Friday, August 5, 2016

Netanyahu Rejects U.S. Assertion That Israel Supports Iran Accord, China Upgrading Naval Forces, U.S. Upgrades Nukes, The Next Lebanon War Will Be Catastrophic

Netanyahu rejects Obama's assertion that Israel now supports Iran accord

Israel on Friday firmly rejected US President Barack Obama’s claim that its officials now support last year’s nuclear deal with Iran. Far from accepting Obama’s assertion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s stance had not changed, while the Israeli Defense Ministry compared the accord to the Munich Agreement signed by the European powers with Nazi Germany in 1938.

Obama said Thursday that Israeli defense officials are now behind the deal signed by world powers and Iran, and that they recognize the efficacy of the accord. The “Israeli military and security community … acknowledges this has been a game changer,” Obama said. “The country that was most opposed to the deal.”

In a statement issued Friday by his office in response, Netanyahu stressed that Israel “has no greater ally than the United States” but made plain nonetheless that Israel’s position on the Iran nuclear deal “remains unchanged.”
What mattered most now, Netanyahu went on, however, was to ensure that supporters and opponents of the deal alike work together for three goals: “Keep Iran’s feet to the fire to ensure that it doesn’t violate the deal; confront Iran’s regional aggression; and dismantle Iran’s global terror network.”

A top minister close to Netanyahu, meanwhile, directly contradicted Obama’s assertion that Israeli security officials now back the accord. “I don’t know to which Israelis he (Obama) spoke recently. But I can promise you that the position of the prime minister, the defense minister and of most senior officials in the defense establishment has not changed,” Tzachi Hanegbi told The Times of Israel.

As the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy makes significant upgrades to its fleet, a newly emerged photograph shows that the nation’s third aircraft carrier will feature a catapult system, instead of the ski-jump method used in earlier models 

With tensions escalating in the South China Sea, Beijing has been steadily upgrading its naval forces. In addition to the construction of new fighter jets, early-warning patrol aircraft, anti-submarine warplanes and helicopters, the PLA Navy is also in the process of adding new aircraft carriers.

While a second carrier is currently under construction, a third is in the planning phase.

The second aircraft carrier, now nearly complete, features a more sophisticated design than its predecessor, the Liaoning. According to Yin Zhuo, chairman of the consulting committee of the PLA Navy, the vessel will be able to carry more weapons, fighters, and fuel.

In June, photos surfaced of China’s new nuclear-powered Type 093 attack submarine. The Shang-class vessel appears to feature vertical-launch shafts that could fire both YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles and DF-10 long-range land-attack cruise missiles.

Beijing’s naval modernization comes as the United States and its Pacific allies work to escalate tensions in the South China Sea. A highly contested region through which roughly $5 trillion in trade passes annually, most of the waterway is claimed by China, though there are overlapping claims by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia.
While the Hague-based Court of Arbitration recently ruled against China’s nine-dash territorial claims, Beijing does not recognize the decision as legitimate.

Now that the US National Nuclear Security Administration has officially approved upgrades for the B-61 bomb, Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear speaks to Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists to discuss the dangerous repercussions.

"The capabilities that are contained in this weapon are of a kind that are militarily more attractive for planners – those people who have to plan the strike – simply because if you have an increased accuracy of the weapon…then you can use lower-yield settings for a certain attack," Kristensen tells Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker.
The upgrades aim to create precision targeting for the airborne B-61, and provide adjustable nuclear yields that could, in theory, make nuclear bombs a more practical weapon. These developments violate the Obama administration’s pledge to rein in nuclear proliferation.

Washington’s nuclear upgrades are the latest sign of renewed Cold War tensions.

"Certainly from 2005 and onward, relations started to, if not sour, then certainly complicate, between the United States and Russia, and since then it’s really gone south," he says.

July 12, 2006, 9 A.M. Another beautiful, clear morning in Israel’s coastal resort city Nahariya. As an IDF liaison officer, I sat with my UNFIL counterpart over coffee to discuss heightened tensions on the Lebanese border. The situation was already tense in the wake of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping two weeks earlier by Hamas, the ideological comrades-in-arms of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The coffee wasn’t yet finished when I received an urgent call ordering me back to base immediately. Two IDF soldiers had been kidnapped, several others killed and wounded in an unprovoked Hezbollah attack 20 km from where we sat that violated Israeli sovereignty and sparked the Second Lebanon War.

Ten years later the Middle East continues to be rocked by violence and instability, and Hezbollah is still here and more powerful.

If, in 2006, Hezbollah was known to possess 12,000 projectiles, and, by 2012, had 40,000, today it has more than 110,000 rockets and missiles hidden in Lebanese towns and cities and pointed at Israel’s civilian population centers. 

The rockets are intended to kill as many civilians as possible.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has plainly stated his goal of hitting the chemical storage tanks in the Haifa area to produce “the same amount of death as an atomic bomb.” Defense experts estimate such an attack would kill at least 800,000 Israelis.

There is no longer any doubt that Hezbollah has become what it is today thanks to Iran. Iran and Hezbollah are one. With thousands of its fighters deployed in support of Tehran’s ambitions in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and beyond, Hezbollah has lost its ability to claim it is Lebanese.

The expected results of Hezbollah turning civilian areas into military targets and directing its firepower at Israeli cities are not difficult to foresee. Simply put, the next Lebanon war will be catastrophic.
Every week Nasrallah talks about Israel and rattles his sabers. After years of denials he is now self-admittedly Iran’s mouthpiece and he talks of war in a region where such words are put into action more often than not.

Hezbollah regularly advertises its desire not for peace, but for armed conflict with Israel. At the recent INSS conference on the Second Lebanon War, institute head Amos Yadlin coined a new term: MAP, “Mutual Assured Pain.” Former IDF Strategic Planner Assaf Orion warned that “two generations in Lebanon will live under the rubble… and no one will be able to pay to fix the damage.”

Educated estimates predict with high certainty that when Hezbollah starts another war there will be much more suffering and destruction in a region already torn by chaos. The additional millions of refugees and reconstruction of Lebanon will add to the enormous financial burden the world is facing. The international community needs to work to pre-empt the war that Hezbollah is espousing, enforce UNSC resolutions that will promote peace, and hold Hezbollah and its masters in Iran accountable.

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