Archive for august, 2011

Qaddafi stopped his nuclear program. Would NATO have bombed if he hadn’t? Now, Iran watches as nonnuclear states are invaded and nuclear ones win favors.

Of all the lessons to draw from the ignoble end to Muammar Qaddafi‘s brutal regime in Libya, the one about nuclear weapons proliferation is probably not the first tutorial that comes to mind.

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But you can believe it is not lost on countries that feel vulnerable, including Iran. And for the sake of global security, the international community must consider what it’s like to be in their shoes.

The lesson is elementary. Eight years ago, Libya agreed to dismantle its infant nuclear program. More than five months ago, NATO began enforcing a no-fly zone in support of Libyan rebels. Would NATO have launched a bombing campaign against Libya if the unpredictable Mr. Qaddafi had possessed nuclear weapons?

Qaddafi’s forceful downfall will make acquiring nuclear weapons all the more justifiable to states that feel threatened by outsiders. In turn, that will erode the vision of nonproliferation that held such promise in the post-cold-war era.

The zero-nukes goal promoted by President Obama is underpinned by the expectation that having nuclear weapons for security reasons is obsolete – along with the bipolar world of the cold war.

In reality though, the reason why countries seek nuclear weapons is just as resolute today as it was in the cold war.

Cold-war dynamics at work today

From 1945 to 1991, the preeminent source of security in international affairs was the nuclear bomb. The few nations that openly had credible means of delivery – the United States, the USSR,BritainFrance, and China – successfully deterred physical aggression by another state against their homelands.

Their collective experience and the perceived frailties of those states not possessing the bomb eventually created the following narrative: Nuclear weapons provide security to states while the lack of them leaves a country vulnerable.

In this setting, two diametrically opposing trends were born. The first was driven by states that viewed their circumstances as so perilous that the only alleviating factor would be acquiring the bomb.

The second was the goal of states either already possessing nuclear weapons or firmly protected in a larger security organization (e.g., NATO) to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.

To fuse the gap between the “security haves” and “have nots,” the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was born in 1970. It encouraged the nuclear countries to provide have-nots with expertise and infrastructure to exploit peaceful nuclear technology. The ultimate goal was full disarmament for all. But the nuclear-weapon states never disarmed while the security circumstances for the nonnuclear states remained. A few countries, namely IsraelIndia, andPakistan, stayed out of the NPT to pursue weapons programs of their own. Others decided to flirt with “nuclear latency” – having all the ingredients and infrastructure of making weapons, yet not possession.

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After the Soviet Union’s demise, the prospect of nuclear disarmament became more hopeful. Ukraine,Kazakhstan, and post-apartheid South Africaintellectually challenged the role of nuclear weapons for deterrence. A nescient, reenergized emphasis was placed on international law as the ultimate and legitimate arbiter of state security. Nuclear and nonnuclear states made ambitious but vague pledges to realize the disarmament goal of the NPT. Subsequent Russian and American arms-control agreements and the creation of nuclear-free weapons zones in South America and Africa added to this new cooperative spirit.

Yet creeping beneath the trend toward a “post nuclear” world, were behavioral contradictions initiated by highly industrialized nations. Their actions, perhaps unwittingly, gradually chipped away at the nonproliferation goal.

For various reasons, these nations attacked the former YugoslaviaIraq, and Libya. That aggression partially, if not fully, materialized by reason of the targets’ lack of a nuclear deterrent. At the same time, troublesome nuclear-armed states such as North Korea and Pakistan have not been attacked since they acquired the bomb. They’ve also garnered multilayered benefits from the international community.

Compare Libya and Pakistan. In 2003, Tripoli agreed to dismantle its fledgling nuclear program, give up its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and halt support for terrorism. In exchange, it was reintegrated into the global political economy. And yet, it was still attacked – a result of its brutal repression of its people in rebellion.

On the other hand, nuclear-armed Pakistan hid the most-wanted terrorist in the world for roughly a decade, while also supporting various regional militant groups and aiding the Taliban. That country has suffered virtually no consequences from the great powers but enjoys US economic and military aid.

Despite Western assurances about nonproliferation, the enduring fact is that countries that feel threatened will, at a minimum, consider becoming nuclear-latent, if not outright open possessors of nuclear weapons.

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Neither is this just a matter for a country’s elite leaders. The more the US threatens Iran with war rhetoric and levies sanctions, the more the Iranian population wants a uranium enrichment program and, in recent years, to develop nuclear weapons.

The 2010 US Nuclear Posture Review ruled out a nuclear attack against all non-nuclear-weapon states – with the sole exception of Iran. In December 2010, the Charney Research for International Peace Institute, aNew York-based think tank, found that 71 percent of Iranians want nuclear weapons, up from 52 percent in a similar 2007 poll.

The current trends in geopolitics augur ill for nonproliferation efforts. If states that already feel vulnerable – what about Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, for instance? – also face sanctions or threats of war, they may be compelled to break the nuclear taboo.

Military attacks on nonnuke states

States under duress, such as Iran, are watching. Having witnessed attacks on Libya, Iraq, andSerbia while nuclear-armed countries remain secure, they can’t help but gravitate toward nuclear deterrence – though Iran’s aggressiveness aggravates regional tensions. This dynamic is even more profound considering that nuclear technology is accessible to many different countries and regions.

The US and other countries that want to move forward with nonproliferation need to understand why states would want the bomb. If fear is driving them, and evidence strongly suggests it is, those fears must be addressed.

The threat or reality of military intervention against nonnuclear states (think also Syria), at times done to dissuade them from acquiring nuclear capability, can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Efforts at dialogue, security cooperation, and a renewed commitment to disarmament for all will go a long way toward reviving the nonproliferation argument. Otherwise, that narrative will become obsolete, perhaps dragging the world into a renewed arms race in a more profound and volatile way.

Reza Sanati is a graduate fellow in the Middle East Studies Center and a PhD candidate in theSchool of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University.


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ed note–and the war chorus from the Jewish quarter continues with more demands that America go to war for the benefit of the Jewish state.



Israel would not be able to halt Iran’s reported quest for atomic weapons with a single strike, a senior Israeli defense official said on Sunday.

Israel and the West suspect Iran is trying to use its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons, a charge denied by Tehran which says it wants to generate electricity.

Both Israel and the United States have hinted they might consider taking military action as a last resort to stop Iran getting the bomb.

The defense official, who in line with Israeli army guidelines declined to be identified, mentioned Iran during a review of the security situation in the Middle East in a briefing to foreign reporters.

“We’re not talking about Iraq or Syria where one strike would derail a program,” the official said, referring to Israel’s 1981 air strike that destroyed Iraq’s atomic reactor and the bombing in 2007 of a Syrian site which the U.N. atomic agency said was very likely a nuclear reactor.

“With Iran it’s a different project. There is no one silver bullet you can hit and that’s over,” the official said.

Israeli leaders have urged the United States and other Western countries to present Tehran with a credible military threat to back up economic sanctions already in place.

The official said the United States stood a better chance of forcing Iran to change its mind over its nuclear program than Israel.

“With all respect to Israel … the greatest fear of the (Iranian) regime is the USA. There is no question about it.”

Some analysts say the likelihood of an imminent Israeli war with Iran has ebbed, thanks to the perceived success of political pressure on Tehran.

Recent Israeli estimates do not show Iran developing nuclear weapons before 2015.

Israel is widely believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, and Iran has accused it of hypocrisy over the issue.


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The second half of August may witness a blossoming of the Russian-Iranian ties.It follows a sterile 3-year period. The promise held out by the then President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran in October 2007 was never fulfilled and both sides seem eager to recapture the verve.

The consultations of Russia’s national security chief Nikolay Patrushev to Tehran on Monday and the ‘working visit’ by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to Moscow on Wednesday will be keenly watched in the world capitals.An element of uncertainty always remained in the Russian-Iranian ties ever since the revolution in 1979 and the relationship was highly accident-prone. But, this time around, if the relationship lost verve, it because Russia unilaterally consigned it to a state of benign neglect as a matter of expediency.

Why this happened or how this could happen in a country like Russia blessed with great ‘orientalists’ who know Iran’s centrality as a regional power in the Middle East, can be explored, but that will be a complicated voyage of discovery into what Russia’s intellectual climate has become despite the treasure-troves of high caliber intellect it still possesses. The fact is, Russia’s dalliance over the ‘reset’ with the United States practically led to a shutdown of the Iran ties in Moscow’s diplomatic priorities.

The American pressure compelled Moscow to roll back weapon sales to Iran and resort to delaying tactic in the commissioning of Bushehr nuclear power plant. (President Dmitry Medvedev’s weekend telephone conversation with the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and his assurance that the Bushehr project will be commissioned on schedule becomes a much-needed confidence-building measure in the present context.) Unfortunately, Russia also began harmonizing with the US over the situation around the Iran nuclear issue, knowing fully well that the nuclear issue was a barely-disguised US attempt to bully Iran and that there was no shred of evidence of Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon programme.

At any rate, Tehran continued to view the document signed during Putin’s 2007 visit with nostalgia. Russia’s summary decision to cut off arms supplies and to play hide-and-seek over the commissioning of Bushehr did test Iranian patience, which at times was wearing thin, but Iranian diplomatic temper somehow seemed confident that Moscow would have another leap of faith sooner rather than later.

Certainly, it would have rankled the Iranian sense of national pride that Moscow made Iran a ‘victim’ of its ‘reset’ with the US, but it didn’t show indignation. Somehow, the thinking in Tehran seemed to be that it all formed part of a difficult phase that Russia was passing through, juggling so many balls in the air that human ingenuity cannot possible handle. Tehran seemed convinced that Moscow would ultimately take note of the contradictions in the US-Russia ties. Equally, Tehran viewed the US-Russia reset as a contrived atmospheric that enabled Washington to selectively take help from Russia on various pressing issues. Most important, Iranians were convinced that the US deployment of missile defence systems in a concerted move to establish nuclear superiority and encircle Russia would ultimately compel Moscow to search out for partners in the region.

Tehran has been proven right. The US-Russia ‘reset’ is meandering aimlessly and its immaculate creator, President Barack Obama no longer possesses the energy or political capital to pay meaningful attention to Russia through the remaining part of his term. And two years is a long time in Russian-American relationship; stagnation can easily set in. The US is ignoring Russia’s pleas for co-option as full-fledged partner into its missile defence programme. On the other hand, the ‘informal’ summit meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO] in Astana on Friday exposed once again that the alliance is falling short of its much-flaunted objective to shape up as the ‘NATO of the East’. Uzbekistan is passing through another zebra crossing zone in its foreign policy and President Islam Karimov failed to show up at the Astana summit. The fate of the CSTO’s rapid reaction force hangs by a thread.

However, more than in Central Asia or Afghanistan, Iran’s usefulness to Russia is nowhere as compelling as in the Middle East. The developments around Syria are fraught with devastating consequences for both Russia and Iran. The two countries are sailing in the same boat in the fateful weeks that lie ahead and will suffer a big setback to their regional influence in the Middle East if a NATO intervention in any form takes place in Syria.

The signs are growing that an intervention is on the cards. Common sense would suggest that US has no financial capacity to undertake a military adventure. But, on the contrary, a spectacular intervention in the Middle East, which is manifestly supportive of Israel’s interests, is precisely what can undercut the Republican Right and uplift Obama’s steadily sagging political fortunes at home in his re-election bid. Ambitious politicians set their own priorities.

A regime change in Syria is almost certainly going to deprive Russia of its only Soviet-era naval base in eastern Mediterranean. Kommersant newspaper reported quoting the Center for Analysis of Strategies & Technologies in Moscow that Russia may lose as much as 3.8 billion dollars from Syrian arms contracts after the US urged a halt to sales. These sales reportedly account for 10% of Russia’s military exports. The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton pointed finger at Russia last week to demand cut-off in trade and arms sales to Syria and ‘get on the right side of history’. (The two other countries, interestingly, that Clinton saw on the wrong side of history are China and India.)

But Syria is much more than a market for arms sales. Syria impacts the situation in Iraq and Lebanon and is a ‘pivotal’ state in the Middle East. The zest with which Obama consulted Saudi Arabia (and Britain) on the action plan for Syria speaks volumes of the geopolitics of the situation around Syria. On the face of it, Obama and King Abdullah make strange bedfellows when they “expressed their shared, deep concerns about the Syrian government’s use of violence against its citizens… [and] agreed that the Syrian regime’s brutal campaign of violence against the Syrian people must end immediately.”

Suffice to say, it cannot be a mere coincidence that just ahead of Obama’s telephone call to Abdullah, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told a high-profile delegation of US congressmen visiting Ramallah that the security of the future Palestinian state will be handed over to NATO under the US command. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Abbas’s political advisor Nimar Hamad since clarified that the Palestinian president is not against the inclusion of Jewish soldiers in the NATO force. These strange utterances are predicated on the assumption of regime change in Syria and the expulsion of the Hamas leadership from Damascus, which would hopefully help Abbas become an adjunct to the US-Saudi axis.

Therefore, Iran’s firm stand against a US-led campaign to intervene in Syria serves Russia’s interests. The NATO is slouching toward the Middle East and bringing that strategic region under its umbrella. The western alliance has already negotiated partnership agreements with Gulf Cooperation Council.

The outcome of the NATO intervention is going to be the deployment of the missile defcnce systems all along Russia’s southern tiers. Salehi was literally touching on this grim scenario when he said in a recent interview with Russia Today that but for Iran’s staunch opposition to the West’s regional policies, the US’s encirclement of Russia’s southern flank would have been complete by now. The Russian stance as conveyed in the account of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s recent telephone conversation with his Syrian counterpart bears striking similarity with Iran’s approach on Syria, although Tehran is proactive, given the compulsions of regional politics.

In sum, Salehi’s visit to Moscow on Wednesday is taking place at a crucial juncture in regional politics. Iran happens to wield considerable influence in all the four regions bordering Russia to the south where the NATO is seeking expansion of its influence – Caucasus, Central Asia and the Caspian and the Middle East. In immediate terms, Moscow and Tehran would agree that the indifferent nature of their relationship worked to the advantage of the US’s Middle East project.

(The writer is a former diplomat.)


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Almost five years have passed since the United Nations Security Council imposed its first round of sanctions against Iran over the allegations that Tehran might be moving toward developing nuclear weapons. Since that time, four rounds of devastative sanctions have been imposed on Iran by the Security Council and several European nations, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and other countries joined the march of imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Many resources indicate that Iran’s nuclear program was initiated by the United States in 1950s as part of a program named Atoms for Peace. “Atoms for Peace” was a title given to a speech by the former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower before the UN General Assembly on December 8, 1952. Following this speech in which President Eisenhower alluded to his experience as a military man and stressed the necessity of paying especial attention to the use of nuclear energy in the 20th century, the U.S. government launched a program called Atoms for Peace and pledged financial and scientific help and support for hospitals, schools, universities, scientific centers and research institution, seeking to carry out studies on nuclear energy. This program helped Iran and Pakistan build their first nuclear reactors in 1950s.

In line with their policy of empowering the client states, the United States and its European allies supported, financed, backed and advanced Iran’s nuclear program until the Islamic Revolution of 1979 overthrew the U.S.-installed Shah of Iran and brought to power the Islamic Republic which was from the beginning of its inception a thorn in the side of the United States and its European cronies.

Right after the beginning of Iran’s new era under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, the U.S. and Western nations started to take an aggressive stance against Iran and set in motion their irrational animosity with a country which had proclaimed its decision to be a defender of the subjugated and an enemy of the oppressors and hegemonic powers.

The West began to create hurdles and impediments on Iran’s way toward self-sufficiency. Iran sought to extricate itself from the manacles of the U.S. and its cronies. When Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled Iran, the country was practically in the hands of American and British consultants and advisors. Imam Khomeini’s movement was a popular uprising against the de facto occupation of Iran by the United States and Britain and this was extremely unfavorable and bitter for the White House. They provoked Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to wage a war against Iran in the high hopes that a heavy military expedition would paralyze Iran and bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. They promised Saddam that they would help him financially and militarily; however, after an 8 year war of attrition which cost the lives of more than 500,000 Iranians, and after several diplomatic, underground operations to topple the government in Iran, the American statesmen realized that the Islamic Republic was too powerful and determined to be defeated easily. It was when the financial sanctions and soft war commenced.

Holding back Iran’s nuclear program was on the high agenda of the United States. They knew that the theological mindset of the Iranian leaders would keep them away from planning to produce nuclear weapons, and at the same time, they knew that their close allies in Europe and Israel possess hundreds of nuclear warheads; however, their main objective was to hamper Iran’s scientific progress and slowing down Iran’s movement toward the zeniths of success and glory.

After years of psychological propaganda against Iran and introducing the people of Iran as an uncultured, uncivilized and terrorist nation, the U.S. and Europe joined the anti-Iranian terrorist organization MKO, which is notorious for the killing of more than 40,000 civilians, to stage a charade against Tehran and accuse it of developing nuclear weapons. They were too quick in their moves and for the first step, publicized forged documents and materials which allegedly showed that Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction and atomic weapons. The first step was taken by Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesperson for the MKO terrorist organization who claimed in 2002 that he accessed documents, revealing that Iran has clandestine nuclear facilities in Natanz and Arak. The Western media swiftly picked up the story and aggrandized it to the extent of an international concern which involved the whole world, including the numerous enemies of Iran in Europe and the Northern America. The story continued as IAEA stated its decision to send inspectors to Iran to investigate Iran’s nuclear facilities. The atomic watchdog demanded that Iran cease uranium enrichment and all of the research activities related to uranium enrichment and then start negotiations with the five permanent members of the UNSC plus Germany and resolve the crisis diplomatically.

Although Iran was one of the first world countries to ratify the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 and had the legal right of enriching uranium under the comprehensive safeguards of the IAEA, it has been discriminatorily pressured by the U.S. and its allies to suspend its nuclear activities since 2003.

On October 21, 2003, and in league with the governments of France, the UK and Germany (called EU-3), Iran declared that it would suspend uranium enrichment voluntarily and sign and implement an Additional Protocol as a confidence-building measure and freeze its enrichment and reprocessing activities during the course of talks with the P5+1.

Interestingly enough, following Iran’s voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment, IAEA issued antagonistic reports, claiming that Iran did not fully cooperate with the inspectors and that it failed to submit regular reports of its activities in the Natanz and 40 MW heavy-water reactor in Arak. Despite all this, Iran continued its suspension of uranium enrichment until 2006 when it decided to open the seals of the nuclear facilities and resume uranium enrichment in compliance with the IAEA regulations. The IAEA inspectors were allowed to travel to Iran several times a year and look into Iran’s nuclear activities. It’s an undeniable reality that no country in the world has been so cooperative with IAEA as Iran has been.

The U.S. and EU, however, retained their unwarranted hostility towards Iran and during a period of 5 years, they imposed harsh sanctions on Iran which targeted the country’s economy and adversely affected the daily life of the ordinary citizens. These multilateral and unilateral sanctions include travel restrictions, ban on the sale of electronic devices and apparatus, restriction of transaction with Iranian companies and cartels, trade embargo on Iran’s medical sector and other variations of restrictions which have been exceptionally devastative and damaging.

The U.S. and its European allies keep refraining from selling aircraft to Iran and hundreds of people die every year on account of the country’s aging fleet of aircraft. They have also imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector in which thousands of Iranians and their families are involved. Iranians are unable to buy the basic commodities of their daily life as a result of the sanctions imposed on the country. This is while the U.S. and European states shamelessly boast of their being concerned about the Iranian people and on every occasion, try to reach out to the Iranian citizens whom they claim are oppressed by the government.

It is a certainty that the nuclear program of Iran and regarding it with a suspicious eye have been hyped up by the Western governments and that has to be seen as part of U.S. ploy to demonize the Islamic republic in the world. This animosity is not however something new but an old sore which the US keeps rubbing. The enmity, as Ron Paul reaffirms, goes back to the advent of the Islamic revolution and even further beyond, “We’ve been at war in Iran for a lot longer than ’79. We started it in 1953 when we sent in a coup, installed the shah. And the reaction, the blowback, came in 1979. It’s been going on and on because we just plain don’t mind our own business. That’s our problem.”

There is indeed much ado about Iran’s nuclear program and despite all evidence that Iran is not pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the US keeps piling accusations on the country. Who knows? Maybe Iran’s nuclear program is only an excuse for the U.S. government to start another war in the region.


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A word to the reader: The following paper is so shocking that, after preparing the initial draft, I didn’t want to believe it myself, and resolved to disprove it with more research. However, I only succeeded in turning up more evidence in support of my thesis. And I repeated this cycle of discovery and denial several more times before finally deciding to go with the article. I believe that a serious writer must follow the trail of evidence, no matter where it leads, and report back. So here is my story. Don’t be surprised if it causes you to squirm. Its purpose is not to make predictions –– history makes fools of those who claim to know the future –– but simply to describe the peril that awaits us in the Persian Gulf. By awakening to the extent of that danger, perhaps we can still find a way to save our nation and the world from disaster. If we are very lucky, we might even create an alternative future that holds some promise of resolving the monumental conflicts of our time. MG

Iran: A Bridge too Far?

by Mark Gaffney

10/26/04 “ICH” — Last July, they dubbed it operation Summer Pulse: a simultaneous mustering of US Naval forces, world wide, that was unprecedented. According to the Navy, it was the first exercise of its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP), the purpose of which was to enable the Navy to respond quickly to an international crisis. The Navy wanted to show its increased force readiness, that is, its capacity to rapidly move combat power to any global hot spot. Never in the history of the US Navy had so many carrier battle groups been involved in a single operation. Even the US fleet massed in the Gulf and eastern Mediterranean during operation Desert Storm in 1991, and in the recent invasion of Iraq, never exceeded six battle groups. But last July and August there were seven of them on the move, each battle group consisting of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with its full complement of 7-8 supporting ships, and 70 or more assorted aircraft. Most of the activity, according to various reports, was in the Pacific, where the fleet participated in joint exercises with the Taiwanese navy.

But why so much naval power underway at the same time? What potential world crisis could possibly require more battle groups than were deployed during the recent invasion of Iraq? In past years, when the US has seen fit to “show the flag” or flex its naval muscle, one or two carrier groups have sufficed. Why this global show of power?

The news headlines about the joint-maneuvers in the South China Sea read: “Saber Rattling Unnerves China”, and: “Huge Show of Force Worries Chinese.” But the reality was quite different, and, as we shall see, has grave ramifications for the continuing US military presence in the Persian Gulf; because operation Summer Pulse reflected a high-level Pentagon decision that an unprecedented show of strength was needed to counter what is viewed as a growing threat –– in the particular case of China, because of Peking’s newest Sovremenny-class destroyers recently acquired from Russia.

“Nonsense!” you are probably thinking. That’s impossible. How could a few picayune destroyers threaten the US Pacific fleet?”

Here is where the story thickens: Summer Pulse amounted to a tacit acknowledgement, obvious to anyone paying attention, that the United States has been eclipsed in an important area of military technology, and that this qualitative edge is now being wielded by others, including the Chinese; because those otherwise very ordinary destroyers were, in fact, launching platforms for Russian-made 3M-82 Moskit anti-ship cruise missiles (NATO designation: SS-N-22 Sunburn), a weapon for which the US Navy currently has no defense. Here I am not suggesting that the US status of lone world Superpower has been surpassed. I am simply saying that a new global balance of power is emerging, in which other individual states may, on occasion, achieve “an asymmetric advantage” over the US. And this, in my view, explains the immense scale of Summer Pulse. The US show last summer of overwhelming strength was calculated to send a message.

The Sunburn Missile

I was shocked when I learned the facts about these Russian-made cruise missiles. The problem is that so many of us suffer from two common misperceptions. The first follows from our assumption that Russia is militarily weak, as a result of the breakup of the old Soviet system. Actually, this is accurate, but it does not reflect the complexities. Although the Russian navy continues to rust in port, and the Russian army is in disarray, in certain key areas Russian technology is actually superior to our own. And nowhere is this truer than in the vital area of anti-ship cruise missile technology, where the Russians hold at least a ten-year lead over the US. The second misperception has to do with our complacency in general about missiles-as-weapons –– probably attributable to the pathetic performance of Saddam Hussein’s Scuds during the first Gulf war: a dangerous illusion that I will now attempt to rectify.

Many years ago, Soviet planners gave up trying to match the US Navy ship for ship, gun for gun, and dollar for dollar. The Soviets simply could not compete with the high levels of US spending required to build up and maintain a huge naval armada. They shrewdly adopted an alternative approach based on strategic defense. They searched for weaknesses, and sought relatively inexpensive ways to exploit those weaknesses. The Soviets succeeded: by developing several supersonic anti-ship missiles, one of which, the SS-N-22 Sunburn, has been called “the most lethal missile in the world today.”

After the collapse of the Soviet Union the old military establishment fell upon hard times. But in the late1990s Moscow awakened to the under-utilized potential of its missile technology to generate desperately needed foreign exchange. A decision was made to resuscitate selected programs, and, very soon, Russian missile technology became a hot export commodity. Today, Russian missiles are a growth industry generating much-needed cash for Russia, with many billions in combined sales to India, China, Viet Nam, Cuba, and also Iran. In the near future this dissemination of advanced technology is likely to present serious challenges to the US. Some have even warned that the US Navy’s largest ships, the massive carriers, have now become floating death traps, and should for this reason be mothballed.

The Sunburn missile has never seen use in combat, to my knowledge, which probably explains why its fearsome capabilities are not more widely recognized. Other cruise missiles have been used, of course, on several occasions, and with devastating results. During the Falklands War, French-made Exocet missiles, fired from Argentine fighters, sunk the HMS Sheffield and another ship. And, in 1987, during the Iran-Iraq war, the USS Stark was nearly cut in half by a pair of Exocets while on patrol in the Persian Gulf. On that occasion US Aegis radar picked up the incoming Iraqi fighter (a French-made Mirage), and tracked its approach to within 50 miles. The radar also “saw” the Iraqi plane turn about and return to its base. But radar never detected the pilot launch his weapons. The sea-skimming Exocets came smoking in under radar and were only sighted by human eyes moments before they ripped into the Stark, crippling the ship and killing 37 US sailors.

The 1987 surprise attack on the Stark exemplifies the dangers posed by anti-ship cruise missiles. And the dangers are much more serious in the case of the Sunburn, whose specs leave the sub-sonic Exocet in the dust. Not only is the Sunburn much larger and faster, it has far greater range and a superior guidance system. Those who have witnessed its performance trials invariably come away stunned. According to one report, when the Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani visited Moscow in October 2001 he requested a test firing of the Sunburn, which the Russians were only too happy to arrange. So impressed was Ali Shamkhani that he placed an order for an undisclosed number of the missiles.

The Sunburn can deliver a 200-kiloton nuclear payload, or: a 750-pound conventional warhead, within a range of 100 miles, more than twice the range of the Exocet. The Sunburn combines a Mach 2.1 speed (two times the speed of sound) with a flight pattern that hugs the deck and includes “violent end maneuvers” to elude enemy defenses. The missile was specifically designed to defeat the US Aegis radar defense system. Should a US Navy Phalanx point defense somehow manage to detect an incoming Sunburn missile, the system has only seconds to calculate a fire solution –– not enough time to take out the intruding missile. The US Phalanx defense employs a six-barreled gun that fires 3,000 depleted-uranium rounds a minute, but the gun must have precise coordinates to destroy an intruder “just in time.”

The Sunburn’s combined supersonic speed and payload size produce tremendous kinetic energy on impact, with devastating consequences for ship and crew. A single one of these missiles can sink a large warship, yet costs considerably less than a fighter jet. Although the Navy has been phasing out the older Phalanx defense system, its replacement, known as the Rolling Action Missile (RAM) has never been tested against the weapon it seems destined to one day face in combat.

Implications For US Forces in the Gulf

The US Navy’s only plausible defense against a robust weapon like the Sunburn missile is to detect the enemy’s approach well ahead of time, whether destroyers, subs, or fighter-bombers, and defeat them before they can get in range and launch their deadly cargo. For this purpose US AWACs radar planes assigned to each naval battle group are kept aloft on a rotating schedule. The planes “see” everything within two hundred miles of the fleet, and are complemented with intelligence from orbiting satellites.

But US naval commanders operating in the Persian Gulf face serious challenges that are unique to the littoral, i.e., coastal, environment. A glance at a map shows why: The Gulf is nothing but a large lake, with one narrow outlet, and most of its northern shore, i.e., Iran, consists of mountainous terrain that affords a commanding tactical advantage over ships operating in Gulf waters. The rugged northern shore makes for easy concealment of coastal defenses, such as mobile missile launchers, and also makes their detection problematic. Although it was not widely reported, the US actually lost the battle of the Scuds in the first Gulf War –– termed “the great Scud hunt” –– and for similar reasons. Saddam Hussein’s mobile Scud launchers proved so difficult to detect and destroy –– over and over again the Iraqis fooled allied reconnaissance with decoys –– that during the course of Desert Storm the US was unable to confirm even a single kill. This proved such an embarrassment to the Pentagon, afterwards, that the unpleasant stats were buried in official reports. But the blunt fact is that the US failed to stop the Scud attacks. The launches continued until the last few days of the conflict. Luckily, the Scud’s inaccuracy made it an almost useless weapon. At one point General Norman Schwarzkopf quipped dismissively to the press that his soldiers had a greater chance of being struck by lightning in Georgia than by a Scud in Kuwait.

But that was then, and it would be a grave error to allow the Scud’s ineffectiveness to blur the facts concerning this other missile. The Sunburn’s amazing accuracy was demonstrated not long ago in a live test staged at sea by the Chinese –– and observed by US spy planes. Not only did the Sunburn missile destroy the dummy target ship, it scored a perfect bull’s eye, hitting the crosshairs of a large “X” mounted on the ship’s bridge. The only word that does it justice, awesome, has become a cliché, hackneyed from hyperbolic excess.

The US Navy has never faced anything in combat as formidable as the Sunburn missile. But this will surely change if the US and Israel decide to wage a so-called preventive war against Iran to destroy its nuclear infrastructure. Storm clouds have been darkening over the Gulf for many months. In recent years Israel upgraded its air force with a new fleet of long-range F-15 fighter-bombers, and even more recently took delivery of 5,000 bunker-buster bombs from the US –– weapons that many observers think are intended for use against Iran.

The arming for war has been matched by threats. Israeli officials have declared repeatedly that they will not allow the Mullahs to develop nuclear power, not even reactors to generate electricity for peaceful use. Their threats are particularly worrisome, because Israel has a long history of pre-emptive war. (See my 1989 book Dimona: the Third Temple? and also my 2003 article Will Iran Be Next? posted at <http://www.InformationClearingHouse… >)

Never mind that such a determination is not Israel’s to make, and belongs instead to the international community, as codified in the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). With regard to Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) recent report (September 2004) is well worth a look, as it repudiates facile claims by the US and Israel that Iran is building bombs. While the report is highly critical of Tehran for its ambiguities and its grudging release of documents, it affirms that IAEA inspectors have been admitted to every nuclear site in the country to which they have sought access, without exception. Last year Iran signed the strengthened IAEA inspection protocol, which until then had been voluntary. And the IAEA has found no hard evidence, to date, either that bombs exist or that Iran has made a decision to build them. (The latest IAEA report can be downloaded at: www.GlobalSecurity.org)

In a talk on October 3, 2004, IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei made the clearest statement yet: “Iran has no nuclear weapons program”, he said, and then repeated himself for emphasis: “Iran has no nuclear weapons program, but I personally don’t rush to conclusions before all the realities are clarified. So far I see nothing that could be called an imminent danger. I have seen no nuclear weapons program in Iran. What I have seen is that Iran is trying to gain access to nuclear enrichment technology, and so far there is no danger from Iran. Therefore, we should make use of political and diplomatic means before thinking of resorting to other alternatives.”

http://www.aljazeera.com/cgi-bin/ne… )

No one disputes that Tehran is pursuing a dangerous path, but with 200 or more Israeli nukes targeted upon them the Iranians’ insistence on keeping their options open is understandable. Clearly, the nuclear nonproliferation regime today hangs by the slenderest of threads. The world has arrived at a fateful crossroads.

A Fearful Symmetry?

If a showdown over Iran develops in the coming months, the man who could hold the outcome in his hands will be thrust upon the world stage. That man, like him or hate him, is Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has been castigated severely in recent months for gathering too much political power to himself. But according to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who was interviewed on US television recently by David Brokaw, Putin has not imposed a tyranny upon Russia –– yet. Gorbachev thinks the jury is still out on Putin.

Perhaps, with this in mind, we should be asking whether Vladimir Putin is a serious student of history. If he is, then he surely recognizes that the deepening crisis in the Persian Gulf presents not only manifold dangers, but also opportunities. Be assured that the Russian leader has not forgotten the humiliating defeat Ronald Reagan inflicted upon the old Soviet state. (Have we Americans forgotten?) By the mid-1980s the Soviets were in Kabul, and had all but defeated the Mujahedeen. The Soviet Union appeared secure in its military occupation of Afghanistan. But then, in 1986, the first US Stinger missiles reached the hands of the Afghani resistance; and, quite suddenly, Soviet helicopter gunships and MiGs began dropping out of the skies like flaming stones. The tide swiftly turned, and by 1989 it was all over but the hand wringing and gnashing of teeth in the Kremlin. Defeated, the Soviets slunk back across the frontier. The whole world cheered the American Stingers, which had carried the day.

This very night, as he sips his cognac, what is Vladimir Putin thinking? Is he perhaps thinking about the perverse symmetries of history? If so, he may also be wondering (and discussing with his closest aides) how a truly great nation like the United States could be so blind and so stupid as to allow another state, i.e., Israel, to control its foreign policy, especially in a region as vital (and volatile) as the Mid-East. One can almost hear the Russians’ animated conversation:

“The Americans! What is the matter with them?” “They simply cannot help themselves.” “What idiots!” “A nation as foolish as this deserves to be taught a lesson…” “Yes! For their own good.” “It must be a painful lesson, one they will never forget…” “Are we agreed, then, comrades?” “Let us teach our American friends a lesson about the limits of military power!”

Does anyone really believe that Vladimir Putin will hesitate to seize a most rare opportunity to change the course of history and, in the bargain, take his sweet revenge? Surely Putin understands the terrible dimensions of the trap into which the US has blundered, thanks to the Israelis and their neo-con supporters in Washington who lobbied so vociferously for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, against all friendly and expert advice, and who even now beat the drums of war against Iran. Would Putin be wrong to conclude that the US will never leave the region unless it is first defeated militarily? Should we blame him for deciding that Iran is “one bridge too far”?

If the US and Israel overreach, and the Iranians close the net with Russian anti-ship missiles, it will be a fearful symmetry, indeed…

Springing the Trap

At the battle of Cannae in 216 BC the great Carthaginian general, Hannibal, tempted a much larger Roman army into a fateful advance, and then enveloped and annihilated it with a smaller force. Out of a Roman army of 70,000 men, no more than a few thousand escaped. It was said that after many hours of dispatching the Romans Hannibal’s soldiers grew so tired that the fight went out of them. In their weariness they granted the last broken and bedraggled Romans their lives…

Let us pray that the US sailors who are unlucky enough to be on duty in the Persian Gulf when the shooting starts can escape the fate of the Roman army at Cannae. The odds will be heavily against them, however, because they will face the same type of danger, tantamount to envelopment. The US ships in the Gulf will already have come within range of the Sunburn missiles and the even more-advanced SS-NX-26 Yakhonts missiles, also Russian-made (speed: Mach 2.9; range: 180 miles) deployed by the Iranians along the Gulf’s northern shore. Every US ship will be exposed and vulnerable. When the Iranians spring the trap, the entire lake will become a killing field.

Anti-ship cruise missiles are not new, as I’ve mentioned. Nor have they yet determined the outcome in a conflict. But this is probably only because these horrible weapons have never been deployed in sufficient numbers. At the time of the Falklands war the Argentine air force possessed only five Exocets, yet managed to sink two ships. With enough of them, the Argentineans might have sunk the entire British fleet, and won the war. Although we’ve never seen a massed attack of cruise missiles, this is exactly what the US Navy could face in the next war in the Gulf. Try and imagine it if you can: barrage after barrage of Exocet-class missiles, which the Iranians are known to possess in the hundreds, as well as the unstoppable Sunburn and Yakhonts missiles. The questions that our purblind government leaders should be asking themselves, today, if they value what historians will one day write about them, are two: how many of the Russian anti-ship missiles has Putin already supplied to Iran? And: How many more are currently in the pipeline? In 2001 Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that Iran was attempting to acquire anti-ship missiles from Russia. Ominously, the same report also mentioned that the more advanced Yakhonts missile was “optimized for attacks against carrier task forces.” Apparently its guidance system is “able to distinguish an aircraft carrier from its escorts.” The numbers were not disclosed…

The US Navy will come under fire even if the US does not participate in the first so-called surgical raids on Iran’s nuclear sites, that is, even if Israel goes it alone. Israel’s brand-new fleet of 25 F-15s (paid for by American taxpayers) has sufficient range to target Iran, but the Israelis cannot mount an attack without crossing US-occupied Iraqi air space. It will hardly matter if Washington gives the green light, or is dragged into the conflict by a recalcitrant Israel. Either way, the result will be the same. The Iranians will interpret US acquiescence as complicity, and, in any event, they will understand that the real fight is with the Americans. The Iranians will be entirely within their rights to counter-attack in self-defense. Most of the world will see it this way, and will support them, not America. The US and Israel will be viewed as the aggressors, even as the unfortunate US sailors in harm’s way become cannon fodder. In the Gulf’s shallow and confined waters evasive maneuvers will be difficult, at best, and escape impossible. Even if US planes control of the skies over the battlefield, the sailors caught in the net below will be hard-pressed to survive. The Gulf will run red with American blood…

From here, it only gets worse. Armed with their Russian-supplied cruise missiles, the Iranians will close the lake’s only outlet, the strategic Strait of Hormuz, cutting off the trapped and dying Americans from help and rescue. The US fleet massing in the Indian Ocean will stand by helplessly, unable to enter the Gulf to assist the survivors or bring logistical support to the other US forces on duty in Iraq. Couple this with a major new ground offensive by the Iraqi insurgents, and, quite suddenly, the tables could turn against the Americans in Baghdad. As supplies and ammunition begin to run out, the status of US forces in the region will become precarious. The occupiers will become the besieged…

With enough anti-ship missiles, the Iranians can halt tanker traffic through Hormuz for weeks, even months. With the flow of oil from the Gulf curtailed, the price of a barrel of crude will skyrocket on the world market. Within days the global economy will begin to grind to a halt. Tempers at an emergency round-the-clock session of the UN Security Council will flare and likely explode into shouting and recriminations as French, German, Chinese and even British ambassadors angrily accuse the US of allowing Israel to threaten world order. But, as always, because of the US veto the world body will be powerless to act…

America will stand alone, completely isolated. Yet, despite the increasingly hostile international mood, elements of the US media will spin the crisis very differently here at home, in a way that is sympathetic to Israel. Members of Congress will rise to speak in the House and Senate, and rally to Israel’s defense, while blaming the victim of the attack, Iran. Fundamentalist Christian talk show hosts will proclaim the historic fulfillment of biblical prophecy in our time, and will call upon the Jews of Israel to accept Jesus into their hearts; meanwhile, urging the president to nuke the evil empire of Islam. From across America will be heard histrionic cries for fresh reinforcements, even a military draft. Patriots will demand victory at any cost. Pundits will scream for an escalation of the conflict.

A war that ostensibly began as an attempt to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons will teeter on the brink of their use…


Friends, we must work together to prevent such a catastrophe. We must stop the next Middle East war before it starts. The US government must turn over to the United Nations the primary responsibility for resolving the deepening crisis in Iraq, and, immediately thereafter, withdraw US forces from the country. We must also prevail upon the Israelis to sign the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and open all of their nuclear sites to IAEA inspectors. Only then can serious talks begin with Iran and other states to establish a nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ) in the Mid East –– so essential to the region’s long-term peace and security.

* * *

Mark Gaffney’s first book, Dimona the Third Temple? (1989), was a pioneering study of Israel’s nuclear weapons program. Mark’s articles about the Mid-East and proliferation issues have appeared in the Middle East Policy Journal, Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, the Earth Island Journal, The Oregonian, the Daily Californian, and have been posted on numerous web sites, especially Counterpunch.org. Mark’s 2003 paper Will Iran Be Next? can be viewed at < www.globalsecurity.org/milit…> Mark’s newest book, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, was released by Inner Traditions Press in May 2003. Email For more information go towww.GnosticSecrets.com




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Mark Dankof

     Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern makes two prescient observations about the Zionist-Central Banking-War Party’s drive to incite an American-Israeli conflict with Iran, aside from the sheer insanity and immorality of the proposition itself.

     The first is that Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), as McGovern aptly tabs it, virtually never covers the real story, or gets it right.  The late William Colby told me much the same thing over 30 years ago, in greater detail.  Colby flatly stated in the late 1970s that Corporate Media is totally at the behest of the American National Security Establishment, Central Banks, and Multinational Consortiums.  Once it is understood who the Masters of Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) are, the methodology and the game plan become clearer.  Seen through these lenses, FCM’s failures in covering what the public has a right to know are no longer attributable to sheer incompetence, but to deliberate demonic design.

     Any analysis of an FCM newspaper, television show, magazine, or Internet site will reveal the basics of how the game is played.  FCM either: 1) fails to report the real story of any given day or week; 2) buries the real story without comment or explanatory context on the back page of the paper/magazine or in the filler section of a telecast; or 3) reports the real story with the prominent lead story status it deserves, but with a manipulation of the data and a false spin on what the data means, provided by news anchors, columnists, and editors, whose handsomely paid corporate salaries depend on serving as a conduit for the deliberately deceptive, proffered at the direction of The Masters.

     The Monday, August 8th, 2011 Wall Street Journal is a classic exhibit of the FCM phenomenon.  On page one, the lead stories are the economic downturn in the financial markets in the aftermath of the debt ceiling negotiation controversy, and the CH-47 Chinook helicopter shootdown in Afghanistan complete with 38 casualties.  Arguably, neither story is given its real context in the larger scheme of what is happening both in the United States and globally, but the real story is on page A10.  It is entitled, “Senators Press Obama On Iran’s Central Bank,” and is penned by Jay Solomon.

     Mr. Solomon reports that 90 members of the United States Senate (90% of the Senate) have signed a letter to President Barack Obama pressing him to sanction Iran’s central bank, with some threatening legislation to force the move, “an outcome that would represent a stark escalation in tensions between the two countries. [emphasis added]“

     The kicker is in paragraphs 2 and 3:

     “Such a measure, if effectively implemented, could freeze Iran out of the global financial system and make it nearly impossible for Tehran to clear billions of dollars in oil sales every month, said current and former U. S. officials [emphasis added].

     “Many Americans view the blacklisting of Bank Markazi as the ‘nuclear option’ in Washington’s financial war against Tehran [emphasis added].  Some Iranian leaders have said they would view such a move by the Obama Administration as an act of war. [emphasis added]“

     The unnamed Iranian leaders cited by the Wall Street Journal are correct.  It is.

     But what the paper conveniently fails to contextualize is what the entire world, including the Iranians, knows.

     Israel, the Jewish Lobby worldwide, the Central Bankers, and the energy/gas consortiums, are the driving force behind making this war happen.  Jay Solomon’s story indeed notes that Senator Mark Kirk (R., Illinois) and Senator Charles Schumer (D., New York), are the co-sponsors of the letter, in a “sign of bipartisan support for tougher financial measures against Iran.  . . .“  What the Wall Street Journalomits, of course, is that Kirk received more Israeli/Jewish PAC money for his initial election to the Senate, than any other candidate in the last election cycle, and that Schumer’s pockets have been lined historically with reams of the same levels of financial largesse for doing the bidding of the Zionist State.  We might also draw the legitimate and documentable conclusion that Kirk, Schumer, and their colleagues in both houses of Congress, demonstrate the stranglehold that Israel has on both major political parties, as demonstrated each year by Hugh Galford and Janet McMahon of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in Washington.  The numbers provided annually by Galford and McMahon provide the quantitative proof of what President Obama told Ha’aretz in his last trip to Israel:  that Obama himself could not possibly have been elected to the U. S. Senate in Illinois (the seat now held by Kirk, by the way), or the American Presidency, without the amount of Jewish money and political support that came his way.  Presumably, the President is saying something about the larger political system and the way it works systemically.  Follow the money trail.  And the Bankers.  And the number of Israeli assets in the GOP Presidential sweepstakes (the exception is Ron Paul) who have never met a surrogate war they didn’t like, including the one on the drawing board now they will assiduously promote if The Mastersshould decide that Mr. Obama needs replacing in 2012 for insufficient sycophancy.

     The average American reliant on FCM for information is also operating minus other information, including all of the specifics of the lies told by Mr. Obama’s predecessor and his Neo-Conservative advisors, regarding why the United States intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan militarily, and who was really behind these ill-advised commitments of thousands of conventional forces into Central Asia.  Mr. or Mrs. Middle America has never learned about the laundry list of American physicists with Ph. D.s from the most famous scientific institutes in the world, who question the official version of what happened in New York on September 11, 2001.  Or the related implications of the cases involving the Israeli Art Students involved in spy networks in the United States before 9-11, and the Dancing Israelis arrested in New Jersey filming the burning Towers on 9-11 prior to their mysterious release by American authorities and subsequent deportation to Israel.  The name Larry Silverstein continues to go unreported in FCM in the United States, both in terms of the conditions behind his assumption of ownership of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers before 9-11, his longtime relationship with Benyamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government, or the amount of insurance profit he accrued in the aftermath of the attacks.  The name of the Israeli security company operating at Logan International Airport in Boston that day has been similarly buried to public purview and examination, along with the role of Israel’s Odigo instant messaging service on the day of the attacks.    What does it all really mean?

     Middle America has subsequently never learned the truth about the numbers of casualties in both the Iraqi and Afghan theatres of conflict, even as the truth behind the NATO intervention in Libya continues to be withheld from the public by a Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).

     And in the case of Iran, the average American knows nothing of ongoing violations of Iranian airspace by Western intelligence services, the ongoing American-Israeli-British paramilitary operations of the last decade in Iranian Azerbaijan, Diyala Province, Khuzestan Province, and Balochistan Province, not to mention targeted assassinations of scientists in Tehran clearly marked with the fingerprints of the usual players.  Mr. or Mrs. John Q. Public has similarly never heard of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK/MKO, PMOI), the Kurdish PJAK and PKK, and Jundallah, and the criminal activities of these organizations on behalf of Israeli, American, and British Intelligence, as chronicled by Dr. Paul Sheldon Foote of Cal State Fullerton, and Philip Giraldi of the Council for the National Interest.  We may well ask, why are such activities unprovoked acts of war and state sponsored terror when allegedly undertaken by one of the adversaries of the American-Israeli nexus, but perfectly legitimate when employed by the latter?  Is it really a case of “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose?”

Pals of the Mossad and the CIA: The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK)’s recent murder of an Iranian Scientist. Do 90 United States Senators Behind the Bank Markazi Blacklist Proposal Consider This an Act of Terrorism? 

     And Mainstream America is not asking itself a most obvious question:  Why is Israel, a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and armed to the teeth with nuclear bombs and the most lethal arsenal of chemical and biological weapons in the region (in violation of international law), our “ally” in isolating and attacking Iran?  By way of comparison, Iran is a signatory to the NPT, has the right in international law to enrich uranium to certain levels, and according to our own National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is not pursuing a weaponized nuclear program.  To make matters even worse according to Philip Giraldi, one organ of FCM, the Rupert Murdoch News Corporation, has deliberately been disseminating false stories about the Iranian nuclear program courtesy of Israeli intelligence in a classic cooperative effort between a pro-Zionist international news consortium and the Jewish State’s National Security Establishment.  This of course, includes the infamous Fox News in the United States, hawking the Presidential candidacies of the Rick Perrys, Michelle Bachmanns, and Sarah Palins of the universe.

     And what if Mr. or Mrs. Middle Western or Southern American knew the truth about how Israel’s own weaponized nuclear program came into existence?  Will the Wall Street Journal inform us of the Zionist State’s intelligence operation that purloined the raw materials from the NUMEC nuclear plant in Apollo, Pennsylvania in the 1960s?  Will it even once mention the role of Israel and the late Robert Maxwell of the UK Daily Mirror in the black-ops alteration of PROMIS software by the Israeli LAKAM, which lifted American nuclear secrets and technology from the computers of the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory in New Mexico in coordination with the Communist Chinese?  Will we ever be told in the United States that the Mossad subsequently assassinated Maxwell at the order of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir?  And what was the real role of the Meyer Lansky Organized Jewish Crime Syndicate in the United States in the most secretive affairs of the Jewish State, even aside from that Syndicate’s acknowledged role in providing massive funding and money laundering operations for the Haganah and Irgun in the late 1940s, along with arms running for both in conjunction with the Sonneborn Institute?  Some Hints:  1) Meyer Lansky worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)[the forerunner of the CIA], and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), in World War II; 2) As Michael Collins Piper chronicles it in Final Judgment, Lansky and his Jewish mob money, plus the brokered support of Huey Long, were the difference in the eventual nomination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the Democratic National Convention in 1932; 3) Meyer Lansky would become Franklin Roosevelt’s liaison to Cuban strongman, Fulgencio Batista.  This began Lansky’s massive instigation of the Jewish Crime Syndicate’s criminal empire building in Havana.

Philip Giraldi of the Council for the National Interest: Israel Spying and Technology Theft is Threatening American National Security. 

     The Lansky criminal assets in Havana included Carlos Prio Soccaras, a business partner in gun running activities with one of the Lansky Syndicate’s most notorious henchman.  This latter individual had been a mechanic in the American Army Air Corps in World War II.  After World War II, this Air Corps mechanic resettled in Dallas, Texas, and became a part of gun running operations out of the Lone Star State for Israel through the Sonneborn Institute, operations supervised by an Israeli intelligence officer.  Like Lansky, he would have provable connections to the Guy Banister–Carlos Marcello network in New Orleans linked for years to the Kennedy Assassination by authors like Anthony Summers and Jim Marrs.

     The Lansky Syndicate henchman in question would later become the operator of the Carousel Club in Dallas.  He would achieve notoriety for the execution style killing of accused Kennedy assassination Lee Harvey Oswald.  His name:  Jack Rubinstein, a.k.a. Jack Ruby.  Like fellow partner in Lansky Crime Syndicate operations in Cuba, CIA and anti-Castro operative Frank Sturgis of JFK Assassination and Watergate fame, the connections of Ruby are indeed suggestive.  We learn not only from Michael Collins Piper, but from Frank Sturgis’s new biography penned by his nephew and entitled, “Warrior,” that Sturgis was also in the Army Air Corps in World War II and served on General Lucius Clay’s honor guard detail in postwar Germany.  Sturgis, began his clandestine career, however, courtesy of a Jewish girlfriend who was simultaneously sexually involved with a Colonel on Clay’s staff.  She was an operative with the Zionist Haganah, and recruited Sturgis in the late 1940s as a courier for the underground terror organization, at the same time Meyer Lansky and the Sonneborn Institute were providing the Haganah with money, arms, and international contacts.

The view of the Grassy Knoll Gunman on November 22, 1963. Did the Mossad and a Renegade Element in the French OAS Provide the Rifle Team? Mark Dankof photo in Dallas, September 1st, 2010. 

     Taken in tandem with the knowledge we possess now about J. F. K.’s secret conflict in 1963 with David Ben Gurion over the issue of international inspection of Israel’s nuclear program at Dimona, and the Israeli Prime Minister’s relationship with Lansky, is there yet another reason why Israel continues to refuse to release Mordechai Vanunu?  Is there still concern over what Vanunu has already revealed about the nuclear program of the Jewish State, or are his statements about events in the United States in 1963 what must continue to remain in relative darkness as far as the Israeli government and intelligence community and their allies in the United States are concerned?

     I reiterate without apology what I told Iran’s Press TV last week in a discussion on Israeli settlements with Saeb Sha’ath and pro-Zionist London film producer Carol Gould.  The entire history of Israel since 1947/48 underscores the ongoingly criminal character of the Zionist enterprise, ideologically rooted in the racial supremacist doctrines of the Talmud.  That linear historical line traces from Deir Yassin and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arab villages to Menachim Begin and the Irgun’s blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.  It includes the assassinations of Lord Moyne and Swedish Count Bernadotte.  One continues through the Lavon Affair; the Kennedy Assassination; the attack on the USS Liberty by Israel in 1967; the Sabra and Shatila massacres in southern Lebanon in 1982; the PROMIS affair and the Robert Maxwell murder; the Pollard spy case, including the murder of Shabtai Kalmanovich in Moscow; the Ben-Ami spy case; the AIPAC spy case; the murder of Rachel Corrie; the utilization of white phosphorus and depleted uranium munitions in Lebanon and Gaza; the Operation Cast Lead in Gaza which killed 1400 Palestinian civilians; and the May 2010 criminal assault on the Mavi Marmara Freedom Flotilla in international waters, which are only the highlights.  It all began in earnest, however, with stealing the land of 750,000 Palestinians in a 51%-49% “deal” arranged by UN Partition in 1947.  That 49% is now down to 9% and shrinking for the Palestinians, including the obvious attempt to purloin East Jerusalem by Israeli settlers and their financiers.  But as I said on Press TV, one must contextualize all of this by reiterating the operative Zionist doctrine of “Eretz Yisrael” or Greater Israel, which stakes a claim on Jewish control of all the territories between the Nile River and the Tigris-Euphrates.  This was the vision of not only Herzl, but his predecessor as the Father of Zionism, Christian businessman and Dispensational prophecy guru William E. Blackstone of Chicago.  Blackstone foundationally established the political, economic, and military application of his Scofield Reference Bible eschatology to the facilitation of the actual creation of the State of Israel, in a way understood by few modern Zionists or Christians.  John Hagee primarily carries the water for this ongoing effort now.

     But these past criminal highlights pale in comparison to launching a preemptive military assault on Iran, or inciting the United States to do so.  The potential not only for massive loss of life but creating the genesis of World War III, is inherently obvious.

     Ray McGovern warns us that Israel may well embody the wounded animal syndrome.  Like the wounded and cornered animal who becomes irrationally ferocious in a final fight to the death, Israel’s conduct is likely to become more, not less reckless, in the days ahead.  As the days count down to what may well be the UN General Assembly’s decision to unilaterally declare a Palestinian State, and as the grip of the United States continues to loosen on its own economy and its Wars of Empire, desperation may facilitate the ultimate False Flag Incident designed to deliberately frame Iran for an event in the world which rejuvenates the comatose American public’s appetite for war in the Islamic world on behalf of Israel.  It is a dangerous period of time that now approaches.

     With this context in mind, we return full circle to the proposal of the U. S. Senate for sanctions on Iran’s Bank Markazi.  It is clear that this latest offensive has upped the ante in American-Israeli attempts to economically and politically isolate the Islamic Republic, even as black operational paramilitary actions continue to occur in conjunction with criminal terror organizations presently on the CIA-Mossad payroll in the Middle East and Central Asia.  These tactics, along with continued attempts at altering the domestic Iranian political landscape with Western intelligence funding for NGOs advocating “reform“, are intensifying even as the verdict is still out on their ultimate effectiveness.

     The historic context for what is happening now is seven decades past, in the days between October 4th, 1940 and December 7th, 1941, and the machinations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Oval Office.

     George T. Eggleston’s compendium on the forces behind FDR’s war plans is but one place to turn for the beginning of the explanation of the historical context involved in what happened.  But several facts are not in doubt.  Roosevelt’s desire for provoking war with Japan was not simply to gain backdoor access for American involvement in the European war he yearned for, it was also a desire to protect the Soviet Union from a pincer attack on the part of both Germany and Japan.  The Tyler Kent case is illustrative of what was going on, and what was being systematically concealed from an unsuspecting American public both then and now.

     Roosevelt, like Barack Obama, could also read poll numbers.  The American public wanted no part of another Great War in Europe.  Thus, Roosevelt knew that he would have to lie the American public into the conflict. He manipulated events to insure that it would happen in a fashion designed to fan war fever from coast-to-coast.  And he did so while publicly assuring the masses in the Presidential election of 1940 that he would never send young American boys into harm’s way in Europe, even as the New Deal’s vaunted economic stimulus package of programs was failing to jump start the American economy out of the Great Depression.

     The Rosetta Stone, as chronicled by Robert Stinnett in Day of Deceit:  FDR and Pearl Harbor, was the McCollum Memorandum.  Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum was head of the Far East desk of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).  His code name was F-2.  He oversaw the routing of communications intelligence to FDR from early 1940 to December 7th, 1941.  Every intercepted and decoded Japanese military and diplomatic report destined for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue went through the Far East Asia section of ONI, which McCollum supervised and directed.  His office was an element of Station US, a secret American cryptographic center located at the main naval headquarters at 18th Street and Constitution Avenue, N. W., about 4 blocks from the White House.

     The McCollum Memorandum of October 7th, 1940, provided Roosevelt’s blueprint for inciting the war he fervently sought.  Point 9 of the Memorandum contained the 8 point formula for war in the Pacific sought by the President, as well as the rationale for pursuing the strategy commended by the Lieutenant Commander. From October 7th, 1940 to December 7th, 1941, Roosevelt diligently pursued them to the letter, with the endgame being the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It would not be until January 24, 1995, that Robert Stinnett would discover the Memorandum in Box 6 of a special US Navy collection in RG 38 in the Military Reference Branch of Archives II.

     McCollum’s direct unfolding of the pathway to war is bone chilling prose 70 years later.  He writes:

     “Point Nine:  It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado.  [emphasis added] . . . Therefore, the following course of action is suggested:

     “1.  Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore.

     “2.  Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies.

     “3.  Give all possible aid to the Chinese Government of Chiang-Kai-Shek.

     “4.  Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore. [emphasis added]

     “5.  Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient. [emphasis added]

     “6.  Keep the main strength of the U. S. Fleet now in the Pacific in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. [emphasis added]

     “7.  Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil. [emphasis added]

     “8.  Completely embargo all U. S. Trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire. [emphasis added]

     “Point 10:  If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better[emphasis added].  At all events we must be fully prepared to accept the threat of war.

     “[Signed] A. H. McCollum

     Fast forward to August of 2011.  The American government continues to rhetorically threaten Iran, as does the Netanyahu-Lieberman phalanx in Israel.  Overt military preparations ranging from base acquisitions and arrangements in Central Asia to aircraft carrier task force deployments and military exercises continue.  Covert black operations inside Iran procede apace, along with the adjacent American conventional military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz watch for signs of overt American or Israeli naval actions.

     In an impending election year, the American economy continues to flounder courtesy of national debt, overreaching military commitments, ballooning federal budget deficits, a moribund manufacturing economy, burgeoning foreign trade deficits, fractional reserve banking, an unemployment rate close to 22%, and a dollar perhaps soon to be history as the world’s reserve currency.  No one in power has any answers, just as Roosevelt had none in 1940.  Like the political scene then, the poll numbers now indicate an American public sick of never ending wars of occupation and counter-insurgency in Central Asia, even as more Americans are beginning to sense that their government’s monolithic support of the Jewish State and its policies in Palestine is creating more enemies exponentially, and arguably the most hostile international climate faced by the United States in its entire history.  Zionist Neo-Conservative zealots criticize this turning of public opinion tide against spending 10-12 billion a month in Afghanistan, a total of 1 trillion thus far in both Iraq and Afghanistan with the meter running, and 10 billion in year in subsidizing Israel.  Thanks to an Internet technological era not seen in previous epochs in history, more Americans are finding out about the real truth of past and present.  It may be harder for the War Party to raise the curtain as effectively this time.

     But try they will.  Obama is faced with a dilemma.  He must either revitalize his sub-40% approval poll numbers and his flagging economic program with action approved by The Master Plan of His Masters, or risk replacement with a GOP mannequin more than willing to do The Masters bidding.  Bona fide American populists and a declining middle class are caught in the crossfire of the Hegelian dialectic, withoptions in 2012 fading and time running out.

     The next phase in this escalation by The Masters is clearly the Bank Markazi blacklist proposal being foisted upon Obama by the U. S. Senate.  But this is not the endgame.  The endgame is war.  The preferred method of starting it is to do what General George Patton advocated in post-war Europe [against the Soviet Union], to “. . .  get us a war with those sons of bitches and make it look like it was their fault.”

     Who will win this war?  Will it be the Central Bankers, the Israeli Lobby, the Multinational Energy Consortiums, and the armaments manufacturers?  Or will the American public finally wise up and reclaim their own country again?  Does the spirit of Charles Lindbergh still live?

     Who are the wild cards?  One is clearly an Iran more resilent than those who consistently misunderstand and underestimate it in the West.  Two others are China and Russia.  What will the Chinese do with American debt instruments on the open market if we undertake the most catastrophically idiotic preemptive war in history?  Will the Chinese and the Russians merely standby militarily?  How does the larger Islamic world react to these events as they continue to reach a climax?

     One thing is clear.  Israel needs a diversionary event to refocus attention away from Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, while jump starting their flagging domestic political support in Europe and the United States.  The American government needs one to jump start domestic support for their Imperial Wars and to divert attention from an economy in free fall.  It is Winner-Take-All for the Central Banks and the Federal Reserve.

     The creation of an external enemy, followed by a manufactured incident with The Masters behind the curtain, is one of the oldest tricks of the trade in history.  When you hear a new version of Remember Pearl Harbor playing on the radio after an American-Israeli war with Iran commences, either before November of 2012 or after a Presidential inauguration in 2013, remember the warning you are reading this day.

     As for the American people, if they want a real war the enemy is not Iran and the Iranian people.  If there is a fight worth fighting, it is in reclaiming our nation’s political, cultural, and economic landscape from the same sorts of thieves who have been robbing Palestinians blind since 1948.  They have been robbing Americans of their Old Republic throughout the 20th century, with nary a domestic uprising.

     Will The Masters pull it off again?

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Iran, Damned Lies and US Congressman Allen West

WEST: How many people understand when I talk about the MAD theory? Do people remember the MAD theory? Mutually assured destruction, that was the kind of understanding that we had between the United States and the Soviet Union. That’s out the window with Iran. If they get a device, they’ve already said that what they’re intentions are, the first place that that’s gonna go is to Israel.

Posted August 16, 2011


Reality and a Whopper on Iran

By Paul R. Pillar

August 12, 2011 “TNI” – -Perhaps the most noteworthy exchange on foreign policy in the Republican presidential candidates‘ debate in Iowa Thursday night started with a question to Ron Paul about Iran. Whatever else you may think about Paul and his candidacy, there is no refuting three truths he stated regarding the hysteria-inducing subject of Iran and its nuclear program. One, as Iranians look at what is surrounding them in their own neighborhood, they have good and understandable reasons to be interested in nuclear weapons. Two, even if they were to acquire a nuke, any capability they then had would pale in comparison with what the United States faced in the form of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, or China for that matter. Third, as U.S. dealings with the Soviets demonstrated, an adversary’s nuclear capability does not constitute a reason to stop talking and start making a war.

Paul’s plain speaking, of course, clashed with the orthodoxy in this country according to which unthinking absolutism is considered the proper response to any mention of Iran and nukes. Among the other candidates, Rick Santorum jumped to the task of exclaiming how incorrigibly awful Iran is in every respect. Probably the most curious item in his indictment was that the Iranian regime “tramples the rights of gays”—curious given that one of Santorum’s own claims to fame is his conspicuously unfriendly posture toward homosexuality, which he has compared to bestiality. (Elsewhere in the debate, Santorum supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and a reversal of the Obama administration’s abandonment of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military.) But Santorum also used a glaring falsehood: that “ Iran is a country that has killed more American men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan than the Iraqis and the Afghans have.”

This was hardly the only factual error uttered during the debate (and Paul didn’t get things quite right in characterizing what the U.S. intelligence community has said about the Iranian nuclear program), but it was the biggest whopper of the evening as far as foreign affairs were concerned. It also was the most dangerous falsehood. Inaccuracies such as Tim Pawlenty calling Michael Mullen a general rather than an admiral, or Jon Huntsman mistakenly characterizing the pace of U.S.-Chinese diplomacy, are unlikely to make any difference in public perceptions that could have policy consequences. But Santorum’s assertion, against the backdrop of habitual demonization of Iran, is just the sort of falsehood that is likely to stick and to contribute to mistaken public beliefs that in turn could provide support for disastrous policies.

We’ve seen that sort of thing happen in the recent past. Ron Paul had something perceptive to say about that, too. After Michele Bachmann joined Santorum with an “I will do everything to make sure Iran does not become a nuclear power” comment, Paul observed, “You’ve heard the war propaganda that is liable to lead us into war…They’re building up this case just like they did with Iraq. Build up the war propaganda.”


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Iranian president tells Russia Today news network that although Iran would retaliate harshly in the event of attack, there is no reason to launch a strike against the Islamic republic.


Iranian President Ahmadinejad warned that he would respond harshly to any attempts by Israel or the United States to launch a war against the Islamic republic in an interview with Russia Today news network on Saturday, saying Iran would give a “decisive response” to any strike.

“We have a saying in our language: If someone throws a smaller stone (at you), you should respond with a bigger stone,” the Iranian president said, adding, “we will defend ourselves within our capabilities.”

Ahmadinejad told the Russian news network that the U.S. and Israel “wish to do it (launch an attack against Iran), they want to do it, but they know about our power. They know that we are going to give them a decisive response.”

Despite this warning, the Iranian leader expressed hope in the interview that such a reality would never materialize, claiming there is no reason to launch a strike against Iran.

Ahmadinejad then went on to accuse Israel of being a regime that depends on terror, occupation and aggression.

The international community has called on Iran to halt its nuclear program, leveling sanctions against the Islamic country, however, Iran claims the program is for peaceful purposes and continues to enrich uranium.

Earlier this year, former Mossad head Meir Dagan said that an air force strike against Iran’s nuclear installations would be “a stupid thing.”

Dagan claimed that Iran has a secret infrastructure for its nuclear program which is working in parallel with the legitimate, civilian program, but only the latter is under international inspection.

“Any strike against that [the civilian program] is an illegal act according to international law,” Dagan said. Dagan says that contrary to the situation in Iraq in which the nuclear plant of Saddam Hussein was bombed in 1981, Iran has dispersed its nuclear sites across the country, making an effective attack difficult. He added that Iran has a proven ability to move its nuclear infrastructures from place to place, in order to hide them from international inspectors and intelligence services.

“If someone in Iran decides to build a laboratory for centrifuges [for uranium enrichment] in the basement of some school he has no problem doing this,” Dagan said.

Dagan warned that an air force strike against Iran has “potential for significant complications and it is best to avoid war(s) with non-beneficial results and also those with no lasting effect. It is important to remember that war is only one option among many alternatives.”


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Early this month, a Congressional hearing was held on Capitol Hill to make recommendation to Israel-Firster Hillary Clinton to take the Iranian terrorist group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) off of the US terrorist list. The hearing was headed by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He is welknown politician on Jewish payrol and supporter of Taliban. Recently, he visited Iraq and demanded that Iraqi government should compensate Washington for eight years of country’s occupation. Watch a video below.

Dana defended MEK’s terrorist actions by saying: “Any group that chooses to use violence to resist doesn’t make them right or wrong. Backing people who fight against tyranny is also something the U.S. should be doing.” I bet my Canadian looney, he will never make similar statement in support of Hamas and Hizbullah which are labeled ‘Islamist terrorists’ by his masters at AIPAC.

The hearing’s witnesses included three former US officials who have actively participated in pro-MEK conferences, including Dubya Bush’s Jewish Attorney General Michael Bernard Mukasey. Israel-Firster Mukasey as a Federal Court judge had ordered deportation of Israeli Jews arrested in connection with 9/11.

All three witnesses who previously appeared at MEK conferences unanimously called for the MEK to be removed from the terror list, though none were asked to disclose whether they had received money to support the organization, as have other officials who have advocated for delisting the group.

The lone dissenting voice among the witnesses, former Obama Administration advisor Ray Takeyh, was subjected to an intense back and forth with Representatives on the panel. Ray is a senior fellow at the powerful Ziocon think tank, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) headed by Zionist Jew Dr. Richard Haass.

When Takeyh warned panelists who viewed MEK as a viable alternative to the Iranian regime that the organization has no support in Iran, Rep. Dr. Robert Earl Filner, a Zionist Jew Democrat lawmaker from California, told Ray: “I don’t agree, even if you’re right…. These are our friends!  We should be getting out of their way and de-list them. Let them do what they can!  Why are we helping Iran by not helping the MEK?” Filner, in 1961, was arrested for disturbing peace and had spent one month in jail.

Rabbi Mukasey, in addition to calling for the MEK to be removed from the terrorism list, urged that MEK members be allowed to resettle in the United States.

Dana Rohrabacher admitted that Iran’s Green Movement which was supported by CIA-Mossad-MI6 axis of evil – has failed to fulfil Zionism’s objectives. He said that “it will be people with courage and people who stand up“.

Even one idiot recommended that MEK President Maryam Rajavi be installed as President of Iran – as Ahmad Chalabi was installed on Iraqi throne in 2003. Ooops! I forgot, Ben-Obama’s new CIA chief, Gen. David Petraeus (Professor James Petra called him ‘Zionism’s military poodle’) informed us a few years ago that Ahmad Chalabi in fact was a Iranian spy who had worked with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards under supervision of General Ahmad Foruzandeh, a Qods Force commander (Alhurra TV – 26 Jan. 2010).

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The Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, attacked the Iranian nuclear program with a highly sophisticated computer virus called Stuxnet. The first digital weapon of geopolitical importance, it could change the way wars are fought — and it will not be the last attack of its kind.

The complex on a hill near an interchange on the highway from Tel Aviv to Haifa is known in Israel simply as “The Hill.” The site, as big as several soccer fields, is sealed off from the outside world with high walls and barbed wire — a modern fortress that symbolizes Israel’s fight for survival in the Middle East. As the headquarters of Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, this fortress is strictly off-limits to politicians and journalists alike. Ordinarily, it is the Mossad that makes house calls, and not the other way around.

The agency’s strict no-visitors policy was temporarily relaxed on a Thursday in early January, when a minibus with darkened windows pulled into a parking lot in front of a nearby movie theater. The journalists inside were asked to hand over their mobile phones and audio recorders. Meïr Dagan, the powerful head of the Mossad, had invited them to the facility. It was his last day in a position he had held for seven years. On that January day, the journalists were there to document his legacy: the Mossad’s fight against the Iranian nuclear program.

He spoke passionately about the risks of a possible military strike against Iran, saying that he believed that such an attack would lead to a conflagration in the region that would include a war with Hezbollah and Hamas, and possibly with Syria. And anyone who believed that a military strike could stop Tehran’s nuclear program was wrong, said Dagan. It could slow down the program, he added, but only temporarily. For this reason, the outgoing Mossad chief was against bombs — but in favor of anything that could set back the Iranian nuclear program without starting a conventional war.

Delay was the new magic word. And to that end, the Mossad head had created a miracle weapon that everyone in the room on that January day knew about, but which Dagan did not mention by name: Stuxnet.

Stuxnet, a computer virus that can infiltrate highly secure computers not connected to the Internet, a feat previously believed to be virtually impossible, entered the global political arena more than a year ago, in June 2010. The virus had attacked computers at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, where scientists are enriching uranium, and manipulated the centrifuges to make them self-destruct. The attack penetrated into the heart of the Iranian nuclear program.

Stuxnet is the world’s first cyber-weapon of geopolitical significance. Frank Rieger of the legendary German hacker organization Chaos Computer Club calls it “a digital bunker buster.” The virus represents a fundamentally new addition to the arsenal of modern warfare. It enables a military attack using a computer program tailored to a specific target.

One year later, there is not an Internet security firm or government of a major country that is not addressing Stuxnet and its consequences, as well as taking action as a result. To learn more about Stuxnet and understand what is behind the virus, SPIEGEL traveled to Israel — the country where the cyber-weapon was invented.

Following the Trail

The Israeli branch of the US computer security firm Symantec is housed in a nondescript modern complex in Tel Aviv, a 15-minute drive from Ben Gurion International Airport. Sam Angel, the head of Symantec Israel, meets visitors in the underground garage and takes them to the conference room on the fourth floor. At the beginning of his PowerPoint presentation, Angel says: “Stuxnet is the most sophisticated attack we have ever seen. This sort of an attack, on a mature, isolated industrial system is completely unusual.” He projects a map onto the wall, showing the countries where such an attack has taken place: Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia and Belarus, where a man named Sergey Ulasen discovered Stuxnet.

Ulasen, who works in the research and development department at the VirusBlokAda security firm in Minsk, received what seemed to be a relatively mundane email on June 17, 2010. An Iranian firm was complaining that its computers were behaving strangely, shutting themselves down and then rebooting. Ulasen and a colleague spent a week examining the machines. Then they found Stuxnet. VirusBlokAda notified other companies in the industry, including Symantec.

When the engineers at Symantec got to work, they came across two computers that had directed the attacks. One of the servers was in Malaysia and the other was in Denmark, and they were reachable through the addresses www.todaysfutbol.com and www.mypremierfutbol.com. They had been registered, under a false name and with a forged credit card, through one of the world’s largest Internet registration companies, a firm based in the US state of Arizona. Symantec rerouted the incoming and outgoing communication at the two servers to its computer center in Dublin, which enabled it to monitor the activity of the virus. Whoever had launched Stuxnet had gotten away, but at least Symantec could follow the trail they had left behind.

The rerouting of communication made it possible to obtain an overview of the countries in which the virus was active. According to that analysis, Stuxnet had infected about 100,000 computers worldwide, including more than 60,000 in Iran, more than 10,000 in Indonesia and more than 5,000 in India. The inventors programmed Stuxnet so that the virus, as a first step, tells the two command-and-control servers if the infected computer is running Step 7, an industrial software program developed by the German engineering company Siemens. Step 7 is used to run the centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz facility.

The plant near Natanz, located in the desert 250 kilometers (156 miles) south of Tehran, is protected with military-level security. The aluminum centrifuges, which are housed in bunkers, are 1.8 meters (5 foot 10 inches) tall and 10 centimeters (four inches) in diameter. Their purpose is to gradually increase the proportion of uranium-235, the fissile isotope of uranium. There is a rotor inside the centrifuges that rotates at a speed of 1,000 times per second. In the process, uranium hexafluoride gas is centrifuged, so that uranium-235 accumulates in the center. The process is controlled by a Siemens system that runs on the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Part 2: Security Holes and Red Herrings

The ruse that makes the attack possible is as simple as it is ingenious. Stuxnet takes advantage of a security hole in Windows that makes it possible to manipulate the system. As a result of this programming error, the virus can be introduced into the system through a USB flash drive, for example. As soon as the drive is connected to a computer in the system, the installation begins unnoticed.

Stuxnet initially searches for anti-virus programs. The code is designed to circumvent them or, if this is not possible, to de-install itself. For a long time, one of the priorities was to leave no traces.

In a second step, Stuxnet lodges itself into the part of the operating system that manages USB flash drives, where it establishes a checksum, the exact purpose of which is unclear. The infection stops when this sum reaches the value 19790509. Symantec speculates that this is some sort of code. When read backward, the number could represent May 9, 1979, the day Habib Elghanian, a Jewish businessman, was executed in Tehran. Is this a coincidence? A provocation? Or a deliberately placed red herring?

It is still unclear how exactly the Israelis were able to get the virus into Natanz. In the jargon of computer experts, previously unknown security gaps like the hole in the Windows operating system are called zero-day exploits. Searching for these vulnerabilities is a combination of hacker challenge and business model. Knowledge is valuable, and there is a black market in which a previously unknown vulnerability can be worth $100,000 (€70,000) or more. Stuxnet exploits no fewer than four of these digital jewels.

 ’A Blue-and-White Operation’

Symantec manager Sam Angel believes that it is impossible to write a code like Stuxnet without having intimate knowledge of the Siemens system. “There is no black market for exploits involving Siemens software,” he says. “It’s not used widely enough.” How, then, did the Mossad acquire the information about the technology in use at Natanz?

It has been openly speculated that the Americans may have helped the Mossad. There is a US government research institution in Idaho where scientists study the Siemens control technology used in Iran; the basic research for Stuxnet could have taken place there. After that, the virus could have been tested at Israel’s nuclear research center near Dimona in the Negev Desert.

Israeli sources familiar with the background to the attack insist, however, that Stuxnet was a “blue-and-white operation,” a reference to Israel’s national colors — in other words, a purely Israeli operation. They believe that a secret elite unit of the military intelligence agency programmed a portion of the code, leaving the Mossad to do the rest. The Mossad was also apparently responsible for smuggling the virus into Natanz. The same sources claim that the Mossad tried to buy a cascade of centrifuges on the black market, without success. In the end, an Israeli arms manufacturer, with the help of foreign intelligence agencies, supposedly managed to build a model of Natanz where Stuxnet was tested.

The operation was ready to begin in the summer of 2009. The attackers unleashed Stuxnet at 4:31 p.m. on June 22, 2009. The attack targeted five Iranian organizations and was launched in three waves. After the first wave, a second strike took place in March 2010, dealing a heavy blow to the Iranians. The third wave followed in April. According to Symantec, the targets were not directly related to Iran’s nuclear program, but some of the target organizations were on United Nations sanctions lists. Some 12,000 computers were infected in the five organizations alone.

Stuxnet is programmed to delete itself from the USB flash drive after the third infection, presumably to prevent it from spreading explosively, which would have been noticed immediately. The goal of the cyber-weapon is to sabotage its targets in a sustainable, rather than spectacular, manner.

Another trick, which gives the virus the semblance of legality, shows how complex the design is. It involves digital certificates, which are issued on the Internet by companies that test the activity of a server or a program and certify that it is not malicious. If a program can show that it has such a certificate, then it is allowed access to a system. The Taiwanese firms Realtek Semiconductor and JMicron Technology are among the firms that issue such certificates.

In January 2010, a version of Stuxnet turned up that had been signed with a digital certificate from Realtek. This was followed, in July 2010, by a version signed with a JMicron certificate. Both certificates had been stolen. This theft alone is an operation that requires either a physical burglary at the headquarters of both companies, or the kind of hacker attack that very few programmers worldwide are capable of performing, because these certificates are additionally secured and encoded.

Only a State Could Produce Stuxnet

An analysis by a European intelligence agency classified as “secret,” which SPIEGEL has seen, states that it would have taken a programmer at least three years to develop Stuxnet, at a cost in the double-digit millions. Symantec, for its part, estimates that the tests in the model facility alone would have occupied five to 10 programmers for half a year. According to the intelligence analysis, “non-governmental actors” can be “virtually ruled out” as the inventors of Stuxnet. Members of Germany’s Federal Security Council, a government committee for defense issues whose meetings are secret, felt the same way when the council met in Berlin on Nov. 25, 2010.

Stuxnet shows what can happen when potent attackers are at work, said then Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, who is now German defense minister. Anyone who is willing to invest that much money and resources, Maizière added, knows what he is doing. The council members agreed that a sovereign state had to be behind the virus.

De Maizière’s staff noted that 15 vulnerabilities are found in standard computer programs every day, and that tens of thousands of websites are infected worldwide on a daily basis. At the end of the meeting, the council decided to establish a national cyber defense center. “The experiences with the Stuxnet virus show that even key areas of industrial infrastructure are no longer safe against targeted IT attacks,” a government cabinet paper later stated.

The virus has fundamentally changed the way we look at digital attacks. The US government recently issued a new cyber war doctrine that defines a cyber-attack as a conventional act of war. The Stuxnet code, which is now accessible to the public, could inspire copycats, Roberta Stempfley of the US Department of Homeland Security warned last week.

Last year the British government adopted a new security strategy, for which it approved funding of 650 million pounds (€565 million or $1,070 million). The cyber world will become “more important in the conflict between nations,” Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said in a speech in Jerusalem in February. “It is a new battleground, if you like, not with guns but with something else.”

Part 3: Success Comparable to Cracking Enigma

The Mossad views Stuxnet as a great success, comparable to the cracking of Germany’s Enigma cipher machine by the Poles and Britons in World War II. The Israeli military isn’t as euphoric. It argues that the fact that Stuxnet was discovered was a high price to pay, despite the setback it dealt to Iran’s mullah-led regime.

And it was a painful setback indeed. An Iranian IR-1 centrifuge normally spins at 1,064 hertz, or cycles per second. When the rotors began going haywire, they increased their frequency to 1,410 hertz for 15 minutes and then returned to their normal frequency. The virus took over control again 27 days later, but this time it slowed down the rotors to a frequency of a few hundred hertz for a full 50 minutes. The resulting excessive centrifugal force caused the aluminum tubes to expand, increasing the risk of parts coming into contact with one another and thereby destroying the centrifuges.

Six cascades containing 164 centrifuges each were reportedly destroyed in this manner. Authorities on the Iranian nuclear program, like David Albright of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), believe that Stuxnet destroyed about 1,000 centrifuges. Iran has admitted that its nuclear program was set back. According to Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s civil defense organization, the program suffered “potentially major damage.”

Former Mossad chief Dagan achieved his goal of sabotaging the nuclear program without triggering a new war in the Middle East. But Iran still has 8,000 other centrifuges, and the more modern, second-generation IR-2 centrifuges, which are equipped with carbon fiber rotors, can operate smoothly even at 1,400 hertz. They are not affected by the existing version of the sabotage software. The Mossad could be in need of a new virus soon. Using it would constitute the next round in a clandestine cyber war.

 ’People Had Never Seen Anything Like Stuxnet Before’

Two young Israelis who work indirectly for the government are sitting in one of Tel Aviv’s modern cafés. The men run a company that handles jobs for the Mossad and Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence agency. They smile and say that digital attack, not defense, is their discipline. They are part of a global hacker elite. According to rumors circulating in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the men did some of the groundwork for the Mossad in the development of Stuxnet.

“People had never seen anything like Stuxnet before, except in movies,” says one of the hackers. “Now they can see that it’s real.” His voice is filled with pride when he says: “In the small community of attackers, none of this was really new.” Almost all of the vulnerabilities had already been used in a past attack, the hacker says, but they had never been used at the same time. He explains that the real challenge in staging an attack with a virus like Stuxnet is to penetrate into a system that is not connected to the Internet.

What are the consequences of Stuxnet?

The two men are silent for a moment; they see things from the attacker’s perspective. “The discovery of Stuxnet was a serious blow to us,” one of them says. “We find it particularly upsetting, because a successful method was disclosed.”

The inventors of Stuxnet apparently had many more plans for their product. Symantec has since discovered another version of the Stuxnet virus, which contains even more complex code and is designed to target modern Siemens control technology, but which had not been activated yet. Stuxnet, say the people at Symantec, “is the type of threat we hope to never see again.”

That wish is unlikely to come true.

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