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    Sunday
    Nov222009

    Iran trying to ascertain if they are ready for any possible attack

    Iran has announced it will conduct a weeklong round of air defense war games centered on the country’s nuclear sites as Western powers, especially the U.S., turn up the heat over Tehran’s nuclear program.

    The Wall Street Journal:

    State media quoted a senior air-defense commander saying the exercise, scheduled to start Sunday, was targeted specifically at training against potential missile and aircraft threats against the country’s nuclear facilities. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Miqani told state-run press on Saturday the exercise would be conducted with both the Iranian armed forces and the Islamic Revolutionary 

    Guard Corps over five days across a wide swath of northern, southern and western Iran.

    The exercise comes as the West significantly increases pressure on Tehran following Iran’s refusal so far to accept a nuclear-energy deal hammered out between Iranian negotiators and counterparts from the U.S., France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency last month. The deal called for Iran to ship out the bulk of its low-enriched uranium, to be further enriched in Russia and returned to Iran for use in a medical research reactor.

     

    Sunday
    Nov222009

    Hamas Stills the Rockets

    Hamas has ordered militant groups in Gaza to stop firing rockets into Israel, which could not only avoid another bloody invasion but signal progress toward a deal to release a captured Israeli soldier.

    The Guardian:

    Hamas has won an agreement from other militant groups in Gaza to halt rocket fire into Israel for the first time in almost a year, a move that could signal progress on a deal to release a captured Israeli soldier.

    The agreement, announced late yesterday, appears to be an attempt by the Palestinian Islamist movement to prevent another descent into conflict at a time when reconstruction has barely begun almost 12 months after the devastating conflict with Israel.

    It also suggests more progress in secretly mediated talks to release Gilad Shalit, the soldier captured more than three years ago, in exchange for the return of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

     

    Saturday
    Nov212009

    Iran holds war games to try to protect its nuclear installations

    TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran will begin large-scale air defense war games on Sunday to help protect its nuclear facilities against any attack, a senior commander said.

    Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani also suggested Iran could itself produce an advanced missile defense system which Russia has so far failed to deliver to the Islamic Republic and which Washington and Israel do not want Tehran to have.

    Iran believes Russia's delay in supplying high-grade S-300 missiles was due to pressure by Israel, not technical problems as cited by Moscow, Mighani said.

    "We are hopeful the Russians will ignore the pressure of the Zionist lobby," Fars News Agency quoted him as saying on Saturday. Iran refers to Israel as the "Zionist regime."

    The military maneuvers will last for five days and involve both the elite Revolutionary Guards and the regular armed forces against a hypothetical enemy, Iranian media reported.

    The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row over Iranian nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.

    Iran, which says its nuclear program is solely to generate electricity, has threatened to hit back at Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf if it is attacked.

    "This week's air defense maneuvers will be held with the intention of protecting the country's nuclear facilities," Mighani said, Fars reported. State television said the defense drills would "ensure better protection" for these facilities.

    The war games were announced a day after senior officials from six world powers said they were disappointed Iran had not accepted proposals intended to delay its potential to make nuclear weapons, and urged Tehran to reconsider.

    The United States, Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France met after U.S. President Barack Obama warned there could be a package of sanctions against Iran within weeks.

    "ZIONISTS' PRESSURE"

    Iran often holds defense exercises and announces advances in military equipment in order to show its readiness to counter any threats over its disputed nuclear program.

    The official IRNA news agency said the exercises would take place in western Iran and that they would be "huge."

    Iranian officials have over the last few weeks voiced growing frustration at Russia's failure to deliver the S-300.

    Moscow, which is under Western pressure to distance itself from Iran over the nuclear dispute, has not followed through on proposals to supply the missiles to the country.

    "They have declared technical problems as the underlying reason for this delay, but we think it has been due to the Zionists' pressure," Mighani said, according to Fars.

    "In various maneuvers, new and modern missile networks will be used and evaluated, including the advanced S-300 missiles, for which the production capability exists in Iran," IRNA quoted him as saying, without elaborating.

    A senior lawmaker, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, earlier this month also said Iran would be able to produce the S-300 system itself, appearing to refer to missiles with similar capabilities.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Russia last month for failing to provide the arms to Iran.

    The truck-mounted S-300PMU1, known in the West as the SA-20, can shoot down cruise missiles and aircraft. It can fire at targets up to 150 km (90 miles) away.

     

     

    Friday
    Nov202009

    Israel responds to bombing with airstrikes

    JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli airstrikes hit targets in Gaza in response to a Kassam rocket fired into the Negev.

    Two smuggling tunnels and a weapons factory in southern Gaza were hit in the Air Force raid overnight Wednesday, according to the Israel Defense Forces. About 15 rockets and mortar shells have been fired from Gaza at Israel in the past month, the IDF said.

    No damage or injury was reported from the Kassam, which was fired early Wednesday morning and caused the Color Red siren to sound in the area. On Wednesday afternoon, an explosive device was detonated against Israeli forces patrolling the border with the central Gaza Strip.

    More than 250 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January; more than 750 have hit Israel in 2009.

     

    Friday
    Nov202009

    Iran is advancing on dual nuclear bomb track: uranium plus plutonium

    DEBKAfile's military sources report that the UN inspectors' October visit to Iran turned up dual-track progress in support of its nuclear weapons program: Feverish activity was registered in the production of plutonium at Isfahan as an alternative to the Fordo enriched uranium plant near Qom which starts up in 2011.

    The IAEA experts discovered 30 metric tons-IS of heavy water hidden in 600 tanks, each holding 13 gallons, according to the report they handed in last week to agency headquarters in Vienna.

    From the shape of the tanks and other indications, the experts concluded that this stock had not come from the heavy water plant at Arak but was imported.

    Metric tons-IS measure the amount of energy a given quantity can release. The force and types of nuclear bombs are gauged in kilotons or megatons. The American nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II was equal to 20 kilotons of TNT. By this standard, the amount of heavy water discovered at Isfahan would be enough to make at least one plutonium bomb when the plutonium reactor under construction near the Arak heavy water facility is finished.

    Other than its civilian uses, heavy water may be used to produce tritium, which intensifies the explosive force of nuclear warheads. The discovery of quantities of heavy water at Isfahan confirms the suspicions surrounding Iran's nuclear program in three respects.

    1. The long concealment of the Fordo site suggested to the UN inspectors that Iran has more hole-in the-corner nuclear facilities in the country. The discovery of a stock of heavy water further confirmed that Tehran is working hard to attain a nuclear weapon capacity on more than one track and at additional covert sites.

    2. The IAEA wants to know who is selling Iran heavy water in violation of Security Council resolutions banning the sale or export of nuclear materials to Iran.

    The very fact that some government or outside entity is willing to flout UN resolutions demonstrates that any further international sanctions would be ineffective for halting Iran's nuclear drive, even assuming that President Barack Obama gained Russian and Chinese backing for such penalties. This backing has so far been withheld.

    DEBKAfile's sources report from Vienna that on November 10, IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei sent a request to the Iranian Nuclear Energy Committee asking it to confirm the presence of the heavy water and document its origin with a full explanation. Tehran has yet to reply.

    3. The presence of the heavy water tanks at Isfahan is additional proof that the reactor at Arak is designed for military purposes, not a peaceful installation as Tehran claims.

     

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