DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 19, 2007
Independent intelligence, military and scientific circles strongly suspect that Iran is a lot closer to a nuclear bomb than officials in the US, West Europe and Israel are ready to surmise in public. debkafile's sources report that this suspicion was strengthened by the discoveries made in Syria as a result of the Israeli attack of Sept. 6.
The knowledgeable Israeli Air Force Colonel (Res.) Shmuel Gordon informed recipients of a private publication issued last week that, according to his information, Iran may have accumulated enough fissile material for two to four nuclear bombs.
Tehran admitted that it aspires to have the round number of 50,000 centrifuges spinning the uranium gas into nuclear fuel, thereby producing a quantity for making a bomb every 20 days.
Whereas in Western terms, these figures may not be too scary, for Israel, the prospect of Iran's Mahmud Ahmadinejad having two to four nuclear bombs to play with by spring 2008 is ominous enough to blow over all its security calculations.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 5, 2007
Taking part in the American Persian Gulf exercise in progress since Nov. 2 are the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, its strike force and two smaller helicopter carriers, the USS Wasp and USS Kearsage, which are marine amphibian assault craft. Commander Jay Chambers, who also heads the combined 59th Task Force, described the exercise as tough and demanding but good preparation for realistic scenarios.
The maneuver began shortly after Iranian Gen. Ali Fahdavi stated that the Revolutionary Guards Naval forces under his command are ready and able to strike at oil export traffic heading out of the Gulf region. The statement on Oct. 29 was taken as an implicit Iranian threat to block oil tanker traffic through the Straits of Hormuz chokepoint. Fahdavi added that Iranian suicide teams were also braced to attack any Gulf target.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 27, 2007
President Bashar Assad was personally involved in Damascus' nuclear deal with Pyongyang. Documentary proofs of this, obtained from the presidential bureau and signed by Assad in person, are now in the hands of the US and Israeli intelligence services, debkafile's intelligence sources report. In one, Assad hands down a specific order in his own handwriting that North Korea not be charged for Syrian goods, including an annual shipment of 100,000 tons of Durham wheat for five years worth a total of $120 million. This is the equivalent of the value of the reactor for producing plutonium up to its most radioactive stage, which North Korea promised Syria.
A high-ranking Western intelligence source speaking to debkafile described the evidence against Assad in US and Israeli hands as solid and much closer to a smoking gun than the West has turned up against Iran's nuclear program.
The following sequence of events unfolds from the garnered documents:
Damascus and Pyongyang settled between them that the nuclear transaction would be masked as a joint venture to build a cement factory in northern Syria.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 20, 2007
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has laid down the gauntlet.
Having prevailed over the more pragmatic elements of the Islamic Republican regime headed by supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he and his Revolutionary Guards are challenging the United States to do its worst.
Saturday, Oct. 20, the fire-eating president succeeded in removing the formidable Iranian nuclear negotiator, head of the National Security Council, Ali Larijani, from his path. He then sent the Revolutionary Guards missile and artillery commander, Gen. Mahmoud Chaharbaghshe, to warn that, in the first minute of an attack on Iran, the Islamic Republic would fire 11,000 missiles and mortars against enemy (US and Israeli) bases.
The Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit last week to Tehran was a disappointment to the clerical rulers. Contracts for the Russians to complete the Bushehr atomic reactor and supply the fuel for its activation were not signed during that visit, although they had been drawn up previously between Larijani and the head of the Russian Nuclear Energy Commission Sergei Kiriyenko in Moscow.
At the last minute, Ahmadinejad, backed up by the IRGC chiefs, put his foot down against Putin's pre-condition which was incorporated in the contract for a joint Russian-Iranian mechanism to oversee the reactor and guarantee its non-use for weapons production.
The Iranian president had manipulated the episode in such a way as to leave the nuclear negotiator no option but to quit.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 14, 2007
This week, Iran's soft-soap campaign on its nuclear program won valuable support from the heads of the international Atomic Energy Agency, even though the UN watchdog still cannot determine that Iran's nuclear activities are transparent or peaceful.
Even after listening for four years to Tehran's evasions, untruths and prevarications on its nuclear intentions, IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei Friday, July 13, was still willing to hail Iran's grudging permission for "one visit" to its Arak water reactor and "improved inspections" at Natanz as a "way out of the crisis."
But although it is full of holes for the monitors, the deal struck with nuclear watchdog is a diplomatic breakthrough for Tehran. It is enough to arm the sanctions opponents in the UN Security Council with arguments to hold off a third round of punitive measures against Iran for persisting in its refusal to abandon uranium enrichment. Tehran has won an uninterrupted space up until December 2007 for its last stretch on the road to its objective.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 18, 2006
The results of Iran's elections for local councils and the powerful Assembly of Experts have been tensely awaited as the first test of the president's popularity since he took office last year.
debkafile's Tehran sources report that his followers, seeing which way the wind was blowing, took matters in their own hands. Backed by armed Revolutionary Guards, they stormed the counting sessions Monday, Dec. 18, using threats and physical harassment to force the counters to falsify the results and reverse the gains.
Sixty hours after balloting ended, when only 10 percent of the returns to the key Tehran city election had been counted, the publication of further results was suspended.
Four prominent Iranians, including ex-presidents Hashem Rafsanani and Mohammed Khatami, protested that vote-rigging was taking place.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 15, 2006
The powerful spectacle of Iran's be-turbaned supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei clutching an automatic rifle, displayed exclusively by debkafile, drew on the belligerent imagery of Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein.
debkafile's Tehran sources reveal that the Iran's leaders took three fateful steps ahead of Khamenei's performance:
1. They pointed up the tradition initiated by the father of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of marking the last Friday of Ramadan as International al Qods Day - "Jerusalem Liberation Day."
2. Khamenei's aides leaked word that his decision to hold the sermon of Oct. 13 was prompted by his discovery that the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was heading for the Persian Gulf and would be deployed in operational mode opposite Iran's shores by Oct. 21.
3. In Beirut, Iran's surrogate Hizballah announced the cancellation of its annual military parade on al Qods day, i.e. Oct. 20.
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 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 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 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 7, 2005
In 2002, the United States, Britain and Israel strongly suspected the new Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradai, of employing secret delaying tactics to help three Muslim nations get their nuclear weapons programs off the ground. The nations were Libya, Iran and Egypt.
Intelligence data showed those programs as being nourished by the technology, experience and expertise of Pakistan and North Korea, both motivated by their dire cash shortage.
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 October 8, 2004
Head of Iraq Survey Team Charles Duelfer asserted Wednesday, October 6, in testimony and report to the US Senate Armed Forces Committee that no WMD stockpiles were found to exist in Iraq in 2003. However, Iraq was producing missiles beyond UN-imposed limits and could have fitted them with warheads very quickly. The ICG team found no active nuclear program and no conclusive findings on biological programs. However, by 2003, Iraq had capabilities for producing chemical or biological weapons in months and retained the intellectual capacity to reconstitute WMD programs. Once sanctions were defeated, Saddam intended to reactivate his banned programs focusing on chemical weapons, long range missiles and nuclear arms, according to the ISG report. His objectives were Iran and Israel.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 8, 2004
Until recently, Washington was resigned to putting on hold any showdown with Iran over its clandestine nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration lacked support in the International Atomic Energy Agency for referring the issue to the UN Security Council and possible international sanctions and decided to postpone go-it-alone steps until after the November 4 presidential election. That situation has changed dramatically. Tuesday, June 8, France, Britain and Germany overcame their reluctance to get tough with Iran and took the bull by the horns. Without waiting for the UN nuclear watchdog to submit its report at the June 14 Vienna board meeting, the three European governments circulated a draft UN nuclear resolution that would sharply rebuke Iran for not cooperating fully with the lAEA.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 2, 2004
Setting up an inquiry commission is the political leader's favorite dodge for burying an embarrassing problem until the pursuit dies down. President George W. Bush will this week bow to election-year pressures from Democrats and his own Republicans alike and sign an executive order to investigate US intelligence failings regarding Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction on the eve of war. Both his senior war partners, the Australian and British prime ministers, face the same public clamor ever since WMD hunter Dr. David Kay resigned, declaring there were probably no stockpiles in Iraq and "we were all wrong." At the same time, the CIA and other intelligence bodies accused of flawed performance do not look particularly dismayed by the prospect of facing these probes. They point to the cause of the political flap, Dr Kay, as contradicting himself more than once in the numerous interviews he has given since he quit as head of the Iraq Survey Group.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 1, 2004
Update: Later Sunday, February 1, the White House decided to bring forward to June the president's trips to Libya and Sudan. Two additional Islamic nations added to his itinerary are Turkey and possibly Morocco.
mg class="picture" src="/dynmedia/pictures/AfricaThumb.jpg" align="right" border="0">
As North African temperatures cool toward the end of summer or early fall - and perhaps even earlier - George W. Bush will set off on an official visit to Libya and Sudan. The president is programming his trips as dramatic high points of the seismic military and political changes his administration has set in motion in the Middle East and key regions of northern and eastern Africa
(See attached maps of spreading US influence in Africa and Middle East)
If elected for a second term, Bush will continue to drive forward along these tracks which essentially radiate from Washington's Middle Eastern foreign and security policy hub and cockpit of its global war on terror.
Muammar Qaddafi, determined to prove he is America's best friend in the Middle East, is holding back nothing on his unconventional weapons programs, equipment, stocks and documentation on sources of supply, offering Washington a veritable treasure trove of intelligence.
To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 7, 2004
Libya's intense efforts to improve its relations with the UN have led it to explore Jewish channels.
Two senior Libyans, Saif el-Islam Qaddafi, the elder son of the ruler, Muammar Qaddafi, and Moussa Kussa, the head of Libya's intelligence services, are seeking to establish communication with various Jewish institutions, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and pro-Israel lobby. For the same reason, Libya is putting out tentative feelers about some sort of accommodation with Israel. debkafile intelligence sources report that Saif el-Islam, who studies and lives in London, traveled to a Middle Eastern capital last June to meet five Israelis, at least three of whom have political or military influence in Jerusalem. His purpose, he said, was to explain his father's ideas about establishing a single Israeli-Palestinian state to be called Isratin. He explained that there was no hope for a Palestinian state, that an ethnic Israeli state would not survive, and that there should instead be a joint state. He also emphasized that Libya had turned into attention from the Arab world to the African one.
As debkafile published last month, Aron Proshar, political adviser to Israel's foreign minister, had a meeting in Paris in the third week of December with Musafa Nahed Tlas, daughter of Syria's defense minister and businesswoman and celebrity in her own right. Though the subject of the meeting was Israeli-Syrian relations, Libya was also talked about. Mrs Nahed Tlas has close contacts in Tripoli, including Saif el-Islam.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 20, 2003
Long viewed as a highly unpredictable and erratic dictator, Muammer Qaddafi has again made the world sit up. It took him less than a week to assimilate the ignominy of fellow dictator Saddam Hussein's surrender. The United States was much criticized for exposing the unsightly details of Saddam's capture, humiliating not only the man but also his nation and Arabs in general. However, the Americans clearly believe that gentle means will not achieve their goals of winning a war and carving out a new Iraq and different Middle East. Above all, they are determined to demonstrate that, regardless of hardships and losses in battle, the United States is calling the shots. The Libyan ruler, though his secret nuclear weapons program was a lot further advanced than believed in the West, picked up the message and decided prudence was the better part of valor.