Jerusalem News (15 September, 2013, Tishrei 11, 5774)
1. Report: Israel has 80 Nuclear Warheads; Production Frozen
by Maayana Miskin
2. Israel marks solemn, silent Day of Atonement by Ian Deitch
3. It's Not About The Chemical Weapons, It's About The Syrian Pipeline by Vicky Nissen
1. Report: Israel has 80 Nuclear Warheads; Production Frozen
Israel possesses 80 nuclear warheads and the capacity to make up to 190 more, American experts say.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/15/2013, 8:56 AM
United States experts have estimated the size of Israel's nuclear arsenal at 80 nuclear warheads. The experts' assessment was included in the September/October issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The experts said Israel stopped production on nuclear weapons in 2004, but kept enough fissile material to create up to 190 warheads.
In 1999, Israel had 70 warheads, they estimated.
The estimates are lower than previous guesses at the size of Israel's nuclear arsenal. In 1986, the Sunday Times estimated Israel's nuclear arsenal at 100-200 warheads, based on information from former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, who was later convicted of treason.
A 2009 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies put Israel's nuclear arsenal at anywhere from 70 to 400 warheads.
In April 2013, an Arms Control Association report estimated the size of Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal at 75 to 200 warheads.
Israel has a policy of nuclear ambiguity, and is widely assumed by the international community to possess nuclear weapons. Israeli leaders have declined to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
2. Israel marks solemn, silent Day of Atonement
Jewish state grinds to a halt on Yom Kippur; businesses, TV stations, airports and highways shut down until Saturday night
By Ian Deitch September 13, 2013, 2:11 pm 1
JERUSALEM (AP) Â Israelis prepared for the holiest day of the Jewish calendar on Friday when the entire country grinds almost to a halt for Yom Kippur, Judaism's day of atonement.
Jews traditionally spend the solemn day fasting and asking God for forgiveness at intense prayer services in synagogues. It caps a 10-day period of soul-searching that began with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year holiday.
In Israel, the country virtually shuts down for Yom Kippur. Businesses, restaurants and offices close, and TV and radio stations go silent. Airports close and buses and trains stop running. Highways and roads become eerily quiet, devoid of vehicles.
Yom Kippur is unique in Israel because it touches almost the entire country. A high portion of the secular population observes the fast, and even those who don't fast tend to refrain from eating in public, and quietly watch movies or rest at home.
Israel has imposed West Bank closures during most Jewish holidays in recent years due to concerns that Palestinian militants could take advantage of the occasion to carry out attacks inside Israel.
For devout Jews, Yom Kippur is the most solemn day on the calendar where according to tradition, God weighs people's deeds and decides their fate for the next year.
On Thursday night, thousands of Jews attended pre Yom Kippur prayers in Jerusalem at the Western Wall, a remnant of the biblical Jewish Temple compound and the holiest site where Jews can pray.
Those observing the holiday refrain from food and drink and adhere to prohibitions that ban work, using electricity or operating any kind of machinery. The ban on drinking is especially tough in Israel where meteorologists have predicted the holiday this year will be the hottest in decades. Medics are on alert around the country to deal with emergencies.
3. It's Not About The Chemical Weapons, It's About The Syrian Pipeline
byÂ Vicky Nissen
Obama is going after Syria to secure gas pipelines for Sunni Muslims
America's quest to bomb Syria is not about chemical weapons being used against the Syrians. Chemical weapons are basically a smoke screen, and Obama desperately wants to remove Assad from power for other reasons.
The players in this continuing world drama are Turkey, the United States, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia. There is a good reason why Turkey and Saudi Arabia both have their backs against the wall and are desperate to take out Assad.
Two years ago, Syria announced it found a promising gas field in its country, and Oil Minister Sufian Allawai said, Â 'The first wells were drilled at Qara in Homs governorate, and the flow rate is 400,000 cubic meters per day.' This is great news for Syria's energy revenues. Besides the prospect of its own gas field, Syria is also one of the most strategic locations for natural gas pipelines to flow to Europe.
Qatar, home to the world's largest gas field along with Iran, has proposed a gas pipeline from the Gulf to Turkey that would traverse Syria to the Mediterranean, with the gas then being shipped to Europe. Assad in 2009 refused to go along with the Qatar plan, instead inking deals with Russia and Iran.
Called the Islamic pipeline, it is set to open in 2016; in fact, Iran, Iraq and Syria signed deals in 2011 to construct the 3,480 mile natural gas pipeline that runs from Iran's South Pars to Europe. This Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline is set to be the largest gas pipeline in the Middle East . It will snake through Iran, Iraq, Syria, South Lebanon and through the Mediterranean; in addition, the best refinery and infrastructure is in Damascus. Further talks between Iran, Syria, and Iraq for construction of the Islamic Pipeline kicked off in Baghdad today.
The Islamic pipeline through Syria could cut energy power of Qatar and Turkey. To make matters worse, most Arabs view the Islamic Pipeline as a Shiiite pipeline serving Shiiite interests. After all, it originates in Shiiite Iran, passes through Shiiite Iraq, and flows into Shiiite controlled Syria. Therefore, the Sunni-dominated Gulf nations have both an economic and to a lesser extent, a religious reason, for stopping the Islamic Pipeline from becoming a reality. So far, the Gulf nations have violently opposed Syria's adoption of the Islamic Pipeline by arming opposition fighters within Syria in order to destabilize the nation.
This is certainly one reason why President Obama helped run weapons from Benghazi, Libya, through Turkey into the hands of the Syrian rebels. Al Qaeda strongly opposes the Assad government and has joined other rebel factions in an effort to overthrow Assad and to install a more Sunni-friendly government.
Russia has built up naval presence in the ports of Latakia and Tartus to protect the pipeline.
Saudi Arabia is desperate to get rid of Assad. The Saudiis, through their intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, proposed to Russia that Saudi Arabia will buy $15 billion of weapons from Russia and invest considerably in the country. Further, the Saudi reassured Putin that whatever regime replaces Assad, it will be completely in the Saudi's hands and will not sign any agreement allowing any Gulf country to transport its gas across Syria to Europe and compete with Russian gas exports. Russia said NO.
Secretary of State John Kerry last week indicated that Arab nations have offered to help pay for any US military intervention in Syria, as he sought support for missile strikes.
It's not clear if he was offered the same deal.
On the other hand, the Nabucco pipeline, run by the Sunni Muslims, was conceived as a keystone of the European Union's plan to diversify its energy supplies away from Russia, which supplies some 150 bcm to Europe yearly and would have replaced about 20 percent of the Russian imports. The Nabucco pipeline would snake natural gas through Azerbajian, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. If Assad is gone, Turkey wants the Nabucco pipeline to run through Syria.
However, over the years, the grand ambitions of the Nabucco project have increasingly come to look more like a dream than any imminent reality.The original scope of the project was cut back dramatically in May 2012 when the consortium backed away from plans to build the Turkey segment of the pipeline and to focus only on the European part.The Nabucco pipeline is just too big, and Turkey is having problems getting suppliers to work together at costs that are reasonable.
So, it's not about the weapons, it's about money, power and Sunni Muslims.