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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 3, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Iran to Enrich Uranium to 60 Percent If Nuclear Talks Fail (Reuters-Chicago Tribune)
    Iran would enrich uranium up to 60 percent purity if negotiations with major powers over its nuclear program fail, Mansour Haqiqatpour, deputy head of parliament's Foreign Policy and National Security Committee, said Tuesday.
    "In case our talks with the (six powers) fail to pay off, Iranian youth will master enrichment up to 60% to fuel submarines and ocean-going ships," Haqiqatpour said.
    See also Iranian Source: Nuclear Program Hiring "Non-Stop," Ramping Up Enrichment - Sabina Amidi (Times of Israel)
    Iran is recruiting staff relentlessly to work on its nuclear program and has constructed several facilities for nuclear testing outside Tehran whose precise location is known only to high-ranking officials, according to an Iranian source who said he was hired recently as a researcher at one of Iran's nuclear facilities.
    "More and more young graduates and people are brought in every day," he said in a telephone interview. "We have been working non-stop."
    He said Iran had already enriched uranium to 30%, and "by next year, we hope to reach up to 50 or even 60%. The experience and knowledge is there, but getting the right parts at times has been difficult."

Hizbullah Infographic Describes Conquest of Northern Israel (
    Hizbullah has produced an Internet infographic entitled: "Galilee: Where Resistance Confronts the Enemy Next" - offering a virtual tour of the Jalil (Galilee), which lies north of "occupied Palestine."
    See also Hizbullah Discusses Its Plan for Conquest of the Galilee - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Poll: 70% of Americans View Israel Favorably (UPI)
    70% of Americans said they have a favorable view of Israel, according to a survey conducted Sept. 15-17 by Basswood Research for the Foreign Policy Initiative.

Gaza Salafist Group Accuses Hamas of Torturing Members (AFP)
    The Gaza-based Salafist group Jaysh al-Umma accused Hamas on Monday of arresting and torturing six of its members, including its leader, Sheikh Ismail Hamid, also known as Abu Hafs al-Maqdisi.
    He is "languishing in the dark cells of the Hamas government, subjected to harsh interrogation," the group said.

Israel's Heron UAV Tackles Manned Surveillance Tasks - Arie Egozi (Flightglobal)
    The Israeli air force's Heron unmanned air systems have begun performing medium- and long-range observation missions that were previously carried out using its Beechcraft manned aircraft.
    The air force's large UAS now have the payload capacity to carry the sensors required, offer longer endurance and are also cheaper to operate.
    See also Unmanned Systems to Help Protect Israeli Gas Reservoirs - Arie Egozi (Flightglobal)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Intelligence: Iran Air Defense Units Fired on Own Aircraft - Michael R. Gordon
    The Iranian military was so apprehensive about the threat of an Israeli airstrike on its nuclear installations in 2007 and 2008 that it mistakenly fired on civilian airliners and, in one instance, on one of its own military aircraft, according to classified American intelligence reports. "Iranian air defense units have taken inappropriate actions dozens of times, including firing antiaircraft artillery and scrambling aircraft against unidentified or misidentified targets," noted a classified Pentagon intelligence report.
        In addition, worried about an Israeli strike, the commander of the Iranian Air Force ordered fighter units to "conduct daily air-to-ground attack training (GAT) at firing ranges resembling the Israeli city of Haifa and the Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona," according to a classified 2008 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency. (New York Times)
  • Senior Hizbullah Operative Killed in Syria - Martin Chulov
    Ali Hussein Nassif, a founding member of Hizbullah and one of its most senior operatives, was killed near Homs in Syria over the weekend by a roadside bomb and was buried in his home village in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, the group has confirmed. Hizbullah's al-Manar television said Nassif's death occurred as he "carried out his jihadi duties." Officials in Nassif's home village of Buday suggested that seven other Hizbullah members had recently been wounded in Syria.
        A separate report claimed that a second Hizbullah member, Zain al-Abidin Mustafa, had also been killed and was buried in Baalbek. New graves in cemeteries in Lebanon designated for Hizbullah members deemed to have died as martyrs have steadily been dug throughout the summer. (Guardian-UK)
  • 27 Killed in Suicide Bombings in Aleppo
    A Syrian government official said at least 27 people have been killed and scores wounded in a series of suicide bombings Wednesday in a main square in Aleppo near an officers' club. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Report: Iran Transfers $10 Billion to Syria
    The London Times reported Monday that Tehran has transferred $10 billion in support of Assad's war against Syrian rebels. Defectors from Assad's forces have told coordinators for the rebel Free Syrian Army in the Gulf that Iran has been paying the salaries of Syrian government troops for months, as well as providing weapons and logistical support.
        Western intelligence sources say Assad's failure to win the conflict has caused a split between Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran's spymaster Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. "Suleimani promised Khamenei that he would turn the situation in Syria around and has failed to deliver," said a Western defense source. (Ynet News)
        See also Iran's Master of Iraq Chaos Still Vexes U.S. - Michael R. Gordon
    When a senior Iraqi intelligence official traveled to Tehran in the summer of 2007 to meet with the Iranian leadership, he quickly figured out who was in charge of Iran's policy toward its neighbor to the west. It was Qassem Suleimani, the shadowy commander of Iran's Quds Force, who calmly explained that he was the "sole authority for Iranian actions in Iraq."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Single Network Behind Sinai Attacks - Amos Harel
    A single network of Islamic extremists who identify with al-Qaeda's ideology is responsible for most of the attacks on Israelis along the Egyptian border over the past year, Israeli intelligence now believes. Though the network is based in Sinai, many of its members are Egyptians who don't live in Sinai.
        Egyptian newspapers have reported that two of the three terrorists involved in last month's attack near Mount Harif, which killed Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi, were formerly students living in Egypt's Nile Delta region. One was identified with the Muslim Brotherhood, while his comrade had recently joined the Salafist movement.
        Israeli intelligence no longer sees Sinai as the "backyard" of the Gaza organizations, but as the home of an independent jihadist network. (Ha'aretz)
  • Report: Fighting within Syria's Alawite Community - Jack Khoury
    In the past few days violence has been raging among different Alawite clans in the city of Kardaha, located in the Alawite mountains in the country's northwest. Assad is of Alawite descent. Mohammad al-Assad, leader of the regime's Shabiha organization, was reportedly killed. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Cancel Bethlehem Walk Over Participation of Israelis - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Israelis, Palestinians and members of other nations and religions from around the world were supposed to walk quietly in Bethlehem to promote "change and acknowledge basic common grounds and sow the seeds of understanding and acceptance." However, the event planned for Friday drew strong condemnation from local Palestinian activists who expressed outrage over the participation of Israelis. The activists threatened to prevent Israelis from "desecrating our holy city and sites."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Red Line Is Fast Approaching - Editorial
    By significantly sharpening the focus of his demand for so-far-and-no-further red lines of containment to be imposed on Iran's nuclear ambitions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in effect delivered an ultimatum over possible military action that Tehran would be foolish to ignore. All credible intelligence confirms Tehran's inexorable advance, despite global sanctions, towards that 90% mark. As Netanyahu said, in light of Iran's appalling record of aggression and support for global terrorism without nuclear weapons, imagine what Iran would be like with nuclear weapons.
        Netanyahu's core contention is that Iran must be left in no doubt that, if and when it transgresses that 90% threshold, it could face military action, from Israel alone or in concert with the U.S. and its allies. The Israeli leader deserves support.
        Netanyahu's address had apocalyptic overtones. With Iran looming as an existential threat to his country, the Israeli leader could hardly be expected to be otherwise. He believes the future of the world depends on whether Tehran gets the bomb. Ensuring that does not happen is a first order priority of the free world. (The Australian)
  • After Abbas: The End of the PLO's Old-Guard Monopoly - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas is convinced that if he steps down, the PA will collapse and his people will face a new catastrophe. But the truth is that the Palestinians would be better off in the post-Abbas era. His departure would mark the beginning of the end of the PLO's old guard monopoly over the Palestinian issue.
        "The Palestinians can survive without Abbas," said a PLO representative. "His resignation would actually be the most positive thing he has ever done for the Palestinians." Such a move would pave the way for the emergence of new and younger leaders who would be able to serve the Palestinians better, the official added.
        As long as the Israelis are in the West Bank, Hamas will not be there. (Gatestone Institute)
        See also Abbas Resignation Demanded by West Bank Demonstrators (AFP)
  • U.S. Students Give Ahmadinejad a Standing Ovation - Josh Lipowsky
    During his recent visit to the UN in New York, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted a private dinner and briefing at the Warwick Hotel with more than 150 students and professors from Harvard, NYU, Rutgers, the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, Columbia and Stony Brook. Ahmadinejad was greeted with a standing ovation by these "future leaders" when he entered the room. Students later addressed him as "Your Excellency" during the question-and-answer session. One even prefaced her remarks by saying it was "a pleasure" to be in his presence. (JTA)
  • The Ghost of Yom Kippur, Israel's Pearl Harbor - Asaf Romirowsky
    The Yom Kippur War in 1973 was Israel's Pearl Harbor. On Yom Kippur (October 6, 1973) - the holiest day on the Jewish calendar - Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise attack on Israel. The Israel Defense Forces lost 2,688 soldiers and more than 7,200 were injured. In retrospect, Israel should have been far more prepared.
        One cannot understand the Israeli mindset today - especially with regard to Iran without understanding the events that took place in 1973. Israel cannot afford to make any mistakes regarding Iran because "do overs" are not an option, and the cost of non-conventional warfare is far greater than conventional warfare. The writer is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Forbes)

The Case for Humility - David Makovsky (Foreign Policy)

  • It's time for the U.S. and Israel to dial down the rhetoric on Iran. For Israel, public confrontation with the U.S. does not make any strategic sense.
  • But we in the U.S. could also use some humility. First, let's admit that our track record in halting rogue nuclear programs is rather poor. We may have bought off Libya, but we did not stop the nuclear programs of North Korea and Pakistan.
  • As has been said by the former deputy head of the Israel Atomic Energy Agency, Ariel Levite, the U.S. approach has been "too early, too early, oops, too late."
  • We need to admit that there are legitimate questions whether the U.S. will be able to detect with confidence Iran's dash to weaponization. In his UN remarks, Netanyahu alluded to Iran's ability to reach a level of enrichment by next summer that would put it in easy reach of weapons-grade nuclear fuel in as little as one to two months. If the Islamic Republic takes that step, will Washington discover it quickly enough to do something about it?
  • The fact is, by sometime after the summer of 2013, we simply may not know what Iran is capable of.
  • Finally, it is worth stating the obvious: Israel is threatened by the Iranian leadership with "full annihilation," in the words of armed forces chief of staff Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, and is routinely called a cancerous tumor that needs to be removed. As such, it perceives its margin of error as narrower than a superpower with global interests resting safely an ocean away.

    The writer is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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