The Day In Israel: Tues Nov 23rd, 2010

Iran’s nuclear program has reportedly hit a snag. Potentially due to the Stuxnet worm. Allegedly created by Israel.

Ahmadinejad visit nuclear

"Come out, come out little wormie."

Iran’s nuclear program has experienced serious problems, including unexplained fluctuations in the performance of the thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium, leading to a rare but temporary shutdown, international inspectors are expected to reveal Tuesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. unit that monitors nuclear programs, will provide no explanation of the problems. But speculation immediately centered on the Stuxnet worm, a computer virus that some researchers say appears to have been designed specifically to target Iran’s centrifuge machines so that they spin out of control.

Iran denies the worm caused any problems.

No country has claimed responsibility for developing the virus, although suspicion has focused primarily on Israel and the United States. James L. Jones, who until recently was President Obama’s national security adviser, declined to comment on the worm when asked about it Monday at the Aspen Institute.

The Associated Press first reported on the centrifuge shutdown, which was confirmed by a person familiar with the report. The official said the shutdown is mentioned in a much-anticipated IAEA report expected to be released Tuesday.

U.S. officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Even before the Stuxnet attack, the Natanz facility that houses the centrifuges had not been operating at full capacity, according to experts and U.S. officials.

Olli Heinonen, a former top IAEA official, said Monday at a meeting sponsored by the Arms Control Association that 3,772 centrifuges at the facility were being fed uranium gas and 5,084 machines were idle. “This indicates that there is a problem,” he said.

Heinonen also said that Iran appears to have suffered a setback in its efforts to develop a second-generation centrifuge capable of enriching uranium more quickly. Iran’s centrifuges are based on a Pakistani copy of a decades-old Dutch design, and Heinonen said Iran may have trouble obtaining the raw materials – such as high-strength carbon – for an upgrade because of international sanctions.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

4:55PM: Israel hater Baroness Moroness Jenny Tonge is up to her old tricks.

A controversial British politician has accused Israel of being the “cause of terrorism” and has said that the West’s treatment of Muslims was caused by what she called “Holocaust guilt” and the “power of the pro-Israel lobby”.

Accoring to a report published in the European Jewish Press website, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Tonge made the comments in the British House of Lords on Friday during the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which defines how the British government is to handle the priorities identified in its national security strategy.

“The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example of how the West treats Muslims and is at the root cause of terrorism worldwide,” said Tonge. “Even Tony Blair has now admitted this publicly. Why do we let it continue? Is it Holocaust guilt? We should be guilty — of course we should. Is it the power of the pro-Israel lobby here and in the USA? I do not know.”

Tonge also said that she feels “sorry for the people of Israel”, since as she put it “their government’s policies have made that country the cause of a lot of the world’s problems, yet now they are seen as the remedy and the base for the West to fight back.”

If only she’d realize her dream of becoming a suicide bomber..in a “work accident”. 

1:42PM: According to a Washington Post and ABC network poll, 70% of Americans support adopting the Israeli behavior profiling system and its implementation in US airports.

12:06PM: Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat has gone to town on boycotters of the newly constructed center in the “settlement” of Ariel.

The debate over the boycott of a West Bank cultural center by a group of theater professionals intensified on Monday, with the Culture and Sports Minister calling the boycotters “ignoramuses”.

I prefer to think of them as “numbskulls.”

9:28AM: If they gave out prizes for Chutzpah, the other contestants would complain the competition was rigged, since this man would seem to win too many times.

Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat on Monday slammed the Knesset’s passing of the National Referendum Law which will require either a Knesset super-majority or a national referendum in order to hand over any annexed territories as part of a future peace deal.

“With the passage of this bill, the Israeli leadership, yet again, is making a mockery of international law,” said Erekat. “Ending the occupation of our land is not and cannot be dependent on any sort of referendum.”

Of course, Erekat knows all about making a mockery.

9:06AM: Here’s the CBC documentary mentioned in yesterday’s post, which presents evidence against Hizbullah in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

 

6:04AM: Internationally known media analyst and founder of Media-Ratings, Philippe Karsenty (who I have met), discusses the al-Dura hoax on Canada’s Michael Coren show.

5:50AM: The Knesset yesterday passed the referendum law which requires a public majority and the votes of 60 Knesset members ahead of any withdrawal from the Golan Heights or east Jerusalem.

Of course, there’s only one spin for this when it comes to the AP.

Israel’s parliament has passed a bill that could complicate peace efforts with the Palestinians and Syria by making it very difficult for any government to make territorial withdrawals.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media