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ISRAELI BLACKOUT

IDF Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin Steers Clear Of Alleged Israeli Air Strike On Syrian Nuclear Facility

MK Zachi Hanegbi: 'Israeli Blackout Enables Syria To Also Play Down Affair'

'Encouraging Signs That Syria Is Not Taking Aggressive Steps'

Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin

Israel is refusing to comment on the Washington Post report that Israeli jets bombed a Syrian nuclear facility supplied by North Korea on September 6th. IDF intelligence chief Gen. Amos Yadlin has just briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee but made no reference to the alleged air strike. At the start of the closed door session, committee chairman Zachi Hanegbi said Gen.Yadlin that he was under no obligation to discuss the affair. Knesset Member Hanegbi later told IsraCast that Israel's refusal to comment on the alleged attack is making it easier for Syria to play down the matter and there were 'encouraging signs' that tension was subsiding.

Israeli Air Force F-15

Israel is maintaining a total blackout about its alleged air strike against a Syrian nuclear facility that was supplied by North Korea. IDF Intelligence Chief Gen. Amos Yadlin briefed a closed door session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee without saying a word about the affair. And he did do with the blessing of committee chairman Zachi Hanegbi of Prime Minister Olmert's Kadima party. It is likely that Gen. Yadlin did brief a super-secret sub- committee on intelligence which oversees clandestine operations. In answer to a question, Knesset Member Hanegbi said that Israel's blackout makes it easier for Syria to play down the affair and that so far it seems to be working. Hanegbi said that despite some Syrian rhetoric there were no signs on the ground that Syrian was headed for war. Today, Gen. Yadlin did say that since the Second Lebanon War last summer, Israel has enhanced its deterrent image in the region and this included Syria and Iran.

IRAN: Gen Yadlin told the committee there no signs that Iran is about to give up its nuclear weapons program. On the contrary, Tehran is trying to send three messages to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Security council: first, Iran has already crossed the threshold and is now a member of the nuclear club. Second, sanctions won't work and that Iran is continuing full steam ahead. Third, anyone who tries to confront Iran will pay a very high price because Iran has both military deterrence and terror at its disposal. The intelligence chief went on to say that both the IAEA and the Security Council were marking time when it came to dealing with the Iranian file. The IAEA had passed the buck to the Security Council which was also dallying over stiffer sanctions. Tehran was now interested in having the issue returned to the IAEA where it could continuing stone-walling. The Iranians had proved adept at manipulating all the international players who had tried blocking its nuclear program. The sanctions of fuel had triggered higher prices and rationing in Iran but the regime had clamped down on some sporadic demonstrations and was firmly in control. In Gen. Yadlin's view there is no opposition group that poses a threat to the Iranian regime. As for the Iranian people, they backed their government's stand on developing nuclear weapons although they opposed President Ahmadinejad's economic policies.

At the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, the Iranians have some 3,000 centrifuges working to produce enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. But they are still faced with various obstacles. Gen. Yadlin rejected the Iranian claim that it was ' game over ' saying: ' The Iranians have not passed the technical threshold on the way to producing the bomb '. He went on to say that even if the 3,000 centrifuges overcame the technical problems they would have to operate flat out for a year to produce enough enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon. Therefore, Iran was still trying to buy more time.

SYRIAN CONNECTION: Iran had granted Syrian $10 billion over the next five years to shore up the Assad regime . In addition, the Iranians have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Syria as well as funding the purchase of weapons from Russia. Tehran was also bankrolling Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. Tehran was 'the tip of the radical Islamic spearhead in the Middle East'.

PALESTINIANS: Hamas may attempt a major terror attack with the aim of torpedoing the Middle East peace conference in Washington this November. The idea would be to force Israel to retaliate and thereby derail the peace parley with the Palestinians. Incidentally, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants to shoot for the works at the conference; he is seeking a framework agreement to cover the core issues such borders, settlements, refugees, security, etc. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet that this would not be possible at this time. Therefore, it's not out of the question that the conference could be postponed if the sides are so far apart.At present, President Abbas and his Fatah party on the West Bank were at crossed swords with Hamas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. Hamas was said to be ready for a reconciliation with Abbas and letting his Palestinian Authority resume its administration of Gaza. However, so far Abbas was demanding that Hamas give up Gaza unconditionally. For the time being Hamas was in total control of Gaza while Abbas supporters were totally out of the picture. On the other hand, the West Bank could not be called Fatahland because Hamas retains a significant presence there. As for the idea of introducing Israeli power cuts to Gaza in retaliation for terror attacks, Gen. Yadlin did not rule it out but at this stage but he preferred stepping up IDF raids on the terrorists.

David Essing

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