Tag Archives: WMDs

Document Shows CIA Reaction to Finding No WMD in Iraq

By David Swanson, teleSUR
July 10, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

unnamedThe National Security Archive has posted several newly available documents, one of them an account by Charles Duelfer of the search he led in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, with a staff of 1,700 and the resources of the U.S. military.

Duelfer was appointed by CIA Director George Tenet to lead a massive search after an earlier massive search led by David Kay had determined that there were no WMD stockpiles in Iraq. Duelfer went to work in January 2004, to find nothing for a second time, on behalf of people who had launched a war knowing full well that their own statements about WMDs were not true.

The fact that Duelfer states quite clearly that he found none of the alleged WMD stockpiles cannot be repeated enough, with 42% of Americans (and 51 percent of Republicans) still believing the opposite.

A New York Times story last October about the remnants of a long-abandoned chemical weapons program has been misused and abused to advance misunderstanding. A search of Iraq today would find U.S. cluster bombs that were dropped a decade back, without of course finding evidence of a current operation.

Duelfer is also clear that Saddam Hussein’s government had accurately denied having WMD, contrary to a popular U.S. myth that Hussein had pretended to have what he did not.

The fact that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their team knowingly lied cannot be overemphasized. This group took the testimony of Hussein Kamel regarding weapons he’d said had been destroyed years ago, and used it as if he’d said they currently existed. This team used forged documents to allege a uranium purchase. They used claims about aluminum tubes that had been rejected by all of their own usual experts. They “summarized” a National Intelligence Estimate that said Iraq was unlikely to attack unless attacked to say nearly the opposite in a “white paper” released to the public. Colin Powell took claims to the U.N. that had been rejected by his own staff, and touched them up with fabricated dialogue.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that, “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even nonexistent.”

On January 31, 2003, Bush suggested to Blair that they could paint an airplane with U.N. colors, fly it low to get it shot at, and thereby start the war. Then the two of them walked out to a press conference at which they said they would avoid war if at all possible. Troop deployments and bombing missions were already underway.

When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied: “What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger.”

Duelfer’s newly released internal report on his hunt, and that of Kay before him, for the figments of propagandists’ imagination refers to “Saddam Hussein’s WMD program,” which Duelfer treats as an on-again, off-again institution, as if the 2003 invasion had just caught it in one of its naturally cyclical low tides of non-existence. Duelfer also describes the nonexistent program as “an international security problem that vexed the world for three decades,” — except perhaps for the part of the world engaged in the largest public demonstrations in history, which rejected the U.S. case for war.

Duelfer openly states that his goal was to rebuild “confidence in intelligence projections of threat.” Of course, having found no WMDs, he can’t alter the inaccuracy of the “projections of threat.” Or can he? What Duelfer did publicly at the time and does again here is to claim, without providing any evidence for it, that “Saddam was directing resources to sustain the capacity to recommence producing WMD once U.N. sanctions and international scrutiny collapsed.”

Duelfer claims that former Saddam yes men, rigorously conditioned to say whatever would most please their questioner, had assured him that Saddam harbored these secret intentions to start rebuilding WMD someday. But, Duelfer admits, “there is no documentation of this objective. And analysts should not expect to find any.”

So, in Duelfer’s rehabilitation of the “intelligence community” that may soon be trying to sell you another “projection of threat” (a phrase that perfectly fits what a Freudian would say they were doing), the U.S. government invaded Iraq, devastated a society, killed upwards of a million people by best estimates, wounded, traumatized, and made homeless millions more, generated hatred for the United States, drained the U.S. economy, stripped away civil liberties back home, and laid the groundwork for the creation of ISIS, as a matter not of “preempting” an “imminent threat” but of preempting a secret plan to possibly begin constructing a future threat should circumstances totally change.

This conception of “preemptive defense” is identical to two other concepts. It’s identical to the justifications we’ve been offered recently for drone strikes. And it’s identical to aggression. Once “defense” has been stretched to include defense against theoretical future threats, it ceases to credibly distinguish itself from aggression. And yet Duelfer seems to believe he succeeded in his assignment.

Netanyahu Is “The Right Man” to Address the US Congress on Iran

By Prof. Yakov M. Rabkin
March 03, 2015
Global Research

 

UN-GENERAL ASSEMBLY-ISRAELIsrael’s Prime Minister is well-placed to explain to the U.S. Congress the alleged danger of a nuclear Iran. After all, it was Israel and its allies in Washington who fabricated this issue to begin with. It is thus incumbent upon Mr. Netanyahu to try to give credence to that allegation even as U.S., European – and even Israeli – intelligence agencies agree that Iran is not trying to produce nuclear weapons. Some may remember that the claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction had come largely from the same people close to Israel’s right-wing Likud party.

The role of this Likud lobby has been seminal in stirring the campaign against Iran. It was at the AIPAC meeting in Spring 2006 that Iran was made a special target, with giant screens alternating clips of Adolf Hitler denouncing the Jews and then the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatening “to wipe Israel off the map”. The show ended with a fade-out to the post-Holocaust vow “Never Again.” Within months, the lobby distributed anti-Iran press kits to thirteen thousand journalists in the United States alone, durably embedding these emotionally charged images in mainstream media.

Iranian leaders have been routinely portrayed as deniers of the Holocaust who threaten to wipe Israel off the map. These two claims have been reproduced in thousands of newspapers, depicting Iran as a rogue state and a danger to world peace. They have also been used to impose Western sanctions on Iran for allegedly trying to produce nuclear weapons. Millions of Iranians suffer from these sanctions, and many more may suffer from military action that remains “on the table” in Tel-Aviv and Washington. This is why these claims, which present Iranian decision-makers as irrational Jews-haters, deserve closer scrutiny.

The issue of Iran’s nuclear programme requires cool-headed analysis. However, conflation of Israel and Zionism with Jews and Judaism has long stifled rational debate concerning the Middle East. This is how critics of Israel, whether Gentile or Jewish, are routinely accused of anti-Semitism. Such accusations have come to impact international relations on a larger scale, and “Iran’s nuclear bomb” is a case in point. Mr. Netanyahu arrives in Washington pretending to speak on behalf of world Jewry rather than as an elected representative of Israeli citizenry, at least one third of whom are not Jews.

Holocaust Denial

Among the participants at an international conference on the Holocaust convened by the former Iranian president nearly a decade ago there were a few notorious Holocaust deniers as well as black-clad Orthodox Jews who spoke of the massacre of their own relatives at the hand of the Nazis. It is of little practical interest to debate whether Mr. Ahmadinejad denies the veracity of the Holocaust since he has long been out of power. But one may wonder why we tend to consider Holocaust denial as exceptionally grievous. Indeed, a denier of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Ukraine in the 17th century or of the expulsion of Jews from Spain in the 15th would attract no more attention than a member of the Flat Earth Society. It is not only the immediacy and the magnitude of the Holocaust, but the Zionists’ uses of its memory that make it unique.

Iranian leaders were not the first to decry the price that the establishment of the state of Israel has exacted from the Palestinians (Muslims, Christians as well quite a few Jews) who have been made to pay for the crime committed in Europe by European Nazis against European Jews. Whatever this objection is worth, it is not a denial of the Holocaust, but rather an objection against using this tragedy as a tool to legitimize Zionism and Israel’s continuing dispossession of the Palestinians.

According to Moshe Zimmermann, professor of German history and public intellectual in Israel,

“the Shoah [Holocaust] is an oft-used instrument. Speaking cynically, it can be said that the Shoah is among the most useful objects for manipulating the public, and particularly the Jewish people, in and outside of Israel. In Israeli politics, the Shoah is held to demonstrate that an unarmed Jew is as good as a dead Jew”.

Political uses of the Nazi genocide are common. Israel’s former minister of education affirmed that “the Holocaust is not a national insanity that happened once and passed, but an ideology that has not passed from the world and even today the world may condone crimes against us.” In addition to providing Israel with a highly persuasive raison d’être, the Holocaust has proved a powerful means of leveraging aid. An Israeli parliamentarian put it bluntly:

Even the best friends of the Jewish people refrained from offering significant saving help of any kind to European Jewry and turned their back on the chimneys of the death camps… therefore all the free world, especially in these days, is required to show its repentance… by providing diplomatic-defensive-economic aid to Israel.

Norman Finkelstein’s Holocaust Industry amply documents how the memory of the Nazi genocide can be harnessed for political purposes. For decades, the Holocaust has functioned as an instrument of persuasion in the hands of Israeli foreign policy to mute criticism and to generate sympathy for the state, which styles itself as the collective heir of the six million victims. Mr. Netanyahu regularly invokes the Holocaust in public debate about Iran. He claims that the hypothetical Iranian nuclear bomb constitutes “an existential threat”. However, in a peculiar non sequitur he calls Israel “the only secure place for the Jews”. In the wake of the recent attacks on Jews in Paris and Copenhagen Mr. Netanyahu again called on European Jews to leave their countries and move to Israel that he referred to as their “real home”. His invocations of “a nuclear holocaust” at the hands of Iran play well among his supporters but hardly represent a rational foreign policy argument.

Wipe Israel Off the Map

Much ink has been spilled over another claim, viz., that Iran declared its intention to “wipe Israel off the map”. Juan Cole and others have since shown that the translation was false and the word “map” does not even appear in the original. In fact, it was a quote from one of Ayatollah Khomeini’s old anti-Zionist diatribes: Esrâ’il bâyad az sahneyeh roozégâr mahv shavad, which means “Israel must vanish from the page of time.” After the canard about “wiping Israel off the map” circled the world and was firmly implanted in the public mind, the Zionist instigators of the anti-Iran campaign quietly dropped it from further use. A recent report about Iran published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a Zionist think tank particularly active in stirring the anti-Iran campaign, translates the Khomeini quote correctly but still insists that the quote is “genocidal”. The latter term has become a favourite in recent Zionist publications: the same report refers to “the failed genocidal 1948 war of several Arab states and Palestinians against Israel.”

In fact, Iranian leaders have repeatedly called for a need to solve the problems facing the world, including the Palestinian issue, through dialogue. They propose, inter alia,

“a free referendum to establish a government based on the will of the Palestinian nation in which all Palestinians, including Jews, Christians and Muslims will be given the chance to vote.”

None of this seems to imply military action and cannot be interpreted as an “existential threat.” This may explain why none of this catches the attention of mainstream media: moderate statements from Tehran are not deemed “fit to print”.

Iranian leaders have also said that “the Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” Just as the Soviet Union was dismantled peacefully, Israel may disappear peacefully under the weight of its internal contradictions. Just as the Soviet Union was not wiped out in a hail of nuclear bombs, Iran does not suggest using force to bring about the demise of Israel. Nor would this be even remotely serious since Israel enjoys an overwhelming military superiority in the region, in which it remains the sole nuclear power.

The call for an end to Zionism does not mean the destruction of Israel and its population. According to Jonathan Steel of The Guardian, it is no more than “a vague wish for the future”. This wish may amount to no more than the prayer “for the peaceful dismantlement of the Zionist state” uttered regularly by members of the Jewish anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta. In fact, Jewish liturgy itself abounds in rather aggressive stances against those who do not recognize God or commit evil acts. For example, in the High Holiday services, we have the phrase u’malkhut ha’rishaa kula ke’ashan tikhleh (And the kingdom of evil should disappear like smoke). Again, although this literally means to annihilate and destroy a whole country, what really is meant is that the “regime of evil” – any acts of evil done in any place – will be wiped out. Not any person in particular, certainly not thousands of innocent people.

Even though millions of Jews recite this every year, they don’t mean nuclear war. But if one wanted to demonize Jews, one could take this statement and turn it into a baseless accusation that Jews wish to wipe out entire countries. Some Israeli secularists have even interpreted that traditional prayer as a call to destroy the secular majority of Israel’s Jewish population. This is why Jewish tradition abhors literal readings of sacred texts and relies on their rabbinical interpretations however far-fetched these may sometimes appear. For example, the rabbis unanimously interpret the biblical principle of “an eye for an eye” as an obligation to pay monetary compensation, not to get the culprit’s eye knocked out. The above piece of Jewish liturgy is a case of religious rhetoric relying on strong metaphors while expressing a desire to see a world without evil.

More to the point, the last time Iran attacked another country was over three centuries ago. This is not exactly the record of Israel or the United States. To consider Iran somehow less responsible than Israel, which is reported to possess nuclear weapons, seems like an incongruous vestige of colonial mentality.

Moreover, Iran is actively combating the extremists of Daesh (“the Islamic State”) who justify their atrocities by literal interpretations of the Koran. The Jews of Iran continue to practice Judaism without much interference from the Iranian authorities and remain committed to staying put in the country they have inhabited for thousands of years. While overtly anti-Zionist, Iranian leaders have emphasized that they are not anti-Jewish. Had they been anti-Jewish, Iranian authorities would have harassed local Jews rather than provoke a nuclear-armed Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu’s claim to speak “on behalf of the Jews” endangers Jews, particularly in Iran. However, some Zionists remain undeterred and go as far as to reproach Iranian Jews for not leaving for Israel long ago. This attitude exposes the largest and perhaps the oldest Jewish community in the Muslim world since Israel’s raison d’Etat has naturally and often taken precedence over the welfare and the very survival of Jewish communities. Zionists relate to Jews outside Israel as potential immigrants or temporary assets in promoting Israel’s interests.

Jewish Dissent

Mr. Netanyahu’s appearance before the U.S. Congress and his current anti-Iran campaign has generated a profound schism between Jews who unconditionally support Israel and those Jews who reject or question Zionism and actions taken by the state of Israel. Public debate about Israel’s place in Jewish continuity has become open and candid, not only in Israel but elsewhere. Many see the future of the state of Israel as a state of its citizens, Jewish, Muslim, Christian and atheist, rather than a state established and run on behalf of world Jewry.

While there are relatively few Jews who publicly wonder whether the chronically insecure Israel is “good for the Jews”, many more deplore that militant Zionism destroys Jewish moral values and endangers Jews both in Israel and elsewhere. For example, the film Munich by Steven Spielberg sharply focuses on the moral cost of Israel’s chronic reliance on force. During one scene, as a member of the Israeli hit squad hunting Diaspora Palestinian activists quits in disgust, he proclaims “we’re Jews. Jews don’t do wrong because our enemies do wrong…we’re supposed to be righteous. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s Jewish…” While Schindler’s List explores threats to the physical survival of the Jews, Munich exposes threats to their spiritual survival. No wonder that Likud supporters in America besmirched the Jewish director and his film even before it was released. It also lashed out at several recent books (Prophets Outcast, Wrestling with Zion, Myths of Zionism, The Question of Zion) that are concerned with the same essential conflict between Zionism and traditional Jewish values. Mr. Netanyahu’s speech before the U.S. Congress has deeply sharpened his intra-Jewish conflict.

The Likud lobby routinely alleges that Jews who dare criticize Israel endanger its “right to exist” and foment anti-Semitism. This provokes a number of prominent Jews in Britain, Canada and the United States to speak out, which moved candid debate about Israel into mainstream, even conservative publications. The eminently pro-establishment Economist has published a survey of “the state of the Jews” and an editorial calling which calls on rank-and-file Diaspora Jews to move away from the “my country right or wrong” attitude adopted by many Jewish organizations. This certainly erodes the image of the Jews as a group united around the Israeli flag.

Making a stand for Jewish emancipation from the state of Israel and its policies has bridged some old divides and also created new ones. Thus an ultra-Orthodox critic of Israel, usually antagonistic to Reform Judaism, commended a Reform rabbi who had said that

“when Israel’s Jewish supporters abroad don’t speak out against disastrous policies that neither guarantee safety for her citizens nor produce the right climate in which to try and reach a just peace with the Palestinians … then they are betraying millennial Jewish values and acting against Israel’s own long-term interests.”

Many Jews and Israelis believe that the Likud lobby, a collective effort of right-wing Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists, is a major threat to Israel’s long-term security since it invariably supports Israel’s hawks and undermines those Israelis who work for reconciliation in the region. The lobby is also a potent source of anti-Semitism since it is often seen as “Jewish”, which creates the erroneous impression that the Jews dictate American foreign policy by pushing it to the right. In fact, a vast majority of American Jews have voted for Barak Obama. While Israel’s current leaders and their allies in America continue to incite the world against Iran, several peace organizations in Israel and in various Jewish Diasporas issued statements condemning the anti-Iran campaign and Mr. Netanyahu’s behaviour.

Nowadays, when no Arab state poses a military threat to Israel it is Iran that many Israelis are made to fear. Just next to Iran, which has repeatedly denied any interest in acquiring a nuclear weapon, lies Pakistan, an unstable regime with a strong Islamist movement, including elements of Al-Qaeda, and a real, not imaginary, nuclear arsenal. While Pakistan has not threatened Israel, there may be no end to “existential threats” if the Zionist state stays its course and continues to defy the people of the entire region by denying justice to the Palestinians.

In Praise of Precision

The two emotionally charged claims hurled at Iran have dominated Western media. Another accusation that Iran had allegedly passed a law requiring Jews to wear a yellow insignia, reported by Toronto’s National Post a few years ago, further strengthened the image of Iran as a new Nazi Germany. While the report was retracted the following day, more people remember the damning news than the subsequent retraction from the daily whose owners are active in Canada’s own Likud lobby.

This disinformation certainly helps prepare the public opinion for a military strike – by the United States or Israel – against the oil-rich Iran, a disquieting remake of the scare of Iraq’s illusory weapons of mass destruction that triggered an all-out military attack on that unfortunate country, whose population had suffered from Western sanctions for over a decade. Saddam Hussein was duly portrayed as another incarnation of Hitler, and, once again, the spectre of a nuclear Holocaust was invoked.

It is Israel that reportedly possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons and, unlike Iran, refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Iran has never declared an intention to produce nuclear weapons. According to reputable Israeli experts, Iran cannot acquire a military nuclear capability for five to ten years, and if and when it does acquire it, they expect Iran to use it to restrain Israel’s foreign incursions rather than attack it.

Iranian leaders are misrepresented as demented extremists with unlimited powers who can be expected to act irrationally. It follows that they must be stopped at any cost. This has become a mantra not only of the Israeli right wing politicians, such as the eloquent Mr. Netanyahu, who, in defiance of the U.N. Charter, overtly threatens to attack Iran, but for quite a few American politicians who admire him. While the White House and foreign policy and intelligence professionals know that neither Israel nor the United States are in danger of an attack from Iran, their rational arguments seem less persuasive than emotional rhetoric from the Hill. The United States has well known geopolitical interests in the Persian Gulf, but the accusations against Iran based on the deliberate conflation between Israel and the Jews may fatefully distort foreign policy making in Washington.

Intellectuals appreciate precision. Policy-makers need it no less since they are expected to act prudently and rationally. Mr. Netanyahu’s intervention in America’s foreign policy making is part of a long-term attempt to align the lone superpower’s interests with those of the Zionist state. This is why his arguments should be weighed carefully and without undue emotion so often obscuring issues concerning Israel and its neighbours. For several years, Western chanceries have focused on restraining Israel from military action against Iran. Israel’s hands were thus freed to deal with the Palestinians with virtual impunity. The new “existential threat” from Iran’s hypothetical weapon of mass destruction has already served Israel’s purpose as a “weapon of mass distraction”.

The phenomenal growth of Daesh graphically shows what demodernization and the ensuing despair in that part of the world may entail. We need only to look at Iraq, Libya and Syria, all three subjected to outside military intervention, and at the subsequent emergence of Daesh, to understand that destabilizing a country or region has far-reaching sinister consequences. Israel’s Prime minister invokes the alleged Iranian threat in order to slow down or reverse Iran’s policies of modernization. The forced demodernization of Iraq, Syria and Libya, the most secular and educated countries in the Arab world, has certainly benefited Israel’s strategic position in the area. Mr. Netanyahu must now explain how exactly demodernization of Iran will benefit the United States.

Yakov Rabkin is Professor of History and associate of CERIUM, Centre for International Studies at the University of Montreal; he is the author of A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism (Palgrave Macmillan/Zed Books) and Comprendre l’Etat d’Israel (Ecosociete). Some of the material used in this article previously appeared in Revue internationale et stratégique 2/2008 (No 70), p. 195-208 in Paris.

Netanyahu Goes Nuclear…Now Wait for the Fallout

Analysis: A leaked report has undermined Binyamin Netanyahu’s claims on Iran’s nuclear capability

By Jonathan Cook
February 26, 2015
Jonathan Cook’s Blog, February 25, 2015

 

netanyahu bombesThe contents of a secret report by Israel’s Mossad spy agency on Iran’s nuclear programme leaked to the media this week are shocking and predictable in equal measure.

Shocking because the report reveals that the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has spent years trying to convince the international community and Israelis that Tehran is racing towards building a nuclear bomb, when evidence presented by his own spies suggests the opposite.

Predictable because since early 2011 Israel’s security establishment has been screaming as loudly as any secret service realistically could that Netanyahu was not to be trusted on the Iran issue.

The significance of the leak is not just historical, given that Netanyahu is still trying to scaremonger about an Iranian threat and undermine negotiations between western powers and Tehran.

According to the report, leaked to al-Jazeera and the Guardian newspaper, Mossad concluded in 2012 that Tehran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”.

At the time, Netanyahu was widely reported to be pushing for a military strike against Iran. He had recently flourished a cartoon bomb at the UN in New York, claiming Tehran was only a year away from developing a nuclear weapon. The international community had to act immediately, he said.

Mossad however estimated that Iran had limited amounts of uranium enriched to 20 per cent, far off the 93 per cent needed for a bomb. Tehran has always argued it wants low-grade uranium for a civilian energy programme, as allowed by the Non-Proliferation Treaty that Tehran it has signed.

In 2012, the New York Times reported that the Mossad and the US shared similar assessments of Iran’s nuclear programme. “There is not a lot of dispute between the US and Israeli intelligence communities on the facts,” a senior US official told the paper.

Earlier, in 2007, a US spy agency report suggested Iran had abandoned any efforts to develop a military nuclear programme years before, and was not trying to revive it.

Downplayed by media

This week’s leak has been downplayed by the Israeli media, at a time when it has the potential to seriously damage Netanyahu’s election campaign. His rivals are making almost no capital from the revelations either.

The low-key reception is even more surprising, given that Netanyahu is expected to reprise his 2012 fearmongering at the UN in an address to the US Congress next week. He hopes to undermine talks between the US and Iran on reaching a deal on the latter’s nuclear programme.

Netanyahu’s move – made without coordination with the White House – has infuriated Obama and brought relations to their lowest ebb in living memory.

This week it emerged that Netanyahu also failed to consult his national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, who oversees Israel’s strategic relationships. Cohen, who took up the post in 2013, served in Mossad for 30 years.

In justifying the lack of furore, Israeli security analysts claim that Mossad estimates from 2012 do not diverge significantly from Netanyahu’s public position. Both were agreed that Iran is seeking to build a bomb, they argue, but the two sides took a different view on the rate at which Iran was enriching uranium and thereby moving towards the moment it could make a weapon.

That argument is far from convincing.

Yossi Melman, an Israeli journalist specialising in security matters, wrote in the Jerusalem Post this week: “It is no secret that the Mossad and [Israeli] military intelligence, both in the past and the present, don’t share the warnings expressed by the prime minister.”

So what sources is Netanyahu relying on if not his own international spy agency? As Mossad’s estimates coincided largely with Washington’s, it appears he was not even receiving conflicting briefings from the Americans.

Also, unlike Netanyahu’s claim at the UN, the Mossad document did not suggest Tehran was trying to build a bomb. It stated that Iran’s efforts to develop what Tehran claims is a civilian nuclear programme would give it a technological capacity that could be redirected at short notice towards a military programme.

But that is true by definition. Advances in any state’s development of nuclear technology – even if only for peaceful purposes – help move it closer to a situation where it could choose to make a bomb.

The matter in contention has always been whether Iran intends to make such a switch. Netanyahu has insisted that indeed that is Iran’s goal; the Mossad report suggests there is no evidence for such an assumption.

The speed of enrichment then becomes the nearest thing to an objective yardstick for interpreting Iran’s behaviour. And Mossad viewed Iran’s enrichment rate as no cause for concern.

Vicious feud

More significantly, however, the document provides the context for understanding a vicious feud that has been brewing between Netanyahu and his spy chiefs for at least the past four years.

Unable to speak out directly themselves, serving spies have instead been using as mouthpieces the departing heads of Israel’s leading security agencies.

The most significant has been Meir Dagan, who has been battling Netanyahu in public since he stepped down as Mossad chief in December 2010, more than a year and a half before the leaked report was published.

In January 2011, a month after leaving Mossad, Dagan called Netanyahu’s hints that he wanted to attack Iran the “stupidest thing I’ve ever heard”. Ephraim Halevy, a predecessor of Dagan’s, also cautioned that Iran did not pose an existential threat as Netanyahu claimed, and that an attack could wreck the “entire region for 100 years”.

Yuval Diskin, who quit the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service in 2011, also joined the fray. A few months before the prime minister’s UN speech, he accused Netanyahu and his defence minister Ehud Barak, who was also said to support an attack, of being “messianic”.

He added: “These are not people who I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event. They are misleading the public on the Iran issue.”

Netanyahu’s judgment in critical situations was also called into question by an article in the Haaretz newspaper in summer 2012, shortly before his address at the UN.

In February 1998, wrote Haaretz, Netanyahu had ordered for the first time in Israel’s history the use of its nuclear weapons – against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq after it launched missiles at Israel in retaliation for the West’s punitive sanctions and no-fly zone. The order was rescinded, according to Haaretz, only after three generals talked him out of it.

The incident was apparently well known to Israeli military correspondents at the time and one, Zeev Shiff, wrote an article urging what he called a “Red Button Law” that would prevent a prime minister from ever having such unilateral power again.

Black arts

Nonetheless, given the black arts of all intelligence services, it was possible that the image of an emotional and unstable Netanyahu may not have been entirely reliable.

Dagan and the rest of the Israeli security elite were not opposed to an attack on Iran. They simply objected to the idea of a go-it-alone strike by Israel of the kind Netanyahu was threatening, fearing it would fail to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme and only serve to stiffen Tehran’s resolve to seek a bomb. They preferred that the US lead any attack.

One suspicion was that Dagan and the others had not really broken ranks with Netanyahu but were trying to help him to mislead Iran and the Americans in a sophisticated game of good cop, bad cop.

On this view, Dagan’s criticisms were designed to suggest to Washington that Netanyahu was a loose canon who might push Israel into a lone-wolf attack on Iran with disastrous consequences.

Were the Americans to grow excessively concerned about Netanyahu’s intentions, it might encourage them to take on the task themselves or to impose savage sanctions on Iran to placate the Israeli prime minister. The latter policy was, in fact, later adopted.

While it is still possible that this was Israel’s game plan, the newly leaked document appears to confirm that there was and is real substance to the feud between Netanyahu and the security establishment.

In another leak, this one a confidential US embassy cable released by Wikileaks in 2010, Dagan told US officials that covert action, including helping minority groups topple the regime and actions to degrade Iran’s nuclear technology, would suffice to contain Iran’s programme for the foreseeable future.

The very public and unprecedented nature of the falling out on an issue considered by Israelis to be an existential one most likely damaged Israel national interests. It undermined the Israeli public’s confidence in their leaders, gave succour to Tehran that the Israeli defence establishment was in disarray, and helped set Washington on a collision course with Israel over Iran.

Netanyahu’s current clash with Obama over Iran appears similarly to be doing yet more harm to the two countries’ special relationship.

– See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2015-02-25/netanyahu-goes-nuclear-now-wait-for-the-fallout/#sthash.JZpayWbQ.dpuf

Israel and Nuclear Exceptionalism: Voiding the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

By Binoy Kampmark
February 18, 2015
Global Research

 

nuclear-warWither the bomb – as a legal problem. Ever since its inception as a weapon of war, atomic, and subsequently nuclear weaponry, have become the totemic reminders that sovereignty lie in their acquisition. Not having them poses insecurity; acquiring them grants the illusion of safety while pushing the globe towards greater prospects of immolation.

The Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty, which came into force in 1970, was the juggling result of this dilemma.  The question that dogs the entire treaty is that of power: where does it lie?  Non-nuclear powers are discouraged from acquiring a nuclear weapons potential, though not a civilian potential – indeed, they are encouraged to receive technology for peaceful purposes “on a non-discriminatory basis” at a cheap price.

Nuclear weapons powers, however, are merely required to pay lip service to such misty-eyed visions of a world without nuclear weapons, while happily engaging in that euphemistic word termed “modernisation”.  Article Six, a vague provision at best, makes the five nuclear states “undertake to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective means relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date.”  Disarmament, in the scheme of things, becomes utopia.

In other words, the NPT is a club of skewed membership with poor credentials, despite the note from the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs calling it significant for having more signatories than “any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement”.[1]  Analysts like Fred Kaplan argue that the NPT did prevent the nuclear club from swelling – a prediction of 25-30 countries having such weapons is deemed a more terrifying prospect than having the addition of four or so more powers.[2]  Of course, the underlying rationale of the NPT was precisely that: keeping the club exclusive.

But it has been shown over the years of its operation that the NPT is a legal creature with vast, lumbering deficiencies.  The supply of technology to produce “peaceful” nuclear energy can just as well be used to create nuclear weaponry – a point emphasised by a thriving nuclear black market, and the easy means by which uranium can be enriched outside the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Countries like North Korea have realised such weaknesses, abrogating its commitment to the regime by employing Article 10.  But the system justifies its own abuses, making non-nuclear weapons states compliant by allowing IAEA inspection.

Then come the gentleman’s club of nuclear powers – the ones who came before the others and script a tune they don’t necessarily march to.  The treaty prohibits the nuclear club powers, under Article 1, from providing materials, technology and incidental material that would be used for making nuclear weapons.  The nuclear weapon states are also not to “assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices.”

In reality, this nuclear club continues to create dispensations and mark out areas of exception. Over time, countries have received nuclear technology in violation of signatory undertakings.  The supposed limitations imposed by the NPT on non-nuclear weapons states have been deemed insufficient.

But one such state takes the mantle when it comes to nuclear exceptionalism.  Israel has deemed it wise not to sign the NPT, thereby evading the prying eyes of the IAEA.  It prefers the state of ambiguity that surrounds its weapons, while insisting that other states not undertake a nuclear weapons program.  In December, former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, decided to wade into dangerous waters by challenging this policy of ambiguity as “outdated and childish,” calling for a “regional dialogue, including with Iran”.  He was met by accusations of treason by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel.[3]

Nuclear countries have also capitalised on this position, while insisting that Israel “become a state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”[4]  As far back as January 5, 1968, National Security Advisor Walt Rostow expressed the view to President Lyndon Johnson that Israel would, eventually, sign the NPT.[5]  But it was as early as 1966 that the CIA realised that Israel has acquired nuclear capability.

Technology has been supplied to Israel, despite an official position by Washington that it would be “unalterably opposed to Israel’s acquiring of nuclear weapons.”[6]  That, in addition to traditional industrial espionage undertaken by the spy ring Lakam, made acquiring the nuclear weapons program a matter of course, to be undertaken even in defiance of its close ally’s position.

As a member of the nuclear club, the United States is on record as having featured in its nuclear program.  Initially, it was deemed unwitting – the supply of a 5-magawatt (thermal) research reactor at Nahal Soreq; the supply of heavy water to the Dimona reactor in 1963.  France, a point noted in Pierre Pean’s Les duex bombes (1982), did even more, kick-starting the Dimona project and revealing the role of French technicians behind creating a plutonium extraction plant at the same site.[7]

In a declassified report by the US Department of Defence, Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations (April 1987), the schizophrenic nature of US weapons policy towards Israel was revealed.  It was acknowledged that Israel was “developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs.  That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level.”[8] (The technical crew did, however, suggest Israel had some catching up to do.)  Furthermore, “The SOREQ and the Dimona/Beer [sic] Sheva facilities are the equivalent of our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.”  Ideas on various technologies are noted, including the use of various types of detonator codes.

Roger Mattson, formerly of the Atomic Energy Commission’s staff, found the “degree of cooperation on specialised war making devices between Israel and the US” striking.  European powers, and their role behind the Israeli defence complex, are also noted.

Grant Smith, who initiated the Freedom of Information request for the report, has actively argued that the Pentagon proved coy about its knowledge and involvement with the Israeli defence industry, burying it “in violation of the Symington and Glenn amendments, costing taxpayers $86 billion” (RT, Feb 13).

As director of the Washington think tank Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Smith has long argued that violations have taken place of the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 prohibiting US foreign aid to countries found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology, and the Glenn Amendment of 1977, which demanded an end of US foreign aid to countries importing nuclear reprocessing technology.

Certain breaches of the international regime on non-proliferation, in other words, are tolerated.  Israel remains the grandest of security exceptions – or ambiguities – free of signing the NPT, obviating the need to deal with the IAEA, and a catalyst, and recipient, of nuclear weapons technology.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Notes

WMD Redux? Germany’s ‘Der Spiegel’ Claims Syria is Attempting to Build Nuclear Weapons

By Timothy Alexander Guzman
January 12, 2015
Silent Crow News, January 11, 2015

 

A new report published by a German news magazine Der Spiegel has published a report claiming that the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad has a “secret underground Plant” with the specific goal “of developing nuclear weapons.”   The report suggests that unidentified “Western intelligence agencies” has evidence against the Syrian government because they “intercepted” private conversations between an Hezbollah operative and Ibrahim Othman, head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission:

But the clearest proof that it is a nuclear facility comes from radio traffic recently intercepted by a network of spies. A voice identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah functionary can be heard referring to the “atomic factory” and mentions Qusayr. The Hezbollah man is clearly familiar with the site. And he frequently provides telephone updates to a particularly important man: Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission.

The Hezbollah functionary mostly uses a codename for the facility: “Zamzam,” a word that almost all Muslims know. According to tradition, Zamzam is the well God created in the desert for Abraham’s wife and their son Ishmael. The well can be found in Mecca and is one of the sites visited by pilgrims making the Hajj. Those who don’t revere Zamzam are not considered to be true Muslims.

The report also stated that Syria under President Bashar al-Assad has been continuing a secretive nuclear weapons program with “8,000 fuel rods” although Syria is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) since 1969 and an avid proponent of Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East:

According to findings of Western intelligence agencies, however, the situation is much more explosive than previously assumed. Based on documents that SPIEGEL has in its possession, the agencies are convinced that Assad is continuing in his efforts to build the bomb.

Analysts say that the Syrian atomic weapon program has continued in a secret, underground location. According to information they have obtained, approximately 8,000 fuel rods are stored there. Furthermore, a new reactor or an enrichment facility has very likely been built at the site — a development of incalculable geopolitical consequences.

The Der Spiegel’s report is an attempt by the West to convince the World that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government is trying to build “Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s)” a familiar accusation that was used against governments in the Middle East in the past. Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller’s infamous report accused Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government of creating a “WMD” program in a New York Times article titled ‘Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts’ that influenced public opinion in the U.S. to support the Bush administration’s War agenda when it stated the following:

In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. American officials said several efforts to arrange the shipment of the aluminum tubes were blocked or intercepted but declined to say, citing the sensitivity of the intelligence, where they came from or how they were stopped.

The diameter, thickness and other technical specifications of the aluminum tubes had persuaded American intelligence experts that they were meant for Iraq’s nuclear program, officials said, and that the latest attempt to ship the material had taken place in recent months.

The New York Times report lead to the destruction of Iraq where countless lives were lost.

The North Korean’s, Iranians and Hezbollah are now involved in Syria’s nuclear program

How convenient would it be for the U.S. and Israel including some of its staunch European allies that a ‘North Korean’ engineer who originally help build the nuclear reactor Yongbyon in North Korea is now assisting the Assad Government with help from the Iranians and Hezbollah? It is knocking out “two birds with one stone” metaphorically speaking. Der Spiegel says that the intelligence officials’ intercepted conversations confirms that Iran and North Korea are involved in Syria’s Nuclear Weapons program:

Work performed at the site by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is also mentioned in the intercepted conversations. The Revolutionary Guard is a paramilitary organization under the direct control of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It controls a large part of the Iranian economy and also plays a significant role in Iran’s own nuclear activities. Not all of its missions abroad are cleared with the government of moderate President Hassan Rohani. The Revolutionary Guard is a state within a state.

Experts are also convinced that North Korea is involved in Zamzam as well. Already during the construction of the Kibar facility, Ibrahim Othman worked closely together with Chou Ji Bu, an engineer who built the nuclear reactor Yongbyon in North Korea.

Chou was long thought to have disappeared. Some thought that he had fallen victim to a purge back home. Now, though, Western intelligence experts believe that he went underground in Damascus. According to the theory, Othman never lost contact with his shady acquaintance. And experts believe that the new nuclear facility could never have been built without North Korean know-how. The workmanship exhibited by the fuel rods likewise hints at North Korean involvement.

The Agence France Presse (AFP) also reported Der Spiegel’s findings “Citing information made available by unidentified intelligence sources, Spiegel said the plant was in an inaccessible mountain region in the west of the war-ravaged country, 2 kms from the Lebanese border.” The AFP report also thanked the unidentified source which confirms Der Spiegel’s report as conclusive:

It is deep underground, near the town of Qusair and has access to electricity and water supplies, the magazine said in a pre-released version of the story released ahead of Saturday’s publication. It said it had had access to “exclusive documents,” satellite photographs and intercepted conversations thanks to intelligence sources.

Western experts suspect, based on the documents, that a reactor or an enrichment plant could be the aim of the project codenamed “Zamzam,” Spiegel said. The regime has transferred 8,000 fuel rods to the plant that had been planned for a facility at Al-Kibar, it added, referring to a facility bombed in 2007 in a suspected Israeli strike.

The terrorist attack in Paris, France in recent days with the threat of ISIS and Al Qaeda emerging in Europe, the U.S. and Israel would give the Main-Stream Media (MSM) in the West an advantage over its adversaries including the Syrian government. The question we should ask is how will the New York Times use the new information provided by Der Spiegel’s new report? Will 2015 repeat what happened in 2003 with the Invasion of Iraq due to the Bush administration and the MSM’s war propaganda? Syria’s alleged nuclear program will be the MSM’s new talking point for this year. Syria will be back in the spotlight. Washington will reassess Der Spegel’s report because it is a national security issue, but this time with North Korea, Iran and Hezbollah in the picture. Western Propaganda gets better all the time.

Russia ready to hold confab on WMD disarmament: FM

By Press TV
December 3, 2014

 

Russia’s foreign minister has expressed Moscow’s readiness to host a conference on freeing the Middle East region of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

It is possible for Russia to hold such a conference “in the near future,” Sergei Lavrov said before attending a meeting of the Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum in the Sudanese capital city of Khartoum on Wednesday.

“There should be a conference to remove weapons of mass destruction and put in place an agreement to make the Middle East a region free of nuclear weapons,” Lavrov said.

The remarks come as under a US-Russia deal, Syria handed over the last of its chemical weapons stockpile in June to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

This is while, the Tel Aviv regime, which is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East, reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads.

Furthermore, Israel has never allowed any inspection of its nuclear facilities and continues to defy international calls to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The top Russian diplomat, who arrived in Khartoum late on Tuesday, also met with his Sudanese counterpart, Ali Ahmed Karti, and the African country’s president, Omar al-Bashir.

After the meetings, Lavrov announced that Russia would seek to strengthen its military ties with Sudan, but “in a way that will not disturb the balance of power in the region.”

SSM/HMV/SS

 

World must probe use of WMD by terrorists in Syria: Activist

By Press TV
December 1, 2014

 

The international community has to launch a serious probe into the use of chemical weapons by the foreign-backed terrorist groups in Syria, says an activist.

“The international community has the responsibility to engage in an investigation of these allegations. Allegations that should be taken very seriously in light of the clear record that was established even by the UN that suggested very clearly that the so-called rebels or the terrorist groups had the ability to produce chemical weapons and in fact had used those weapons,” said Ajamu Baraka, a human rights activist from Colombia, in an interview with Press TV.

Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad has said that foreign-backed terrorist groups are using chemical weapons such as chlorine gas in their fight against the government forces.

Baraka further noted that the US and its allies are “not serious” about trying to contain these terrorists, adding that they could do very simple things such as closing the border between Turkey and Syria.

He said that “these groups are basically used as arm of US and Western foreign policy” and therefore there is no real pressure on the regional countries that are backing these terrorists.

Last year, the US war rhetoric against Syria intensified after the foreign-backed opposition accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, on August 21, 2013.

The Syrian government denied the accusation and said such an attack was carried out by the militants to draw in foreign military intervention.

AHK/HSN