Monday, October 2, 2017

Mossad Chief: Iran 'Closer Than Ever Before' To Israel's Borders, N Korean Missiles Moved From Research Center Ahead Of Likely New Launch

Mossad chief: Iran 'closer than ever before' to Israel's borders

The head of the Mossad intelligence service warned on Monday that Iran, through its proxies, is operating closer “than ever before” to Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria, though he also said Israel was operating deep in enemy territory.
Spy chief Yossi Cohen said that in addition to arming the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, the Islamic Republic was working to develop its own nuclear capabilities with the goal of weaponizing them.
Cohen made his remarks at a ceremony in which six teams from the espionage service received a special commendation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Due to the sensitivity of the operations, the details of the teams’ activities were kept secret.
However, the spymaster said that the ones chosen were representative of the type of missions the service is capable of carrying out.
According to Cohen, the intelligence service “carries out hundreds, thousands of activities every year — some of them complicated and deep within the heart of enemy countries.”
The comments were something of a rarity, as Cohen does not often speak in public forums.
He said his intelligence service is “focused only on the top national, security and political priorities.”
First on that list is Iran, according to Cohen.
Tehran “continues with its vision of [obtaining] a significant nuclear capability, which is meant to lead it to a military nuclear capability,” he said.

“Iran continues to work with increasing military aggression in the Middle East, closer to our borders than ever before,” Cohen said, as Netanyahu looked on with apparent approval.

“Iran continues to support terrorist groups, Hezbollah and recently Hamas. Iran continues to work to transfer advanced — and accurate — weaponry to terror groups within our region,” he said.

Cohen’s comments appeared to confirm recent military assessments that Tehran was outfitting Hezbollah with precise missiles that are meant to be used in a future war with Israel.

Jerusalem has also long been concerned that Iran-backed Shiite militias were entrenching themselves along the Syrian border with the Golan Heights. Israel’s attempts to convince Russia and the United States to make their removal a requirement in a ceasefire in Syria have reportedly not yet succeeded.

In addition to Iran, the Mossad chief also pointed to the Islamic State terrorist group as an ongoing threat to not only Israel, but the entire world.

North Korea’s upcoming national holidays, combined with intelligence from South Korean and US sources that Pyongyang has recently moved missiles from a research and development facility, have experts warning that a new weapons test of some sort by the country may be imminent.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has a history of testing weapons to mark major holidays, and one is coming up on Party Foundation Day, October 10, the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK). 

According to the South Korean presidential residence, Cheong Wa Dae, the date may provide an opportunity for North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons developers to test the next iteration of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which has long been Pyongyang’s stated goal. 

US and South Korean intelligence sources told Seoul’s Korean Broadcasting System on Friday that North Korean missiles were recently transported from a research and development site, a sign test preparations may be underway, they said.

Seven years ago, October 10 was also the day the young leader Kim Jong-un made his formal public debut, during what is widely believed to be one of the largest military parades the DPRK has ever put on.
South Korean spy agencies tell the Korea Times that the DPRK may conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile test “on a standard trajectory” toward the North Pacific on that date this year. July saw North Korea launch two ballistic missiles while on September 3 Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear weapons test.

The European Commission said Monday (2 October) that Sunday's referendum in Catalonia was illegal and called on parties to begin dialogue following a violent crackdown on the vote by the Spanish authorities.
Over 800 people were injured on Sunday, according to Catalan authorities, as Spanish national police raided polling stations where votes were being cast. The independence referendum has been ruled unconstitutional by the Spanish constitutional court.
"We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics," the EU commission's spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, said. 
"These are times for unity and stability, not divisiveness and fragmentation," he added. 
However, the European Commission sees no role for itself as a mediator between Spanish and Catalan authorities after Sunday's violence, and failed to clearly condemn the police brutality. 
"This is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain," Schinas said.

Catalan separatist leaders will press ahead with the region's independence in the wake of a referendum on Sunday (1 October), which the Spanish government said "did not happen".
"With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a republic," Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalan government, said at the end of a day marked by Spanish police violence inside and outside polling stations.
A meeting of the Catalan government was called on Monday morning, and the regional parliament could meet on Monday or Tuesday to declare Catalonia's independence.

On Monday morning, the region's authorities said that more than 2.2 million people voted - a turnout of 42.3 percent - and that the Yes to independence won with more than 90 percent.
But the vote, which had been declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal, was held with no electoral roll and no independent electoral commission.

"There was no referendum today," Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said in a TV address. 
He called on Catalan separatists to "give up on taking new steps that lead nowhere".

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