Arms to Iran: Detente or Treason?
March 21, 2004
The Jerusalem Post
The fact that Israeli arms dealers could be suspected of selling weapons parts to Iran at first seems not only incredible but treasonous.
The fact that the pair being investigated has been investigated repeatedly in the past raises questions about the seeming two-faced character of the dubious world of arms trading, particularly when it comes to Iran.
Illicit Israeli military sales to the staunchly anti-Zionist Shi'ite state which is aggressively seeking nuclear weapons are hardly a new phenomenon.
"Life is complicated. Israel, like the US, has a complex policy vis- -vis Iran. There is a certain amount of flexibility," said Dr. Gerald Steinberg of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and an expert on the arms industry, without referring specifically to Eli Cohen and Avihai Weinstein.
Clandestine contacts have served Israel's intelligence if not strategic interests for decades, said Aharon Kleiman, a Tel Aviv University professor of political science and author of Israel's Global Reach: Arms Sales as Diplomacy.
Steinberg noted that in the past arms sales, beyond being lucrative, also served to forge diplomatic ties. India was a case in point. "But after so many connections with Iran, one wonders if you can make that argument today," Steinberg said.
"Still, Israel is trying to preserve options in working with the Iranian government and individuals who are pragmatic and open doors, rather than have an ideological approach which says there is nothing to talk about with Iran," Steinberg said.
The policy is that Iran is a threat, not an enemy, he explained.
In the past, for example, Israel continued to illicitly sell parts for Phantom jets to Iran even after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979.
At the time, the revolution caught the West, particularly the US, off guard.
But because of Israel's close ties with the Iranian military and its operatives there, Israel became a valued intelligence source for the Americans.
For this reason, Israel became a key player in the so-called Iran-Contra affair, or "Irangate," in the mid 1980s. Then US national security council staffer Col. Oliver North took the fall for arranging Israeli arms dealers connected to the Israeli government to supply Iran with over 1,000 LAW anti-tank missiles and parts to Hawk anti-aircraft batteries in a deal worth $100 million. The proceeds of this trade were then funneled into the coffers of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
Meanwhile, the US and Israel tried to leverage these sales by asking Iran to pressure Shi'ite groups in Lebanon to release Western hostages.
According to reports, much of the arms trading was conducted through a private Israeli company called International Desalination Equipment, Ltd., then run by Ya'acov Nimrodi, who from the 1950s until the shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979, was Israel's military attache in Teheran. Nimrodi was often aided and counseled by then-prime minister Shimon Peres's adviser on counterterrorism, Amiram Nir, the first husband of Judy Nir-Moses who is today married to Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
Nir, who also had close connections with North, later died in a mysterious plane crash in Mexico.
Conversely, Nahum Manbar sold arms to Iran with the knowledge and even blessing of the defense establishment, who were hoping it would lead to information on missing airman Lt.-Col. Ron Arad, downed over Lebanon in 1986.
Manbar is currently serving a 16-year sentence for attempting to sell Iran materials to produce mustard and nerve gas.
"If one wanted to make an argument in favor of arms sales to Iran, they would say we are very guarded in what we sell and nothing that poses a direct threat to Israel would be tolerated," said Kleiman.
"The defense establishment says nobody can move nuts and bolts without their approval, but on the other hand there is a laxity in the murky world of arms dealing it's hard to keep track of." There are some 2,000 weapons dealers, but they are not required to report on their activities. The Defense Ministry refuses to make them public for security and business reasons.
Ironically, the Defense Ministry promised the previous Knesset to crack down on weapons dealers after two men, none other than Cohen and Weinstein, were arrested on suspicion of selling spare parts for APCs to Iran.
Police said that Cohen had his arms license revoked in 1994. Defense Ministry spokeswoman Rachel Naidek-Ashkenazi said that both Cohen and Weinstein do not currently hold any defense license.
Despite this, they were caught allegedly selling arms or spare parts to the Iranians in complex deals that pass through Europe and the Far East, which proves one does not need a license to remain in the arms business.
"This is one of the first scandals we have heard in a number of years. There has been some tightening, but one never knows how much winking is going on," Steinberg said. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1079844508820
posted on 03/21/2004 9:09:03 PM PST
(Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
To: DoctorZIn; yonif; RaceBannon; Pan_Yans Wife; Valin; McGavin999; blackie; Cindy; Dajjal; ...
World blasts Yassin killing
By HERB KEINON
Mar. 22, 2004
Many of the world's leaders, from Britain to Iran, were quick to condemn Israel's killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin with the United States one notable exception.
AFP quoted a State Department official as urging "all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint."
The official said the US Government was aware of reports of the incident and was following developments in the region. "We are looking into the circumstances and are in touch with Israeli and Palestinians authorities," the official said.
Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, issued a statement saying that "The European Union has consistently condemned 'extra judicial killings'. In this particular case, the condemnation has to be even stronger. These type of actions do not contribute to dialogue and peace in the region. Neither will they bring less violence. The actions of today are bad news for the peace process."
Solana said the killing of Yassin "will not facilitate a positive outcome" to discussion about a possible withdrawal from Gaza.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in Brussels for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers, condemned the attack, saying it is "unlawful" and "unjustified."
Israel, Straw told reporters, "is not entitled to go for this kind of unlawful killing, and we therefore condemn it. "It's unacceptable, it's unjustified, and it's very unlikely to achieve its objective."
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin echoed the sentiment, saying, "France condemns the action against Sheikh Yassin. At a time when it is important to mobilize for the re-launch of the peace process, such acts can only fuel the cycle of violence."
Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Lydie Polfer said she fears the attack will lead to "new violence, and the Danish Foreign Minister, Per Stig Moeller, said Denmark is "against assassinations like this. This is not the way ahead. There's only one way ahead, and that is political."
Poland's Foreign Minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz , whose country will join the EU on May 1, said he recognizes Israel's right to defend itself, but that this is not the way to do it.
"I understand that Israel defends its own country. However the picture of a wheelchair-bound person who was killed with a rocket is probably not the best way of promoting Israeli security," Reuters quoted Cimoszewicz as saying at a press breakfast in Brussels.
Cimoszewicz said he is afraid the assassination " may have very, very negative consequences not only in terms of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but I'm afraid that the threat of terrorist attacks also on other countries, including European (ones), is growing."
In the Arab world, the condemnations were even more strident.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in reaction to the assassination of Hamas spirtutal leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, directed his country's representatives not to take part in activities the Knesset and Foreign Ministry is planning this week to mark 25 years to the signing of the peace agreement with Egypt.
Kuwait's National Assembly (NA) speaker, Jassem Al-Kharafi, was quoted in the Albawaba web site as saying that the killing will "aggravate the crisis, escalate reactions and bring to a state of despair all those who worked hard to forge just and permanent solutions." He said "the Arab and Islamic people would never forget the principles of struggle that Sheikh Yassin ingrained within the Palestinian ranks."
The Jordanian news agency quoted Jordanian Prime Minister Faisal Al Fayez as saying this "is another crime that is added to the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people, and forms a flagrant violation of all charters and norms."
"We in the government," Al Fayez was quoted as saying, "condemn this ugly crime and affirm that such behavior would increase the cycle of violence and instability in the region, lead to more bloodshed and undermine the opportunities of achieving just and comprehensive peace that the region's peoples seek to achieve."
Iran also weighed in with its own condemnation with Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid-Reza Asefi, saying that Israel engaged in "state terrorism."
Asefi, according to Albawaba, said the assassination ""would unveil the ugly and unpleasant face of them (the Israelis) before all the world's people." http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1079929448130
posted on 03/22/2004 5:52:03 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
(John Fedayeen Kerry - the Mullahs' regime candidate)
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