Friday, November 30, 2012

The Iranian A-Bomb diagram. What is it doing in the business section?

Am I missing something? Is this diagram authentic or not is a valid question.  But surely the significance of this piece of news goes beyond the BUSINESS section of the Washington Post?  

Associated Press - The undated diagram that was given to the AP by officials of a country critical of Iran’s atomic program allegedly calculating the explosive force of a nuclear weapon _ a key step in developing such arms. The diagram shows a bell curve and has variables of time in micro-seconds and power and energy, both in kilotons _ the traditional measurement of the energy output, and hence the destructive power of nuclear 

By Associated Press, Published: November 27

VIENNA — Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a diagram obtained by The Associated Press.

The diagram was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon. The officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named.

The International Atomic Energy Agency — the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog — reported last year that it had obtained diagrams indicating that Iran was calculating the “nuclear explosive yield” of potential weapons. A senior diplomat who is considered neutral on the issue confirmed that the graph obtained by the AP was indeed one of those cited by the IAEA in that report. He spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue.

The IAEA report mentioning the diagrams last year did not give details of what they showed. But the diagram seen by the AP shows a bell curve — with variables of time in micro-seconds, and power and energy both in kilotons — the traditional measurement of the energy output, and hence the destructive power of nuclear weapons. The curve peaks at just above 50 kilotons at around 2 microseconds, reflecting the full force of the weapon being modeled.

The bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima in Japan during World War II, in comparison, had a force of about 15 kilotons. Modern nuclear weapons have yields hundreds of times higher than that.
The diagram has a caption in Farsi: “Changes in output and in energy released as a function of time through power pulse.” The number “5’’ is part of the title, suggesting it is part of a series.

David Albright, whose Institute for Science and International Security is used by the U.S. government as a go-to source on Iran’s nuclear program, said the diagram looks genuine but seems to be designed more “to understand the process” than as part of a blueprint for an actual weapon in the making.

“The yield is too big,” Albright said, noting that North Korea’s first tests of a nuclear weapon were only a few kilotons. Because the graph appears to be only one in a series, others might show lower yields, closer to what a test explosion might produce, he said.

The senior diplomat said the diagram was part of a series of Iranian computer-generated models provided to the IAEA by the intelligences services of member nations for use in its investigations of suspicions that Iran is trying to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran denies any interest in such a weapon and has accused the United States and Israel of fabricating evidence that suggests it is trying to build a bomb.

Asked about the project, Iran’s chief IAEA delegate, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said he had not heard of it. IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said the agency had no comment.

Iran has refused to halt uranium enrichment, despite offers of reactor fuel from abroad, saying it is producing nuclear fuel for civilian uses. It has refused for years to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear agency’s efforts to investigate its program.

Iran’s critics fear it could use the enriched uranium for military purposes. Such concerns grew this month when the IAEA said Iran is poised to double its output of higher-enriched uranium at its fortified underground facility — a development that could put Tehran within months of being able to make the core of a nuclear warhead.
In reporting on the existence of the diagrams last year, the IAEA said it had obtained them from two member nations that it did not identify. Other diplomats have said that Israel and the United States — the countries most concerned about Iran’s nuclear program — have supplied the bulk of intelligence being used by the IAEA in its investigation.

“The application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the agency,” the IAEA said at the time.

The models were allegedly created in 2008 and 2009 — well after 2003, the year that the United States said Tehran had suspended such work in any meaningful way. That date has been questioned by Britain, France, Germany and Israel, and the IAEA now believes that — while Iran shut down some of its work back then — other tests and experiments continue today.

With both the IAEA probe and international attempts to engage Iran stalled, there are fears that Israel may opt to strike at Tehran’s nuclear program. The Jewish state insists it will not tolerate an Iran armed with nuclear arms.

An intelligence summary provided with the drawing linked it to other alleged nuclear weapons work — significant because it would indicate that Iran is working not on isolated experiments, but rather on a single program aimed at mastering all aspects of nuclear arms development.

The IAEA suspects that Iran has conducted live tests of conventional explosives that could be used to detonate a nuclear weapon at Parchin, a sprawling military base southeast of Tehran. The intelligence summary provided to the AP said data gained from those tests fed the model plotted in the diagram. Iran has repeatedly turned down IAEA requests to visit the site, which the agency fears is undergoing a major cleanup meant to eliminate any traces of such experiments.

The intelligence summary named nuclear scientists Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Majid Shahriari and Fereidoun Abbasi as key players in developing the computer diagrams, adding that Shahriari and Abbasi were also involved in the Parchin testing.

Iran has for years rebuffed IAEA attempts to question Fakhrizadeh for his suspected involvement in secret programs. Shahriari was assassinated in 2010 by what Iran says were Israeli agents. Abbasi, now the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, was wounded in a separate assassination attempt the same day that Shahriari was killed.

The senior diplomat, who is familiar with the Iran probe, said the agency has not yet determined any connection between Parchin and the computer models. But Olli Heinonen, who headed the IAEA’s Iran investigation until 2010, said using the results of the alleged Parchin tests would “make sense as part of the design and testing of a (computer) model.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mr. Kissinger, do you still believe in Cold War-era deterrence with Iran?

By Henry A. Kissinger, Saturday, November 17, 2:57 AM

Henry A. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977.

In the aftermath of an exhausting reelection campaign, the most urgent decision facing the president is how to stop Iran from pursuing a military nuclear program. Presidents of both parties have long declared that “no option is off the table” in securing this goal. In the third presidential debate, the candidates agreed that this was a matter of the American national interest, even as they described the objective alternately as preventing an Iranian “nuclear weapon” or “breakout capacity” (President Obama), or a “nuclear-capable Iran” (Mitt Romney). As Iran continues to elaborate its enrichment capacity and move it underground, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a spring deadline for counteraction. In this fraught environment, what operational meaning should be given to America’s declared objectives?

The United States and Iran are apparently conducting bilateral negotiations through official or semiofficial emissaries — a departure from the previous procedure of multilateral talks. Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program do not have an encouraging record. For more than a decade, Iran has stalled, first with the “EU-3” (France, Germany and Britain) and then with the “P5+1” (the members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany). It has alternated hints of flexibility with periods of intransigence, all while expanding, concealing and dispersing its nuclear facilities. If no limit is placed on this process, Iran’s tech­no­logical progress will dominate events. But at what stage, and in what manner, should Iran be deprived of a military nuclear capability? This has been the essence of the argument over “red lines.”

Three stages are involved in the evolution of a military nuclear capability: a delivery system, a capacity to enrich uranium and the production of nuclear warheads. Iran has been augmenting the range and number of its missile systems since at least 2006. Its enrichment capacity — long underreported to the International Atomic Energy Agency — has been expanded to thousands of centrifuges (the instruments that enrich uranium to bomb-grade material). The level exceeds any reasonable definition of peaceful uses authorized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The inevitable culmination is a nuclear weapon.

To draw the line at proscribing an Iranian nuclear weapon — as some argue — would prove unmanageable. Once the requisite amount of fissile material has been produced, constructing and equipping a warhead is a relatively short and technologically straightforward process, almost certainly impossible to detect in a timely fashion.

If so ineffectual a red line were to emerge from a decade of diplomacy by the permanent members of the Security Council, the result would be an essentially uncontrollable military nuclear proliferation throughout a region roiled by revolution and sectarian blood-feuds. Iran would thereby achieve the status of North Korea, with a military nuclear program at the very edge of going operational. Each nation that has a nuclear option would compete to minimize the time to its own full military nuclear capability. Meanwhile, countries within the reach of Iran’s military but lacking a nuclear option would be driven to reorient their political alignment toward Tehran. The reformist tendencies in the Arab Spring — already under severe pressure — would be submerged by this process. The president’s vision of progress toward a global reduction of nuclear weapons would suffer a blow, perhaps a fatal one.

Some have argued that even in the worst-case scenario, a nuclear Iran could be deterred. Yet this ignores the immensely costly, complex and tension-ridden realities of Cold War-era deterrence, the apocalyptic strain in the Iranian theocracy and the near-certainty that several regional powers will go nuclear if Iran does. Once nuclear balances are forged in conditions where tensions are no longer purely bilateral, as in the Cold War, and in still-developing countries whose technology to prevent accidents is rudimentary, the likelihood of some nuclear exchange will mount dramatically.

This is why the United States has insisted on limits on Iranian enrichment — that is, curtailing access to a weapon’s precursor elements. Abandoning the original demand to ban allenrichment, the P5+1 has explored what levels of production of fissile material are compatible with the peaceful uses authorized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The higher the level of enrichment, the shorter the time needed to bring about militarily applicable results. Conventional wisdom holds that the highest practically enforceable limit is 5 percent enrichment, and then only if all fissile material beyond an agreed amount is safeguarded outside Iran.

The time available for a diplomatic outcome shrinks in direct proportion as the Iranian enrichment capacity grows and a military nuclear capacity approaches. The diplomatic process must therefore be brought to a point of decision. The P5+1 or the United States unilaterally must put forward a precise program to curtail Iranian enrichment with specific time limits.

This does not imply a red line authorizing any country to go to war. However respectfully the views of friends are considered, the ultimate decision over peace or war must remain in the hands of the president. Why negotiate with a country of such demonstrated hostility and evasiveness? Precisely because the situation is so fraught. Diplomacy may reach an acceptable agreed outcome. Or its failure will mobilize the American people and the world. It will clarify either the causes of an escalating crisis, up to the level of military pressure, or ultimate acquiescence in an Iranian nuclear program. Either outcome will require a willingness to see it through to its ultimate implications. We cannot afford another strategic disaster.

To the extent that Iran shows willingness to conduct itself as a nation-state, rather than a revolutionary religious cause, and accepts enforceable verification, elements of Iranian security concerns should be taken seriously, including gradual easing of sanctions as strict limits on enrichment are implemented and enforced. But time will be urgent. Tehran must be made to understand that the alternative to an agreement is not simply a further period of negotiation and that using negotiations to gain time will have grave consequences. A creative diplomacy, allied to a determined strategy, may still be able to prevent a crisis provided the United States plays a decisive role in defining permissible outcomes.

So Mr. Kissinger, which part bothers you the most?

1)  complex and tension-ridden realities of Cold War-era deterrence

2)  the apocalyptic strain in the Iranian theocracy 

3)  the near-certainty that several regional powers will go nuclear if Iran does

Does not point 2 outweigh all other concerns? If you really take point 2 seriously then there is no  Cold War-era deterrence and who cares about near-certainty that several regional powers will go nuclear when Iran will have already started a nuclear war?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Be'er Sheva under Grad attack

By 3:30 am we already have had 4 attacks since 11 pm, I think 8 altogether, lost count, and I was getting tired  to every time get up and shut the door of the safe room when the siren goes off and reopen it after the attack.  I once calculated that we would have enough air in the safe room for about 10 hours because when the door is shut the room is hermetically sealed, but it is uncomfortable to sleep in a room if you know that you are using up the air slowly . Feels as if you were in a submarine. Das Boot and The Hunt for Red October comes to mind. However, if you leave the door or the window ajar  there is always the probability, small, but not zero, that the shrapnel would ricochet into the room . Still,  I left the door open and went back to sleep, till the next red alert. Should try and do the math and calculate the probabilities and consequences of leaving the door open.

It was eerie to drive  through almost deserted streets of Be'er Sheva  this morning to pick up my daughter from the bus stop. A few taxis and nobody else.  At least there are no cars at intersections so you could more easily take cover within the 60 seconds.  On the way back I asked my daughter to  measure how long it would take us from  the nearest circle till home. 54 seconds. Should not make a dash for it if caught at the circle. Too risky.

Tried to post Article 7 of the Hamas Charter and Hadith Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177  from which it is taken on Sky News . Article 7 reads  " The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews."  It never appeared on the Sky News site. Censored. Direct quotes from the Hamas Charter is just too much truth for the Brits. Churchill must be turning in his grave. This is not Britain's finest hour.

My son's school teacher phoned to inquire about my son. He's fine my wife says. She skips the fact that he is thanking Hamas there is no school. Homework assignment is on the internet. In the meantime he is playing chess with himself.

Obama is backing Israel's action. Very nice. Everyone seems to have forgotten that only three years ago his administration transferred $900 million to Hamas. The 69 percent of American Jews who voted for him could not care less that the Soviet designed, Chinese manufactured Grads falling on my head are being financed by the American taxpayer.  Maybe they will more concerned with their own soap opera scandal and interested what Petraeus will say in his testimony to the congressional intelligence panels.

Meanwhile the Mahdi, the 12th Imam,  is still in occultation but the centrifuges are spinning...  

Iron Dome intercepts Grads over Be'er Sheva

Update, Dec 2:  The other day while driving in Be'er Sheva I realized I had found the music I should listen to during Grad attacks.  Shostakovich's  "Leningrad"  Symphony.  The wailing of the sirens goes well together with the main repetitive theme of the approaching German armies...  

Shostakovich Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad" 1st Movement part 2

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood. Is this what Americans stand for?

Americans have just re-elected a President who supports the virulently  anti-Semitic and anti-American Muslim Brotherhood and appeases Iran! Imagine what would have happened if FDR had supported the fascists and appeased the Nazis .

 Are we living through the alternative history of a Robert Harris novel?   With Churchill  fleeing the British Isles and Joseph Kennedy becoming US president?  No Churchill  War Rooms, no V-E Day? Alas! This is not alternative history. This what happened today is the real history.

I wish I could see how this day will be explained by the historians of the 22nd century, if our civilization survives to that day. How will they explain today's vote?   

Four years ago I wrote Facing Iran, Alone  Unfortunately, reality has become even worse than I thought  then, so I reproduce the article here once again. This time the polls will be on January 22.

Facing Iran, Alone

In May 1940 Britain stood alone facing Nazi Germany. The USSR had signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression pact; the US had not entered the war yet.
On May 7, Leo Amery spoke in the Commons, attacking Neville Chamberlain's government, quoting Oliver Cromwell: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"
On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister.
Ever since the US government's National Intelligence Estimate report it has become increasingly probable that Israel will be the one to tackle Iran. With the election of Barack Obama this is now almost certain. We are back in May 1940.
There are many who believe that, for all their talk, the Iranians would never launch a nuclear attack. The 12th Imam is for the masses, the way Marx was, the argument goes, and not to be believed in verbatim. How many Arab or Muslim leaders have become suicide bombers to get the virgins? None.
But comparing Communists with the followers of the Islamic prophet is misleading. For one, the Communists never produced suicide bombers and we already have had 148 explode here in Israel. Muhammad Atta was not the top leader, but he was among the educated, for whom education was just a tool to be used in accomplishing his jihadi goals. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an ardent believer in theMahdi, the Hidden Twelfth Imam, the four-year old who went into hiding in a well 1,140 years ago. The idea that Iran itself may become a nuclear suicide bomber is real.
Those who question Iranian motives are projecting Western values, almost patronizingly so. The privileged party members in the USSR, the so-called priviligentsia, would not dream of sacrificing themselves. They had their closed shops, hospitals and pharmacies, access to foreign media and, most coveted of all, access abroad. They enjoyed their privileges. The Iranian mullahs are no Bolsheviks.
The world watched Hitler rearm, reoccupy the Rhineland in 1936, annex the Sudetenland in October 1938 and the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, and rape Austria in 1938. As Churchill put it, they kept feeding the crocodile hoping they would be eaten last.
Anyone who reads about the policies and the press of the 1933-1940 period cannot but be struck by the similarities. We know what happened then, yet we are following almost the same path. Scary.
Might Israel strike at Iran before Obama takes over? As reported in the Jerusalem Post, Benny Morris says yes. Most other analysts disagree. I believe that it is in the US interest for Israel to destroy the Iranian nuclear sites, since the destruction and the rise in oil prices resulting from a non-nuclear Iranian retaliation would still be much less than the consequences of a nuclear war following an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel and an Israeli nuclear retaliation.
There is only one remaining scenario left.
On February 10 Israel goes to the polls. The leaders we elect will be our last line of defense. Help will not come from the Europeans, the United Nations and not even from the US. The decisions that will determine the survival of this country will come from Benjamin Netanyahu, Moshe Yaalon, Benny Begin or Tzipi Livni. Make your pick.