Archive for August 30, 2018

How should Israel respond if it can’t stop Iran producing nuclear weapons?

August 30, 2018

Source: How should Israel respond if it can’t stop Iran producing nuclear weapons? – International news – Jerusalem Post

Former deputy national security council chief Chuck Freilich believes in planning for the worst.

 AUGUST 30, 2018 08:42
Iran missile

Though he strongly hopes that a variety of economic, diplomatic and as a last resort, military measures, can stop Iran from going fully nuclear, former deputy national security council chief Chuck Freilich also believes in planning for the worst.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Freilich updated some long-term ideas he had laid out in his recent book, Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change, regarding Israeli nuclear policy, in the worst-case scenario where Iran does some day obtain nuclear weapons.

Freilich does not confirm nor deny the existence of an Israeli nuclear weapons program and his comments are based on foreign sources reporting that it has between 80 to a couple hundred nuclear weapons and maintains a “nuclear ambiguity” policy.

Mostly, Freilich supports that policy – in which Israel does not formally declare its nuclear power, but leaks have provided its adversaries with enough information to deter them from certain levels of warfare.

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Bolton: U.S.’s highest priority is Iran never getting nuclear weapons, August 20, 2018 (GPO)

“If it’s just Iran, I would stay with the current policy. There would be no need for any change of significance [regarding ambiguity.] Israel’s own deterrent capability should be more than enough. If we are talking about a multi-nuclear Middle East, then I don’t think there is any good solution,” he said.

He continued, “That is a nightmare scenario. But then I would want a security guarantee from the US. This won’t help much, but that’s about what there is. I would also give greater attention to the prospects for long-term regional disarmament, but I don’t think that is realistic for a long time.”

Breaking down his response, Freilich was pressed about why, in the event that Iran obtained a nuclear weapon, Israel would not need or want to formally declare its nuclear power to heighten its deterrence.

He said, “the entire world is already convinced Israel has a nuclear capability, correct or not. And not just any nuclear capability, but an advanced and large one, a triad of capabilities. This has been the case for decades. What are the advantages to ending ambiguity? Does it increase Israel’s deterrence? Probably not.”

The former deputy national security council chief said that there might be “marginal gains, but the downsides remain strong. As long as we are talking about ‘just’ Iran and a bilateral nuclear standoff, Israel’s deterrence should be sufficient” without needing to formally declare its nuclear capabilities. Part of his view relates to his belief that though the Iranians are a theocracy and pursue “extreme objectives,” including wanting to destroy Israel, he views them as very calculated, rationale and patient – not risking self-annihilation for a quick fix.

Freilich said he hoped the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, however imperfect, might stop Iran from going nuclear and now said he hopes, though not thoroughly convinced, that the Trump administration’s pressure campaign will stop it.

But if Iran does go nuclear, he fears a “cascading effect” of other countries, especially Sunni rivals of Iran in the region, working to develop nuclear weapons.

In the event that multiple countries in the Middle East develop nuclear weapons, Freilich would advocate for getting new security guarantees from the US.

Asked what form those guarantees should take, he acknowledged, “It is a big issue, there is lots of opposition to it currently in Israel and little enthusiasm, if any, in the US.”

He explained that Israeli opposition relates to fears of losing “the freedom to maneuver and that the price for a guarantee at minimum would be to divulge [Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal] and might even be to dismantle” aspects.

Dismissing that opposition, he said, “We coordinate with the US anyway on anything important and I don’t think the US would make demands about divulging or dismantling – they would know that would be a nonstarter.”

Elaborating, he said no guarantee was needed for standard fighting with Hezbollah or Hamas, and it would be reserved for existential threats. He did not have a strong opinion about how much of the guarantee was public, or that it needed to be a formal defense treaty, as long as there was a clear public showing of the US’s new security commitment to Israel.

There is another important idea Freilich writes about in his book, attributing to former Israel Atomic Energy Commission chairman Gideon Frank, in the context of how to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and how to make the Iran nuclear deal hold the Islamic Republic from developing one. This was written months before Trump pulled the US out of the deal.

Freilich explains that a new international suppliers’ norm could be promoted to make the sale of nuclear reactors contingent on the buyer’s legal commitment to refrain from building an independent nuclear fuel cycle. Furthermore, they would need to purchase all fuel from the reactor’s supplier for the lifetime of its operation.

Reactor sales would include the supply of fresh fuel and spent fuel removal, and any country insisting on having a fuel cycle (such as Iran today) would not be eligible to buy them.

He said that this kind of a norm would only require the five existing supplier countries to sign off: the US, France, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

Noting these countries “share some commitment to nonproliferation,” he adds that the proposed norm reflects economic realities – Iran’s enrichment program is unnecessary and uneconomical.

Interestingly, he notes that Iran’s supplier, Russia, actually prefers a build-own-operate contract which imposes even greater restrictions than the suggested norm.

The primary obstacle “would appear to be a potential fear on the part of the commercial manufacturers that they would lose out if they impose the norm, but others do not,” he said.

But getting all five countries on-board at once would solve that.

He admitted that in the current state of more conflict than cooperation between world powers, selling, especially Russia, on any kind of multilateral deal to limit its options might be extremely hard, even if it may theoretically support the underlying ideas.

Mostly, Freilich said he still hopes all of the above nightmare scenarios can be averted by greater international cooperation than Trump has fostered, and as a last resort, he supports Israel’s right to strike Iran’s nuclear program.

At Dimona reactor, Netanyahu warns Israel’s foes ‎they risk ruin

August 30, 2018

Source: At Dimona reactor, Netanyahu warns Israel’s foes ‎they risk ruin ‎ – Israel Hayom

Iran’s supreme leader says Europe cannot save nuclear deal

August 30, 2018

Source: Iran’s supreme leader says Europe cannot save nuclear deal – Israel Hayom

Jordan PM who signed Israel peace deal: Haifa should be taken by force if we can

August 30, 2018

‘If we ever have military power, will we let them keep Haifa? We’ll take it,’ Abdelsalam al-Majali says in TV interview, while praising Israel for water supply

The former Jordanian prime minister who signed the peace treaty with Israel said in a recent interview that his country would “take Haifa by force” if it ever has the military power to do so, despite the 1994 treaty.

Abdelsalam al-Majali, 93, served as prime minister in 1993-1995, during which he signed the accord with his Israeli counterpart Yitzhak Rabin, and took office again in 1997-1998.

But in a TV interview aired on August 18, he said: “The Arabs do not have any power. If we ever have military power, will we let them keep Haifa? We’ll take it.”

“If tomorrow we become stronger and can take Haifa by force, will we really decline just because we have an agreement with them?” Majali told Jordan Today TV in remarks translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Earlier in the interview, Majali and the TV host had been discussing the “right of return” which Palestinians claim five million people — tens of thousands of living original refugees from what is today’s Israel, and their millions of descendants — are eligible for. Israel rejects the demand, saying that it represents a bid by the Palestinians to destroy Israel by weight of numbers and that no other population of refugees has been dealt with in that manner.

Jordanian Prime MinisterAbdelsalam al-Majali, left, speaks to reporters with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat standing beside him during a press conference in Ramallah, July 20 1997. (AP Photo/Naser Naser)

“There are millions of Jordanian Palestinians who have property in Israel,” Majali said. “They have the right to get it back or get compensation for it.”

The host was opposed to the idea of compensation, equating it with the Palestinians “sell[ing] their land for a price.”

Majali said that people would collect the compensation from “Haifa, Jaffa, and elsewhere beyond the West Bank,” adding that retaking the land wasn’t possible for the time being because “[The Israelis] own that land. They live and build there, while you are not there, and you don’t have an army or anything.”

When the host argued it was better for the Palestinian cause to refuse the compensation and leave the land “occupied,” Majali said: “Well, what can you do? You lost the land to a military force. You do not have any power. All you do is talk.”

It was then that he made the remark about conquering Haifa if Jordan ever got stronger.

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) shakes the hand of Jordan’s King Hussein at the signing of the bilateral peace treaty, October 1994 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

At the beginning of the interview, Majali defended the peace treaty he signed 24 years ago, which is opposed to this day by many Jordanians, saying that “my mentality is a mentality of peace.”

“As long as you do not have force of another kind, peace is your only option,” he added.

He said that contrary to what many Jordanians believe, “Israel continues to give us more water than we are due.”

Hamas Chief: We Will Hit Tel Aviv

August 30, 2018

Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90-Hamas boss Yahya Sinwar

Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, said on Wednesday that his group had sent a message to Israel through intermediaries that it would “turn the cauldron in the face of the occupation and let the sirens continue in Gush Dan for six months.”

Gush Dan is the common reference to the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, where an estimated four million Israelis live.

“I told the mediator, who met me and [leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades] Marwan Issa, that I wanted to convey this message in the event that the efforts to calm things down failed and Israel launched a new aggression on Gaza,” Sinwar said.

According to Sinwar, Hamas is capable today of firing in five minutes the same number of rockets it launched over the 51 days of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He claimed that “the number of tunnels and waylays prepared by the resistance forces is greater than that faced by the occupation (that’s Israel) in the previous war, and the missiles’ capabilities have improved.”

“There is discussion about a truce and the possibility of obtaining a stabilization of the 2014 truce, in return for breaking the siege in a concrete way, and the time limit for reaching this truce is not long,” the Hamas leader warned.

Sinwar revealed that there had been contacts between Israel and Hamas regarding the return of the two Israeli captives and the bodies of two missing IDF soldiers, and stressed that Hamas insists that this discussion not be part of the emerging truce deal.

Most of Sinwar’s speech was devoted to the Palestinian Authority and its senior officials, saying that any attempt by Chairman Abbas or the PA to impose sanctions on Gaza would constitute a breakdown of the reconciliation talks and Hamas would respond accordingly.

“While the occupation was acting aggressively against the residents of the Gaza Strip, Abu Mazen (Abbas’s nom de guerre) imposed sanctions on us in order to weaken the resistance,” Sinwar said, declaring, “We will not allow the collapse of Gaza at any cost.”

A Hamas spokesman on Wednesday called on the Palestinian Authority and Fatah to cancel their recognition of Israel, stop the security coordination with the IDF, and lift the sanctions from the Gaza Strip.