Friday, February 22, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 195: Israeli PM Netanyahu warns about Iran as it approaches the red line nuclear threshold, in the aftermath of the apparent explosion at the Fordow nuke centrifuge facility

Israeli PM, Binyamin Netanyahu has just given a major speech on the global and regional danger posed by the Iranian Nuclear programme, which we need to take note of. As usual, this is not being headlined by our local, regional or global news managers as a major focus for international attention and effort. 

But, it  is vital, given what a nuclear armed Iran would be capable of, and given what a strike to knock out the capacity would probably trigger, especially in the global oil markets. 

As in, yet another major energy crisis. 

Just what the troubled global economy does not need. 

Of course, Iran is banking on global inattention and reluctance to reach the critical 20% U-235 enrichment level with enough substance to build its first bombs. (Note from no. 193, Feb 16, 2013, in this Matt 24 watch series, on what A Q Khan had to say about Pakistan's achievement of nuke weapons, and how it decisively changed the game. Then, think about what that implies for the vastly more unstable, apocalyptic and terrorist-minded Iranian regime.)

So, here at KF, we will shortly look at a clip of it, but first we need to know some key background.

That is, especially on the Fordow nuclear enrichment facility in central Iran:

The buried-under-a-mountain Iranian nuclear enrichment facility at Fordow, [HT ISIS, Jan 22, 2013]

It will help us to know that on January 24, a former Iranian official using the pseudonym Reza Khalili, reported in WND that there had apparently -- it has been pretty hush-hush and remains "unconfirmed" (which may be actually a sign that something serious happened) -- been a major explosion at the Iranian Fordow centrifuge facility that apparently has been working to bring nuclear materials to the 20% U-235 level; from which concentrating to the 90% weapons grade level would take only a matter of weeks.

Map of nuclear facilities in Iran, c. 2010. Fordow is near Qom, South of Tehran. The cumulative investment in these plants and the associated programme is patently in the dozens of Billions of Dollars (US$) [HT: Business Insider]

According to the report:
An explosion deep within Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility [--> which is built 300 ft under a mountain and is apparently invulnerable to conventional bombing] has destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240 personnel deep underground [--> apparently as a consequence of the two elevators being crippled], according to a former intelligence officer of the Islamic regime.
The previously secret nuclear site has become a center for Iran’s nuclear activity because of the 2,700 centrifuges enriching uranium [--> i.e uranium hexafluoride, UF6] to the 20-percent [U-235] level. [--> U-235 is the isotope that undergoes fission by so-called thermal neutrons and is the key to a Uranium bomb] A further enrichment to weapons grade would take only weeks, experts say.

The level of enrichment has been a major concern to Israeli officials, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly has warned about the 20-percent enriched stockpile . . . . 

The regime’s uranium enrichment process takes place at two known sites: the Natanz facility with more than 10,000 centrifuges and Fordow with more than 2,700. The regime currently has enough low-grade (3.5 percent) uranium stockpiled for six nuclear bombs if further enriched.

However, more time is needed for conversion of the low-grade uranium than what would be needed for a stockpile at 20 percent. It takes 225 kilograms of enriched uranium at the 20-percent level to further enrich to the 90-percent level for one nuclear bomb.

According to a source in the security forces protecting Fordow, an explosion on Monday at 11:30 a.m. Tehran time rocked the site, which is buried deep under a mountain and immune not only to airstrikes but to most bunker-buster bombs. The report of the blast came via Hamidreza Zakeri, formerly with the Islamic regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security . . . . 

The blast shook facilities within a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran-Qom highway was shut down for several hours after the blast, the source said.
 This has been denied by the ISIS, which suggests that they are not seeing a cluster of emergency vehicles at the site. So, the report has been unconfirmed.

 Of course, even if Fordow has been crippled, that still leaves Natanz spinning away in central Iran (Note Global Security here), with seven to ten thousand centrifuges, depending on the report one consults.

Of this site, Wiki notes:
(33°43′24.43″N 51°43′37.55″E) Natanz is a hardened Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) covering 100,000 square meters that is built 8 meters underground and protected by a concrete wall 2.5 meters thick, itself protected by another concrete wall. In 2004, the roof was hardened with reinforced concrete and covered with 22 meters of earth. The complex consists of two 25,000 square meter halls and a number of administrative buildings. This once secret site was one of the two exposed by Alireza Jafarzadeh in August, 2002. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei visited the site on 21 February 2003 and reported that 160 centrifuges were complete and ready for operation, with 1000 more under construction at the site.[30] Under the terms of Iran's safeguards agreement, Iran was under no obligation to report the existence of the site while it was still under construction. There are currently approximately 7,000 centrifuges installed at Natanz, of which 5,000 are producing low enriched uranium.[31]
So, if the Fordow facility was largely working on moving to the 20% level, and the Natanz one had another 2,000 or so centrifuges, what perhaps just happened is that through a black operation -- perhaps a cyber attack or something like that -- the main and best protected UF6 concentration facility has been knocked out, at least for now. 

(And, while there has been no open acknowledgement that the WND breaking news report is substantially true, there have been some hints over the past few weeks that suggest that we should take it seriously enough to bear it in mind. Remember, if it it true, that would be good news, time has been bought. If it is FALSE, bad news, Iran is running hard to the nuke weapon red line! So, let us not get bogged down in futile debates over whether or not the report is/can be confirmed, that is secondary to the main issue: the Red Line is getting ever closer as we speak.) 

Where, the Natanz facility -- while significantly hardened -- is obviously far more vulnerable to conventional bunker buster air strikes than the one at Fordow. Which would make Fordow the likely site for sprinting to  the 20% then 90% U-235 concentration red-1 and red-2 lines.

 It is against that backdrop, that Israeli PM Netanyahu spoke recently to the Jewish Agency.

According to key parts of the text released by his office:, we first must face the facts of renewed slander and genocidal hatred against Jews and especially the renewed Jewish state in the historic Jewish homeland:
Now, Israel is facing today a set of challenges that are daunting, nothing less than that, and we'll need all the unity and the strength that we can muster to overcome those challenges. The first challenge is Iran.  You said, Natan [Sharanski], quoting my father, that the Jewish fate has changed because of the Jewish state, and that is true.  But not the designs of the enemies of the Jewish people. They have not changed with the rise of the Jewish state. That is the millennial desire of the enemies of the Jews, fired by Jew hatred in antiquity and medieval times and in modern times to eradicate the Jewish people. 

That has not changed.  It may have taken a back seat for a few decades after the Holocaust, it was politically improper, but it has come back with full force, in the renascent Islamist anti-Semitism, the anarchist left and that strange bond between them that you've spoken about many times, and also in the failure of those who should know better to stand up against the de-legitimization of Israel; in fact, to concur in it and to assist it by portraying Israel, which is a uniquely moral country and the only country that observes human rights and fights for democracy and fights for the rights of people to be heard and fights for the rights of minorities and maintains those rights and the rights of women and everyone else, the de-legitimization of Israel in the face of the attempts to actually destroy is one of the great moral failures of our time. 

And we should expose it, we should speak out against it . . . 
As 6 million ghosts are moaning in warning as we read, that should shame the world and stir it to urgent action. 

Sadly, by and large it does not.

That is the context in which the next pivotal part of the speech becomes so vital:
. . . there's nothing short of an effort to eradicate the Jewish state, and we should be clear about that, that is spearheaded first by Iran.  Iran makes no bones about it, it is developing nuclear weapons with the expressed purpose of destroying the Jewish state, and I think this is the foremost challenge of the next government that we will form. 

I think as in the other instances, what is directed, the hatred that is directed against the Jews threatens the rest of the world, but the rest of the world doesn’t see it. That is also a repetition of history.  But I think that the development of nuclear weapons by Iran will be a pivot of history, will change the balance of power irrevocably in the world. When people with unlimited ambitions of aggression get unlimited weapons, what they believe are weapons of unlimited power, the demon is uncorked, and it's happened before. 

Up to the point when they think that they've got the power to work out their mad designs, up to that point, they're careful, even though they can be quite aggressive and they are, they can use terror and they can use subterfuge and they can use many other acts of violence, but this is nothing compared to the point where they think they've assumed the critical mass of power necessary to carry out their fantasies. This is the greatest mistake of history – to assume that people will behave rationally when they're fundamentally irrational when you give them the power of mass death.  Iran is seeking the power of mass death, and it's enough to see what they're doing now to realize what they'll do then.  Because what they are doing now is conducting a worldwide web of terror – brazen, unabashed, across a dozen countries.  That number is growing every day, with their henchman, Hezbollah – they've just been exposed in Bulgaria, but they're exposed everywhere. Governments know it, they know it, but they don’t call it like it is, and I congratulate Bulgaria for doing so.  You should congratulate them too. And in addition what they're doing, they're conducting a brazen campaign of cyber attacks against everyone – against Israel, against the United States. 

This is the unseen attack, but it's felt and it will be felt more and more.  And they're arming their tentacles, their poisoned tentacles of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah with tens of thousands of rockets and deadly weapons.  They're threatening, I believe, not only the security of Israel but the security of every regime in the Middle East, and certainly the flow of oil from this region.  And certainly their development of nuclear weapons will spark a nuclear arms race.  It will make the Middle East a nuclear tinderbox.  It will change the world.  We've not seen anything like it.  We've not seen since the advent of nuclear weapons a power that could contemplate using those weapons with happy abandon – they say so.  Nobody has said so since the Cuban missile crisis, over a half a century ago.  Nobody has said that.

They say it.  They move forward.  They're progressing.  They're getting closer to the red line that I had set at the UN.  They're building rapid centrifuges: that is centrifuges that enrich the uranium needed to make nuclear bombs at three times the pace so that they could cross that red line and get to a high enrichment to a sufficient amount of 90% enriched uranium within a much shorter time.  They're doing all that.  So far, they've not been stopped.  And the sanctions themselves – even tougher sanctions – will not stop them.  

Case in point, North Korea.  Have tough sanctions stopped North Korea?  No.  And the fact that they produced a nuclear explosion reverberates everywhere in the Middle East, and especially in Iran.  They say, "Where is the world?  Where is the international community?  Where is the tough response?"  It's a question that everybody deserves to ask.  Sanctions alone will not stop the nuclear program of Iran.  They have to be coupled with a robust, credible military threat.  If they are not, there's no chance to stop it.  If they're coupled with that military threat, there is a chance to stop it.  And if it doesn't stop it that way, then it will have to be stopped another way.  But the world has to decide whether it allows this terror regime that breaks all norms to have access to atomic bombs.
 The alarms are going off, but we are not listening. 

That is why, within the next few months (unless something intervenes to decisively break the trend), I therefore expect Israel to strike in Iran. They see themselves as having little or no choice, and I am pretty sure that the same US President Obama who so blatantly despises the Jewish state's leadership (for whatever reasons) and is unwilling to face facts on the ever deepening failure of his Arab Spring efforts, now rapidly becoming a militantly IslamiST winter, is utterly unlikely to stand up to Iran in good time. 

Sure, he will be willing to go along with the sort of cyber attacks or black operations otherwise that may have done something at Fordow, but the sort of resolute stand that might -- might -- have a chance to stop Iran short of their long term goal of nukes will not earn the plaudits of the world press and chattering classes [the same who awarded him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 -- i.e. before he did anything to earn it, in a pre-emptive strike . . . ], that, he is utterly unlikely to take.

Mr Barak Hussein Obama, please, prove me wrong. Please. Please. Please.

Sadly, I doubt that he will prove me wrong.

And, I fear, Mr Netanyahu's analysis is dead right: on the analogy of North Korea (which just did another nuke test despite world opposition), largely toothless sanctions may further hurt the Iranian people, but they are utterly unlikely to stop a terroristic, apocalyptic regime that has already built the sort of vastly expensive hardened facilities we have been discussing.

Diplomacy backed up by obvious resolution, just might get the Iranians to see reason, that he time is not ripe to pave the way for the Mahdi to re-emerge and so it is not wise to spend more effort on presenting him with the long-desired nuclear weapons for his global conquest.

Yes, that is what is going on, Iran is where Khorasan proper is, and the Mullahs genuinely expect to see the 12th Imam of Shia Islam re-emerge from 1,000 years of "seclusion" in the company of his Black Flag Army, and genuinely expect to see him first conquer the Middle East and massacre the Jews, then subjugate the world from East to West.

Yes, yes, I know, I know, that seems like apocalyptic rubbish to many here in the West; more an occasion to bash "Religion" rhetorically -- with the Christian Faith as the main target -- than to do anything serious about it.  

That has nothing whatsoever to do with the attitude of the Mullahs, who have been steeped in Islamic end of days expectations from childhood.  They see the current uprisings in the Middle East as presenting them with a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring on the ferment that paves the way for the Mahdi. And so they are emboldened by a West that seems paralysed and riven with internal dissensions, decadence and perversions.

What seems reasonable to us, therefore is likely to seem as weakness among the enemies of Allah, Allah's warriors and Allah's Mahdi, to the Mullahs and other IslamISTS across the region.  No wonder, Iran seems to be hosting Al Qaeda training camps, and no wonder Ahmadinejad is making overtures to Morsi in Egypt, even across the Shia-Sunni divide.

All of these are very bad signs.

 And so, I think, bit by bit, Israel is being backed into a corner, just like in 1967.

A cornered Israel seeing itself facing an existential crisis and threat with the world playing silly diplomacy games just like in May 1967, is very likely indeed to strike, strike hard, as hard as they think necessary. (And, the Iranian Mullahs should know that if they are beginning to play at nuke weapon games and have made genocidal threats -- in a context of an Islamic eschatology that pivots on a latter-day slaughter of Jews, they are now playing by nuke weapon rules.) 

I therefore think an all-out strike by Israel, probably using aircraft, cruise missiles, submarines and possibly commando style operations designed to aid targetting, is in the offing.  Such, at minimum, has been planned and has been rehearsed, then improved bit by bit and updated on a daily basis, for years. That is what any responsible supreme command structure facing what Israel faces, would be doing.

yes, a strike will be gravely risky, and will utterly turn the world against Israel. But the alternative may be far, far , far worse. Not only for Israel, but for the world. 

As an immediate spin-off of such a strike, I expect the Middle East to spin utterly out of control, with oil prices surging to levels that will make out current horrific levels -- my oil price ticker is at US$ 113.53 just now for Brent North Sea benchmark crude oil -- look cheap.

What that will do to tourism and to a global economy mired in the doldrums, needs hardly be said.

Frankly, one way or another, we are at the edge of an apocalyptic abyss.

Wisdom is, to take steps that would provide for family and friends in the event of the world situation spinning even more out of control. A little cottage and pigeon peas-plot in the country side looks good, at minimum, a fairly serious backyard garden; or an allotment area in the town or its surroundings. We can walk to such a plot, but if we don't have food, we cannot do anything else.

Notice, that word, allotment.

I am hereby officially advocating that our regional governments encourage people resident in cities to farm small organised garden plots, maybe using open lots and maybe using surrounding areas. As a matter of priority policy. And, curricula to teach such small plot agriculture should be put in our schools and made available to families and communities as an urgent priority. Pronto.

A lot can be done in only a few months, if we are serious. (Even, for confirmed "brown thumbs." A bit of skill and advice backed up by the motivation to have something on the meal time table that does not cost the earth and requires a few simple and inexpensive tools plus some willing labour, is a big incentive.)

If we are taking steps to help feed ourselves, it makes a big difference. 

And, let us pray for a miracle of peace, peace in the Middle East and peace in the world, that can return it to a more reasonable balance.

In support of such prayers, let us roll up our sleeves and prepare ourselves to move forward with the gospel of peace and reconciliation, by the grace of him who died on a cross for our sins as Saviour, and rose from the dead as Lord, with 500 witnesses who could not be broken, in decisive evidence.

For, the Prince of Peace is our only true Hope. END