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Israel Raises Nuclear Stakes:


MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 6/20/00:
   The "peace process" may be dominating the headlines; but it is the "arms race" -- including its nuclear component -- which is also transforming the entire Middle East region.
   Even as the Israelis push the U.N. into protecting its northern border, and even while intense attempts are being made to consolidate the gains made in restricting the Palestinians while Arafat remains alive, the Israeli military is racing ahead with major new weapons systems to insure regional domination and impose political will.
   These first two articles were published last weekend in the London Sunday Times, the same newspaper that more than a decade ago first provided the public details of Israel's extensive nuclear weapons capabilities.
   And the third article, this one from Ha'aretz about the still growing nuclear cooperation between India and Israel, only hints at the extensive military ties the two countries have had for some time, including still secret joint attempts in the past to destroy Pakistan's nuclear capabilities.


                Uzi Mahnaimi and Peter Conradi
   London Sunday Times, 18 June:
   ISRAEL has test-fired cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear
   warheads, fuelling fears of an escalation in the Middle East arms

   Israeli defence sources revealed that the tests, involving two
   German-built Dolphin-class submarines, took place last month off Sri

   The Israeli-made missiles, which were equipped with conventional
   warheads, hit targets at sea at a range of about 930 miles, they said.
   Israel is the third country - after America and Russia - to be able to
   fire nuclear cruise missiles from submarines.

   The tests will alarm Israel's neighbours and embarrass the German
   government. It paid for the £200m submarines to compensate for
   Iraq's use of German-made weapons against Israel during the Gulf
   war. A third submarine is expected to be operational within weeks.

   Despite moves towards Middle East peace, Israel remains concerned
   about its vulnerability to attack, particularly from Iran. Israeli
   intelligence believes Tehran will develop nuclear weapons within
   two years.

   Israel has never acknowledged its nuclear programme, revealed by
   The Sunday Times in 1986. However, its military planners are
   believed to have produced between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons.
   Sources said these included several 200kg warheads - each
   containing 6kg of plutonium - that could be mounted on cruise

   Israel already has land and air-based nuclear weapons. It now plans
   to equip each of the three submarines, which have the advantage of
   being almost impossible to detect, with four cruise missiles.

   Their ability to strike back after a non-conventional attack on Israel
   makes them a formidable deterrent. Under a system of rotation, two
   of the vessels will remain at sea: one in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf,
   the other in the Mediterranean. A third would remain on standby.

   The missiles could be fired only after approval by four people: the
   prime minister, defence minister, chief of staff of the Israeli army and
   the commander of the navy.

   The 1,720-ton diesel-electric submarines, which are among the most
   technically advanced of their kind in the world, can remain at sea for
   up to 30 days.



               Uzi Mahnaimi and Matthew Campbell
   London Sunday Times - 18 June:
   JUST as President Bill Clinton is engaged in a bitter public debate
   about how best to defend America from missile attacks launched by
   "rogue" countries such as Iran, Israel's intensely secretive military
   preparations against the same threat have gone a stage further.

   Israeli defence sources claim the country has secretly carried out its
   first test launches from submarines of cruise missiles capable of
   carrying nuclear warheads. The launches last month from
   German-built vessels in the Indian Ocean were designed to simulate
   swift retaliation against a pre-emptive nuclear attack from Iran.

   While Israel's generals may be jubilant at the breakthrough - the
   missile is said to have hit a target more than 900 miles away - the
   development raises the worrying prospect of an escalation in the
   Middle East's nuclear arms race just as peace talks have been thrown
   into uncertainty after the death of President Hafez al-Assad of Syria.

   According to Israeli sources, the three Dolphin-class submarines will
   give Israel a crucial third pillar of nuclear defence to complement the
   country's already much-vaunted land and air ramparts. While the
   Israelis' intention of using the German submarines as roving nuclear
   launch platforms had long been suspected, few experts had expected
   them to develop the capability to fire submarine-based cruise
   missiles so soon.

   Planning for a submarine-launched nuclear deterrent was accelerated
   after reports in the early 1990s by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence
   service, that Iran would be capable of staging a nuclear missile
   attack against Israel by 2000.

   The latest Israeli estimate has put that threat back by two years. But
   uncertainty over Iran's level of nuclear capability has not slowed
   Israel's drive to bolster its defences.

   The Dolphin-class vessels are among the most technically advanced
   of their kind in the world. They are twice as big as the 23-year-old
   Gal-class submarines that the Israeli navy has relied on to date.

   Israel ordered the submarines from Germany when it could not find
   an American shipyard to produce the diesel and electric-powered
   vessels it needed, according to Israeli sources.

   In a sign of the sensitivity of the project, elite crews have been
   assembled to man them: the 35 officers and men aboard each vessel
   have been nicknamed "force 700" because of the average 700 points
   they scored in psychological tests devised by the Israelis. The
   scores are equivalent to an IQ of 130-140. Another five specially
   selected officers solely responsible for the warheads will be added to
   each vessel once the missiles are operational.

   America's supply of military technology to Israel is a sensitive
   political issue. Last week there were calls in Washington for a cut in
   aid to Israel unless it cancelled the sale to China of a spy plane built
   with American-supplied technology. The Pentagon fears it could be
   used against American pilots.

   Since achieving nuclear capability in 1966, Israel has kept a hawkish
   eye on its neighbours' fumbling steps towards acquiring weapons of
   mass destruction.

   Its fears were dramatically illustrated in 1981 when Menachem Begin,
   then prime minister, sent eight F-16 jet fighters to destroy a nuclear
   reactor in Iraq in an episode condemned around the world as
   reckless military adventurism.

   In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the Dimona
   nuclear reactor who revealed secrets of Israel's programme to The
   Sunday Times, was kidnapped by Mossad and jailed. He remains

   A decade later, Israeli fears appear to have proved well-founded.
   Washington routinely cites Iraqi and Iranian nuclear ambitions as
   justification for America's multi-billion-dollar missile defence system,
   whose deployment may be ordered by President Bill Clinton this

   America will not look kindly on Israel's development of a remarkable
   new military capability at such a delicate stage in the peace process.

   "This is certain to irritate the Clinton administration," said a defence
   analyst in Washington. "It makes it that much harder to get
   non-proliferation to stick in the Middle East."

   Despite a good personal relationship between Clinton and Ehud
   Barak, the Israeli prime minister, relations between the two countries
   have soured in recent weeks. On top of reports of the extraordinary
   extent of Israeli espionage in Washington, Israel's proposed sale of
   the spy plane to China has outraged American congressmen.

   Under a contract with the Chinese, Israel Aircraft Industries has
   installed a Phalcon airborne early-warning system in a Russian-made
   Ilyushin. China has an option for three more such planes. American
   officials say they fear they will pose a threat to Taiwan - as much of
   an American ally as Israel - and upset the military balance. Relations
   have been strained further by other Israeli missile tests conducted
   without advance warning to the Pentagon. Last month the American
   navy criticised Israel for test-launching a Jericho ballistic missile off
   its coast in April when an American warship in the vicinity
   momentarily thought it was under attack.

   Pentagon officials said the missile landed about 40 miles from the
   warship. "That's pretty close for a missile that's not the most
   accurate," said one official, adding that this was the third time in two
   years that Israel had conducted "nonotice" missile tests near an
   American warship.


       By Yossi Melman

Ha'aretz, Friday 16 June 2000:
The task of hosting India's Minister of the Interior fell on the shoulders of
Shimon Peres, Minister of Regional Development, ostensibly because Public
Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami is tied up in final status talks with the

But the choice of Peres contained more than a touch of coincidental
symbolism. The Indian and Israeli ministers each are considered the
architects of their nation's nuclear power.

Indian Interior Minister Lal Krishna Advani arrived on Wednesday and met
Peres at the residence of India's ambassador in Herzliya Pituach.

On his first day he also managed to meet Mossad head Ephraim Halevi, and the
head of the Shin Bet security service, Avi Dichter. Today he will see Prime
Minister Barak.

Not every visiting interior minister managed to meet immediately (if ever)
the prime minister and the top brass of Israel's secret services. This easily
illustrated the great importance of the visit - but why?

It comes from a combination of factors - Advani's special status at home, and
the strategic alliance that increasingly has emerged between the two states,
which renewed diplomatic ties in 1994 after the Oslo agreements. Since then
the relationship has blossomed.

India is Israel's third largest export market (after China and Turkey) for
arms and defense equipment - sales amount to half a billion dollars and there
are programs for additional initiatives.

Scientists involved in developing India's nuclear arms program visited Israel
and included A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, science adviser to the prime minister.
Advani is the leader of the ruling BJP (Bhartiya Janata) party. The Interior
Ministry is considered the second post in the government after the prime
minister - because of India's vast size (3 million and a population of
one billion), the ministry commands gigantic budgets and runs the police and
security services.

The heads of these forces arrived with Advani and will meet for talks with
their counterparts from Israel's police, Mossad and Army Intelligence.

As if this weren't enough, Advani enjoys the status of government "strong
man." Fierce international opposition and domestic fears at home prevented
him from becoming prime minister when his party vanquished the Congress Party
in the 1996 elections. Advani stepped aside and his fellow party member Atal
Bihari Vajpayee became prime minister.

Fear of Advani and the BJP derives from their world view - hardline (Hindu)
religious nationalism. The party and its leaders accumulated power and public
support in the early 1990s after pledging to rebuild a Hindu temple in an
area wracked by conflict with Moslems. The party philosophy is characterized
by a religious devotion, crude nationalism, hostility to the Moslem
neighbor-enemy Pakistan, and bolstering military power with a nuclear option..

In May 1998, the government of Vajpayee and Advani rocked the world with
three nuclear tests - one of them of the strength of a hydrogen bomb. This
set off a chain reaction in which Pakistan responded with its first tests and
openly declared itself a nuclear power.

A clear indication of his ideology and Weltanschauung was audible in an
interview with Advani. Unlike other visiting leaders, he did not hesitate to
express his views openly and bluntly, even on such a sensitive matter as
nuclear cooperation. "Yes," he said "I am in favor of cooperating with Israel
in all areas, especially the nuclear field, and this should be strengthened."
(His aides, bidding to play down the startling impression this statement
might impart hastened to emphasize that he was not planning to visit Israel's
nuclear reactor at Dimona.)

Asked about past reports that the two countries had drawn up a joint plan to
take out Pakistan's nuclear sites, the minister said no. "India has no
offensive plans and nuclear cooperation with Israel is not aimed against any
other state.

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