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Pedro Gonçalves

What would happen if Israel bombed Iran's nuclear plants? | World news | The Guardian - 0 views

  • If Israel hit Iran's nuclear facilities, would Hezbollah, Iran's allies in Lebanon, join in to retaliate? Would America step in to help its best friend in the Middle East? This filmed simulation shows a group of Israeli ex-spooks, former politicians and military officials split into teams to role-play the consequences. I have not seen the full film, but was in the cutting room for a couple of days helping with translation and the scenes I saw were compelling. Team Israel, taking stock of Iranian missile attacks on civilian targets, makes the operational assumption that the situation won't spiral totally out of control.
  • The documentary has an interview with an Iranian former nuclear negotiator and foreign policy adviser, who returns the simulated salvo by saying that Israel has grossly underestimated Iran's capacity for retaliation. Iran, he says, would assume American complicity in any Israeli attack and take aim at US targets in the Middle East. When the US staged their own simulation of this same situation, in March, it predicted that an Israeli strike would lead to a wider regional war.
  • the UK is thinking about putting warplanes in the Persian Gulf as tensions rise. And American military commanders have warned Israel that an attack on Iran could stunt US action, by cutting off key logistics support from Gulf countries that host US bases.
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  • the bit that struck me most was a clip in which the Israeli role-players, having achieved their attack goals, are talking about a UN resolution – wondering if they should launch a final strike before ceasefire, and whether the US can be persuaded to make the resolution state "regret" rather than "condemnation" over Israel's actions. Listening in, you can't help feeling that this conversation has played out before – in real wars; in real life.
Pedro Gonçalves

Israel 'planned Iran attack in 2010' | World news | - 0 views

  • Israel's prime minister and defence minister ordered the country's military to prepare for a strike against Iran's nuclear installations two years ago, according to a television documentary to be aired on Monday.

    But the order was not enacted after it met with strong opposition from key security chiefs, the military chief of staff and head of the Mossad, the programme in the TV series Uvda [Fact] claims.

  • It says that, following a meeting of selected key ministers and officials, Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak decided to order the army to raise its level of preparedness to "P Plus", a code signifying imminent military action.

    But the army chief Gabi Ashkenazi and Mossad head Meir Dagan, who were both present at the meeting, opposed the move. According to the hour-long Channel 2 programme, Dagan told Netanyahu and Barak: "You are likely to make an illegal decision to go to war. Only the cabinet is authorised to decide this."

    The programme reported Dagan saying after the meeting that the prime minister and defence minister were "simply trying to steal a war".

  • Since leaving office, both security chiefs have made clear their opposition to premature military action against Iran's nuclear programme. In August, Ashkenazi said "we're still not there", urging more time for sanctions and diplomacy.

    Dagan said bombing Iran was "the stupidest idea I've ever heard". He told CBS's 60 Minutes: "An attack on Iran now before exploring all other approaches is not the right way … to do it."

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  • The military and intelligence establishment in Israel is also believed to have serious reservations about launching unilateral military action. The US has urged restraint, arguing that sanctions need time to take effect.
  • Channel 2's disclosures came as a respected Israeli thinktank, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), published the outcome of a war game simulating the 48-hour period after an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear installations. In the scenario, Israel does not inform the US of its operation until after its launch. Iran reacts by launching around 200 missiles at Israel, and urging its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas to do likewise. However, it is careful to avoid attacking US targets in the immediate aftermath of a strike.

    According to the INSS, there are two opposing outcomes of an Israeli attack: "One anticipates the outbreak of world war three, while the other envisions containment and restraint, and presumes that in practice Iran's capabilities to ignite the Middle East are limited." Its war game "developed in the direction of containment and restraint".

Pedro Gonçalves

US warns Israel off pre-emptive strike on Iran | World news | - 0 views

  • US military commanders have warned their Israeli counterparts that any action against Iran would severely limit the ability of American forces in the region to mount their own operations against the Iranian nuclear programme by cutting off vital logistical support from Gulf Arab allies.
  • The US Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain and the US air force has major bases in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Senior US officers believe the one case in which they could not rely fully on those bases for military operations against Iranian installations would be if Israel acted first.
  • "The Gulf states' one great fear is Iran going nuclear. The other is a regional war that would destabilise them," said a source in the region. "They might support a massive war against Iran, but they know they are not going to get that, and they know a limited strike is not worth it, as it will not destroy the programme and only make Iran angrier."
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  • Barak's comments appear to signal that Israel's new red line is an Iranian stockpile of about 200kg of 20%-enriched uranium in convertible form, enough if enriched further to make one bomb. Western diplomats argue the benchmark is arbitrary, as it would take Iran another few months to enrich the stockpile to 90% (weapons-grade) purity, and then perhaps another year to develop a warhead small enough to put on a missile.
  • Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, said this week in London that it was the Iranian decision this year to convert a third of the country's stock of 20%-enriched uranium into fuel (making it harder to convert to weapons-grade material if Iran decided to make a weapon) that had bought another "eight to 10 months".
  • Israeli leaders had hinted they might take military action to set back the Iranian programme, but that threat receded in September when the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told the United Nations general assembly that Iran's advances in uranium enrichment would only breach Israel's "red line" in spring or summer next year.
  • France's president, François Hollande, met Netanyahu in Paris on Wednesday but rejected the push for military action.

    "It's a threat that cannot be accepted by France," Hollande said, arguing for further sanctions coupled with negotiations. A new round of international talks with Iran are due after the US presidential elections, in which Tehran is expected to be offered sanctions relief in return for an end to 20% enrichment.

  • The UK government has told the US that it cannot rely on the use of British bases in Ascension Island, Cyprus, and Diego Garcia for an assault on Iran as pre-emptive action would be illegal. The Arab spring has also complicated US contingency planning for any new conflict in the Gulf.
  • US naval commanders have watched with unease as the newly elected Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, has made overtures towards Iran. US ships make 200 transits a year through the Suez canal. Manama, the Fifth Fleet headquarters, is the capital of a country that is 70% Shia and currently in turmoil.
  • Ami Ayalon, a former chief of the Israeli navy and the country's internal intelligence service, Shin Bet, argues Israel too cannot ignore the new Arab realities.

    "We live in a new Middle East where the street has become stronger and the leaders are weaker," Ayalon told the Guardian. "In order for Israel to face Iran we will have to form a coalition of relatively pragmatic regimes in the region, and the only way to create that coalition is to show progress on the Israel-Palestinian track."

Pedro Gonçalves

Low support in Israel for unilateral attack on Iran | Reuters - 0 views

  • The survey commissioned by Maariv newspaper found only 19 percent of Israelis would support the go-it-alone strikes threatened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative government, while 26 percent thought military action should be taken - but only with U.S. backing.
  • Twenty-nine percent said the Jewish state should not attack at all, according to the poll, which asked what it should do if foreign sanctions do not deny Iran the means to make a nuclear bomb.
  • The findings were largely similar to those of a survey published in March before the United States and five other world powers relaunched negotiations to try and rein in Iranian uranium enrichment.
Pedro Gonçalves

UPDATE 4-Powerful 'Flame' cyber weapon found in Iran | Reuters - 0 views

  • a highly sophisticated computer virus is infecting computers in Iran and other Middle East countries and may have been deployed at least five years ago to engage in state-sponsored cyber espionage.

    Evidence suggest that the virus, dubbed Flame, may have been built on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran's nuclear program in 2010, according to Kaspersky Lab

  • Iran has accused the United States and Israel of deploying Stuxnet.
  • Kaspersky's research shows the largest number of infected machines are in Iran, followed by Israel and the Palestinian territories, then Sudan and Syria.
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  • Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn on PC microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and log instant messaging chats.
  • There is some controversy over who was behind Stuxnet and Duqu. Some experts suspect the United States and Israel, a view that was laid out in a January 2011 New York Times report that said it came from a joint program begun around 2004 to undermine what they say are Iran's efforts to build a bomb.
  • Hungarian researcher Boldizsar Bencsath, whose Laboratory of Cryptography and Systems Security first discovered Duqu, said his analysis shows that Flame may have been active for at least five years and perhaps eight years or more.

    That implies it was active long before Stuxnet.

  • "The scary thing for me is: if this is what they were capable of five years ago, I can only think what they are developing now," Mohan Koo, managing director of British-based Dtex Systems cyber security company.
Pedro Gonçalves

BBC News - Iran undecided on nuclear bomb - Israel military chief - 0 views

  • The head of the Israeli military has said he does not think Iran will develop nuclear weapons.
  • He added that Iran "is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn't yet decided to go the extra mile".

    And speaking of the supreme leader he continued: "I don't think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people."

  • these views appear to put him at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    In an interview with CNN this week Mr Netanyahu said he would not want to bet "the security of the world on Iran's rational behaviour".

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