Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek

(Ph.D. Ben-Gurion University) Former senior analyst in IDF military intelligence and the Prime Minister’s Office. Specializes in WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) proliferation in the Middle East and North Korea. Email: [email protected]

The Killing of Soleimani and Iran’s Nuclear Program

Tehran has announced it is withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal following the killing by the US of Quds commander Qassem Soleimani. It also stated, however, that it will continue to cooperate with the IAEA and expressed its willingness to return to the deal if the economic sanctions are lifted. This suggests that despite its repeated violations of the nuclear deal over the past year, Iran is reluctant to escalate conflict.

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How Will the IAEA’s New DG Cope with Iran?

The new DG of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, charged upon taking office on December 3 that Iran has not yet provided an explanation for uranium particles found at a Tehran warehouse. He also protested the abusive behavior of the Iranian authorities toward the IAEA inspector at the end of 2019. However, he has not addressed Iran’s violations of the 2015 nuclear agreement, suggesting that he would like to avoid an antagonistic relationship with Tehran.

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Tehran Might Be Preparing to Withdraw from the 2015 Nuclear Agreement

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s recent announcement of the renewal of uranium enrichment at the Fordow fuel enrichment plant, as well as high-level Iranian gloating about recent progress in the development and operation of uranium enrichment centrifuges, may indicate that Tehran intends to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement and effect a breakout toward nuclear weapons production in 2020. 

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The Mysterious Explosion of a Russian Nuclear Missile Engine

The fatal explosion that occurred recently during testing of the Russian Burevestnik nuclear cruise missile raises many questions. Could it have been avoided? Was it a fundamental failure of the ambitious armaments plan declared by President Putin in 2018? Whatever the answers to these questions, the renewed trend toward an unconventional armaments race could deteriorate into a second Cold War.

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What the Smuggled Archive Tells Us About Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Project

As an apparent act of defiance against Western countries’ reluctance to support it against US sanctions, Iran has begun to enrich uranium beyond the level permitted by the nuclear deal. This fact, together with the information revealed by the smuggling out by the Israelis of Iran’s nuclear weapons program archive, belies Tehran’s oft-expressed claim that its nuclear program was always for peaceful use and shows the hollowness of the nuclear agreement.

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US Nuclear Weapons Deployment in Turkey

The American nuclear weapons that remain on European Turkish soil – an anachronistic reference to the Cold War – are tactical only. This raises questions, not only because of the deterioration in relations between Washington and Ankara, but because of security and safety risks at the Turkish base where the weapons are stored – close to the Syrian border.

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Iran Is Very Close to the Nuclear Threshold

Iran is threatening to resume its uranium enrichment effort to the point that it will be able to produce a nuclear bomb. According to Olli Heinonen, who served until 2010 as IAEA deputy director general, Iran will be in a position to acquire nuclear weapons within six to eight months.

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The Tension Between the US and Iran

In the Persian Gulf, tensions are rising over the sanctions recently imposed by the US on Iran in the wake of its refusal to comply with Washington’s demand that the nuclear agreement signed by Barack Obama be reopened. Tehran does not wish to submit to this demand, as it would suggest weakness on the part of the regime and would inhibit Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But its refusal could lead to the collapse of the Iranian economy, war, and possibly the overthrow of the regime.

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The IAEA’s Impotence vis-à-vis Iran

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s appeal to Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at the UN General Assembly in New York in September was met with a cold shoulder. The latest IAEA report claims that Iran continues to be in compliance with the 2015 JCPOA deal restricting its nuclear activities, despite the revelations by Israeli intelligence this year that showed Tehran’s clandestine military nuclearization. The Trump administration has promised that it will press the IAEA to examine the Israeli revelations.

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Lockheed Martin’s Compact Fusion Reactor

Lockheed Martin recently registered a patent on a revolutionary design of a Compact Fusion Reactor (CFR), a mobile device small enough to be mounted on a truck. One version is designed to produce 100 megawatts, enough to power a city of 100,000 people. The CFR, which provides clean energy without producing radioactive waste, has both civil and military applications. In principle, it can be installed on large aircraft carriers, submarines, large transport planes, and probably also fighter jets and large drones. If Lockheed Martin’s hopes are realized, the fear of global energy scarcity will become a thing of the past, and mankind will have the benefit of an environment unsullied by energy pollution.

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