“Without military action, an Iranian nuclear bomb is a matter of time,” according to the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

A survey of the strategic balance in the Middle East in 2005 and 2006 that was written by institute experts shows that time is on Iran’s side, and that without military action, it will obtain nuclear weapons. The researchers, including Dr. Zvi Stauber, noted that although Israel has the technical capability to carry out an attack “of one kind or another” in Iran, the international community should be allowed to exhaust its efforts at this time.

The institute’s researchers determined that in 2006, the threats to security and stability in the Middle East grew more severe because of the stalemate on the Palestinian matter and in light of Iran’s progress toward obtaining a nuclear military option. The situation became more severe also because of the absence of accomplishments in the world war on terrorism and against Islamic extremism, and especially from the failure of the American effort to stabilize the crisis in Iraq. The institute also stated that the American failure in Iraq is damaging the U.S.’ status in the region, and that Israel has nothing to gain from a continued American presence in Iraq.

Regarding the war in Lebanon, the authors of the study wrote that it illustrated the problematic nature and the fluidity of Israel’s strategic environment and exposed weaknesses in the IDF in the decision-making process. The researchers also wrote that despite the U.N.’s decisions, Hezbollah has no restrictions on its rearming. They say that it is likely that in the short-term, Hizbullah will keep things quiet on Israel’s border in order to allow the rehabilitation of its arrays and outposts to take place.

As part of the ramifications of the Lebanon War, Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, one of the institute’s researchers, explained that the war has two far-reaching and serious results: Arab countries realized that Israel’s strength is in doubt to a certain extent, and they could engage in future attacks, a possibility that no one thought of half a year ago.

Another result is the severe disappointment that Israel’s embarrassing accomplishments during the war caused to the United States and to Western countries.

Israel Reaches $4.4 Billion In Defense Exports

Israel, nearing a record, has reported more than $4.4 billion in defense exports in 2006.

The Israel Defense Ministry said Israeli foreign military sales exceeded $4.4 billion in 2006. The ministry said Israel was one of the top five defense exporters in the world.

“This is a great achievement,” Yossi Ben-Hanan, head of the ministry’s Sibat arms export agency, said. “The world has put its faith in our industries through the deals signed with Israeli companies.”

Israel’s previous defense export record was in 2002. At the time, Israel reported $4 billion in arms and security exports.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Ben-Hanan said 75 percent of Israeli defense production in 2006 was exported to foreign clients. He said the rest was sold to the Israeli military.

India was identified as Israel’s largest military client. Ben-Hanan said Israel ordered $1.5 billion in defense products last year.

The United States bought $1 billion in defense products in 2006. In 1999, Ben-Hanan said, Israeli defense exports to the United States reached $300 million.

Israel has also developed a market in Europe. The ministry said Israel signed $800 million in defense contracts with Europe in 2006 and expected an increase over the next two years.

On Tuesday, the Institute for National Security Studies said the war in Lebanon has bolstered foreign interest in Israeli weapons. The institute predicted sales of the Trophy main battle tank active protection system, developed by the state-owned Rafael Israel Armament Development Authority and offered to Israel and the United States.

“The lessons of the war in Lebanon brought a renewed interest in unique Israeli weapon systems,” the report said. “There are thus much better prospects for future sales of armor protection system like Rafael’s Trophy, which was previously rejected both by the Israel Defense Forces and the U.S. military. Also there is a renewed interest in anti-rocket systems like the Nautilus designed to defend against short range rockets and missiles.”

The Lab That Will Identify An Iranian Bomb Detonation

Deep in the Eilat mountains, far from the hiking paths and from human beings, lies a geophysics station that monitors nuclear activity in the region. A huge controlled explosion will take place in the Negev today to calibrate the station’s inruments so that they will be able to identify, if it takes place, a uclear test in Iran.

The station, one of the two in Israel that is run just for the UN, wich bypasses the international treaty against nuclear tests, is deep underground and has lots of measuring instruments. “There is a seismometer (to measure earthquakes) a gravimeter (to measure gravity), istruments to measure magnetic fields, changes in the earth’s gravity and more,” explained Dr. Rami Hofstetter, director of the Seismological Division in the Geophysical Institute of Israel.

“The station examines earthquakes, ways to predict earthquakes, and it also examines other activities that take place above and below ground-such as nuclear tests. It picked up the latest tests in India and Pakistan.”

The guarded site relays all the information that it senses directly to the international information center in Vienna. “The U.N. demands the most delicate, complex and developed equipment that is sensitive to everything, even the tide or to tiny differences of temperature. That is why it is locked up inside the mountain behind another wall, so that it cannot be hurt or become uncalibrated.

The U.N.’s second geophysical observatory is located in Mt. Meron.

“The reason for the location of the station in the south,” explains Hofstetter, “is to prevent disturbances in the sensitive antennae’s reception. There are no cars, no all-terrain vehicles, no people or anything that could disrupt the reception of any ground tremors. If there is a tremor, and there are ways to see if this is just an earthquake, the material is sent directly to the Nahal Soreq Nuclear Research Center and from there to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The tremors are picked up in about 50 stations, and Israel is just one in a chain, but we are an important part because of our proximity to countries which are apparently developing nuclear weapons.”

A series of three explosions will be made this afternoon in Israel – about 15 tons of liquid explosives altogether – to improve the location’s ability and to calibrate the seismic networks of Israel and Jordan. The time it takes for the shock to be picked up from the site of the blast to the sensors in the stations will be measured.

The explosions will take place in Oron in the northern Negev, and they are expected to be of the same intensity as a 2.4 earthquake on the Richter scale. The Infrastructure Ministry said that the blast would be felt at a radius of only a few kilometers.

About 40 natural earthquakes of this magnitude occur in Israel every year without the public feeling them,” explained Dr. Hofstetter. This is not the first explosion for calibration purposes: two such explosions, double the force, were done in recent years.

Russia Supplies ‘Sam Missile’ Deliveries

To Iran, Syria

This week, the Middle East NewsLine broke the story that Russia has delivered more than half of the anti-aircraft defense systems ordered by Iran and Syria.

Russian defense officials said Moscow has accelerated deliveries of surface-to-air missiles to Damascus and Teheran over the last few months. They said the SAM contract with Syria has been completed, while half of the air defense systems arrived in Teheran.

“We are actively carrying out deliveries of the system to Iran,” the Russian state-operated Itar-Tass news agency quoted a Russian Defense Ministry official as saying on Tuesday. “At least 50 percent of the contract has been delivered.”

In 2005, Iran purchased at least 29 TOR-M1 short-range mobile anti-aircraft systems from Russia. Over the last year, officials said, Iran ordered additional batteries as well as enhancements of the TOR-M1 in an overall contract estimated at $1.4 billion.

Itar-Tass said the TOR-M1 would defend Iranian nuclear sites, including the reactor constructed at Bushehr. Some of the batteries were already said to have been deployed.

The United States has opposed the TOR-M1 project. In 2006, the State Department imposed sanctions on Russia’s state arms export agency Rosoboronexport.

Officials said Russia has completed air defense deliveries to Syria. They said Moscow has supplied dozens of SA-18 Strelet-S systems to Moscow in a ­­sale that exceeded $20 million. The SA-18, designed as a shoulder-fired short-range surface-to-air missile, was said to have been mounted on Syrian combat vehicles.

Valery Kashin, head of the Engineering Design Bureau, which manufactures the portable air defense system, told the Moscow-based Interfax news agency that Russia completed SA-18 deliveries in 2006. Kashin did not elaborate.

Russian officials said Syria has been discussing a range of additional purchases from Moscow. They said President Bashar Assad examined Russian offers of the S-300PMU and Pantsir S-1 air defense systems as well as Iskander rockets, submarines and anti-tank missiles during his visit in December 2006.

©The Bulletin 2007


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.