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  • "Iron Dome"
    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Just hours after it condemned the shelling of a U.N. school in Gaza, the United States confirmed it was providing Israel with fresh supplies of ammunition, including mortar rounds for tanks and ammunition for grenade launchers. Meanwhile, U.S. Congress is working to supply hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield. On Monday, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice reaffirmed the Obama administration’s support of Iron Dome at an event organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

    SUSAN RICE: In recent weeks, on average, over 100 rockets a day have been fired at Israel. Iron Dome has literally meant the difference between life and death, and I’m deeply proud that President Obama helped make it possible. And I’m proud that with his enthusiastic support, the United States will more than double our investment in Iron Dome in 2015.

    AMY GOODMAN: In the U.S. media, news anchors, pundits, politicians have extolled the efficacy of the Iron Dome in deflecting the barrage of Hamas rockets that put Israeli lives at risk.

    UNIDENTIFIED: Iron Dome is working. It’s minimized casualties and fatalities.

    REPORTER: Red flash as it intercepts the rocket. Now this defense system is proving hugely successful.

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Rockets begin coming through the sky, the night sky. And you see rockets come across the sky, and then you see Iron Dome interceptors come up and explode the rockets.

    MARTIN FLETCHER: The Iron Dome anti-missile system did its job tracking the missiles, hitting them head-on, destroying them.

    DAVID LEE MILLER: As we gazed overhead, we saw the interceptor missiles, the Iron Dome system, doing its job, at least three of those rockets shot down just a few moments ago.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, our next guest says exactly the opposite, suggesting the Iron Dome is more of, quote, an "Iron Sieve." He has just written an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists called "The Evidence That Shows Iron Dome Is Not Working." Physicist Theodore Postol joins us now from Boston, Massachusetts. He’s professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an expert in missiles, missile defenses and other aspects of modern warfare.

    Professor Postol, welcome to Democracy Now! I mean, over 1,300 Palestinians have been killed. Three Israeli civilians have died, it’s believed two of them as a result of rocket or mortar. Yet you’re saying Iron Dome is not responsible for the low casualty rate for Israelis. Why?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, the low casualty rates are due to an extremely effective system of early warning and sheltering. There are shelters all over Israel that have been built by the government. People have shelters in their homes, by law. And there is a warning system that tells you that a rocket might be traveling in your direction. So, all you need to do is get into the shelter, or into a shelter, and even if the rocket hits your house, you will not be killed. Now, if you don’t get into a shelter and a rocket hits your house and, for example, enters the room where you were sitting, you will be killed. So, the sheltering and warning is very critical to saving lives.

    Now, even the Israeli government has made this point, because there are Bedouins who the Israeli government does not recognize as deserving or does not protect them. These are nomadic Arab peoples. And the Israeli government argued against providing the Bedouins with shelter, simply because all the people have to do, according to the Israeli government, is lie down on the ground if they know that an artillery rocket might be coming in, and if they do that, their chances of being a casualty will be reduced by 80 percent. That’s the Israeli government itself saying that.

    So, the reasons that this civil defense is so effective is because, first, the artillery rocket warheads are not very large, 10 to 20 pounds, and the second thing is that people have adequate warning to take shelter. That is extremely effective. Let me just give you an example of how dramatically effective early warning can be. In World War II, during the bombing of London, there were V-1 and V-2 rockets being used. The V-2 was a ballistic missile that hit without warning, because people had no radars at that time to know it was coming. The V-1 was kind of like a cruise missile. It was called a buzz bomb, because it had a particular kind of a what’s called pulse jet motor that made a buzzing sound. Now, the V-1s did the same amount of damage as the V-2s, but the chances of being killed by a V-1 when it hit the ground, relative to a V-2, were 60 percent lower, 60 percent lower. And this great reduction in casualties is ascribable to the fact that if you’re walking in the street during World War II in London and you hear the buzz bomb overhead, its motor will turn off and it will dive to the ground, but you have seven seconds between the motor turning off and the warhead hitting. And just getting to the ground increases your chances of survival by a factor of 60 percent. So—

    AMY GOODMAN: So what is the so-called—this dome, the Iron Dome, doing?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, we know—we have videos of the contrails—by contrails, I mean the smoke trails left by the Iron Dome rocket motor—that indicate the geometry of the engagement between the Iron Dome interceptors and the incoming artillery rockets. So, for example, if you see a contrail that ends with an explosion of an Iron Dome, and the contrail is traveling parallel to the earth, this means that the Iron Dome attempted to engage an artillery rocket from what you call a side-on geometry, because the artillery rocket is falling in a highly vertical trajectory. In a side-on geometry, the probability of destroying the artillery rocket warhead is essentially zero, for all practical purposes. We also see Iron Domes chasing artillery rockets from behind. The probability of destroying an artillery rocket warhead in that geometry is also zero. We occasionally, very occasionally, see an Iron Dome intercept arising in a near-vertical trajectory. That is the only engagement geometry where the Iron Dome has a non-zero chance of destroying the rocket—the artillery rocket warhead.

    AMY GOODMAN: So how often have these rockets been intercepted?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, we don’t know exactly, but my guess is maybe 5 percent of the time. It may not even be that good.

    AMY GOODMAN: Ninety-five percent of the time, they miss?

    THEODORE POSTOL: It looks that way, yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: I mean, if you’re watching television in the United States, as we just played those clips, it’s universally accepted that it is the reason for the low casualty rate for Israelis.

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, let me remind you that in the Gulf War of 1991, the interceptor rate of the Patriot missile defense over Israel and Saudi Arabia was reported as 96 percent, even higher. And we analyzed the information we obtained from television videos, and when we were finished, the general view among all—all—informed technical people was that the intercept rate of Patriot was probably zero. So, people look at these explosions in the sky, they associate this light show with successful intercepts, and what they are seeing are the explosion of the Iron Dome warheads.

    AMY GOODMAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a letter to Congress requesting $225 million more in U.S. funding—


    AMY GOODMAN: —to accelerate production of the Dome missile defense components. What is the company that benefits from this, or the military contractors that are getting this money?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, the company that will benefit—the American company that will benefit most—there will be companies in Israel that also benefit—is the Raytheon Corporation, which is out here in Massachusetts.

    AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s where the money goes.

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, a large part of it will go. I haven’t been able to find any information on how much will be paid to Raytheon for each interceptor that’s built.

    AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the money is well spent, Professor Postol?

    THEODORE POSTOL: I would not spend money on an interceptor that has a near-zero chance of intercepting an artillery rocket. The interceptor probably costs well in excess of $100,000 per interceptor, and it’s maybe achieving a 5 percent rate—maybe, could be lower—against rockets that maybe cost $1,000 each or $500 each. So the cost-exchange ratio is fine, if you’re Israeli and the dollars on not coming out of your pocket. But in the case of an American system, I would certainly not support such a system.

    AMY GOODMAN: How can there be such a disparity between what you claim and everyone else? I mean, the Israeli government says 85 to 90 percent success rate. Is it lying?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, I think there’s been quite a lot of sleight of hand on the part of the Israeli government. Now, in all fairness, there are reasons—I mean, that could be justified in warfare—for lying. First of all, you could lie because it calms your population to think that they’re being defended. Now, there is a double-edged sword here, though, because if people think they are being defended, they may not take shelter. And in November of 2012, three people were killed—

    AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

    THEODORE POSTOL: Oh, three people were killed on a porch because they were out looking at Iron Dome supposedly successfully intercepting.

    AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to continue this conversation after the show, and then we’ll post it at democracynow.org. Professor Theodore Postol of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, thanks so much for joining us.


    Part two of our interview with acclaimed MIT physicist Theodore Postol, who says there is no evidence Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system is actually working. He estimates the Iron Dome, which is partially built by Raytheon, intercepts just 5 percent of rockets fired at Israel.

    Click here to watch part 1 of interview.

    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has urged Congress to approve Israel’s request for an additional $225 million in U.S. funding to strengthen the Iron Dome. Hagel asserted the air defense system has saved countless Israeli lives since the start of the operation in Gaza. He wrote, quote, "On behalf of the Administration, I ask for your support in meeting Israel’s critical missile defense needs in light of the ongoing conflict in Gaza."

    While the U.S. media, news anchors, pundits, politicians have extolled the efficacy of the Iron Dome in deflecting the thousands of Hamas rockets that put Israeli lives at risk, our guest says the opposite is actually true, that Iron Dome is more like an Iron Sieve. We’re joined by Professor Ted Postol. He is a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a physicist and an expert in missiles and missile defense.

    We’re doing part two of this interview, Professor Postol, because what you are saying flies so much in the face of almost all of the media coverage of Iron Dome, and I’m wondering if you can—well, you could take us back to a previous Israeli assault on Gaza when there wasn’t Iron Dome. And how does what’s happening today compare with when Iron Dome wasn’t there?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, these comparisons are a little tricky, because the defense system that’s saving so many—well, saving lives in Israel is the early warning and sheltering system. And the early warning system has been improved through the use of telephones. So, for example, if you’re in a city somewhere where the Israeli radars determine that an artillery rocket is heading in your direction, you will get an audible signal that says you need to take shelter. And then there’s a shelter system that’s been built in advance all over these areas of Israel, plus you would have a shelter in your home, if you are actually in your home. So all you would need is 10 seconds of warning or less to get in a shelter in your home, and you could actually get to shelters very quickly on the outside, because these shelters are all over the place where the population is dense and the Israeli government has predicted there will be a likely attack.

    AMY GOODMAN: Let me quote from Reuters, July 10th: "Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor has shot down some 90 percent of Palestinian rockets it engaged during this week’s surge of Gaza fighting, up from the 85 percent rate in the previous mini-war of 2012." Professor Postol, your response?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, first of all, I am sorry to say that the press needs to engage in more due diligence on these matters. Where does this number come from? The number comes from an Israeli spokesperson. Now, if I give a number—and, incidentally, I have a long record of being correct on these matters—you don’t hear the press coming to me and asking me, do I believe that number is correct? And if I don’t believe the number is correct, why would I not believe the number is correct? This is really—you can really put this back on the due diligence of the press with regard to this matter. They’re just not—they’re just accepting information from an interested party.

    AMY GOODMAN: So can you explain further how this works, how the Iron Dome—how Raytheon built this?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, the Iron Dome is mostly an Israeli development, although Raytheon is involved. The Iron Dome interceptor has to approach an incoming artillery rocket head-on. So if you saw an Iron Dome interceptor flying a near-vertical trajectory, that would indicate the Iron Dome interceptor is in a near-head-on engagement geometry coming at the artillery rocket. In that geometry, the interceptor has some chance of destroying the artillery rocket warhead. If you see the Iron Dome interceptor engaging the artillery rocket from the side or from the back by chasing it, then it has essentially a zero chance of destroying the artillery rocket warhead. So, if you look up in the sky and you look at the hundreds of videos we now have of the contrails of the—the smoke trails of the Iron Dome interceptors, you can see that almost all the time—there are exceptions, but almost all the time—the Iron Dome interceptors are traveling parallel to the ground, which means that the falling artillery rocket is engaged from the side, or the Iron Domes are—the Iron Dome interceptors are diving to the ground, which means that they are trying to chase artillery rockets from behind. All those engagements are zero probability of intercept. And we’re guessing—we’re guessing, based on what we have, that maybe 10 percent or 15 or 20 percent of the engagements are head-on. Actually, it’s not 20 percent; it’s closer to 10 percent. And when you see so few engagements head on, your conclusion is that the system is not working the vast majority of the time. Now, when you—

    AMY GOODMAN: But this goes—

    THEODORE POSTOL: When you have—go ahead.

    AMY GOODMAN: This goes to the issue of the proportionality of the attack on Gaza. You know, more than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed. And so often when this issue is raised—and I think it’s three Israeli civilians, and of course every death is horrific on either side. But when this issue is raised, Israel just says, "Well, we have an extremely effective Iron Dome system." If it’s not Iron Dome, is it simply saying that these rockets that Hamas and other groups are firing off, they’re not working? I mean, if their intention is to kill, that they are not lethal weapons, if so few people have died and Iron Dome isn’t working?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, one has to realize—you know, one has to know some simple technical facts. First of all, most artillery rockets are carrying warheads in the 10-to-20-pound range. So if you’re sitting in a room and the rocket comes through the roof and explodes in the room, it will kill you, and it will kill everybody else in the room. If you have 10 seconds or 20 seconds of warning and you go into the shelter that’s, by law, built in your home, and the rocket happens to hit your home, you won’t be killed. It can even hit the shelter, and you won’t be killed. So, sheltering and early warning are extremely critical to keeping the death toll down. Now, the odds of an artillery rocket going through the roof and into your room are very low. They’re high enough that if I were in Israel, I would advise you, and I would do so myself: I would take shelter, because there’s—you know, the inconvenience is small relative to being killed or injured. But most of these rockets are landing in open areas, landing between buildings, landing outside buildings. And the real danger is that this relatively low-lethality warhead lands within 10 or 20 feet of you.

    Now, if you just lie on the ground—let’s say you’re caught in the open, and you can’t go to a shelter—the Israeli government itself will tell you that your chances of being a casualty from a falling artillery rocket are reduced by 80 percent—80 percent—if you simply lie on the ground. And the reason for that is the lethal range of these low-weight warheads is not very large, and they are blowing fragments out sort of like a shotgun, and if you get close to the ground, unless you’re very unlucky and the thing lands on you or lands very close to you, you’re not going to be injured by the explosion. So, although these artillery rockets are fantastically disruptive, with regard to the functioning of Israeli society—and I think that that is true, and because of that, there’s a psychological and political leverage associated with these artillery rocket attacks—they are not killing people, as long as people are taking shelter and sheltering is available.

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Postol, I’m looking at a Boston Globe piece on the Iron Dome and Raytheon being a key in the Israeli defense plan. And it says, "For Raytheon, the Israeli contracts—part of a 'coproduction' deal with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems—present a potential financial windfall. Much of the work would be done at Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz., missile systems plant, as well by subcontractors across the country." Can you talk more about exactly what Raytheon does and if this Iron Dome system is now being sold to other countries?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Well, I’m not aware of sales to other countries at this point. I haven’t been following that part of the issue. On the question of foreign aid, in this case to Israel, it’s very common—it’s almost always the United States government requires that foreign aid largely be spent with—using American companies. And in the case of Raytheon, they are the premier company for basically building missiles and interceptors of all kinds. So, it’s a natural business arrangement for Raytheon to be a big beneficiary of an agreement like that, because the money goes to Israel in a virtual way, but it basically is spent in the United States.

    Now, this brings—this raises the question of the cost of these interceptors. The Israelis are saying—some Israelis are saying that the interceptors cost $20,000 each. Now, the reason for lowballing this number—I’ll give you a sense of what it could cost—is because the interceptors, the Iron Dome interceptors, are intercepting rockets that might cost $500 or $1,000 each. So there’s an issue of how much you should pay, assuming the system is working, for stopping an artillery rocket, especially if the passive defense, if the taking shelter, saves lives. And, you know, for example, how many artillery shells cause $20,000 or $100,000 worth of damage. And the actual cost of an Iron Dome interceptor is almost certainly well over $100,000, not the $20,000 that some Israeli sources seem to be saying. Now, just to give you a sense of how off the cost could be—again, we don’t know at this point—another interesting fact, there’s so much we don’t know, yet people are throwing money at this. There’s a comparable missile in its cost called the Sidewinder. It’s an air-to-air missile that Raytheon manufactures and sells. The Iron Dome interceptor is very close to an air-to-air missile. It’s a very small missile, weights about 200 pounds, and so does this air-to-air missile—different design, though. That costs $400,000 each. So how is it possible to build an interceptor that has the same advanced technology—it’s not exactly the same, but similar—and roughly the same size, and it only costs $20,000 each? There’s a significant question there about whether the Congress and the American people have accurate information about what this system is really costing.

    AMY GOODMAN: So you’re raising very serious questions about the effectiveness of Iron Dome. Hundreds of millions of dollars—in fact, more than the Obama administration has asked for—is being discussed in Congress to pour into this.


    AMY GOODMAN: Mainly to Raytheon and other U.S. companies. Have you been called by anyone in Congress to testify, to raise your concerns?

    THEODORE POSTOL: Of course not. Congress is not interested in information. What I can tell you, I have not been directly involved, but I have been privy to discussions with members of Congress who have oversight responsibilities, who have acknowledged in those discussions that they have no idea whether Iron Dome is working or not. And I can also tell you that the U.S. government has not been given any information on the performance of Iron Dome. So, when Susan Rice, the national security adviser, makes a statement about how well Iron Dome is working, somebody should ask Susan Rice what’s her source, because I can tell you that there—and she should have a source. She should be able to tell you, you know, "We had the following national laboratory take the data from the Israelis. They looked at it. And let me tell you, this thing is working well." Instead, she gets on television and talks about this working well. Somebody should ask her, somebody in the press corps should do their due diligence and ask her, "Where did you get this information?"

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, I mean, it’s not just Susan Rice, the national security adviser. It’s President Obama himself. This is what President Obama said.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There’s no country on Earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets. And I’m proud that the Iron Dome system that Americans helped Israel develop and fund has saved many Israeli lives.

    AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Obama.

    THEODORE POSTOL: Again, Mr. Obama should be able to answer the question of which American technical institution has obtained the data from the Israelis and verified the accuracy of the data and verified that the performance levels are what they are. I know that the Israelis have the data. They have radar data. They have video data in the visible. They have video data in the infrared. They have substantial amounts of data that they could and should make available to the United States, to our technical institutions, and have this data reviewed and certified. And any politician, whether it’s the president or his national security adviser, who makes a claim that this system is performing that well, should be able to point a finger at the specific agency that has the technical resources to review this data and has obtained this data from the Israelis. This is just an outrage.

    AMY GOODMAN: Theodore Postol, I want to thank you very much for being with us, professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a physicist, an expert in missiles and missile defense. We’ll link to your piece in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that’s headlined "The Evidence That Shows Iron Dome Is Not Working."

    THEODORE POSTOL: Thank you very much.

    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

    Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a physicist at the university and an expert in missiles, missile defenses and other aspects of modern warfare. His recent article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is called "The Evidence That Shows Iron Dome Is Not Working."
    Filed under Web Exclusive, Israel & Palestine, Israel, Theodore Postol
    Like it's so hard for the freedom fighters, look this isnt science 1 on 1, but it's soldier 1 on 1... Cut into barbed wire fence.. shoot iron dome defence network, robot, tiny, green, surrounded by missile launchers.. Kill Jews.. win win!

    Use knives, no use Guns.. guns *bang-bang* no good, silence.. slice & chop win win!
    (This post was last modified: 08-04-2014, 12:25 PM by Specter.)
    Read this:
    Obama Signs Law Providing $225 Million for Israel's Iron Dome

    Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
    - Robert A. Heinlein
    more money for raython
    the guy is a rocket scientist from mit university,surely he has no motive to spread false info and damage his reputation,not like politicians as netanyahu and obama who lie routinely

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