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AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes - 9 January 1998

The AFIO Email Intelligence Notes are produced at the AFIO Central Office for AFIO members. The EIN editor is Roy Jonkers. Intel Notes consist of condensed open-source articles selected from public media, with or without commentary, and capsule book reports. A reference file of EIN's will be maintained on the AFIO Web Site. Section I contains selections from commentaries produced by RADM Don Harvey (Ret).
Section II contains articles selected and condensed by the editor.
Section III contains articles contributed by AFIO members .
Section IV is composed of announcements. SECTION I - Harvey's Intelligence Notes Intelligence Estimates relating to Intelligence Community assessments and released or leaked to the press recently included: - - North Korea: "We view the situation in North Korea as dangerous and unstable and as posing the greatest threat to Asia's peace and security ... war is not likely in the near term, but the potential for conflict remains ... The progressive weakening of Pyongyang's military decreases the likelihood that it could successfully attack and hold territory in the." (DCI statement to the Senate intelligence committee in June and released in December 97) - - Ballistic Missile Threat: "We remain confident in the NIE's (NIE 95-19) key judgments that any deployment by such (potentially hostile) countries of long-range ballistic missiles capable of targeting the 48 contiguous states will not be within the next 15 years and that North Korea might develop a missile capable of striking Hawaii and Alaska sometime within the next 15 years. (CIA answers for the record to questions by the Senate intelligence committee). - - Iraq: The UN weapons inspectors were successfully spied upon in 1997 and 1996. Iraq learned in advance of the team's targets and moved to hide suspected weapons caches . . . U-2 spy planes have provided evidence that the Iraqis knew of no-notice inspections well ahead of time ... Iraqi uses electronic eavesdropping, wiretapping and placement of spies in the UN camp ... The inspection teams have 103 people from 22 countries in Iraq, some paid by the UN and some by their own governments. (White House official, military and intelligence officials, UN spokesman, SECDEF) - - Bosnia/Iran: Iranian intelligence has infiltrated the American program to train the (Muslim/Croat) Bosnian Army . . . The officials said they had identified more than 200 Iranian agents who they believe have quietly and methodically insinuated themselves into Bosnian Muslim political and social circles. . . the aim appears to be to gather information and to thwart Western interests in Bosnia . . . nearly every contact between the 180 Americans (contractors) who train the Croat and Muslim soldiers or advise their officers is conducted through a Bosnian . . . drawn from a list provided by a pro-Iran faction of the Bosnian intelligence agency . . . six current and former officials of the agency described Iran's successful efforts to gain influence over the agency ... (Western and Bosnian officials, including the former chief of the intelligence service's Sarajewo office). Sources: NYTimes 25 Nov 97 pgA1, and 28 Nov 97, pgA1; WPost 5 Dec97,pg4; WTimes 5 Dec97 pgA11; Def.Daily 5 Dec 97 pg2. Iranian Ballistic Missile Progress: According to differing interpretations of available intelligence, Iran has recently conducted its sixth or eighth engine test of a new generation ballistic missile. Reportedly, the heat signature of the engine test was detected by a US infrared sensor on a reconnaissance satellite. Estimates on the projected date of the first operational missile flight differ - CIA predicts 1998, engine backs 1999 - the government analysts generally agree that the missile constitutes a grave short-term threat to US allies and forces in the Middle East. The missile is estimated to be able to carry a 2,200 lbs warhead to a distance greater than 800 miles. This range would cover the Persian Gulf, Israel, and most of Saudi Arabia. US intelligence estimates, supported by Israeli data, conclude that Russian contractors and universities are giving support to the Iranians. The latest missile engine test utilized monitoring equipment supplied by NPO Trud, the firm behind a generation of Soviet strategic rocket motors. Other Russian enterprises have provided high-grade steel, wind tunnel test facilities for flight performance, and special alloys for the missile casing and for foil shielding around guidance systems. After long investigation, the government has concluded that Russia's central government, at best, is turning a blind eye to these transactions. While some analyst argue that Russian support consists primarily on black market activities, the consensus view reportedly is that "Moscow is pursuing economic and strategic interests in cultivating Iran." Source: WPost 31Dec97 pg A1 US SIGINT to be used in German Trial: NSA is reported in the press to have taken the unprecedented step of giving German prosecutors transcripts of the intercepts of decoded telex messages between Libya and its diplomatic mission in Berlin. The intent is to prove that Tripoli ordered the 1986 bombing of a discotheque that killed two US soldiers and a Turkish woman. The transcripts are to be used in a trial in Berlin of five persons charged with causing the explosion which also wounded more than 230 people and prompted the US air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi ten days later. While a spokesman for NSA declined to comment, knowledgeable officials said this will be the first time that decoded NSA intercepts will be made public in a foreign trial. One intercept is said to prove the bombing was carried out "on direct instruction of the Lybian secret service in Tripoli." The German prosecutor's office has stated "The instruction from Libya read: `Kill as many people as possible.'" The prosecutor also said that early US claims to Lybian complicity - based on intercepted cables from Libya's embassy in East Berlin - were confirmed later by files from East Germany's state security service, the testimony of former East German agents, and confessions by those accused of the bombing. The maximum penalty the five defendants can receive is life in prison. Sources: WTimes 19 Nov 97 pg A13; WPost 19 Nov 97 pg A23. Ex-Los Alamos Scientist Admits Treason: A Taiwan-born naturalized US scientist has admitted in federal court that, while working on classified Los Alamos projects relating to the use of lasers for the simulation of nuclear detonations, he met with Chinese scientists in 1985 and provided them with detailed information he knew was classified. In addition to passing data on simulated nuclear detonations, Peter H. Lee has admitted he had contact with Chinese agents during a trip to mainland China in April or May 1997, and lied about the contacts on a post-trip security form in which he denied he had been approached for technical information. His recent work has been at TRW Space and Electronics Group in Manhattan Beach, California, and involved research on the use of satellite radar imaging for locating submarines underseas and tracking their movements. TRW dismissed Lee after his guilty plea. The US attorney prosecuting the case said that Lee appeared to be motivated more by empathy with China that by money, although he did receive compensation for travel and accommodation expenses. The attorney said that Lee faces a maximum sentence of 15 years and that the arrest was the result of a lengthy investigation conducted by the FBI's Foreign Counterintelligence Squad in coordination with military and community organizations. None of the stories on the arrest and guilty plea speculate on how the government became aware of Lee's activities. Sources: WPost 12 Dec 97 pgA23; WTimes 10 Dec 97 pg A9; LA Times 9 Dec 97 pg B1.
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SECTION II - Editor's Selections Turkey-Israel Forge Deeper Strategic Alliance - Publicity about a joint Turkish-Israeli-US naval exercise - Operation Reliant Mermaid - involving the simulated rescue operation in support of a foundering fishing vessel - has drawn attention to the increased military cooperation that was launched two years ago. Turkey has announce an ambitious military modernization program of some $150 billion over 20 years, and views Israel as a likely source without the concerns over human rights that impact on US weapons sales programs.Israel has received a $630 million contract for overhaul of Turkish F-4 aircraft, and further deals are project for joint production of long-range anti-missile defense missiles and advanced air-to-ground as well as ground-to-air missiles. The biggest potential prize is a contract to supply Turkey with up to 1,000 main battle tanks. In addition to profits, Israeli pilots benefit from the opportunity to train over a large landmass - it takes a jet fighter one minute to overfly Israel. Turkey also benefits from increased tourist trade from Israel. Source: W Post 23 Dec 97 Israel: Intelligence Scandal. A Senior Mossad intelligence official, Yehuda Gil, last year allegedly produced an intelligence deception, built around a supposedly reliable Syrian source, alleging that the Syrians were planning a lightning strike against Israeli forces occupying the Golan Heights. This resulted in ominous statements from Tel Aviv and torpedoed any discussions on political rapprochement with Syria . It is alleged that he acted out of right-wing extremist beliefs to prevent a withdrawal from the Golan Heights. "Strategic, diplomatic and political decisions were taken based on these false assessments of the situation", said Zeev Schiff, Israel's leading defense analyst. "This affair represents an earthquake for Israel's intelligence services..." Perhaps so, but in the byzantine wheels-within-wheels world of Israeli politics and intelligence operations, there probably is more to the story and to the "deception," which fit rather neatly into the Prime Minister's policies. Source: WTimes 7 Dec 1997, pg A6; Wpost 6 Dec 97 pg A22. Russia: Considering Greater Reliance on Nuclear Arms - Drawing a bleak picture of the Russian national security posture, President Boris Yeltsin on 17 December 1997 signed Russian's first post-Soviet national security "concept." It describes a state badly weakened by internal economic chaos, ethnic and regional strains, and social polarization of Russian society. The 37 page document acknowledges a host of problems, including the efforts of criminals to infiltrate the government, the prospect that Russia may not hold together as a single federation, and concern that many stretches of the borders are unguarded.Russia's economic woes cited include shrinking industrial production; falling investment and innovation; lagging behind in high technology development; growing dependence on imports; a serious brain drain of scientists ; falling living standards, agricultural stagnation; widespread use of barter instead of money; collapse of public finances; and the prevalence of crime and corruption. More ominously yet, it warns that Russia's legal system is weakening in the face of an onslaught of criminals, who are infiltrating government organizations, penetrating banking, industry and trade and consumer goods. "The criminal world has in essence cast a challenge to the state, having entered an open competition with the former." The document finally suggests that, with its conventional forces drastically weakened, Russia will rely on nuclear weapons if attacked. Russia "reserves to itself the right to use all the means and powers it has in its possession, including nuclear weapons, if as a result of unleashing armed aggression, there will appear a threat to the very existence" of the state. The document notes that Russia has opposed the expansion of NATO, and that the multilateral organization on which Russia, relied, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, are "still not very effective." Sources: WPost 25 Dec 97, pg A29 (primary); also see WPost 7 Dec page A11 Russia: Next in Line for Economic Collapse - Russia is operating a multi-billion dollar financial pyramid. Tax collections, notoriously poor, have been barely half of what was expected last year, forcing the government to rely on short term bonds, at interest rates of about 45%. Of the $58 billion in short terms bonds outstanding, $15 billion are held by foreigners. Russia has stayed afloat by infusions of money from the IMF. The Central Bank is planning to lift the one-month waiting period for foreigners to take their money out of the country. If this results in a dollarization it may overwhelm the Russian banking system, with significant political consequences, potentially opening the door to a more totalitarian regime for a country which still holds some 20,000 nuclear warheads. Source: WTimes 23 Dec pg A1 Cyberwar: The US Navy has begun conducting wargame exercises on Wall Street to prepare for possible cyber-sabotage of the national and global financial structure or physical attacks on major financial centers. The first scenario involved an escalating crisis in the Middle East threatening US oil supplies, and the second information warfare attacks against critical infrastructures undergirding US business and financial communities. Both scenarios dealt with the potential vulnerability of the US to asymmetric warfare, when a "little guy with the right technology can confront the big giant in a devastating way." The exercise showed that the Dow Jones would drop about 25%. The wargames were stimulated by disturbing events on electronic trading systems, with both fraudulent transactions and electronic activities containing embedded attack codes. The US intelligence community speculates that these incidents may be information warfare attacks. Source: Wtimes 24 Dec pg A10 Tajikstan: DIA has highlighted the potential of anti-American terrorist threats. " The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security has been collecting information on the US presence in Tajikstan"...The Iranians may be engaged in "terrorist targeting" or counterintelligence-related activities. The allegedly classified report coincided with a State Department notice warning against travel to Tajikstan on 25 November. Source: WTimes 9 Dec pg A6 Yugoslavia: Kossovo's Albanians arm against Serbs. The next spot of inter-religious or cultural warfare in the Balkans is getting ready to explode in Kossovo, an autonomous province of Serbia. Since the US facilitated the dissolution of Yugoslavia - promoting what used to be called "balkanization" - and is currently arming the Muslims in Bosnia, it will be interesting to see what our position will be if and when armed rebellion breaks out. Sources: WTimes 9 Dec 97, pg A13 and 7 Dec pg A10
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SECTION III - AFIO Member Contributions
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SECTION IV - Announcements The next AFIO luncheon meeting is on 9 March at the Fort Myers Officer Club. Ambassador McCormick will be invited (as soon as he returns from the region this week) to present his perspectives on the economic turmoil in Asia. The next AFIO Board Meeting will be held on 29 January 1998.
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