Ex-PM says Israel does not have capacity to strike Iran nuclear sites
April 15, 2021
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert on July 10, 2012 [GALI TIBBON/AFP/GettyImages]September 28, 2021 at 11:55 am
Israel does not have conventional military capabilities that enable it to strike and permanently eliminate the Iranian nuclear project, as it did in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an opinion piece published in Haaretz’s Hebrew site.
Olmert said the policy adopted by former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu over the past few years and the repeated warnings that Iran is on the verge of becoming a “nuclear power” are incorrect, because “intensive and accelerated uranium enrichment does not necessarily turn Iran to being on the verge of becoming a nuclear state”.
Olmert, who criticised what he called the approach of creating unnecessary fear and panic, added that Iran was at every point, within a few months of producing the needed quantities of enriched uranium to be on the verge of becoming a nuclear state, however, the question that should be asked is what brings Iran closer to being a nuclear state.
He explained that while the quantities of enriched uranium are necessary, additional conditions should also be met that are not available to Iran today.
The former politician added that it will take Iran a long time to become a nuclear-capable country.
ReutersSeptember 28, 20218:53 PM MDTLast Updated 20 hours ago
Sept 29 (Reuters) – Analysts warn Asia may be sliding into an accelerating arms race as countries react to China’s military growth and tensions around North Korea’s weapons programmes linger.
Here is a list of defence systems several Asian countries are looking to acquire.
The country said on Sept. 16 it would build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines under an Indo-Pacific security partnership with the United States and Britain. read more
Australia will also enhance its long-range strike capability with Tomahawk cruise missiles deployed on naval destroyers and air-to-surface missiles for its F/A-18 Hornet and F-35A Lightning II jets that can hit targets at a range of 900 km (559 miles).
Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM) will be deployed on its F/A-18F Super Hornet jets, while precision strike guided missiles capable of destroying targets from over 400 km are planned for its land forces.
It will also collaborate with the United States to develop hypersonic missiles under the trilateral security deal, dubbed AUKUS.
Separately, the U.S. State Department approved in June the potential sale of 29 Boeing Co (BA.N) AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to Australia in a deal worth up to $3.5 billion. read more
Taiwain announced a plan earlier this month to spend T$240 billion ($8.69 billion) over the next five years to upgrade its weapons capabilities – a programme that is likely to include long-range missiles and existing cruise missiles. read more
The programme will include a new missile, which Taiwanese media say could have a range of up to 1,200 km and is an upgraded version of the Hsiung Sheng cruise missile.
In 2020, the U.S. government approved the potential sales of 100 Boeing-made Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems, three weapons systems including missiles, sensors and artillery, and four sophisticated aerial drones to Taiwan. They are worth about $5 billion in total.
Last month, Washington approved the potential sale of 40 howitzer systems to Taiwan in a deal valued at up to $750 million. read more
It successfully tested a conventional submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Sept. 15, becoming the first country without nuclear weapons to develop such a system. read more
The missile is believed to be a variant of the country’s ground-based Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile, with a flight range of about 500 km.
Last year, it developed the Hyunmoo-4missile, which has an 800 km range and can mount a 2-ton payload.
South Korea unveiled other new missiles, including a supersonic cruise missile to be deployed soon.
It has been also striving to develop solid-fuel rocket engines as part of a plan to launch a spy satellite by the late 2020s, and successfully carried out a test firing in July.
Its defence ministry, in a midterm plan released in 2020, detailed a proposal to build three submarines. Officials have said two of them – with a displacement of 3,000 tons and 3,600 tons – will be based on diesel engines, but declined to specify how the largest one, at 4,000 tons, would will be powered.
Building a nuclear submarine has been among President Moon Jae-in’s election pledges, but he has never officially announced it after taking office in 2017.
In July 2019, North Korean state media showed leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a large, newly built submarine. While it did not describe the submarine’s weapons, analysts said the apparent size of the vessel indicated it was designed to carry ballistic missiles.
Later that year, nuclear-armed North Korea said it had successfully test-fired a new SLBM from the sea, and in January it showcased a new SLBM design during a military parade in Pyongyang.
The country said on Wednesday it tested a newly developed hypersonic missile a day before, joining an accelerating race to deploy the weapon involving the United States, Russia and China.
Hypersonic weapons are considered the next generation of arms aimed at depriving adversaries of reaction time and traditional defence mechanisms.
Unlike ballistic missiles that fly into outer space before returning on steep trajectories, hypersonic weapons can travel towards targets at lower altitudes at more than five times the speed of sound – or about 6,200 km per hour (3,853 miles per hour).
The launch came two weeks after North Korea’s state media said the country tested its first railway-based missile launching system. read more
It is mass producing its DF-26, a multipurpose weapon that can be fitted with nuclear warheads and has a range of up to 4,000 km.
At a 2019 parade, China also unveiled new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and showcased its advancing intercontinental and hypersonic missiles, designed to attack the aircraft carriers and bases that undergird U.S. military strength in Asia.
Its hypersonic missile, known as the DF-17, theoretically can manoeuvre at many times the speed of sound, making it more difficult to counter.
It also has DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles, the backbone of China’s nuclear deterrent, which are capable of reaching the United States with multiple warheads.
It has spent millions of dollars on long-range air-launched weapons, and is developing a new version of a truck-mounted anti-ship missile, the Type 12, with an expected range of 1,000 km.
In 2020, the U.S. State Department authorized a deal for Japan to buy 105 Lockheed (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jets to Japan at an estimated cost of $23 billion.
(This story was refiled to correct date on Taiwan announcement to earlier this month from Friday)
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin in Seoul, John Mair in Sydney, Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Writing by Miyoung Kim. Editing by Gerry Doyle and Lincoln Feast.
09/28/2021 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – Six months ago, Pope Francis’s historic visit to Iraq injected hope into the lives of the Christian minorities all around the region. Now, Christians are unsure if their situation has changed much at all. One Christian Baghdad resident commented, “we’ve seen many visits from heads of state and delegations in the last years. Each time it’s a lot of promises, and each time it ends there, without anything concrete after.”
The Iraqi government announced efforts surrounding the time of the pontiff’s visit, including Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s invitation for national dialogue and Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s efforts for expropriated Christian property. And yet, the Christian population in Iraq continues to dwindle as the minority community lacks assurance of protection. In the last 20 years, nearly 75% of the Christian population in Iraq is gone, with many leaving for a better life elsewhere after years of violence.
The most recent regional meeting in late August, the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership, was mediated by France and is an encouraging step for some Iraqi Christians. The country will also hold elections on October 10th, allowing Christians a chance to express their discontent. However, it is unclear that either of these have the weight to change Iraq’s trajectory and create a safe haven for its Christian population.
The Latin adage Si vis pacem, para bellumwarns: ‘If you want peace, prepare for war.’ Given the heightened risk of war between China and the United States, we might take heed of this ancient wisdom. It is better to deter wars than wage them.
Part of the tragedy of the two world wars was that the principal aggressors who initiated or escalated them did so against objectively more powerful enemies. So, in theory, such aggression should have been easy to deter.
In 1914, Germany launched an unprovoked assault on neutral Belgium, bringing Belgium’s ally Great Britain into the war. Thus, after the opening gambits of World War I, the alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary found itself at war against an objectively more powerful alliance of Russia, France and Great Britain.
In 1939, Poland had security guarantees from Britain and France, an alliance more powerful than Nazi Germany alone, but Hitler attacked Poland anyway. In 1941, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, a much bigger and more populous country than Germany. Later that year, Japan attacked the world’s greatest industrial power, the US, by bombing Pearl Harbor. Thus, the alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan was at war against a much more powerful alliance of the British Empire, the Soviet Union and the United States.
The overconfidence and misjudgement displayed by Germany and Japan in the two world wars were in large measure attributable to a perception of a lack of resolve on the part of their foes.
In 1914, it wasn’t clear that Britain would fight on the side of Russia and France, and the British had made woefully inadequate preparations to do so.
In 1939, Hitler had been appeased for years, which made the British and French security guarantees to Poland seem hollow. The Soviet Union had fought poorly in the 1939–40 Winter War with Finland, and Hitler perceived that one kick would knock the whole rotten structure down. Japan thought that, with the US fleet destroyed, an indulgent and lazy America would seek a peace treaty rather than fight it out.
Since 1945, there’s been a ‘long peace’. There have been no big international wars and overt military conflict between nations has grown increasingly rare.
Nuclear weapons have changed the risk–benefit calculus for aggressors. It is difficult to misjudge a nation’s military capability if it has nuclear weapons, and such a misjudgement risks a mutually destructive Armageddon. Thus, the two superpowers and their alliances never directly fought each other during the Cold War.
Both China and the US have nuclear weapons today, so is there any reason to doubt that deterrence will continue to prevail?
A hot war between China and the US is mostly likely to break out over the issue of Taiwan. Nuclear weapons alone are unlikely to deter such a conflict.
If the risk of nuclear annihilation could deter all acts of aggression, then nobody would ever attack a nuclear-armed foe. But nuclear-armed US military forces have previously been attacked by North Korea, China, North Vietnam, Iraq and the Taliban. Egypt and Syria attacked nuclear-armed Israel in 1973.
Would a country invade an island it claims as its own that is allied to a nuclear-armed nation on the other side of the world? It’s happened before, when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a colonial territory of nuclear-armed Britain, in 1982.
Nuclear weapons haven’t been used in anger since 1945 and a taboo has long since developed over initiating their use. Nuclear weapons are only likely to ever be used if a nuclear-armed nation is facing an existential threat. The reality is that, in all the above examples, no existential threat existed for the nuclear-armed power.
Is the loss of Taiwan an existential threat to the US? If Washington is unwilling to initiate the use of nuclear weapons to prevent Taiwan’s loss, how will China be deterred?
Even if the US still retains the conventional capabilities to defeat China, the history of the 20th century suggests that what is truly important is the aggressor’s perception of the other side’s willingness to fight. This is where the recent debacle in Afghanistan is so dangerous.
After capitulating to the Taliban, who in the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party thinks Joe Biden would be willing to risk the lives of thousands of Americans to defend Taiwan? They might be calculating that, if Taiwan can only ever be brought back into the fold of the mainland by force, doing so before Biden leaves office will be the most opportune time.
Of course, the loss in Afghanistan might have the same impact on Biden that the loss of Czechoslovakia had on British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1939—a determination not to be embarrassed again.
The danger in the capitulation to the Taliban may not be that it has made America weak, but that it has made America appear weak. The issue may not be that Taiwan could be lost, but that China will misjudge American resolve, in which case the long peace will be at an end.
Explosives belonging to a Hamas cell were found in the village of Kafr Bidu near Ramallah in the West Bank on Monday, and according to defense officials they were meant to be used to carry out attacks in Israel.
Israeli security forces are still searching for additional Hamas members suspected of planning attacks against Israel
Five Palestinians were killed Sunday by Israeli military fire in a large-scale arrest operation in the West Bank. The target was Hamas’ military infrastructure in the Ramallah and Jenin areas after intelligence showed the group was planning to carry out attacks in Israel, at least one of them in Jerusalem, according to defense sources.
Three Palestinians were killed in the village of Kafr Bidu. Two other Palestinians were killed in Burkin in the northern West Bank.
An officer and a soldier from the elite Duvdevan military unit were seriously wounded by friendly fire during the overnight raids.
There have recently been several shooting attacks on army checkpoints in the Jenin area. Israeli arrest operations, especially near the Jenin refugee camp, have been met with an unusual volume of Palestinian gunfire.
U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall says China’s move to add hundreds of new land-based, fixed ICBM silos amounts to their developing a “first-strike” capability.
“Most of their weapons have been mobile ICBMs, so this is a very destabilizing move and I am not sure they understand the risk they are taking. Whether they intend it or not … their move creates a first-strike capability. If they continue down this path to increase their ICBM force, then that is a de facto first-strike capability,” Kendall told reporters at the Air Force Association Symposium.
Kendall may have been referring to an event described in August at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium by the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command Adm. Charles “Chaz” Richard.
“Only four months ago, commercial satellite imagery discovered what is accepted to nuclear missile fields in western China. Each has nearly 120 ICBM silos. Now these compliment and are added into what they already have,” Richard told an audience at the symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
Sure enough, Richard’s mention of Chinese ICBM silos being detected by commercial satellites is something that aligns entirely with the information referred to by Kendall.
China’s clear ambition to massively expand its nuclear arsenal is something that has been on the Pentagon’s radar for some time, as it was cited as a serious concern last year in the Pentagon’s 2020 China Military Report.
Following the publication of this report, senior Pentagon weapons developers and experts added even more specificity and expansion metrics describing China’s ambitious nuclear weapons expansion.
“We do believe that over the next decade, that China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in its history, China’s history,” Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, told reporters last year according to a Pentagon transcript. “An ability to double the stockpile demonstrates a move away from their historical minimum deterrence posture.”
At the moment, China is known to have an official “no first use” policy with nuclear weapons. However that position does not appear to remain the case, Kendall explained.
Kendall’s concern about Chinese ICBMs aligns in several respects with the Pentagon’s 2020 China Report which adds that the number of Beijing’s ICBMs capable of threatening America will likely grow to 200 in the next five years. As an element of this expansion, China is increasing its inventory of long-range land-fired DF-26 Anti-Ship missiles able to fire both conventional and nuclear missiles.
If merely a few nuclear weapons could unleash massive, unimagined devastation upon cities and even entire countries, why would any country need more than a small number of weapons in their arsenal?
In keeping with Ancient military philosopher Sun Tzu’s famous “Mass Matters” concept, Richard said, “it does not matter if your weapons are superior if you do not have enough of them.”
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
Bolton said it was possible the nuclear weapons could end up in the hands of the Taliban if the Islamists take control of in an interview with WABC 770 on Sunday.
‘The Taliban in control of Afghanistan threatens the possibility of terrorists taking control of Pakistan … that means maybe 150 nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists,’ he said.
The US completed a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 31, leaving behind military equipment that has already been seized by the Taliban, after the Islamists swept to power in a lightning offensive of the country.
Pakistan has an arsenal of approximately 160 nuclear warheads including 102 land-based missiles and F-16 combat aircrafts with 24 nuclear launchers.
How big is Pakistan’s nuclear inventory?
Pakistan first tested a nuclear warhead in 1998, becoming the seventh country in the world to officially do so.
Its arsenal is seen as a defense against India, which first tested nuclear warheads in 1974.
Number of nuclear warheads: 160
Air capabilities: F-16 combat aircrafts with 24 nuclear launchers with a range of 1,600 km, Mirage III and V aircraft with 12 launchers with a range of 2,100km, and Ra’ad air-launched missiles with a 350km range
Sea capabilities: Recently tested a Babur 3 from a submerged platform and are working towards firing from a submarine
Land capabilities: 102 land-based missiles, six operational nuclear capable ballistic missiles
Bolton, who served under then President Donald Trump between April 2018 and September 2019, slammed Joe Biden’s management of the withdrawal, warning allies are ‘wondering if he has a grip on his own administration’s foreign policy.’
Biden and the White House have repeatedly insisted they were blindsided by the swept Taliban takeover because the Afghan security forces gave up so easily.
It led to scenes of chaos with thousands of Afghans swarming the airport as they desperately tried to flee the country before the Islamists imposed their rule.
Thousands gathered at the perimeter of Kabul airport – some standing in sewage, others attempting to scale the walls and many brandishing travel documents – as US soldiers attempted to control the chaos.
Early evacuation flights saw hundreds of young men sat on a fin below the US military’s plane’s turbine as it barreled down the runway, only to then fall hundreds of feet to their deaths.
At least two people fell to their deaths from a C-17 on August 16 and the remains of another were discovered in the wheel well of the jet when it arrived in Qatar.
Videos captured snapshots of the chaos showed US soldiers being handed babies over barbed wire fences as desperate Afghans gathered at the edge of the airport.
Meanwhile other footage emerged of women pleading with US troops to let them onto an evacuation flight, telling them ‘the Taliban is coming’.
And days later a suicide explosion claimed by ISIS-K, an Islamic State offshoot based in Afghanistan’s Khorasan region, left 170 dead, including 13 US service members.
Biden later claimed the withdrawal was an ‘extraordinary success’ and local soldiers for the mess in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover – a claim the White House has repeated in recent weeks.
The President also laid the blame for the chaos on his predecessor Donald Trump for striking a peace deal in February 2020 with the Taliban. Trump’s peace deal had promised US withdrawal by May if the Taliban did not harbor terrorists or attack US forces or allies.
Bolton’s warning comes after the Taliban seized much of the equipment abandoned by the US during the chaotic end to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
Days after the withdrawal ended, the Taliban paraded dozens of US-made armored vehicles and weaponry captured from Afghan forces during the group’s takeover.
One event, in the southern city of Kandahar, even featured a fly-past from a Black Hawk helicopter flying the flag of the Taliban.
Meanwhile a long line of green Humvees and armored fighting vehicles drove in single file along a highway outside Kandahar – the spiritual birthplace of the militant group. Many of the vehicles had the white and black Taliban flag attached to them.
Footage posted on social media showed a helicopter flying overhead trailing the Taliban’s standard behind it as fighters waved from below.
Taliban spotted in Afghan army truck provided by US Military
US withdrawal from Afghanistan:
April 14, 2021
Biden announces U.S. forces will withdraw unconditionally by Sept. 11, implementing the agreement reached with the Taliban by his predecessor, Trump.
July 2, 2021
U.S. troops abruptly pull out of their main base at Bagram airfield 60 km (40 miles) north of Kabul.
August 15, 2021
After a stunning week-long advance capturing cities across the country, the Taliban seize Kabul without a fight. President Ashraf Ghani flees the country. The United States and Western allies launch an urgent airlift from Kabul airport to bring out their own citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans who aided them.
August 26, 2021
Islamic State offshoot ISIS-K launches a suicide bomb attack on the crowded gates of Kabul airport, killing scores of civilians and 13 U.S. troops.
In the days that followed, the U.S. conducted drone strikes on ISIS-K assets in Kabul in response. ISIS-K also fired five rockets towards Kabul airport as U.S. and western forces tried to get the last American citizens and Afghan allies to safety.
August 30, 2021
U.S. General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, announces completion of the U.S. troop withdrawal. The Taliban celebrated with gunfire in the streets as Western forces finally left after 20 years.
There were still at least 250 American citizens stranded on the ground and thousands of Afghan allies – SIV applicants are those designated as vulnerable – left to face the Taliban.