UPDATE: The Telegraph reported today on the Weinstein arms deal scandal. The story mentioned my reporting, but didn’t report Weinstein’s name. The reporter quoted Alex Fishman saying that exposure of the arms deal by the U.S. government is a warning shot across the bow to Israel not to sabotage the nuclear negotiations. The only way I can see that theory as likely is if the U.S. knew about the deal and knew that Israel knew about it, then deliberately sabotaged and exposed it. This would be the Obama administration pointing out the hypocrisy of Israel demanding punitive measures against Iran when it was violating them all along. In the covert trench warfare going on between the U.S. and Israeli governments this is a distinct possibility.
If all this is correct, then we may presume that the saber-rattling of Bibi’s public statements over the past two days on Iran could be seen as a direct response to the U.S. exposure of the sanctions-busting scandal. In other words, Bibi’s response is: “Screw you, I’m not gonna shut up just because you expose one of our arms dealers. I’m gonna ratchet up the pressure.” This would be perfectly in character with Netanyahu’s personality. He does NOT like to have his nose rubbed in it.
Prof. Muhammad Sahimi writes about the F-4 Phantom jet:
Iran has tried to reverse engineer F-4 and the older F-5 and has been successful to a large extent. So, I believe that is the significance of what has happened. This not only allows Iran to keep its F-4 operational, but give them more to work with for their domestic military industry.
Yesterday, I reported that Israeli arms dealer, Avichai Weinstein, had been caught red-handed by Department of Homeland Security and Greek security officials trying to ship spare parts for F-4 fighter jets to Iran. My post yesterday noted that Weinstein had been caught in such banned transactions at least three times prior to 2004 and his latest one makes at least four. I also noted that he’d never been charged with any crime, let alone convicted or jailed. In contrast, the one U.S. co-conspirator we know about from one of his previous failed attempts, Leib Cohn, was charged by the FBI and went to prison. I argued that this was prima facie proof of an ongoing relationship between Weinstein and the Mossad. But another argument further supports this view. Channel 10’s military reporter told his audience (Hebrew) that in this transaction, the arms dealer was actually doing a service for his country, since the spare parts he was attempting to send to Iran were deliberately flawed. He compared it to the sabotaged centrifuges western companies shipped to Iran some years ago, which hindered its nuclear program for a time. But this claim is a fraud. First, the F-4 is an ancient plane. Iran’s air force is completely outclassed by its Gulf neighbors who have the latest U.S. military craft, and Israel. If someone wanted to sabotage any Iranian technology they’d target something much more advanced and critical to its military posture. Second, if the spare parts were bogus why did the U.S. and Greece seize the shipment and commence an investigation? Presumably, the U.S. would want such equipment to reach Iran and be installed in the planes so they wouldn’t be able to fly. Third, as readers will know, I’ve been the target of similar disinformation attempts by the Mossad myself in the past. Though I can’t say my record is perfect in resisting these blandishments, in this case I could smell deception a mile away. There is one final reason why this particular claim stinks: it’s meant to cover up both the security forces’ previous collaboration with a dirty Israeli arms merchant; and the fact that Israeli officials played no role in stopping Weinstein. In other words, they’re up to their eyeballs in it. The optics of Mossad collusion with such questionable characters especially in light of Israel’s official position demanding ever-fiercer sanctions against Iran, is terrible for Israel. One of the ways to freshen this stinky episode up is to claim that Weinstein was actually a patriot doing his duty on behalf of his country. The whole thing stinks to high heaven. As far as I know, Israeli media have still not reported Weinstein’s name associated with this story. A shameful lack of fortitude. In a related matter, Yossi Melman published a damning portrait of the Mossad’s campaign of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program, which included a massive cyber-sabotage campaign using worms like Stuxnet and Flame, destruction of an entire missile complex, and the assassination of five nuclear scientists. He wrote:
We can assume that the assassinations stopped because they didn’t lead to the cessation of Iran’s military nuclear program [sic]. Their purpose had been twofold: psychological and practical. To assassinate key scientists in the program and so to disrupt for a period of time the work, until such time as suitable substitutes could be found [to replace them]. Similarly, to send a message to Iran’s scientific community that it wasn’t ‘helpful’ for them to involve themselves in this project, since it could cost them their lives. But two things are clear: when the assassination campaign began Iran had between 2,000-3,000 centrifuges. To date, Iran has 20,000 centrifuges. This week it even announced the development of an advanced model which can spin 15 times faster than the one in current use. It can enrich substantially more uranium at an even faster rate. Another thing which is clear: Iran’s counter-terror security services, who were embarrassed by Israel’s successes and whose pride was damaged, learned their lesson. They learned the methods used in the killings and sharpened their vigilance, briefed the most important scientists and gave them bodyguards. Surveillance of suspected conspirators was also increased. As a result of all this, it became clear to those responsible for the sabotage policy that the next time they might not be as lucky, and the agents might be captured. Their fate, after severe torture and interrogation, would be guaranteed: hanging from a construction crane in an Iranian central square. Also, there is a new international reality in the aftermath of the preliminary accord that was signed with western powers and Iran. This decreased the chance that we will see such sabotage in future.
From its inception, I argued strenuously that this entire policy was stupid and useless. The fact that the NSA had cooperated in creating some of these cyber-war tools was not only embarrassing, but dangerous. Unfortunately, the assassinations went on far too long. But if they have stopped, it can only be a good thing. The damage they’ve done to the lives of Iranian victims and survivors and to Israel’s standing, is deep and almost irreparable. Chalk it up to yet another Mossad failure in Israel’s covert war against Iran.