Pakistan’s Precedent-Setting Role in Today’s Nuclear Problems, and Israel’s Attempts to Counter It

March 8 2022

With Iran on its way to obtaining nuclear weapons—perhaps regardless of whether a deal is concluded in Vienna—it may well be up to the Jewish state to stop it. Israel already prevented both Iraq and Syria from obtaining nuclear weapons with now well-documented airstrikes. So far, it has reportedly favored clandestine measures to slow the Islamic Republic’s path to the bomb. Oved Lobel calls to attention to new information about another covert campaign, in the 1980s, to nip Pakistan’s nuclear program in the bud—which came close to using bomber jets as well:

If Israel’s efforts to halt [the Pakistani nuclear] network had succeeded, not only would Pakistan have been stopped from getting nuclear weapons, but in all likelihood, so too would North Korea—while Iran’s ongoing nuclear program would never have gotten off the ground, and the same can be said for the abortive nuclear programs of Libya and Syria.

Israel planned a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities at Kahuta around the same time as the bombing of Osirak, [the location of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, in 1981]. Since 1981, India had been planning a strike against Kahuta to halt the weapons program, and in 1983 Indian officials secretly travelled to Israel to purchase electronic-warfare equipment to overcome Pakistan’s air defenses around the facility. After threats by Pakistan, Israel offered to launch the strikes from two Indian airbases, an operation which then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed off on in March 1984. The U.S., however, leaked the plans to Pakistan and put extreme pressure on Israel, which backed down.

U.S. complicity, across political parties and administrations, supported Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program. . . . The Pakistanis, primarily out of anti-American and Islamist ideological zeal with a touch of financial desperation, gave the Iranians centrifuges, enrichment plant plans and reportedly even weapons designs. . . . Pakistan also reportedly began training Iranian nuclear scientists.

By pretending the nuclear issue did not exist as an irritant in the relationship, the U.S. was able to forego sanctions on Pakistan and partner with it in Afghanistan, first against the Soviet Union and then against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, issues it prioritized over nuclear proliferation. This would prove to be a fatal error of judgement, as Pakistan’s double game in Afghanistan—where it was the key backer of the Taliban and also protected al-Qaeda—would ultimately lead to a transnational terrorism campaign against the West and eventually the 2021 retreat of the U.S. from Afghanistan—delivering the country straight back into the hands of the Taliban.

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Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Nuclear proliferation, Pakistan

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia