Tuesday, August 19, 2008

U.S. Missile Defense at Israeli Base Hands-off for Israelis

US & Israel Sign Murder-Suicide Pact
Babba Zee
Outraged Spleen of Zion

Allman Bros. ~ Whipping Post

American crews will control US FBX-band radar granted Israel

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

August 19, 2008, 12:43 PM (GMT+02:00)

In granting Israel the powerful FBX-T radar system to enhance its early warning resources against incoming missiles, Washington laid down a strict hands-off proviso. The system will be installed at a US base in the southern Israeli Negev. It will be off-limits to Israelis and managed exclusively by American personnel.

This discovery, revealed here for the first time by DEBKAfile's military sources, has aroused astonished rancor in senior Israel army circles. They questioned the judgment of prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Ehud Barak, foreign minister Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, who leads the Israeli side of the twice-annual strategic dialogue with the US, and chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi in accepting this proviso.

Even Poland, one officer commented, looked after its sovereignty and only signed its defense pact with the United States for the installation of missile interceptors on its Baltic coast after the Americans agreed to instruct Polish crews in their future operation.

Yet none of the Israeli officials involved in the radar transaction saw fit to carry this point. The FBX-T was requested to allow Israel's Arrow missile defense system to engage a Shehab-3 missile about halfway through its 11-minute flight from Iran, several times sooner than the Arrow's Green Pines radar is capable of doing.

The FBX-T can track objects in space such as a missile tipped with a chemical, germ or nuclear warhead.

When they swung the deal in Washington last month, Barak and Ashkenazi said the Israeli Defense Forces would acquire a major resource and Israel a valuable shield against enemy missiles.

But they erred badly in failing to demand its integration in Israel's national interceptor system for four reasons:

1. Israel will have no denied direct access to the data gathered by the system and can only hope the American operators will pass on the information as and when Israel needs it for self-defense rather than when it suits US interests.

2. The FBX-T will not only be able to track Iranian and Syrian missiles and aircraft but also keep watch on Israeli operations, giving the Washington a handle for stalling them. DEBKAfile's military sources point out that the Americans are suddenly in a hurry to have the system deployed in the Negev as soon as September. They will then be in position to forestall a possible Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear installations should one be decided in Jerusalem.

3. US experts say the FBX-T radar will lengthen the Israeli Arrow anti-missile system's range for detecting incoming Iranian missiles several times over. This is technically accurate, but in practice this enhanced capability is entirely contingent on a Pentagon order to the American crews in the Negev to activate a link between them.

4. Barak and Ashkenazi said on their return from Washington that they had procured US consent to links between Israel's early warning and missile interceptor systems, the X-band radar (which can pick up a missile 2,000 km from target) and also the American JTAGS satellites (which detects a missile launch).

This is not the case.

Any links between the IDF's radar and interceptors and the JATG satellites must be channeled through the X-band radar base in the Negev and are not direct. The data passed to Israel will be subject to pre-selection by American decision-makers.

Several billion dollars of US and Israeli funds have been sunk into developing the Arrow, which Israeli officials until recently claimed was a match for Iran's Shehab-3 ballistic missiles. It turns out now that the Arrow and its Green Pine radar pick up incoming missiles only when they are 800 km short of their target. Israel applied for the FBX-T radar to extend that range to 2,000 km from its territory. But as long as the system is operated exclusively by American personnel, its usefulness for shielding Israel against enemy missiles will circumscribed.

AUGUST 13, 2008:

U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for attack on Iran nuclear facilities

By Aluf Benn

The Americans viewed the request, which was transmitted (and rejected) at the highest level, as a sign that Israel is in the advanced stages of preparations to attack Iran. They therefore warned Israel against attacking, saying such a strike would undermine American interests. They also demanded that Israel give them prior notice if it nevertheless decided to strike Iran. As compensation for the requests it rejected, Washington offered to improve Israel's defenses against surface-to-surface missiles. Israel responded by saying it reserves the right to take whatever action it deems necessary if diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's nuclearization fail.

Senior Israeli officials had originally hoped that U.S. President George Bush would order an American strike on Iran's nuclear facilities before leaving office, as America's military is far better equipped to conduct such a strike successfully than is Israel's.
Jerusalem also fears that an Israeli strike, even if it succeeded well enough to delay Iran's nuclear development for a few years, would give Iran international legitimacy for its program, which it currently lacks. Israel, in contrast, would be portrayed as an aggressor, and would be forced to contend alone with Iran's retaliation, which would probably include thousands of missile strikes by Iranian allies Hezbollah, Hamas and perhaps even Syria. Recently, however, Israel has concluded that Bush is unlikely to attack, and will focus instead on ratcheting up diplomatic pressure on Tehran. It prefers to wait until this process has been exhausted, though without conceding the military option.

Israel's assumption is that Iran will continue to use delaying tactics, and may even agree to briefly suspend its uranium enrichment program in an effort to see out the rest of Bush's term in peace.
The American-Israeli dispute over a military strike against Iran erupted during Bush's visit to Jerusalem in May. At the time, Bush held a private meeting on the Iranian threat with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the Israelis presented their request for certain specific items of military equipment, along with diplomatic and security backing. Following Bush's return to Washington, the administration studied Israel's request, and this led it to suspect that Israel was planning to attack Iran within the next few months. The Americans therefore decided to send a strong message warning it not to do so. U.S. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen both visited here in June and, according to the Washington Post, told senior Israeli defense officials that Iran is still far from obtaining nuclear weapons, and that an attack on Iran would undermine American interests.

Therefore, they said, the U.S. would not allow Israeli planes to overfly Iraq en route to Iran. The Americans sent a similar message to Iraq, which had objected vociferously to the idea of its air space being used for an Israeli attack on Iran. These private messages were accompanied by a series of leaks from the Pentagon that Israel interpreted as attempts to thwart any possibility of an attack on Iran. For instance, the Americans revealed details of a major Israel Air Force exercise in the Mediterranean; they also said they doubted Israel had adequate intelligence about Iran's nuclear facilities. In addition, Mullen spoke out publicly against an attack on Iran. Two weeks ago, Barak visited Washington for talks with his American counterpart, Robert Gates, and Vice President Richard Cheney. Both conversations focused on Iran, but the two Americans presented conflicting views: Gates vehemently opposes an attack on Iran, while Cheney is the administration's leading hawk.

Barak presented Israel's assessments of the Iranian situation and warned that Iran was liable to advance its nuclear program under cover of the endless deliberations about sanctions - which have thus far produced little in the way of action. He also acknowledged that effective sanctions would require cooperation from Russia, China and India, all of which currently oppose sanctions with real teeth. Russia, however, is considered key to efforts to isolate Iran, and Israeli officials have therefore urged their American counterparts in recent months to tone down Washington's other disputes with Moscow to focus all its efforts on obtaining Russia's backing against Iran. For instance, they suggested that Washington offer to drop its plan to station a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic - a proposal Russia views as a threat, though Washington insists the system is aimed solely at Iran - in exchange for Russia agreeing to stiffer sanctions against Iran.

However, the administration rejected this idea.
In an attempt to compensate Israel for having rejected all its proposals, Washington then offered to bolster Israel's defenses against ballistic missiles. For instance, Gates proposed stationing an advanced radar system in Israel and linking Israel directly into America's early warning satellite network; he also offered increased American funding for the development of two Israeli missile defense systems - the Arrow-3, an upgrade of Israel's existing Arrow system for intercepting ballistic missiles, and Iron Dome, a system designed to intercept short-range rockets. In addition, Washington agreed to sell Israel nine Super Hercules long-range transport aircraft for $2 billion.

However, it would not agree to supply Israel with any offensive systems. Now, Israel is awaiting the outcome of the latest talks between the West and Iran, as well as a formal announcement of the opening of an American interests section in Tehran. Israel views the latter as sure proof that Washington is not planning a military strike.


Israel to free 200 MORE prisoners as Rice visits Mideast

Ian Gillan ~ Gethsemane

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
~ Genesis 12:3

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by Babba Zee
images: Outraged Spleen of Zion
Source: US & Israel Sign Murder-Suicide Pact

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