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December 13, 2008

Nuke Umbrellas


by Gordon Prather

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, someone "close" to President-elect Obama told them that the Obama-Biden-Hillary administration intends to offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella."

Now, you know what an ordinary umbrella is. And if you can find it and unfurl it in time, if the rain is coming straight down out of the sky, and if you are standing directly under it, it can protect you from getting soaking wet.

Okay, what if it’s extremely windy and the rain is coming at you almost horizontal? Well, don’t bother unfurling your umbrella.

So, what’s a "nuclear umbrella"?

Presumably, it’s something that, if you can find it and unfurl it in time, and if the nukes are coming straight down out of the sky, it can protect you and yours from getting nuked in your jammies.

The Bush-Cheney administration has recently deployed in Israel an early-warning radar system, enhancing Israel’s ability to detect incoming ballistic missiles. And as a Major Non-NATO Ally, Israel has already developed – in cooperation with the United States – and deployed the Arrow Anti-Ballistic Missile system, specifically designed to intercept and destroy dozens of incoming medium-range missiles, particularly those launched from Iran.

Of course, as best the on-the-ground inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency can determine – after years of intrusive inspections – there is no indication that Iran has ever diverted any of those materials, required by the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to be subject to a comprehensive "Safeguards" Agreement, to a military purpose.

So, if there is any country in the world that is guaranteed to not have the fissile material absolutely required to make even a crude nuke, much less a small sophisticated ballistic-missile deliverable nuke, it’s Iran.

Now, Pakistan has nukes, dozens of them, which they claim are capable of being delivered by medium-range (up to 2,000 km) ballistic missiles, upon a few minutes notice.

Recall that May 28, 1998, was a red-letter day in the Islamic world. In response to Indian nuke tests earlier that month, to everyone’s surprise, the Pakistanis successfully tested several highly-enriched uranium implosion nukes, some of them allegedly "boosted" with Tritium.

Now, virtually all members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference – including Saudi Arabia, which may have bankrolled the Pakistani nuke program – view the Pakistani nukes to be "Islamic" nukes. And supported their being under the control, until recently, of Pakistan’s military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, and in the custody of his Inter Service Intelligence agency.

So did Bush-Cheney-Powell, post 9/11. In 2004 Bush-Cheney-Congress even made them a Major Non-NATO Ally (like Israel), which made Pakistan eligible for certain financial and military benefits, reportedly including a covert cooperatively-developed command, control and physical security system for Pakistan’s nuke stockpile.

Of course, the Pakistani nuke-tipped missiles don’t have sufficient range to hit Tel Aviv or Haifa.

However, the Pakistani missiles with Islamic nuke warheads do have sufficient range to hit many cities in India, largely Hindu and consequently, Pakistan’s mortal enemy.

But, so important did Bush-Cheney-Powell consider Pakistan’s cooperation in the War Against Terror then being waged in Afghanistan, they effectively prevented Israel from selling the U.S.-Israeli co-developed Arrow ABM system to India.

Israel has long been a major supplier of arms to India, second only to Russia.

  • The Indian Air Force base in Agra has recently completed all preparations to receive several Phalcon airborne warning, command and control systems, installed by Israel Aircraft Industries on Russian-supplied Il-78 aircraft.
  • A year ago, India put into orbit for the Israelis a Tecsar spy satellite, supposedly to better spy on Iran, but viewed in the Islamic world as "a sinister tie-up between India and Israel,"
  • Several unmanned aerial vehicles, supplied (and perhaps "flown") by Israel, have recently been shot down over Pakistan.

So, it may be significant that the recent attack in Mumbai by Islamic terrorists, with the knowledge of, and perhaps even some assistance by, Pakistan’s ISI, targeted – according to Israeli Prime Minister Olmert – "Jewish institutions."

Of course, as a result of Condi-Rice’s major diplomatic "triumph" – getting the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group to disregard their own rules and regulations and getting our Congress, as well as the Indian Congress, to "ratify" the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal – the IAEA-NPT-NSG nuke proliferation-prevention regime was effectively gutted.

All done by Bush-Cheney-Rice – without regard to the consequences – to put pressure on Iran. To get India to reject the impending Iran-Pakistan-India natural-gas Peace Pipeline and to vote "our" way on the IAEA Board of Governors, illegally requiring Iran to suspend, indefinitely, all its IAEA Safeguarded nuclear programs.

Of course, no similar nuclear deal was done for our Major Non-NATO Ally Pakistan. Nor was any thought given to the adverse impact on the lives of Pakistani civilians, as well as to the prospect of winning the War on Terror on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, of depriving Pakistan of much-needed natural gas and the expected "transit" revenues of the IPI Peace Pipeline.

It is perhaps conceivable that the recent Islamic terrorist attacks on Mumbai were in some way related to Condi-Rice’s major diplomatic "triumph."

In any case, Obama-Biden-Hillary may now allow, perhaps even encourage, the sale of the U.S.-Israeli Arrow ABM system to India.

But, back to Obama-Biden-Hillary providing a "nuclear umbrella" to Israel. Suppose the nukes are not coming straight down out of the sky? Suppose they’re being delivered by persons unknown via a slow boat from Pakistan or North Korea to Haifa, for example?

Well, maybe the Obama-Biden-Hillary "nuclear umbrella" is a misnomer.

Haaretz suggests that what will actually be offered Israel approximates the guarantee proposed by Presidential-Candidate Hillary to "respond to any Iranian nuclear strike against Israel" with a "devastating U.S. nuclear response."

Okay, since the IAEA can find no indication that Iranians now have – or ever had – a nuclear weapons program, Secretary of State Hillary can safely make that offer.

On the other hand, the IAEA’s repeated reports to the UN Security Council that (a) there was no indication Iraq had made significant progress on its nuclear weapons program prior to Gulf War I, (b) that the entire program had been destroyed by 1992, under their supervision, and (c) that as of February 2003, there had been no effort to reconstitute that program, didn’t prevent Bush-Cheney from invading Iraq to "prevent" a nuclear strike by Saddam Hussein against us or one of our "allies."

So, isn’t it strange that a "senior Bush administration source" reportedly now says the "nuclear umbrella" offer is "ridiculous."

"Who will convince the citizen in Kansas that the U.S. needs to get mixed up in a nuclear war because Haifa was bombed?"

Who, indeed?


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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