Jerusalem – Is Israel’s nuclear program about to expand?
Discussions have been held in the past few weeks in the prime minister’s office and the infrastructure ministry on building a nuclear power plant for producing electricity.
This means that Israel would be forced to open up its nuclear affairs to international supervision, and the ambiguity that it has maintained for years will lessen or completely disappear.
Israel had been considering the idea of building a nuclear power plant for decades, but it would appear that for the first time in years, the expansion of the nuclear option is becoming much more serious.
The dependence on the supply of fuel from external sources and its high price, the pollution from power plants and the emerging shortfall in the Israel Electric Corporation’s ability to supply all the needed power have recently caused officials to examine the idea in greater depth.
In a government resolution passed in the 1970s, land was designated for building such a facility in the Shivta area in the Negev, but if the nuclear option should advance and reach fruition, Israel may also examine the possibility of collaborating with one of its neighbors.
Energy officials estimate the cost at about $1.5-2 billion, not much different from the cost of building a coal power plant. At this cost, a plant could be built that would produce about 10 percent of Israel’s current power production capacity.
Experts say that it will take at least eight years to build it – about four years to plan it and approve it in the special committee for security facilities and about four more years to build it.
There are currently companies in several countries that specialize in this field, and it is believed that Israel may also have the ability to build it independently.
Raising the topic by Israel could elicit severe opposition around the world.
Israel is fighting together with other countries against Iran’s attempt to build reactors, which it alleges are intended for peaceful purposes, and there certainly could be those who would think that Israel is also planning to expand its nuclear program under the guise of a power plant.
Egypt and Jordan have recently raised similar proposals, and Israel may even consider cooperation with its neighbors for launching such a joint initiative.
Hamas Beefing Up Intelligence Capability
Hamas, which now rules Gaza, has been investing much effort and many resources in intelligence, as indicated in a series of reports from the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas is using the intelligence equipment that it plundered during its takeover of Gaza. According to the newspaper, when Hamas occupied Gaza in June, it took over the military and intelligence infrastructure that had been established with the help of USAID.
For over a decade, Fatah operated a huge intelligence network in Gaza that was established with the help of the CIA. This technology included instruments used for the reception of radio, microwave and telephone communication broadcasts, as well as telemetry technology that allows the user to precisely locate a cell phone user. That entire infrastructure fell into the hands of Hamas.
Meanwhile, Hamas has decided to establish a new security organization. The spokesman for the interior ministry in the Hamas government, Ihab el-Rasin, confirmed the report, saying that the new intelligence organization in the Gaza Strip will begin operating within a few weeks. El-Rasin noted that the decision was made following the decision by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to dismantle the Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip. “This organization will serve actual national interests, far from all the dictates from abroad,” he said.
Building an intelligence force fits in with Hamas’ plans to organize its guerrilla forces into a real army. For this purpose, Hamas is training its people in various types of expertise and plans to defend itself against Israeli attacks.
On Monday, Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader based in Damascus, said that “Hamas has a strong intelligence organization that allows it to monitor everything that happens in the field.”
Palestinians In Service Of Israelis In U.N.
In the past few days, the ambassadors of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the U.N. succeeded, in a joint rare effort, to sabotage an anti-Israeli initiative that was about to be passed by the U.N. Security Council. The cooperation was in the wake of a proposal by Qatar to declare Gaza an area hit by a humanitarian crisis, which would have made it difficult for Israel to act against Hamas and would have given the terror organization a significant achievement in an international forum.
An Israeli political source said that the Qataris had proposed the resolution in an attempt to help Hamas, without consulting with any official in the PA or Fatah. “In effect, the ones who did the main work were the Palestinians and not us,” said an Israeli source last night. “Although we prepared for a battle against the Qatari attempt, and we wanted to ask the Americans to make sure that they would not support the proposal, it turns out that [Palestinian leader] Abu Mazen had already preceded us and made a deal with the Americans to oppose the resolution.”
House Deems Saudis Leading Insurgency Source
The Middle East Newsline has broken the story that key members of the U.S. Congress have deemed Saudi Arabia a leading source of the Islamic insurgency in the Middle East.
Senior members of the House asserted that Saudi nationals comprised a major element of the Sunni insurrection in Iraq as well as other areas of the Middle East. The members said the Saudi kingdom has failed to stop the recruitment of its nationals for al-Qaida operations abroad.
“They are paying the bills for the suicide bombers,” Rep. Anthony Weiner, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee, said.
“It is not an accident that 15 of the 19 suicide attackers [in the al-Qaida suicide air strikes in 2001] here on our soil were Saudis.”
In a briefing on July 29, Weiner warned that Saudi Arabia has exported Islamic violence. He said 70 percent of those he termed the most-wanted international terrorists were Saudis.
In Iraq, the House members said, Saudi Arabia has been financing attacks on the U.S.-led coalition. They said 40 percent of foreign fighters recruited by al-Qaida in Iraq consisted of Saudi nationals.
“Saudi Arabia is the number one exporter of terrorism in the world today,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, another New York Democrat, said.
The House members expressed concern that U.S. weapons sold to Saudi Arabia could be seized by al-Qaida sympathizers. They said they would introduce legislation to block the Bush administration’s proposed $20 billion arms deal with Riyadh.
“We have grave reservations that this arms sale to Saudi Arabia could allow weapons to slip into terrorist hands,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, another New York Democrat, said.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007