Archive for May 31, 2022

Rare publication of Israeli air defense alert follows concrete Iranian threat. Five prominent figures named – DEBKAfile

May 31, 2022

 Five Israelis targetedIran revenge attack threatenedIsrael on high air defense alert

Israel’s unusual official announcement on May 30 of its heightened air defense alert was triggered by intelligence affirming Iran’s determination to make good this time on a vow of revenge for the shooting of Col. Hassan Kodaei on May 23.  It was reinforced on Monday afternoon, when Iranian media named five Israel intelligence and tech experts who with their families and colleagues are now in Iran’s sights:

  1. Maj. Gen. (Res) Amos Malka, Military Intelligence (AMAN) Chief from 1998 to 2001 is accused of business deals in the last 20 years involving security high-tech firms.
  2. Amir Levinthal, founder and CEO of the Cylus cyber company that secures rail systems. According to the Fars news agency, Levinthal is a former member of AMAN.
  3. Gal Ganot, graduate of the IDF’s high tech 8200 Unit and director of a company that does work for the Mossad.
  4. Inbar Arieli, founder of that Synthesis high-tech company. She is rated one of the 100 most influential members of the “Zionist Entity’s new tech elite.” She too served in the 8200 Unit.
  5. Amit Meltzer, described as an expert in cyber defense who is the architect of those systems in the use of Israel, the US and Singapore

The Kodeai hit was cited on Monday by Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami when he pledged to avenge his death during a visit to the victim’s parents. However, a subsequent attack two days later – this one on the Parchin military complex, that was attributed by American sources to Israel – was the tipping point for Tehran. Helicopters packed with explosives struck a plant producing UAVs. Most galling of all for the Islamic Republic was that both attacks were inside jobs carried out from within its borders.

Col. Kodaei was head of the IRGC’s clandestine Qods Force’s Unit 840, which is charged with acts of terror against Israeli targets. He was not the first high-profile Iranian whose assassination was attributed to Israel. But in previous cases, including the mastermind of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Farizadeh, in November 2020, Israel maintained silence on its security preparations.

This time is different in that Iran’s threats – including and a real threat to Israelis visiting Turkey – are being taken with extreme seriousness on three scores:

  • On Saturday, Iran opened up a secret underground depot housing some 100 advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (see photo) to demonstrate its capacity to settle accounts with Israel on a large scale. It will be hard to back down on vows of revenge after this display.
  • This and other intelligence strongly indicate that Iran will not be content with a small operation but is rather bent on inflicting heavy damage.
  • Security sources infer this additionally from the restraint displayed by the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the face of Israel’s Flag Parade on Jerusalem Day despite threats of rocket fire and other payback. Both were apparently directed from Tehran to hold their fire and wait to join the multi-front assault coming to Israel.

Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile is now 18 times 2015 deal limit, UN watchdog says

May 31, 2022

Tehran has amassed more than 3,800 kilos of material, IAEA reports, after detecting radioactivity at potential undeclared nuclear sites

By AGENCIES and TOI STAFF30 May 2022, 7:48 pmUpdated at 8:43 pm  

Various centrifuge machines line a hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, on April 17, 2021. (Screenshot, Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting-IRIB, via AP)

The UN nuclear watchdog said Monday that it estimated Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium had grown to more than 18 times the limit laid down in Tehran’s 2015 deal with world powers.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in its latest report on Iran’s nuclear program that it “estimated that, as of May 15, 2022, Iran’s total enriched stockpile was 3,809.3 kilograms.”

The limit in the 2015 deal was set at 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of a specific compound, the equivalent of 202.8 kilograms of uranium. The report also said that Iran is continuing its enrichment of uranium to levels higher than the 3.67 percent limit in the deal.

The stockpile of uranium enriched up to 20% is now estimated to be 238.4 kilograms, up 56.3 kilograms since the last report in March, while the amount enriched to 60% stands at 43.1 kilograms, an increase of 9.9 kilograms.

Enrichment levels of around 90% are required for use in a nuclear weapon.

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Earlier in May, the IAEA announced that it was “extremely concerned” by Iranian silence on potential undeclared nuclear sites.

Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi shows the inner of a case of an IAEA monitoring device during a press conference in Vienna, Austria, December 17, 2021. (AP/ Michael Gruber)

“I am referring to the fact that we, in the last few months, were able to identify traces of enriched uranium in places that had never been declared by Iran as places where any activity was taking place,” IAEA head Rafael Grossi told a European Parliament Committee.

“The situation does not look very good. Iran, for the time being, has not been forthcoming in the kind of information we need from them… We are extremely concerned about this,” Grossi said.

Iran has always insisted that its nuclear program is peaceful. Israel views a nuclear-threshold Iran as an unacceptable threat, as Tehran is avowedly committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

Both American and Israeli officials have assessed that Iran now needs only a few weeks to amass enough fissile material for a bomb, should it choose to make one, though it would need additional time to assemble the device’s other components.

“[Iran] stands just a few weeks away from accumulating fissile material that will be sufficient for a first bomb, holds 60 kilograms of enriched material at 60%, produces metallic uranium at the enrichment level of 20%, and prevents the IAEA from accessing its facilities,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on May 17.

Officials in the current US administration, led by President Joe Biden, blame the drop in Iran’s breakout time on former president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement in 2018.

“Their breakout period is down from about a year, which is what we knew it was during the deal, to just a few weeks or less,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference in February.

The latest report comes as talks to revive the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers remain deadlocked after stalling in March