DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 9, 2006
The underground nuclear explosion North Korea carried out early Monday, Oct. 9, confronts US president George W. Bush with one problem that has run out of control and another, Iran's nuclear program, which soon will.
The European-Russian-Chinese insistence on diplomacy with Iran - no sanctions, no military action - is close to reaching the same dead end as did the talks with North Korea conducted by the US, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea.
Bush knows that a military attack would evoke an immediate North Korean invasion of the South and a potential nuclear conflict. But Tehran is quietly watching to see how the North Korea crisis plays out.
Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister Tzipi Livni are not the first Israeli leaders to dump the Iranian issue in the international lap. None of their predecessors made any real effort to nip the Iranian nuclear threat in the bud when it could still be stopped cold or at least slowed down. There is still a short time left to take action before Israelis wake up one morning - as did North Koreans and Japanese Monday, Oct. 9 - to find they ware living under a dark nuclear shadow - only for Israel a nuclear Iran will be less a shadow than a mortal threat to its very existence.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 20, 2006
While the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement nations were making speeches at the 14th conference of their movement in Havana in mid-September, three groups of experts were off in a well-guarded corner next door to talk about matters far from the conference's main theme of how to develop backward economies and societies.
Iranian, Cuban and Venezuelan teams were putting their heads together on ways of translating their hostile rhetoric and slogans into effective war action against the United States.
debkafile's Exclusive intelligence and counter-terror sources disclose that the three teams were made up of intelligence officers and civilian officials on the staffs of the three rulers; their job is maintaining clandestine ties with underground and terrorist organizations.
Iran is also busy creating similar bases in E. Africa, favoring Sudan and Somalia.
At the Havana NAM conference the Iranian president and Sudan's Omar Bashir were seen deep in conversation. Tehran believes that the Sudanese ruler will come round now to accepting expanded military and intelligence collaboration between the two countries, whereas in 2003, he threw Iranian agents out of Sudan together with all their development specialists. Bashir is now seeking support for his Darfur policy which aims to remove pro-Western military elements from Sudan.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 20, 2006
Washington is keeping a sharp weather eye out for Tuesday, August 22, which this year corresponds in the Islamic calendar to the date on which many Sunni Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on his winged horse Buraq.
debkafile's intelligence sources report that information rated "highly credible" has reached US undercover agencies of a secret report presented to Iran's supreme ruler Ali Khamenei by Abdollah Shabhazi, one of the heads of the Supreme National Security Council. He claims to expose a mega-terror plot against Jerusalem scheduled for August 22, which aims at killing large numbers of Jews, Arabs and Christians.
This atrocity will reportedly arm the United States and Israel with the pretext for hitting Iran's nuclear installations, as well its capital, Tehran, and other big cities.
Deeply impressed, Iran's rulers launched a large-scale are, sea and ground exercise Saturday, Aug. 19.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 14, 2006
While the damage caused Israel's military reputation tops Western assessments of the Lebanon war, debkafile's Iranian sources report an entirely different perception taking hold in ruling circles in Tehran.
After UN Security Council resolution 1701 calling for a truce was carried Friday, Aug. 11, the heads of the regime received two separate evaluations of the situation in Lebanon - one from Iran's foreign ministry and one from its supreme national security council. Both were bleak: their compilers were concerned that Iran had been manipulatively robbed of its primary deterrent asset ahead of a probable nuclear confrontation with the United States and Israel.
It took Iran two decades to build up Hizballah's rocket inventory.
debkafile's sources estimate that Hizballah's adventure wiped out most of the vast sum of $4-6 bn the Iranian treasury sunk into building its military strength.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 15, 2006
In the past two weeks, Iran has been pumping into Iraq two types of extra-lethal weapons in very large quantities. They have already taken their toll in the shooting down of two military helicopters - one American and one British - and an estimated 19 deaths of US military personnel.
debkafile's military and intelligence sources estimate the delivery to Iraqi insurgents as consisting of around 1,000 SA-7 Strela ground-air missiles made in Iran, and a very large quantity of a newly-developed roadside bomb, loaded with compressed gas instead of ball bearings and cartridges, to magnify their blast and explosive power.
Together with the new Iranian weapons, a new array of Shiite terrorist groups has sprung up and is hitting American and British troops.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 14, 2006
Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim of Iranian success in low-level uranium enrichment was more bombastic than frank. Before springing his disclosure at a sacred mausoleum in the northern town of Mashhad on April 11, debkafile's Iranian sources disclose he paid a stealthy visit to Neyshabour in Khorassan, 38 kms to the southeast.
There, he inspected a project he omitted to mention in his Mashhad speech about low-level enrichment, namely, a top-secret plant under construction that is designed to run 155,000 centrifuges, enough to enrich uranium for 3-5 nuclear bombs a year.
This is Project B, or the hidden face of the enrichment plant open to inspection at Natanz.
This plant, due for completion next October, is scheduled to go on line at the end of 2007.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 4, 2006
Saturday, Feb. 4, Jerusalem stood back and watched the United States buckle under European pressure and accept Egypt's demand to incorporate the following phrase in the resolution on Iran:
The resolution recognized "that a solution to the Iranian issue would contribute to global nonproliferation efforts and... the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery."
While the Vienna decision looks like a victory for Western diplomacy, Iran's leaders have lost no time in seizing on it as a license to go full throttle ahead with their illicit uranium enrichment, free of UN spot inspections. Furthermore, they have been given added leverage: before halting their own program, they can demand that the entire Middle East be disarmed - first and foremost Israel.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 28, 2005
On Dec. 17, debkafile reported exclusively:
A special Iranian plane flew Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to Revolutionary Guards HQ at Bandar Abbas Monday, Dec. 12, after he spent 10 days in Tehran as favored guest of Iran's clerical rulers. There, he conferred with RG commanders on operational collaboration between the two Palestinian groups, Hamas and Jihad Islami in Gaza and the West Bank, and their hook-up with Iranian networks and Hizballah in Lebanon. Their shared goal: the opening of a second rocket and shelling front against northern Israel to complement the Gaza front in the south.
This decision was implemented ten days later, Tuesday night Dec, 27, with a bombardment from southern Lebanon of Israel's western Galilee and the northern towns of Kiryat Shemona and Shlomi.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 17, 2005
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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, echoed by the ayatollahs, persists in making outrageous hate statements, directed mainly at Israel.
His latest called the Holocaust a myth and proposed the Jews be resettled in Europe or Alaska - two months after he was condemned worldwide for saying Israel should be wiped off the map. These statements aggravate tensions in the West - especially around Iran's nuclear intentions.
At home too, Iran's rulers are bent on generating a sense of high crisis and menace. Their methods were described exclusively in DEBKA-Net-Weekly 233 on Dec. 9.
A sort of collective delusional hysteria is sweeping the Iranian populace, induced by the Islamic republic's extremist clerical rulers for reasons of their own. Wonder and hate are invoked by fake miracles and myths, demons and monsters.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 3, 2005
Iran's radical leaders, supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his senior nuclear adviser Hashemi Rafsanjani, were not dismayed by Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's declaration Thursday, Dec. 1, that Israel would not be able to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.
The statement made a ringing slogan for Sharon's new Kadima party's campaign for the March 2006 general election. Otherwise it was meaningless.
A more serious statement came from AMAN commander Brig. Aharon Zeevi Wednesday Nov. 30 in his briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee. He warned that if international pressure on Iran fails to bring forth results by March 2006, the world powers might as well give up, because by then it will be too late: Iran will have attained the capability to manufacture a nuclear bomb.
debkafile's intelligence sources reveal that the data on Iran's nuclear industry found in computer that came into CIA hands included a set of instructions in Chinese on how to build miniature nuclear warheads that can be fitted onto surface missiles.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 20, 2005
Iran agreed Sunday, Nov. 20, to suspend work on the conversion of raw uranium to UF6 gas at its high-speed centrifuge plant in Isfahan resumption - according to debkafile's exclusive sources in Tehran and Moscow. The announcement looks suspiciously like one of the Islamic Republic's usual stratagems ahead of yet another UN nuclear watchdog board meeting in Vienna to consider its nuclear case. These sources stress that the Bush-Putin plan is not aimed at rescuing Iran from the hot water of Security Council penalties but just the reverse - to draw Moscow into abandoning its resistance to sanctions.
Consequently, by cutting the ground from under a Russian veto against UN Security Council economic sanctions against Iran, Bush has brought this penalty closer to fruition.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 29, 2005
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's outrageous statements were not just the empty rhetoric of an inexperienced politician. They were backed up by solid action.
According to debkafile's counter-terror sources, Iranian intelligence shells out a fee of $50,000 and 80,000 to Sunni hit squads in central and western Iraq for every attack on American troops. Half this amount is paid out up front with the hit list; the balance, when the mission is accomplished. Unlike al Qaeda which kills Iraqis indiscriminately, Iranian intelligence paymasters insist on pinpointing Americans only.
The rate for Palestinian terrorist groups setting up strikes against Israelis is around $50,000 for each "successful" suicide killing.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 23, 2005
Mostafa Mohammad-Najar, brigadier general in the Revolutionary Guards, has packed a lurid, blood-spattered biography into his 49 years, according to the profile of Iran's new defense minister sketched here by debkafile's exclusive intelligence and Iranian experts. debkafile names him as the longtime senior controller of Imad Mughniyeh, one of Washington's most wanted terror masters, and notorious for his role in the earliest terror attacks on US targets in the Middle East. The first was the October 23, 1983, suicide bombing of US Marines headquarters in Beirut which killed 241 Marines. The second was the Khobar Towers blast in eastern Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996. In October 2000, a month after the outbreak of the Palestinian suicide terror war against Israel, Muhammad-Najar took a hand in the Hizballah's kidnap of three Israeli soldiers. At the end of 2001, he helped prepare the 50-ton illegal weapons cargo for loading at Kish Island aboard the Karine-A smuggling ship.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 25, 2005
A virtual nobody on Iran's national scene, Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 49, was picked by Iran's radical Islamic leaders and swung ahead of the presidential race to deal "the heaviest psychological blow to Iran's enemies." Those words were uttered by the new president in his first post-election statement Saturday, June 25. They attested to the fact that Iran had chosen him as its tool for getting back at the Bush administration for seeking to bring regime change and democracy to the Middle East and Iran in particular. debkafile's Iran experts note that this is the second victory Iran's unelected spiritual ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has scored against Washington in a month.
In early June, the Bush administration quietly gave up hope of the European-Iranian diplomatic track - or even UN Security Council penalties - persuading Tehran to relinquish its nuclear weapons program.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 21, 2005
21 June: By Monday night, June 20, rumors were swirling around Tehran that Iran's non-elected strongman, Ayatollah Ali Khameni had found a way of rigging the presidential election. Round one took place last Friday, June 17, and the run-off is scheduled for Friday, June 24. The favorite, former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, barely pulled ahead of a contestant who popped up out of the blue, the extremist Tehran mayor Mahmud Ahmadinez. He faces him again on Friday.
Rafsanjani, speaking of a "tarnished" election, was not alone. The Guardian Council was forced by more such accusations to allow a recount of 100 randomly selected vote boxes in between rounds.
debkafile's Iranian experts maintain that "spiritual ruler" Khameini would never have left the presidential election to chance. A special brew must have been cooked up in his bureau for a near nonentity like Ahmadinez to pick up 5.7 million votes compared with the charismatic former president Rafsanjani's 6.1 million ballots.
Reformist candidate Dr. Mostafa Mo-In, who came in fifth, accused the all-powerful body of spending millions to mobilize hundreds of thousands of Islamic militiamen to get a hardliner president voted in. By any true standards, Mo-In should have done much better in a country where half the electorate is under 30 and pining for a better life and democratic liberties.
Another complainer was former majlis speaker Hojjat-ol Eslam Mahdi Karrubi, a reformist candidate widely expected to place second. He was blunter than Mo-In, charging a general call-up had been arranged on voting day for Revolutionary Guards officers, men and reservists who were sent to cast their ballots for the Tehran mayor.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 13, 2005
The Bush administration has given up on the battle against Iran's nuclear armament. This is the meaning of Washington's decision to back the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA's board vote Monday, June 13, to reappoint Mohamed ElBaradei as agency director for a fifth term. Israel thus finds itself alone in the ring with the Iranian nuclear menace. Nothing now remains to stop Tehran attaining its goal of a nuclear bomb or bombs by the end of 2006 or early 2007 - except for the extreme eventuality of direct Israeli military action against Iran's nuclear facilities. The question is what brought about this drastic reversal in Washington? And why are Bush administration officials willing now to endorse ElBaradei after reviling him for four years (not forgetting the row over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction) as responsible more than any other international agent for letting Iran run off with a military nuclear capability?
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 20, 2005
The Ukrainian prosecutor-general Svyatoslav Piksun created a major international flap Friday, March 18, when he admitted to the Financial Times that 18 X-55 strategic cruise missiles, also known as Kh-55, had been "exported" - 12 to Iran and 6 to China in 2001. He could not explain how the "significant leak" of technology from the former Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal occurred, but said the missiles had been sold without nuclear warheads. The X-55 has a ranged of 3,000 km and is capable of carrying 200 kiloton nuclear warheads. Launched from Su-24 long-range strike aircraft in the Iranian air force, it can put Japan, all of Russia and Israel within range. Piksun's admission is the first official confirmation of the Ukrainian missile sale that was first made public last month by a Ukrainian parliament member.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 13, 2005
President George W. Bush said on Friday, March 11: "I look forward to working with our European friends to make it abundantly clear to the Iranian regime that the free world will not tolerate them having a nuclear weapon." He spoke after the Europeans agreed to refer the issue to the UN Security Council of diplomacy failed to bring Iran round. But Iran has been discovered stepping up activities in the tunnels running underneath the Isfahan nuclear facility where raw uranium is being converted into gas for use in uranium enrichment at the Natanz plant. Iran hopes the underground facility will be safe from any US bomb attack. Our intelligence sources have discovered that the Iranians found a way to remove IAEA seals from centrifuges at Natanz, a trick they may have picked up from the North Koreans. The United States, according to our military sources, is pressing ahead with its development of infrastructure for an Iranian underground opposition.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 5, 2005
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To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE. Syrian ruler Bashar Assad gave nothing away on Lebanon in his unscheduled address to parliament in Damascus Saturday, March 5. Repeatedly contradicting himself, he said: "We will not stay one day if Lebanese consensus asks us to leave". He then added: but we cannot desert the Lebanese president to whom we have a commitment. Assad's decision to redeploy Syrian troops eastward to the Beqaa Valley up to Syrian border sidestepped the issue. The Syrian ruler did not promise to pull a single Syrian troop or secret agent out of Lebanon. He also declared for good measure that Syria`s role in the country would not end with a military withdrawal (which he did not promise.) Sunday, February 20, Iranian military transports put down in Damascus military airport. They were the tail end of the biggest military airlift Iran has launched in the Middle East to date. Its objective was to set up shared Iranian-Syrian safeguards against attacks on the Islamic Republic's nuclear installations and/or Syrian strategic targets.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 1, 2005
The international ensemble dancing around Iran's nuclear program appears to have regrouped: the European Union and Russia are suddenly lining up against America barely a week after US President George W. Bush held talks in Europe to patch up differences with both. The crisscross movement began the minute Air Force One took off from Europe for Washington last Thursday, February 24. It was then that a private plane landed in Paris and the man who stepped out briskly was Iran's supreme national security council director and senior nuclear negotiator Hasan Rohani. Rohani returned to Tehran in time to receive Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Federal Energy Agency, who had come to sign the nuclear fuel delivery agreement Moscow had avoided for two years. According to debkafile's intelligence and Washington sources, the rationale behind this rush of events is simple: The Bush administration had decided to put the issue of uranium enrichment to one side after concluding that Iran has already secretly procured sufficient fissile material to make a bomb or warheads for nuclear missiles; Tehran is most likely in possession of most of the quantity it needs - or else has access to the missing portion. Therefore the offensive against enrichment has become almost irrelevant.