Friday, July 17, 2009

Matt 24 watch, 84: Iran issues as Ahmadinejad declares intent and as "first nukes" are now credibly six months out

In recent weeks, we have seen an evidently fraudulent re-election of Mr Ahmadinejad in Iran, leading to now suppressed street protests. Now, Mr Ahmadinejad has announced his current intent. According to a July 16, 2009 Reuters report:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Newly re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday his next government "would bring down the global arrogance," signaling a tougher approach by Tehran toward the West after last month's disputed election.

Ahmadinejad, in his first provincial trip after the June 12 presidential vote, said Iran's enemies had tried to interfere and foment aggression in the country, referring to mass opposition protests against the official election result.

The hardline president, who often rails against the West, said the Islamic Republic wanted "logic and negotiations" but that Western powers had insulted the Iranian nation and should apologize.

Iranian leaders often refer to the United States and its allies as the "global arrogance."

"As soon as the new government is established, with power and authority, ten times more than before, it will enter the global scene and will bring down the global arrogance," he told a big crowd in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

"They should wait as a new wave of revolutionary thinking ... from the Iranian nation is on the way and we will not allow the arrogant (powers) to even have one night of good sleep," Ahmadinejad said, according to state broadcaster IRIB . . . .

He also voiced continued defiance in a row over Iran's disputed nuclear ambitions, saying major powers "will not be able to take away the smallest amount of Iran's rights."

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful power purposes. Western countries suspect it is aimed at making bombs.

In a related development, a Ha'aretz report summarises a German intelligence assessment on Iran and nuclear weapons:

Iran is capable of assembling an atomic bomb within six months, German intelligence analysts told the German weekly newsmagazine Stern.

"If they want to, they will be able to set off a uranium bomb within six months," an analyst with Germany's intelligence service, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), told the magazine.

German intelligence officials told Stern believe Iran has "mastered" every stage of uranium enrichment and that they have activated enough centrifuges to produce sufficient quantities of weapons-grade uranium for at least one atomic bomb.

"Nobody would have thought this possible some years ago," an intelligence official told Stern.

Israel's own Intelligence agencies are world class and have prioritised Iran as perhaps the most dangerous threat to Israel in the Middle East [no mean achievement in that neighbourhood!]. So, it is thus no surprise to see that in recent weeks, recently elected Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's administration has sent a Dolphin class submarine from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea (and back again) through Egypt's Suez Canal, and ten days later has now sent two of Israel's Saar class Missile Gunboats (which range up to Corvette -- small Destroyer -- size) through the same canal to the Red Sea.

When Mr Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, was asked about these developments, he responded: "It is not our policy to comment on such reports."

However, another Israeli official has been extensively quoted in the international media as saying:

"This is preparation that should be taken seriously. Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran. These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats."

The original report in the London Times, continues:

It is believed that Israel’s missile-equipped submarines, and its fleet of advanced aircraft, could be used to strike at in excess of a dozen nuclear-related targets more than 800 miles from Israel . . . .

Two Israeli Saar class missile boats and a Dolphin class submarine have passed through Suez. Israel has six Dolphin-class submarines, three of which are widely believed to carry nuclear missiles.

Israel will also soon test an Arrow interceptor missile on a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean. The system is designed to defend Israel from ballistic missile attacks by Iran and Syria. Lieutenant-General Patrick O’Reilly, the director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency, said that Israel would test against a target with a range of more than 630 miles (1,000km) — too long for previous Arrow test sites in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Israeli air force, meanwhile, will send F16C fighter jets to participate in exercises at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada this month. Israeli C130 Hercules transport aircraft will also compete in the Rodeo 2009 competition at McChord Air Force base in Washington.

“It is not by chance that Israel is drilling long-range manoeuvres in a public way. This is not a secret operation. This is something that has been published and which will showcase Israel’s abilities,” said an Israeli defence official.

He added that in the past, Israel had run a number of covert long-range drills. A year ago, Israeli jets flew over Greece in one such drill, while in May, reports surfaced that Israeli air force aircraft were staging exercises over Gibraltar. An Israeli attack on a weapons convoy in Sudan bound for militants in the Gaza Strip earlier this year was also seen as a rehearsal for hitting moving convoys.

The exercises come at a time when Western diplomats are offering support for an Israeli strike on Iran in return for Israeli concessions on the formation of a Palestinian state.

If agreed it would make an Israeli strike on Iran realistic “within the year” said one British official.

Diplomats said that Israel had offered concessions on settlement policy, Palestinian land claims and issues with neighboring Arab states, to facilitate a possible strike on Iran.

Thus, with an Iranian existential threat hanging over it, Israel is being pressured to make concessions that on the history of events since the Oslo process began in 1993 are unlikely to give it peace with its Palestinian Arab neighbours.

And, on the subject of "concessions," one has to ask:

1] What more concession could Israel reasonably offer than was put on the table in 2000 -- half of Jerusalem, all of Temple Mount, 100% of Gaza, 97% of the W Bank (as a contiguous territory) with compensating territories elsewhere, a causeway linking the two zones, and US% 15 billion in aid -- and which was rejected outright by Arafat leading to the current cycle of war?

2] What does that imply about the likely nature of further "compromises" that now seem to be on the table?

Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily adds that:

According to Israeli defense officials speaking to WND, the Dolphin was carrying out test drills. The officials said the submarine passed through the canal with permission from Egypt, even though the Egyptian government denied any permission was granted.

The Times today quoted an Israeli diplomat explaining the Jewish state has been bolstering its ties with certain Arab nations that are also threatened by Iran. The diplomat cited a "shared mutual distrust of Iran" between Israel and Egypt.

In a report denied by Netanyahu's office, the Times of London two weeks ago claimed Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli warplanes flying over the kingdom in any raid on Iran's nuclear sites.

The Times said Mossad director Meir Dagan had held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility.

"The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia," the newspaper quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

Adding these up, it is clear that the Middle East is on the brink of a nuclear arms crisis, with an Israeli Missile and aircraft attack on the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure very likely within the year. (And in that context, given that Israel has been close to Georgia, which is just across the Caspian Sea from Iran, the recent Russian sabre-rattling about Georgia, following up from its recent invasion is probably not coincidental. For, in 1976, when Israel launched a hostage rescue mission against the terrorists holding a British Airways passenger aircraft in Entebbe Uganda, it did so in cooperation with then friendly Kenya.)

So, it seems the pessimistic assessment on the Iranian situation -- again -- has been the more correct one. In turn, this makes for sobering reading, given the close ties between the Iranian regime and the Chavez regime in Venezuela. (This last is not without relevance to the views of our region's leading opinion makers and the statements and actions of our Foreign Ministries.)

And, as the Middle east pot heats up to the most dangerous boil ever, we need to watch and pray; especially, for the peace of ever-contended for, claimed and counter-claimed Jerusalem. END

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