Friday, July 31, 2015

Babylon The Great Banned From Iran’s Nuclear Inspections (Daniel 8:4)


Iran says will ban US experts from UN nuclear inspections


Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Iran will only allow inspectors from countries that have diplomatic relations with it. The previously undisclosed remarks were made during a Sunday meeting with parliamentarians.

“American and Canadian inspectors cannot be sent to Iran,” said Araghchi. “It is mentioned in the deal that inspectors should be from countries that have diplomatic relations with Islamic republic of Iran.”

He also said inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will not have access to “sensitive and military documents.”

Iran and world powers reached a historical deal earlier this month aimed at curbing Tehran’s disputed nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Western nations have long suspected Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian atomic program, allegations denied by Tehran, which insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.

The U.S. and Iran severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 Islamic revolution and the hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Canada closed its embassy in Tehran and suspended diplomatic relations in 2012.

Hitler Torches Iran Deal (Revelation 13:10)


Dick Cheney torches Iran deal: ‘What the hell is the president thinking?’

COLIN CAMPBELL Jul. 15, 2015, 8:25 AM

Former Vice President Dick Cheney passionately denounced the Iran nuclear deal in a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.

After Hannity asked Cheney why President Barack Obama wants the agreement, the former vice president bluntly said that he didn’t know.

“You asked the key question, Sean. And that is: What the hell is the president thinking of when he thinks this is a great deal? And I frankly simply do not understand. I haven’t met anyone who can explain it to me,” he said.

President Barack Obama announced Tuesday morning that the US and other powers had struck a deal with Iran to curb its ability to produce a nuclear weapon. In exchange, Iran earned a number of concessions, including the rollback of economic sanctions.

But Cheney, like many Republican foreign-policy hawks, has a litany of concerns about the agreement, which he said would only lead to Iran getting a nuclear bomb if implemented. Cheney predicted that other countries would then arm themselves with nuclear weapons in response.

“I can’t help but just shake my head,” Cheney said of Obama. “The one thing that really disturbed me was when he said we have quote ‘stopped the proliferation of nuclear weapons.’ That’s a lie. The fact of the matter is the situation we’ve got, when Iran ends up with a nuclear weapon, that is bound to lead to others in the region to protect themselves.”

Cheney had a dire warning about what would happen after other countries build up their nuclear arsenals.

That will in fact I think put us closer to the actual use of nuclear weapons than we’ve been at any time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II,” he said.

Russia and China’s New Hypersonic Missiles (Daniel 7:7)

Russia and China are building hypersonic missiles and it’s ‘complicating’ things for the US
The Washington Free Beacon

Jul. 30, 2015, 10:13 AM

OMAHA—China and Russia are developing maneuvering high-speed strike vehicles that pose new threats to the United States, U.S. Strategic Command leaders said Wednesday.

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Strategic Command’s (Stratcom) senior leader, said during remarks at a nuclear deterrence conference that despite arms control efforts, hypersonic weapons are among several threatening strategic trends emerging in the world.

China has conducted four flight tests of a 7,000 mile-per-hour maneuvering strike vehicle, and Russia is developing high-speed weapons and reportedly tested a hypersonic weapon in February.
“Nation states continue to develop and modernize their nuclear weapon capabilities,” Haney said. “Nuclear and non-nuclear nations are prepared to employ cyber, counter-space, and asymmetric capabilities as options for achieving their objectives during crisis and conflict, and new technologies such as hypersonic glide vehicles are being developed, complicating our sensing and defensive approaches.”

The advanced weapons capabilities are being proliferated by U.S. adversaries and “are becoming increasingly mobile, hardened, and underground, which is further compounded by a lack of transparency,” the four-star admiral said.

Asked later about the hypersonic missile threat, Haney said the Pentagon is developing capabilities that can be used to counter hypersonic arms.

“As I look at that threat, clearly the mobility, the flight profile, those kinds of things are things we have to keep in mind and be able to address across that full kill chain,” Haney said.

“Kill chain” is military jargon for the process used to find targets, gauge location and speed, communicate data to weapons used to strike the target, and then launch an attack.

Stratcom is in charge of U.S. nuclear weapons and warfighting, and is tasked with protecting and countering threats to strategic space systems and cyberspace, which is used for command and control of both conventional and nuclear weapons.

Hypersonic weapons are ultra-high speed weapons launched atop missiles that accelerate to speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10—five and ten times the speed of sound. The vehicles fly along the edge of space and can glide and maneuver to targets.

Air Force Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, the outgoing deputy commander at Stratcom, said hypersonic strike vehicles are part of efforts by nations to gain strategic advantage.

Hypersonic weapons technology “certainly offers a number of advantages to a state,” Kowalski said.
“It offers a number of different ways to overcome defenses, whether those are conventional, or if someone would decide to use a nuclear warhead, I think gives it an even more complicated dimension,” Kowalski added.

The three-star general said, “at this point since nothing is fielded it remains something that concerns us and may be an area of discussion in the future.”

Hypersonic weapons are being developed by China and Russia to defeat U.S. strategic missile defenses that currently are designed to counter non-maneuvering ballistic missile warheads that travel in more predictable flight paths that are tracked by sensors and can be hit by missile interceptors.
The National Air and Space Intelligence Center has testified to Congress that China’s hypersonic glide vehicle will be used to deliver nuclear weapons. A variant also could be used as part of China’s conventionally-armed anti-ship ballistic missile system, which is aimed at sinking U.S. aircraft carriers far from Chinese shores.

Russian officials have said their hypersonic arms development is aimed to penetrate U.S. missile defenses.

China has conducted four tests of what the Pentagon calls a Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle. The four tests over the past several years are an indication the program is a high priority for Beijing.
The Pentagon is also developing hypersonic vehicles, both gliders and “scramjet” powered weapons. A year ago, an Army test of a hypersonic weapon blew up shortly after launch from Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Haney said some of his concerns are being reduced by U.S. weapons research.

“I am assured in some regards because we ourselves are doing some research and development associated with understanding that kind of capability,” Haney said.

“But at the same time, clearly, we are working to ensure that we can do what we always do with any threat—be able to understand it and then be able to have a variety of courses of action in order to address it, number one, to deter its use, but then of course to be able to have our own mechanisms to counter that kind of capability.”

Haney said it is “very important that we pay attention to that kind of capability.”

Nuclear deterrence, preventing foreign nuclear weapons states from attacking, requires more than warheads and bombs on aircraft and missiles, Haney said.

“To have a credible, safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent, we must also ensure we have the appropriate intelligence and sensing capabilities to give us those early indications and warnings of threats coming against the U.S. and our Allies including—but not limited to—missile launches and bomber threats,” he said. “We must also maintain the ability to communicate and provide the president options should deterrence fail.”

As a result, Stratcom also must protect space assets and cyberspace in a conflict, he added.
“Peacetime activities must shape the environment of crisis and conflict and dissuade our adversaries from considering the use of cyber, space, or nuclear in a strategic attack,” Haney said.

Kowalski, the deputy commander, also was asked in a meeting with reporters about China’s development of multi-warhead missiles and whether the deployment of additional weapons will change the U.S. nuclear force posture.

“I’m not aware that there’s been any significant change in the overall size of the Chinese [nuclear] inventory that may cause us to go back and reassess,” Kowalski said.

Right now we’re pretty comfortable that they’re well below 300 [warheads] and there’s a mix in there,” he said, adding that intelligence estimates of the Chinese arsenal are deficient and that there is a need for greater openness on the part of the Chinese.

Iran Already Nuking Up (Daniel 8:4)


Iran Announces Two New Nuclear Facilities

Mere days after nuclear deal, Islamic regime announces construction of 2 new nuclear power plants in southeastern Iran.

Ari Yashar

Just half-a-month after the Iran nuclear deal was signed in Vienna on July 14, the Islamic republic of Iran announced on Thursday that it plans to build two new nuclear facilities in its southeastern Makran region on the Indian Ocean.

Mohammad Ahmadian, Deputy Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced the plans as quoted by the semi-official Fars News Agency.

“Two 100MW (megawatt) nuclear reactors will be constructed on Makran coastline of the Sea of Oman to generate electricity,” Ahmadian declared.

Describing the project, he said, “at present, necessary studies to build the two power plants are being carried out through cooperation with 17 research institutes and consulting engineers companies.”
The nuclear deal stipulates that Iran will not build any new uranium enrichment facilities for a period of 15 years.

While the newly announced nuclear power plants will not necessarily be used to enrich uranium – although they will at the least require enriched uranium in order to operate – Iran has a long history of lying about the military aspects of its nuclear program

Ascertaining the usage of the new plants will be made all the more difficult because the deal gives Iran 24 days before any inspection.

It was revealed last Thursday in a Senate hearing that in classified sections of the deal the US agreed to let Iran test its own covert nuclear facilities.

Those facilities include the highly secretive Parchin military base, which Iran has admitted to using to test exploding bridge wire nuclear detonators and has refused requests by international inspectors to see the site.

The new announcement Thursday comes after Iran just this Monday announced construction on a $2.5 billion power plant in Iraq, Iran’s largest such engineering services deal which serves as a sign of its expanding influence in Iraq.

The Iran deal has sparked fears of a regional nuclear arms race, after key sources in Saudi Arabia indicated their country will likely try to obtain a nuclear weapon as well following the deal. It also stipulates that the West will help Iran foil Israeli nuclear sabotage.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Sixth Seal: Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

Eastern Quakes: Real Risk, Few Precautions

1989 San Francisco Earthquake
1989 San Francisco Earthquake

Published: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.

The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.

But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.

For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”

If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California. Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.

The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”

On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.

Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.

The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.

No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.

The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.

The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.

Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 

Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California, said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.

The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.

Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.

”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.

New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.

Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.

As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.

New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”

For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”

In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.

Tunnels Vulnerable

The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.

Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.

”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?

”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

The Genie Is Out Of The Bottle: The Iran Deal Is The Only Option

Kerry warns Congress scrapping Iran deal would mean path to nuclear weapon

Secretary of State John Kerry intensified efforts on Tuesday to beat back criticism of the Iran nuclear deal and convince U.S. lawmakers that rejecting it would give Tehran a fast track to a weapon and access to billions of dollars from collapsed sanctions.

Days after tough questioning by lawmakers at an emotional Senate hearing, Kerry sharpened his response to criticism that the deal’s provisions were temporary and would not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long run.

“Iran has agreed to refrain from producing or acquiring highly enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear weapons forever,” he told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “When it comes to verification and monitoring, there is absolutely no sunset in this agreement. Not in 10 years, not in 15 years, not in 20 years, not in 25 years – no sunset ever.”
Challenged even by some of his fellow Democrats, Kerry said: “If you kill the deal, you are not making America safer.”

Joined by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Kerry was part of the President Barack Obama’s effort to coax skeptical lawmakers into supporting the nuclear pact.
Congress has until Sept. 17 to endorse or reject it. Rejection would prevent Obama from waiving most U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran, a key component of the deal.

Under the July 14 pact, world powers agreed to lift sanctions in return for curbs on a nuclear program the West suspects was aimed at creating an atomic bomb, but which Tehran says is peaceful.

The four-hour hearing grew heated as some House Republicans shouted at Kerry. Senate Republicans last week accused him of having been “bamboozled” and “fleeced.”

At times, Kerry visibly lost patience, saying he was hearing many complaints, while opponents offered no alternative.

“What this agreement is supposed to do is stop them from having a nuclear weapon. Now I want to hear somebody tell me how they’re going to do that without this agreement,” he said.
Kerry insisted walking away would isolate the United States.

“If we walk away, we walk away alone. Our partners are not going to be with us,” Kerry said.
Lew said that other countries would not keep the sanctions against Iran in place.

“You could end up with Iran getting access to that money without the benefit of an agreement, which would be a very bad outcome,” he noted.

Both Republicans and Democrats signaled the potential difficulty in getting Congress on board.
Representative Ed Royce, the committee’s Republican chairman, said the deal gives Iran a “cash bonanza,” while weakening Washington’s ability to pressure Tehran.

Representative Eliot Engel, the top Democrat, said he saw a number of troublesome issues.
Others expressed concern about Americans held in Iranian prisons or worried about Iran’s backing militants.

“They support Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi, and those are just the organizations that begin with the letter ‘H,'” said Democratic Representative Brad Sherman.

Although Republicans control majorities in the House and Senate, they would need Democratic votes against Obama to override a promised veto if Congress rejects the nuclear pact.

Many Democrats have not decided how they will vote when Congress returns in September from a five-week recess, but several have come out in favor.

Representative Sander Levin, the longest serving Jewish member of the House, issued a statement on Tuesday backing the deal.

Jewish lawmakers known as strong supporters of Israel, such as Engel and Sherman, have been under particularly intense pressure over the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has cultivated a close relationship with Republicans, has called it a threat to his country’s survival.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Howard Goller, Andrew Hay and G Crosse)

The Russian Horn And The New Cold War (Daniel 7:7)

The Russian Bear is Back, Just Itching to Start a New Cold War
Cold war Putin and Obama
REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenk
By Martin Matishak, The Fiscal Times
July 29, 2015

Despite a steady drumbeat from Obama administration officials and others that ISIS and terror groups like it represent the biggest national security threat to the U.S., a new crop of Defense Department leaders argue that the focus should be on an old foe: Russia.

My assessment today, senator, is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security,” Marine Corps Gen. James Dunford, the president’s pick to be the next chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services earlier this month. He cited Russia’s status as a nuclear state and its military forces ability to violate allies’ sovereignty as key reasons why it should be at the top of the list.

“So if you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” Dunford, the current commandant of the Marine Corps said. “And if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

Flash forward a few weeks later to when Army Gen. Mark Milley, tapped to be the service’s next chief of staff was before the Armed Services panel.

“I would put Russia right now from a military perspective, as the number-one threat,” he said.
Days later, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Neller, Dunford’s possible successor as commandant, followed suit saying, “Russia is probably the biggest threat.”

The evaluations contradict several administration officials, and some senior members of Congress who have long warned about radical extremist organizations and their potential to carry out or inspire attacks on the U.S. homeland by so-called “lone wolves.”

In fact, the day after Dunford testified, a spokesperson for the State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry “doesn’t agree with the assessment that Russia is an existential threat to the United States, nor China, quite frankly.”

Not that Russia hasn’t given military leaders plenty of reasons to change their minds. Moscow invaded Ukraine early last year and annexed the Crimea peninsula. Russia has since provided material and logistical support to separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine and undertaken numerous provocative acts that have frayed its relationships with the international community, such flying military aircraft through or near the airspace of Western powers.

The reason for alarm among the incoming brass is “an awareness that, if Russia ever attacked a NATO state even with limited/asymmetric means, we would quickly be risking war with a nuclear superpower,” according Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon.

“That’s a far greater threat than anything ISIL can pose. So the minute you have that fear in a realistic way, it necessarily trumps any kind of typical terrorist threat,” he added.

O’Hanlon doubted the similar warnings represented a “coordinate position, though once one person said it, others may have become more likely to see their point and reiterate the same argument.”

House Armed Services chair Mac Thornberry (R-TX) attributed the increased chatter to Moscow’s continued intransigence toward the U.S.

“All year, when we have had sessions with military leaders, intelligence leaders, Russia’s aggressive action plus the amount of money they’re spending in key technologies – modernizing their nuclear deterrent, for example – keeps coming up,” he told The Fiscal Times on Tuesday.

“So you put those things together and I think that’s the reason some people place them at the top of the list for now,” he added.

Whatever the cause, the Pentagon officials have found a receptive audience in Congress. Lawmakers in both chambers, such as Thornberry, have urged the Obama administration to get tougher with Russian President Vladimir Putin, like providing weapons to Ukraine’s military. The president has adamantly resisted such calls, opting instead to impose waves of economics sanctions on Moscow, though it’s unclear how much longer he can keep turning a deaf ear.

Lawmakers from both parties backed a provision in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense
Authorization Act (NDAA) that would give the Obama administration $300 million for Ukrainian security assistance. The measure demands that half of the proposed funding be withheld until at least 20 percent of it is spent on lethal aid.

Meanwhile temperatures continue to rise on Capitol Hill, thanks to Moscow’s demeanor.

Last week Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called it an “act of aggression” that two Russian bombers came within miles of the California coast earlier this month.

Two U.S. F-15 jets intercepted the foreign aircraft but not before the Russian pilots transmitted messages on an emergency frequency. “Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day,” the messages said.

“If you ever have any doubt whether the Cold War is back on, I mean these are the kind of maneuvers that show that it is,” according to Kinzinger, a former Air Force pilot.

The Iran Deal: Creating The Shia Horn (Daniel 8:3)

What does the Iran nuclear deal mean for Iraq?

The landmark agreement leaves Iraqi public opinion divided along ethnic
and sectarian lines

Mustafa Habib for Tehran Bureau
Tuesday 28 July 2015 00.00 EDT
Last modified on Tuesday 28 July 2015 10.12 EDT

Just a few hours after the agreement was announced, Iraqis were heatedly discussing the topic on the streets, in cafes and on social media forums: did the United States sell them out? Will Iran now be able to interfere in Iraq with impunity?

As with most topics related to its eastern neighbour, with whom Iraq shares a 1,500-kilometre border and a war-tainted history, the public’s reactions to the nuclear deal were divided along the ethnic and sectarian fault lines present in Iraqi society.

Those favouring the deal were mostly Shia muslims. They suggested that a better relationship between Iran and the United States would improve security in their own country, where competition between US-backed Sunni and Iran-backed Shia proxies often contributes to instability. Detente between Iran and the United States – Iraq’s two strongest allies – could allay sectarian conflict and unify resistance to the Islamic State, their argument goes.

“I went to Tehran three months ago and I saw what suffering the economic sanctions have caused,” said Haider Kadhim, a shop owner in the upmarket Karrada area in central Baghdad. “It made me remember the problems that sanctions on Iraq caused here: poverty, disease, lack of services. They are our neighbours and we are close to them. If they’re good, then we’re good.”

But those opposed to the deal – most often Sunni muslims – argue that the agreement gives Iran the right to interfere in Iraq without any US opposition.

“The nuclear deal is against Iraq’s interests,” said Safaa Abdel-Meguid, an employee of the ministry of electricity who lives in the Sunni-dominated neighbourhood of Saidiya in southern Baghdad. “Iran and the US have allied to destroy this country. Ali Khamenei has repeatedly stated his country’s military involvement in Iraq would continue after the deal.”

Iran’s nuclear deal also brought back unpleasant memories for many Iraqis – of the nuclear programme that was initiated by former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein. On Facebook and at family dinner tables, proponents of the agreement lodged accusations against those who opposed the deal, accusing them of covert collaboration with Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states.

“Every time there is a contentious topic like this, Iraqis come down on one or the other side,” said Majid Kathem, a professor of sociology and psychology who lectures at the University of Baghdad and the University of Mustansiriyah. “They cannot agree.”

The nuclear deal also gave critics of the Iraqi government an opportunity to vent about local politicians, especially Iraq’s foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shia. His dismal performance on several fronts – the fight over water with neighbouring Turkey and the dispute over Kuwait’s Mubarak al-Kabir Port – was compared with that of Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was seen as triumphant after nearly two years of long and difficult negotiations.

Most senior-level politicians in Iraq welcomed the agreement, though some of their statements were more lukewarm than others.

“The agreement will help in strengthening security and stability in the Middle East,” Iraqi president Fuad Masum, a Kurdish politician, told local media.

Ayad Allawi, one of Iraq’s three vice presidents, said: “Unfortunately the agreement did not discuss the issue of respect for other nations’ sovereignty and Iranian interventions in the region.” Although Allawi is Shia, he leans towards the secular lobby and is well known for his antipathy toward Iran. “However,” Allawi conceded, “the agreement remains significant.”

Nouri al-Maliki, former prime minister of Iraq and now another of the country’s vice presidents, described the agreement as a “victory for those who love peace in this region and in the world.” By the end of his administration last year, al-Maliki was known for his close links with Iran.

Influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads the millions-strong Sadrist movement and who has been critical about Iran’s policy toward Iraq in the recent past, refrained from commenting on the deal.
One of al-Sadr’s counterparts, Ammar al-Hakim, a cleric who heads a major Shia political party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, issued a statement: “We congratulate the noble Iranian people, its wise leaders and brave negotiators… We believe the nuclear deal is key to solving many of the thorny problems in the region.”

In the long term, the agreement is expected to impact Iraq’s economy by lowering global oil prices. This portends a fiscal challenge for the Iraqi government, which needs prices to rise to overcome its current budget deficit.

“The talks focused on more than just the nuclear issue,” said Ahmad al-Allusi, a local political analyst based in Baghdad. “And we will doubtless learn…whether the two sides have agreed to resolve other conflicts in a conciliatory manner, through negotiation, or whether they will simply maintain the status quo.”

This article is presented in partnership with

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Bowls Of Wrath (Revelation 16)

Mushroom cloud over Nagasaki, Aug. 9, 1945. Credit U.S. Army A.A.F. photo/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
There are good reasons for writing a book about the atom bombing of Nagasaki and its agonizing aftermath. Most people have heard of Hiroshima. The second bomb — dropped by an Irish-American pilot almost exactly above the largest Catholic church in Asia, which killed more than 70,000 civilians on the day and more in the long term — is less well known.

Susan Southard’s harrowing descriptions give us some idea of what it must have been like for people who were unlucky enough not to be killed instantly: “A woman who covered her eyes from the flash lowered her hands to find that the skin of her face had melted into her palms”; “Hundreds of field workers and others staggered by, moaning and crying. Some were missing body parts, and others were so badly burned that even though they were naked, Yoshida couldn’t tell if they were men or women. He saw one person whose eyeballs hung down his face, the sockets empty.”

Gen. Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project, which had developed the atom bomb, testified before the United States Senate that death from high-dose radiation was “without undue suffering,” and indeed “a very pleasant way to die.”

Many survivors died later, always very unpleasantly, of radiation sickness. Their hair would fall out, they would be covered in purple spots, their skin would rot. And those who survived the first wave of sickness after the war had a much higher than average chance of dying of leukemia or other cancers even decades later.

What made things worse for Japanese doctors who tried to ease the suffering of atom-bomb victims is that information about the bomb and its effects was censored by the American administration occupying Japan until the early 1950s. Even as readers here were shocked in 1946 by John Hersey’s description of the Hiroshima bomb in The New Yorker, the ensuing book was banned in Japan. Films and photographs of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as medical data, were confiscated by American authorities.

The strength of Southard’s book is that her account is remarkably free of abstractions. She is a theater director, albeit one with an M.F.A. in creative writing, and her interest in the story began in 1986, when she was hired as a translator for one of her subjects who was on a speaking tour in the United States. Instead of statistics, she concentrates, like Hersey, on the fates of individuals. We read about Wada Koichi, an 18-year-old student worker for the municipal streetcar company, as well as a 16-year-old schoolgirl named Nagano Etsuko, another teenage girl named Do-oh Mineko, a 13-year-old boy named Yoshida Katsuji, and several others.

They were so badly disfigured by the blast that it not only took them years to recover some kind of health, but they were also hesitant to reveal themselves in public. Children would cry or run away from them, thinking they were monsters. Younger survivors were often bullied at school. Atom-bomb victims (hibakusha) found it hard to find marriage partners, because people were afraid of passing genetic diseases to their offspring.

The only reason we know about the people described by Southard is that all of them overcame their deep embarrassment and “came out,” as it were, as kataribe, or “storytellers” about the atom bomb, reminding people of the horrors of nuclear war by speaking in public, at schools, conferences and peace gatherings all over the world.

Without excusing Japanese wartime behavior, Southard writes with compassion about Japanese victims, and measured indignation about postwar American evasions and hypocrisy. Although her lack of theory and abstraction is a blessing, she might have analyzed the politics of discrimination, as well as the nuclear issue in Japan, a bit more closely.

Hibakusha were not just ostracized because of their grotesque scars. It so happened that the epicenter of the bomb was over an area called Urakami, which was inhabited not only by a large number of Christians, but also by traditional outcasts, or burakumin, the people who did jobs that were polluted in Buddhist eyes: jobs that had to do with death, like those in the meat or leather industries.
As a consequence, the borderlines between hibakusha and burakumin became blurred. Christians, too, although not outcasts, had been persecuted, even after religious freedom was granted in the late 19th century, because of their suspected lack of patriotism. It was often assumed that they would be more loyal to the Vatican than to the Japanese emperor.

And yet the most celebrated victim of the bomb was a young man named Nagai Takashi, a Christian physician who wrote “The Bells of Nagasaki” in 1949, before dying a few years later. Dr. Nagai, also known as “the saint of Urakami,” regarded the bombing in terms of Christian martyrdom: Nagasaki was sacrificed to pay for the sins of war.

The subjects of Southard’s book did not see their suffering in this light. But there is something evangelical about the kataribe’s mission of peace. Wada, Do-oh, Yoshida and the others found a meaning in their lives by spreading the word about the evil of nuclear bombs. World peace became something like a religious mantra. One has to feel sympathy for this. Their suffering ought not to be forgotten, and neither should the horrendous effects of such cruel and destructive weapons. What could be unleashed on cities today would be immensely more devastating than the bombs that obliterated much of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nonetheless, preaching world peace and expressing moral condemnation of nuclear bombs as an absolute evil are not a sufficient response to the dangers facing mankind. For even though the kataribe of Nagasaki, and their sympathetic American interlocutor, are driven by human rather than political concerns, the peace movement they promote was politicized from the beginning.

Southard mentions Nagasaki Peace Park, for example, with its many monuments to world peace. The park was established in 1955. Many of the monuments donated by foreign countries were from such places as the Soviet Union, Poland, Cuba, the People’s Republic of China and East Germany. The peace movement was at least partly a propaganda tool in the Cold War. That killing a massive number of civilians with a radiating bomb is an act of barbarism is hard to refute. Whether the world would have been a safer place on the terms of the Soviet Union and its satellites is less clear.

Domestically, too, Japanese anti­nuclear and peace organizations were manipulated by political interests, conservative as well as leftist. Right-wing nationalists like to cancel out the history of Japanese atrocities (which they often deny anyway) by claiming that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were far worse. Left-wing pacifism has often been just as anti-American, but from the opposite political perspective.

Since Southard set out to concentrate on individual lives, rather than politics, one cannot really blame her for dodging these complications, but when she does mention them she can be oddly off beam.
In 1990, Motoshima Hiroshi, the Christian mayor of Nagasaki, was shot in the back by a right-wing extremist for publicly holding the Japanese emperor partly responsible for the war. Southard explains that Motoshima “broke a cultural taboo.”

In fact, Motoshima was courageously challenging a right-wing political goal, which is to strengthen the imperial institution, and undo some of the postwar liberal reforms, including pacifism. Southard says these reforms were “forced on Japan by an occupying nation,” which is also what right-wing nationalists claim, I think wrongly. Most Japanese were happy to enjoy their new freedoms. They didn’t have to be forced, for they cooperated quite willingly with the Americans who helped instigate them.

Still, the merits of Southard’s book are clear. It was bad enough for the Americans to have killed so many people, and then hide the gruesome facts for many years after the war. To forget about the massacre now would be an added insult to the victims. Southard has helped to make sure that this will not happen yet.

The Nuclear Threat From Pakistan (Daniel 8:8)

‘Pakistan’s Nasr missile is the most dangerous development in South Asia’

July 27, 2015
Pakistan’s Nasr missile

If ever India loses its patience after repeated terror attacks and decides to retaliate against the terrorist camps, Pakistan may term that a conventional military attack and invoke the nuclear option.
‘This is a way to continue with terrorism without retaliation.’

Top nuclear scientist Dr R Rajaraman, emeritus professor of theoretical physics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, believes Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal is a matter of great concern to India with the Nasr missile being of special concern.

The co-chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials and a member of the world scientists permanent panel on Mitigation of Terrorists Acts, Dr Rajaraman, below, left, tells contributor Rashme Sehgal why an alarming nuclear story is unfolding in the sub-continent.

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear programme in the world. By 2020, it is expected to get 200 nuclear devices most of which are targeted at India.

While countries around the globe are talking about diminishing their nuclear stockpiles, the opposite seems to be happening in the case of Pakistan.

It is true that Pakistan is producing more weapon-usable fissile material each passing year. So, for that matter, is India!

Estimates of Pakistan’s rate of growth of nuclear warheads are often exaggerated in the West and blindly quoted by some by Indian analysts as well.

The main thing to understand about estimates of the number of nuclear bombs is that no one outside the respective governments will really know how many weapons have been assembled. And the government people are not likely to talk.

Most estimates by non-governmental think-tanks and analysts are just unverifiable hearsay. The only responsible outside estimates are based on nuclear fissile materials production and stocks.

So I will go by the estimates made by our International Panel on Fissile Materials which has been tracking fissile material production of all countries year after year.

It is true that the Pakistanis have set up 3 plutonium (Pu) producing reactors at Khushab and a fourth is in the making. But these are believed to be heavy water reactors of about 50 MWth (Megawatt thermal) capacity.

Such reactors typically produce, at 65 per cent efficiency, about 7 kg of Pu each per year. At best the three reactors can together produce only 105 kg in five years, which can fuel about 21 warheads.

Moreover, once the Pu is produced in the reactors it is not immediately available for making bombs. The fuel rods have to be cooled for a couple of years and then reprocessed to have the weapon-usable Pu extracted. So the actual production of assembled weapons will be much less.

The current arsenal, frequently quoted in think-tank reports, is supposed to be about 110 weapons. So even if that is correct and they add 21 more in the next five years, Pakistan cannot reach 200 warheads by 2020.

You must remember that the earlier Pakistani weapons used highly enriched uranium produced by A Q Khan’s centrifuges. But as Zia Mian, M H Nayyar and I have shown in an audit we did of Pakistani uranium availability, their domestic supply of raw uranium is limited and can barely feed the four Khushabh reactors.

So there is unlikely to be much left for enrichment by centrifuges. Therefore I would keep the estimate of Pakistan’s arsenal at 130 warheads or less by 2020.

Both Pakistan and India have doubled their nuclear stockpiles since 2007 with their weapons increasing at the rate of ten a year.

India’s rate of warhead production is not 10 warheads a year. Its only functioning Pu production reactor is the Dhruva at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre which annually produces about 18 kg of Pu which can fuel about 3, 4 bombs per year, not 10 as is stated.

The CIRUS reactor that used to produce weapons-grade Pu at BARC was closed down as part of the India-US nuclear deal.

Yes, this should be a matter of great concern to the people of both countries. Unfortunately, it is not.
Dr R RajaramanIn response to India stating it would not hesitate to go beyond its border to eliminate terrorists, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf responded to say nuclear stockpiles were not being collected to be used at the time of a festival.

Pakistan has always maintained that its nuclear force was intended to deter a conventional attack by India. But it has also been using their nuclear umbrella for a more insidious purpose — as a cover even for the terrorist attacks it sponsors in India such as the infamous Mumbai attack.

The idea is that if ever India loses its patience after such repeated terror attacks and decides to retaliate against the terrorist camps, hideouts or headquarters, Pakistan may term that a conventional military attack and invoke the nuclear option.
This is a way to continue with terrorism without retaliation.

China has confirmed that it is involved in at least six of Pakistan’s nuclear projects even though it is well known that Pakistan has not fully adopted the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
So far, in building two civilian reactors in Pakistan, China has not strictly speaking violated the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines. It has used the so-called grandfather clause (that the agreement with Pakistan was signed before the NSG sanctions came into being).

We must not forget that Russia had to invoke the same argument when starting to build our Kudangulam reactors. Furthermore, the two new civilian reactors China is building in Pakistan will be under strict IAEA safeguards. Pakistan cannot avoid these safeguards.

Nuclear experts repeatedly warn of the danger of some of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

I don’t think terror groups like the Taliban can get their hands on a Pakistani bomb. They may have launched some attacks at the gates of some military bases. But that is a far cry from penetrating the rings of security that Pakistan must undoubtedly have to guard its weapons.

Remember that these weapons, like our own in India, are considered the crown jewels of their arsenal.

Pakistan has deployed or is developing delivery systems for its nuclear warheads including aircraft, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. They have also developed the battlefield Nasr missile to be used against India.

But there is no clarity on the chain of command on who will authorise the use of these weapons in case war breaks out between these two countries.

The Nasr is, in my opinion, the most dangerous development in South Asia.

It is not clear what the command and control status of such battlefield nuclear missiles will be.
For them to be effective they have to be used in battle in response to battlefield developments. In such situations it may be impractical for the ground commanders to seek and await a go-signal from the apex political leadership.

Pakistan Air Commodore Tariq Ashraf’s book Evolving Dynamics of a Nuclear South Asia highlights the absence of civilian and bureaucratic involvement in the Pakistan Nuclear Control Authority. How far is this correct? Who controls the nuclear button in Pakistan?

Although the military has a strong involvement in Pakistan’s nuclear control, I believe that the top political authority is also very much a part of it. The ‘button’ is controlled by a collection of people from the apex political and military sector.

How much highly enriched uranium has Pakistan acquired as opposed to India?
According to the annual Global Fissile Material Report 2010 of IPFM, Pakistan’s stock of weapon grade HEU was about 2.5 ± 1 ton.

This might have increased somewhat by now, but as I have said there is not much uranium left in Pakistan to enrich, after feeding the three Khushab reactors.

Is there any likelihood of the nuclear race between the two countries ending in the near future?
The nuclear race may stop in a few years if neither side develops newer types of technology, such as ballistic missile defence or more nuclear-capable battlefield weapons. But by saying that the race will stop I don’t mean that the weapons will be disarmed and thrown away. But only that further growth in the arsenals may stop.

Actually getting rid of these very dangerous weapons may not happen for a long time, if at all. That is a scary prospect!

Rashme Sehgal

The China-Iran Nuclear Connection (Daniel 7)


China and Iran’s New Love Affair?

With sanctions removed, China will have a freer hand to deepen its relations with Iran not only on economic issues, but also in the cyber and military domains.

Courtney Bliler
July 28, 2015

The Iranian nuclear agreement has been welcomed by a number of world leaders as a new chapter in foreign relations with Tehran, largely because sanctions removal will open up new trade and investment opportunities within Iran. While the majority of the P5 + 1 aimed to isolate Iran from the global economy for the last decade, China capitalized on Iran’s estrangement to secure primary positions in both the oil and non-oil sectors of Iran’s economy. Beijing is now placed first in line for Iranian business. More importantly, in the coming years, Tehran could deepen its long-standing relationship with the People’s Republic in the military, cyber, and strategic domains.

Beijing will benefit the most from the removal of sanctions. Since China became a net oil importer in 1993, Beijing has turned to Tehran to help satisfy its growing energy needs. Before UN sanctions were imposed, the Islamic Republic was China’s third largest crude oil supplier. In 2011, the People’s Republic imported a record 550,000 barrels per day from Iran. China reluctantly instituted sanctions on Iran, but oil importation continued even when sanctions were in place. In December 2013, reports even stated that the U.S.-sanctioned Zhuhai Zhenrong Corporation was negotiating a new natural gas condensate contract with the National Iranian Oil Company. According to The Wall Street Journal, Beijing’s oil imports from Iran have increased by 30 percent over the last five years and now account for 9 percent of its overall imports.

Across the region, sanctions relief will allow Chinese companies to score even larger windfalls in oil sector trade and investment. Pakistan is already hoping it will spur China to provide up to $2 billion for the completion of the Iran-Pakistan liquefied natural gas pipeline, a project started in 2010 but suspended in 2013 due to sanctions. This project would buttress the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a set of highways, railroads and pipelines linking western China with the Pakistani port of Gwadar along the Arabian Sea, cutting Chinese shipping costs and fostering trade.

In return for oil, Beijing has flooded Iranian markets with cheap consumer goods and established relationships in non-oil sectors like construction, manufacturing and transportation. Last year, China raised its quota for infrastructure investment in Iran by over 50 percent. The sanctions regime imposed restrictions on giving the Iranians hard currency, but this actually benefited Beijing by expanding its market share in Iran to the detriment of local businesses. Chinese companies now occupy an optimal position for gaining non-oil concessions and investments after sanctions are removed, leaving other companies and investors a step behind.

Tehran is sure to widen its partnership with Beijing after the deal. During negotiations, continued Chinese trade and investment helped Iran evade the worst of the sanctions regime. However, fear of being seen as Iran’s enabler and imperiling investment links with the United States hindered China from helping Iran more. With sanctions removed, China will have a freer hand to deepen its relations with Iran not only on economic issues, but also in the cyber and military domains.

Chinese-Iranian cyber collusion is not new. In 2012, Reuters reported that the China-based telecommunications company ZTE Corporation signed a $130.6 million networking equipment contract in 2010 with the Telecommunication Company of Iran, which controls most of Iran’s landline services, to help Iran monitor Internet, text, and voice communications. ZTE Corp.’s Chairman stated that a U.S. criminal investigation into the claim forced the company to scale back its business in Iran but accused ZTE’s rival, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd., of continued dealings in Iran. Tehran has long relied on Beijing for technology and know-how, and recently called for joint cooperation in research and investment, ICT, airspace, and telecommunication. Iran will likely accelerate coordination with China in the coming years, to both improve its domestic cyber-surveillance and wage destructive cyber-warfare on international companies.

Iran may look to China for military support, although the nuclear agreement’s restrictions on arms and missiles sales may postpone this collaboration. Iranian-Chinese military cooperation stretches back to the 1980s, when China provided Iran with arms, tactical ballistic missiles, and anti-ship cruise missiles in its fight against Iraq. China has since facilitated Iran’s military modernization, even being suspected of transferring technology and equipment to Iran via North Korea. China repeatedly insisted during negotiations at Vienna on lifting the UN arms embargo, and although the JCPOA maintains the UN arms and missiles embargoes for five and eight years, respectively, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has suggested that both Russia and China will continue making weapons deals with Iran according to UN Security Council procedures. Beijing has been traditionally confined to a commercial role in the Middle East, but military support of the Islamic Republic could provide a foothold for greater regional influence, especially in the Gulf.

Iran and China share similar though not identical interests. Both have a common strategic interest in forming a counterweight to American hegemony in the region. Ayatollah Khomeini has stated that the nuclear deal does not change Iranian relations with the West on “different global and regional issues.” China wants to prevent Washington from “pivoting” to the Asia Pacific. However, China has an interest in keeping some distance from Iran. Despite sanctions relief, China does not want to endanger growing trade and investment with the United States and Europe by appearing complicit in Iran’s more destabilizing regional ventures. Still, China is wealthy, powerful, and willfully ignorant of Iran’s domestic human rights abuses and regional ploys for influence, making Beijing an ideal partner for Tehran.

The nuclear agreement, while it will certainly halt Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon for a decade or so, will not fundamentally change Iran’s broader geostrategic objectives. China’s regional and international ambitions will not change either, despite Beijing’s rare display of goodwill and cooperation in the nuclear negotiations. China played an important role in the P5+1, but largely because Beijing knew it could leverage the ongoing talks to solidify its ties with Tehran and bolster its long-term position in the region after the deal.

Courtney Bliler is a Research Assistant in the Middle East Program at the Center for the National Interest.

Iran Is Preparing For War (Daniel 8:4)


What Iran Announced Proves They’re Planning for War As Soon As Possible

What Iran Just Announced Proves They’re Planning for War As Soon As Possible
Lt. Col. (Retired) Allen West — July 28, 2015

The fallout from President Obama’s ill-conceived agreement with Iran has begun.

Over the weekend, the Ayatollah Khamenei sent a tweet showing Obama in silhouette with a gun to his head. The text was a blatant threat to the United States that it will be defeated if it engages Iran in combat. It’s clear the Iranian regime feels it has the high ground – especially while Obama was in Kenya being rebuffed for trying to lecture the Kenyan president about gay rights.

Are we sure about that poll which stated America is highly respected across the globe? Who did they ask, Lichtenstein and Monaco?

And in what Obama and his administration felt was to their advantage, they pushed a vote in the United Nations (UN) Security Council and the European Union to validate and endorse “his” deal. So now, the actions of our U.S. Congress, following the required 60-day review period, almost seem a fait accompli.

For all intents and purposes, the international sanctions are over, and new markets will be flocking to Iran—especially oil markets. This means not only hundreds of billions of unfrozen assets for Iran, but also new revenue which will flow to the world’s largest sponsor of Islamic terrorism. And this while our Congress holds hearings and goes on recess in August, kinda like a particularly bad episode of “As the World Turns.” Our Congress, who must achieve supermajority levels of 67 senators and 291 representatives to avoid Obama’s promised veto, has pretty much been relegated to irrelevance due to Obama’s end-around actions with the UN. Even if they can achieve the votes to sink the Iranian agreement, America will only have the ability to levy its own sanctions against Iran.

As for “snapback” sanctions, good luck after international business deals have launched and signed. And it takes a committee which includes Iran to “snapback” sanctions – doesn’t sound too snappy to me.

But the grave threat Obama’s enabled is already playing out, as reported by Debka:

In defiance of the international arms embargo, Iran last week placed an order with Moscow for a huge fleet of 100 Russian IL78 MKI tanker aircraft (NATO: Midas) for refueling its air force in mid-flight, thereby extending its range to 7,300 km. This is reported exclusively by DEBKAfile from its military and intelligence sources. The transaction runs contrary to the terms of the nuclear accord the six world powers and Iran signed in Vienna earlier this month.

These tanker planes can simultaneously refuel six to eight warplanes. Their acquisition brings Israel, 1.200km away – as well the rest of the Middle East – within easy range of Iranian aerial bombardment. It also puts Iran’s air force ahead of Israel’s in terms of the quantity and range of its refueling capacity.

Whereas opponents of the Vienna deal have warned that Tehran will spend the billions of dollars released by sanctions relief as a bonanza for fueling its campaigns of terror in the region, it turns out that Iran’s first post-accord purchase is a heavy investment in the rearmament and upgrade of its armed forces’ aggressive capabilities.

Tuesday, July 21, DEBKAfile uncovered some of the tactics and escape clauses Iran has had built into its nuclear accord with the world powers for circumventing its provisions and commitments. The purchase of Russian refueling craft is a concrete example of this kind of evasion. Because the accord confirms the arms embargo in force until 2020, both Moscow and Tehran can maintain that the Russian aircraft industry will not be able to produce 100 new planes before the five years are up, and so the transaction is not a violation.

There’s no honor amongst dictators, despots, theocrats and autocrats. It’s amazing that, so soon, Russia and Iran are testing this “agreement.” And of course, since Russia sits on the UN Security Council and the P-5+1, forget about this order being challenged.

What’s also very disconcerting is that Israel doesn’t possess a matching capability—they’ve depended on the U.S. for aerial refueling support. Now, something tells me this just may not be happening under the Obama administration. After all, it was President Obama who threatened to cut off Hellfire missile support to Israel during the last conflagration with Hamas – a declared Islamic terrorist organization.

So why would Obama cut off support to our supposed ally, a sovereign nation-state, under attack from a terrorist organization? Then again, why would Obama and Kerry promise millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Hamas in the aftermath of the combat operation? I suppose it’s just the Obama administration’s modus operandi to fund Islamic terrorists.

Here I thought it’d be five to eight years before Iran became a bonafide military power in the Middle East. Thanks to Obama, I may be very wrong. The UN arms embargo against Iran, something that was not originally part of this “deal,” is supposed to end for conventional weapons at five years and for ballistic missiles at eight years. I guess we can start waiting for Iran’s declaration that they’re acquiring new missiles?

So what are we supposed to believe—better yet, who are we supposed to believe? Anyone who sides with Obama embracing this Iranian agreement must be considered rather delusional. This is no “peace in our time” moment. And sadly, history is repeating itself. My assessment is that Neville Chamberlain actually thought he was doing something good. Barack Obama knew he was not—and is content with this selling out of America, as well as the abandonment of four American hostages
Major Garrett was right in asking the question. Obama’s and the liberal progressive media’s reaction evidenced that Garrett was right—and he struck a nerve. Sadly, the morally and intellectually bankrupt left will protect the very individual who’s placed America, and the free world, in peril—purposely and intentionally.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Seismograph of New York Earthquake 1884
Seismograph of New York Earthquake 1884
January 20, 2010
New York City isn’t immune to earthquakes; a couple of small tremors measuring about 2.5 on the Richter scale even struck back in 2001 and 2002.
But on August 10, 1884, a more powerful earthquake hit. Estimated from 4.9 to 5.5 in magnitude, the tremor made houses shake, chimneys fall, and residents wonder what the heck was going on, according to a New York Times article two days later.
The quake was subsequently thought to have been centered off Far Rockaway or Coney Island.
It wasn’t the first moderate quake, and it won’t be the last. In a 2008 Columbia University study, seismologists reported that the city is crisscrossed with several fault lines, one along 125th Street. 

[Headline of The New York Times, August 12, 1884]
With that in mind, New Yorkers should expect a 5.0 or higher earthquake centered here every 100 years, the seismologists say.
Translation: We’re about 30 years overdue. Lucky for us the city adopted earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.

Nuclear Pakistan And India On Edge (Daniel 8:8)


Nuclear-Armed India, Pakistan on Edge After 12-Hour Gunbattle

DINANAGAR, India — A 12-hour gunbattle involving heavily-armed men dressed in military fatigues who seized a police station near the border with Pakistan ended Monday, Indian police said.
Three assailants were among nine people killed during the incident in the frontier state of Punjab.
The gunmen had pulled up at the police complex in a stolen car with automatic weapons blazing at about 5 a.m. (7:30 p.m. ET Sunday).

Any proof of links between Pakistan and the attackers would be sure to increase tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since both nations gained independence in 1947.

The gunmen shot dead a barber and tried to hijack a bus before rushing the police station, witnesses said.

Throughout the day, regular bouts of small arms fire echoed across the town of Dinanagar and the fields surrounding it, some 10 miles from the international border, Reuters witnesses said.
Three policemen and three civilians were killed, according to the home ministry.
Pakistan has denied any involvement in insurgencies in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, and Islamabad’s foreign office said it was not aware of any reports that the people involved in Monday’s attack were Pakistani.

Save The Oil And The Wine (Revelation 6:6)

The nuclear deal is mostly about oil

The recent nuclear non-proliferation agreement between Iran and the U.S. has created a firestorm debate in the Middle East and both sides of the Atlantic. While the deal is supposedly all about nuclear power and nuclear bombs, its practical implications are all about oil. But the conclusions we should make about its impact on the energy sector are far from clear. A ratification of the deal would allow Iran to make lucrative long term production and distribution contracts with foreign energy firms. However, freely flowing oil from Iran would add significant new oil supply into the world markets, disrupt U.S. plans to become an energy exporter, and could potentially put further downward pressure on prices.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports Iran’s proven oil reserves as the fourth largest in the world, at 158 billion barrels, or about 10% of the world’s crude oil reserves. It also has the world’s second largest reserves of natural gas (Oil & Gas Journal, January 2015). But as a result of the series of sanctions laid on Iran by the United States and the United Nations for Iran’s failure to abide by nuclear inspections, which have essentially blockaded the nation, these reserves have done little good for the Iranian economy or the theocratic Muslim government that holds the country in its tight grip.

The IMF estimates that Iran’s oil and natural gas export revenue had been $118 billion as recently as 2011/12. But by 2012/2013 revenues fell by 47 percent to $63 billion. Revenues declined another 10 percent in 2013/14 to $56 billion (Islamic Republic of Iran, Country Report, April 14, 2014). By May 2015, Iran’s daily oil production had fallen from 4 million barrels in 2008 to just over 2.8 million barrels.

It goes without saying that the removal of the sanctions regime will allow Iran to resume exports at levels seen in the past. And if Iran is true to its word, and that its nuclear program is indeed focused on the development of nuclear power plants, then it is likely that its domestic demand for fossil fuels will fall, thereby allowing for even greater exports.

The first issue regarding Iran’s new oil flow is how easily will it be able to reestablish its former customer links and sell its oil, regardless of increased production. Having destabilized the Middle East by killing Saddam Hussein, the U.S. may wish now to leave the areas’ nations alone to sort out the resulting mess. Into this void we can be sure that the Chinese and Russians will stride forcefully and deliberately.'

Even if Iran is successful in regaining former customers, and selling down its inventory, how quickly can its production be increased? The Iranian oil infrastructure has been neglected for years and Iran needs to rebuild it desperately. Fortunately, Western expertise in energy development is by far the most advanced, which will give Western interests a leg up on Chinese and Russian rivals. But Chinese cash and strategic support may prove decisive.

Reuters reports that, in the opinion of 25 economists and oil analysts, Iran could be able to increase its oil production by up to 500,000 barrels a day this year and reach 750,000 a day by mid-2016. This will add to a current global oversupply of some 2.6 million barrels a day.

Meanwhile, as the price of oil remains relatively depressed, production wells in the U.S. and other producing nations, planned and established when oil prices were much higher, are drifting off stream. Finally, there is increasing evidence that recession may be felt internationally, reducing at least the rate of growth of oil demand if not the absolute level of demand in some countries.

Today’s oil market faces a global supply overhang and price weakness. Iran’s new oil production and exportation is not likely to come on line for at least a year or two, provided the treaty is ratified. But when that oil does start to flow, the new supply could add to downward price pressures. However, the amounts are unlikely to greatly affect the totality of the global marketplace and by that time whatever inflationary effects there may be of continued monetary expansion in America and Europe should act as a stronger force pulling prices upward.

In total then, the return of Iran to the global energy market should have a beneficial effect on the global economy, both in pushing down prices and providing lucrative development work for oil companies around the world. However, the economic aspects of the deal are largely insignificant in comparison to the geopolitical ramifications.

President Obama’s nuclear arms deal leaves open to debate whether Iran will become a nuclear power within the next decade, if not earlier. Unleashing a nuclear arms race in a highly unstable area of the world would render oil supplies sourced from there considerably less secure and unattractive, possibly even at lower prices, to consumer nations, including the 500 million strong EU.

The deal will also threaten the longstanding alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The implicit arrangement between the two countries has always been that the Saudis would direct the lion’s share of its oil exports to the United States in exchange for American support of regional Saudi security interests. Shiite dominated Iran has always been one of Sunni-led Saudi Arabia’s top concerns. If the U.S. and Iran drift closer together, Saudi Arabia will surely seek other partners who are more supportive of its interests.

No one knows what such a Middle East will look like. But given the volatility of the region, change is unlikely to be pretty.

The Two Shia Horns (Daniel 8:3)

Iran shares nuclear report with Iraq

AP photo
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said July 27 that he had presented a report on this month’s landmark deal on Iran’s nuclear energy program to Iranian-born Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in southern Iraq.

At a joint press conference held in Iraq, where Zarif is currently on a days-long visit, the Iranian minister said his report to al-Sistani covered “the progress of ongoing negotiations [over as-yet-unresolved issues], as well as the challenges” that Iran continues to face.

Al-Sistani, for his part, told reporters that international cooperation was still necessary “to counter terrorism and extremism,” in reference to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group, which remains in control of large parts of Iraq and Syria.

On July 26, Zarif arrived in Iraq’s southern city of Najaf – where al-Sistani is based – for an official visit during which he will also meet his Iraqi counterpart and the Iraqi prime minister in Baghdad.
On July 14, Iran and the P5+1 group of nations signed a final agreement in Vienna ending nearly two years of talks. The deal calls for an end to longstanding international sanctions on the Islamic republic in return for curbs on and inspections of its nuclear energy program.

Iran’s top diplomat has begun a three-nation regional tour aimed at deepening ties with Arab neighbors following the conclusion of the Islamic republic’s historic nuclear deal with world powers.
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Arab states lining the Persian Gulf harbor deep suspicions about Iran’s intentions in the region. 

While the Western-allied Arab countries are cautiously hopeful the nuclear deal will reduce the chances Iran will acquire an atomic bomb, they also fear an easing of international pressure will embolden the Shiite powerhouse at a time of heightened sectarian tensions in the region.

Zarif began his trip with a stop in Kuwait, where he received a red carpet airport greeting from his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah. He later held talks with the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, who paid his first visit as head of state to Iran last year.
Zarif’s trip includes a stop in Qatar also.