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Report: Israel ‘deeply concerned’ by Saudi Arabia, China alleged nuclear cooperation,

August 22, 2020 Posted by | Iran, Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Plan for nuclear-weapon free zone is unlikely to impress Israel

Eliminating Israel’s bomb with a nuclear-weapon-free zone?, 29 Jul 2020 Ramesh Thakur Nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs) deepen and extend the scope of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and embed the non-nuclear-weapon status of NPT states parties in additional treaty-based arrangements. This is why several NPT review conferences have repeatedly affirmed support for existing NWFZs and encouraged the development of additional zones.

There are currently five zones: in Latin America, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia. At a minimum, all NWFZs prohibit the acquisition, testing, stationing and use of nuclear weapons within the designated territory of the zone. They also include protocols for pledges by nuclear powers not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against members of the zone.

Israel has seemed more interested in implementing a military solution to its security challenges, including the threat of a preventive strike on Iran, than in exploring diplomatic options. But it’s simply not credible that Israel can keep its unacknowledged nuclear arsenal indefinitely, while every other regional state can be stopped from getting the bomb in perpetuity. The alternatives for Israeli security planners are regional denuclearisation or proliferation. The latter would entail the further risks of heightened tension and increased instability. Moreover, a nuclear-weapon capability is of no use to Israel in deterring or managing the threat of terrorism.

Because ‘the logic of using force to secure a nuclear monopoly flies in the face of international norms’, Israel could consider trading its nuclear weapons for a stop to Iran’s development of a nuclear-weapon capability by agreeing to an NWFZ. Conversely, the confidence built among states through an NWFZ process can spill over into other areas of regional interactions. The experience of working together in negotiating a zonal arrangement, and then working together once the zone is operational, generates habits of cooperation and sustains mutual confidence, both of which are necessary conditions for resolving other regional security issues.

Can an NWFZ be used for nuclear disarmament of a non-NPT state?

When the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995, the package deal included a resolution on the creation of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction. The resolution required all regional states (including those outside the NPT) to sign, and International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to be applied to all nuclear facilities in the region. The 2010 NPT review conference—the last one that had an agreed final document—reiterated the importance of the 1995 resolution and requested the UN secretary-general and Russia, the UK and the US—co-sponsors of the 1995 resolution—to convene a conference in 2012 to that end.

Finnish diplomat Jaakko Laajava was appointed as the facilitator and Helsinki was named as the venue for the conference scheduled to begin on 17 December 2012. However, on 23 November Victoria Nuland of the US State Department said there would be no conference ‘because of present conditions in the Middle East and the fact that states in the region have not reached agreement on acceptable conditions for a conference’. The failure contributed to the collapse of the 2015 review conference.

Like the Red Queen in Through the looking-glass, the UN has to run very fast just to stay where it is. The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons might be thought to have made another NWFZ redundant. Yet, by an 88 to 4 vote (75 abstentions), UN General Assembly decision 73/546 of 22 December 2018 called on the secretary-general to convene a conference at UN headquarters in 2019 to elaborate a legally binding treaty for establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Importantly, however, in paragraph a(iii), the document stipulated that all decisions of the conference ‘shall be taken by consensus by the States of the region’. The conference was held on 18–22 November 2019. Its political declaration affirmed ‘the intent and solemn commitment’ to pursue a treaty-based commitment, just like in 1995.

Not surprisingly, Israel is wary of the proposal’s origins in a document to which it did not subscribe, adopted by a conference to review and extend a treaty that it has not signed, whose core prohibition it has ignored. In a formal letter to the secretary-general (document A/72/340 (Part 1), 16 August 2017), Israel emphasised ‘the need for a direct and sustained dialogue between all regional States to address the broad range of security threats and challenges’. It’s difficult to see how negotiations can begin until all states explicitly accept the existence of Israel. No NWFZ has previously been established among states that refuse to recognise one another and do not engage in diplomatic relations and whose number includes some that are formally at war.

The bleak security and political environment in the conflict-riven Middle East is particularly inauspicious for the creation of an NWFZ. There is no regional organisation to initiate and guide negotiations, nor is there a regional dialogue process that can form the backdrop to negotiations. An NWFZ in regions of high conflict intensity may have to follow rather than cause the end of conflicts. Syria is convulsed in a civil war. Egypt has yet to sign the IAEA Additional Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention, or ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention and the African NWFZ. But it does strongly support a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

Turkey is a NATO member. The possession and deployment of nuclear weapons are integral to NATO doctrine and command structure and US tactical nuclear weapons are based in Turkey. How can this be reconciled with Turkey’s membership of an NWFZ? Alternatively, how meaningful would a Middle Eastern NWFZ be without Turkey?

Most crucially, Israel is already a nuclear-armed state. This immediately raises an obvious but critical question. Is the expectation that Israel will sign a protocol as a nuclear-armed state, or that it must sign the treaty after first eliminating its nuclear weapons? The latter would be without precedent and transform the Middle East NWFZ treaty from a normal non-proliferation treaty into a unique disarmament treaty. An NWFZ is traditionally established as a confidence-building measure among states that have already forsworn the nuclear option. It is unlikely to be established as a disarmament measure, or even to constrain the future potential of states like Iran that retain the nuclear option in their national security calculus.

Ramesh Thakur, a former UN assistant secretary-general, is emeritus professor at the Australian National University and director of its Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Israel, politics international | Leave a comment

American-Israeli strategy developing for clandestine not-quite-war strikes on Iran?

July 13, 2020 Posted by | Iran, Israel, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Explosion at Iran’s nuclear facility probably caused by Israel

What caused the explosion at a nuclear facility in central Iran?, The Strategist  10 Jul 2020|, Connor Dilleen  It seems increasingly likely that the 2 July explosion at the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Centre, located near the Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant, was the result of sabotage. And, despite initial speculation that it was the result of a cyberattack against critical operational control systems—and thus of a similar vein to the Stuxnet attack that took down multiple centrifuge cascades at Natanz in 2010—the simpler and more plausible explanation is that the explosion was caused by a bomb.

Despite claims of responsibility by a previously unknown group calling itself the Homeland Cheetahs that supposedly comprises disgruntled Iranian former military and security services personnel, it now appears widely accepted that Israel was behind the attack. There has been further speculation that Israel was also behind other curious incidents that have occurred at Iranian facilities in recent weeks—including explosions at the gas storage area near the Khojir missile facility at Parchin, at a medical facility in Tehran, and at a factory south of Tehran—although there is as yet no evidence of foul play in these events.

Multiple media outlets—including the New York Times and the Washington Post—have referenced intelligence officials attributing the Natanz attack to Israel. And while Tehran was slow in apportioning blame, on 7 July it accused Israel of being behind the attack, saying it was ‘a “wake-up call” meant to deter Iran amid advancements in its nuclear program, and … [that] those who planted the explosives had significant insight into the country’s nuclear program’.

Israel has form in using lethal force against high-value nuclear targets in the Middle East. Between 2010 and 2012, Israeli agents murdered four Iranian nuclear scientists. Earlier, Israel launched military strikes that destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981 and the Syrian Al Kibar reactor in 2007, the two most obvious manifestations of the Begin doctrine, which stipulates that Israel cannot allow any of its regional adversaries to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

However, two key issues remain unresolved. First, it’s not clear that the explosion at the centrifuge assembly centre will be a significant a setback for Iran’s enrichment capabilities. Second, if it is accepted that Israel was behind the incident, it’s difficult to assess whether the Natanz attack was merely a warning to Tehran or represents a new stage in Israeli efforts to curtail Tehran’s nuclear program. It’s possible that the attacks were also intended to provoke a reaction from Tehran that would justify more punitive and definitive military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities by either Israel or the US……..

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Iran, Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Iran says world ‘must respond’ to Israel after blast at nuclear site

July 8, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Iran, Israel, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear Weapons: The Reason Why Even Iran Fears Israel

Nuclear Weapons: The Reason Why Even Iran Fears Israel, Kyle Mizokami,The National Interest•June 1, 2020

………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.  …….

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Israel | Leave a comment

Netanyahu’s deceitful push to try to get USA to attack Iran

May 2, 2020 Posted by | Iran, Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

USA has helped Israel to develop a mighty armory of nuclear missiles

Israel’s Nuclear Missiles Could Smash You Back to the Stone Age, And that’s just for starters. National Interest, by Caleb Larson 6 Apr 20,  Israel’s missile capabilities are perhaps among the most advanced in the Middle East. Through extensive aid from the United States and Europe, as well as collaboration in developing missiles, Israel has been able to nurture a mature domestic missile production capability that has been successful as exports.

Most of Israel’s missiles are relatively short- to medium-range, they also have several missiles in the Jericho family that can reach out into the 1,500 to 4,800-kilometer range (930 to 3000 miles). ……

April 7, 2020 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Israel’s High Court rejects Vanunu’s bid to leave Israel

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Israel, legal | Leave a comment

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz suggests bombing Iran to stop its nuclear program

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Iran, Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Bacteria to consume CO2 – a climate change solution?

Scientists just engineered bacteria to eat CO2,  Right now, biotech companies feed E. coli sugar as they produce everything from insulin to biofuels. Now, a new strain of the bacteria can suck emissions from the air as their food. Fast Company, BY ADELE PETERS 4 Dec 19, Bacteria commonly used in the biotech industry could soon feed on CO2 instead of sugar, turning climate pollution into carbon-neutral biofuels or even food. In a decade-long study, scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science engineered for the first time a form of E. coli that can consume carbon dioxide……..

Some startups are already beginning to use microbes to transform CO2 into products; Air Protein, launched in November, uses CO2 to make protein for alternative meat. But microbes that these new companies use are proprietary. “They’re using microbes that are much harder to engineer than E. coli, and therefore the variety of products that these microbes can manufacture from the capture of CO2 is very limited compared to E. coli,” he says. ……

If the production process uses renewable energy, “then we will basically have negative emissions of CO2,” says Gleizer. Some products may be carbon neutral—if the bacteria make jet fuel, for example, the planes that use it will still emit greenhouse gases, but no more than the CO2 that was originally used to produce the fuel. The CO2 could potentially come from direct air capture.

Several steps are still necessary before it’s clear that the process is feasible. When the current strain of the bacteria feeds on CO2, it grows much more slowly than if it was eating sugar; the researchers think that future versions can be faster. The E. coli will also have to be further modified to produce specific products. And production equipment in biotech factories might also have to change. “There’s still a long way to optimize this process,” says Gleizer.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | climate change, Israel | Leave a comment

Entire world wants nuclear weapons-free Middle East — except for USA and Israel

US and Israel were lone votes against UN resolutions opposing space arms race, nuclear Middle East, Cuba embargo, The United States and Israel were the only countries that voted against UN General Assembly draft resolutions calling for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, measures to stop an arms race in outer space, and an end to the blockade of Cuba. THE GRAYZONE, By Ben Norton, 11 Nov 19,

Important breakthroughs have arrived at the United Nations seeking to prevent an arms race in outer space and create a nuclear weapons-free Middle East. There are just two main obstacles: the United States and Israel.

While Washington and corporate media outlets portray China and Russia as aggressive warmongering rogue states, their votes at the UN show which nations are actually expanding dangerous militarism into new frontiers.

China and Russia joined dozens of other countries in sponsoring resolutions at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that sought to prevent armed conflict in space. Most of the international community supported these historic peace measures. The only consistent outliers were the US and Israel.

Beijing and Moscow have been leading global efforts to stop the use of weapons in space. Meanwhile, Washington has unilaterally blocked the international consensus on preventing the deadly space race.

Moreover, as nearly all UN member states have united in calling for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, the US and Israel have singlehandedly undermined their peace efforts.

This roguish behavior predates the election of President Donald Trump.

At the UNGA on November 7, almost every country in the world also voted to end the US embargo against Cuba. This was the 28th year in row that the international community united in calling for the American noose to be taken off the neck of the Cuban people.

While 187 member states supported the resolution demanding an end to the blockade, the US, Israel, and Brazil’s far-right government were the lone nations to oppose it. American allies Colombia and Ukraine abstained.

Washington’s UN votes show who truly is a rogue state.

Entire world wants nuclear weapons-free Middle East — except for USA and Israel

The UNGA’s First Committee, which oversees disarmament and international security, voted on November 1 to overwhelmingly approve a draft resolution entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.”

A staggering 172 countries voted in support of this resolution. Only two nations voted against it: the US and Israel. Just two more countries abstained: the United Kingdom and Cameroon.

At the same meeting, the First Committee approved a draft resolution on “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East,” which called for the region to abide by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Given Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, the UNGA resolution called on Tel Aviv to join the NPT (Israel has long refused to sign the treaty), and demanded that Israeli nuclear facilities be overseen by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

The draft resolution was also overwhelmingly approved, with 151 votes in support and a mere six votes against — from the US, Israel, and Canada, along with the tiny island nations of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, which function as vassals of Washington at the UN.

American and Israeli votes against resolutions to prevent an arms race in outer space…….

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Israel, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Submarine launched missiles in Israel’s probably 300 Nuclear Weapons

Israel May Have 300 Nuclear Weapons (Including Submarine-Launched Missiles) National Interest  Sébastien Roblin   11 Oct 19,  Israel has never officially admitted to possessing nuclear weapons.

Unofficially, Tel Aviv wants everyone to know it has them, and doesn’t hesitate to make thinly-veiled references to its willingness to use them if confronted by an existential threat. Estimates on the size of Tel Aviv’s nuclear stockpile range from 80 to 300 nuclear weapons, the latter number exceeding China’s arsenal.

Originally, Israel’s nuclear forces relied on air-dropped nuclear bombs and Jericho ballistic missiles. For example, when Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a squadron of eight Israeli F-4 Phantom jets loaded with nuclear bombs was placed on alert by Prime Minister Golda Meir, ready to unleash nuclear bombs on Cairo and Damascus should the Arab armies break through.
Though Israel is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, Tel Aviv is preoccupied by the fear that an adversary might one day attempt a first strike to destroy its nuclear missiles and strike planes on the ground before they can retaliate. Currently, the only hostile states likely to acquire such a capability are Iran or Syria.

To forestall such a strategy, Israeli has aggressively targeted missile and nuclear technology programs in Iraq, Syria and Iran with air raids, sabotage and assassination campaigns. However, it also has developed a second-strike capability—that is, a survivable weapon which promises certain nuclear retaliation no matter how effective an enemy’s first strike.

Most nuclear powers operate nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines which can spend months quietly submerged deep underwater and at any moment unleash ocean-spanning ballistic missiles to rain apocalyptic destruction on an adversary’s major centers. Because there’s little chance of finding all of these subs before they fire, they serve as one hell of a disincentive to even think about a first strike.
But nuclear-powered submarines and SLBMs are prohibitively expensive for a country with the population of New Jersey—so Israeli found a more affordable alternative………

October 12, 2019 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Israel’s duplicity about its nuclear weapons

The Emperor’s New-Old Nuclear Clothes, Common Dreams ,  Helena Cobban September 18, 2019, by  The Lobe Log, 

Israel wants to keep leaders in Washington distracted and always a little off-balance, so they will end up without the bandwidth and the stamina needed to confront Israel over the continuation of colonial expansion in the lands occupied in 1967.byHelena Cobban

How is it still possible to write a lengthy article about the military/strategic dynamic among the triad of Israel, Iran, and the United States while making zero mention of Israel’s robust nuclear-weapons capability? New York Times staffers Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti, and their editors at the Times magazine clearly think this is quite okay. In their recent lengthy article, “The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran,” Bergman and Mazzetti looked at the U.S.-Israeli coalitional aspect of the past 17 years in the project to prepare for launching military or special-ops actions against Iran. They followed in the long tradition within the big corporate media of deliberately ignoring Israel’s nuclear capability, a factor that is central to any understanding of the forces at play in the Middle East and also, crucially, those at play in the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

The authors’ omission of any mention of Israel’s nuclear capabilities—and the ability these capabilities have long given to the country’s leaders to exert strong, continuing nuclear blackmail on Washington—is one serious flaw in their narrative. Another is that they seriously downplay the importance of the fact that Israel’s military is incapable, on its own, of inflicting debilitating damage on Iran’s nuclear program using only “conventional,” that is non-nuclear, weapons. (The two lacunae could perhaps be linked, as we will see below.)

Early in the article, Bergman and Mazzetti set the scene for how they see the strategic dynamic among Israel, Iran, and Washington by citing an analysis provided by Ilan Goldenberg, who was an up-and-coming Pentagon official in the Obama administration………….

A few things about the nuclear dimension of the U.S.-Israel-Iran triangle have been clear to me for a long time. One is that the longstanding refusal of most members of the U.S. political elite (officials, legislators, think-tankers, corporate media, and so on) to even mention the fact of Israel’s own nuclear-weapons capabilities and to take full account of them in public discussions of strategic matters in the Middle East is extremely harmful. Among the harms inflicted by that refusal (and by the general political clout that Israel wields in Washington) is that Israel’s longstanding ability to wield a form of nuclear blackmail against Washington—as I have written about for more than 30 years now—is never mentioned. Nor is the fact that, while Iran has been a full member of the NPT and has submitted to a full range of inspections of its nuclear research facilities for many decades now, Israel is not a member and has never been subjected to any such inspections.

(Another thing that is almost never mentioned is that all journalists based in Israel—as Bergman is—are subject to the country’s rigorous censorship system. This censorship is particularly strict regarding all military issues.)

…………  so long as Iran does not break out of the NPT, Israel can quietly, behind the veil of its longstanding policy of “nuclear ambiguity”, continue to exert a form of “extreme-case” nuclear deterrence against Iran. (And to use the threat of a potential unveiling as a potent means of leverage against decision-makers in Washington.)

So why, then, do we have all the continual hullabaloo and endless navel-scratching in the Western corporate media (and the Western political system, more broadly) about the possibility—not yet anywhere close to a fact, but a possibility, some time in the future—that Iran may start to build a nuclear-weapons capability?

My conclusion is that a good part of this navel-scratching is a deliberate tactic of diversion: a way for the decision-makers in Israel and their supporters to keep leaders in Washington and elsewhere distracted and always a little off-balance, so they will end up without the bandwidth and the stamina needed confront Israel over the continuation of its project of colonial expansion in the lands occupied in 1967.

That colonial project in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and in Golan is what all Israeli leaders since 2001 have cared about most deeply. And they all knew that one great way to head off any efforts a U.S. president might make to challenge the project was to raise a hubbub about Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“Why do you keep talking to us about human rights or international law issues in the Palestinian territories?” was the essential message such efforts sent to decision-makers in Washington. “Stop worrying about those. We will handle them as we see fit, and you should butt out. But meantime, keep looking at all those shiny objects over there in the Iranian nuclear program! And by the way, keep your aid money flowing to our military. Otherwise, just imagine what havoc we could create for you in the Gulf…”

Helena Cobban is a writer and researcher on global affairs. She is a Contributing Editor of Boston Review, and writes weekly news analysis on Middle East affairs for Inter-Press service. Her blog can be enjoyed at Just World News.

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fiery Imam suggests missile attack on Israel’s Dimona nuclear power plant

Israel’s Nuclear Reactor,   Radio Farda, 7July 19, Tehran’s Friday Prayer Imam has suggested that Iran should launch a missile attack on Israel’s Dimona nuclear power plant.

In his Friday July 5 sermon, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, better known as Movahedi, addressed the United States and Israel, saying: “If Iran decides to confront you, a missile strike on the Dimona reactor would be enough,” threatening that the attack “will plough Israel 200 times.”

Dimona is an Israeli city in the Negev region, South of Beersheba and West of the Dead Sea. The city is nicknamed mini-India for its sizeable Indian Jewish community. The Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center is located about 13 kilometers to the southeast of the city.

Movahedi warned the United States and Israel about their vulnerability: “You are living in a glass house. You’d better watch out!”

He also warned the United States against a military attack on Iran………

Last year, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei changed his mind about appointing Movahedi as an interim chairman for the Expediency Council after a few weeks, probably fearing his occasional outlandish remarks could cause havoc in Iran’s domestic or international politics.

Some of Friday Prayer Imams in other Iranian cities have also made passing remarks about tensions in the region, but none was observed to make firebrand violent remarks.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Iran, Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment