Monday, April 29, 2013

Evening Update: Red Lines Crossed? Conflicting Reports

First, we see yet another indicator that Iran has crossed the "red line" for nuclear development, thus triggering Israeli action:

 IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin explained in closed conversations what he meant when he said at last week’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference that Iran had already crossed the red line that Netanyahu set in a high-profile speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

The retired general’s INSS statement embarrassed Netanyahu, who made a point of defending himself at the start of Monday’s Likud faction meeting.
Yadlin told the Post at the lunch that Iran crossing Netanyahu’s red line did not mean that they have the bomb. Netanyahu set his red line at Iran acquiring the 250 kilograms of 20-percent-enriched uranium needed for a bomb if enriched further to 90%.
But that further enrichment – however quickly and secretly it can take place – still would have to be done for Iran to join the nuclear club.
The news from Yadlin was that Iran had not backtracked on its enrichment, unlike previous assessments by top Israeli and international figures. Netanyahu had been credited around the world with pressuring Iran to backtrack and convert 40% of its 20% uranium to fuel rods that cannot be used to make a bomb.
Yadlin draws a chemical equation and says it can be constituted using yellowcake uranium that Iran possesses.
The IAEA says that Iran has 170 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium that have not been converted. Add that to the 80, and you get 250 kilograms, a crossed red line, an undermined prime minister and a serious problem.
Yellowcake does not sound appetizing to hear about over lunch. But it could end up making big news.

In the article below, Netanyahu states that that Iran "hasn't crossed the red line", as he presented at the UN, but "systematically approaching it and can't be allowed to cross it": 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that Iran is racing toward nuclear weapons capability, though he said it has yet to pass the “red line” he set down during his United Nations speech in 2012.
“Iran is continuing with its nuclear program. It hasn’t yet crossed the red line I presented at the UN, but it’s systematically approaching it and can’t be allowed to cross it,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu’s comments about Iran came in contrast to those of Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, a retired head of IDF Military Intelligence, who last week said Iran had essentially crossed the “red line” set by Israel regarding its nuclear activity.

Speaking at a security conference in Tel Aviv, Yadlin said that “for all intents and purposes, Iran has crossed Israel’s red line… In the summer, Iran will be a month or two away from deciding about a bomb.”
After his speech at the UN, Netanyahu clarified that Iran’s enrichment activities must stop before they produce enough 20%-enriched uranium for a single bomb, some 240 kilograms (529 lb.).

The possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran gained additional traction last week, when US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced in Tel Aviv an unprecedented US sale of advanced military equipment to Israel, including radar systems, missiles, refueling planes and V-22 planes, which would greatly increase the IAF’s capacity to carry out a long-range attack.
On Monday, speaking at his Likud-Beytenu faction’s weekly meeting, Netanyahu also addressed the recent escalation in the country’s south, stating that “Israel will respond swiftly if the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continues.”
As of Sunday night, when yet another rocket was fired, a total of 19 rockets had fallen in Israeli territory in the five months since the end of Pillar of Defense, the IDF’s November operation aimed at curbing rocket fire at the south.

Slowly and unsafely, Israeli residents of the south are returning to a grinding and familiar daily reality: Every once in a while, a rocket falls in or next to one of the towns and villages in the area; Israeli political and military leaders promise that there will be no return to the grim routine of intermittent rocket fire that prevailed before November’s Operation Pillar of Defense; the IDF strikes unmanned targets in Gaza; and the cycle continues. As of Sunday night, when yet another rocket was fired, a total of 19 rockets had fallen on Israeli territory in the five months since the end of Pillar of Defense.
Saturday’s rocket fire on the Sdot Negev Regional Council while residents were celebrating around their Lag B’Omer bonfires — a Kassam that landed in open ground — offered renewed evidence of a fact Israel is loath to admit: the IDF’s Gaza deterrence is eroding.
Ten days ago, two rockets were fired on the Negev. A day later, Jihad operatives fired two Grad rockets, this time towards the southern resort city of Eilat, one of which landed in the backyard of a house, causing some damage. The IDF avoided retaliating militarily, perhaps out of a desire to allow Egyptian intelligence to pressure Hamas, and settled for closing the Kerem Shalom border crossing. On Saturday night, the army didn’t settle for just stopping the transfer of goods and bombed two targets in Rafah and Khan Younis.

Israel plainly hopes the escalated response will produce a longer lapse in rocket fire. Perhaps. But a complete end to the sporadic fire — the traumatic drip-drip of rocket attacks to which the south has become so bitterly accustomed over recent years — seems unrealistic.

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