Activists of the Occupy Chicago movement say the police have installed “ominous-looking equipment” near their headquarters and may be intercepting their phone communications.
“I don’t really know what authority Chicago Police Department has to listen in to random people’s cell phone calls, especially since Occupy Chicago has been particularly non-violent. It has been in place for three days, and witnesses reported that the policeman installing the gear looked way too happy to be installing this equipment,” a protest tipster said, as cited by the Gawker website.
The report also says the activists have been spotting unmarked surveillance vans parking directly beneath the equipment. Meanwhile some activists said their mobile phones have shown poor performance ever since the equipment was installed.
Some comments say the device mounted on top of the street lamp shown in the picture is a base station of a wireless network. It may potentially be used to identify individual mobile phones in the area.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has been running since mid-September in the US. The protests demanding social justice have since spread to a dozen American cities as well as some foreign nations. The demonstrators want the US government to tax the rich, curb the power of the corporations and hold those responsible for the ongoing economic crisis accountable.
In several cities the confrontation between the OWS and local authorities resulted in violent crackdowns on the protesters. US Marine veteran Scott Olson was seriously wounded when a tear gas canister hit him in the head at an Oakland rally. The incident became the symbol of police brutality targeting the Occupy movement.
As the second day of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine’s South Africa session was underway in Cape Town on Sunday, the tribunal’s website was taken offline by a sophisticated cyber attack.
The internet consultant who founded the Russell Tribunal website says the attack was “no amateur attempt”.
He said attackers targeted the company which domain name www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com is registered with. They appear to have used a technique known as a DNS (Domain Name System) attack. This has rendered the domain name useless for the time being, automatically redirecting all visitors straight back to their own computers.
This means that since Sunday, journalists and members of the public visiting the Russell Tribunal website will see nothing but an obtuse error message (see screen shot above). Nevertheless, the live internet stream from Cape Town went ahead as it was hosted by another site, and the tribunal continues to release news via its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Harry Fear, who built the site last year, told me the attack had been “executed, quite extraordinarily, without any ostensible compromising of the settings” that control the domain name. The attackers “penetrated the DNS system at a deeper level, showing their degree of sophistication and will,” said Fear.
In other words, the attackers appear to have compromised the domain registrar company itself, even covering their tracks as they went.
Fear has reported the attack to 1&1, the German company russelltribunalonpalestine.com is registered with. Fear says 1&1 are now investigating but are “currently stunned” and saying little. The website remains inaccessible as I am writing this.
1&1 is one of the biggest internet hosting companies in the world. It claims to handle over 11 million domain names. Fear thinks this alone is significant: “that this monolith of a company has been hacked (it seems) is quite something”.
The cyber attack comes as part of a wider Zionist campaign against the tribunal’s South Africa session. Russell Tribunal coordinator Frank Barat wrote on Facebook last week that “Zionists in South Africa are going mad. Every newsroom in the country has received [a] gift box and anti Russell Tribunal material”.
Zionist groups have set up “Russell the kangaroo” Facebook and Twitter accounts especially to attack the tribunal. However, this campaign seems much less successful than the cyber attack, with only 184 Facebook followers (as I write this).
The now-infamous op-ed by Richard Goldstone denying Israel practices apartheid also appears likely to have been timed (at least in part) to coincide with the tribunal. The South Africa session examined the question: “is Israel an apartheid state?”
Until the website is back up, you can find out more on the Russell Tribunal Facebook page – including by downloading the session’s preliminary findings.
Last week, internet service in Palestine was taken offline in what officials called a “serious act of sabotage,” according to the Ma’an News Agency.
Nicaragua’s incumbent President Daniel Ortega has won the country’s presidential elections by securing 62.7 percent of the vote.
Ortega’s closest rival, Fabio Gadea, won only 31 percent of the vote, Reuters reported on Monday.
Gadea, a conservative radio personality, refused to accept the results and accused the president-elect of electoral fraud.
However, the international observers present at the polls said the irregular voting patterns spotted during the event were not strong enough to change the results.
The victory sent Ortega’s supporters celebrating on the streets of the capital Managua on Monday.
“I’m happy … I think that people are convinced, they voted for social programs, voted for the future, voted for the poor,” said a lawyer named Silvia Calderon.
Ortega has been a leading figure in Nicaraguan politics since he led a revolution to overthrow the country’s dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979.
Ortega was elected president in 1984 amid fighting a civil war against the US-backed Contra rebels and was voted out of power in 1990. He failed in successive bids for re-election in 1996 and 2001, but returned to power in 2007.
Ortega’s policies have won widespread support in Nicaragua and his social programs have attracted a large support base over the past five years.
“Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.”
- Joseph C. Wilson IV, The New York Times, July 6, 2003
“Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in favor of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”
- Oscar Wilde
[NOTE: It has been over ten months since I wrote, "The Phantom Menace: Fantasies, Falsehoods, and Fear-Mongering about Iran's Nuclear Program", a timeline of false U.S., Israeli, and European assertions regarding the supposed inevitability and immediacy of a nuclear-armed Iran, hysterical allegations that have been made repeatedly for the past thirty years.
Whenever new predictions and claims about Iran's nuclear program are released, I have added updates to my original piece. To read all past updates, click here. Culled from the past few months, here are some the latest.]
On June 17, 2011, U.S.News & World Report published a lengthy article by Purdue professor Louis René Beres and retired Air Force Gen. John T. Chain with the title “Israel’s Options for Dealing With a Nuclear Iran.” The writers claim that “Iran is closing in rapidly on full membership in the ‘nuclear club’” and that “probably in the next two years, such membership can be conclusively confirmed.” They then outline the various ways Israel could protect itself from an Iranian assault, completely ignoring the fact that Iran has never threatened Israel with attack, rather it’s the other way around.
On August 22, 2011, speaking at a luncheon at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Republican Senator and second-ranking member on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee James Inhofe declared, “We know – and it is not even classified for me to tell you today – that Iran will have the capability of delivering a weapon of mass destruction to western Europe and the eastern United States by 2015. I see that as the most imminent threat to this country right now. So that is a problem we are going to have deal with.”
On August 28, 2011, Reuters, in an article quoting a senior Israeli defense official as saying that “Israel would not be able to halt Iran’s reported quest for atomic weapons with a single strike,” also reported, “Recent Israeli estimates do not show Iran developing nuclear weapons before 2015.”
On September 6, 2011, the editors of The Washington Post hysterically claimed, “Iran has taken two more steps toward producing a nuclear weapon,” before completely misrepresenting a new IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program. The editorial says Iran has “begun to use a new, more advanced centrifuge to enrich uranium, which could allow it to produce bomb-grade material in a much shorter time period, should it choose to do so” and is “creating a stockpile for which Tehran has no plausible legitimate use.” It warns that, despite ongoing illegal actions (though not using those terms, of course) like industrial sabotage and assassinations, “the danger that Iran will become a nuclear power is growing, not diminishing,” before declaring that “the grim reality is that Iran’s leaders have not been deterred from their goal of producing a weapon, and the project is making steady progress.”
The Post also noted a study [PDF] by the Bipartisan Policy Center (a think tank established by U.S. senators) warned of Iran acquiring the ability to produce enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in a mere 62 days, “a timeline that could fall to 12 days by the end of 2012.”
Writing in The New Republic, Iran hysteric Greg Jones estimated “Iran can produce enough HEU for a nuclear weapon in about eight weeks from the time it decided to do so,” a timeframe that would “shrink to only about four weeks by the end of next year, as Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles and enrichment capacity continue to increase.” Jones concluded, “The international community has no choice but to already treat the Islamic Republic as a de facto nuclear state.”
On September 14, 2011, Reuters reported that British Ambassador Simon Smith had told the IAEA’s 35-nation governing board in Vienna, “The absence of a plausible economic or commercial rationale for so many of the nuclear activities now being carried out in Iran, and the growing body of evidence of a military dimension to these activities, give grounds for grave concern about Iran’s intentions.”
The same day, Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service wrote that Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told a gathering at the University of Miami, “Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons and wants regional hegemony in the Middle East.”
On September 16, 2011, The New York Times published an editorial which warned that “Iran is still enriching uranium and refusing to come clean about its nuclear program.” The editorial claimed, Iran has “greatly increased production of uranium to 20 percent purity instead of the 3.5 percent purity normally used to fuel nuclear power plants” which represents “a significant step closer to the 90 percent threshold required to make nuclear weapons fuel.” The authors suggest the Obama administration should seek “even tougher punishments” than “sanctions and inducements” in order to get “Tehran’s attention.”
Barbara Slavin, writing for The Atlantic Council the same day in an article ominously entitled “As Iran Edges Closer to Nukes,” states that although “Iran has not exactly been sprinting toward a bomb…the Iranian program – which Washington helped start in 1957 – is finally getting close to providing the wherewithal to make nuclear weapons.” Slavin writes that Iran has amassed “enough material, if further enriched, for four or five nuclear weapons.”
The following day, on September 17, 2011, Reuters reporter Frederik Dahl wrote of U.S. fear that “Iran and North Korea might covertly trade know-how, material or technology that could be put to developing atomic bombs.” The report quotes Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as saying, “Were this traffic to be confirmed, that would deepen the suspicion that Iran is involved in nuclear activities which are clandestine and military in nature.”
Speaking on panel on September 19, 2011, Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of Nonproliferation and Disarmament at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, opined that Iran “won’t have [a nuclear weapon] tomorrow or next week or next month or a year from now,” but noted that once Iran produces enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon, his assessment holds that it would take Iran “six months to weaponize.”
Also on September 19, 2011, Reuters reported that, during an IAEA meeting in Vienna, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu claimed, “Iran has continued to engage in a long-standing pattern of denial, deceit and evasion, in violation of its (nuclear) non-proliferation obligations,” continuing, “Expanding, and moving underground, its enrichment to this level marks a significant provocation and brings Iran still closer to having the capability to produce weapons grade uranium.” French Industry Minister Eric Besson was also quoted as telling the meeting that Iran’s nuclear program “poses an unacceptable threat to the regime of non-proliferation and to regional stability,” while the head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, Shaul Chorev told member states, “Israel has no doubt that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.”
On September 21, 2011, in advance of Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly, war-mongering walrus John Bolton lamented in The National Interest that Iran has “marched inexorably forward with its nuclear weapons program.”
David Albright of D.C. think tank Institute for Science and International Security and longtime Iran alarmist, was quoted in The Australian on September 26, 2011 as saying, “We believe if Iran broke out now they could have a bomb in six months,” continuing, “They’ve done this right in front of our faces.”
Reuters published an extensive analysis entitled “How close is Iran to the bomb?” on September 28, 2011 which noted, “Either Iran could build a nuclear bomb in a matter of months or it is unlikely to get such a weapon any time soon — depending on which Western expert you talk to.” In the article, Frederik Dahl writes that “Western-based analysts generally agree with their governments that Tehran is developing technology that could be used to make a bomb, but they disagree about just how close it is to success,” citing various estimates from Greg Jones’ two month timeline to Shannon Kile, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who said, “I just don’t see how you can credibly say they are going to be eight weeks away or even 18 months away.” The report states Mark Fitzpatrick, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), estimates “Iran could make a nuclear weapon in less than two years’ time.”
On October 3, 2011, writing in the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz insisted, “As Iran continues its development of a nuclear weapon, Israel is growing more concerned that the Islamic Republic will embrace a policy of ambiguity, similar to the policy upheld in Israel regarding its own alleged nuclear capabilities.” He added, “General assessments are that if it so decides, it would take Iran just a number of months for it to enrich a sufficient quantity of uranium to over the 90% that would be required for one nuclear device.”
On October 4, 2011, Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported former Mossad chief Meir Dagan had told the Council for Peace and Security that “Iran’s nuclear program was still far from the point of no return.”
The same day, new U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was visiting Israel at the time, said during a press conference alongside his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak, “We are very concerned [about Iran] and the best approach for dealing with this threat is for all of us to make it clear to them that they cannot proceed on the path that they are on. We will work together to do whatever is necessary to make sure that they do not represent a threat to this region and it depends on countries working together.”
On October 16, 2011, a New York Times report by David Sanger and Lander stated, “President Obama is pressing United Nations nuclear inspectors to release classified intelligence information showing that Iran is designing and experimenting with nuclear weapons technology.”
Reza Kahlili, a former CIA spy claiming to have intimate knowledge of the Iranian nuclear program, wrote in The Washington Times on October 27, 2011, “The pressure the United States and the West is bringing to bear on Iran to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons is all for naught. Not only does the Islamic Republic already have nuclear weapons from the old Soviet Union, but it has enough enriched uranium for more. What’s worse, it has a delivery system.”
Kahlili claimed that Mathew Nasuti, a former U.S. Air Force captain and State Department adviser, attended a March 2008 briefing in which a “Middle East expert” said “it was ‘common knowledge’ that Iran had acquired tactical nuclear weapons from one or more of the former Soviet republics” and also that “Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, an experienced intelligence officer and recipient of a Bronze Star, told me that his sources say Iran has two workable nuclear warheads.” He also writes that Iran has “enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs,” before calling for a military strike on Iran “before it’s too late.”
In a bizarre article, published in Ha’aretz on October 28, 2011, Louis René Beres, Leon Edney, and Thomas G. McInerney advocate for a coordinated, unprovoked military attack on Iran as an act of preemptive self-defense from “the genuinely existential risks posed in the 21st century by a nuclear Iran.” The authors write that although “Israel is the country at greatest risk from Iranian nuclear weapons,” the U.S. “is presently the only country that has the operational capability to undertake a successful preemptive mission to remove Iran’s covert and illegal nuclear weapons program.” The spooky conclusion is simple: “[I]f there is not an American defensive strike on Iran…[there will] be a fully nuclear Iran, led by irrational Shiite clerics.” (Purdue professor Beres chaired Project Daniel in Israel, Edney was vice chief of U.S. naval operations, a NATO supreme allied commander and commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command, and McInerney served U.S. Air Force vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence and vice commander-in-chief at the U.S. Air Force headquarters in Europe.)
The same day, the English-language website of Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Defense Ministry Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs Amos Gilad told students at Ashkelon College, “At the moment, there is no immediate nuclear threat, but there is definitely a great deal of motivation and determination for it,” before noting, “Today the status is that they are at the starting point – they have uranium, they have the knowledge but they don’t create (missiles) because of media publicity which is not initiated by them.” Gilad declared, “The whole world is against the Iranians, the sanctions are effective, but it doesn’t change Iran’s strategic direction or their motivation. Iran is determined to obtain nuclear weapons and that is a major threat to Israel. If they achieve their goal it would be major game changer,” as it would upset the current “balance of power” in the region.
During an October 30, 2011 interview with Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann claimed, “Iran has also stated they would be willing to use a nuclear weapon against the United States of America,” despite the fact that fewer things could be further from the truth.
On October 31, 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again warned of an ongoing Iranian nuclear weapons program and told the Knesset, “A nuclear Iran poses a heavy threat to the entire world – and to Israel in particular.”
A report by Ha’aretz on Netanyahu’s push for an Israeli assault on Iran published on November 2, 2011, stated, “Western intelligence officials agree that Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear program. Intelligence services now say it will take Iran two or three years to get the bomb once it decides to (it hasn’t made the decision yet ).”
The same day, Damien McElroy and Alex Spillius of The Daily Telegraph claimed, “Iran is on course to build nuclear weapons, according to evidence compiled by United Nations inspectors.” A new IAEA report, due out this week, “is likely to take the Middle East a step closer to a nuclear arms race,” the report stated. The article, entitled “Iran making nuclear arms,” included a quote from an unnamed Western diplomat declaring that the IAEA’s upcoming assessment “makes an inescapable case that Iran has ambitions to militarise the uranium it has been enriching at its production facilities.”
On November 3, 2011, Richard Norton-Taylor wrote in The Guardian, “The suggestion is that there is a ‘window’ now that would enable Israel on its own to strike Iran’s nuclear sites. Next year, the ‘window’ would be left open to the US (and the UK) before Iran’s nuclear weapons reached the point of no return.”
On November 5, 2011, a BBC report revealed that the IAEA “is planning to reveal evidence that Iran has been working secretly to develop a nuclear weapons capability, diplomats say,” and that “the evidence is said to include intelligence that Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead” along with “satellite images of what the IAEA believes is a large steel container used for high-explosives tests related to nuclear arms.”
The Washington Post‘s Joby Warrick and Thomas Erdbrink wrote on November 6, 2011, “Intelligence provided to U.N. nuclear officials shows that Iran’s government has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon, receiving assistance from foreign scientists to overcome key technical hurdles, according to Western diplomats and nuclear experts briefed on the findings.” Warrick writes that according to ISIS‘s David Albright, “in 2003, Iranian scientists worked concurrently across multiple disciplines to obtain key skills needed to make and test a nuclear weapon that could fit inside the country’s long-range missiles.” Furthermore, during a PowerPoint presentation, “Albright said IAEA officials, based on the totality of the evidence given to them, have concluded that Iran ‘has sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device.’”
Also on November 6, 2011, Israeli President Shimon Peres told AFP that “an attack on Iran” by Israel and other countries was “more and more likely,” and that “The intelligence services of the different countries that are keeping an eye on (Iran) are worried and putting pressure on their leaders to warn that Iran is ready to obtain the nuclear weapon.”
A report from Ha’aretz‘s Yossi Melman stated, “Iran is pursuing its nuclear weapons program at the Parchin military base about 30 kilometers from Tehran, diplomatic sources in Vienna say.” The article continued, “According to recent leaks, Iran has carried out experiments in the final, critical stage for developing nuclear weapons – weaponization. This includes explosions and computer simulations of explosions. The Associated Press and other media outlets have reported that satellite photos of the site reveal a bus-sized container for conducting experiments.”
The same day, November 6, 2011, The New York Times‘s resident fear-monger David Sanger published a lengthy article entitled “America’s Deadly Dynamics With Iran” in which he claimed that, despite the recent covert war against the Islamic Republic conducted via computer viruses and murder of Iranian scientists, “The Iranians are digging their plants deeper underground, and enriching uranium at purities that will make it easier to race for a bomb. When Barack Obama was sworn into office, they had enough fuel on hand to produce a single weapon; today, by the I.A.E.A.’s own inventory, they have enough for at least four.” Additionally, he quotes an unnamed “American official” as saying, “And there are reasons to wonder whether, in the end, this shadow war is simply going to delay the inevitable: an Iranian bomb or, more likely, an Iranian capability to assemble a fairly crude weapon in a matter of weeks or months.” In what one can only hope is a ridiculously sloppy typo, Sanger also claims that the director of Iran’s atomic energy program Fereydoon Abbasi, who survived an Israeli assassination attempt late last year, “travels the world offering assurances that Iran’s interest in nuclear weapons is peaceful.”
The following day, November 7, 2011, Sanger was back, this time with fellow alarmist William Broad, to report, “Details leaking out about an imminent report by United Nations weapons inspectors suggest they have the strongest evidence yet that Iran has worked in recent years on a kind of sophisticated explosives technology that is primarily used to trigger a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials who have been briefed on the intelligence,” before adding, “But the case is hardly conclusive.”
With so much hysteria and hype, the IAEA report to be released this week will surely be anti-climactic. Iran has long stated that these allegations of nuclear weapons work are fabricated, a claim bolstered by the fact that the United States – which supplied the IAEA with the supposedly damning documents – has long refused to show original copies to either the IAEA or Iran.
Fever-pitched reports of an imminent Israeli attack have been surfacing in the press for decades. And, while both NATO and Russia have declared its opposition to ahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif military strike on Iran, recent reports still raise the specter of a coordinated assault by Israel, the US, Britain, and France, supported by Saudi Arabia.
As the U.S. Congress follows AIPAC’s lead to scuttle any chance for diplomacy in an ongoing effort to urge the Obama administration to attack Iran and a reported 41% of Israelis supportive of an assault by its own military, and the endless rhetoric declaring Iran an irrational, psychotic martyr state, bellicose aggressor and “existential threat,” it is instructive to recall – amidst the din of Western saber-rattling and beating Israel war drums – what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Al Jazeeracorrespondent during an interview in Tehran less than a month ago:
“We will never enter any war against the U.S. or against any other country. This is our policy…We have never attacked anybody. Why should we do that? Why should we start a war?”
The Washington Posts alleges that the IAEA says foreign expertise has brought Iran to threshold of nuclear capability. This is of course a lie. The IAEA says nothing like that. This is simply an assertion made by the reporter and some “nuclear Iran” scare propagandists.
And what would “to threshold of nuclear capability” actually mean? That Iran would be capable, like Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands or some 40 other countries, to build a nuclear bomb if it would choose to do so? What would be new, wrong or dangerous with that?
The piece goes into some details, provided mostly by chief nuclear scare monger David Albright, about allegedly “new” stuff some secret services handed to the IAEA. To see how misleading these allegations are lets look at just one detail. A Ukrainian expert for creating nanodiamands is described as “weapon scientist” and “nuclear scientist” even when all his published work is about the synthesizing of very small diamonds:
Documents and other records provide new details on the role played by a former Soviet weapons scientist who allegedly tutored Iranians over several years on building high-precision detonators of the kind used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction, the officials and experts said.
According to the intelligence provided to the IAEA, key assistance in both areas was provided by Vyacheslav Danilenko, a former Soviet nuclear scientist who was contracted in the mid-1990s by Iran’s Physics Research Center, a facility linked to the country’s nuclear program. Documents provided to the U.N. officials showed that Danilenko offered assistance to the Iranians over at least five years, giving lectures and sharing research papers on developing and testing an explosives package that the Iranians apparently incorporated into their warhead design, according to two officials with access to the IAEA’s confidential files.
Dr. Vyacheslav Danilenko is a well known Ukrainian (“former Soviet”) scientist. But his specialties are not “weapon” or “nuclear” science, indeed there seems to be nothing to support that claim, but the production of nanodiamonds via detonations (ppt). According to the history of detonation nanodiamonds he describes in chapter 10 of Ultrananocrystalline Diamond – Synthesis, Properties, and Applications (pdf) he has worked in that field since 1962, invented new methods used in the process and is related with Alit, an Ukrainian company that produces nanodiamonds.
This is a detonation tank to create nanodiamonds, not a nuclear device.
Very small diamonds are useful for many purposes, like polishing optics or PC hard disks. That is why, for example, Drexel University in Philadelphia invited Danilenko for a talk at its Nanotechnology Institute:
On January 29, the AJ Drexel Nanotechnology Institute sponsored a Nanodiamond Lecture, “Nanodiamonds: Reactor Design and Synthesis,” by noted Ukrainian scientist Dr. Vyacheslav Danilenko. Dr. Danilenko was among the first to demonstrate detonation synthesis of diamonds and has more than 30 years experience in the design of reactors for the synthesis of nanodiamonds.
Some years ago Iran launched a big Nano Technology Initiative which includes Iranian research on detonation nanodiamonds (pdf). Iran is planing to produce them on industrial scale. It holds regular international conferences and invites experts on nanotechnology from all over the world. It is quite likely that famous international scientists in that field, like Dr. Danilenko, have been invited, gave talks in Iran and cooperate with its scientists.
Producing nanodiamonds via detonations uses large confined containers with water cooling, for which Danilenko seems to have a patent. The Ukrainian company he works with, Alit, shows such a detonation chamber on its webpage as does the picture above. The detonation nanodiamond explanation thereby also fits with another allegation from the IAEA report:
The Associated Press reported that U.N. officials have acquired satellite photos of a bus-size steel container used by Iran for some of the explosives testing.
See the picture above and the one on the Alit web page. Iran having a “bus-size steel container” for explosive testing and research cooperation with Danilenko both fit very well with Iran’s plans for nanodiamond production. They do not fit well with anything nuclear.
In his power-point presentation on detonation nanodiamonds on a bigger scale Danilenko recommends:
Use for industrial production of DND:
• charges ≥ 20 kg, explosion under water in close pool (in heavy metal cover), laser initiation;
• utilization of old ammunition under water in close pool;
Use of old ammunition in a closed water pool? Does that sound sound like something that “the Iranians apparently incorporated into their warhead design” as WaPo alleges? On what facts is that “apparently” innuendo based on?
But how or why should the production of detonation nanodiamonds relate to nuclear bombs at all? Why would someone even think they are related?
It may be because both use precise detonations. But they do so on a very different scales and in very different conditions. A sphere explosion for a nuclear device doesn’t use a confined container and water cooling. But a lot of other physics fields, for example seismological research, also use precise detonations. There is nothing especially “nuclear” about them.
Just because a certain method like precise detonations is used in Iran, does not imply that it is used for what Mr. Albright and some “western agencies” claim. Nanodiamonds ain’t nuclear weapons.
Danilenko’s lifelong expertise is with nanodiamonds, not with nuclear weapons. It is much more plausible, and fitting the evidence, that Iran is working with him in his original capacity than in a field outside his main expertise.
If this is the general quality of the “new evidence” on Iran then it is quite worthless. This seems to be just more innuendo and dirt thrown towards Iran with the hope that something, anything might stick.
The column relies on former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s description in her memoir of a proposed Israeli peace offer to Mahmoud Abbas that was presented in the summer of 2008, an offer Ignatius calls “the Mideast deal that could have been.” But Ignatius’ sole reliance on Rice’s telling of the deal ignores evidence that Olmert’s offer was highly problematic for a potential state of Palestine. A closer look at the column is needed, especially because the narrative Ignatius advances has been getting a lot of play lately; the excerpts of the memoir that Ignatius relies on were published with the laughable title “Best. Deal. Ever” in Newsweek magazine last month.
Ignatius, an associate editor at the Post, writes:
As Rice tells the story, Olmert developed a comprehensive plan, which he presented secretly to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, in the summer of 2008. By September, the details of Olmert’s offer included:
● Israeli transfer of sovereignty of 94.2 percent of the West Bank to the new Palestinian state. He offered additional swaps of land, and a corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza, that would bring the total Palestinian land area to 100 percent of the pre-1967 borders of the West Bank.
● A formula for dividing Jerusalem that would give Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinians and Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, with negotiators working out the status of mixed neighborhoods. Each country would have Jerusalem as its capital; there would be a joint city council with an Israeli mayor and a Palestinian deputy mayor.
● The Old City would be administered by an international committee with representatives from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and the United States. Questions of sovereignty in Jerusalem would be fudged, with each side rejecting the other’s claims.
● The “right of return” for Palestinians would be limited to about 5,000. To compensate other Palestinian refugees, a fund of several billion dollars would be created, under Norwegian administration.
● The United States would protect Israel’s security not just with U.S. power but by training a reliable Palestinian security force
He concludes the column by writing: “Olmert’s map, now dust in the wind, may be the best formula we’ll ever get for the peaceful creation of the Palestinian state that will cement Israel’s own security.” But the devil is in the details–and a close look at Olmert and his team’s offer shows that it was far from being a credible offer that the Palestinian leadership could bring back to its people. [...]
The Institute for Middle East Understanding has a useful list of big problems with Olmert’s deal:
-According to Ha’aretz, much of the land Olmert reportedly offered Abbas in exchange for crucial areas of Jerusalem and the West Bank was carved out of the barren Judean Desert, south of the West Bank.
-Olmert reportedly offered to allow the return of only 5,000 Palestinian refugees, a tiny fraction of the 4.3 million who are registered with the UN. This issue alone would have made it nearly impossible for Abbas to gain support for the plan among the Palestinian people.
-According to Rice’s account, Olmert demanded that Abbas sign his map without consulting his own advisors and legal experts, and refused to allow Abbas to take a copy of the map to the Palestinian negotiators. It would have been unusual and irresponsible for Abbas to unilaterally sign an agreement in secret and without first consulting his team.
-The negotiations brokered by Rice, which began at the 2007 Annapolis conference, were not designed to produce a final peace agreement. Rather, these talks had the less ambitious goal of a “shelf agreement,” to be implemented at a later date.
-By the time Olmert made his offer, he had been under investigation for corruption for months and was fending off calls for his resignation. Olmert’s political weakness at the time casts into doubt his ability to conclude a peace agreement.
Clearly, this was not “the Mideast deal that could have been.” The narrative that Ignatius and Rice are pushing is just peace process fiction. – Full article w/map at Mondoweiss
Israeli Member of the Knesset (MK), Otniel Schneller, of the Kadima opposition party, filed a complaint against Arab MK, Hanin Zoaby, for travelling to South Africa to testify in a court without Israel’s permission.
Schneller claimed that Zoaby of the Balad Party is acting against the state of Israel and “Must be punished for her actions.”
Furthermore, leaders of the Likud Party, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are also calling for the ousting of Zoaby, and for preventing her from running for the Knesset in the next elections.
Zoaby went to South Africa after she was asked to testify in front to the Russell Tribunal, which is looking into cases of discrimination as practiced by Israel against the Arabs in the country.
Zoaby reportedly told the committee that Israel is a racist state, and that its political system is working to keep its identity to that of a state for the Jewish people, an issue that ignores the rights of the indigenous Arab population, and facilitates their expulsion from their homeland.
She also stated that, “Unlike Israel, South Africa eventually admitted that it maintained an apartheid system, and acted on ending it.”
The Committee requested that Israel send representatives to testify, but Tel Aviv did not respond to the invitations.
Zoaby has been under continuous political attacks by Israeli parliamentarians for her stances against the Israeli occupation and Israel’s illegal siege of the Gaza Strip.
The political persecution of Zoaby witnessed a sharp increase after she participated in the Freedom Flotilla that was heading to Gaza in 2010. The flotilla was intercepted and attacked by the Israeli Navy, and resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists.
Following the deadly attack against the humanitarian flotilla, Zoaby said that Israeli leaders who sent the soldiers to stop the flotilla must be brought to justice, and added that the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip is illegal and immoral.
NAZARETH — Hebrew media sources revealed a strategic plan of the occupation municipality in Jerusalem which aims to build more than 60,000 new settler residential units in Jerusalem over the next 20 years.
Maariv said on Sunday that a Jerusalem municipality document shows that of 60,718 new residential units, most (53,000) will be built in settlements in East Jerusalem.
24,000 units have already been approved by the planning committee, only 3,500 of them will be built in West Jerusalem. Planning applications have been submitted for another 13,500 more units awaiting approval. Plans for another 23,266 more units are being prepared.
According to data in the document the land on which these units will be built lies in north eastern Jerusalem, such as Besgat Zeiv settlement, Nevieh Yacub settlement and Arab suburbs: Beit Hanian and Shefat. The building of more than 10,000 units will start straight away, planning permissions for half of them have already been obtained and the other half still awaiting permission.
According to municipality data, 10,934 units will be built, half of them approved and they will be built in Silwan and in the old city.
BETHLEHEM — Islamic Jihad said it would retaliate after Israeli forces killed a member of its armed wing in Gaza late Saturday, hours before the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha began.
“Israel has again broken the truce” agreed by Gaza factions after Israeli strikes killed 12 people in two days last week, spokesman Daoud Shihab said in Sunday’s statement.
Shihab warned of Israeli escalation during the Eid holiday, which began on Sunday.
Islamic Jihad will take “revenge” for Israel’s firing on the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, which killed a 26-year-old member of the group’s Al-Quds Brigades, and injured two others, Shihab said.
All Palestinians reject the killing of their people and the attempt to ruin the festivities of Eid, he added.
GAZA CITY — Israeli forces shelled the eastern Shujaiyeh district of Gaza City on Monday, with medics reporting three people were injured.
Witnesses told Ma’an that up to 10 shells were fired from the direction of Israeli crossing Nahal Oz to the east of the city throughout the morning.
Medics said three people were transferred to Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
An Israeli army statement said soldiers fired towards “a terrorist squad planting two explosive devices adjacent to the security fence… confirming a hit.”
An Egyptian-brokered truce between Gaza factions and Israeli forces was declared “broken” by Islamic Jihad on Sunday after a 26-year-old member of its armed wing was killed by Israeli forces late Saturday.
The Oct. 30 truce came after Israeli strikes killed 12 people in the Gaza Strip in two days, and Gaza militants fired a volley of rockets and mortars into southern Israel, killing one Israeli in Ashkelon, in the worst flareup on the border in several months.
A friend from Damascus sent the following letter:
I met with some ‘opposition’ figures whose patriotism is above suspicion. Some had been summoned for ‘questioning,’ which turned out to be one of the regime’s ways of holding a dialogue with them. I asked for their latest assessment of the situation. They complained at length, and blamed the regime for starting it all.
I replied, “The issue isn’t who started it. Blame me for it, or say it began with the kingdom of Mari or even Ebla. But there is a problem, and a solution is needed.”
One of them said, “It’s the regime that’s chasing around for a solution, not us.”
I said, “Is seeking a solution an indictment, and refusing to discuss a solution with the regime the height of patriotism and wisdom? Are we supposed to treat the regime’s search for a solution as yet another blot on its record?”
I said, “Do you see dialogue with the regime as treason?”
I said, “So it would seem you want the regime to just simply hand the country over to you. That might be reasonable if your forces were at the gates of the presidential palace. But you’re nowhere near there. The state is disintegrating, people. That means disaster for everyone. It would probably lead to the re-partition of the entire region.”
They said, “Not true. We don’t believe in conspiracies! European non-governmental groups and world figures warned us that Syria and the region are heading for partition, but we informed them that this is out of the question.”
I said, “If Assad announced that he was prepared to do a deal with Israel, how do you think the Americans would react?”
They said, “America supports the regime and the president.”
I said, “In what way? By imposing economic sanctions, demanding his resignation, and putting forward resolutions calling for intervention at the UN Security Council? Enlighten me; explain, so I can be converted.”
They said, “The regime doesn’t do anything about the Golan.”
I said, “Fine. But have you raised the question of the Golan or Palestine in any of your own statements? Are you calling for the liberation of the Golan. Are you calling for resistance to Israel? And what do you make of the way Russia solves its Chechen problem, China solves its problems with its Muslim minority, India solves the Kashmir problem, and your friend Turkey solves its problem with the Arabs, Kurds, and Alawites there?”
I said, “How would you react if the US decides to launch air strikes on Syrian military positions without Security Council authorization in order to create anarchy in the country, as it did in Yugoslavia?”
They said, “No way. America wants the regime and Assad to survive.
I said, “What makes you believe that? Do they give him economic and military aid? Does America protect him from condemnation and intervention at the UN Security Council?”
I said, “Okay, let’s go back to the basic problem. Would you consider holding a dialogue and reaching a solution with the regime without the involvement of the US, Turkey, and the Gulf states?”
They said, “It is the regime that is looking for a solution, not us.”
I said, “Poor Syria.”
Syria today is approaching a new crossroads. Since US President Barack Obama announced that US forces would be withdrawn from Iraq before Christmas, it has become clear that seismic changes are on the region’s doorstep. The coming weeks could witness some major unwelcome developments. These fears are not based on a general reading of the situation, but on concrete evidence reaching several regional capitals about the course that the US, Europe, and their Arab clients have decided to take on Syria.
These countries are acting, of course, in collaboration with various parts of the Syrian opposition. Most prominent of these is the group that is now part and parcel of Western plans and has a controlling majority in the Syrian National Council (SNC). It has become daily more apparent that dissident figures like Burhan Ghalioun, who nominally hold SNC leadership positions, are being reduced to a mere facade. They may do the speaking, but the decisions are made elsewhere. It has, therefore, ceased to matter whether or not Rifaat Assad or Abdel Halim Khaddam join the SNC. Either way, it is their ideas and slogans that will be turned into a plan of action based on the concept of replicating the Libyan experience in Syria — without, of course, considering the dangers or the consequences.
Some, of course, have been quick to argue that the West is not interested in attacking Syria because it does not have Libya’s oil or money. This is an attempt to pull wool over our eyes by pretending that Arab oil states are not themselves deeply involved in this scheme. They have not only offered to fund such a war, but also to fund reconstruction in its aftermath. In any case, Iraq disproved the theory that the West is only interested in oil wealth. The war cost the US far more than it could recover from Iraq’s oil wealth, though its plans for the country were foiled by the Iraqi resistance. In terms of regional politics, and in other respects, Syria is a strategic prize that makes it infinitely more valuable than the riches that some oil kingdoms and emirates may possess.
The course and pace of developments in Syria makes it necessary to re-evaluate the situation and reconsider positions. It may help to make some brief points:
- The experience of Lebanon is far more applicable to Syria than the experiences of Egypt or Tunisia, or even Libya or Yemen. This is due to the country’s sectarian divisions, political alignments, and regional role, as well as the nature of foreign interests involved.
- Any intervention – in whatever form – by the US-European Western alliance in league with the Gulf states and Turkey must be utterly condemned and rejected. Any equivocation on the issue of foreign intervention amounts to tacit acceptance of it. All current forms of foreign-sponsored sabotage in Syria (weapons, money, incitement, etc.) should also be resolutely opposed.
- Some Arab players are actively attempting to prepare for military intervention in Syria on behalf of the West. This role, the worst-kept diplomatic secret in the region, should no longer be shrugged off or covered up. We should firmly oppose the siege to which Syria is being subjected, including economic and political sanctions. We should also be more discriminating and wary of being misled. This applies to the tales about militarization being told by various opposition groups and anti-Syrian Arab media. Virtually every gunman these days is being portrayed as an army defector, presumably to convey the impression of a split in the military in order to encourage one in real life. Similarly, while reports have started to indicate that around half the people being killed are members of the army or security forces, the headlines remain the same: “20 Killed in Syria,” the implication being that the regime killed them.
- Syria’s enemies have been furiously making the case for economic and financial sanctions as though this were a Syrian popular demand, while trying to delude public opinion that these sanctions would only target the regime, its institutions, and leaders. A brief glance is enough to make plain that the sanctions in fact target the population, and especially the merchant class, in order to turn them against the regime. Everyone knows that the structure of the regime – and the support it receives from Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere – will mitigate the effect of sanctions on it. The sanctions program, which is being constantly ratcheted up, does not aim to force the regime into concessions. Sanctions aim to disintegrate the state and increase public resentment toward the regime, so that groups which support it, or are neutral, turn against it. The purpose is not to press the regime to make reforms or changes, but to bring it down, period.
- Turkey and the Gulf states are clearly seeking to establish powerful footholds inside Syria – as they did in Libya – so as to be able to influence the country’s future and undermine its regional influence. It is no coincidence that the US, Europe, and their Arab clients want Israel to maintain a low profile so that its involvement does not discredit the regime’s enemies. We saw the same spectacle in Lebanon after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The West and the Arabs tell Israel to keep quiet, “We’re doing the job you want done.” But the same problem could recur. If the combination of opposition and external military, security, and economic pressure fails to bring down the regime, Israel will be revisited and asked to revert to its preferred war-waging role. For Syria, quite simply, is a central pillar of support for the resistance against Israel.
- None of this must be allowed to detract from the crime of killing protesters or arresting tens of thousands of citizens. It is a moral and political imperative, not merely ‘for the record,’ to condemn such behavior by the regime and its army or security forces. The regime must understand that nobody can overlook or excuse this, or act as though the killings, arrests, and torture never happened. Accordingly, one of the first steps taken toward reform must be action to bring those responsible for the killings to trial, however senior they may be.
- Any reform process needs interlocutors to participate in discussing and formulating reforms. The central question has to be about what regime Syrians want, not what reforms the regime wants (and certainly not what external powers want). The regime’s actions have to be open to scrutiny, and the opposition has to be able to speak its mind freely. This, quite simply, requires open media – meaning an immediate halt to any kind of censorship, which stifles discussion or thwarts it from the outset.
It takes no great effort to appreciate that Syria is going through the hardest of times at present. What happens there now has consequences for everyone in neighboring countries. There may be some in Syria who have grown weary and who will rely on the devil to get rid of the regime. We can never accept that, for we know what it means.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of al-Akhbar.