How Israeli Intelligence Provided the U.S with Vital Help During the Cold War

It’s well known today that Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies often cooperate closely, and that Jerusalem routinely provides Washington with important and hard-to-obtain information. Less well known is that this cooperation dates back to the 1950s. It was Israel, for instance, that obtained a copy of Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 “secret speech” to Communist party leaders, denouncing Stalin. Israel also, on numerous occasions, captured advanced Soviet weaponry from its Arab enemies, which it then gave to the U.S., helping the latter stay abreast of Moscow’s technology and its vulnerabilities. And that’s not all, as Raphael Ofek writes:

During the cold war, U.S. intelligence had difficulty collecting information from behind the Iron Curtain, instead concentrating on technical means of collection, especially aerial photography: first by U-2 planes, then by satellites. Thus, particularly in domains of a clearly technological nature such as the Soviet nuclear threat, it was easy to err through over- or underestimation. [By recruiting retired members of the Soviet defense establishment], the Israeli intelligence community succeeded, in the latter half of the 1970s and the early 1980s, to provide its American counterpart with highly valuable, original information on the Soviet strategic-missile array as it existed at the end of the 1960s.

Based on the information that Israel provided, one could construct a detailed and quite accurate picture of the structure and dispersal of at least some of the Soviet army’s strategic-missile brigades. . . . Some of the intelligence information could be verified with aerial photographs. But it also included details, as well as rumors, that were verified only later. . . .

The CIA expressed its gratitude to the Israeli intelligence community, noting that the information was “unique” and had enabled the agency to adjust its intelligence overestimation on the issue in question. According to a senior CIA official, the information obtained from Israel indicated that Soviet strategic-missile technology was inferior to what the CIA had [previously] believed. . . . [This] Israeli information made a particularly important contribution to America’s ability to defend itself against a Soviet nuclear strike.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Cold War, Intelligence, Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Soviet Union, US-Israel relations

The Danger of Hollow Fixes to the Iran Deal

March 20 2018

In January, the Trump administration announced a 120-day deadline for the so-called “E3”—Britain, France, and Germany—to agree to solutions for certain specific flaws in the 2015 agreement to limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Omri Ceren explains why it’s necessary to get these fixes right:

[Already in October], the administration made clear that it considered the deal fatally flawed for at least three reasons: a weak inspections regime in which the UN’s nuclear watchdog can’t access Iranian military facilities, an unacceptable arrangement whereby the U.S. had to give up its most powerful sanctions against ballistic missiles even as Iran was allowed to develop ballistic missiles, and the fact that the deal’s eventual expiration dates mean Iran will legally be allowed to get within a hair’s breadth of a nuclear weapon. . . .

A team of American negotiators has been working on getting the E3 to agree to a range of fixes, and is testing whether there is overlap between the maximum that the Europeans can give and the minimum that President Trump will accept. The Europeans in turn are testing the Iranians to gauge their reactions and will likely not accept any fixes that would cause Iran to bolt.

The negotiations are problematic. The New York Times reported that, as far as the Europeans are concerned, the exercise requires convincing Trump they’ve “changed the deal without actually changing it.” Public reports about the inspection fix suggest that the Europeans are loath to go beyond urging the International Atomic Energy Commission to request inspections, which the agency may be too intimidated to do. The ballistic-missile fix is shaping up to be a political disaster, with the Europeans refusing to incorporate anything but long-range missiles in the deal. That would leave us with inadequate tools to counter Iran’s development of ballistic missiles that could be used to wipe Israel, the Saudis, and U.S. regional bases off the map. . . .

There is a [significant] risk the Trump administration may be pushed to accept the hollow fixes acceptable to the Europeans. Fixing the deal in this way would be the worst of all worlds. It would functionally enshrine the deal under a Republican administration. Iran would be open for business, and this time there would be certainty that a future president will not act to reverse the inevitable gold rush. Just as no deal would have been better than a bad deal, so no fix would be better than a bad fix.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Donald Trump, Europe, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy