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Profile: Moshe Ya’alon
Moshe Ya’alon was a participant or observer in the following events:
The US State Department writes a cable to Israel to allay Israeli fears about Pakistan’s nuclear program (see June 2, 1981). However, the communication contains information the US must know to be untrue. The cable says, “We believe that the Pakistanis have so far been unable to make their centrifuge machines work and that they have not yet produced any significant quantities of enriched uranium.” Authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will say this is a “blatant lie,” as the US knows the opposite is true. The cable concludes, “Even if the Pakistanis do manage to eventually overcome their problems in the enrichment area, it would likely take them a few years of successful operations to produce sufficient fissile material to fabricate a single device.” It also estimates that it will take Pakistan another decade before it has a suitable missile system to go with warheads. Levy and Scott-Clark will add, “Not only was the US misrepresenting the available intelligence, but it was also ignoring several articles published by Khan himself in Western nuclear gazettes in which he had explicitly laid out the hurdles his centrifuge construction program had overcome.” Moshe Ya’alon, later head of Israeli military intelligence, will say that the Israelis are stunned by this response. “The US was glib on Pakistan,” he will add. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 85-86]
Soon after people involved in the A. Q. Khan nuclear proliferation ring start to meet with Iranian representatives (see 1987 and 1987), Israeli intelligence becomes aware of these contacts. Authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will comment that the Israeli intelligence community studies “the Pakistan-Iran nuclear pact since its inception in 1987.” One of the key elements in the Israeli effort is Unit 8200, an intelligence component of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which will crack the encryption used in communications between Pakistan and Iran at some point in the next few years. The intercepts suggest that Pakistan may have given the Iranians what Levy and Scott-Clark will call “a nuclear weapons factory.” Future IDF chief Moshe Ya’alon will say of the period in the mid-90s: “Pakistan was broke. Khan was flying around the world alongside his military escort. Our people overheard him dealing and many of these deals came back to Iran, to whom he was offering KRL stock.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 256]
Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan visits Syria. According to authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, he meets with “a senior Syrian government official” and is accompanied by a Pakistani army officer, apparently Brigadier Sajawal Khan Malik. The visit is monitored by Israeli intelligence. Moshe Ya’alon, later head of Israeli military intelligence, will say: “Khan had a menu with him. He was offering nuclear assistance. But we do not know if the deal went through. What we determined was that although Khan was intent on selling to Damascus, he was also keen to use Syria as a conduit to deliver nuclear assistance to Iran. Nobody was looking at Syria in those days from a nuclear perspective.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 256]
Pakistan, which owes North Korea US$ 40 million for No-dong missiles it has purchased (see December 29, 1993 and Shortly After and November 19-24, 1995), tells the North Koreans it does not have the money and cannot pay for them. Instead, the Pakistanis offer North Korea a uranium enrichment plant, a proposal first discussed by Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan and North Korea’s foreign minister Kim Yong-nam in 1992 (see August 1992). Israeli intelligence is monitoring Khan’s procurement network and learns of the proposal. It informs the US government, but the US does not show any special interest. General Moshe Ya’alon, who will later be chief of staff in the Israeli Defense Force, will comment: “I remember saying to the Americans some time in 1995 or 1996, ‘How to do think Pakistan is going to pay for all those No-dong missiles?’ But I was shouting myself hoarse. Nobody wanted to know.” According to North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop (see 1997), the deal between Pakistan and North Korea is concluded in the summer of 1996 during a visit to Korea by a technical delegation from Khan Research Laboratories. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 256-257, 281]
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