Friday, October 05, 2012

Iran, Israel on Verge of Agreement

Category: News

Prompted by senior figures in both the current, Obama, administration and the previous, Bush administration, Israel agreed to major concessions in secret negotiations with Iran which have been taking place in Geneva since April of last year.

The outlines of the emerging agreement, which is officially sponsored by the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) are:

1. Israel will accept Iran’s right to pursue a nuclear program aimed at peaceful purposes and subject to international supervision by the IAEA (International Atmic Energy Agency) and P5 representatives. Israel will also renounce the use of force against Iran;

2. Iran will agree to limit its stockpile of enriched uranium to 100 kilograms and 20% enrichment level and to use said enriched fuel only in its research facilities and for peaceful purposes;

3. Russia and China will enrich uranium for Tehran and will provide Iran with ready-made reactor fuel plates as well as relevant technology transfers.

A recap of previous developments:
Stuxnet Worm and Middle-East Peace Talks

September-October 2010

Stuxnet is a worm which attacks Siemens SCADA industrial controls. It uses various vectors to enter a system and spread through a network. It leverages two zero-day software vulnerabilities (largely patched by Microsoft by now) and two pilfered digital certificates from Taiwan. It was developed by the resurrected Lishka le-Kishre Mada (Laka"m) in the Office of the Prime Minister: the same unit that handled Jonathan Pollard when it was headed by Rafael (Rafi “the Stinker”) Eitan in the 1980s. Its aim was to attack the PCs and, later, the industrial controls of the Iranian uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz (not in Bushehr, as the Iranian misinformation campaign would have it).

The worm contains a “time-bomb” in the form of an Easter egg: a backdoor kernel rootkit. It was set to be activated on Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement). The key to its activation was steganographically disguised as a snippet of minacious Biblical text. Following the incapacitation of the facility in Natanz, Israeli forces were to follow with a multi-frontal military attack (for details, see below).

Yet, it was not to be. Netanyahu called it off on September 1, 2010, following a phone call from Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State. Former Bush administration officials also warned Israel against civilian casualties incurred by a cloud of radioactive fallout should an attack on physical facilities be attempted after the end of August.

I have been contacted by Israeli intelligence operatives who disputed and denied some of my claims: the reason the operation was terminated was because Stuxnet did its job and ruined more than 5700 centrifuges in Natanz (as well as the controls in Bushehr). A few of the centrifuges blew up and there were civilian casualties, including many technicians and maintenance personnel in Natanz. The Iranian government and military have censored and suppressed this information.

Obama invited the leaders of Israel and Palestine (as well as Egypt and Jordan) to Washington for a peace conference in early September 2010 in order to forestall an imminent Israeli attack on Iran scheduled for September 18-20, 2010. Israel exacted a price for its newfound transigence in American jet fuel and spare parts deliveries as well as access to enhanced intelligence sharing.

Israeli hardliners in the coalition government (and even in the Labor Party) militated against Israel’s participation in Obama-Clinton’s hastily-convened “negotiations” and the Israeli concessions that are already on the table. Some even resorted to labeling Netanyahu a “traitor” whose personal fate is, thus, sealed. Iran’s recent, much-flaunted advances in missiles and drone technologies; the fueling of the Russian-equipped Bushehr nuclear reactor; Iran’s improving relations with Turkey and Brazil; and, above all, the dramatic increase in the number of operating uranium-enriching centrifuges - all these led an increasing number of Israeli military thinkers and statesmen to accept the inevitability of a preemptive strike on Iran. Nobel prizewinner Shimon Peres is the last but not the least of these recent converts.

Late last year, Israel embarked on a coordinated campaign of leaks to the press regarding its determination to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities if Obama’s then-new administration fails to sway the Iranians diplomatically. Israel is unwilling to accept a nuclear Iran: “It is not an option”, say its senior intelligence and military leadership. In the event, the promised attack on Iran did not materialize and many journalists, this author included, felt duped and manipulated.

Posted by Sam Vaknin on 10/05 at 10:39 AM | Permalink
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