Archive for 2010

There’s no substitute for Washington

December 31, 2010

There’s no substitute for Washington – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

The thought that Israel will take any action against Iran and the Americans will be content with a salute and support is completely unrealistic.

By Amos Harel

Two years ago, on the eighth day of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces belatedly identified a shortage of a certain kind of equipment. Israel turned to the United States with an urgent request to help close this operational gap. The Americans, who apparently were not thrilled by the start of the ground offensive – just a moment before a new president was to enter the White House – delayed their answer for 24 hours.

The General Staff endured some disturbing moments while waiting for Washington’s approval . In retrospect, one sees that the IDF assumed that this was a show of muscle by the United States. Operation Cast Lead, compared to scenarios of all-out war in the future, is a relatively simple story. The IDF enjoyed absolute superiority over Hamas, and the threat to the Israeli home front from Gaza was limited.

But Israel’s dependence on the United States – economic and especially military – is tremendous. It stretches over many issues: the military equipment the U.S. Army keeps in emergency depots in Israel, the provision of F-35 aircraft, and backing in the UN Security Council on issues like leveraging the Goldstone report and international sanctions on Iran.

The dependence on the United States is usually played down here, but the Israeli public is not naive. The precedent of the crisis over guarantees with President George H.W. Bush’s administration – a crisis that contributed to the defeat of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in the 1992 elections – is still clearly remembered. This week it emerged that $205 million in American aid pledged for the acquisition of an additional Iron Dome missile interception system is being delayed because of a dispute in Congress. And Israel expects the administration to abide by its commitment and increase annual defense aid to $3 billion, an all-time record, while it deliberates over cuts in its defense budget.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiative to renew the construction freeze in the settlements dropped from the diplomatic agenda because of clumsy management by the administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s delaying tactics. The continuation is liable to be worse. Columnist Thomas Friedman’s call to the Americans to stop being Israel’s “crack dealers” reflects a position that is gaining traction in Washington. The Americans can give Israel a cold shoulder in a thousand and one ways, while paying lip service to their commitment to its security.

The diplomatic vacuum that has developed in the region will soon be filled by moves that could be problematic for Israel: an attempt to expand the boycott by consumers and unions in Europe, exacerbation of the delegitimization campaign and increased international support for a Palestinian declaration of independence in the summer of 2011.

At a time when construction in the settlements is being renewed full steam ahead, Israel will find it difficult to gain international understanding for its position. The heads of the Palestinian Authority are also aware of the complications inherent in a unilateral declaration, but perhaps they will have a hard time stopping the snowball they themselves have sent rolling. This spring, Netanyahu is again likely to find himself knocking on the administration’s door in a belated attempt to recruit Washington to thwart the Palestinian initiative.

Netanyahu’s critics on the left have hastened to depict his retreat from continuing the freeze as final proof that the prime minister is lying to everyone all the time. But Netanyahu is not a swindler. His problem is something else. Even when he believes a move is necessary (such as recognizing a two-state solution ), he will make eyes at the alternative the whole time. It seems that even when the prime minister leaves Jerusalem for his weekend home in Caesarea he has to stop at Sha’ar Hagai along the way to check which way the wind is blowing.

At a time when Netanyahu is so indecisive on the Palestinian track, he is a lot more decisive regarding the Iranian threat. His aides describe a person imbued with determination to remove the new danger hovering over the Jewish people. This devotion is admirable, but it would be best if in this context Netanyahu remembered the importance of the United States. The thought that Israel will scramble its planes in the future and the Americans will be content with a salute and support is completely unrealistic.

The man who says Iran does need nuclear weapons

December 31, 2010

The man who says Iran does need nuclear weapons – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

If Iran’s supreme leader decides that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is causing too much damage, he could turn to Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf.

By Yossi Melman


In its shifting assessments, Israeli intelligence determined that 2011 could be the decisive year for Iran’s nuclear program, because in this year Iran might assemble its first nuclear bomb. This is also the year in which the two central figures who are meant to be dealing with the matter will be taking up their posts: new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo and incoming Israel Defense Forces chief of staff General Yoav Galant.

The two men will carry on the policy of their predecessors, Meir Dagan and Gabi Ashkenazi, respectively. Their policy was well thought out, and involved delaying, disrupting and undermining Iran in its race to master nuclear technology. It’s a policy that notched up quite a few successes. A lethal worm damaged the nuclear program’s computers, unknown hands sold faulty equipment that put some 50 percent of Iran’s uranium-enriching centrifuges out of operation, and several senior officials and scientists defected to the West or were mysteriously assassinated.

Like Dagan and Ashkenazi, Pardo and Galant also understand the constraints of Israeli power, and know that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be incredibly dangerous.

Thus, most probably, Iran’s nuclear program will be suspended only if Iran’s leaders themselves decide to do so, and the chances of this are very slim. Such a decision can be made in Tehran only if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei concludes that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s conduct is seriously damaging the country’s economy and diplomacy, and is causing anger domestically.

Ghalibaf - AFP Ghalibaf electoral banner, Teheran, 2005.
Photo by: AFP

The person who can contribute to such a shift is Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, who poses a challenge and a counterforce to Ahmadinejad. After Ahmadinejad fired his rival and opponent Manouchehr Mottaki from the post of foreign minister last week, political analysts think the president now has Ghalibaf in his sights.

Ghalibaf was born in 1962 in Kurdish Iran to a father of Kurdish origin and a Persian mother. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979 he joined the Revolutionary Guards, distinguished himself in the war against Iraq, and at age 24 was promoted to the rank of general and put in charge of a division. Two years later he was appointed commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps Air Force. Iranian websites cite an anecdote supposedly told by Ghalibaf about his family’s reaction to his appointment. His son mocked: Dad, how can you command the air force if you don’t know how to fly? The father replied: Don’t worry son, within a short while I will learn to fly and I will fly jumbo jets. And so it was: Ghalibaf frequently is seen in public sporting pilot’s wings.

In the early 1990s, Khamenei appointed him Iran’s police chief. He was viewed as a an extreme conservative, and when student riots erupted in 1992, he wrote a letter to Khamenei demanding that the protests be put down with brute force. The police ultimately dealt with that protest and others, including those in 2003, with relative moderation. Ghalibaf could take pride that the protests subsided without violence. He also likes to boast that he opened up the police ranks to women, and placed an emphasis on treating civilians in a “friendlier” manner. (The police were less friendly during the violent riots that followed the 2009 presidential election. Most of the dirty work was done by the Basij, the popular militia of which Ghalibaf was deputy commander in the 1980s, but the Tehran police were also heavy-handed in dispersing the demonstrators claiming election fraud. )

In 2005 Ghalibaf resigned from the police and the security forces, and submitted his candidacy for president, backed by conservative circles. Opinion polls gave him 20 percent of the vote. In private conversations, Ghalibaf maintained that he was Khamenei’s favored candidate, but at the last minute the supreme leader decided to endorse Tehran mayor Ahmadinejad, a relative unknown at the time.

Ghalibaf replaced Ahmadinejad as Tehran’s mayor. In his first year as president, Ahmadinejad sought to distance Ghalibaf from Iran’s power centers, and offered him an ambassadorship. Ghalibaf turned it down.

Over the past few years, in order to undermine his rival and weaken his political power, Ahmadinejad has held back funds from Tehran. Despite this, Ghalibaf is considered a relatively successful mayor in this unmanageable city of 14 million, where traffic jams are constant, air pollution is among the worst in the world, and laborers are constantly arriving as migrants from the villages. In his five years at the helm, Tehran has seen bridges built and roads paved.

Ghalibaf appears to have moderated his worldview in recent years, likely in the face of Ahmadinejad’s radical rhetoric. In 2008 he attended the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he gave a fairly rare interview to The New York Times. He said that Iran is not seeking to obtain nuclear weapons. He tried to explain that Iran is not a threat to any country: “If Iran needs to defend itself, it can use conventional weapons to resist any attack. We don’t need any atomic weapons or unconventional weapons. In our Islamic belief, these kinds of things are forbidden.” He also said that he believes in greater openness.

In 2011, considering Khamenei’s deteriorating health, it is quite possible that forces within the conservative camp – the Revolutionary Guards, the religious establishment, the middle class, the tradesmen, the students – that oppose Ahmadinejad but dislike the opposition, will turn to Ghalibaf in their hope for change. Though in the suspicious milieu of Iranian politics and the tendency among Iranians to embrace conspiracy theories, a piece by an Israeli journalist can be wrongly interpreted and may very well do a disservice to Mr. Ghalibaf.

Jerusalem Reshuffles Its Options on Iran

December 31, 2010


Israel Marks Signal Victory in Holding Back Iran’s Nuclear Bomb Drive
Moshe Yaalon

Israel is quietly celebrating the perceived success of its five-year secret war for dramatically postponing Iran’s attainment of a nuclear bomb, previously estimated at 2011. The occasion was not marked by flamboyant ceremonies or public cries of triumph by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Ehud Barak, but by a dry, inconspicuous comment which scarcely made it through two news bulletins.
Netanyahu sent Moshe Yaalon, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Strategic Affairs, former chief of staff, and one of the most hawkish members of his government, to a brief early morning national radio interview Wednesday Dec. 28, in which he offered the opinion that Western pressure (sanctions) would force Iran to consider whether its nuclear program was worth pursuing.
“I believe that this effort will grow, and will include areas beyond sanctions, to convince the Iranian regime that, effectively, it must choose between continuing to seek nuclear capability and surviving,” he said. “I don’t know if it will happen in 2011 or in 2012, but we are talking in terms of the next three years.”
He did not specifically mention Stuxnet or the damage it had wrought to Iran’s nuclear progress – only that the Iranians had run into technical difficulties.
These difficulties “postpone the timeline,” said Yaalon. “Thus we cannot talk about a ‘point of no return.’ Iran does not currently have the ability to make a nuclear bomb on its own. I hope it won’t succeed at all and that the Western world’s effort will ultimately deny Iran a nuclear capability.”
North Korea must be dealt without before it helps Tehran catch up
Two US presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the Defense Secretary they shared, Robert Gates, as well as American intelligence and military chiefs, opposed an Israeli military attack on Iran’s secret nuclear installations, arguing that even if they were destroyed, Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon would not be put back more than two to three years. The Yaalon interview has now put Washington on notice that for the government in Jerusalem, the argument between them was over. Israel had already carried out its attack and won a respite of two to three years, leaving Washington enough time to go into action and halt the Iranian nuclear program permanently, including uranium enrichment.
The Israeli attack was not carried out with missiles, warplanes, submarines or special operations forces, but rather, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence and Iranian sources revealed in two separate items in this issue, by clandestine means in the course of the secret war it waged with the United States against Iran.
The Stuxnet virus was a key weapon in this war, as were the assassinations or abductions of Iranian nuclear scientists and the creation of openings for desertions and defections.
The Israeli minister laid it on the line when he said: Today, Iran is not capable of producing a nuclear bomb on its own – meaning Israel has knocked out its ability to build a bomb unaided.
It doesn’t mean that Tehran cannot go outside for help. Since North Korea is the only practical candidate for Tehran to turn for nuclear assistance, Yaalon’s comment conveyed this message to Washington: We’ve taken care of Iran, now it’s your turn to deal with Pyongyang and make absolutely sure that it does not transfer a nuclear bomb to Iran.
(This week, the White House and Pentagon decided to build up the naval, air and marines forces off the coasts of North Korea; the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which is stationed in Japan, is to be beefed up by two more carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Carl Vinson.)
According to the latest information incoming Thursday from US and South Korean intelligence sources, North Korea is planning its next nuclear test as a joint effort with Iran.
Now the delay is in place, it’s up to Washington to make it permanent
Our military sources say that the concentration of three US aircraft carriers with their strike forces in a single arena signifies Washington is on the ready for a military showdown. When the number goes up to five, it means that military action is imminently in the offing.
Also worth noting is the Israeli minister’s comments on the substance and scope of future American steps against Iran.
“I believe that this effort will grow, and will include areas beyond sanctions, to convince the Iranian regime that, effectively, it must choose between continuing to seek nuclear capability and surviving,” he said.
This appears to be a reference to what is known as the American diplomatic-military option on Iran.
This approach was defined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Thailand on July 22, 2009.
She stated, “If the US extends a defense umbrella over the region, it’s unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won’t be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon.”
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on March 5, 2010, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski called for such an umbrella as the way to deal with Iran.
The Netanyahu government’s outlook on Iran, as articulated by Ya’alon, views the American “umbrella” not as a defensive device but rather an instrument for squeezing Iran ever harder until the Islamic regime in Tehran either gives up its drive for a nuclear weapon or falls.
In other words, the secret American-Israeli war against Iran must continue at full force.


The Dark Side of a Covert War

December 31, 2010


US, Israel, Iran in a Wilderness of Mirrors

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s regulars have been kept abreast of the secret war afoot between the United States and Israel, on the one hand, and Iran, on the other. Our intelligence and Iranian sources have covered the highlights of that contest, especially in the past five months. Those events stand out today with greater vibrancy than ever because more knowledge about them has accrued and because, in retrospect, they are seen today to have come together to raise the clandestine war to a new plane.
In early August, before the world noticed, Iran’s overt nuclear facilities, such as the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, and hidden sites working on weapons development, were attacked by the new and powerful Stuxnet computer virus.
Today, we know that the invading cyber worm was most probably responsible for forcing Iran to decommission and replace more than 1,000 IR-1 centrifuges, roughly one-fifth of the number operating at the Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz, as well as shutting down many of the laboratories serving the nuclear weapons program.
Tehran appeared to withhold response. However, on August 4, the Japanese supertanker M Star was attacked in the Straits of Hormuz by a missile fired from a fast attack ship of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (RGC), although Al Qaeda in Lebanon, which is close to the Guards officers stationed there, claimed responsibility for the incident.
This attack was not ordered by the government in Tehran but by Revolutionary Guard officers, who were aware of the Stuxnet offensive on the control systems of their surface-to-surface missiles and sought to prod the government into a counter-attack.
A cyber attack for starters
The malworm is still at work in the bowels of Iran’s nuclear and missile systems. But we have heard very little about its disruptions in the last two months for two reasons:
1. Some of its worst ravages have affected the most secret facilities of Iran’s nuclear bomb program, which are sealed tight against leaks – barring those deliberately engineered by national intelligence services, which know exactly what is going on.
Our sources can now reveal that Stuxnet is programmed for a 27-day pause between attacks during which the virus is quiescent. This feature was inserted partly to throw the virus’s fighters off-guard into believing they had beaten it. The Iranians were lulled into this assumption in September and October. The other objective was to wait and see whether the Iranian operators had fully or partially replaced the damaged systems with new ones. Then, 27 days later, Stuxnet went back on the offensive in a different form against the new systems.
On Wednesday, December 29, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Strategic affairs, Moshe Ya’alon, referred obliquely to the Stuxnet attack when he said Iran is not at present able to build a nuclear bomb on its own because of delays caused by “technical difficulties.”
This careful locution was the first time any Israeli official had indicated knowledge of the damage and chaos the malworm had wrought to Iran’s most secret nuclear bomb development facilities.
Yaalon estimated that Iran might attain a bomb within three years. He was therefore clear on Iran’s determination to achieve its objective however long it took – either by its own efforts or by hiring foreign cyber war experts to beat Stuxnet.
Blowing up missiles and assassinations
2. Next, three massive explosions blasted through the top-secret underground store holding the Shihab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles on Oct. 12, the day before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to Beirut on the first state visit to Lebanon ever paid by an Iranian president.
Those missiles were held at the Revolutionary Guard’s Imam Ali Base near the city of Khorramabad. ready for launching against US targets in Iraq and against Israel in the event of war.
This time, Tehran abandoned self-restraint and hit back: It transferred Al Qaeda’s Chief of Staff Saif Al Adel to Pakistan’s tribal lands in North Waziristan. He was given the mission of coordinating combined attacks on US forces in Afghanistan and terrorist operations against US targets in Europe and the Middle East.
3. Last month, on Nov. 29, the covert war peaked with attacks on two top Iranian nuclear scientists. Prof. Majid Shahriani, head of the anti-Stuxnet program, died in the attack, and Prof. Feredoun Abbassi-Davani, Director of the Centrifuge Operations at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, was injured.
It had been hoped that removing these two cogs from the machinery of Iran’s nuclear program would bring the partially crippled Natanz plant to complete breakdown.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iranian and intelligence sources report the conviction of top Iranian strategists that subversive activity on this scale cannot be orchestrated from outside Iran’s borders, in places like Pakistan or Iraq. Secret command centers must therefore be operating inside the country. This conviction is shared by Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, Revolutionary Guards chief Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, and Al Qods Brigades commander Gen. Qassim Suleimani.
Not hundreds but thousands of enemy operatives embedded in Iran
They arrived at this conclusion from analyses of all the attacks in the past five to six months, including terror attacks on mosques and religious centers.
According to their calculations, a logistical base consisting of many hundreds, if not thousands, of field operatives must be secretly ensconced somewhere in Iran. Substantial undercover strength is necessary for operating in a country the size of Iran, in order to scout targets, stake out the Iranian forces on hand for repelling attacks, and bringing advanced weapons to the scenes of attack, like the mysterious missiles which blew up the Shehab missile store and the sticky bombs used for assassinating the scientists.
Since October, therefore, Iranian intelligence and security organizations have applied two methods to battling the massive clandestine foreign presence they believe buried in their midst.
These methods might have been taken straight out of the great intelligence war fought by the US and the Soviet Union in the last century, which David C. Martin recorded thirty years ago in his acclaimed book “Wilderness of Mirrors.”
Iran intelligence has undertaken to penetrate the CIA and Mossad’s Iranian networks from bottom to top, including their American and Israel command level. It has been sending Iranians to offer themselves as double agents working for Western interests against the Iranian regime. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources report that elite Iranian intelligence talent has been assigned to this task.
The method offers both sides a major advantage but also a high risk.
Three intelligence agencies grope in a “wilderness of mirrors”
It could work because neither the CIA nor Mossad turn away the many Iranians offering to spy for them. They are playing the same game as Iranian intelligence, turning Iranian agents around to be run as double agents against Tehran. Even their US and Israeli handlers are not sure where those Iranian agents’ loyalties truly lie, but they have found the risk worth taking because they offer the advantages of a window on the inner workings of Iranian intelligence, a chance to pry out chinks in the enemy’s intelligence armor and also possibly advance warning of exposure.
The main risk is the classical one of any such exercise: A double agent may be turned again and again and, at the same time as the Americans and Israelis are enlisting Iranians as double agents, Tehran is trying to entice American and Israeli operatives to secretly cross over to its side.
Especially vulnerable are the CIA and Mossad sub-commanders in the field who have enough leeway to act independently of the top level and may take matters in their own hands without reporting to their seniors who may be engaged in totally different enterprises. The result in such cases could be a clash within the same organization and an intelligence catastrophe.
This scenario is far from hypothetical, says a Western intelligence figure. It is happening right now in Iran. The three intelligence organizations fighting it out – US, Israeli and Iranian – are all groping for a way through the wilderness of mirrors.
Iran goes public on the undercover contest
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iranian sources report that, whereas the CIA and the Mossad are careful to keep their clandestine war in deep shadow, Tehran has chosen to be the first to bring it out in the open with a vicious assault on Israeli intelligence.
Tuesday, December 28, PressTV-Iran, the official Iranian English-language television station, carried a report entitled “Iranian General Killed in Israeli Jail” that began as follows:
There have been “new and astonishing developments in the case of Prisoner X,” writes Richard Silverstein on the Eurasia Review website, claiming that a source within the “inner circle” of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had identified the prisoner as the former Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Alireza Asgari who vanished from his hotel in Istanbul in December 2006.
Silverstein goes on to suggest that Asgari may have been murdered, not committed suicide as reports of the prisoner’s mysterious death would have us believe.
The Iranians know that this report is baseless and that Asgari was never in an Israeli prison. But it doesn’t have to be true to be used as a tool for notching up the secret war and putting Israel in the international hot seat over double agents claimed held in its prisons.
Wednesday, Dec. 29, Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi turned the screw in earnest by referring to “the suspected death of Iranian prisoner Ali-Reza Asgari in an Israeli prison.”
He added: “If the credibility of this report is proved, the dossier on Israel’s kidnappings, assassinations and murders will become thicker.”

The Iranians instead of groping in the dark are now cutting a path through the wilderness of mirrors by going on the offensive.


A Covert War Pits the US and Israel against Iran

December 31, 2010


Tehran’s Tit for Tat: The First Agent Is Hanged

On Tuesday, December 28, in Tehran, Iran publicly hanged Ali Akbar Siadat (picture) after convicting him of spying for the Israeli Mossad. He was the second Iranian citizen to be executed on this charge. two years after Ali Ashtari was put to death on Nov. 23, 2008.
Both were importers of electronic goods and exporters to Turkey and the Far East. But Ashtari’s trial was covered in the Iranian press in broad detail with many pictures of the accused man and the spying gadgets allegedly supplied him by the Mossad, whereas Siadat’s arrest, trial and conviction were kept secret until Monday, Dec. 27, just hours before his execution. But then, a stream of information about his alleged spying activities was released.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence and Tehran sources point to other differences between the two cases:
Ali Ashtari was described as a lone operative, whereas Siadat was depicted as having headed a large, countrywide spy network employing many Iranian agents.
Tehran claimed Siadat first contacted Israeli intelligence back in 2004 and, until his arrest on Dec. 13, 2008, was paid by the Mossad $60,000 – or $15,000 per year – for procuring classified Iranian data. Iranian security were purportedly on to him by the end of 2004, having intercepted calls he made with a phone card received from the Israeli service which was supposed to protect the caller’s identity from detection.
Siadat believed to have headed a large spy network
Siadat is claimed to have admitted under interrogation that he was in contact with foreign agencies and on several occasions visited Israeli embassies in Turkey, Holland and Thailand to deliver detailed reports on Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) activities. On one such visit, he received instruction in the use of a digital camera for transmitting documents. In 2007, he was equipped with “special equipment” including a laptop to speed up his relays to Mossad.
The sensitive information he is said to have admitted passing to Israeli intelligence officers covered Iranian military parades, war games, photos of army bases, numbers of Iranian jet fighters, daily training flights conducted from Air Force and IRGC air unit bases, accidents and their causes as well as the missile facilities operated by the IRGC.
At one meeting, Saidat was given a bag with a secret compartment for hiding documents. He was caught at Tehran international airport two years ago carrying 29 pages of classified information in that bag while trying to leave with his wife. The cache was ready for handover to an Israeli intelligence officer with whom he had arranged to rendezvous in Thailand.
According to Iranian sources, there was no way Siadat could have accumulated this amount of data without help; he was presumed to have been abetted by a flock of Iranian informants who had garnered the documents for passing on to Mossad.
This assumption provides one key to the extreme secrecy surrounding his case.
Hanging spies as a negotiating tactic
Until the very last moment, his interrogators were not sure he had given them all the names of his network members. And not all those who had been named were caught.
Most compellingly, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources report, a decision was taken in Tehran to make Siadat’s execution the first in a series with many more victims to come.
According to those sources, Iran is holding in secret a large number of people alleged to have collaborated with the Israeli Mossad and other Western intelligence services. They will be produced and hanged as and when Iran finds it expedient, depending on how three other events pan out:
1. Negotiations with the Five Security Council Members plus Germany which are due to resume in Istanbul in the first week of January.
In the first round which took place in Geneva in early December, Saad Jalili, head of Iran’s National Security Council, took up most of the session with complaints about the way Dr. Majid Shahriani, head of Iran’s counter-Stuxnet program, was assassinated in Tehran in broad daylight on Nov. 29 by killers on motorbikes using sticky bombs, and how a second hit team failed to kill Prof. Feredoun Abbassi-Davani, director of the centrifuge enrichment facility at Natanz.
He demanded to know why all the ambassadors present were not denouncing and disavowing these acts of terrorism, although he suggested he knew the culprits, namely the United States.
Tehran is going to repeat this tactic of using up future nuclear negotiating sessions by laying out complaints after finding it the most effective way to spin out the talks until the six powers realize that until the secret war they are accused of waging against the Islamic Republic is not called off, Iran will not budge on the nuclear controversy.
Even if all is quiet on the covert front for the next month or two, Iran will still be in a position to make sure it stays that way by pulling out of Evin Prison in North Tehran one member after another of Ali Akbar Siadat’s alleged spy network, extract their confessions and put them to death.
More executions brandished as a deterrent
A hint that Iran was holding this threat over the heads of its partners in the nuclear dialogue was thrown out in reports published Tuesday, Dec. 28, that a second Iranian had been sentenced to death as an Israeli spy.
“His identity will be revealed after confirmation of the sentence,” Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi was quoted by the Mehr news agency as saying.
2. For the Islamic Republic, the prospect of more hangings is brandished as a means of deterrence. It tells its opponents that the gloves are off in the covert war the American CIA and Israeli Mossad are accused of waging, sometimes with the aid of other Western clandestine agencies with a presence in Iran.
Tehran is making it known that there will be reprisals for every future attack, be it the assassination of key nuclear scientists or attacks on military and religious targets.
On Tuesday, December 28, Iranian interior minister Mostafa Najjar pointed a blunt finger at US and Israel. At a briefing to reporters in Tehran, he alleged that a group of terrorists, who are based in Pakistan and commute across the border to stage terrorist operations against Iran, “are equipped by Mossad and the CIA.”
(See also DEBKA-Net-Weekly 472 of December 3: The Last Straw for Iran – Enraged Tehran Will Kick Back for Terror).
This means that the secret war the US and Israel are waging against Iran is about to move up to a new level. (Details to follow in the next item).
3. As in other undercover wars, much more is hidden beneath the surface than is revealed. This one is not confined to Iranian soil or its intelligence turf but tends to spill over into the United States, Israel and other parts of the Middle East. The survivors of the Saidat network are now hostages for the Iranians employed under cover by the US and Israel – but also against future Israeli and US moves in the covert contest afoot between them and Iran.

‘Mossad, US, UK cooperating to sabotage Iran nukes’

December 31, 2010

‘Mossad, US, UK cooperating to sabotage Iran nukes’.

Workers in the Bushehr nuclear power plant

US and UK intelligence services are cooperating with the Mossad to sabotage Teheran’s nuclear program in exchange for Israel agreeing not to launch a military strike on Iran, the French weekly Le Canard enchaîné reported on Thursday, quoting French intelligence sources.

Acts of sabotage carried out in the past year in Iran were conducted by Israel with the help of the CIA and MI6, the sources said.

The sabotage included, according to the report, the introduction of the Stuxnet computer virus into 30,000 computers in Iran’s nuclear reactors and explosions in October in which 18 Iranian technicians were killed at a factory in the Zagros mountains that manufactured Shihab missiles.

According to the sources, the assassination of five Iranian nuclear scientists were also carried out by the Mossad in cooperation with the American and British intelligence agencies.

The sources said the cooperation continues, and more joint actions aimed at stopping Iran from completing its nuclear program are expected.

Shin Bet: Iran main supplier of weaponry to Hamas in 2010

December 30, 2010

Shin Bet: Iran main supplier of weaponry to Hamas in 2010.

A Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant holds a rocke

Iran smuggled into the Gaza Strip about 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of short-range rockets and a few dozen advanced anti-tank missiles over the past year, the Shin Bet  (Israel Security Agency) revealed on Thursday.

In a report summing up 2010, the Shin Bet said that Iran continued to serve as Hamas’s main supplier of weaponry throughout the past year using smuggling routes in Sudan and the Sinai Peninsula. It was also instrumental in funding the training of Hamas operatives in Lebanon and Syria.

Last week, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi revealed that two weeks ago an advanced Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missile – one of the most sophisticated in the world – hit an Israeli Merkava tank and succeeded in penetrating its hull. As a result, the IDF has decided to deploy Battalion 9 of the 401st Armored Brigade along the Gaza border since its tanks are equipped with the Trophy active protection anti-tank missile defense system.

The Shin Bet warned that Hamas was making efforts to reestablish its military infrastructure in the West Bank with an emphasis on the Hebron area. Some of these efforts were thwarted, the security agency said, by the IDF and Palestinian Authority security forces.

The most dramatic statistic in the report was the significant drop in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip down from 569 in 2009 to 150 in 2010. In 2008, in comparison, 2048 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel.

The Shin Bet warned in its report however that the Sinai Peninsula was turning into the “backyard” for Hamas operations as well as for storage of weaponry that can later be smuggled into Gaza and used against Israel. While the weaponry is in the Sinai it is not vulnerable to Israeli attacks. There were also two incidents over the past year of Hamas rocket attacks from the Sinai into the city of Eilat.

The Shin Bet warned of an increase in the number of attacks in the Jerusalem area with an emphasis on shooting and Molotov cocktail attacks. In total, the Shin Bet recorded a drop in the number of attacks in 2010 to 798 in comparison to 1,354 a year earlier.