Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strategic Madness

North Korea test-fires two short-range missiles amid escalating NE Asian tensions
DEBKAfile Special Report

May 26, 2009, 9:54 AM (GMT+02:00)

Kim Jong-Il watches N. Korean military exercise
Seoul reports North Korea test-fired two short-range missiles Tuesday, May 26, its fourth and fifth since carrying out an underground nuclear test Monday. The test was unanimously condemned by the UN Security Council Monday night.

US reconnaissance flights took to the skies over Japan Tuesday after US president Barack Obama assured the leaders of Japan and South Korea of US defense support. Ships were warned to stay clear of the Yellow Sea between China and Korea. South Korean and Chinese defense ministers went into conference in Beijing on the crisis.

The White House said Obama and South Korean president Lee Myung-bak and Japanese prime minister Taro Aso agreed to work together to support the Security Council resolution with concrete measures to curtail North Korea's nuclear and missile activities. To Aso, the US president pledged "unequivocal commitment to the defense of Japan and to maintaining peace and security in Northeast Asia."

Seoul announced it is joining the US-led PSI anti-proliferation campaign which North Korea has warned is tantamount to a declaration of war.

In case of follow-up steps to be determined by the UN Security Council and its members, Pyongyang announced its army and people stand ready to defeat any invasion.

The former head of Israel's nuclear commission, Yigal Eylam estimated it was in the 20-kiloton range, roughly equal to the US atom bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII.

DEBKAfile's military sources note that North Korea and Iran are closely and secretly coordinated on their military nuclear programs.

For instance, most of the missile guidance technology which gave the long-range Seijl 2 surface missile tested by Iran Wednesday, May 20, its bull's-eye accuracy came from Pyongyang. Iran's long-range missile test was carried out less than a month after North Korea's own internationally condemned missile test launch on April 5. The Security Council chairman rebuked this test, for which the North Korean government demanded an apology and reopened its plutonium reactors in reprisal.

Tehran may therefore be expected to be not far behind its nuclear partner in conducting its own first nuclear test. Iranian nuclear and missile scientists are regularly invited to attend North Korea's missile and nuclear systems experiments and performance in recent years.

Not surprisingly, therefore, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ruled out negotiations on its nuclear program. At a news conference Monday, May 25, he said if he was reelected on June 12, he would challenge President Obama to a debate at UN headquarters in New York, but added: "Iran's nuclear issue is closed."

Date Posted: 26-Jan-2009

Jane's Defence Weekly

A new line of defence: Iran's naval capabilities

Iran's naval power projection continues to gather momentum as the country reveals plans to increase its presence along the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. Hossein Aryan reports

Iran has signalled its intention to increase its naval presence along the coast of the Gulf of Oman and up to the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil conduit, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

The commander of the navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Military (IRIM), Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, said: "A new line of defence has been established to the east of the Strait of Hormuz ... and if necessary we can prevent any enemy ship from entering the Persian Gulf."

Adm Sayyari was speaking at the October 2008 opening ceremony of a new naval base at Jask, a small fishing port about 300 km to the east of the port city of Bandar Abbas.

The high-profile deputy commander of the IRIM's navy, Brigadier General Abdolrahim Musavi, echoed these sentiments at the naval base's inauguration.

"The mastery of the Islamic republic is reaching the Indian Ocean. ... Today, the enemy is watching how a country, subjected to 30 years of sanctions, is making headway in all domains. ... The time of bullying and unilateralism, encirclement and invasion has come to an end. ... The sooner they understand this the better, otherwise they will have to pay a heavy price," he said.

Gen Musavi told reporters that, at one time, aircraft carriers "terrorised" countries along their route, but today they are, as with "the elements of computer games", under the gaze of Iran's armed forces.

The following day, while inspecting Iran's main naval bases in Bandar Abbas, Adm Sayyari said that, in line with the new mission of the navy, which is to build an "impenetrable line" of defence along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, new naval bases will be rapidly constructed from Bandar Abbas, which occupies a strategic position on the Strait of Hormuz, to Pasa Bandar, near the Pakistani border.

Over the last three years the level of aggressive rhetoric by Iran's senior military commanders has often been connected to the waning and waxing of the possibility of a US or an Israeli attack against Iranian nuclear facilities.

US Vice Admiral William Gortney said at a Pentagon press briefing on 15 January: "I would have to say that they exercise their navy, like all nations exercise their navies, and there's rhetoric that comes out of every one of those exercises. I think that's designed to instil confidence in their people and potentially intimidate their neighbours. That, I think, is not helpful. It doesn't promote stability and security in the region. But we see that their rhetoric is much greater than their real capability."

Nevertheless, the evolution of Iran's military doctrine and its naval power projection has gained momentum over the last few years.

In dealing with a complex security environment in the Persian Gulf and many constraints on its naval power, the Islamic Republic has been trying to align its operational doctrine with the capabilities of its two navies - the navy of the IRIM and the navy of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC).

The new task of the IRIM's navy to boost its presence in the Gulf of Oman is the decision of Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme commander of the armed forces, who has also given the IRGC's navy the sole responsibility of defending Iran's interests in the Persian Gulf.

Major General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, former commander of the IRGC, who is now a military advisor to Khamenei, formally announced this decision on 16 September 2008. He told the semi-official Fars News Agency that the "defence of the Gulf of Oman and the Caspian Sea is the responsibility of the IRIM's navy".

In fact, this division of labour has been continuing for a number of years.

With the IRGC wielding immense political influence in the armed forces, at the General Command Headquarters (Khamenei's own military headquarters), in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), in the government and among influential clerics, the IRGC's navy has been in a privileged position in terms of funding and resources.

Since its establishment in September 1985 - in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War - as an independent force alongside the IRIM's navy, the operational role of the IRGC's navy has grown.

Now with 22,000 personnel, including some 5,000 marines, the IRGC's navy has the potential during a conflict to increase its manpower threefold with Basij militias from littoral provinces, according to claims by Adm Saffari.

Marines and sailors of the IRGC's navy are stationed in almost every Iranian port, harbour and islands in the Persian Gulf.

It operates all mobile land-based anti-ship missile batteries and has an array of missile boats; torpedo boats; catamaran patrol boats with rocket launchers; motor boats with heavy machine guns; mines as well as Yono (Qadir)-class midget submarines; and a number of swimmer delivery vehicles.

Production levels of small interception craft continue to be high. Several of these have been developments of the original North Korean design.

It is worth noting that Iran has also been active in the Caspian Sea, where Derafsh - the last of three Combattante II-class vessels - was commissioned at Bandar Anzali in September 2007.

Although claims about its weapons and capabilities are arguably exaggerated, designed primarily to deter US military actions, the IRGC's navy in its current form is highly motivated. Among other things, it has the capability to conduct hit-and-run operations; lay a variety of mines, target ships with shore-based missiles from an approximate range of 90 km; raid offshore facilities; and direct many of its speedboats at civilian and naval targets primarily in the Hormuz chokepoint, using swarming tactics.

It can also target ships using unmanned speedboats or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) laden with explosive charges or with remote-controlled weapons on board. The deputy commander of the IRGC's navy, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, told the Fars News Agency on 11 November that both unmanned speedboats and UAVs are now mass-produced in the country.

During a military exercise in 2006, the IRGC's navy test-fired a Hoot torpedo capable of moving at 195 kt, or four times faster than a normal torpedo. Most military and industry analysts have concluded that the Hoot is derived from the Russian VA-111 Shkval supercavitation torpedo, which travels at the same speed.

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammed Ali Jafari announced in August 2008 that Iran had test-fired a "new naval weapon that could destroy any vessel in a range of 300 km".

Meanwhile, the incident between Iranian high-speed craft and three US warships in January last year was a reminder of the tense and potentially dangerous situation in the Persian Gulf.

The IRGC relies on strength in numbers and surprise. The vessels of this navy can rapidly disperse and shelter in small inlets, small fishing ports and hardened sites.

Overall, the IRGC's navy has adopted an asymmetric operational doctrine with special emphasis on elements of unconventional warfare to counter the overwhelming naval superiority of the United States. The main aim is to defeat the US by war of attrition by trying to exploit perceived US vulnerabilities and erode its will to continue fighting.

The 1979 revolution broke the backbone of the Imperial Iranian Navy, in terms of human and non-human resources. Following the establishment of the IRGC's navy and the evolution of Iran's military doctrine during the Iran-Iraq War and afterwards, which led to full adoption of the asymmetric naval warfare doctrine, the IRIM's navy has been mainly ignored and its conventional capabilities gradually eroded. No serious attempts were made to replace its decaying Western-supplied ships or revive its fleet air arm with modern maritime reconnaissance aircraft and seaborne helicopters.

However, on 11 November 2008, a senior defence official told the Fars News Agency that some Iran-140 (Antonov-140) passenger aircraft built in Iran under licence would be turned into maritime reconnaissance aircraft. A topographic satellite scheduled to be launched into low earth orbit in two years, meanwhile, could improve the Iranian navies' ability to control movement in the Persian Gulf.

The IRIM's navy, as well as being comparatively small, suffers from what can be called 'overall obsolescence', although attempts at modernisation have been taking place.

This navy has three frigates, two corvettes, 10 fast-attack craft and three Russian-made 'Kilo'-class submarines purchased in the early 1990s.

In terms of weapons and electronics, the operational readiness of the Alvand-class frigates (British-built Vosper Mk 5), commissioned more than 33 years ago, is almost non-existent, although they have been armed with Chinese C-802 missiles.

The two US-built Bayandor-class corvettes, which came into service more than 38 years ago, do not have sophisticated weapons, although Naghdi (ex-US PF 104) underwent modification in 2007, with the most recent reports saying that it will also be armed with C-802 missiles.

Ten ageing French-built Combatant fast-attack craft, purchased during the Shah's era, are based in Bushehr, in the operational domain of the IRGC's navy.

Two of the three 'Kilo'-class submarines, based in Bandar Abbas, are operational at any given time and are sparingly deployed in the eastern approaches of the Strait of Hormuz.

These submarines - which are capable of mine laying, firing torpedoes and possibly firing anti-ship missiles (as claimed by Iran in 2006) in the absence of surface or air support - are vulnerable, especially when returning to their base to re-arm or refuel and their chance of survival in a confrontation with the US Navy (USN) is slim.

Operational effectiveness has also been adversely affected by technical difficulties, although previously reported problems with battery cooling and air conditioning are understood to have been overcome using Indian batteries.

Following negotiations to upgrade the boats with Russian state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Tareq began refit at Bandar Abbas in mid-2005; a refit of Noor is expected to follow when this is completed.

Over the last seven years Iran has been involved in building a fourth Vosper Mk 5 frigate, Jamaran, under the Mowj project corvette, with commissioning expected in 2009.

However, in the last two years the IRIM's navy commissioned two Iranian-built missile boats (Peykan and Jushan), one Qadir-class midget and one 'semi-heavy' submarine (Qaem).

It is worth noting that Iran has also been active in the Caspian Sea, where at the start of December the IRIM's navy launched a seven-day manoeuvre, called Gil-17 (short for Gilan, a littoral province), according to Rear-Admiral Mahmoud Musavi, the commander of the Fourth Naval Zone.

As things stand, the IRIM's navy is not a bluewater navy, nor is it going to acquire such capabilities in the near future.

In view of this, the assignment of the task of defending Iran's interests in the Gulf of Oman or claiming that "the mastery of the Islamic Republic is reaching the Indian Ocean" seems to be an empty promise.

Jask is in a better position strategically than Bandar Abbas and has better access to the Gulf of Oman and deep water.

However, it has no port capacity; it only has a small quay for fishing boats and the small harbour that Iran's MoD intends to build to the east of this fishing village is in its infancy. Apart from two breakwaters, there are no adequate facilities or infrastructure to support ships and submarines. Moreover, Iran simply does not have the means - such as operational warships - to equip Jask and project its power in the Gulf of Oman.

On the other hand, Jask is already the site of anti-ship missile batteries backed by some units of marines and it has a small military airport.

As things stand, this constitutes no advance in Iran's ability to close the Strait of Hormuz.

However, this fishing port may gain some economic significance when the government's plan to lay an oil pipeline from Neka (on the Caspian Sea coast) to Jask is implemented. When completed, Jask will be the destination for the export of one million barrels of Central Asian crude oil per day.

Aside from this, the area between Jask and further east towards the Pakistani border is barren, isolated and sparsely populated.

With the exception of Chabahar, 241 km east of Jask, where the IRIM's navy has a small naval base, the area is one of the most underdeveloped parts of Iran and has little infrastructure.

Most of Iran's coastline in the Gulf of Oman is in the province of Sistan va Baluchestan, the poorest of Iran's provinces, where the influence of central government has not been strong as a result of a low-level war between Iranian armed forces and drug smugglers on one hand and Baluchi nationalists on the other.

In light of this and Iran's ailing economy, the IRIM's navy will find it difficult to establish sizeable naval bases along this stretch of Iranian coast.

Taking into account the capabilities of Iran's defence industry, it appears that the IRIM's navy, in trying to fulfil its new mission, will have little choice but to follow in the footsteps of the IRGC's navy by deploying mobile shore-based anti-ship missiles along the Gulf of Oman coast, as well as stationing missile and speed boats in small underdeveloped fishing ports.

In doing so, however, the IRIM's navy will, firstly, have to build or purchase enough boats. In other words, it will have to focus on increasing its deterrence capabilities.

Rear Admiral Abbas Mohtaj, the then navy chief, said in January 2005 that, instead of seeking to defeat the enemy, Iran's naval operations aim to make its enemies "fail to achieve its goals" and therefore should adopt "asymmetric defence".

The IRIM's navy chief's comment that the new base in Jask will increase Iran's power projection and allow it to close the Strait of Hormuz has often been repeated by other military commanders.

However, this kind of threat is nothing new. Every now and again, Iranian officials and military commanders make a statement to the effect that Iran would not rule out using the oil weapon and closing the Strait of Hormuz if the US decides to carry out military strikes against its nuclear sites.

After the testing of a new anti-ship missile, IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jaffari told the Fars News Agency in early August 2008: "[This] missile could sink any ship at a range of 300 km and enemies should know that [Iran] can easily block the Strait of Hormuz for an unlimited period."

The Strait of Hormuz, through which around 40 per cent of globally traded oil leaves the Persian Gulf, is one of the most important oil choke points in the world.

Currently, it is virtually impossible to divert oil transit away from this strait. The only significant outlet is the Saudi Arabia pipeline to Yanbu on the Red Sea, but this pipeline can only handle about five million barrels per day. Closure of the Strait of Hormuz would, therefore, create serious problems for the oil market.

As for Iran, the closure of the strait would be counterproductive.

Economically, the Strait of Hormuz remains Iran's main artery through which Iranian oil flows to the world market. As a result of its inadequate refining capacity, Iran imports approximately 40 per cent of its petrol and a major proportion of this comes from Europe, the Far East and India via the Strait of Hormuz. Moreover, with its rentier economy, Iran is highly dependent on oil revenue, which makes up more than 80 per cent of its annual foreign exchange receipts and more than 60 per cent of the budget's revenue.

Militarily, with its asymmetric tactics, the IRGC's navy, assisted by the IRIM's navy, certainly has the capabilities to disrupt the flow of oil via the strait or even block the strait for a short period. By resorting to an unrestrained fight, which is a part of Iran's asymmetric naval warfare, the IRGC's navy may even be able to inflict some losses on the USN.

Such actions can even greatly reduce tankers plying to the Persian Gulf for days or even weeks, but it is doubtful that it would have a lasting impact on the global oil supplies or the overall military balance. The response of the US with its superior military power and vast technological advantage could be devastating for Iran, let alone Iranian navies.

The conventional wisdom is that Iran could use mines as well as shore-based missiles to block the Strait of Hormuz.

However, in the West, in spite of a short-term disruption that such an action may cause, it is believed that the US military would clear mines and destroy all missile batteries in a short period.

A recent study by a former fellow at Harvard University's John M Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Caitlin Talmadge, suggests that the reality is much more complicated than conventional wisdom. The study finds that "the notion that Iran could truly blockade the Strait [of Hormuz] is wrong, but so too is the notion that the US operations to any Iranian action in the area would be short and simple".

Talmadge noted that Iran, with more than 200 patrol and coastal patrol boats suitable for mine laying, possesses at least 2,000 mines.

If Iranian navies were allowed to initiate a small mine-laying campaign in the Strait of Hormuz, the reopening of the strait by the USN could take at least five weeks and even months. For the USN to conduct its mine-clearing operations in a non-threatening environment, it would have to eliminate Iran's shore-based anti-ship missile batteries and neutralise its other naval capabilities.

This operation would be likely to cause the military tension between Iran and the US to escalate.

Iranian military commanders are well aware of the weaknesses and vulnerability of the forces under their command. Iran's attempt to seal the Strait of Hormuz would undoubtedly provoke US and other Western countries' intervention and only extreme conditions would push Iran to use this path.

Faced with overwhelming US sea power, however, asymmetric warfare and unconventional warfare is the only option short of surrender currently open to Iran should any conflict arise between itself and the US in the Persian Gulf.

Since the early 1990s, Iran has been trying to align its military doctrine with its capabilities by adopting ways of withstanding the superior power of the US in the region. In doing so, Iran has placed heavy emphasis on creating a missile-based deterrence.

Vice Admiral Ali Shamkhani, defence minister and former chief of the IRIM's navy, who now heads the Defence Strategic Research Centre, told the Fars News Agency on 29 October 2008: "Today, there is an imbalance of power between Iran and those who threaten it. ... Iran's deterrence strategy is not based on a balance of power."

Therefore, he said, focusing on Iran's missile programme and its air-defence system is the surest and most affordable way to strengthen the country's power of deterrence.

Hossein Aryan is a JDW Correspondent and former naval officer, specialising in security issues in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, based in the Czech Republic

Deputy Commander of the IRIM's navy, Brigadier General Abdolrahim Musavi said, " ... The time of bullying and unilateralism, encirclement and invasion has come to an end. ... The sooner they understand this the better, otherwise they will have to pay a heavy price," he said.

Jewish World Review April 13, 2009 / 19 Nisan 5769

Surviving in a post-American world

By Caroline B. Glick

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Like it or not, the United States of America is no longer the world's policeman. This was the message of Barack Obama's presidential journey to Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Iraq this past week.

Somewhere between apologizing for American history — both distant and recent; genuflecting before the unelected, bigoted king of Saudi Arabia; announcing that he will slash the US's nuclear arsenal, scrap much of America's missile defense programs and emasculate the US Navy; leaving Japan to face North Korea and China alone; telling the Czechs, Poles and their fellow former Soviet colonies, "Don't worry, be happy," as he leaves them to Moscow's tender mercies; humiliating Iraq's leaders while kowtowing to Iran; preparing for an open confrontation with Israel; and thanking Islam for its great contribution to American history, President Obama made clear to the world's aggressors that America will not be confronting them for the foreseeable future.

Whether they are aggressors like Russia, proliferators like North Korea, terror exporters like nuclear-armed Pakistan or would-be genocidal-terror-supporting nuclear states like Iran, today, under the new administration, none of them has any reason to fear Washington.

This news is music to the ears of the American Left and their friends in Europe. Obama's supporters like billionaire George Soros couldn't be more excited at the self-induced demise of the American superpower. CNN's former (anti-)Israel bureau chief Walter Rodgers wrote ecstatically in the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, "America's... superpower status, is being downgraded as rapidly as its economy."

The pro-Obama US and European media are so pleased with America's abdication of power that they took the rare step of applauding Obama at his press conference in London. Indeed, the media's enthusiasm for Obama appeared to grow with each presidential statement of contrition for America's past uses of force, each savage attack he leveled against his predecessor George W. Bush, each swipe he took at Israel, and each statement of gratitude for the blessings of Islam he uttered.

But while the media couldn't get enough of the new US leader, America's most stable allies worldwide began a desperate search for a reset button that would cause the administration to take back its abandonment of America's role as the protector of the free world.

Tokyo was distraught by the administration's reaction to North Korea's three-stage ballistic missile test. Japan recognized the betrayal inherent in Defense Secretary Robert Gates's announcement ahead Pyongyang's newest provocation that the US would only shoot the missile down if it targeted US territory. In one sentence, uttered not in secret consultations, but declared to the world on CNN, Gates abrogated America's strategic commitment to Japan's defense.

India, for its part, is concerned by Obama's repeated assertions that its refusal to transfer control over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir provinces to Pakistan inspires Pakistani terror against India. It is equally distressed at the Obama administration's refusal to make ending Pakistan's support for jihadist terror groups attacking India a central component of its strategy for contending with Pakistan and Afghanistan. In general, Indian officials have expressed deep concern over the Obama administration's apparent lack of regard for India as an ally and a significant strategic counterweight to China.

Then there is Iraq. During his brief visit to Baghdad on Tuesday afternoon, Obama didn't even pretend that he would ensure that Iraqi democracy and freedom is secured before US forces are withdrawn next year. The most supportive statement he could muster came during his conversation with Turkish students in Istanbul earlier in the day. There he said, "I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out, that we do so in a careful enough way that we don't see a complete collapse into violence."

Hearing Obama's statements, and watching him and his advisers make daily declarations of friendship to Iran's mullahs, Iraqi leaders are considering their options for surviving the rapidly approaching storm.

Then there is Europe. Although Obama received enthusiastic applause from his audience in Prague when he announced his intention to destroy the US's nuclear arsenal, drastically scale back its missile defense programs and forge a new alliance with Russia, his words were anything but music to the ears of the leaders of former Soviet satellites threatened by Russia. The Czech, Polish, Georgian and Ukrainian governments were quick to recognize that Obama's strong desire to curry favor with the Kremlin and weaken his own country will imperil their ability to withstand Russian aggression.

It is not a coincidence, for instance, that the day Obama returned to Washington, Georgia's Moscow-sponsored opposition announced its plan to launch massive protests in Tblisi to force the ouster of pro-Western, anti-Russian Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. And as for Russia, like Iran, which responded to Obama's latest ode to the mullahs by opening a nuclear fuel plant and announcing it has 7,000 advanced centrifuges in operation, so Moscow reacted to Obama's fig leaf with a machine gun, announcing its refusal to support sanctions against North Korea and repeating its false claim that Iran's nuclear program is nonaggressive.

Finally there is Israel. If Obama's assertions that Israel must support the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state, his declarations of support for the so-called Saudi "peace plan," which requires Israel to commit national suicide in exchange for "peace" with the Arab world, and his continuous and increasingly frantic appeals for Iran to "engage" his administration weren't enough to show Israel that Obama is sacrificing the US's alliance with the Jewish state in a bid to appease the Arabs and Iran, on Tuesday Vice President Joseph Biden made this policy explicit.

When Biden told CNN that Israel would be "ill-advised" to attack Iran's nuclear installations, he made clear that from the administration's perspective, an Israeli strike that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power is less acceptable than a nuclear-armed Iran. That is, the Obama administration prefers to see Iran become a nuclear power than to see Israel secure its very existence.

AMERICA'S BETRAYAL of its democratic allies makes each of them more vulnerable to aggression at the hands of their enemies — enemies the Obama administration is now actively attempting to appease. And as the US strengthens their adversaries at their expense, these spurned democracies must consider their options for surviving as free societies in this new, threatening, post-American environment.

For the most part, America's scorned allies lack the ability to defeat their enemies on their own. India cannot easily defeat nuclear-armed Pakistan, which itself is fragmenting into disparate anti-Indian nuclear-wielding Islamist and Islamist-supporting factions.

Japan today cannot face North Korea — which acts as a Chinese proxy — on its own without risking a confrontation with China. Russia's invasion of Georgia last August showed clearly that its former republics and satellites have no way of escaping Moscow's grip alone. This week's Arab League conference at Doha demonstrated to Iraq's leaders that their Arab brethren are incapable and unwilling to confront Iran.

And the Obama administration's intense efforts to woo Iran coupled with its plan to slash the US's missile defense programs — including those in which Israel participates — and reportedly pressure Israel to dismantle its own purported nuclear arsenal — make clear that Israel today stands alone against Iran.

THE RISKS that the newly inaugurated post-American world pose for America's threatened friends are clear. But viable opportunities for survival do exist, and Israel can and must play a central role in developing them. Specifically, Israel must move swiftly to develop active strategic alliances with Japan, Iraq, Poland, and the Czech Republic and it must expand its alliance with India.

With Israel's technological capabilities, its intelligence and military expertise, it can play a vital role in shoring up these countries' capacities to contain the rogue states that threaten them. And by containing the likes of Russia, North Korea and Pakistan, they will make it easier for Israel to contain Iran even in the face of US support for the mullahs.

The possibilities for strategic cooperation between and among all of these states and Israel run the gamut from intelligence sharing to military training, to missile defense, naval development, satellite collaboration, to nuclear cooperation. In addition, of course, expanded economic ties between and among these states can aid each of them in the struggle to stay afloat during the current global economic crisis.

Although far from risk free, these opportunities are realistic because they are founded on stable, shared interests. This is the case despite the fact that none of these potential alliances will likely amount to increased support for Israel in international forums. Dependent as they are on Arab oil, these potential allies cannot be expected to vote with Israel in the UN General Assembly. But this should not concern Jerusalem.

The only thing that should concern Jerusalem today is how to weaken Iran both directly by attacking its nuclear installations, and indirectly by weakening its international partners in Moscow, Pyongyang, Islamabad and beyond in the absence of US support. If Japan is able to contain North Korea and so limit Pyongyang's freedom to proliferate its nuclear weapons and missiles to Iran and Syria and beyond, Israel is better off. So, too, Israel is better off if Russia is contained by democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe. These nations in turn are better off if Iran is contained and prevented from threatening them both directly and indirectly through its strategic partners in North Korea, Syria and Russia, and its terror affiliates in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. For the past 16 years, successive Israeli governments have wrongly believed that politics trump strategic interests. The notion that informed Israel's decision-makers — not unlike the notion that now informs the Obama administration — was that Israel's strategic interests would be secured as a consequence of its efforts to appease its enemies by weakening itself. Appreciative of Israel's sacrifices for peace, the nations of the world — and particularly the US, the Arabs and Europe — would come to Israel's defense in its hour of need. Now that the hour of need has arrived, Israel's political strategy for securing itself has been exposed as a complete fiasco.

The good news is that no doubt sooner rather than later, Obama's similarly disastrous bid to denude the US of its military power under the naive assumption that it will be able to use its new stature as a morally pure strategic weakling to win its enemies over to its side will fail spectacularly and America's foreign policy will revert to strategic rationality.

But to survive the current period of American strategic madness, Israel and the US's other unwanted allies must build alliances with one another — covertly if need be — to contain their adversaries in the absence of America. If they do so successfully, then the damage to global security induced by Obama's emasculation of his country will be limited. If on the other hand, they fail, then America's eventual return to its senses will likely come too late for its allies — if not for America itself.

Monday, May 25, 2009

North Korea and Iran on WMD

An analysis by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control

April 7, 2009

Today, prosecutors in New York revealed that during the past three years, Chinese firms have sold Iran materials useful for making nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. The revelations were the product of an extensive investigation into suspicious transactions that used New York banks and Chinese front companies, and that were carried out by the Chinese firm Limmt (Dalian) Metallurgy and Minerals Co., Ltd. The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control is proud to have aided in the investigation.

Although it is uncertain what Iran actually produced with the materials it imported, Iran’s active nuclear and missile programs make the sales alarming. Many of the materials were on the list of sensitive nuclear and missile items controlled for export internationally.

According to the indictment released by the prosecutors, the following items were among those exported:


This material is used to make missile nose cones, missile nozzle throat inserts, and missile jet vanes (which steer the missile engine exhaust and thus guide the missile). The material is controlled for export as a powder, which can be formed into missile parts by pouring the powder into molds and sintering it.

Graphite cylinders for EDM
Liaoning Industry and Trade Co. Ltd. (a front company for Limmt) sold Iran graphite cylinders stated to be for electrical discharge machines. These machines are controlled for export because they are capable of making, with high accuracy, parts with complex forms. Such parts include explosive, hemispherical components for nuclear weapons, end caps for gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium to nuclear weapon grade or reactor grade, and crucibles for casting liquid uranium or plutonium for nuclear weapon cores. The buyer in Iran was Aban Commercial and Industrial Company.

Graphite is controlled for export as a material if it meets certain specifications that make it suitable for being manufactured into rocket nozzles and re-entry vehicle nose tips. The graphite exported to Iran met those specifications.

High-strength aluminum
Aban also ordered high-strength aluminum from Liaoning. The aluminum was of a strength sufficient to make components for gas centrifuges that enrich uranium to nuclear weapon grade or reactor grade, although considerable machining would be required to make such components. The aluminum was not controlled for export as a nuclear item because it was not in the form of tubes or cylinders. The aluminum was, however, strong enough to be on the control list of military items.

Maraging steel
SC (Dalian) Industry & Trade Co. sold Iran 25 tons of maraging steel that was apparently controlled for export for nuclear reasons. Because of its high tensile strength, maraging steel is one of the few materials strong enough to be used to make gas centrifuge parts. Gas centrifuges are, as stated above, used to enrich uranium. The buyer was the Amin Industrial Complex, which has two addresses, a telephone number, and a fax number identical to those of Khorasan Metallurgy, an Iranian firm that, according to the United Nations, produces centrifuge parts. Khorasan is linked to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and has been sanctioned (punished) by both the European Union and the United Nations.

Maraging steel can also be used to make motor cases for solid-fueled rockets, rocket propellant tanks, and rocket interstages.


In addition to describing materials, the indictment contained information about Iranian companies. Three of the companies mentioned are subsidiaries of the Ammunition Industries Group (AMIG), an entity affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Defense. AMIG is also the largest industrial group of Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO). According to the United Nations, some DIO subordinates have been involved in component manufacturing for Iran’s centrifuge program. As stated above, one of the entities listed has the same contact information as Khorasan Metallurgy, including two addresses, one telephone number and one fax number.

Shahid Sayyade Shirazi Industries
This company is a subsidiary of the Ammunition Industries Group (AMIG), which is the largest industrial group of Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO) and affiliated with the Ministry of Defense. Both DIO and AMIG (along with entities they own or control, or those acting on their behalf or at their direction) have been sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council, the European Union and the United States for their links to proliferation. Some DIO subordinates have been "involved in Iran's centrifuge program making components," and in Iran's missile program, according to the U.N. Security Council. Composite rotors for the P-2 centrifuge have been manufactured in a workshop situated on a DIO site, and several DIO workshops help produce centrifuge components. This company also “produces large caliber items and their cartridge cases,” according to the AMIG web site. Its parent AMIG manufactures ammunition, mortar bombs, pyrotechnics, anti-tank and sea mines, hand grenades and detonators, and DIO produces an array of defense equipment.

Yazd Metallurgy Industries
This company too is a subsidiary of the Ammunition Industries Group (AMIG).

Khorasan Metallurgy
This company has been sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council and the European Union for links to proliferation, as stated above. Khorasan is a subsidiary of the Ammunition Industries Group (AMIG), and is involved in the production of centrifuge components, according to the United Nations. It also manufactures cutting tools and products such as drills, milling cutters, taps, reamers, and compound tools.

Amin Industrial Complex
As stated above, this company shares a fax number and a P.O. Box with Khorasan Metallurgy Industries, as well as a street address and telephone number.


LIMMT Dalian Metallurgy & Minerals Co.
The prosecutors indicted one Chinese entity, LIMMT Dalian Metallurgy & Minerals Co. This company had already been sanctioned by the United States in February 2009 for engaging in proliferation activities, and was added to the Specially Designated National list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control on June 13, 2006. According to the Treasury Department, during the year prior to its designation the company supplied, or attempted to supply, "controlled items" to "Iran's military and missile organizations.” This company was also listed by the Japanese government in 2007 as an entity of concern for proliferation relating to missiles and it was sanctioned by the United States in 2004 and 2005 under the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. LIMMT is also known as Dalian Sunny Industries, LIMMT (Dalian FTZ) Economic and Trade Organization, LIMMT Economic and Trade Company Ltd., and LIMMT (Dalian FTZ) Minmetals and Metallurgy Co., Ltd.


Iran's Nuclear Timetable
Updated March 1, 2009

Iran’s bank of rapidly spinning centrifuges has produced a stockpile of low-enriched uranium, able to fuel nuclear reactors, but able also to fuel nuclear weapons if further enriched by re-circulating it through the centrifuges. The re-circulation raises the concentration of the uranium isotope U-235, which fissions in nuclear weapons such as the one dropped on Hiroshima.

Based on the amount of low-enriched uranium Iran has stockpiled, and the amount it is believed to be producing each month, the Wisconsin Project estimates that by December 2008, Iran had accumulated enough U-235 to fuel one bomb quickly. "Quickly," in this context, means two to three months – about the time it would take Iran to raise the level of U-235 in its uranium stockpile from 3.5 percent to over 90 percent.

As Iran increases the number of centrifuge machines it is operating, and increases its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, it will consolidate its status as a "virtual" nuclear weapon state.

Iran's progress towards this status as of March 1, 2009 is estimateda below:

Amount of U-235 contained in Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium:
25.4 kg b
Amount of this U-235 produced each month:
1.6 kg c
Amount of this U-235 required to fuel a first-generation implosion bombd:
21.6 kg e
Date by which Iran probably had stockpiled the above:
December 2008 f
Number of additional months needed to convert this low-enriched uranium to weapon-grade g:
Two to three h
Date by which Iran may have enough U-235 to fuel a second bomb:
October 2009 i
Additional estimates: Moving from reactor-grade to weapon-grade uranium

Amount of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) enriched to 3.5 percent U-235 now on hand:
1,074 kg j
Average daily production rate of this low-enriched UF6:
2.28 kg k
Amount of this low-enriched UF6 needed to produce a bomb’s worth of weapon-grade UF6:
914 kg l
Number of separative work units (SWUs)m needed to accomplish the above:
840 n
Number of first generation IR-1 centrifuges being fed with UF6 at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant as of February 1, 2009:
3,936 o
Number of SWUs these centrifuges appear to be producing per year:
2,000 p
Total number of centrifuges installed or being installed at Natanz, as of February 1, 2009:
5,904 q
Number of SWUs these 5,904 centrifuges are assumed to be capable of producing per year:
6,000 r
Number of months needed for these 5,904 centrifuges operating at such a capacity to produce 840 SWUs:
1.7 s

Additional estimates: Low-enriched uranium production

Amount of UF6 produced through February 9, 2009:
357 metric tons t
Approximate number of first-generation implosion bombs that this amount of UF6 could fuel if enriched to weapon grade:
45-50 u
Additional information: Number of centrifuges deployed over time

Date of IAEA inventory Centrifuges being fed with UF6 Centrifuges installed or being installed
2/17/2007 0 656
5/13/2007 1,312 820
8/19/2007 1,968 656
11/3/2007 2,952 0
12/12/2007 2,952 ?
5/7/2008 3,280 2,624
8/30/2008 3,772 2,132
11/7/2008 3,772 2,132
2/1/2009 3,936 1,968

(a) The following estimates are based on information in quarterly reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is responsible for nuclear inspections in Iran.

(b) According to the IAEA, Iran had produced a total of 839 kg of low-enriched UF6 as of November 17, 2008. Since then, Iran has produced approximately 235 kg of this material for a total of 1,074 kg (see note j) (http://www.iranwatch.org/international/IAEA/documents/iaea-iranreport-021909.pdf). Of that amount, 726 kg is uranium; 726 kg of uranium enriched to 3.5% contain 25.4 kg of U-235.

(c) Iran is estimated to produce about 2.28 kg of low-enriched UF6 each day (see note k), for an average monthly production rate of 69 kg month, 46 kg of which is uranium; enriched to 3.5%, this 46 kg contains 1.6 kg of U-235.

(d) Sixteen kilograms are assumed to be sufficient for an implosion bomb. This was the amount called for in the implosion device Saddam Hussein was trying to perfect in the 1980’s, and the design for such a device has circulated on the nuclear black market, to which Iran has had access. The critical mass of a sphere of U-235 metal is only 15 kg with a Beryllium reflector. See Gunter Hildenbrand, Nuclear energy, nuclear exports and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, AIF Conference on International Commerce and Safeguards for Civil Nuclear Power, March 1977. For a schematic diagram of an implosion bomb, see: www.wisconsinproject.org/bomb-facts/images/nw-1.jpg.

(e) Because of losses during the enrichment and weaponization processes, Iran would need about 914 kg (see note l) of UF6 enriched to 3.5% U-235, of which about 618 kg would be uranium, in order to achieve 16 kg of weapon-grade uranium. 618 kg of uranium enriched to 3.5% U-235 contains 21.6 kg of U-235. See the SWU calculator published by URENCO, a European uranium enrichment consortium: web.archive.org/web/20021226100607/www.urenco.de/trennarbeit/swucal_e.html.

(f) Assuming 19.9 kg of U-235 on hand as of November 17, 2008, a requirement of 21.6 kg for a first bomb, and a production rate of 1.6 kg of U-235 each month, Iran would have had enough in December 2008.

(g) Once enriched to weapon-grade, this material would still need to be converted from gas to metal and then machined into a form suitable for a bomb.

(h) The IAEA estimates the conversion time for low-enriched uranium to weapon-grade uranium metal to be approximately 3-12 months (www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/nvs-3-cd/PDF/NVS3_prn.pdf). However, if it would take approximately 840 SWUs to produce 16 kg of U-235 from a stockpile of 3.5% enriched uranium (see note n), and if Iran is capable of producing 6,000 SWUs per year (see note r), then a conversion time at the lower end of this range is probable. Therefore, Iran could have weapon-grade UF6 within 2-3 months, even assuming a delay in processing.

(i) If Iran were to add by April 1, 2009 the 1,476 centrifuges it has installed and placed under vacuum, the monthly production rate of U-235 would increase by about 37% to 2.2 kg per month, and if by June 2009 Iran operates all 5,904 centrifuges that are currently either in use or being installed, and adds no additional centrifuges, the monthly production rate of U-235 would increase by about 9% to approximately 2.4 kg per month. These production rates would allow Iran to accumulate the requisite 21.6 kg for a second bomb by October 2009.

(j) According to the IAEA, Iran had an inventory of 839 kg of low-enriched UF6 as of November 17, 2008, based on production from the beginning of operations (http://www.iranwatch.org/international/IAEA/documents/iaea-iranreport-021909.pdf); Iran has estimated that it produced 171 kg of this material from November 18, 2008 through January 31, 2009; and at an average daily production rate of 2.28 kg, Iran produced about 64 kg in February, for a total of 1,074 kg of low-enriched UF6 by March 1, 2009.

(k) Iran estimates that it produced 171 kg of low-enriched UF6 over 75 days, from November 18, 2008 to January 31, 2009, for; an average daily production rate of 2.28 kg.

(l) This is assuming uranium tails of 1% U-235, a feed assay of 3.5% U-235, a product assay of 93% U-235, a 5% loss of material during bomb manufacture, and that 16 kg of this product are needed for a bomb. See the SWU calculator published by URENCO, a European uranium enrichment consortium: web.archive.org/web/20021226100607/www.urenco.de/trennarbeit/swucal_e.html.

(m) The Separative Work Unit is the standard measure of the effort required to increase the concentration of the fissionable U-235 isotope. See www.urenco.com/Content/89/Glossary.aspx.

(n) Based on the assumptions set forth above (see footnote l), Iran would need approximately 840 SWUs to bring 914 kg of low-enriched UF6 to weapon grade. See the SWU calculator published by URENCO, a European uranium enrichment consortium: web.archive.org/web/20021226100607/www.urenco.de/trennarbeit/swucal_e.html.

(o) According to the IAEA, Iran is operating an 18 cascade unit (A24) of 2,952 machines and six cascades (984 machines) in a second unit (A26) at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (http://www.iranwatch.org/international/IAEA/documents/iaea-iranreport-021909.pdf).

(p) Iran has not been operating its IR-1 centrifuges at their estimated capacity. For instance, between December 2007 and November 2008, during which Iran was operating an average of 3,444 machines, 764 kg of low enriched UF6 were produced. Assuming a product assay of 3.5% U-235 and tails of .4% U-235, this represents about 1,880 SWU, or just over .5 SWU per machine.

(q) According to the IAEA, Iran is operating an 18 cascade unit (A24) of 2,952 machines and six cascades (984 machines) in a second unit (A26); a further nine cascades (1,476 machines) at unit A26 are installed and under vacuum and the three remaining cascades (492 machines) are being installed (http://www.iranwatch.org/international/IAEA/documents/iaea-iranreport-021909.pdf)

(r) Iran’s IR-1 centrifuge is widely estimated to have an annual enrichment capacity of about two SWUs. Iran, however, has been achieving a lower output (see note p). If Iran were to increase the efficiency of its centrifuges to one SWU per machine, two units operating at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant would produce about 6,000 SWUs per year.

(s) If 840 SWUs are needed to bring a bomb’s worth of Iran’s stockpiled low-enriched UF6 to weapon-grade, and if Iran’s centrifuges produce approximately 6,000 SWUs per year, it would probably take less than two months.

(t) According to the IAEA, 357 metric tons is the total amount of UF6 produced by Iran at its Uranium Conversion Facility from the beginning of operations in March 2004, to February 9, 2009 (http://www.iranwatch.org/international/IAEA/documents/iaea-iranreport-021909.pdf).

(u) natural uranium feed, a product assay of 93%, and tails of .4%, 357 metric tons of UF6 would yield approximately 800 kg of uranium enriched to 93% U-235; if 16 kg of 93% material are required to fuel one first-generation implosion device, then this 800 kg of uranium would be enough to fuel 45-50 such weapons.

A terrifying prospect
Posted By: Con Coughlin at Jan 24, 2007 at 17:18:20 [General]
Posted in:
Tags:Iran, Kim Jong Il, North Korea, nuclear, underground

My revelation that North Korea is helping Iran to prepare for an underground nuclear test is yet more evidence that Teheran's nuclear programme is anything but benign.

Kim Jong Il is helping the Iranians

The Iranians, of course, insist that they are only interested in developing nuclear power - this in a country which possesses the world's second largest oil reserves.

But suspicions about Iran's true intentions have been deepening ever since a group of Iranian exiles in 2003 revealed the existence of a top secret uranium facility at Natanz, whose very existence the Iranians had sought to conceal from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the body responsible for monitoring nuclear research and development worldwide.

If there was nothing untoward taking place at Natanz, then why did the Iranians try to conceal its existence.

There are many other clues that point to an altogether more sinister side to Iran's nuclear programme, from its links with A.Q. Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb who sold Iran the Pakistani blueprint, to Iran's cooperation with North Korea on developing a ballistic missile system that will give it the capability to hit targets throughout the Middle East - including Israel, a country the current Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says he wants to wipe off the face of the Middle East.

Last year I reported in the Daily Telegraph that Iran had successfully adapted the warhead of its Shahab-3 missile system to carry a nuclear warhead. Now it looks as though Iran will soon have a warhead to fit on the missile, a truly terrifying prospect.

Why else would a team of Iranian nuclear experts have travelled to Pyongyang to study the results of the controversial nuclear test the North Koreans carried out last October?

The logical conclusion to be drawn from the increased cooperation between North Korea and Iran is that the Iranians are determined to test a nuclear device as soon as the Natanz plant produces enough weapons grade uranium for a trial warhead.

North Korea has acquired both nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems

North Korea now 'fully fledged nuclear power'
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the United Nations nuclear agency, has said that North Korea is a fully fledged nuclear power, as Russia warned there was no quick solution to the breakdown in negotiations with the rogue state.

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
Last Updated: 4:16PM BST 24 Apr 2009

Mohamed ElBaradei: Mr ElBaradei said there are now nine countries in the world with the capability of launching a nuclear missile Photo: REUTERS
"North Korea has nuclear weapons, which is a matter of fact," said Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speaking in Beijing.

He added: "I don't like to accept any country as a nuclear weapon state but we have to face reality."

North Korea threatens nuclear testMr ElBaradei said there are now nine countries in the world with the capability of launching a nuclear missile. His comments echoed a report by a Pentagon task force chaired by James Schlesinger, the former US defence secretary. The task force admitted that "North Korea, India and Pakistan have acquired both nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems".

The warning that North Korea is a full nuclear power came as Russia's most senior diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, visited Pyongyang and warned that there is no sign of a easy solution to the North Korean crisis. The rogue state vowed to cease all negotiation and to restart its nuclear weapons programme after it was criticised by the UN Security Council for illegally testing a missile at the beginning of April.

"We do not foresee any breakthroughs," he told Russia's Interfax news agency after he held talks with the North Korean foreign minister, Pak Ui-chun. "This is a complicated process and we must not give in to emotions. We need to concentrate on the base we already have."

Russia and China are traditionally sympathetic to Pyongyang, but both countries supported the censure from the UN, and said existing sanctions should be more tightly enforced. The US and Japan have already prepared a blacklist of North Korean businesses whose assets should be frozen.

North Korea's decision to eject nuclear inspectors and build up an atomic arsenal has widely been seen as a negotiating ploy, but frustration in the West is growing with Kim Jong-il's regime. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state said earlier this week that the world should not "give in" to North Korea's "unpredictable behaviour".

The South Korean foreign minister, Yu Myung-hwan, said it would be some time before the North could restart its Yongbyon nuclear plant.

Meanwhile, General Walter Sharp, the commander of US forces in South Korea, said the North Korean army was "old" but dangerous.

"They have a very large special operating force and have the world's largest artillery force that is positioned very far south that can rain [explosives] on Seoul today," he said.

A Memorial Day tribute

A Memorial Day tribute to our fallen Heroes by Glenn Beck