Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Israel boosts navy with two guided missile destroyers from Germany

Big story from the Jerusalem Post.

Excerpt:

Germany has agreed to sell Israel two destroyers in exchange for one billion euros, AFP reported on Saturday, citing a report in German daily Bild.

According to the report, the torpedo-laden destroyers are intended to provide protection for Israel’s natural gas installations.

I suspect that the primary role of these vessels will be to intercept surface-to-surface missiles and air-to-surface missiles. Israel’s submarine force does not have this capability – they are primarily built for missile strike capability. Now why do you think that Israel is choosing to equip naval vessels with these capabilities? It’s to convey a clear message to her enemies: “even if you are able to strike our mainland and destroy our land-based missile defense system (Iron Dome) we will still have a naval-based air defense capability”.

This is a great deterrent against Israel’s enemies. It’s a second layer of defense to Israel’s Iron Dome system, which is tested and ready to shoot down incoming missiles. In addition to this missile-defense capability, these DDGs also offer surface-to-surface strike capability, but I can’t say what that would be without knowing what model they got. My suspicion is that they are older FFG Bremen class, which are being decommissioned and replaced by newer models. But they could also be FFG Brandenburg class, which are newer, but also scheduled for upgrades already. I wouldn’t call either of those “destroyers” though – they displace only about 3,600 tonnes each.

So could they be these 5,800 tonne vessels?

FFG Saschen class guided missile frigate

F124 Saschen class guided missile frigate (FFG)

Germany doesn’t have any real destroyers, although their new FFG Saschen class are as big as destroyers. If Israel somehow managed to get Saschen class FFGs, then I would really be thrilled and impressed. Those things are awesome and they excel at the air defense role. I noticed that the “file photos” being used in news releases were of FFG Saschen class vessels. But I just can’t believe that, it would be so awesome. That would explain why they are being called “destroyers” in the press stories. One can hope! If anyone knows, please tell me.

UPDATE: I did get some feedback through a friend of a friend who is an expert in missile defense, and here is his response:

Good for Israel. The article is mainly correct. I would say it is wrong on three points. One, Iron Dome will not assist in defending against TBMs or longer range missiles…Israel has other systems for that. Two, the DDGs are not meant to provide BMD if Iron Dome is destroyed. Sea based BMD can allow layered defense against ballistic missiles. Ballistic missiles require multiple interceptors to give a high probability of kill. Three, that being said, none of the Frigates mentioned possess a BMD cape. The Netherlands is working on a BMD cape for a ship they use that is similar to the Saschen class. The Dutch however, have a seafaring history and a navy that is more advanced than the Deutsch.

BMD means Ballistic Missile Defense, and TBM means Tactical Ballistic Missile.

And another SSK Dolphin submarine, too

And more good news from YNet News.

Excerpt:

Earlier this year, a significant deal between Germany and the Israeli security establishment was completed, as the Germans handed a fifth Dolphin-class submarine to Israel. The handover was marked in an official ceremony in Germany’s city of Kiel.

The vessel is considered one of the most advanced submarines in the world and is the most expensive war vessel the Defense Ministry has procured for the IDF. The diesel-powered submarines are widely regarded as an Israeli vanguard against foes like Iran. In total, Israel has purchased six Dolphin submarines from Germany.

There are two kinds of submarines that are used today: attack submarines, which are armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, and ballistic missile submarines, which are armed with heavier missiles that can travel further. Although the SSK Dolphin class is an attack submarine on paper, my suspicion is that Israel will refit them to have long-range missile strike capability, including nuclear guided missiles. And in fact after doing a search, I found an article that confirmed my hopes.

Take a look at this article from NTI, a global security think tank based in Washington.

Excerpt:

As previous conflicts involving Israel began with naval blockades, Israel views its submarine force as critical to national security. Israel’s submarines are also intended to exercise sea control over the Eastern Mediterranean and secure sea lines of communication; Israel is dependent on imports of grain, crude oil, and raw materials. [4] There has been consistent speculation that Israel’s submarines could be refitted to carry missiles armed with nuclear weapons in order for the country to maintain a survivable second-strike option. Acknowledging Israel’s lack of strategic depth, officials have asserted that only submarines can provide a secure weapons platform in the future. [5]

The arming of Israel’s submarines has received a great deal of attention. While HDW has stated that Israel’s Dolphin-class submarines were equipped with weapon systems similar to those installed on other diesel-electric submarines, various sources have alleged that upon their arrival in Israel, the submarines were modified, and fitted with cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads. [6] The three initial Dolphin-class submarines were designed in accordance with Israeli demands, and include a “wet and dry” compartment for special operations, as well as four 650mm torpedo tubes, which could be used for Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs). [7] The German Defense Ministry has stated that these larger tubes were intended to fire Harpoons; upon delivery to Israel, liners were to be fitted to decrease the diameter of the tubes to accommodate the 533mm Harpoon containers. However, the Dolphin-class is equipped with six 533mm torpedo tubes as well, which are capable of launching Harpoons. [8] It seems possible, therefore, that the 650mm tubes might have been designed to accommodate indigenously built, long-range SLCMs.The German government has stated that it does not have information on whether Israel installed different equipment on the submarines after delivery, although former German officials have acknowledged that they assumed that Israel intended to equip the submarines with nuclear weapons. [9]

Some reports suggest that Israel has adapted Harpoon cruise missiles, which have a range of 130 kilometers, to carry an indigenously developed nuclear warhead and guidance system, though other experts argue that such modifications to a Harpoon missile are not feasible. [10] Others believe that Israel has developed an indigenous cruise missile with a range of 320 kilometers that could be a version of Rafael Armament Development Authority’s Popeye turbo cruise missile. [11] Still others believe that the missile may be a version of the Gabriel 4LR produced by Israel Aircraft Industries, which could be launched in 533mm torpedo tubes similar to the Harpoon. [12] Such speculation was further fueled by an unconfirmed test of a nuclear-capable, submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) in the Indian Ocean in 2000. Some reports claimed targets 1,500 kilometers away were hit. [13] Such a range, however, implies an entirely new type of missile. [14] In June 2002, former State Department and Pentagon officials confirmed that the U.S. Navy observed Israeli missile tests in the Indian Ocean in 2000, and that the Dolphin-class vessels have been fitted with nuclear-capable cruise missiles of a new design. [15] However, the Israeli Defense Forces have consistently denied any such missile tests. [16]

[...]The new boats will be equipped with 650mm torpedo tubes—again leading to much speculation that the Israelis intend to outfit the submarines with nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

These submarines are designed to protect Israel’s supply lines in the Mediterranean Sea, and also to give them retaliation capabilities in the event of a large-scale missile strike. Iran and her allies will have a tough time detecting these submarines and destroying them – the subs have an extremely quiet propulsion system and can operate submerged for up to a week. These six submarines are a deterrent against any nation that would try to attack Israel, because they know that there is no hope for them to destroy all of their strike capability in the initial strike against Israel’s land-based assets. Israel could also depend on ground-based missile launchers,some of which might be mobile, and their airborne strike platform.

This is an application of the principal of peace through strength – the stronger a nation’s military, the less likely they are to be attacked, and the more capable they are of protecting their allies. The article above notes that the Clinton administration (Democrats) refused to sell Israel Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a very long range. That’s too bad. If I were in charge, I would sell those to Israel in a split-second.

It really is a terrible thing for the United States to be disarming thanks to Democrat policies, because all this does is encourage our enemies to strike us, and encourage our allies to abandon our alliances and ally with stronger nations. I hope that we are able to elect a Republican soon who will restore our lost military strength.

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Obama administration betrays Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran

Letitia posted this article by Jay Sekulow from Fox News.

Excerpt:

In its quest for a “deal” with the hostile, jihadist Iranian regime, The Obama administration has thrown an American Christian, Saeed Abedini, under the bus – the latest American victim in the administration’s continual, naïve (at best) quest to bargain with Islamic radicals.

[...]Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Idaho resident, last year received permission to enter Iran to help build an orphanage.

Shortly after his arrival, Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guard arrested him, threw him in one of Iran’s worst prisons, and tried and convicted him on trumped-up “national security” charges – charges that had nothing to do with national security and everything to do with his Christian faith.

Even after President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case directly to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran responded not by releasing Saeed but by transferring him to an even worse prison — a prison full of murderers and rapists, where his life is in danger at every moment.

The Iranian regime rebuked the president of the United States, and we’re now supposed to believe it’s acting in good faith?

President Obama is now trying to spin our stunning act of weakness as a breakthrough for peace.  In fact, we were so weak that (according to the administration) that the State Department did not even raise Pastor Saeed’s during the nuclear negotiations.

[...]Iran’s record of wrongdoing is long and sordid.

Beginning with the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, moving through repeated terrorist attacks – from the deadly Marine Barracks bombing in 1983, to the Kobar Towers bombing in 1996, to the direct intervention of Iran’s Quds force against American forces in Iraq – and including ongoing deadly support for terrorists fighting American forces in Afghanistan, Iran has proven by its deeds and words that it is America’s enemy.

If Iran had released Pastor Saeed we would have at least one concrete action to give Americans confidence that this deal was anything other than a disaster.  Instead, we are left with nothing but “commitments” from a regime that has proven itself committed only to killing and imprisoning Americans.

To make matters even worse, we have squandered a position of strength.

Iran was suffering under sanctions that were finally beginning to truly bite — wrecking its economy and causing deep discontent within Iraq. This was our opportunity to drive a hard bargain, to reach a deal that didn’t depend solely on Iranian “commitments.”

But we squandered that opportunity and left an American behind.

The Obama administration has betrayed Pastor Saeed.

One country that’s done a good job on promoting human rights and religious liberty is Canada, because they have a Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Here’s what Canada said about the deal: (H/T Dennis Prager)

The Canadian government was “deeply skeptical” on Sunday of Iran’s agreement to temporarily freeze its nuclear program, saying Ottawa’s sanctions against the regime would remain firmly in place until the new deal’s words turned into actions.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird appeared to take a stronger stance on the newly brokered deal than the United States and other allies, saying Canada would be watching Iran closely over the coming weeks and months.

“We have made-in-Canada foreign policy,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We think past actions best predict future actions. And Iran has defied the United Nations Security Council, it has defied the International Atomic Energy Agency. Simply put Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt.”

It’s striking to me that the American government is now to the left of Canada on foreign policy – making deals with dictators that actually set back the cause of freedom and universal human rights. I would not be surprised to see a full-scale war in the Middle East because of this deal. I guess that the Obama administration is so anxious to appear as if they are doing something that they don’t care if Iran nukes Israel in a few months. Because that’s what’s going to happen unless Israel attacks Iran first. Iran was threatening to nuke Israel as recently as last week. It’s hard to interpret the Democrat treaty with Iran as anything other than their stamp of approval on that plan.

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John Bolton: U.S. deal with Iran is an “abject surrender”

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

The Weekly Standard featured a column by foreign policy heavyweight John Bolton.

Excerpt:

Negotiations for an “interim” arrangement over Iran’s nuclear weapons program finally succeeded this past weekend, as Security Council foreign ministers (plus Germany) flew to Geneva to meet their Iranian counterpart.  After raising expectations of a deal by first convening on November 8-10, it would have been beyond humiliating to gather again without result.  So agreement was struck despite solemn incantations earlier that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective.  Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement.  Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.”  This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States.

In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.

Second, Iran has gained legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club.  Much as the Syria chemical-weapons agreement buttressed Bashar al-Assad, the mullahs have escaped the political deep freezer.

Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more.  Tehran correctly assessed that a mere six-months’ easing of sanctions will make it extraordinarily hard for the West to reverse direction, even faced with systematic violations of Iran’s nuclear pledges.  Major oil-importing countries (China, India, South Korea, and others) were already chafing under U.S. sanctions, sensing President Obama had no stomach either to impose sanctions on them, or pay the domestic political price of granting further waivers.

Seven billion dollars in funding for a nation that is a known sponsor of anti-American terrorism. What kind of moron makes a deal with a regime that is on record for wanting to attack Israel with nuclear weapons? Some sort of reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain, that’s who.

Previously, the Obama administration had been accuesed of leaking details of a strike plan by Israel against Iranian nuclear facilities.

From ABC News.

Excerpt:

Two reports today about Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.

The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.

The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran’s nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…” A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.

“It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking,” analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. “I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They’re trying hard to prevent it in so many ways.”

[...]Thursday’s reports come a week after the results of a classified war game was leaked to the New York Times which predicted that an Israeli strike could lead to a wider regional war and result in hundreds of American deaths. In a column this afternoon titled “Obama Betraying Israel?” longtime defense commentator Ron Ben-Yishai at Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper angrily denounced the leaks as a “targeted assassination campaign.”

“In recent weeks the administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran,” Ben-Yishai writes. “The campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties.”

Maybe in the next election, Jewish-American voters will think a little more about who to vote for, in view of these facts. Or maybe it will take the actual nuclear destruction of Israel by Iran to get over their prejudices. As a supporter of peaceful democracies like Israel, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

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Russia to supply Iran with state-of-the-art surface-to-air missile systems

From the Jerusalem Post.

Excerpt:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, according to the prestigious Russian daily newspaper Kommersant.

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that the Russian government will revive the transfer three years after it canceled the original transaction.

According to Kommersant, the Kremlin agreed to Tehran’s request to complete the transaction, which will net the Russian treasury $800 million.

In addition to the missile deal, Russia has also agreed to construct another nuclear reactor in Bushehr. According to the Kommersant report, the two sides are expected to finalize the details of the deal this coming Friday, when Putin is expected to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.

[...]The Russian-manufactured anti-aircraft batteries have been a source of concern to Israeli officials who fear that their enemies’ possession of them could have adverse strategic consequences.

The article reports the range of the surface-to-air missile system as 200 km.

The missiles can be used to shoot down incoming missiles or strike aircraft. It would probably make any Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear weapons facilities much more dangerous. If the system is supposed to come online in 2016 then that would mean that the Israelis would have to strike before then.

I blogged before about how missile systems sold to Iran made their way to Syria and then to Hezbollah, where they were used to sink an Israeli ship. Could that happen with these S-300 SAMs?

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Intelligence reports show Islamic extremists dominate Syrian opposition

Reuters reports on it with the headline “Kerry portrait of Syria rebels at odds with intelligence reports”.

Excerpt:

Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.

At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama’s plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.

“And the opposition is getting stronger by the day,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

U.S. and allied intelligence sources and private experts on the Syrian conflict suggest that assessment is optimistic.

While the radical Islamists among the rebels may not be numerically superior to more moderate fighters, they say, Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front are better organized, armed and trained.

Kerry’s remarks represented a change in tone by the Obama administration, which for more than two years has been wary of sending U.S. arms to the rebels, citing fears they could fall into radical Islamists’ hands.

As recently as late July, at a security conference in Aspen, Colorado, the deputy director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, David Shedd, estimated that there were at least 1,200 different Syrian rebel groups and that Islamic extremists, notably the Nusra Front, were well-placed to expand their influence.

“Left unchecked, I’m very concerned that the most radical elements will take over larger segments” of the opposition groups, Shedd said. He added that the conflict could drag on anywhere “from many, many months to multiple years” and that a prolonged stalemate could leave open parts of Syria to potential control by radical fighters.

U.S. and allied intelligence sources said that such assessments have not changed.

As an aside, the mainstream media has not been reporting on these intelligence reports.

Excerpt:

A new survey of the coverage of the Syrian civil war and the U.S. response to it by the big three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, shows that 94 percent of their stories have not mentioned that some of the rebel forces include America’s enemy, al Qaeda.

The survey, reported by the Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor, finds that since August 21, 171 stories about the conflict have aired on the networks. Of those, only 11 stories mentioned the al Qaeda element of the war.

ABC, for instance, has aired 51 stories about the Syrian conflagration but only mentioned al Qaeda in 3 of those reports. NBC was worse: out of its 64 stories, only 3 mentioned the notorious terrorist group. NBC was a little better, mentioning al Qaeda 5 times in its 56 stories.

Al Qaeda is not yet ubiquitous among the rebel forces, but its presence is growing, something the networks should be warning their viewers about.

Now, I was initially in favor of a targeted strike aimed at the leadership of the Syrian regime, assuming two things were cleared up first. 1) We had to be sure that Assad was responsible for the use of the chemical weapons. Despite what the Obama administration says, we are still not sure who used the chemical weapons. 2) We had to be sure that there were moderate elements in the leadership of the Syrian opposition. Well, we now know that this is not the case. So, my position has changed, and now I am in favor of not launching a strike at the leaders of the Assad regime. (Note: this option was not what Obama was suggesting, anyway – his strike was not targeted at the leaders).

I do think that it is important to deter the use of chemical weapons. That is a valid concern, and a strike at leaders who use chemical weapons is a valid way of achieving that goal of saving civilians from future attacks. But we have to be sure that we don’t do more harm, and right now it doesn’t look like that will happen.

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