THE US TRIED TO STUXNET NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM KIM ZETTER Wired, 05.29.15 A PRECISION DIGITAL weapon reportedly created by the US and Israel to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program had a fraternal twin that was designed to attack North Korea’s nuclear program as well, according to a new report.
The second weapon was crafted at the same time Stuxnet was created and was designed to activate once it encountered Korean-language settings on machines with the right configuration, according to Reuters. But the operation ultimately failed because the attackers were unable to get the weapon onto machines that were running Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
WIRED reported back in 2010 that such an operation against North Korea would be possible in light of the fact that some of the equipment used by the North Koreans to control their centrifuges—the devices used to turn uranium hexafluoride gas into nuclear-bomb-ready fuel—appeared to have come from the same firms that outfitted the Iranian nuclear program………
While the plan worked beautifully in Iran, it ultimately hit a snafu against North Korea where the nuclear program is even more tightly controlled than Iran’s and where few computers—belonging to contractors or anyone else—are online and accessible via the internet.
As WIRED reported in 2010, “someone would have to infiltrate the Hermit Kingdom’s most sensitive sites and introduce the worm into the command systems, a hard bargain to say the least. In other words, don’t go thinking the United States or an ally could magically infect North Korea with Stuxnet. But if more information emerges about the North’s command systems, that might provide fodder for a copycat worm—provided someone could introduce it into Yongbyon.” http://www.wired.com/2015/05/us-tried-stuxnet-north-koreas-nuclear-program/
Iran has cooperated with IAEA more than reflected in recent report: Official http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/05/29/413428/Iran-IAEA-report-military-dimensions-nuclear-program-Ambassador-Najafi An Iranian nuclear official says the part of a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about Iran’s cooperation with the agency is “incomplete,” as the Islamic Republic has cooperated with the agency more than reflected in the report, Press TV reports.
“From the 18 practical measures [on which] we agreed with the Agency, we concluded 16. Two remaining practical measures are under discussion,” Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Reza Najafi told Press TV in an exclusive interview on Friday.
He explained that during recent meetings with IAEA officials in the Iranian capital, Tehran, “we discussed [the] two remaining practical measures. We provided some clarification with regard to those two issues.”
“What has been considered by some media as information about one issue is indeed a sentence in the report which refers to one of the issues. But, indeed, we provided information for two issues and we believe that that part of the report is incomplete; it is not a full reflection of the facts,” he explained.
In separate remarks reported by IRNA, Najafi said the IAEA report repeats previous allegations about the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) in Iran’s nuclear program.
“The latest report, when compared to earlier ones, shows the IAEA has nothing new to present concerning the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement in Iran,” said Najadi, adding that the new report has the same content as that of the previous ones only with different figures.
Najafi also rejected the UN nuclear watchdog’s so-called PMD allegations and said repeating the same baseless accusations against Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities cannot give credibility to IAEA reports.
He pointed out that the report, issued to the IAEA’s 35-nation board and the UN Security Council on Thursday, attests that all of Iran’s atomic activities and its nuclear facilities have been under the close supervision of the UN nuclear agency, and have had no diversion from peaceful dimensions.
Dispute over Mideast nuclear arms ban set to torpedo U.N. meeting http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/22/us-mideast-nuclear-un-idUSKBN0O72J220150522 UNITED NATIONS | BY LOUIS CHARBONNEAU A month-long review conference on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty appeared headed for failure on Friday after its members were unable to overcome disagreements on an atomic weapons ban for the Middle East and other issues. Continue reading
ISIS in nuke boast: We can get atomic bomb ‘within a year’ from corrupt officials, Express UK ISLAMIC State (ISIS) are poised to buy its first nuclear bomb “within a year”, the terror group claimed tonight. By TOM BATCHELOR, May 22, 2015 The jihadists are looking to get hold of an atomic weapon or thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate explosive.
The merciless organisation says it hopes to purchase a nuclear device “through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials” in Pakistan.
But it admits that obtaining the deadly weapon may be a challenge and says it would settle for a “few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive”. The chilling boast was made in the latest edition of its propaganda ‘magazine’ circulated to publicise the group’s barbaric aims.
ISIS says it has already seized “tanks, rocket launchers, missile systems, anti-aircraft systems” – and is now setting its sights on the ultimate dirty bomb.
The article reads: “Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table.
“The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wil?yah [powerful friends] in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region.”
“It’s the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it’s infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago.
“And if not a nuke, what about a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive? That’s easy enough to make.” The propaganda piece, which is attributed to British hostage and journalist John Cantlie, also warns an attack by ISIS on the US would ridicule “the attacks of the past”……..However nuclear experts have cast doubts on claims to use an atomic weapon.
The United Nations nuclear agency has played down the threat, saying that the material ISIS could get hold of would likely be “low-grade” would not pose a major threat.
Avner Cohen, the world’s leading scholar of the Israeli nuclear programme, told me that in the first 20-25 years the processes used to protect workers were primitive and sloppy. Mistakes were common, often not intentionally, but because relatively little was known about the proper handling of radioactive materials. In some cases, documentation was fabricated.
This is the subject of Orna Ben Dor’s riveting two-part documentary, The Dark Secret of the Dimona Reactor (Part 1 and Part 2, both in Hebrew), produced for Israeli TV. Workers there call the nuclear plant “Little Hiroshima,” alluding not only to the destructive power of what’s produced there, but the tragic impact that the reactor has on those who work within it.
The documentary, while it exposes many secrets and crimes of the state against its workers, is also unintentionally maddening because it deals with a subject that the nation deems justifiably opaque. For that reason, no one in the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, which runs Dimona, will speak on the record to the cameras. No journalist is allowed within the facility. Few if any records are made public regarding the functioning of the reactor.
According to Ben Dor, the medical oversight of workers was a sham. They were given tests that were never processed and told they had a clean bill of health, only to find out months or years later they were dying of cancer. The few records that are accessible happen only because of lawsuits that pry them loose from the fingers of the state.
The real story of the film is the extraordinary lengths to which the state will go to shield itself and its nuclear project from public awareness. Following on from this is the nation’s willingness to treat those scientists, engineers and researchers who devoted their lives to this sacred project as refuse to be discarded once they get sick and die, no longer providing any useful service. There is a schizophrenic nature both to the documentary and the victims portrayed. On the one hand, they are patriots who understand the danger posed and accept it for the sake of protecting the state from its enemies. But on the other, they are human beings who demand that the country treat those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with dignity.
Treated as garbage
Dimona: Israel’s ‘Little Hiroshima’, Middle East Eye Richard Silverstein Tuesday 19 May 2015
.…..The secrecy of the nuclear programme, one interviewee calls it a “KGB state,” goes hand in hand with the Israel’s overall opacity around all manner of security issues. It’s not surprising that Israel has put its fate in the hands of a few nuclear bureaucrats like those who run Dimona, because it runs its overall military apparatus in the same way. No civilian oversight to speak of. The generals get what they want. All in the name of protecting the state. It’s a devil’s bargain.
Ben Gurion could have chosen a different path. He could’ve followed the path Shimon Peres advocated to deter the 1973 war: he urged a public nuclear test to warn the Arab states what they confronted if they attacked. In the longer term, such transparency might’ve gone a long way to ameliorate some of the worst offenses of the nuclear security state. But Ben Gurion believed the quieter Israel was about it, the less opposition he might face from the world, especially the US.
He made a choice to create a nuclear arsenal in order to offer the state a mechanism to guarantee survival in the face of imminent defeat. But now Israel has ensured its existence. There is no existential threat (no matter what Bibi says regarding Iran). Nuclear weapons don’t guarantee security. In fact, many serious analysts argue just the opposite.
Israel may eventually realise nuclear weapons are an albatross around its neck. They were never needed in the course of all Israel’s previous wars and likely will never be needed (especially if it would agree to a regional nuclear-free zone – a prospect that is an anathema to it, so far). Yet despite the utter lack of utility of Israel’s WMDs, its nuclear personnel have paid a huge and terrible price.
US pushes Israel for progress on nuclear-free zone, Y Net News
State Department officials speak with Israeli counterparts on efforts to ensure Mid-East remains nuclear nuetral.Itamar Eichner, Associated Press 05.21.15, 20:18 / Israel News
|05.21.15, 20:18 / Israel NewsThe United States has sent a top official to Israel in an effort to revive talks on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, a central issue of a nuclear treaty review conference that some fear will end Friday without progress on global disarmament. The State Department confirmed that the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation was in Israel to discuss the issue. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman declined comment on Thomas Countryman’s visit, saying it was a “very sensitive” matter.
Ynet was informed that conversation lasted until 3a.m.
Establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons in one of the world’s most tense regions is a rare point of agreement between the United States and Russia these days. Frustrated by the delay of a conference on the zone that was supposed to take place three years ago, Russia has proposed that UN-led talks be held no later than March 2016.
Secretary of State John Kerry this month called the proposed zone an “ambitious goal and fraught with challenges” but worth pursuing. The pressure comes as the president of the review conference, Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, on Wednesday pleaded with countries to close the “still wide” gaps on major issues under disarmament and non-proliferation…….
Israel is not a party to the treaty but showed up this year as a surprise observer…..
Iran, a party to the treaty and engaged in talks with world powers on its own nuclear program, this month spoke on behalf of more than 100 mostly developing countries in calling for Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, calling them a regional threat.
Israel has never publicly declared what is widely considered to be an extensive nuclear weapons program.http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4660237,00.html
US officials: ‘Saudis set to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan’, IBT By Yasmin Kaye May 17, 2015 Saudi Arabia is said to have taken the “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” nuclear weapons from ally Pakistan, senior US officials told the Sunday Times.
Sunni Arab states are increasingly concerned of the repercussions of a deal currently being negotiated between world powers and Shi’ite rival Iran, which they fear may still be able to develop a nuclear bomb.
The deal being negotiated between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany would see the Shi’ite nation curb its sensitive nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
“For the Saudis the moment has come,” a former US defence official told the Sunday Times last week.
“There has been a long-standing agreement in place with the Pakistanis and the House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward.”
‘This stuff is available to them off the shelf’
Another US official working in intelligence told the paper that “hundreds of people at [CIA headquarters] Langley” were working to establish whether Islamabad had already supplied the Gulf nation with nuclear technology or weaponry………….
- Saudi Arabia has financed substantial amounts of Islamabad’s nuclear programme over the past three decades, providing Pakistan‘s government with billions of dollars of subsidised oil while taking delivery of Shaheen mobile ballistic missiles.
“Given their close relations and close military links, it’s long been assumed that if the Saudis wanted, they would call in a commitment, moral or otherwise, for Pakistan to supply them immediately with nuclear warheads,” former Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen told the Sunday Times.
A senior British military officer also told the paper that Western military leaders “all assume the Saudis have made the decision to go nuclear.”
“The fear is that other Middle Eastern powers — Turkey and Egypt — may feel compelled to do the same and we will see a new, even more dangerous, arms race.”
Lt.Gen. Khalid Kidwai, who helped develop Pakistan’s nuclear program, denied Islamabad had ever sent nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia or any other country in recent comments. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/us-officials-saudis-set-buy-nuclear-weapons-pakistan-1501733
Barack Obama wins support from Gulf leaders for nuclear deal with Iran
Qatar welcomes ‘key factor for stability in region’ and Saudis voice growing acceptance of deal at end of Camp David summit., Guardian, Dan Roberts 15 May 15 Barack Obama has secured support from Gulf leaders for his attempt to reach a nuclear deal with Iran as a summit outside Washington concluded on Thursday with the first glimpses of possible rapprochement on an issue that has alarmed many US allies in the region…….
Saudi Arabia vows to set off new Middle East arms race and ‘match Iran’s nuclear capability’ The Independent ADAM WITHNALL THURSDAY 14 MAY 2015 Saudi Arabia has threatened to spark a new kind of nuclear arms race in the Middle East, setting out a bullish stance ahead of a rare, high-profile meeting of the US and its Gulf allies at Camp David.
President Barack Obama faces an almost impossible balancing act between making overtures to Iran that will allow it to pursue its nuclear programme for energy purposes, and appeasing the security fears of Sunni Arab leaders………..
It sets up the prospect of a new kind of arms race between the Middle East’s various parties – the implication being that if Iran is to be left to its nuclear programme, why shouldn’t Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE?……..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-vows-to-set-off-new-middle-east-arms-race-and-match-irans-nuclear-capability-10250789.html
Today’s Links 1–Kerry in Riyadh: A meeting of war criminals, wsws Friday, May 8, 2015 http://mikewhitneysgraspingatstraws.blogspot.com.au/
The US president is scheduled to hold a summit at Camp David next week with the crowned royals of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He is prepared to offer them an advanced ballistic missile defense system as well as bunker buster bombs.
CNN quoted a senior US official as saying that “the president’s goal is building a defense infrastructure and architecture for the Gulf region that also includes maritime security, border security, and counter-terrorism.”
In other words, the Obama administration is further solidifying US reliance on the Saudi monarchy as a key pillar of its drive for domination of the strategically vital and oil-rich Middle East. Even as the US and the other major powers negotiate an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, Washington is building up Saudi Arabia and the other reactionary Gulf states for a possible war against Iran….
Even as it continued bombing Yemeni cities, the Saudi air force, with Washington’s blessings, dropped arms and supplies this week to Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) forces in Yemen, a movement that the Obama administration had previously portrayed as the paramount terrorist threat. As the most rabidly sectarian enemies of the Houthis—inspired by the Saudi monarchy’s state religion of Wahhabi Islamism that animates similar movements, from ISIS to Boko Haram—AQAP has now been recast as Yemeni patriots.
Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have been pushing for oversight of the pending deal given that current proposals include relief from some of the sanctions placed on Iran by Congress. The bill that passed Thursday requires that Congress be able to review and possibly reject any deal the U.S. and world powers make with Iran regarding nuclear weapons. If Congress approves of the deal — or fails to disapprove within a certain timeframe — the President’s deal can move forward……
While the debate continues, however, some lawmakers have signaled their support for the President’s negotiations with Iran. In a letter first reported on by the Washington Post, 150 Democrats urged Obama to “stay on course” and commended the work of world powers so far in the process.
“The stakes are too great and the alternatives are too dire,” the letter reads. “If the United States were to abandon negotiations or cause their collapse, not only would we fail to peacefully prevent the nuclear-armed Iran, we would make that outcome more likely.”
The Washington Post reports that the letter could mean the President has enough Congressional support to override a veto should lawmakers vote to reject the deal once it is released in June. http://time.com/3850806/congress-iran-nuclear-deal/
RIYADH—The nuclear deal that the U.S. and other world powers hope to reach with Iran would put a 10-year curb on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. For some of Iran’s regional rivals, that is also becoming a deadline for developing nuclear arms of their own.
In Saudi Arabia, there are widespread public calls to match Iran’s nuclear quest. The two other Middle East heavyweights, Turkey and Egypt, could also feel compelled to follow suit, senior Western and Arab officials warn.
Such an arms race would further destabilize what is already the world’s most volatile region, where the risks of a nuclear war would be compounded by the threat of radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorist groups……..http://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-considers-nuclear-weapons-to-offset-iran-1430999409
Iran’s claim that Israel has 400 nuclear weapons, WP By Glenn Kessler May 1 “It’s laughable that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has become everybody’s nonproliferation guru. He is sitting on 400 nuclear warheads, nuclear warheads that have been acquired in violation of the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty].”–Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking in New York, April 29, 2015
In the debate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the unacknowledged nuclear stockpile of Israel often comes up.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Israel secretly acquired the technology and material to build nuclear weapons, frequently misleading the U.S. government about its intentions. (France was Israel’s partner in the building of the Dimona reactor in the Negev desert, while South Africa is believed by some to have assisted Israel in conducting at least one nuclear test in the 1970s.)
Zarif quickly noted that Israel (unlike Iran) is not a member of the NPT, but added: “Those who provided them with the technology were members of the NPT and violated the NPT to provide them with the technology, and we know who they were. And now they are the proponents of nonproliferation.” (Actually, France’s cooperation with Israel ended in 1966, before the NPT went into effect in 1970.)
Zarif’s estimate of Israel’s stockpile seemed rather large. Does Israel really have 400 nuclear weapons?
The Facts For a secret and unacknowledged program, the history of Israel’s quest for nuclear weapons is relatively well-documented. Our colleague Walter Pincus recently recounted how Israel misled the Kennedy and Johnson administrations about the facility in the Negev, describing it at one point as “a textile plant” and later as “a metallurgical research installation.”
Requested inspections by U.S. experts were cursory and often postponed — Israel refused to accept visits from the International Atomic Energy Agency – and later it was learned that the Israelis had built fake walls around the elevators that led to an underground reprocessing plant, according to a 2014 account in The Guardian newspaper.
By 1968, the CIA was convinced Israel had nuclear weapons – just as negotiations on the NPT were completed and the treaty designed to thwart the spread of nuclear weapons was opened for signature by members of the United Nations. U.S. officials concluded it was too late to turn back the clock and make Israel abandon its nuclear capability………….
Given that some 50 years have passed, how many nuclear weapons does Israel have?
Since Israel has never officially admitted having weapons, the answer relies on a bit of guesswork, principally how much plutonium might have been produced in Dimona. A key factor is the power level of the reactor, which (according to satellite imagery) does not appear to have increased much over time.
A leaked 1999 intelligence assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency, published in Rowan Scarborough’s 2004 book “Rumsfeld’s War,” estimated that Israel had 60 to 80 weapons at the time, and would have 65 to 85 by 2020. (The report also said Iran would have 10 to 20 nukes by 2020.)……..
In 2014, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists echoed that estimate. “We conclude that many of the public claims about the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are exaggerated,” a comprehensive report declared. “We estimate that Israel has a stockpile of approximately 80 nuclear warheads for delivery by two dozen missiles, a couple of squadrons of aircraft, and perhaps a small number of sea-launched cruise missiles.”
Other analysts believe that the number is closer to 100, and possibly a bit higher. In 2007, the Federation of American Scientists said the estimates range from 70 to 400 warheads………http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/05/01/irans-claim-that-israel-has-400-nuclear-weapons/
Why an Iran deal won’t lead to nuclear proliferation, WP, By Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai April 28 This post is part of the “Iran and the Nuclear Deal” symposium.
When the P5+1 and Iran announced their framework agreement earlier this month, some analysts reiterated that a final deal would result in aproliferation cascade in the Middle East. This widely held and long-standing assumption remains largely unchallenged. But a careful look at the actual technical capability, political and security context, and intentions of potential contenders confirms that much of this hype is baseless.
Those who invoke the proliferation cascade theory often confuse both the cause and the actual result. Would a nuclear agreement with Iran or nuclear-armed Iran cause a cascade? Does the regional spread of civilian nuclear programs count as a proliferation cascade, or is it restricted to the spread of the bomb?…….
First, the entire region, except for nuclear-armed Israel, is party to the NPT. This means that they’ve already legally given up the nuclear weapon option. Moreover, nuclear weapon states can’t legally provide them nuclear weapons either. Second, many countries have safeguards agreements and some, the additional protocol, in place. This means that their programs are under close International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) scrutiny. Continue reading
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