No, the U.S. Hasn’t Kept Satellite Imagery Classified Because of the “Occupation”

Last month, an article appeared in the magazine Foreign Policy under the headline “Israel Can’t Hide Evidence of Its Occupation Anymore,” celebrating a minor change in U.S. regulations concerning the availability of high-resolution satellite images as a victory over “censorship.” But the entire premise of the article is rooted in what might charitably be called a misunderstanding of the issue at hand. Gerald Steinberg, whose research contributed to the original piece of legislation, explains:

A very small country under threat of massive attack from conventional and unconventional forces (particularly Iraq and Syria, at the time), [Israel was] severely limited in deploying defensive and deterrent capabilities, making it vulnerable to a surprise first strike. With the addition of very high-resolution space images available for purchase by potential attackers, including Palestinian and other terror groups, and in real-time, the threat to Israel would have been much higher. . . . Understanding these concerns, the regulations were adopted [in 1996 to prevent highly detailed satellite imagery of Israel from being made public].

Now skip forward 24 years—to July 2020—when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revised the limitations regarding imaging of Israel (from a minimum two meters to 40 centimeters), based on the improvements in technology, new Middle East strategic realities, and greater availability from non-U.S. suppliers.

For those whose main objective in life is to measure Israeli, Palestinian, and (unauthorized) European government construction in the West Bank, there are numerous other and less costly sources.

But the author of the Foreign Policy article is an employee of an organization “dedicated to demonizing Israel,” as Steinberg puts it—and lavishly funded by European governments, as well as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Open Society Foundation. And so she must find, or manufacture, subjects to keep up a steady output of “disinformation.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, West Bank

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy