes:

– The IAEA’s assessment that Iran worked on developing a chamber inside a ballistic missile capable of housing a warhead payload “that is quite likely to be nuclear.”

– That Iran engaged in “probable testing” of explosives commonly used to detonate a nuclear warhead — a method known as a “full-scale hemispherical explosively driven shock system.”

– An assessment that Iran worked on developing a system “for initiating a hemispherical high explosive charge” of the kind used to help spark a nuclear blast.

In another key finding, an excerpt notes: “The agency … assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device (an atomic bomb) based on HEU (highly enriched uranium) as the fission fuel.”

These details add significantly to previous reports on Iran’s nuclear capability, as summarized this summer in a Monitor briefing, ‘How close is Iran to a bomb?’

The AP writes that two international officials confirmed the authenticity of the document, though they insisted on anonymity because the document was meant only to be seen by top IAEA officials.

The IAEA denied that it was hiding evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, calling such an idea “politically motivated and baseless,” Reuters reports. In a statement commenting on the AP story, the IAEA said that it “has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapons programme in Iran.”

Reuters also writes that Israel, which has typically been highly vocal about the threat of a nuclear Iran, may be changing its message. Ehud Barak, Israel’s minister of defense, said that even if Iran had nuclear weapons, it would not be able to defeat Israel.

“Right now, Iran does not have a bomb. Even if it did, this would not make it a threat to Israel’s existence. Israel can lay waste to Iran,” Barak said in a transcript of a newspaper interview obtained by Reuters before publication Friday.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly sounded alarms over Iran’s atomic ambitions, pointing at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s calls for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map” and support for Islamist guerrilla groups arrayed along Israel’s borders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a right-winger who brought the centre-left Barak into his coalition government, said he saw “eye to eye” with the Defence minister – signalling a possible change in Israel’s official rhetoric as world powers prepare to revive diplomatic engagement with Iran next month.

Reuters adds that Mr. Netanyahu issued a supportive response to Mr. Barak’s comments, saying “I think that what the Defence minister wanted to say, something that I believe, is that the State of Israel will be able to defend itself in any situation.”

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Israel Finds Strength in Its Missile Defenses

Washington Post

Advanced System Could Alter Strategic Decisions in Region

By Howard Schneider

Israel's missile defense shield is centered on the Arrow 2 antimissile system, which is already deployed. (2004 Photo By Associated Press)

ASHKELON, Israel — As it pushes for international action against Iran‘s nuclear program, Israel is steadily assembling one of the world’s most advanced missile defense systems, a multi-layered collection of weapons meant to guard against a variety of threats, including the shorter-range Grads used to strike Israeli towns like this one and intercontinental rockets.

The effort, partly financed by the United States and incorporating advanced American radar and other technology, has been progressing quietly for two decades. But Israeli defense and other analysts say it has now reached a level of maturity that could begin changing the nature of strategic decisions in the region. Centered on the Arrow 2 antimissile system, which has been deployed, the project is being extended to include a longer-range Arrow 3, the David’s Sling interceptor designed to hit lower- and slower-flying cruise missiles, and the Iron Dome system intended to destroy Grads, Katyushas, Qassams and other shorter-range projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon.

With the Arrow system in operation and the Iron Dome due for deployment next year, Israel “has something to stabilize the situation: the knowledge that an attack will fail,” said Uzi Rubin, a private defense consultant who ran Israel’s missile shield program in the 1990s. Iran, he said, now cannot be assured of a successful first strike against Israel, while groups such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon may find one of their favored tactics undermined.

Advances in Iran’s rocket technology, coupled with its nuclear program, are chief concerns of the United States and Europe, as well as of Israel and other Middle Eastern countries. Alongside diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear research, missile defense programs have been designed with that country in mind.

The Obama administration decided this week to scrap a Bush-era plan to deploy a longer-range-missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, and said it would move toward a more intermediate system that better matches its assessment of Iran’s capabilities.

In Israel, the issue is considered a top foreign policy priority. There have been varying Israeli assessments about Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon: The head of the Mossad intelligence agency told a parliament committee over the summer that Iran may be five years away from acquiring an atom bomb, but the head of military intelligence has said it could happen by the end of this year.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, sees Iran’s program as an imminent danger. It “is something that threatens Israel and threatens the region and threatens the peace of the world,” he said during a recent visit to Germany. “There is not much time.”

A recent unannounced trip by Netanyahu to Russia was thought by some Israeli analysts to be linked to the broad set of issues regarding Iran, including Russia’s possible sale of advanced antiaircraft missiles to Tehran and the likelihood that Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if the United States and Europe cannot find another solution.

But the steady growth of Israel’s missile defenses sheds a different light on the country’s military doctrine and sense of vulnerability.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this week that he did not consider Iran’s nuclear program an “existential issue” because “Israel is strong.” Part of that strength lies in its nuclear capabilities — never acknowledged but widely presumed to exist — and part in the assumption that the United States would stand behind Israel if it came under attack. But it also rests in the calculation that enough of the country’s air bases and other military facilities would survive a first strike to retaliate effectively.

The sort of deterrence — guaranteed retaliation — that the United States and then-Soviet Union once achieved by deploying nuclear warheads in submarines and keeping bombers aloft is what Israel is striving for through its antimissile systems.

Iran “is radical, but radical does not mean irrational,” Rubin, the defense consultant, said. “They want to change the world, not commit suicide.”

Israel’s program had its origins in the 1980s and grew out of concern about Syria’s suspected acquisition of chemical weapons. It took on added urgency in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when nearly 40 Iraqi Scud missiles hit the Tel Aviv area.


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