|Communist Party professor Calman Altman, Technion (emeritus) wants Iran to get some nukes|
|----- Original Message ----- |
From: Rachel Giora
To: Rachel Giora
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 7:18 PM
Subject: Fw: Let's bomb Iran
Let's bomb Iran
By Calman Altman
It would appear that the proposed disengagement from Gaza in June did not play much of a role in the decision to 'change horses' in mid-stream - in June - and to nominate Air Force commander Dan Halutz as next Chief of Staff. Nor apparently was the "lack of chemistry" between Minister of Defence Mofaz and Chief of Staff Yaalon a decisive factor. In fact we learn from someone "close to the Prime-Minister" Yediot Aharonoth, 23.2.05) that "it's no secret that Sharon wanted him!" It would seem that something far more important than disengagement from Gaza is involved. And
why an Air Force commander?
In his article "The Halutz Era" in Yediot (23/2), Alex Fishman sums up the tasks that will confront Halutz, and among them "of course, the preparation of the army to confront the circle of distant threats - a field in which he has much expertise.
Halutz has clear ideas about setting up a 'Strategic Command', and giving
organizational and budgetary priority to the long range arm of the IDF." In the
21:00 news broadcast on Channel One this evening, it was announced quite bluntly that the main task of Halutz would be to deal with the nuclear threat of Iran.
Let us consider Iran's nuclear threat. In an article in The New Yorker (24. and 31.1.2005), Seymour Hersh writes that "the Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer. Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids...The American task force, aided by the information from Pakistan, has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in
a hunt for underground installations...There has also been close, and largely
unacknowledged, cooperation with Israel ...Defense Department civilians, under the leadership of Douglas Feith, have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran. (After Osirak, Iran situated many of its nuclear sites in remote areas of the east, in an attempt to keep them out of striking range of other countries, especially Israel. Distance no longer lends such protection, however: Israel has acquired three submarines capable of launching cruise missiles and has equipped some of its aircraft with additional fuel tanks, putting Israeli F-16I fighters within the range of most Iranian targets.)"
In an article by the UPI Intelligence Correspondent, Richard Sale (26.1. 2005 we read that: <<the U.S. Air Force is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran's ayatollahs, flying American combat aircraft into Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, administration officials said "We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them." The flights, which have been going on for weeks, are being launched from sites in Afghanistan and Iraq
and are part of the Bush administration attempts to collect badly needed
intelligence on Iran's possible nuclear weapons development sites...the United
States, backed by Israel, is deadly earnest about neutralizing Iran's nuclear
weapons site. "The administration has determined that there is no diplomatic
solution," said John Pike, president of the online think-tank globalsecurity.org.">>
In his weekly article Uri Avnery notes that Vice-President Dick Cheney threatened a few weeks ago that if Iran continues to develop its nuclear capabilities, Israel might attack her. This week, President George Bush repeated this threat. If he were the leader of Israel, he declared, he would have been feeling threatened by Iran.
In an article forwarded to alef by Eldad (20 Feb 2005) the ex-UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter is reported to have declared that "President George W. Bush has signed orders for an aerial attack on Iran in June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran's alleged program to develop nuclear weapons", but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million.
Clear enough. The next question is why the USA is adopting tactics so different from the pattern applied in the Iraqi saga, namely, to bomb and invade under the aegis of the UN or of NATO, with Israel told to sit quietly on the sidelines. Clearly because the UN and NATO do not support military action against Iran, and the USA herself cannot undertake or justify an overt attack on Iran. Howcome? Let us consider the nuclear program of Iran.
Russia has just completed the construction of a 1000 Megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr in Iran at a cost of $800 million, and it is planned to reach full capacity in 2006. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and the power plant will therefore be under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The spent fuel rods are to be returned to Russia after they are withdrawn (typically after 3 or 4 years). A nuclear power station cannot be used in general to create raw material for bombs. Plutonium is indeed created in a nuclear power plant but because of the long exposure to neutron radiation the plutonium is not "weapon grade" (plutonium 239) but "reactor grade" (plutonium 240 or 241) that
undergoes spontaneous fission and causes premature ignition when used in a bomb. To obtain weapon grade plutonium the fuel rods must be removed after short intervals, every 3 or 4 months, and the plutonium extracted chemically, as in Dimona (according to foreign press reports). In short, a nuclear power station can produce either power or plutonium, not both. The USA (and Israel), however, have opposed the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant claiming that it can be used to produce nuclear weapons, a claim not accepted by the IAEA or by European or other nations. Hence the USA has a problem if it wishes to destroy the Bushehr power
plant. In such a case Israel would no doubt be expected to do the dirty work.
A bomb can also be produced by using highly enriched uranium - in which there is 10 or 20 times more uranium 235 (the active constituent of an uranium bomb) than uranium 238. (In naturally occuring uranium the abundance of uranium 235 is less than 1%). To enrich uranium one needs a centifuge, or rather hundreds of centrifuges, which have to work months or years. Iran does have centrifuges in which uranium can be enriched - but claims that this is in the framework of the NTP, which permits the manufacture of moderately enriched uranium for recycling spent fuel rods in reactors. We learn for instance in the site:
http://www.armscontrol.org/aca/midmonth/2004/November/Iran.asp - "According to a written agreement between the three European nations and Iran, which entered into force Nov. 15, Iran has decided "on a voluntary basis, to extend its suspension to include all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities"...The accord also appears to address two persistent Iranian concerns regarding its nuclear diplomacy with the Europeans. First, it defines the freeze as voluntary and "not a legal obligation." Second, the agreement recognizes Iran's "rights under the NPT." Iran
has frequently held that it has the right under the NPT to uranium-enrichment
In exchange for Iran's agreement to relinquish its rights to enrich uranium for
reprocessing the spent fuel rods in its reactor the Europeans have undertaken to replace the spent fuel. But the US administration, as mentioned earlier, is not interested in agreements and has decided that" there is no diplomatic solution", and that Iran must be prevented from "going nuclear". This requires the bombing of underground centrifuges and nuclear facilities, and for this purpose the US has been provided Israel with 500 one-ton earth penetrating bombs, as well as 2,500 'regular' one-ton bombs (Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz, 21.9.2004). And in order to carry out such a program, a Chief of Staff with a unique background in bombing nuclear facilities is very helpful.