Israel May Hit Civilian Targets in Iran; US Senator Plots Destruction of Iran's Central Bank
November 18, 2011
Haaretz & The Wall Street Journal
US security sources claim Israeli forces plan to use electronic warfare to shut down Iranian electrical grid, cellphone networks. At the same time, US Republican Senator Mark Kirk has proposed legislation aimed at collapsing Iran's central bank -- an overt and unilateral act of economic war.
Israel May Target Iran Civilian Infrastructure as Part of Military Strike, Report Says
TEL AVIV (November 17, 2011) -- Israel intends to electronic warfare on Iranian civilian infrastructures in the event of a strike against the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities, The Daily Beast reported on Thursday, amid ongoing fallout from a damning report by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog.
Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report stating that Iran was working to gain nuclear weapons' capabilities, a claim that has been made by both Israel and the United States for several years.
The report prompted Israel to urge the international community to act at once to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions using harsher sanctions, with some estimating that the report gave Israel the backing it needed to undertake a military strike of Tehran's nuclear facilities.
On Thursday, however, The Daily Beast quoted US security officials as claiming that a possible Israeli strike would go as far as targeting Iran's civilian infrastructure, including the country's internet and cellphone networks, as well as its electrical grid.
The Daily Beast, quoting what it said "current and former US intelligence officials," claimed that Israel has developed weapons that could imitate a maintenance cellphone signal that commands a cell network to go inactive, "effectively stopping transmissions."
In 2007, a suspected Syrian nuclear site was destroyed in what many estimate was an attack by Israel Air Force warplanes. A report in Aviation Week & Space Technology not long after the alleged attack claimed that Israeli forces had knocked out Syria's entire radar system as a prelude to the attack.
According to the report, the Syrian radar site was hit with a combination of electronic attack and precision bombs to allow the IAF to enter and exit Syrian airspace unobserved. Subsequently all of Syria's air-defense radar system went off the air for a period of time that encompassed the raid, US intelligence analysts told Aviation Week.
Senator Proposes Sanctions On Iran Central Bank
Samuel Rubenfeld / Wall Street Journal
November 17, 2011) -- In the wake of a stinging United Nations report on Iran's nuclear program, a US senator proposed legislation on Thursday aimed at collapsing the country's central bank.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) filed an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill that would freeze the US-based assets of any foreign financial institution caught conducting transactions through Bank Markazi, the Iranian central bank. Further, those institutions would be cut off from the US financial system. "We must act now or face the consequences of a nuclear Iran," said Kirk in a statement.
Kirk sent a letter signed by 92 US senators in August to President Barack Obama calling for him to impose sanctions on Bank Markazi. He proposed legislation in February that would require companies to disclose any investments in Iran on a quarterly basis.
Following the International Atomic Energy Agency report, released last week, alleging that Iran is working on technology used for producing nuclear weapons, the White House has been mostly quiet about its intentions as it tries to bring together an international coalition. Russia and China have stymied international efforts, however.
Nevertheless, US officials have said publicly they're considering sanctions on the central bank but haven't acted yet out of fears of disrupting the oil market because Bank Markazi routes most of Iran's oil transactions. A related concern is that any supply disruption could hand an economic windfall to Tehran through boosting the price of crude.
To address that concern and to "ease the burden on US allies," the Kirk amendment has a six-month exception for oil transactions, according to the statement.
"We are looking at all options and consulting with the Congress," wrote an Obama administration official in an email. However, the White House issued a veto threat on Thursday on the entire defense authorization bill over an unrelated provision involving the handling of terrorism suspects.
The amendment would also exempt humanitarian aid for those sending food, medicine and medical supplies to the Iranian people, and provide a national-security waiver authority to the President.
Kirk, however, believes Iran will have nuclear-weapons capability "in the near future" and that immediate action must be taken.
"As the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, it's quite likely that the Iranian regime would transfer its nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. And we can be sure that an Iranian bomb will set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East -- from Saudi Arabia to Egypt," Kirk said in the statement.
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