Monthly Archives: December 2015

Kernmacht Israël heeft 5de Dolphin

JaffaDok | Jan Schnerr | 17 december 2015

NUCLEAIRE DREIGING NU MOGELIJK VAN MIDDELLANDSE ZEE TOT INDISCHE OCEAAN. GAAT SAOEDIE-ARABIË ‘ZIJN’ ISIS BESTRIJDEN?

Israël heeft zijn vijfde ‘kernraketten’-Dolphin

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Op een 6e Dolphin was nog gerekend, maar Duitsland stopt ermee

De vijfde onderzeeër in de Dolphinklasse is vanuit een Duitse werf aan Israël geleverd. Evenals andere vaartuigen in deze klasse zal het in Israël worden voorzien van installaties die met kernkoppen geladen raketten kunnen lanceren op doelen tot 1.500 km afstand. De onderzeeër kan zeer lang onder water blijven en kan gedurende die tijd ongezien vlak voor de kust van een land verblijven. Al enkele jaren is bekend dat Israël aanwezig is in de Perzische Golf. Israël bevestigt hiermee zijn status van regionale atoommacht die actief is in de Middellandse Zee, de Rode Zee, de Indische Oceaan en de Perzische Golf. De Dolphins zijn ook belangrijk in het inlichtingenwerk.

Uitlatingen van hoge Israëlische politici en militairen in verband met de levering van de vijfde Dolphin geven aan dat zij deze vaartuigen ook als offensieve wapens zien: ‘The “force multiplier” and “fighting arm” remarks of Israeli officials might as well point out that the alleged nuclear missiles in the possession of the state of Israel could be regarded not only as a shield, but as a sword as well.’ Global Research schreef enkele maanden geleden: ‘Israel’s coastline in total, including islands, is a mere 273km, and it is no exaggeration to say that there is no other country with so many submarines to protect so short a sea border.’

De Duitse rol is opvallend. Alle Dolphins werden in Duitsland gebouwd. De Duitse financiële bijdrage is zeer aanzienlijk. Het blad Der Spiegel heeft hier de laatste jaren veel informatie over naar de oppervlakte gebracht: ‘In June 2012, Der Spiegel reported that Germany is actually strengthening Israel’s nuclear capabilities.’ Officieel verklaard Duitsland dat het geen weet heeft van een eventuele ombouw van de Dophins tot platforms voor nucleaire aanvallen: ‘Officially, Germany has always maintained that it doesn’t have a slightest idea about Israel’s military nuclear program and possible deployment of nuclear missiles on German-built submarines. However, according to Der Spiegel’s research, several former high-ranking German officials have never doubted Israel was putting nuclear missiles on its subs.’

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-security-of-israel-fifth-nuclear-capable-submarine-cruise-missiles-with-nuclear-warheads-deterrent-against-iran/5473414

Trend: afsluiting bezet gebied voor buitenlandse waarnemers

Internationale waarnemers in Hebron zijn aangevallen door kolonisten. Het leger keek daarbij toe. Het weren van ‘pottenkijkers’ bij het optreden van militairen en kolonisten (die meestal samenwerken) begint een trend te worden in de bezette gebieden. Zie bijvoorbeeld op Twitter de bekende publicist Ben White (Benabyad):

Voortdurende razzia’s in Palestijnse buurten

De (meestal) nachtelijke razzia’s door het Israëlische leger in Palestijnse dorpen, wijken en vluchtelingenkampen blijven routinematig doorgaan. Geregeld worden Palestijnse ambulances en hulpverleners verhinderd hun werk te doen voor gewonden. Zie bijvoorbeeld:

http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769375

Saoedische coalitie verenigt volgens Ynet ‘gematigde regiems’
Prins Salman in zijn biotoop: geld, wapens en erfelijke macht.

In een uitgebreide analyse in Yedioth Ahronot vandaag geeft columnist Ben Yishai een Israëlische visie op de door de Saoedies in elkaar gezette ‘Islamic coalition to fight jihadist terror‘. Terwijl in sommige westerse media steeds meer kritiek op de schatrijke oliestaat begint door te klinken (ook maar niet alleen, voor zijn rol in het religieus geïnspireerde terrorisme) beschrijft de analyse Saoedie-Arabië en zijn coalitie als het gematigde gezicht van de soennitische wereld: ‘The coalition’s establishment points to Saudi Arabia’s unshakable standing as the leader of Islam’s moderate Sunni stream.’ Tot de coalitie die ISIS moet gaan bestrijden behoren niet Irak en Iran, de twee staten die tot de grootste vijanden van ISIS worden gerekend. Ook Hezbollah, dat ISIS concreet en op de grond bestrijdt zit niet in de coalitie. Wel mochten toetreden Libanon en de Palestijnse Autoriteit (PA).

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4740583,00.html

Commentaar:

Libanon loopt groot risico meegezogen te worden in de Syrische oorlog, mede als gevolg van de wapenleveranties door Saoedie-Arabië die tegen Hezbollah zijn gericht. De PA speelt in dit spel geen rol. De PA is voor een deel financieel afhankelijk van Saoedie-Arabië en heeft waarschijnlijk stilzwijgende goedkeuring van Israël en de VS gekregen om toe te treden. Egypte is (aarzelend) lid van de coalitie geworden en zal daar naar het zich laat aanzien een beloning voor eisen: dat Saoedie-Arabië zich weer kritischer opstelt ten opzichte van de Moslimbroederschap, die in Egypte een bedreiging vormt voor het generaalsbewind. Voor Israël zal vooral belangrijk zijn of de Saoedische verklaring dat de coalitie ‘alle terreur’ wil bestrijden, ook betrekking heeft op Hamas en Hezbollah.

Atlantisch gezinde kranten die zich de laatste tijd kritischer zijn gaan opstellen ten opzichte van de westerse ‘bondgenoot’ Saoedie-Arabië zijn (naast andere grote Duitse kranten), de Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung en de NRC. De FAZ wijst op de Amerikaanse wens dat de islamitische wereld zelf het voortouw neemt in de strijd tegen teligieus geïnspireerde terreur. De krant wijst ook op de interne strijd binnen de Saoedische elite die een rol speelt in het naar voren schuiven van prins Salman.

achtergrond:

http://jaffadok.nl/saoedi-arabie-jemen/

http://jaffadok.nl/libanon/

India to buy five Russian ‘Triumph’ systems

Russia & India Report | TASS | 17 December 2015

Among the deals to be announced when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Moscow next week is the purchase of five state of the art Russian S-400 ‘Triumph’ air defence missile systems.

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India is set to purchase five Russian S-400 ‘Triumph’ new generation air-defence missile systems (ADMS). Initially, they talked about buying more than 10 such systems, the English daily newspaper ‘Hindustan Times’ reported on Thursday.

The agreement to buy five ‘Triumph’ ADMS is worth 400 billion rupees ($6 billion). It will be signed between the governments of Russia and India, and will also include the purchase of 6,000 missile rounds.

According to the newspaper, an official announcement about the purchase is likely to be made during the first state visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Russia, scheduled for December 23-24.

Modi’s visit will be preceded by a meeting of the Defence Procurement Council of India, which approves all major defence deals of this kind.

Earlier, in an interview with TASS, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar expressed hope that the parties would have the agreement, to purchase the S-400 systems, ready to sign “before the Indian Prime Minister’s trip to Moscow”.

The S-400 Triumph is a Russian long- and medium-range air-defence missile system, designed to provide complete air defence, against all current and future air and space attacks, at distances of up to 400 kms.

Twisting the Facts on Iran Nukes

Consortiumnews | Gareth Porter | December 17, 2015

Part of the credibility crisis afflicting the world’s officialdom is the tendency to issue reports that start with the politically desired conclusion and then twist words and facts accordingly, a problem apparent in a U.N. report on Iran’s alleged nuclear program, as Gareth Porter explains.

Many government reports The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessment has cleared the way for the board of governors to end the Agency’s extraordinary investigation into accusations of Iran’s past nuclear weapons work. But a closer examination of the document reveals much more about the political role that the Agency has played in managing the Iran file.

Contrary to the supposed neutral and technical role that Director General Yukiya Amano has constantly invoked and the news media has long accepted without question, the Agency has actually been serving as prosecutor for the United States in making a case that Iran has had a nuclear weapons program.

Yukiya Amano, a Japanese diplomat and director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Yukiya Amano, a Japanese diplomat and director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The first signs of such an IAEA role appeared in 2008 after the George W. Bush administration insisted that the Agency make a mysterious collection of intelligence documents on a purported Iranian nuclear weapons research program the centerpiece of its Iran inquiry.

The Agency’s partisan role was fully developed, however, only after Amano took charge in late 2009. Amano got U.S. political support for the top position in 2009 because he had enthusiastically supported the Bush administration’s pressure on Mohammed ElBaradei on those documents when Amano was Japan’s permanent representative to the IAEA in 2008.

Amano delivered the Agency’s November 2011 report just when the Obama administration needed additional impetus for its campaign to line up international support for “crippling sanctions” on Iran. He continued to defend that hardline position and accuse Iran of failing to cooperate as the Obama administration sought to maximize the pressure on Iran from 2012 to 2015.

When the Obama administration’s interests shifted from pressuring Iran to ensuring that the nuclear agreement with Iran would be completed and fully implemented, Amano’s role suddenly shifted as well. In late June, according to Iranian officials involved in the Vienna negotiations, Secretary of State John Kerry reached agreement with both the Iranians and Amano that the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) issue would be resolved through a report by Amano before the end of the year.

Based on that agreement, Amano would write a report that would reach no definitive conclusion about the accusations of nuclear weapons work but nevertheless bring the PMD inquiry to an end. The report was still far from even-handed. It could not be, because Amano had embraced the intelligence documents that the United States and Israel had provided to the IAEA, around which the entire investigation had been organized.

Dodgy Intelligence Documents

Iran had insisted from the beginning that the intelligence documents given to the IAEA were fraudulent, and ElBaradei had repeatedly stated publicly from late 2005 through 2009 that the documents had not been authenticated. ElBaradei observes in his 2011 memoirs that he could never get a straight answer from the Bush administration about how the documents had been acquired.

Different cover stories had been leaked to the media over the years suggesting that either an Iranian scientist involved in the alleged weapons program or a German spy had managed to get the documents out of Iran.

But in 2013, former senior German foreign office official Karsten Voigt revealed to me in an interview that German intelligence had obtained the documents in 2004 from a sometime source whom they knew to be a member of the Mujahideen E-Khalq (MEK). A cult-like Iranian exile terrorist group, MEK had once carried out terror operations for the Saddam Hussein regime but later developed a patron-client relationship with Israeli intelligence.

Quite apart from the unsavory truth about the origins of the documents, the burden of proof in the IAEA inquiry should have been on the United States to make the case for their authenticity. There is a good reason why U.S. judicial rules of evidence require that “the proponent must produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.”

But instead Amano has required Iran, in effect, to prove the negative. Since it is logically impossible for Iran to do so, that de facto demand has systematically skewed the entire IAEA investigation toward the conclusion that Iran is guilty of the covert activities charged in the intelligence documents.

And the Agency has reinforced that distorted frame in its final assessment by constantly making the point that Iran possesses technology that could have been used for the development of a nuclear weapon. Every time Iran produced evidence that a technology that the IAEA had suggested was being used for the development of nuclear weapons was actually for non-nuclear applications, the Agency cast that evidence in a suspicious light by arguing that it bore some characteristics that are “consistent with” or “relevant to” work on nuclear weapons.

The “final assessment” uses that same tactic to frame not only Iranian development of various technologies but its organizations, facilities and research activities as inherently suspicious regardless of evidence provided by Iran that they were for other purposes.

Another tactic the IAEA had used in the past to attack Iran’s credibility is the suggestion that the government actually made a partial confession. In May 2008, the IAEA had claimed in a quarterly report that Iran “did not dispute that some of the information contained in the documents was factually accurate but said the events and activities concerned involved civil or conventional military applications.”

That statement had clearly conveyed the impression that Iran has admitted to details about activities shown in the documents. But in fact Iran had only confirmed information that was already publicly known, such as certain names, organizations and official addresses, as the IAEA itself acknowledged in 2011. Furthermore, Iran had also submitted a 117-page paper in which it had pointed out that “some of the organizations and individuals named in those documents were nonexistent.”

The IAEA resorted to the same kind of deceptive tactic in the final assessment’s discussion of “organizational structure.” It stated, “A significant proportion of the information available to the Agency on the existence of organizational structures was confirmed by Iran during implementation of the Road-map.”

That sentence implied that Iran had acknowledged facts about the organizations that supported the purported intelligence claims of a nuclear weapons research program. But it actually meant only that Iran confirmed the same kind of publicly available information as it had in 2008.

On the issue of whether an Iranian organization to carry out nuclear-weapons research and development had existed, the final assessment again uses suggestive but ultimately meaningless language: “[B]efore the end of 2003, an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

Similar language implying accusation without actually stating it directly can be found in most of the assessments in the document. In the section on “procurement activities,” the report refers to “indications of procurements and attempted procurements of items with relevance, inter alia, to the development of a nuclear device.”

That language actually means nothing more than that Iranians had sought to purchase dual-use items, but it preserves the illusion that the procurement is inherently suspicious.

EBW and MIP

The use of “relevance” language was, in fact, the IAEA’s favorite tactic for obscuring the fact that it had no real evidence of nuclear weapons work. On the issue of the purported intelligence documents showing that Iran had developed and experimented with Exploding Bridge-Wire (EBW) technology for the detonation of a nuclear weapon, Iran had gone to great lengths to prove that its work on EBW technology was clearly focused on non-nuclear applications.

It provided detailed information about its development of the technology, including videos of activities it had carried out, to show that for the objective of the work was to develop safer conventional explosives.

The IAEA responded by saying “that the EBW detonators developed by Iran have characteristics relevant to a nuclear device.” By that same logic, of course, a prosecutor could name an individual as a suspect in a crime simply because his behavior showed “characteristics relevant” to that crime.

A similar tactic appears in the assessment of the “initiation of high explosives” issue. The 2011 IAEA report had recorded the intelligence passed on by the Israelis that Iran had done an experiment with a high explosives detonation technology called multipoint initiation (MIP) that the Agency said was “consistent with” a publication by a “foreign expert” who had worked in Iran.

That was a reference to the Ukrainian scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko, but he was an expert on producing nanodiamonds through explosives, not on nuclear weapons development. And the open-source publication by Danilenko was not about experiments related to nuclear weapons but only about measuring shock waves from explosions using fiber optic cables.

The 2011 report also had referred to “information” from an unnamed member state that Iran had carried out the “large scale high explosives experiments” in question in the “region of Marivan.” In its final assessment, the Agency says it now believes that those experiments were carried out in a “location called ‘Marivan’,” rather than in the “region of Marivan.”

But although Iran has offered repeatedly to allow the IAEA to visit Marivan to determine whether such experiments were carried out, the IAEA has refused to carry out such an inspection and has offered no explanation for its refusal.

The Agency relies on its standard evasive language to cover its climb-down from the 2011 assessment. “The Agency assesses that the MPI technology developed by Iran has characteristics relevant to a nuclear device,” it said, “as well as to a small number of alternative applications.”

That wording — combined with its refusal to make any effort to check on the one specific claim of Iranian experiments at Marivan — makes it clear that the Agency knows very well that it has no real evidence of the alleged experiments but is unwilling to say so straightforwardly.

The Agency did the same thing in regard to the alleged “integration into a missile delivery system.” A key set of purported intelligence documents had shown a series of efforts to integrate a “new spherical payload” into the existing payload chamber of the Shahab-3 missile.

The final assessment avoids mention of the technical errors in those studies, which were so significant that Sandia National Laboratories found through computer simulations that not a single one of the proposed redesign efforts would have worked. And it later became apparent that Iran had begun redesigning the entire missile system — including an entirely different reentry vehicle shape from the one shown in the drawings — well before the start date of the purported nuclear weapons work.

But the IAEA was only interested in whether the workshops portrayed in the purported intelligence were in fact workshops used by the Iranian government. Iran allowed the Agency to visit two of the workshops, and the final assessment declares that it has “verified that the workshops are those described in the alleged studies documentation” and that “the workshop’s features and capabilities are consistent with those described in the alleged studies documentation.”

Flawed Computer Modeling

One of the most egregious cover-ups in the assessment is its treatment of the alleged computer modeling of nuclear explosions. The agency recalled that it had “received information from Member States” that Iran had done modeling of “nuclear explosive configurations based on implosion technology.”

Unfortunately for the credibility of that “information,” soon after that 2011 report was published someone leaked a graph of one of the alleged computer modeling efforts attributed to Iran to Associated Press reporter George Jahn. The graph was so similar to one published in a scholarly journal in January 2009 that Scott Kemp, an assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said he suspected the graph had been “adapted from the open literature.”

Furthermore the information in the graph turned out to be inaccurate by four orders of magnitude. In response to that revelation, a senior IAEA official told Jahn that the Agency knew that the graph was “flawed” as soon as it had obtained it but that IAEA officials “believe it remains important as a clue to Iranian intentions.”

In fact, the official revealed to Jahn that the Agency had come up with a bizarre theory that Iranian scientists deliberately falsified the diagram to sell the idea to government officials of a nuclear explosion far larger than any by the United States or Russia.

That episode surely marks the apogee of the IAEA’s contorted rationalizations of the highly suspect “information” the Agency had been fed by the Israelis. In the final report, the Agency ignores that embarrassing episode and “assesses that Iran conducted computer modeling of a nuclear explosive device prior to 2004 and between 2005 and 2009,” even though it describes the modeling, enigmatically, as “incomplete and fragmentary.”

The assessment further “notes some similarity between the Iranian open source publications and the studies featured in the information from Member States, in terms of textual matches, and certain dimensional and other parameters used.”

Unless the Agency received the “information” from the unidentified states before the dates of the open-source publications, which one would expect to be noted if true, such similarities could be evidence of fraudulent intelligence rather than of Iranian wrongdoing. But the assessment provides no clarification of the issue.

Nuclear Material

On the issue it calls “nuclear material acquisition,” however, the Agency makes a startling retreat from its previous position that has far-reaching implications for the entire collection of intelligence documents. In its 2011 report, the IAEA had presented a one-page flow sheet showing a process for converting “yellow cake” into “green salt” (i.e., uranium that can be enriched) as a scheme to “secure a source of uranium suitable for use in an undisclosed enrichment program.”

But the final assessment explicitly rejects that conclusion, pronouncing the process design in question “technically flawed” and “of low quality in comparison with what was available to Iran as part of its declared nuclear fuel cycle.”

In other words, Iran would have had no rational reason to try to seek an entirely new conversion process and then turn the project over to incompetent engineers. Those were precisely the arguments that Iran had made in 2008 to buttress its case that the documents were fabricated.

The assessment carefully avoids the obvious implication of these new findings — that the anomalies surrounding the “green salt” documents make it very likely that they have were fabricated. To acknowledge that fact would cast doubt on the entire collection. But the surprising backtracking on the “green salt’ evidence underlines just how far the IAEA has gone in the past to cover up awkward questions about the intelligence at the center of the case.

Now that the Obama administration has settled on a nuclear agreement with Iran, the IAEA will no longer have to find contorted language to discuss Iran’s past and present nuclear program.

Nevertheless, the Agency remains a highly political actor, and its role in monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the agreement may bring more occasions for official assessments that reflect the political interest of the U.S.-led dominant coalition in the IAEA board of governors rather than the objective reality of the issue under review.

Assessing the IAEA ‘Assessment’ of “Possible Military Dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear programme

Atomic Reporters | Tariq Rauf and Robert Kelley | December 2015

VIENNA, 15 December 2015: This morning the Board of Governors (BoG) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution closing what has been referred to as a ‘manufactured crisis’ regarding allegations of “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear programme. This process has taken nearly a decade to reach a solution that easily could have been reached many years ago, had not ill advised politicization interfered with the IAEA’s technical work; and an incautious report issued by the IAEA in November 20114 based on dubious “third party” or intelligence information and non-expert analysis. The IAEA BoG resolution inter alia takes note of the “clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme…and further notes that this closes the Board’s consideration of this item”. The resolution also “[r]eaffirms that Iran shall cooperate fully and in a timely manner with the IAEA through implementation of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, including by providing access, reaffirms that such cooperation and implementation are essential for the IAEA to reach the Broader Conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities”.

This assessment, reflecting personal views, written by two former IAEA officials with direct experience with the Iran nuclear file at the IAEA aims to shed light on the political pressures exerted on the IAEA by some of its powerful Member States and ‘intelligence’ information injected by them to influence the technical workings of the Agency. It is also to highlight, in this context, some of the complex matters relating to allegations of military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme, as well as to discuss structural weaknesses in the management of the IAEA by its senior leadership and its governing bodies, and above all to make recommendations to strengthen the IAEA which is the global body charged to implement nuclear verification, and promote nuclear safety and security.

It must be stated at the outset that both authors are fully supportive of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by the EU/E3+3 and Iran on 14 July 2015 in Vienna, as well as of the IAEA conducting its important mission in a non-political, open, accountable and transparent manner. This assessment begins with a brief description of the allegations made by the IAEA in November 2011 regarding possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme. It then briefly recounts the final assessment of all past and present outstanding issues issued by the IAEA in December 2015, along with the authors’ commentary. This is followed by a short discussion on the clash of cultures between the scientific method and the law enforcement method in the Agency’s treatment of the Iran nuclear file, and pseudo-scientific analyses in the Google era. The last section provides some recommendations on strengthening the governance structures of the IAEA…

You can download a PDF with the full article here.

Tariq Rauf and Robert Kelley both served in senior positions at the International Atomic Energy Agency and covered safeguards matters among other duties. Rauf is Director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme and Kelley in an Associated Senior Fellow with the same programme at SIPRI. Full biographical details are available at www.sipri.org along with technical assessments of Iran’s nuclear programme. This assessment reflects the personal views of the two authors.

Kalibr: Savior of INF Treaty?

FAS | Hans M. Kristensen | December 14, 2015

Kalibr_specs-1024x480

With a series of highly advertised sea- and air-launched cruise missile attacks against targets in Syria, the Russian government has demonstrated that it doesn’t have a military need for the controversial ground-launched cruise missile that the United States has accused Russia of developing and test-launching in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Moreover, President Vladimir Putin has now publicly confirmed (what everyone suspected) that the sea- and air-launched cruise missiles can deliver both conventional and nuclear warheads and, therefore, can hold the same targets at risk. (Click here to download the Russian Ministry of Defense’s drawing providing the Kalibr capabilities.)

The United States has publicly accused Russia of violating the INF treaty by developing, producing, and test-launching a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) to a distance of 500 kilometers (310 miles) or more. The U.S. government has not publicly identified the missile, which has allowed the Russian government to “play dumb” and pretend it doesn’t know what the U.S. government is talking about.

The lack of specificity has also allowed widespread speculations in the news media and on private web sites (this included) about which missile is the culprit.

As a result, U.S. government officials have now started to be a little more explicit about what the Russian missile is not. Instead, it is described as a new “state-of-the-art” ground-launched cruise missile that has been developed, produced, test-launched – but not yet deployed.

Whether or not one believes the U.S. accusation or the Russian denial, the latest cruise missile attacks in Syria demonstrate that there is no military need for Russia to develop a ground-launched cruise missile. The Kalibr SLCM finally gives Russia a long-range conventional SLCM similar to the Tomahawk SLCM the U.S. navy has been deploying since the 1980s.

What The INF Violation Is Not

Although the U.S. government has yet to publicly identify the GLCM by name, it has gradually responded to speculations about what it might be by providing more and more details about what the GLCM is not. Recently two senior U.S. officials privately explained about the INF violation that:

  • it is not the R-500 cruise missile (Iskander-K);
  • it is not the RS-26 road-mobile ballistic missile;
  • it is not a sea-launched cruise missile test-launched from a ground launcher;
  • it is not an air-launched cruise missile test-launched from a ground launcher;
  • it is not a technical mistake;
  • it is not one or two test slips;
  • it is in development but has not yet been deployed.

Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. under secretary of state for and international security, said in response to a question at the Brookings Institution in December 2014: “It is a ground-launched cruise missile. It is neither of the systems that you raised. It’s not the Iskander. It is not the other one, X-100. Is that what it is? Yeah, I’ve seen some of those reflections in the press and it’s not that one.” [The question was in fact about the X-101, sometimes used as a designation for the air-launched Kh-101, a conventional missile that also exists in a nuclear version known as the Kh-102.]

The explicit ruling out of the Iskander as an INF violation is important because numerous news media and private web sites over the past several years have claimed that the ballistic missile (SS-26; Iskander-M) has a range of 500 km (310 miles), possibly more. Such a range would be a violation of the INF. In contrast, the U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) has consistently listed the range as 300 km (186 miles). Likewise, the cruise missile known as Iskander-K (apparently the R-500) has also been widely rumored to have a range that violates the INF, some saying 2,000 km (1,243 miles) and some even up to 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles). But Gottemoeller’s statement seems to undercut such rumors.

Gottemoeller told Congress in December 2015 that “we had no information or indication as of 2008 that the Russian Federation was violating the treaty. That information emerged in 2011.” And she repeated that “this it is not a technicality, a one off event, or a case of mistaken identity,” such as a SLCM launched from land.

Instead, U.S. officials have begun to be more explicit about the GLCM, saying that it involves “a state-of-the-art ground-launched cruise missile that Russia has tested at ranges capable of threatening most of [the] European continent and out allies in Northeast Asia” (emphasis added). Apparently, the “state-of-the-art” phrase is intended to underscore that the missile is new and not something else mistaken for a GLCM.

Some believe the GLCM may be the 9M729 missile, and unidentified U.S. government sources say the missile is designated SSC-X-8 by the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Forget GLCM: Kalibr SLCM Can Do The Job

Whatever the GLCM is, the Russian cruise missile attacks on Syria over the past two months demonstrate that the Russian military doesn’t need the GLCM. Instead, existing sea- and air-launched cruise missiles can hold at risk the same targets. U.S. intelligence officials say the GLCM has been test-launched to about the same range as the Kalibr SLCM.

Following the launch from the Kilo-II class submarine in the Mediterranean Sea on December 9, Putin publicly confirmed that the Kalibr SLCM (as well as the Kh-101 ALCM) is nuclear-capable. “Both the Calibre [sic] missiles and the Kh-101 [sic] rockets can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads.” (The Kh-101 is the conventional version of the new air-launched cruise missile, which is called Kh-102 when equipped with a nuclear warhead.)

The conventional Kalibr version used in Syria appears to have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles). It is possible, but unknown, that the nuclear version has a longer range, possibly more than 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles). The existing nuclear land-attack sea-launched cruise missile (SS-N-21) has a range of more than 2,800 kilometers (the same as the old AS-15 air-launched cruise missile).

The Russian navy is planning to deploy the Kalibr widely on ships and submarines in all its five fleets: the Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula; the Baltic Sea Fleet in Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg; the Black Sea Fleet bases in Sevastopol and Novorossiysk; the Caspian Sea Fleet in Makhachkala; and the Pacific Fleet bases in Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk.

The Russian navy is already bragging about the Kalibr. After the Kalibr strike from the Caspian Sea, Vice Admiral Viktor Bursuk, the Russian navy’s deputy Commander-in-Chief, warned NATO: “The range of these missiles allows us to say that ships operating from the Black Sea will be able to engage targets located quite a long distance away, a circumstance which has come as an unpleasant surprise to counties that are members of the NATO block.”

With a range of 2,000 kilometers the Russian navy could target facilities in all European NATO countries without even leaving port (except Spain and Portugal), most of the Middle East, as well as Japan, South Korea, and northeast China including Beijing (see map below).

Kalibr-range

Click on image to see full-size version.

As a result of the capabilities provided by the Kalibr and other new conventional cruise missiles, we will probably see many of Russia’s old Soviet-era nuclear sea-launched cruise missiles retiring over the next decade.

The nuclear Kalibr land-attack version will probably be used to equip select attack submarines such as the Severodvinsk (Yasen) class, similar to the existing nuclear land-attack cruise missile (SS-N-21), which is carried by the Akula, Sierra, and Victor-III attack submarines, but not other submarines or surface ships.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Now that Russia has demonstrated the capability of its new sea- and air-launched conventional long-range cruise missiles – and announced that they can also carry nuclear warheads – it has demonstrated that there is no military need for a long-range ground-launched cruise missile as well.

This provides Russia with an opportunity to remove confusion about its compliance with the INF treaty by scrapping the illegal and unnecessary ground-launched cruise missile project.

Doing so would save money at home and begin the slow and long process of repairing international relations.

Moreover, Russia’s widespread and growing deployment of new conventional long-range land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles raises questions about the need for the Russian navy to continue to deploy nuclear cruise missiles. Russia’s existing five nuclear sea-launched cruise missiles (SS-N-9, SS-N-12, SS-N-19, SS-N-21 and SS-N-22) were all developed at a time when long-range conventional missiles were non-existent or inadequate.

Those days are gone, as demonstrated by the recent cruise missile attacks, and Russia should now follow the U.S. example from 2011 when it scrapped its nuclear Tomahawk sea-launched cruise missile. Doing so would reduce excess types and numbers of nuclear weapons.

Background:

This publication was made possible by a grant from the New Land Foundation and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

Opponents of U.S. nuclear bomb ‘glorification’ park seek Japanese support

The Asahi Shimbun | Masato Tainaka | December 17, 2015

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Visitors to the B reactor at the Hanford facility listen to an explanation of the work once done at the site. (Masato Tainaka)

Residents who fell sick living near the facility that produced plutonium for the Nagasaki atomic bomb are seeking Japanese support for a campaign against an attraction in the United States that they say “glorifies” nuclear weapons.

The move by the group called Consequences of Radiation Exposure (CORE) follows the U.S. government’s establishment on Nov. 10 of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at three sites related to the development of the first atomic bombs used by the United States.

One of those sites is in Hanford, Washington state, which in 1945 produced the plutonium for the world’s first nuclear test in Alamogordo, New Mexico, as well as in the bomb detonated over Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

“The intended purpose of this new park was to glorify the science behind the atomic bomb,” said Trisha Pritikin, 65, a founding member of CORE and a lawyer whose father worked as an engineer at the Hanford facility. “We are fighting an uphill battle.”

One of CORE’s objectives is to collect donations to build a new museum in Seattle to focus on the negative consequences of the nuclear weapons development program and nuclear energy.

Tom Bailie, 68, a farmer near Hanford and CORE member, said: “Humans cannot co-exist with nuclear weapons or nuclear power plants. I want to build a museum with the people of Japan who are well aware of that.”

CORE is comprised of people living near the Hanford site, like Bailie, who fell sick over the years, likely due to the radiation emitted from the facility.

Bailie has suffered from various health problems since childhood. At 18, he was diagnosed as being infertile. Family members have also died of cancer.

He has previously spoken to the media about what he calls “the death mile” near his home where there has been a high incidence of miscarriage, deformed babies, cancer and leukemia.

Bailie also appeared in the 2003 Japanese movie “Hibakusha–At the End of the World” about the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as Iraqi victims of depleted uranium shells, directed by Hitomi Kamanaka.

After World War II, the Hanford facility produced enough weapons-grade plutonium for about 7,000 bombs the same size as the one dropped on Nagasaki.

In 1986, the U.S. Energy Department released 19,000 pages of confidential documents in response to a freedom-of-information request made by local residents.

According to the documents, an experiment called “Green-run” at the Hanford site in December 1949 intentionally emitted 740 terabecquerels of radioactive xenon-133 and 287 terabecquerels of iodine-131. One tera is 1 trillion bequerels.

The area around the Hanford site was also contaminated with various radioactive elements during the Cold War. Work to decontaminate the site continued from 1989 after the facility shut down, but 177 underground tanks store large volumes of highly radioactive waste liquids that have not been processed at all.

Those residents living near the facility call themselves “downwinders” because they developed cancer and thyroid problems likely caused by wind-borne radioactive elements from the Hanford site.

Pritikin’s parents both died of thyroid cancer and she herself suffers from headaches and gastrointestinal and thyroid problems. She said radiation from the Hanford site “killed him (my father), my mom, and, maybe, eventually me.”

Since 1990, about 5,000 individuals, including many downwinders, have filed lawsuits against the companies contracted with the Department of Energy. Pritikin was one of those litigants, but courts never acknowledged a causal relationship between radiation and health problems. Many of the plaintiffs died before a verdict was even handed down.

The B reactor at Hanford that produced the plutonium used in the Nagasaki bomb has already been opened as a museum to the public. It will likely become the main attraction for the national historical park that officials want to be complete in around 2020, with the other Manhattan Project sites in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The display at the Hanford B reactor now highlights the scientific achievements that gave birth to the nuclear age.

However, Norma Field, professor emeritus of East Asian studies at the University of Chicago who is also a CORE director, said other sides of the story should also be told.

“The history of the Manhattan Project cannot be passed off as a history of triumph. It is a history of widespread, continued suffering on the part of U.S. citizens,” Field said.

“Hibakusha seeing themselves as part of a global history of exploitation and suffering through the CORE project would be an immense contribution.”

By MASATO TAINAKA/ Staff Writer

South Korea unlikely to gain US missile defense system, for now

Stars and Stripes | Erik Slavin | December 11, 2015

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A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, interceptor is launched from Wake Island in the western Pacific Ocean, Nov. 1, 2015. Top U.S. military officials want THAAD ready to deploy in the Asia-Pacific region on a permanent basis, and American bases in South Korea are ideally where they need to be to counter a North Korean offensive.

Placement of a U.S. mobile missile defense system in South Korea remains unlikely in the near term despite continued concern about North Korea’s nuclear program, analysts and government officials say.

Top U.S. military officials want the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, ready to deploy in the Asia-Pacific region on a permanent basis — and its bases in South Korea are ideally where they need to be to counter a possible North Korean offensive.

Last year, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said the Pentagon had conducted site surveys for THAAD within South Korea. However, what makes sense from a military tactical standpoint doesn’t always correspond with how leaders view the strategic and diplomatic consequences.

When rumors spread in March of a deal to deploy THAAD to South Korea in an emergency, China decried the possibility as a threat to its security, with Russia voicing opposition as well.

That left South Korea uncomfortably positioned in a dispute pitting China and Russia on one side and the United States and Japan on the other, said Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul.

The result was that despite discussions between President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye earlier this year, along with high-level ministerial talks between both nations, neither side has confirmed ever having had formal talks about THAAD.

Seoul’s caution in regard to THAAD also comes from concern over harming its recently stabilized relations with Pyongyang, Kim said.

The Koreas have technically remained at war since 1953, so everything is relative when it comes to measuring stability. But recent cross-border family reunions and a series of official talks that began in November — the most recent took place Friday at a North Korean border town, according to The Associated Press — aren’t something the South wants to jeopardize, Kim said.

“The situation is now considerably better than it was last spring,” Kim said. “It would be making a fool of ourselves to [deploy THAAD].”

If North Korea carries out another nuclear test, as it occasionally threatens to do through its propaganda channels, that could always cause South Korea to re-evaluate its needs for THAAD, Kim added.

Although China objects to THAAD, relations with Beijing probably wouldn’t be affected all that much, Kim said.

Kim and other analysts have speculated that China is more interested in loosening the U.S.-South Korea alliance than it is actually worried about THAAD.

THAAD can detect threats up to about 620 miles away, but its operational range is roughly 125 miles, according to Missile Threat, a project of the George C. Marshall and Claremont institutes.

Moreover, THAAD is designed to intercept missiles inside or just outside the atmosphere in their final phase. If THAAD intercepted a Chinese missile, it would be in the unlikely event that China launched one against South Korea, according to a paper published in April by Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Honolulu-based think tank.

In the meantime, the Pentagon is keeping THAAD stashed away in Guam, about 2,000 miles from Seoul. Its presence in Guam is rotational, but Army Pacific Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks told reporters Tuesday that it’s time to station THAAD there permanently, according to Military.com.

Keeping THAAD in Guam “will make it possible for us to have more options for commitment of THAAD in other places if asked,” Brooks added.

Stars and Stripes staffer Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.

slavin.erik@stripes.com