Archive for the ‘Russian missiles’ category

Russia Missile Attacks Embarrass Obama, Warn Israel

October 9, 2015

Russia Missile Attacks Embarrass Obama, Warn Israel, American ThinkerJonathan Keiler, October 9, 2015

Beyond heaping yet another humiliation on Obama and signaling American admirals to keep their distance, the missile attack probably also sent a very pointed message to Israel. Israel currently deploys four advanced German-made and Israeli equipped Dolphin submarines, with two more on the way.


Russia’s October 7 cruise missile bombardment of anti-Assad Syrian rebels from ships stationed nearly 1000 miles away was probably the most expensively ineffectual display of military firepower since Bill Clinton launched a similar strike against al Qaeda in 1998. Clinton’s feckless and spendthrift action was supposedly in retaliation for the embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya and succeeded by most accounts in wiping out a few empty tents with several tons of explosives and several million dollars’ worth of advanced ordnance.

It is unlikely that Vladimir Putin’s strike did much damage to Syrian rebels either. But unlike Clinton (and the current Democrat in the White House) Putin doesn’t use force to shirk greater national responsibilities, he uses it to pursue clear strategic objectives. In this case, the Russian decision to launch brand-new Kalibr-NK missiles from the Caspian Sea fleet was clearly intended as yet another poke in the eye to President Obama, and a demonstration of Russian firepower, from diminutive but still dangerous Russian warships.

The 26 missiles were launched by three patrol boats and a frigate (a warship smaller than a destroyer.)  Russian spokesmen claimed all landed within nine feet of their targets, a degree of accuracy probably not needed against dispersed irregular infantry, but necessary to hit opposing warships, like those flying American flags. The Syrian rebels served as live practice targets for the Russian missile crews, who got to shoot off the new and previously unproven (in combat) missile.

Beyond heaping yet another humiliation on Obama and signaling American admirals to keep their distance, the missile attack probably also sent a very pointed message to Israel. Israel currently deploys four advanced German-made and Israeli equipped Dolphin submarines, with two more on the way. Most analysts presume that these advanced boats are intended to penetrate the Persian Gulf in the event of war with Iran, and from their launch cruise missiles in support of Israeli air action.

However, several years ago, in this article I proposed that the Israeli purpose was probably otherwise. Israeli is widely presumed to have equipped the subs with Israeli Popeye turbo cruise missiles with a range similar to that of the Russian Kalibr-NK. With such a weapon, Israeli subs need not make the long and dangerous journey to the Persian Gulf, but could launch from off the coast of Syria, the missiles following a flight plan very similar to those the Russian weapons took (but in reverse) where they could strike targets across northern Iran.

If I could conceive of such a plan, so could Russian intelligence services, which have probably backed this idea with hard, but secret intelligence. The Russian attack is a clear signal to Israel, demonstrating that cruise missiles which can go from the eastern Mediterranean to Iran can go the other way too. It is unlikely that it was a message lost on the Israelis, and more evidence that Russia’s movement in to the Syrian arena is proving disastrous for America and her allies.


Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War

August 23, 2015

Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War, Amerian Thinker, John Bosma, August 23, 2015

(We live in “interesting times.” — DM)

The signing of a Munich-class agreement with Iran that hands it more than it ever hoped to pull off represents a shocking, craven American capitulation to an apocalyptic crazy state: a North Korea with oil. Nothing in Western history remotely approaches it, not even Neville Chamberlain’s storied appeasement of another antisemitic negotiating partner.

But it also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US’s betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR’s 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.

Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel’s nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran’s bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.

Would this involve many nuclear weapons? No – probably fewer than 10-15, although their yields must be sufficiently large to maximize ground shock. Would it produce Iranian civilian casualties? Yes but not as many as one might suppose, as it would avoid cities. Most casualties would be radiological, like Chernobyl, rather than thermal and blast casualties. Would it spur a larger catalytic nuclear war? No. Would it subsequently impel Russia, China and new proliferators to normalize nuclear weapons in their own war planning? Or would the massive global panic over the first nuclear use in anger in 70 years, one that would draw saturation media coverage, panic their publics into urgent demands for ballistic missile self-defense systems? Probably the latter.

The Iranian elite’s ideology and controlling political psychology is inherently preferential towards nukes and direct population targeting as a way to implement Shi’ite messianism and end-times extremism. Iran is a newly nuclear apocalyptic Shi’ite regime that ranks as the most blatantly genocidal government since the Khmer Rouge’s Sorbonne-educated leaders took over Cambodia in April, 1975. Senior Iranian officials have periodically tied nuclear war to the return of the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, which Iran’s previous president anticipated within several years. This reflects not just the triumphalist enthusiasm of a new arriviste nuclear power that just won more at the table than it dared to dream. It also reflects a self-amplifying, autarchic end-days theology that is immune to both reality testing and to Western liberal/progressive tenets about prim and proper nuclear behavior.

Admittedly, Iranian leaders have lately resorted to envisioning Israel’s collapse in more restrained terms through Palestinian demographic takeover of the Israeli state and asymmetric warfare. Still there remains a lurid history of Iranian officials urging the elimination of Israel and its people, of allocating their nukes to Israeli territory to maximize Jewish fatalities, of Iranian officials leading crowds in chants of “Death to Israel!” Iran’s government also released a video game allowing players to target various kinds of Iranian ballistic missiles against Israeli cities – this as part of intensive propaganda drumming up hatred of Jews. A more recent video game envisions a massive Iranian ground army marching to liberate Jerusalem. In all, Iran’s official stoking of genocidal Jew hatred is far beyond what Hitler’s government dared to advocate before the 1939 outbreak of World War 2.

The deliberate American silence over Iran’s genocidal intentionality sends an unmistakable signal to Israel that the US no longer recognizes a primordial, civilizational moral obligation to protect it from the most explicit threats imaginable. It is truly on its own, with the US in an all-but-overt alliance with its worst enemy. The shock to Israel’s leaders of this abrupt American lurch into tacitly accepting this Iranian intentionality cannot be understated. Iran is violating the core tenets of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a US initiative after the Tokyo and Nuremberg war-crimes trials to codify genocide as a crime against humanity. Now the US is silent.

But this shift is also recent. Every US government prior to President Obama would have foresworn nuclear talks with such a psychopathic regime or would have walked out in a rage upon such utterances. Yet Iran’s genocidal threats have had no discernible effect on Obama’s canine eagerness for a deal. It’s as if 75 years ago a US president had cheerfully engaged in peace talks with Hitler and his SS entourage despite learning the details of the Nazis’ secret Wannsee Conference where Hitler signed off on the Final Solution for the Jews. But whereas Hitler had the sense in that era to keep that conclave secret, Iran’s Wannsee intentionality toward Israel and world Jewry has for years been flamboyantly rude-and-crude and in-your-face. That this Iranian advocacy of a second Holocaust drew no objection from the US negotiators of this deal should make moral pariahs out of every one of them – including our president and Secretary of State.

These two factors alone, especially the abrupt evaporation of the US’s ultimate existential bargain with Israel through Obama’s de facto alliance with the mullahs, would drive Israel to the one attack option it can unilaterally use without running short of munitions and experiencing the massive US coercion embedded in that dependence. But there are other reasons why early Israeli nuclear pre-emption is not only justified but almost mandatory.

First, it is too late to stop Iran’s bomb-making momentum with conventional weapons or sanctions. That nation’s science and technology base is robust and improving. It has learned to domestically produce high-performance gas centrifuges whose uranium gas output is such that smaller numbers of them are needed for breakout. The US spent decades and many billions at labs like Oak Ridge National Laboratory on composites, software-controlled magnetic bearings, gas flow separations, thermal controls and ultra-precision manufacturing for these thin-wall, very-high-speed devices. Yet Iran has come up the centrifuge learning curve with surprising speed. Its metallurgists are familiar with a novel aluminum forging method that may yield nanophase aluminum shells so strong that they approach the centrifugal strength usually associated with more demanding composite-shell gas centrifuges. Also, Iran’s bomb engineering and physics can tap the sophisticated bomb designs and re-entry vehicle (RV) skills of North Korea, which is reducing the weight and mass of its H-bombs to fit on ballistic missiles and whose collaboration with Iran reportedly included Iranian technicians at North Korean bomb tests.

Other technology sources in the Nuclear Bombs R Us cartel for wannabe proliferators set up by rogue nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan of Pakistan include China, Russia and Pakistan. Worst of all, under the US-Iran deal, Iran’s ballistic missiles can improve their reliability, accuracy, throw-weight and their post-boost RV-release thrusters.

Second, Iran’s underground nuclear targets are likely harder than American and Israeli hard-target munition (HTM) developers have assumed. Why? Because Iranian engineers have perfected the world’s toughest concrete, developing mixtures using geopolymers, quartz powders (called fume) and metal and ceramic fibers. The result is hardness levels reportedly up to 50,000-60,000 psi in experimental samples. This means that even shallow “cut and cover” hard targets like the Natanz centrifuge enrichment plant, an armored complex in an excavated pit that is then covered, can resist destruction by the US’s most lethal hard-target bomb: the 30,000-lb “Massive Ordnance Penetrator.” Only the B-2 and the B-52 can carry the MOP. Yet while the MOP can penetrate ~200 ft into 5000-psi targets, it only reaches 25 feet into 10,000-psi concrete – and Iranian cement for new or up-armored underground bunkers has likely progressed well beyond that.

US and Israeli HTM alternatives include staged-warhead penetrators and – high on the wish list – novel energetic chemistries with orders-of-magnitude more power than current HTMs. Tactical HTMs with up to four sequential warheads use precursor warheads to blast an initial opening for larger follow-through charges to destroy tanks, fortifications and bridge piers. But these impact at slow speeds compared to what’s needed to kill deep hard targets. The latter need superhard casings (probably single-crystal metals) and packaging to keep their sequenced charges intact during violent impacts of thousands of feet/second (fps). One benchmark is the Department of Energy’s Sandia lab’s success years ago in firing a simulated hard-target RV into rock at 4400 fps. Similarly, reactive-material (RM) munitions and next-generation HEDM (high-energy-density material) explosives and energetic chemistries with orders-of-magnitude more power look promising for the future. But these require years of iterative fly-redesign-fly testing to assure they’ll survive impact with their deep targets.

Bottom line: with even the US’s best non-nuclear HTMs marginal against Iran’s critical deep targets, Israel’s HTMs probably wouldn’t do the job either, being lower in kinetic energy on target. Alternatives like using HTMs to destroy entrances to such targets and ventilation shafts may work – but unless Iranian military power and recovery are set back months or years, this damage would be repaired or worked round. Moreover, nuclear facilities tunneled into mountains would be almost impossible to destroy with conventionals.

Still, the brains behind Iran’s nuclear bomb, missile and WMD is concentrated in soft targets like the Iranian universities run by the IRGC (Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps), custodian of the bomb program). These can be hit by conventionals under a Peenemunde targeting strategy to kill as many weapon scientists and technicians as possible. (This recalls Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s directive for British bombers to target the residential housing on the small Baltic island where Hitler had sited his V-2 rocket program.) Alternatively, conventional or nuclear EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or HPM (high-power microwave) weapons could destroy for months all the computers and communications that support university-hosted bomb work. This would keep these scientists and surrounding urban populations alive.

Third, Obama’s decision to provide Iran “training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems” is the clearest indicator that this accord is aimed squarely at Israel. Why? It eliminates the sole option Israel has left now that it lacks the US-supplied conventional HTMs to destroy unexpectedly hard deep targets, forcing it at best into a slow-motion conventionals-only campaign. This would expose it to brutal political and military blowback by Iran and its Chinese, Russian and European suppliers – and by an enraged American president. In essence, it appears that the Obama regime has under the accord deliberately stripped Israel of every option except nuclear pre-emption – which Obama, in typically liberal-progressive fashion, assumes would never happen. Ergo, Israel would be forced to accommodate Iranian military supremacy.

Fourth, what may drive an early Israeli nuclear attack are two considerations: (a) Russian S-300 ATBM/SAMs (anti-tactical ballistic missile/surface-to-air missile) in Iranian hands; and (b) Hezb’allah’s thousands of missiles. Russia’s agreement to supply Iran four batteries of its fearsome S-300 by late August for defending priority targets would make it very difficult for Israel to mount the complex precision bombing strategies needed for tough targets. The S-300, the world’s best, can knock down high-speed aircraft from near ground level to almost 100,000 feet. It can also engage some ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile, Hezb’allah’s arsenal of more than 60,000 rockets (by some estimates) is a much greater threat to Israel, especially its air force, than is appreciated. Hezb’allah has retrofitted an unknown fraction of these missiles, whose range now covers almost all of Israel, with GPS and precision guidance, allowing them to hit critical targets. Unfortunately, Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling interceptors were designed on the assumption that most incoming missiles would be inaccurate and so the interceptors could be saved only for those approaching critical targets. The result? Hezb’allah rocket campaigns targeting Israeli airbases and other military targets could quickly run Israel out of interceptors. Iran could easily order such a campaign to throw Israel off balance as it focuses on the deadly US-abetted nuclear threat from Iran.

An Israeli nuclear pre-emption is thus eminently thinkable. Every other option has been stripped away by Obama’s decision, concealed from Israel, Congress and our allies until it was too late to challenge, to let Iranian bomb-making R&D run free and to harden Iran’s bomb-making infrastructure against Israel – while imposing lethal restrictions on Israeli countermeasures and forswearing any US and allied military attacks, such as B-2’s and B-52’s dropping MOP bombs.

The die is now cast. Nuclear pre-emption becomes attractive to a nation in extremis, where Israel is now:

…Israel needs to impart a powerful, disorganizing shock to the Iranian regime that accomplishes realistic military objectives: digging out its expensive underground enrichment plants, destroying its Arak plutonium reactor and maybe Bushehr in the bargain, killing its bomb and missile professionals, scientists and technicians, IRGC bases, its oil production sites, oil export terminals and the leaders of the regime where they can be found.

…its initial strike must move very fast and be conclusive within 1-2 hours, like the Israeli air attack opening the 1967 Six-Day War. The goal is to so stun the regime that Israel controls the first and subsequent phases of the war and its ending. This means that Israel must hit enough critical targets with maximum shock – and be willing to revisit or expand its targets – so as to control blowback and retaliation from Iran’s allies. In essence, this involves a very fast-paced Israeli redesign of the Middle East in the course of a nuclear war for survival.

…what is poorly appreciated is that nuclear weapons from 10 to 300 kilotons (KT) – depending on accuracy – can destroy deep hard targets to 200+ meters depth by ground coupling if they penetrate merely 3 meters into the ground (Effects of Nuclear Earth Penetrators and Other Weapons: National Research Council / National Academy Press, 2005, pp. 30-51). Israel could lower bomb yields or achieve deeper target kills by its reported tests of two-plane nuclear attacks in which the first plane drops a conventional HTM like a GBU-28 to open up a channel; the second plane drops its tactical nuclear bomb into that ‘soft’ channel for greater depth before bursting. This unavoidably would produce fallout on cities downwind. Fortunately, the same medical countermeasures used for radiological accidents (Chernobyl accidents, etc.)  – potassium iodide pills (available domestically from – can be airdropped for use by exposed urbanites.

…the more important objective, however, is decapitation and economic paralysis by EMP and HPM effects that destroy all electronic, electrical and electromechanical devices on Iranian territory. While a high-altitude nuclear burst would affect most of Iran’s territory, it may not be necessary if smaller, lower-altitude weapons are used.

…A small number of nuclear weapons (10-15?) may suffice: one each for known underground hard targets, with one held in reserve pending bomb-damage assessments; several low-yield bombs for above-ground bomb-related depots; and low-yield neutron weapons to hit IRGC and regime targets while avoiding blast and fallout. Reactors can be hit with conventional HPM pulse weapons to burn out electrical, electronic and electromechanical systems for later reactor destruction by Special Forces. A targeting priority (using antipersonnel conventionals) would be university-hosted bomb/missile scientists.

…Israeli F-15s and F-16s provide the most accurate delivery for the initial phase – assuming that the S-300 batteries can be decoyed, jammed or destroyed (where Israeli air force experience is unmatched). The small stock of Jericho-2 ballistic missiles probably would be held in reserve. They can’t be used against buried targets unless their re-entry vehicles (RVs) are fitted with penetrator casings and decelerators like ribbon parachutes (used to slow down US test RVs for shallow-water recovery at Pacific atolls) to avoid disintegrating on impact. (Both methods require flight-testing, which is detectable.) Israel’s Dolphin subs in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean can launch nuclear or (probably) conventional cruise missiles with cluster munitions for IRGC targets.

The final issue is how Israeli and US leaders would operate in these conditions. An Israeli decision to go nuclear would be the most tightly held decision in history, given the prospect of out-of-control blowback by our current president if that was leaked. Still, Israel sees itself being driven into a Second Holocaust corner, possibly within weeks as the S-300s begin deploying around Iran’s nuclear targets. Once it decides nukes are its only way out, it would simulate and map out all possible event chains and surprises once it launches. Unavoidably, it would also have to decide what to do if it learns the US is feeding its pre-launch mobilization information to Iran, using its electronic listening posts and missile-defense radars in the region. It may have to jam or destroy those US sites.

For the US, however, this no-warning nuclear war would land like a thunderbolt on an unprepared White House that would likely panic and lash out as Obama’s loudly touted “legacy” goes up in smoke. The characteristic signatures of nuclear bursts would be captured and geolocated by US satellite. The commander of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs would call the White House on the famous red phone. (As one of the few civilians who sat through a red phone alert at NORAD in July 1982, after a Soviet missile sub launched two test missiles off the Kamchatk Peninsulaa, I can testify it is a frightening experience for which nothing prepares you.) Given the psychology of our current president and his emotional investment in his Iran deal, what might follow could challenge the military chain of command with orders that previously were unthinkable.

Now retired, John Bosma draws on a 40-year background in nuclear war-gaming and strategic arms control (SALT 1 and 2, Soviet arms-racing and SALT violations, US force upgrades) at Boeing Aerospace (1977-1980); congressional staff and White House experience (1981-1983) in organizing the “Star Wars” ballistic missile defense (BMD) program and proposing its “defense-enforced strategic reductions” arms-control model adopted by the Reagan State Department; military space journalism (1984-1987); and technology scouting in conventional strategic warfare, rapid (1-2 hours) posture change in space, novel BMD engagement geometries with miniature air-launched interceptors, counter-WMD/terrorism, naval BMD and undersea warfare. Clients included DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Missile Defense Agency, the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) Advanced Systems and Concepts Office, the Navy and the  He follows Israeli forces and BMD and has studied Iran’s nuclear R&D programs. All of his work is open-source


Contentions | The Iran Deal’s Evaporating Logic

August 11, 2015

Contentions | The Iran Deal’s Evaporating Logic, Commentary Magazine, August 11, 2015

Proponents of the Iran nuclear deal are finding the justifications for compelling Congress to ratify the accord, save for preserving Barack Obama’s fragile self-image, are coming apart. As such, the accord’s supporters have increasingly turned to defending the deal with appeals to the president’s stature and authority, as well as by calling into question the motives and character of its opponents. That alone should tell you all you need to know. Though some of the Iran nuclear deal’s remaining backers do still occasionally claim that it will succeed in what was once its singular purpose: limiting Iran’s ability to produce prohibited armaments. One of most convincing precedents supporting this contention has, however, been largely disaffirmed. 

When asked to cite a model to demonstrate how the nuclear deal will not only prevent Iranian from developing a fissionable device but also produce a variety of happy byproducts like the moderation of the Islamic Republic’s destabilizing behavior, the deal’s supporters most frequently point to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with the Soviet Union.

“From the Western perspective, the nuclear deal represents the most important security agreement since the signing of the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF) Treaty between Washington and Moscow during the twilight years of the Cold War,” Al Jazeera columnist Richard Javad Heydarian averred.

Peter Beinart took this contention an ill-advised step further. “By 1987, Reagan had signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the most sweeping arms-control deal of the Cold War. His rhetoric toward the Soviet Union also radically changed,” Beinart wrote in The Atlantic. “Reagan, in other words, dramatically de-escalated the Cold War long before he knew Gorbachev would let Eastern Europe go free and at a time when prominent conservatives were literally calling him Neville Chamberlain for signing the INF deal.”

That’s true. Graham Allison, also writing in The Atlantic, quoted a few conservatives from the period that feared Reagan was providing the Soviets with a reprieve from the crushing obligations of the arms race. “Reagan insisted that he was capable of brokering agreements to reduce the risks of accidents or unauthorized actions that risked nuclear war with one hand, while redoubling his efforts to undermine the Soviet regime with the other,” he insisted. “And he did just that. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.”

This is a remarkable simplification of history. Beinart claims that Regan’s shifting rhetoric (he renounced his “evil empire” comment while standing in the middle of Red Square under the watchful eye of a young Vladimir Putin) provided Mikhail Gorbachev space to make the case to the Politburo that he was not capitulating to Reagan in this accord. But this is a variation of the liberal case that ideational and not material considerations led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moreover, the INF effectively marked the end of the arms race, in part because it had already been lost by the Soviets. By contrast, there has been no ideational shift in the theocratic regime in Tehran nor is there any indication in Iran’s behavior that it is desirous of rapprochement with the West. If anything, Iran has behaved in a more bellicose fashion as nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 intensified.

The USSR is long gone, but the INF remains in place. Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal are advised to pay close attention to what that arrangement has become. It is no longer an arms control agreement but a political relic that serves little purpose but to shield from public scrutiny the extent to which Russia has become an irresponsible and revanchist international actor.

Writing in Politico Magazine in April, Foreign Policy Initiative scholars Eric Edelman and Tzvi Kahn outline the scope of the Russian’s efforts to game the INF. In response to Russia’s brazenness, American officials have routinely downplayed Moscow’s cheating. Despite repeatedly warning the United States that it was prepared to violate the INF over the course of the last decade, the Bush administration refused to acknowledge that reality. When Moscow did violate the terms of the INF in this decade, the Obama administration also pretended not to notice. And when this administration finally did address Russia’s violations of the terms of the INF, that acknowledgement was not followed on with any consequences.

That failure of resolve continues even today. According to the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz, a Pentagon assessment last month revealing the extent of Russia’s violations of the INF paints a damning picture of the Kremlin’s behavior. Unfortunately for anyone who would like to fully understand how Russia has undermined the INF, the White House is allegedly blocking that report’s release.

“Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, disclosed the existence of the Pentagon assessment last month and said the report is needed for Congress’ efforts to address the problem in legislation,” Gertz reported. “Rogers said the assessment was conducted by chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, and noted that it outlines potential responses to the treaty breach.”

To acknowledge the treaty’s failure would provide additional political legitimacy to an effort by House Republicans that seeks to provide funding for short-range cruise missile defenses in Poland and Romania. That’s a direct repudiation of this White House, which continues to stand by its 2009 rejection of a Bush-era deal that would have provided the Czech Republic and Poland with long-range interceptor and radar technology. In short, politics is dictating American national defense planning and strategy.

“Similarly, for decades, Tehran has violated its nuclear commitments — and the United States has failed to hold it accountable,” Edelman and Kahn observed.

There is no evidence to suggest that regime as demonstrably duplicitous as Iran’s will not cheat on this arrangement. In fact, the terms of this deal would make it difficult to definitively identify cheating, much less to marshal support for an international response to it. Even if such behavior could be identified, though, it’s not entirely clear that this administration (or its successor, presuming the next administration is a Democratic one) will be predisposed to punish Iranian cheating at all. To acknowledge the fact that the nuclear deal with Iran has failed would be to invite searing criticism from the deal’s domestic opponents.

The INF is a treaty in a persistent vegetative state; it’s corporal form remains, but its spirit has long since passed on to another plane. A conventional arms race in Eastern Europe has taken its place. If the West were to acknowledge that arms race, it would be obliged to participate in it. So it simply refuses to acknowledge it. If the Iran deal fails, its proponents in Washington are unlikely to ever say as much. Not until it is too late.

Into the fray: Iran- Reaping the storm that Barack sowed…

July 18, 2015

Into the fray: Iran- Reaping the storm that Barack sowed…, Jerusalem PostMARTIN SHERMAN,July 16, 2015

ShowImage (3)Map of Middle East. (photo credit:Courtesy)

It is through this Islamo-philic prism that the Obama administration’s attitude to, and execution of, its foreign policy must be evaluated – including its otherwise incomprehensible capitulation this week on Iran’s nuclear program.


Obama is the first US president who genuinely conceives of Islam as not inherently opposed to American values or interests.

You’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith – Barack Hussein Obama to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, September 7, 2008

I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story Barack Hussein Obama, Cairo, June 4, 2009

Islam has always been part of AmericaBarack Hussein Obama, the White House, August 11, 2010

Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding Barack Hussein Obama, the White House, February 18, 2015

Barack Hussein Obama is the first US president who is explicitly and overtly unmoored, both cognitively and emotionally, from the moorings of America’s founding Judeo-Christian cultural heritage, and who genuinely conceives of Islam as not inherently opposed to American values or American interests.

A question of cultural affinity?

It is through this Islamo-philic prism that the Obama administration’s attitude to, and execution of, its foreign policy must be evaluated – including its otherwise incomprehensible capitulation this week on Iran’s nuclear program.

Almost two years ago, I wrote a column titled, “Will the West withstand the Obama presidency?” (11/28/2013). In it I warned: “For anyone who understands that the US Constitution is not a Shari’a-compliant document…

it should be alarmingly apparent that the Obama incumbency is a dramatic and disturbing point of inflection in the history of America and its Western allies… whose political practices and societal norms are rooted in Judeo-Christian foundations in a cultural rather than in any religious sense.”

There is little alternative explanation to account for the metamorphosis that has taken place in how the US has approached resolving the impasse with Tehran, as starkly laid out by two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, “The Iran Deal and Its Consequences” (April 7), they note that the negotiation has been turned “on its head.” As they point out: “For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests – and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability.”

Risible inspection mechanism

Even before the specifics of the risible inspection mechanism, which one Israeli minister aptly described as “worse than worthless,” Kissinger and Shultz laid out the difficulties that would render any extended inspection endeavor ineffective: “In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect.”

With considerable prescience, they warn: “Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance – or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue.

Envisaging the problems likely to arise in enforcing any agreement, they caution: “Compounding the difficulty is the unlikelihood that breakout will be a clear-cut event.

More likely it will occur… via the gradual accumulation of ambiguous evasions. When inevitable disagreements arise over the scope and intrusiveness of inspections, on what criteria are we prepared to insist and up to what point? If evidence is imperfect, who bears the burden of proof? What process will be followed to resolve the matter swiftly?”

Reminiscent of taqiya?

But even without the daunting generic difficulties described by Kissinger and Shultz, the inspection mechanism provided for in the nascent deal make a mockery of Obama’s contention (July 14): “… this deal is not built on trust; it is built on verification,” and, “Because of this deal, inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location… [They] will have access where necessary, when necessary.”

One can hardly imagine a more grossly misleading representation of the deal – so much so that it is difficult not to find it strongly reminiscent of the Muslim tactic of taqiya (the religiously sanctioned deception of non-Muslims).

Indeed, immediately following the announcement of the agreement, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, made a stunning admission to CNN’s Erin Burnett. Starkly contradicting the president’s contention of “access where necessary, when necessary,” Rhodes conceded, “We never sought in this negotiation the capacity for so-called anytime, anywhere,” which is diametrically opposed to the impression he conveyed in April this year when queried on this issue.

You couldn’t make this stuff up

For as it turns out, it provides the Iranians with ample warning of impending inspections on any suspected violation, and ample ability to forestall the definition of any given suspicious event as a possible violation.

Thus in the case of a suspected infringement in any undisclosed (to the international community) site, the Iranians will have at least 24 days’ notice. Moreover, inspectors will not be able to conduct surprise visits but will be required to “provide Iran the basis for such concerns and request clarification.” No kidding!!! But wait, there’s more.

If Iran’s explanations do not adequately assuage international concerns, inspectors “may request access to such locations” to make sure no illicit activity has occurred. But first they need to “provide Iran the reasons for access in writing and will make available relevant information.” You can’t make this stuff up.

But here’s the kicker: Should the Iranians and the inspectors prove unable to “reach satisfactory arrangements,” Tehran will resolve any concerns “through necessary means agreed between Iran and the IAEA.” If there is still no agreement two weeks after the initial inquiry is filed, the crisis will be resolved by vote in the so-called Joint Commission – consisting of the six world powers, a representative of EU and – wait for it – Iran.

Like warning drug dealers of a bust

Astonishingly, nearly all the decisions of the Joint Commission, tasked with overseeing/ administering the implementation of the deal, are to be made by consensus – which in effect gives Iran veto power over them. In the case of inspection access, it is sufficient for two of its eight members (say China and Russia) to abstain for Iran to block any decision it dislikes.

It is thus difficult to dispute Benjamin Netanyahu’s characterization of the deal during his address in the Knesset when he likened it to giving drug dealers notice of an impending raid: “It’s like giving a criminal organization that deals drugs a 24-day warning before inspecting its drug lab.”

But worse – the deal requires the international inspectors to expose the sources of intelligence that lead to the detection of the possible infringement – thereby virtually ensuring the termination of their effectiveness.

As Netanyahu remarked: “The agreement also requires the world powers to… show Iran the very intelligence for which they want to conduct the inspections in the first place.”

It is possible that all this could be nothing more than mind-boggling incompetence and blatant lack of foresight? Or are these glaring loopholes the reflection of intent.

Devil not in details

After all, the more you think about the unenforceable, unverifiable agreement just concocted in Vienna, the more implausible it seems. As Alan Dershowitz points out in a Jerusalem Post opinion piece this week, “The devil is not so much in the details as in the broad outlines of this deal.”

Rather than the detailed minutiae of the deal, it is its deeply flawed overall structure that makes it so difficult to comprehend – unless the motives for its conclusion are reexamined.

For unless one is imbued with the child-like naiveté to believe that the tyrannical clergy who head the totalitarian theocracy in Tehran, on seeing their defiant intransigence vindicated and having vast additional resources placed at their disposal, will suddenly change their worldview, the picture of emerging realities is decidedly bleak and bewildering.

The spectacle unfolding before us is almost incomprehensible by any rational criterion.

Virtually the entire developed world, led by the only superpower on the planet, has for all intents and purposes conceded a legitimized path to weaponized nuclear status for a fanatical fundamentalist regime, ideologically bent on the destruction of America and its allies, and a major proliferator of terrorism, committed to attaining regional hegemony at the expense of relatively pro-Western governments.

Despite dwarfing Iran in terms of military might, economic wealth, physical size and population, Tehran’s interlocutors have provided it with vast resources to enormously enhance its nefarious pursuits across the region and beyond.

The New Middle East: Conflicts on steroids

The ominous consequences are not difficult to foresee.

As Ariel Ben Solomon, the Post’s Middle East correspondent, wrote in a recent report, “Iran deal to see Middle East conflicts go on steroids,” “A stronger Iran will translate into a more robust Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthi movement in Yemen, and Shi’ite forces in Iraq and Syria, and increasing sectarian strife fueled by Shi’ite minorities or Iranian agents throughout the Arab world.” (July 16) There is precious little reason for believing any other outcome is plausible.

In a July 15 interview, New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez lamented another aspect of the deal, relating to easing restrictions on conventional weapons to Iran: “When you lift the arms embargo to a country that is the major sponsor of… terrorism in the world and is already destabilizing the region in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria [and] Iraq, to give them – after they are going to get $100 billion-150b. in economic relief – the opportunity to buy conventional weapons and improve their missile technology doesn’t seem to me to be in the national interest of the United States.”

The intriguing question is, of course, does this seem to President Obama to be in the national interest of the United States? And if so, why so? If so, how so?

‘No alternative’: A mindless mendacious mantra

The almost Pavlovian response of the apologists for the Iran deal is that its critics have not offered a feasible alternative. This is a claim – for want of a better word – so feeble that it barely merits a response.

As Sen. Menendez points out: “We never tested the proposition that dismantling elements of Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure was possible. It is pretty hard for me to believe that the world powers, sitting on one side of the table, the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and the European Union looking at the Iranians… suffering under staggering sanctions… and falling oil prices couldn’t get a deal that eliminated some of that infrastructure.”

Rebutting John Kerry’s claim that such a goal was achievable only in “a world of fantasy,” Menendez retorted, “I don’t know that that is a ‘world of fantasy.’ Isn’t it possible with all the world on one side of the table, and Iran reeling with economic challenges, that you couldn’t have done better as relates to eliminating that nuclear infrastructure.”

Of course if the underlying assumption is that alternatives are only feasible if Iran deigns to accept them, then the apologists may be right. However, if the rationale were not to accommodate the ayatollahs, but to coerce them, the alternative is clear: Enhanced sanctions backed by the credible threat of military action aimed at destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities and their attendant infrastructure.

Arab arms race or Arab client states

But despite the overwhelming preponderance of power in their favor, the US and its Western allies seem to have forsworn the use of force, or even the credible specter thereof. As Kissinger and Shultz remark: “The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran.”

This will clearly have a devastating impact on both friend and foe in the region.

It will destroy the confidence of US allies who will therefore be compelled to either acquire their own appropriate arsenals, as they can no longer rely on America for their security, or to become compliant client states of a hegemonic Iran.

For Iran it sends an equivocal message that it can violate the terms of the deal with impunity – for if what it encountered at Vienna is all the West can throw at it, what does it have to fear? There can be little doubt that what happened in Vienna this week has shredded America’s standing in the Middle East.

Some might even suspect that that was the purpose of the exercise.

Raid on Iran

April 28, 2015

Raid on Iran, Jerusalem PostHarry Moskoff, April 28, 2015

The only question now is:  when could an attack on Iran be carried out? At this point, Israel can’t afford NOT to make a strike, as the policy of the current nuclear negotiations with Iran has changed from prevention, to containment.  Indeed, all have come to agree that if the military option isn’t utilized by either the US or Israel, a nuclear Iran is simply a fait accompli.

If a preventative strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is going to happen, it must be both before the P5+1 negotiating deadline of June 30th, and before the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles are delivered and setup on Iranian soil. Indeed, if and when that eventuality comes into play, Israel may be forced to destroy that weapons convoy on route to Iran. I’m pretty sure this threat has already been issued.


As a rule, I don’t usually get involved in war scenarios, but after seeing the Israeli Air Force (IAF) jets put on their brilliant display this week for Israel Independence Day, I was inspired.  I was thinking: what if they just continued flying southwest? There’s an important point that I want to make here.

Sooner rather than later, Israel will be forced to make that raid. You know the one. It’s the BIG one. It will make the 1981 precision strike on Iraqi’s Osirak reactor, otherwise known as Operation Raid on the Sun, look like a walk in the park. Back then (just like now), when some argued that the attack would alienate both the United States and Europe, Ariel Sharon allegedly quipped “If I have a choice of being popular and dead or unpopular and alive, I choose being alive and unpopular.” Prime Minister Begin ultimately agreed and the rest of the cabinet fell in behind him. The only question now is:  when could an attack on Iran be carried out? At this point, Israel can’t afford NOT to make a strike, as the policy of the current nuclear negotiations with Iran has changed from prevention, to containment.  Indeed, all have come to agree that if the military option isn’t utilized by either the US or Israel, a nuclear Iran is simply a fait accompli.

If a preventative strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is going to happen, it must be both before the P5+1 negotiating deadline of June 30th, and before the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles are delivered and setup on Iranian soil. Indeed, if and when that eventuality comes into play, Israel may be forced to destroy that weapons convoy on route to Iran. I’m pretty sure this threat has already been issued. Effectively, we’re looking at a window of opportunity of a little over 2 months to initiate an attack that could take many hours, if not days to carry out, with hundreds or even thousands of missile strikes per day.  Simply put, if there is no attack now, Israel must prepare for the day after – a new, grim reality in the Middle East.

However, here’s an interesting point. If the arms shipment isn’t destroyed, there may be another answer to the S-300. Israel’s Defense Ministry sent a Letter of Request to Congress in 2003 asking for authorization to purchase “up to” 75 brand new, top of the line jet fighters that have significant new counter-missile capabilities. In 2010, it signed a deal with the US-based Lockheed-Martin aeronautical company for 19 F-35As, with the first few aircraft set to arrive in late 2016. The total cost of that deal was $2.75 billion, a spokesman for Lockheed-Martin said, out of which $475 million was for non-recurrent costs for the incorporation of upgraded Israeli technology. It’s interesting to note that the approximate cost of the aircrafts was (a staggering) $120 million. Each! These are stealth fighters with highly advanced radar, which will see its targets before it is seen.  Armed with the intelligence of where the surface to air missile systems are located, the IAF will then take the necessary measures to first avoid the S-300 systems, then destroy them.  What other choice is there – finding the Ark of the Covenant and using that, as in biblical times? True, the planes are insanely expensive, but obviously quite necessary!

On April 15 at Yad Vashem, and echoing his recent, now-famous address to Congress, PM Netanyahu said: “Even if we are forced to stand alone against Iran, we will not fear…”  Well folks, I dare say that we have reached that point.  Everyone knows by now that where the negotiations are concerned, the US no longer considers use of force in the cards, and quite the contrary, President Obama has indicated that even sanctions have become negotiable. People here in Israel feel that the State Dept. may even act AGAINST Israel if it unilaterally attempts a pre-emptive attack.  Besides the obvious existential threat to Israel, one of the other problems is that Iran seeks to “dominate the region” (Netanyahu’s words), and impose a Khomeini-style revolution in the Middle East.  We now see clearly that they are doing just that in places like Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and even here in Gaza. Whether Israel sees a right-wing government emerge in the coming weeks, or even a broad-based coalition with the Left, all agree at the end of the day that it’s just a matter of time before Iran breaches their side of an already bad deal, and action will need to be taken, whether backed by the US or not.

What most Israeli’s don’t realize is that once a breach in the agreement is discovered (publicly), there is simply no way the US will neutralize Iranian capabilities with a military strike.  Obama won’t do it, and the reason why he won’t do it is because he is not prepared to cast and label Iran as an Enemy of the State. To him, those days are over and it doesn’t lie in synch with his doctrine. In fact, the US President apparently vetoed a potential Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities back in 2012. Is it so hard to see why? Back door negotiations were going on even then between the US and Iran, as Hillary Clinton recently admitted herself.  It is crystal clear that the White House CAN forcibly bring the Iranian nuclear program to a halt, it simply chooses not to do so. Will this change after, let’s say – an Iranian nuclear test?  Perhaps, but unlikely.

As such, practically speaking, can Israel attack Iran with any real success? Is it worth it? The following are some salient points to consider.

We know that Saudi Arabia has already given tacit permission for Israel to use its airspace to reach the Iranian military targets because as a Sunni Muslim state, they are considered as ‘infidels’ to Iran, who are Shiite Muslims. In fact, they have more to worry about than Israel does, and as a result of the framework agreement that was signed in Vienna, they are demanding the same rights to nuclear capabilities that Iran is apparently going to get. Credible sources state that Pakistan is now prepared to ship a nuclear package to the Saudis. As for Iran, it already has the ballistic missile capability that could hit Saudi Arabia with a warhead at the push of a button. And they know it. So does Jordan.

The truth is that Israel has sufficient nuclear and conventional power to destroy the Islamic Republic in one day in the event of any war. In this case though, we’re talking about a surprise attack (more or less). As mentioned above, Israel is believed to have a fully prepared plan to launch a strike, which by necessity, would likely involve some 80 planes, and perhaps up to several hundred aircraft according to some military experts. In reality, this has been in the planning for over 10 years. Israel possesses the advanced midair refueling capabilities required for carrying out sorties over multiple Iranian targets situated between 1,500 and 2,000 km away from home. Possible targets could include uranium-enrichment sites at Natanz and Qom, the uranium-conversion plant at Isfahan, and a heavy water reactor in Arak suspected of being used to pursue a plutonium-based nuclear arms program, as well as additional facilities. The mission would require the use of powerful, penetrating warheads, otherwise known as bunker-buster bombs, as well as possible repeated strikes to ensure success. According to a Newsweek article from September of last year, the US Congress signed and transferred 55 such bombs to Israel. Further, the attack would likely be coordinated with the assistance of Israeli intelligence satellites that could provide real time detailed images from the battle arena, as well as Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft. It could also involve the use of a fleet of giant Heron 2 drones, which are the size of 737 commercial airliners. The UAVs form the first line of defense against an expected Iranian counterstrike, involving the launch of long-range Shihab 3 missiles, or worse.   These drones can reportedly reach Iran and hover over missile launch sites. Israel’s Arrow missile defense shield would undoubtedly also come into play to intercept missiles heading into Israeli airspace.

In terms of other forms of weaponeering capabilities, Israel maintains (at least) two elite special forces units dedicated to assisting with air strikes, one dedicated to laser target designation (Sayeret Shaldag/Unit 5101) and one to real time bomb damage assessment (Unit 5707).  These units are extremely well-trained and could potentially be infiltrated to the target zone prior to attack.  While it would be both difficult and risky to deploy these units inside Iran, they would be very useful in aiding the strike package, particularly in bad weather.

Obviously, such a strike would touch off conflict with Iran’s proxy in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah, which is armed with thousands of rockets, as well as Hamas in Gaza, and possibly with Syria. The resulting chain of events could easily lead to a major regional war and long-term instability, so much so that some senior Israeli defense figures have reportedly been rejecting the idea of attacking Iran for years.  Assuming that a military strike is issued in the near future, Israel cannot hope to destroy Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure, as facilities are distributed across the country and there are simply too many sites to plan to attack them all.  To have a reasonable chance of success, both in the mission and in the ultimate goal of rendering Iran’s nuclear program impotent, the target set must be narrowed to concentrate on the critical nodes in Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, which seems to be growing by the day!

The main focus of an imminent strike must be to target the Natanz facility first.  Natanz is by far both the most difficult and most important target to destroy.  The main enrichment facility apparently has two large (25,000-32,000 m2) halls located 8 to 23m underground and protected by multiple layers of concrete.  The combination of large size and target hardening mean that only a very robust strike could hope to destroy or at least render unusable the centrifuges within.  In order to ensure penetration of a target with these high levels of hardening, one technique is to use the bunker busters targeted on the same aimpoint but separated slightly in release time to ‘burrow’ into the target. What happens essentially, is that one bomb hits the crater made by the previous weapon, a technique contemplated by the U.S. Air Force in the first Gulf War.  This takes advantage of the extremely high accuracy of bombs in combination with a penetrating warhead.  The IAF appears to have purchased these with this technique in mind. In fact, Gen. Eitan Ben-Eliyahu, former commander of the IAF (and a participant in the Osirak strike), commented on this method of attacking hardened facilities in Jane’s Defense Weekly: “Even if one bomb would not suffice to penetrate, we could guide other bombs directly to the hole created by the previous ones and eventually destroy any target.”

Has the point been made yet? This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg on Israel’s military capability, and there is no doubt that the IAF can pull off an attack and get the job done. And let’s not forget about our Dolphins (nuclear subs) in the Gulf.  The factor that complicates matters so much is that, unlike in 1981 where the mission was so secret that the pilots themselves only learned of their target the day before, the US government must be notified before an attack of this magnitude.

On that note, the Obama administration has been exerting great pressure in the back halls for some time now in order to convince (even by means of veiled threats to withhold their veto power in the UN), their Israeli counterparts to refrain from issuing an attack order on Iran.  The only problem is that if Israel chooses again to wait it out and not attack, the world is bound to lie in dread of a new, powerful Iranian nuclear regime – to shake under their threat, similar to the way the world was just 70 years ago regarding the appeasement of Germany. Saudi Arabia will then look to the US for advice, and to provide an umbrella defense mechanism. Needless to say, a third world war might just emerge (heaven forbid).  This scenario is actually already depicted in the Zohar, the Midrash and other traditional Jewish texts in reference to the future world war of ‘Gog and Magog.’  Let’s pray it doesn’t come to that! In our lifetimes, or our offspring.

What bothers me the most right now though, is that even as the West is negotiating with a fanatical, expansionist Islamic regime in those posh Viennese boardrooms, the people on Tehran’s streets are chanting: “Death to the US; death to Israel” (in that order). The recent military parade echoed the same rhetoric.  HELLO…… isn’t someone paying attention over there? This is the reason why Israel shouldn’t just flex its military muscles for display to the Mullahs. It must attack. And it must attack now. This is precisely what the IDF was created for! Ben Gurion knew it. Menachem Begin knew it, and now Netanyahu knows it too. At this juncture in time, Iran cannot be trusted, and we know this to be an undeniable and unfortunately, well proven fact. Especially since, as of last week, the world discovered that Iran’s intent to destroy Israel is “non-negotiable.”  I believe that the citizens living in Israel (like myself) should, and will, accept the inevitable consequences that come with protecting our beautiful country.

A raid on Iran? My point here is:  The best defense is a good offense.

Russian army’s rocket launch test goes terribly wrong when missile drops straight back down and explodes in front of them

April 22, 2015

Russian army’s rocket launch test goes terribly wrong when missile drops straight back down and explodes in front of them

(What goes up, must come down…even something as ‘advanced’ as the S-300. They would have had better luck launching a 1962 Buick into orbit. – LS)

Embarrassing footage has emerged of a missile launch going spectacularly wrong in Russia. The minute-long clip shows the S300 rocket barely managing to take off before plummeting back down to earth. A small thud can be heard and bits of debris fly off as the weapon makes a feeble attempt to launch at the military base in an unknown part of Russia.

It scarcely gets off the launchpad and is followed by a small plume of smoke, before it can be seen dropping out of the sky as shouts can be heard from those watching. Seconds later, the rocket goes out of view as whoever is filming takes cover and a huge explosion can be heard. The shaky camera returns to a massive plume of smoke.

Click here to view video.

The leaked footage will be of some embarrassment to Vladimir Putin who as grown the Russian defence budget has grown by 33 per cent to £54billion over the past year. It comes not long after shocking footage emerged of failed another rocket launch which killed six Russian ballistic missile technicians.

Cartoon of the day

April 16, 2015
Kerry Missiles

Exclusive: Moscow has no S-300 air defense missiles available for Iran. Replacements under discussion

April 15, 2015

Exclusive: Moscow has no S-300 air defense missiles available for Iran. Replacements under discussion, DEBKAfile, April 15, 2015

Although Tehran celebrated President Vladimir Putin’s decision to release the S-300 missiles withheld from Iran for five years by an arms embargo, DEBKAfile reports exclusively that Iran can’t hope to take delivery of the advanced air defense systems in the foreseeable future. The Russian military industry is already way behind meeting demands for more S-300 missiles and their radar systems for the Russian army, which has none to spare for Iran. Its own needs have soared since Russia fell out with US and Europe over the Ukraine conflict.

The Russian army lately moved S-300 batteries, which are capable of downing fighter jets and missiles, to the country’s southern border with Ukraine, as air cover for the pro-Russian separatists against Ukrainian air bombardment, which has since petered out.

Additional batteries are deployed at Russian sea and air bases on the Black Sea and Crimean Peninsula.

A further batch of S-300 missiles, as well as the S-400 from the same family, has been positioned in the Russian strategic enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, Moscow’s forward military position against Europe.

In response to US plans to install a missile shield network in East and West European countries belonging to  NATO, the Russians advanced into Kaliningrad a number of short-range ballistic K720 Iskander (NATO-named SS-26 Stone9) missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The S-300 missile batteries are in place to defend them.

DEBKAfile’s military sources also disclose that, after five years of training one Iranian team after another in the operation of the S-300 systems, the Russians have given up on their acquiring the necessary skills.

Tehran and Moscow have still to decide, after eight years of debating, which particular missile system best suits Iran’s needs out of the S-300 family of weapons, each of whose basic six categories is designed for a particular task. Those categories employ seven types of missile, which too break down into 16-sub-types, including the S-400.

In an attempt to reach a decision, our intelligence sources in Moscow report that Iran’s National Security chief Ali Shankhani, who is currently visiting Moscow, has settled on an Iranian military delegation making an early trip to Russia, viewing the various S-300 models and returning home with recommendations. Tehran will then make its choice.

This process too could stretch out over many months. Moscow may not see eye to eye with Tehran on the type of missile to be supplied, a difficulty that would entail a fresh round of negotiations.

Given all these circumstances, it is hard to see Iran taking delivery of the first S-300 missiles any time this year, as it had hoped.

ll the same, although the entire transaction is in the air, the US and Israel made big play of protesting the Kremlin’s decision to end its embargo on the S-300s for Iran. When Secretary of State John Kerry talked about it to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu  phoned President Putin Tuesday, both were perfectly aware that the batteries wold not be making their way to Tehran any time in the near future.