October 5, 2008

WHEN THE CUFF IS ON THE OTHER WRIST:

Israelis Wary of a US Radar Base in the Negev (TIM MCGIRK AND AARON J. KLEIN, Oct. 02, 2008, TIME)

When a contingent of U.S. soldiers opens a radar facility on a mountaintop in the Negev desert next month, Israel will for the first time in its 60-year history have a permanent foreign military base on its soil. And despite the early warning that the American radar would provide if Iran launches a missile attack on Israel, some senior Israeli officials are nonetheless wary about its presence. Complained one top official, "It's a like a pair of golden handcuffs on Israel."

From its mountain perch in Har Keren, the U.S. radar will be able to monitor the take-off of any aircraft or missile up to 1,500 miles away — giving Israel a vital extra 60-70 seconds to react if Iran fired a missile, Israeli military sources told TIME. Israel has its own radar system trained on Iran, but it's range is much shorter. Still, some see several drawbacks for Israel in the radar, and blame Defense Minister Ehud Barak for requesting its deployment in Israel without consulting anyone other than his chief of staff. Some in the upper echelons of the Israeli Defense Force fear that although the radar will enhance Israel's protection against Iran, it may also open up Israel's own military secrets to the Americans.

The radar will allow the U.S. to keep a close watch on anything moving in Israeli skies, "even a bee", says one top Israeli official who asked not to be identified. The U.S. may be a close ally, but Israel nonetheless has aviation secrets it would rather not share. "Even a husband and wife have a few things they'd like to keep from each other," explains this source. "Now we're standing without our clothes on in front of America."


$3 billion a year buys you at least a glimpse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 5, 2008 9:55 PM
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