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USA rushing to transfer sensitive nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia

Donald Trump rushing to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology

House launches probe of US nuclear plan in Saudi Arabia, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47296641, 20 February 2019 

The US is rushing to transfer sensitive nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia, according to a new congressional report.

A Democratic-led House panel has launched an inquiry over concerns about the White House plan to build nuclear reactors across the kingdom.

Whistleblowers told the panel it could destabilise the Middle East by boosting nuclear weapons proliferation.

Firms linked to the president have reportedly pushed for these transfers.

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee report notes that an inquiry into the matter is “particularly critical because the Administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia appear to be ongoing”.

President Donald Trump met nuclear power developers at the White House on 12 February to discuss building plants in Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia.

And Mr Trump’s son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner, will be touring the Middle East this month to discuss the economics of the Trump administration’s peace plan.

Lawmakers have been critical of the plan as it would violate US laws guarding against the transfer of nuclear technology that could be used to support a weapons programme.

They also believe giving Saudi Arabia access to nuclear technology would spark a dangerous arms race in the volatile region.

Saudi Arabia has said it wants nuclear power in order to diversify its energy sources and help address growing energy needs.

But concerns around rival Iran developing nuclear technology are also at play, according to US media.

Previous negotiations for US nuclear technology ended after Saudi Arabia refused to agree to safeguards against using the tech for weaponry, but the Trump administration may not see these safeguards as mandatory, ProPublica reported.

What does the report say?

The House report is based on whistleblower accounts and documents showing communications between Trump administration officials and nuclear power companies.

It states that “within the US, strong private commercial interests have been pressing aggressively for the transfer of highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia”.

These commercial entities could “reap billions of dollars through contracts associated with constructing and operating nuclear facilities in Saudi Arabia”.

Mr Trump is reportedly “directly engaged in the effort”.

The White House has yet to comment on the report.

The report includes a timeline of events and names other administration officials who have been involved with the matter, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Mr Kushner, Mr Trump’s inaugural committee chairman Tom Barrack and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn was found guilty of lying to the FBI about Russian contacts as a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The commercial entities mentioned in the report are:

  • IP3 International, a private company led by ex-military officers and security officials that organised a group of US companies to build “dozens of nuclear power plants” in Saudi Arabia
  • ACU Strategic Partners, a nuclear power consultancy led by British-American Alex Copson
  • Colony NorthStar, Mr Barrack’s real estate investment firm
  • Flynn Intel Group, a consultancy and lobby set up by Michael Flynn
  • The report states that Flynn had decided to develop IP3’s nuclear initiative, the Middle East Marshall Plan, during his transition, and while he was still serving as an adviser for the company.In January 2017, National Security Council staff began to raise concerns that these plans were inappropriate and possibly illegal, and that Flynn had a potentially criminal conflict of interest.Following Flynn’s dismissal, however, IP3 continued to push for the Middle East Plans to be presented to Mr Trump.

    According to the report, one senior official said the proposal was “a scheme for these generals to make some money”.

    And whistleblowers described the White House working environment as “marked by chaos, dysfunction and backbiting”.

  • What next?

    The report says an investigation will determine whether the administration has been acting “in the national security interests of the United States or, rather, [to] serve those who stand to gain financially” from this policy change.

  • These apparent conflicts of interest among White House advisers may breach federal law, and the report notes that there is bi-partisan concern regarding Saudi Arabia’s access to nuclear technology.The oversight committee is seeking interviews with the companies, “key personnel” who promoted the plan to the White House, as well as the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Defence, State, Treasury, the White House and the CIA.
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February 21, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

Climate change bringing crises, population displacement, wars to Middle East countries

Climate change will fuel more wars and displacement in the Middle East, experts warn
‘Terrorist organisations like ISIS also capitalise on climate change to get new members’ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/middle-east-climate-change-war-food-water-refugees-jihadis-un-a8786911.html,
20 Feb 19,  Borzou Daragahi The Hague @borzo ,Themost volatile region in the world is about to be plunged into further chaos because ongoing climate change, with food scarcity and water shortages adding to the flood of displaced people, sparking wars, and providing opportunities for extremist groups, warned scholars and international officials at a conference on Tuesday.

A UN development official predicted that 7 to 10 million people in the Middle East and North Africa will be forced to leave their ancestral or temporary homes over the next decade because a lack of water, food or owing to wars possibly sparked by conflicts over resources. Others speaking at a panel at the annual Planetary Security Initiative in the Dutch capital cited small and large conflicts in the region over the years, including food riots in 2008 in Jordan, and identified other future hotspots in the Levant and north Africa.

“Food and fuel in security can very quickly quickly lead to unrest,” Jamal Saghir, a professor at McGill University.

“It’s likely that such shocks will happen again. Such crises might trigger violent crisis and increase public support for extremist groups offering viable alternatives,” he told attendees at the conference. “Terrorist organisations like ISIS also capitalise on climate change to get new members. They find impoverished farmers to take advantage of – they are offered food, salaries, and other advantages.”

First launched in 2015, the Planetary Security Initiative is a conference sponsored by the Dutch government and several international organisations to address climate change and associated crises. It seeks to broaden the definition of security beyond weapons and borders to include daily sustenance.

Scholars and policymakers have already attributed to climatic shifts that a decades-long drought that has afflicted the Middle East. During the opening talk, the Iraqi ambassador showed a chart that traced average rainfall in Baghdad collapsing and temperatures rising consistently over the last decade.

The changing conditions contributed to unrest in Syria and Iraq and other Arab nations plunged into chaos in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, and the subsequent rise of ISIS. But the troubles are far from over, with warmer temperatures leading to less water, for example along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that nourish Iraq.

“In Iraq, what is projected is the reduction of rainfall or snow in the headwaters,” said Nadim Farjallah, a professor specialising in climate change issues at the American University of Beirut. “The Middle East has all the problems now and all it needs is a spark. We already have all the tinder there.”

Adding to the complications, the Middle East region imports 65 percent of its grain, with the numbers increasing, making governments and populations even more vulnerable to market shifts or climactic changes in other regions. “The region is completely dependent on the sustainable  management of agriculture in other parts of the world for its food security,” said Johan Schaar, a scholar at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The United Nations and other development agencies are nibbling at the edges of the looming crisis. They’ve established a fund to find water solutions for Egypt, where the bulk of its nearly 100 million population live along the Nile River. Kishan Khoday, a UNDP official focused on Middle East issues, described initiative bring solar energy to Somalia and manage underground water resources.

Participants spoke of the urgent need of making governments and publics more aware of the need to manage water and other natural resources. “We need to weave climate change more systematically into our analysis of what’s happening in the region,” said Elizabeth Sellwood, an official of the UN’s environment arm.

In Jordan and Gaza, international officials have launched efforts to find  sources of agricultural water that are sustainable.

But in the end, many were sceptical that either policymakers or populations  had a sense of the looming threat, and the waves of crises still ahead.

“We’re looking at a situation of rising scarcity due to climate change and people on the move being the new normal,” said Tessa Terpstra, the Netherlands’ envoy for water matters in the Middle East.

A  handful of governments — including those of Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco — have begun to address the issue of climate change. The preamble to Tunisia’s landmark 2014 constitution stresses “the preservation of a healthy environment that guarantees the sustainability of our natural resources.”

But for the most part, governments are blithely ignoring the issue, especially those wealthy Arabian Peninsula states dependent on the export of oil and gas. “Between the talk and the walk there’s a major discourse that needs to be addressed,” said Mr Saghir. “I don’t think the political will is there.”

February 21, 2019 Posted by | climate change, MIDDLE EAST | Leave a comment

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accuses USA of hypocrisy over plannned nuclear technology sales to Saudi Arabia

Zarif decries ‘US hypocrisy’ over planned nuclear sale to Saudis
Neither human rights or a burgeoning nuclear programme are a real concern for the US, Iran’s foreign minister says. Aljazeera, 21 Feb 19, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the US of hypocrisy for allegedly attempting to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia while Washington tries to wreck Iran’s nuclear programme.

Zarif’s comment on Twitter on Wednesday came after reports the administration of President Donald Trump is trying to bypass US Congress to advance the sale of nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia.

“Day by day it becomes clearer to the world what was always clear to us: neither human rights nor a nuclear program have been the real concern of the US,” Zarif wrote.

“First a dismembered journalist; now illicit sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia fully expose #USHypocrisy,” Zarif added, referring to the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents, and the new report by a US congressional committee on the planned technology sale. …….

Mohammad Ali Shabani, Iran Pulse Editor at Al-Monitor, said he doubted the US would sell uranium-enrichment technology to Saudi Arabia and, therefore, Riyadh would not have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon.

“However, the sidestepping of America’s own laws to facilitate sales of nuclear power plants puts the Trump administration’s broader credibility under question,” Shabani told Al Jazeera.

‘Terrorist attack’

Tensions between Washington and Tehran – bitter foes since Iran’s 1979 revolution – have intensified since  Trump withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, under which it scaled back its uranium enrichment programme and promised not to pursue nuclear weapons.

In exchange for the deal signed in 2015 in Vienna with six world powers – the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union – international sanctions were lifted allowing Iran to sell its oil and gas worldwide.

Trump reimposed sanctions with the aim of slashing Iranian oil sales and choking its economy in order to curb its ballistic missile programme and activities in the Middle East, especially in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday Iran-US relations are at a new low and sanctions imposed by the Trump administration targeting Tehran’s oil and banking sectors amounted to “a terrorist attack”.

“The struggle between Iran and America is currently at a maximum. America has employed all its power against us,” Rouhani was quoted as saying in a cabinet meeting by the state broadcaster IRIB.

“The US pressures on firms and banks to halt business with Iran is 100 percent a terrorist act,” he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed Tehran has been meeting its nuclear commitments fully.

‘Khashoggi cover-up’

The Trump administration has faced additional congressional opposition due to concerns about the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi……. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/zarif-decries-hypocrisy-planned-nuclear-sale-saudis-190220100506949.html

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

USA wants to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, but wants tight controls

US will not open door to Saudi Arabia building nuclear weapons, deputy energy secretary says CNBC David Reid 17 Feb 2019 

  • The Trump administration wants to sell its nuclear energy technology to cash-rich Saudi Arabia.
  • To prevent nuclear arms development, the U.S. wants to place tight controls on how the technology can be used.
  • Saudi Arabia has put the U.S. on a shortlist with China, Russia and others to bid for nuclear power projects in the country.

“………….The Saudis have so far refused to rule out their right to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, pointing to neighboring Iran’s ability to do so under the 2015 nuclear agreement that world powers struck with Tehran.

In an interview in March on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the country wasn’t interested in developing weapons but would develop nuclear capability should Iran ever develop a working nuclear bomb.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabian Prince Turki Al-Faisal responded directly to Brouillette’s words, saying the country had more options than just U.S. technology.

“Well the nuclear energy market is open. It is not just the United States that is providing nuclear technology,” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Munich.

“We have France, we have Russia, we have China. We have our friends in Pakistan and in other places as well, so if they want to remove themselves from that market, well, that’s up to them.” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/16/brouillette-us-wont-give-saudi-arabia-key-to-nuclear-weapon-building.html

February 18, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

IAEA criticises USA’s efforts to sabotage Iran nuclear deal

UN Nuclear Watchdog Warns Against Meddling Over Iran, Bloomberg By February 2, 2019,
  •  IAEA calls pressure on Iran monitoring ‘extremely harmful’
  •  
    Comments follow criticism at Tel Aviv event sponsored by U.S.
………Late Wednesday, at a private reception for diplomats, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano lashed out at efforts to hamstring an organization that’s been at the forefront of nuclear security for decades, according to two foreign officials who were there. Without naming Israel and the U.S., the career Japanese diplomat made it clear those countries were the source of his ire, they said.

“The agency’s independence must not be undermined,” Amano said, according to the IAEA’s website. “If attempts are made to micro-manage or put pressure on the agency in nuclear verification, that is counterproductive and extremely harmful.”

An IAEA official said on Saturday that the U.S. wasn’t Amano’s intended target. He declined to specify which countries prompted the rebuke.

Three years into an agreement that was meant to be a hallmark of the Obama administration, in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief, IAEA inspectors say Tehran is in full compliance.

That hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from backing out of the agreement, piling on new penalties and trying to use the agency to turn the screws with help from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran Abides Nuclear Limits

Enriched uranium has remained below thresholds agreed under deal

President Donald Trump’s hardline stance on Iran has heightened tensions with the other signatories to the agreement: China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. It’s also sowed divisions between the White House and America’s spy agencies, with Trump castigating his own intelligence officials this week for being “passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran.”

Netanyahu went to the U.S. Congress to lobby against the agreement before it was signed and has continued to criticize the deal since, arguing that it won’t prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons……..

fake newscast in Israel came as Iran’s deputy foreign minister was in Vienna for talks with the IAEA, which is trying to keep the accord from unraveling.

Iran’s leadership has said the country’s ready to re-start its enrichment program using more advanced technology if the agreement fails. The country is considering making the kind of nuclear fuel used in naval propulsion, implying it could enrich uranium closer to the levels needed for weapons.

Meanwhile, the European Union is moving to help countries evade the sanctions that the Trump administration imposed to stop countries from trading with Iran.

On Thursday, the 28-member bloc finalized a new financial mechanism for bypassing the U.S. restrictions. The special purpose vehicle, called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, will be headquartered in Paris and staffed with German leadership.

The vehicle will have a positive “impact on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of Iranian people,” a draft of the joint communique seen by Bloomberg says.

The U.S. mission to the IAEA in Vienna said in an emailed response to questions that the watchdog “can continue to count on the full support of the United States” as it carries out its “important mandate in Iran.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-01/fake-news-goes-nuclear-as-iaea-sees-u-s-israel-meddling-on-iran

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia could be planning for nuclear wrapons

World War 3 fears SURGE as experts warn Saudi Arabia could be seeking ‘NUCLEAR weapons’

FEARS Saudi Arabia could be seeking to build nuclear weapons have surged following reports the Kingdom has launched a domestic ballistic missile programme. Express UK By JAMES BICKERTON, Jan 25, 2019 According to a report published in The Washington Post, Saudi Arabia appears to have constructed a ballistic missile factory, which could threaten to trigger a new Middle Eastern arms race. Saudi Arabia already owns foreign-brought ballistic missiles but has yet to construct its own. A number of experts have warned this could signal a Saudi desire to become nuclear armed.

Satellite images taken in November appear to show a ballistic missile factory near the town of Al-Watah, according to the report.

The site is situated next to an existing Saudi Arabian missile base.

A team led by nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis, from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, uncovered the pictures.

Mr Lewis said the images raise “the possibility that Saudi Arabia is going to build longer-range missiles and seek nuclear weapons”…..https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1077486/World-War-3-Saudi-Arabia-nuclear-weapons-Middle-East-arms-race

January 26, 2019 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

5 countries scramble to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Receives Offers from 5 Countries to Build 2 Nuclear Reactors 23 January, 2019 Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat

Five countries have submitted their requests for the establishment of two nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia on the Arabian Gulf coast.

The bid was made after the peaceful Saudi nuclear project met the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The oil-rich Kingdom launched a tender to define specifications of sites that will host the two reactors, said Chairman of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) Khalid al-Sultan.

He added that KACARE asked the services providers in the US, Russia, France, South Korea and China to present their preliminary offers……. https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1558606/saudi-arabia-receives-offers-5-countries-build-2-nuclear-reactors

January 24, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Super Weapon: Israel Could Arm Stealth F-35s with Nuclear Weapons 

  National Interest, by Zachary Keck 20 Jan 19, There is no reason to think that Israel doesn’t have the technical capability to make its new F-35s nuclear capable

By the end of this year, Israel is expected to become the second country after the United States to declare Initial Operational Capability for its F-35s. Already, Tel Aviv has taken possession of five of the multirole fighters,and following an agreement late last month to buy an additional seventeen planes, will ultimately purchase fifty planes. All fifty F-35s are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2024.

(This first appeared in 2017.)

Israeli officials typically describe the F-35s purpose as ensuring the country’s continued air superiority in the region. In particular, they focus on how the plane’s stealth capabilities will allow them to evade Iran’s increasingly capable, Russian-built air defense systems. One mission that is not being discussed is that Israel will likely use its F-35s as a nuclear delivery system.

Although the government refuses to officially acknowledge it, Israel is known to have a nuclear arsenal with as many as 100 warheads. The Jewish State is also believed to possess a nuclear triad, consisting of ground-based Jericho missiles, Dolphin-class submarines equipped with sea-launched cruise missiles and some combination of nuclear-capable aircraft.

It’s likely that the F-35 will be the newest addition to the air leg of Israel’s triad……….At the same time, Israel also assured the United States that it would not “introduce” nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which Israel interpreted to mean it could build a nuclear arsenal as long as it didn’t publicly acknowledge its existence. ……https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/super-weapon-israel-could-arm-stealth-f-35s-nuclear-weapons-42097

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

History of Israel’s Secret Nuclear Reactor

The papers, which include notes, memorandums, drafts and summaries by senior Israeli officials of the time, including Israel Galili, an adviser to prime ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, Eshkol himself, cabinet member Yigal Allon and IDF commander Moshe Dayan, defence chief-turned prime minister Shimon Peres, and senior diplomat Abba Eban, helped Raz piece together important details about the clandestine project.

Moral Qualms and Cost Concerns

The papers revealed that Galili had several concerns about the nuclear endeavour, known as “the enterprise,” including its potential to undermine Israel’s “moral status,” or cause then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to attack Israel to try to take out a “justified target.” Finally, he feared that the program could incite Cairo to start work on its own nuclear program.

The documents also indicated that the cost of the Dimona reactor, estimated at about $53 million by Peres in April 1962, was revised upwards by Alon to “three times” the $60 million discussed by the cabinet in 1964. An undated note, presumably written sometime between 1963 and 1966, indicated that the real cost may have been as much as $340 million (about $2.75 billion in present day dollars, accounting for inflation).

“If it were known in advance that it would cost $340 million – would we have voted for Dimona?” the note, written by Eban to Galili, reads.

Meir Proposes Switching From Defense to Offense

The documents showed that after Eshkol succeeded David Ben-Gurion as prime minister in 1963, the new PM’s foreign minister, Golda Meir, proposed admitting the existence of the program in a bid to get support from America’s Jews.

“Our situation will be stronger when the struggle becomes public,” she insisted, adding the need to “switch to offence instead of defence.”

Interestingly, the papers reportedly show that Israeli leaders had to resist pressures to place the project under international supervision, not only from Charles de Gaulle of France, but even from the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations, who urged Israel to sign on to the non-Proliferation Treaty, which was being developed at the time. In one memo, Peres reportedly told Galili that “in order to overcome the supervision [that the US wanted], cooperation by both sides is needed.”

Nuclear Status Undefined

One particularly important note, again by Galili, seems to indicate that even several years into the reactor’s construction, Tel Aviv did not commit to building actual nuclear bombs. “There is no decision by the government of Israel to manufacture atomic weapons,” the note says.

In another bombshell document cited by Raz, Yigal Allon refers to a phraseology agreed between himself and Nixon Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whereby a nuclear state is defined as “a state that has exploded a bomb or a device.” This definition allowed the US not to classify Israel as a nuclear state subject to the NPT.

“I am constantly using a phrase agreed with Kissinger — that Israel is not a nuclear state,” Allon wrote in one of the papers.

Nuclear Option in 1973

Finally, without providing any direct quotations from the documents, Raz noted that the subject of the possible use of nuclear weapons during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Israel came dangerously close to defeat at the hands of Egypt and Syria, was also discussed in the papers. In brief, Raz confirmed that Defence Minister Dayan had arrived at defence headquarters in Tel Aviv on the afternoon of 8 October 1973 to recommend preparations to activate the nuclear option.

On October 9, Meir told Israeli Atomic Energy Commission Chief Shalhevet Freier that preparations would not be made without her explicit authorisation. Israel Lior, Meir’s military secretary, similarly indicated to Dayan and Freier that the nuclear option was a no-go.

Citing censorship, Raz indicated that the information he provided addresses “only a small portion of the subject that came up in the notes,” and urged Israeli authorities to allow for a more open discussion of the country’s nuclear program.

 

January 21, 2019 Posted by | history, Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Secret Handwritten Memos Reveal How Israel’s Nuclear Program Came to Be

January 19, 2019 Posted by | history, Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia keen to get nuclear technology from USA

Saudi Arabia to work closely with US on nuclear power plans,  https://www.straitstimes.com/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-to-work-closely-with-us-on-nuclear-power-plans JAN 10, 2019, RIYADH (REUTERS) – Saudi Arabia aims to work closely with the United States on its plans to build nuclear power generation capacity in the oil producing kingdom, the energy minister said on Wednesday (Jan 9).Riyadh wants Washington to be “part and parcel” of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear programme, which will be entirely for peaceful purposes, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said.

He also said the United States was a key provider for nuclear technology.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

USA’s Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) a front for Israeli weapons smuggling, and a danger to 1000s of Americans

FBI and CIA’s ‘Duty To Warn’ Victims of Israeli Nuclear Smuggling  https://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2018/12/26/fbi-and-cias-duty-to-warn-victims-of-israeli-nuclear-smuggling/

$500 million Pennsylvania NUMEC toxic cleanup restarts   December 27, 2018 In 2015 the intelligence community acknowledged that it had a “duty to warn” U.S. persons of impending threats of “serious bodily injury.” The objective of that “duty” – which has many loopholes – is to compel intelligence agencies to warn individuals or organizations of threats so they can take evasive measures. It affirms a moral obligation intelligence agencies have to those funding – willingly or not – their operations. The duty to warn demands they no longer stand idly by – or worse attempt to exploit credible threats to Americans – as leverage or for other, secret intelligence purposes.Last fall the US Army Corps of Engineers announced it was finally ready to resume a $500 million toxic waste cleanup of the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) dump. An earlier attempt at the Pennsylvania site to excavate was stopped after the discovery of unexpected materials. NUMEC’s plant sites in Apollo and Parks Township have long been the subject of litigation over wrongful mass deaths and illnesses caused by toxic pollution.

NUMEC was launched and managed by Zalman Shapiro, a nuclear chemist credited with solving engineering issues for naval nuclear propulsion in the 1950s. His partner, David Luzer Lowenthal was a smuggler with murky ties to Israeli intelligence and industrialist. Luzer organized the emergence of NUMEC from a complicated merger and acquired facilities for NUMEC in a defunct steel mill in the middle of Apollo, Pennsylvania. The Zionist Organization of America, originally chartered to “do any and all things that may be necessary” to support Israel, supplied three of NUMEC’s executives. Zalman Shapiro, Pittsburgh region president of ZOA, Morton Chatkin and Ivan J. Novick who became ZOA’s national president.

Officially NUMEC was a startup supplier of highly-enriched fuel for the US Navy. But two Central Intelligence Agency officials claimed NUMEC’s true purpose was to amass and divert US government-owned highly enriched uranium into Israel’s nuclear weapons program. 300 kilograms of highly enriched uranium disappeared from NUMEC between 1957-1978, with most of it gone by 1966. Material stolen from NUMEC would have been the most likely source for Israel’s ability to ready nuclear weapons for use during the 1967 Six-Day War.

CIA Tel Aviv Station Chief John Hadden, who performed field operations to sample the environment around Dimona for highly enriched uranium – material Israel was incapable of producing on its own – claimed NUMEC was “an Israeli operation from the beginning.” CIA Directorate of Science and Technology Deputy Director Carl Duckett testified that “NUMEC material had been diverted by the Israelis and used in fabricating weapons.” There were other telltale signs.

Inside NUMEC’s underfunded, ramshackle facilities an Israeli scientist, Baruch Cinai, learned to handle samples of plutonium, a skill subsequently useful to plutonium production at Israel’s Dimona facility. Israeli covert operatives Raphael Eitan, Avraham Bendor and Ephraim Beigun all visited the facility at Shapiro’s invitation in 1968 undercover as various Israeli energy specialists, in the company of Avraham Hermoni, chief of Israel’s nuclear weapons development program. The FBI’s investigation of NUMEC-related activities ultimately shook loose eyewitness testimony that Shapiro was collaborating in the illicit diversion of highly enriched uranium from NUMEC’s U.S.-government owned stockpile to Israel. Under increasing pressure, NUMEC’s regulator, the Atomic Energy Commission, subsequently engineered NUMEC’s corporate buyout and the exit of its management team to save face, after many years of denial and providing easily refuted excuses for NUMECs extreme and inexplicable material “losses.”

That NUMEC was a front operation, following in the footsteps of Israel’s 1940s-era conventional weapons smuggling operations from the US such as Martech, Service Airways, and the Sonneborn Institute, is well-known by the FBI and CIA. Both have released extensive archives of intelligence reports and surveillance photographs of Israeli conventional weapons smuggling from the United States through overseas networks. But both FBI and CIA have fought attempts at full disclosure of clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons related activities in the US, ostensibly because such smuggling has been unpunished and unabated. It is also US policy, under penalty of prosecution, that no federal agency may admit that Israel has nuclear weapons or release information about its program.

A February 2015 lawsuit seeking all of the CIA’s “thousands” of files about NUMEC was ended when the presiding judge refused to allow adding the US Department of Justice – which has worn many hats in the NUMEC affair – as an additional defendant. However some CIA documents were released during the court battle, revealing how the CIA had refused to cooperate with two separate FBI investigations of NUMEC, preferring to cover up damning information obtained from clandestine CIA operations in Israel confirming the diversion.

Documents grudgingly released by the FBI so far reveal the intelligence community likely knows that cost-cutting at NUMEC to achieve its smuggling aims was what made it such a toxic polluter. On May 5, 1969, Shapiro discussed a major toxic spill caused by such shortcuts, most likely with David Lowenthal, since the acquisition of other US companies was also part of the conversation. Shapiro ordered NUMEC workers – who often worked with no protective gear of any kind – to dampen down the spill with picks and shovels to avoid the spread of toxic dust and rain runoff carrying away the waste. Shapiro’s call was wiretapped by the FBI.

The full phone call summary reveals how Shapiro – who commuted every day from Pittsburgh – considered NUMEC workers as mostly replaceable and expendable.

“It’s not only a bad spill but ‘actually they are operating outside compliance.’ They had the drums all together. They have about 200 drums and estimate that about six a day will corrode through. The trouble lay with a fluoride which was put in to help the decay, and this was not checked. CENSORED said they are also about $230,000 over on their construction costs for the scrap plant. Z [Zalman Shapiro] said if they could get other people, there would be a lot of firing.”

NUMEC workers and town residents, exposed to radiation levels hundreds of times higher than health standards allowed, continue to suffer fallout and death from NUMEC. In addition to residents, the US Army Corps of Engineer contractors restarting the cleanup could benefit greatly from knowing what material is likely present – as well as what is not – at the site. Residents and the cleanup crew would also benefit from knowing of any intelligence on the potential threat that materials stolen decades ago might be returned or buried under cover of the cleanup at the site for crews to “find.”

Legal precedents suggest such toxic exposure as occurs at NUMEC could amount to “oppression, fraud, or malice” and be sufficient for victims to recover damages from polluters. However, neither the CIA nor the FBI have met their current obligations under “duty to warn” to officially alert the victims of NUMEC and contractors precisely what dangers they are still facing as the cleanup recommences.

Such overdue disclosures could also allow NUMEC’s victims to pursue claims against the perpetrator and beneficiary of the fraud and pollution – the Israeli government. Evidence stored away in FBI and CIA files could fully reveal ZOA’s NUMEC involvement. If ZOA did more than unwittingly provide key members of management, ZOA’s $40 – plus million in current assets could go a long way toward compensating the long-suffering Pennsylvania victims of Israeli nuclear smuggling and partially shift the burden of paying to clean up after NUMEC away from American taxpayers.

Grant F. Smith is the author of the book Divert! NUMEC, Zalman Shapiro and the diversion of US weapons-grade uranium into the Israeli nuclear weapons program. He is director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C. and plaintiff in the 2015 lawsuit calling on the CIA to release all NUMEC-related files.

December 29, 2018 Posted by | Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Israel has the World’s Most Secretive Nuclear Weapons Program

Introducing the World’s Most Secretive Nuclear Weapons Program (Not North Korea) Who could that be? National Interest, by Kyle Mizokami 24 Dec 18 

That can only mean one nation…

In a private email leaked to the public in September of 2016, former secretary of state and retired U.S. Army general Colin Powell  alluded to Israel  having an arsenal of “200 nuclear weapons.” While this number appears to be an exaggeration, there is no doubt that Israel does have a small but powerful nuclear stockpile, spread out among its armed forces. Israeli nuclear weapons guard against everything from defeat in conventional warfare to serving to deter hostile states from launching nuclear, chemical and biological warfare attacks against the tiny country. …….

Not much is known about early Israeli weapons, particularly their yield and the size of the stockpile. The strategic situation, in which Israel was outnumbered in conventional weapons but had no nuclear adversaries, meant Israel likely had smaller tactical nuclear weapons to destroy masses of attacking Arab tanks, military bases and military airfields. Still, the relatively short ranges between Israel and its neighbors meant that the Jericho missile, with only a three-hundred-mile range, could still hit Cairo and Damascus from the Negev desert.

Israel does not confirm nor deny having nuclear weapons. Experts generally assess the country as currently having approximately eighty nuclear weapons, fewer than countries such as France, China and the United Kingdom, but still a sizeable number considering its adversaries have none. These weapons are spread out among Israel’s version of a nuclear “triad” of land-, air- and sea-based forces scattered in a way that they deter surprise nuclear attack.

…….. Israel’s first land-based nuclear weapons were based on Jericho I missiles developed in cooperation with France. Jericho I is believed to have been retired, replaced by Jericho II and -III ballistic missiles. Jericho II has a range of 932 miles, while Jericho III, designed to hold Iran and other distant states at risk, has a range of at least 3,106 miles. The total number of Israeli ballistic missiles is unknown, but estimated by experts to number at least two dozen.

Like other nuclear-armed nations, the Israeli Navy has reportedly deployed nukes to what is generally agreed to as the most survivable seagoing platform: submarines. Israel has five German-built Dolphin-class submarines, which experts believe are equipped with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The cruise missiles are reportedly based off the Popeye air-to-ground missile or the Gabriel antiship missile. This ensures a so-called “second-strike capability”—as long as one submarine is on patrol, some portion of Israel’s nuclear deterrent remains invulnerable to a nuclear first strike, guaranteeing the ability to launch a nuclear counterattack.

The establishment of a nuclear triad demonstrates how seriously Israel takes the idea of nuclear deterrence. The country will likely not declare itself a nuclear power any time soon; ambiguity over ownership of nukes has served the country very well. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and general instability across the Middle East has ensured that Israel will likely remain the only nuclear-armed state in the region for the foreseeable future, but a collapse of the agreement or some new nuclear program could easily change that.https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/introducing-worlds-most-secretive-nuclear-weapons-program-not-north-korea-39722

December 29, 2018 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA Congress Democrats and Republicans want strict controls on any nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia

Lawmakers Want a Greater Say as U.S. Seeks a Saudi Nuclear Deal, Members of Congress from both parties demand that an agreement to sell Riyadh civilian nuclear technology be based on stringent controls, WSJ . By Michael R. Gordon, Dec. 16, 2018 

The Trump administration’s push to sell civilian nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia is emerging as the next battleground in the struggle between the White House and Congress over U.S. policy toward Riyadh following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The debate over Riyadh’s nuclear ambitions intensified last week after Energy Secretary Rick Perry brushed aside congressional appeals that nuclear talks be suspended because of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing and traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he accentuated the role American companies could play in helping the country establish a nuclear energy program.

…….But the CIA assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing has fueled concerns in Congress that the Saudi leader is too ruthless to be entrusted with nuclear technology. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said the crown prince had no knowledge of the operation.

Lawmakers of both parties are demanding a deal be based on the most stringent nonproliferation controls. And some are now pushing legislation that would give Congress more of a say by requiring that a nuclear accord with Saudi Arabia be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“Before Khashoggi, I would say our chances were quite modest,” said Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, referring to prospects of House legislation he is drafting. “Now I would have to say our chances are better than 50-50.”

An identical measure is being prepared in the Senate by Sens. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), though the prospects for winning approval are likely to be more challenging.

The prospective nuclear deal comes amid a broader debate over Saudi policy, including a Senate vote last week to halt U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting in Yemen.

Even since the Trump administration signaled its interest in a nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia last year, there has been debate about proliferation controls that should be imposed under an accord authorizing the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology, known as a 123 agreement.

……..Nuclear experts have also said that it would be important for Saudi Arabia to agree to the “Additional Protocol,” a formal arrangement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that provides for far-reaching inspections. The Saudis have been resisting that step, former officials who have been tracking the talks say. A spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment..

……..Under current law, a nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia would go forward unless congressional opponents backed a joint resolution against it. That means that two-thirds of the lawmakers would need to oppose the accord so Congress could overcome a potential veto.

Mr. Sherman’s new bill aims to put nuclear accord skeptics in a more favorable position by requiring the administration to win approval from both the Senate and the House. That means a simple majority in one legislative chamber would be enough to block the agreement…….https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawmakers-want-a-greater-say-as-u-s-seeks-a-saudi-nuclear-deal-11544990606

December 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

USA government will appease murderous Saudi Arabia regime – or maybe not?

US Nuclear Energy Policy & Khashoggi Murder: Appeasement Or Threat? Clean Technica, December 12th, 2018 by Tina Casey 


The horrific murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October continues to fester, and some of the blowback has been falling on the shoulders of the US tech sector. Rightfully so, considering the connection between Saudi wealth, Japan-based SoftBank, and Silicon Valley A-listers. Meanwhile, US President* Donald Trump has dismissed evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly responsible for the crime, but a recent nuclear energy announcement could indicate that someone in Trump’s cabinet is stirring the pot.

Khashoggi Or Not, Trump Administration Still Sharing Nuclear Energy Love With Saudi Arabia…

There is also a nuclear weapons angle to the story, but for now lets focus on the nuclear energy angle.

Despite its vast solar and wind resources, Saudi Arabia has expressed a growing interest in building a fleet of power plants fueled by nuclear energy.

CleanTechnica has been among those taking note, though not in any particular depth — until earlier this week, when the US Department of Energy released a readout of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent visit with the Saudi Minister of Energy, as well as the CEO of Saudi Aramco and other officials.

The readout hit the Intertubes just about the time word leaked out that there is now a written transcript of the audiotape that recorded the last minutes of Khashoggi’s life.

Anyone — even those who do not speak Arabic — can now read and understand the last words that Khashoggi screamed out in the course of his murder.

So, was the readout yet another example of Secretary Perry tone deafness? Or was it yet another one of his curiously timed missives that undercut White House policy even while seeming to affirm it.

Here, you do the math. This is where the readout deals with the visit to Saudi Arabia (Perry also went to Qatar on the same trip):

…the Secretary expressed that the United States continues to view Saudi Arabia as an important ally, particularly in the energy space. Perry and Al-Falih spoke about last week’s OPEC announcement of production cuts and Perry reiterated the need for stable supply and market values. They also discussed the 2018 increase in Saudi oil production and the impact it has had on world markets in the wake of the Iran sanctions.

And, here’s the summary message (emphasis added):

Secretary Perry underscored the message that he carries all over the world: any nation seeking to develop a truly safe, clean, and secure nuclear energy program should turn to American companies who have the ability to provide the technology, knowledge, and experience that are essential to achieving that goal.

The US nuclear energy industry is in a state of near collapse, domestically speaking. As with coal power, the only hope for growth is to export the technology elsewhere…but the readout makes it clear there are standards to be met.

Or Not

The readout is not particularly startling in and of itself, though there is a lot to chew on between the lines.

What really sticks out is the summary message. It could be read in two different ways.

Number one, Secretary Perry was blithely pitching the US nuclear energy industry to the Saudi government, ignoring — as per White House policy — the latest revelations about the Khashoggi murder.

That would be consistent with the Rick Perry, who toes the Trump line on a whole host of other issues, inside and outside of the energy space.

Number two relates to the other Rick Perry — the one who has consistently pushed for the Department of Energy’s scientific and renewable energy missions, even when (or perhaps especially when) those missions clash with Trump’s anti-science, pro-coal rhetoric.

In this scenario, the nuclear message is not a pitch. It’s practically the opposite: a reminder that the US holds the nuclear energy cards.

To be clear, the US doesn’t hold all the nuclear energy cards, but it does hold enough of them to make trouble. Earlier this fall, for example, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on nuclear technology exports to China. Though some have downplayed the impact, that’s gotta hurt.

As applied to the Saudi government, Perry could wield the authority of his agency under its nonproliferation mission as a stick, not a carrot.

Or, maybe not. If you apply Occam’s razor to the readout, it is just what it is: a message that, Khashoggi or not, it’s business as usual between Saudi Arabia and the US.

What do you think? Drop us a note in the comment thread! ………… https://cleantechnica.com/2018/12/12/us-nuclear-energy-policy-khashoggi-murder-appeasement-or-threat/

December 18, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment