Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced that his organization continues to receive weapons and distribute them to its people. “I do not ask anyone’s permission,” Nasrallah said in a speech he gave last Friday evening, during which he added that his people were ready to intervene in the grave shooting incident between Israel and the Lebanese army if it had worsened.

“I am not like the others, who lie and say that we have no arms while we accumulate and distribute them,” the leader of Hezbollah said. “We can reveal that we have arms, and of all kinds. We move them covertly, and Israel does not know about it.”

Nasrallah added that he sees himself free to act in this area. “I will not ask permission from those who came from Israel with weapons,” (referring to the IDF) he said from the podium, “nor will I ask permission from those who did not shoot even one bullet toward Israel” (referring to his rivals in the Lebanese government).

U.N. Security Resolution 1701, which ended the war in Lebanon, calls for the prevention of the entry of arms into southern Lebanon without the approval of the Lebanese government. Nasrallah’s statements were meant to embarrass the Lebanese government, but do not constitute an explicit confession of holding weapons inside the forbidden territory, nor do they reveal anything about the smuggling route.

During the speech, the Hezbollah leader continued to ignore the issue of the Lebanese prisoners in Israel’s hands and kidnapped IDF soldiers in his hands.

Nasrallah also noted that his organization intended to intervene in the shooting incident between the Lebanese army and the IDF 11 days ago, but the army won. “We are not a burden to the Lebanese army, but rather a supporter of its mission,” he said.

The leader of Hezbollah gave his speech during an annual memorial rally for two of the most prominent Shiite leaders in Lebanon: his predecessor, Abbas Musawi, who was killed by gunfire from an IDF helicopter in 1992, and Sheikh Ragheb Harb, who was killed by the IDF in 1984.

Iran Succeeded In Hiding Nuclear Program From U.N.

Iran is developing a secret uranium enrichment program for its nuclear program, far from the eyes of U.N. inspectors. This is a secret attempt to build a new and sophisticated kind of centrifuge, which is now in the experimental stage in a secret laboratory.

This information comes from a report that has reached Ma’ariv, which has its source in western intelligence organizations and gives a current picture of Iran’s nuclear program. The information reveals that the Iranians are struggling with many malfunctions and delays, but at the same time are searching for other options that are just as sophisticated.

The report reveals that the Iranians have four arrays (cascades or, as they are popularly termed, “cakes”) of P-1 centrifuges for enriching uranium. This is a relatively old model based on Pakistani technology. They are operated in an underground reactor near the city of Natanz.

These four arrays essentially control the Iranian nuclear program. At the same time, a new centrifuge is being developed secretly. This experiment passed the theoretical stage a short while ago, and is now in the practical stage under laboratory conditions.

The Iranians also have a third kind of centrifuge, more advanced than the P-2, which is also being examined. These are only a few dozen centrifuges, whose performance is now being tested without uranium. This experiment is taking place in the Karaj reactor near Tehran, and in another reactor near Isfahan.

Each of the four “cakes” running in Natanz consists of 164 centrifuges. There are 656 centrifuges in all, which are currently the heart of the Iranian nuclear program. But according to the intelligence available in the West, those four cascades do not operate at full strength all the time because of malfunctions. The main problem that is delaying the work is difficulty in feeding fuel into the centrifuges, and also problems of air pressure within them.

All in all, the scope of the work is relatively modest for anyone wishing to manufacture enriched uranium quickly and in a quantity sufficient for an atomic bomb. In order to reach an enrichment rate of 90 percent, which is the minimum amount of fissionable material used for nuclear weapons, approximately 7,000 centrifuges must be in operation over the course of a year.

Although the Iranians are several years away from that, the significance has nothing to do with time: the moment described as “crossing the technological threshold” primarily concerns the stage at which they will overcome the malfunctions, manufacture additional centrifuges and begin to charge ahead without interference. Diplomats and intelligence officials believe that they will reach this stage sooner or later.

The Iranians are making great efforts to move the project forward. Hundreds of technicians and engineers work in ’round-the-clock shifts at the reactor in Natanz. The leaders of the nuclear program announced to all those involved in the work that all leaves over the next several months have been cancelled.

In recent months, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised in a series of speeches that he will announce a nuclear breakthrough at the Persian New Year, which falls on March 20. Yet in his latest speech last Sunday, he pushed off the date to April 9.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il.

©The Bulletin 2007

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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.