Wednesday, May 31, 2017

India’s Nuclear Power



This Is Why the World Should Fear India’s Nuclear Weapons
Kyle Mizokami
May 27, 2017
India, the world’s most populous democracy, occupies a unique strategic position flanked by powerful adversaries. As a result, its 1.3 billion people are guarded by an arsenal of approximately one hundred nuclear weapons deployed on land, at sea and in the air. Despite its status as a Cold War holdout, the country was forced to develop its own nuclear weapons.
India’s nuclear program dates back to 1948, just one year after independence. The Nehru government looked to nuclear power as an inexpensive energy source for the young country. An Indian Atomic Energy Commission was created that year to oversee the country’s nuclear efforts. Due to a lack of uranium on Indian territory, the country naturally gravitated towards using plutonium instead. India’s first nuclear reactor, Apsara, was built with help from the United Kingdom and went critical in August 1956.
New Delhi originally considered building nuclear devices, not as weapons, but as what were then called “peaceful nuclear explosives” capable of building harbors, excavating for natural gas, and other large construction and mining projects. While functionally identical to nuclear weapons, the plan demonstrated that India was not yet convinced it needed an actual nuclear deterrent—yet. As a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, India was a bystander to the feverish pace of the nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union.
The 1962 war with China, however, changed that. The limited attack on Indian territory could have been much worse had the two countries engaged in all-out war, particularly if Pakistan and China had paired up together. Furthermore although China was not yet a nuclear power, its nuclear status was considered an inevitability and a nuclear Beijing could blackmail India into territorial concessions—at the risk of atomic annihilation. New Delhi’s nuclear race was on.
India’s first nuclear test was conducted on May 18, 1974, at the Pokhran Test Range in the Rajastan desert. The device, nicknamed “Smiling Buddha,” had an explosive yield of between six and fifteen kilotons (the Hiroshima device is generally estimated at sixteen kilotons). The test was conducted in an underground shaft to contain radiation. India described the test as peaceful in nature but China’s nuclear status, achieved in 1964, meant that it was almost certainly designed to be a weapon.
The test propelled India into the so-called “Nuclear Club” that had previously consisted of the United States, Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France and China. India refrained from nuclear testing for another twenty-four years, until detonating three devices on May 11, 1998, and another three on May 13. Most of the devices had low yields, between two hundred and five hundred tons, suggesting they were designed to be tactical nuclear bombs, but one device was a thermonuclear device that failed and reached a yield of only about forty-five kilotons.
Today India is estimated to have at least 520 kilograms of plutonium, enough for, according to the Arms Control Association, “between 100 and 120 nuclear devices.” New Delhi describes this a “credible minimum deterrent” against neighboring nuclear powers China and Pakistan. By comparison, China—which must also contend with nuclear rival the United States—has enough fissile material for between 200 and 250 devices. Pakistan is thought to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 devices. India has a firm No First Use policy with regards to nuclear weapons, vowing to never be the first to use them in any conflict and only use them to retaliate in kind.
As a result India has built its own “triad” of land, sea and air forces, all equipped with nuclear weapons. The first leg to develop was likely tactical nuclear devices for strike aircraft of the Indian Air Force. Today, India possesses more than two hundred Su-30MK1 twin-engine fighters, sixty-nine MiG-29s and fifty-one Mirage 2000 fighters. It is likely at least some of these aircraft have been modified and trained to carry nuclear gravity bombs to their targets.
The land-based missile leg of the triad consists of Prithvi tactical ballistic missiles. First produced in the late 1990s, Prithvi initially had a range of just ninety-three miles, but future versions increased their range to 372 miles. Despite this, Prithvi is still firmly a tactical weapon, while the Agni I-V series of missiles, with ranges from 434 to 4,970 miles, are strategic weapons with the ability to hit foreign capitals—as well as all of China.
The third leg of the triad is new, consisting of nuclear ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) of the Arihant class. Four submarines are planned, each with the ability to carry twelve K-15 Sagarika (“Oceanic”) short-range ballistic missiles with maximum range of 434 miles, or K-4 medium-range ballistic missiles with a 2,174 mile range. Using the Bay of Bengal as a bastion and protected by assets such as India’s carrier INS Vikramaditya, the Arihant SSBNs can just barely reach Beijing.

Preparing For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)


Preparing for the Great New York Earthquake
by Mike MullerShare
New York Quakes
New York Quakes Fault lines and known temblors in the New York City region between 1677-2004. The nuclear power plant at Indian Point is indicated by a Pe.
Most New Yorkers probably view the idea of a major earthquake hitting New York City as a plot device for a second-rate disaster movie. In a city where people worry about so much — stock market crashes, flooding, a terrorist attack — earthquakes, at least, do not have to be on the agenda.
A recent report by leading seismologists associated with Columbia University, though, may change that. The report concludes a serious quake is likely to hit the area.
The implication of this finding has yet to be examined. Although earthquakes are uncommon in the area relative to other parts of the world like California and Japan, the size and density of New York City puts it at a higher risk of damage. The type of earthquake most likely to occur here would mean that even a fairly small event could have a big impact.
The issue with earthquakes in this region is that they tend to be shallow and close to the surface,” explains Leonardo Seeber, a coauthor of the report. “That means objects at the surface are closer to the source. And that means even small earthquakes can be damaging.”
The past two decades have seen an increase in discussions about how to deal with earthquakes here. The most recent debate has revolved around the Indian Point nuclear power plant, in Buchanan, N.Y., a 30-mile drive north of the Bronx, and whether its nuclear reactors could withstand an earthquake. Closer to home, the city adopted new codes for its buildings even before the Lamont report, and the Port Authority and other agencies have retrofitted some buildings. Is this enough or does more need to be done? On the other hand, is the risk of an earthquake remote enough that public resources would be better spent addressing more immediate — and more likely — concerns?

Assessing the Risk

The report by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University at summarizes decades of information on earthquakes in the area gleaned from a network of seismic instruments, studies of earthquakes from previous centuries through archival material like newspaper accounts and examination of fault lines.
The city can expect a magnitude 5 quake, which is strong enough to cause damage, once every 100 years, according to the report. (Magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source of an earthquake.) The scientists also calculate that a magnitude 6, which is 10 times larger, has a 7 percent chance of happening once every 50 years and a magnitude 7 quake, 100 times larger, a 1.5 percent chance. Nobody knows the last time New York experienced quakes as large as a 6 or 7, although if once occurred it must have taken place before 1677, since geologists have reviewed data as far back as that year.
The last magnitude 5 earthquake in New York City hit in 1884, and it occurred off the coast of Rockaway Beach. Similar earthquakes occurred in 1737 and 1783.
By the time of the 1884 quake, New York was already a world class city, according to Kenneth Jackson, editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City.”In Manhattan,” Jackson said, “New York would have been characterized by very dense development. There was very little grass.”
A number of 8 to 10 story buildings graced the city, and “in world terms, that’s enormous,” according to Jackson. The city already boasted the world’s most extensive transportation network, with trolleys, elevated trains and the Brooklyn Bridge, and the best water system in the country. Thomas Edison had opened the Pearl Street power plant two years earlier.
All of this infrastructure withstood the quake fairly well. A number of chimneys crumbled and windows broke, but not much other damage occurred. Indeed, the New York Times reported that people on the Brooklyn Bridge could not tell the rumble was caused by anything more than the cable car that ran along the span.

Risks at Indian Point

As dense as the city was then though, New York has grown up and out in the 124 years since. Also, today’s metropolis poses some hazards few, if any people imagined in 1884.
In one of their major findings, the Lamont scientists identified a new fault line less than a mile from Indian Point. That is in addition to the already identified Ramapo fault a couple of miles from the plant. This is seen as significant because earthquakes occur at faults and are the most powerful near them.
This does not represent the first time people have raised concerns about earthquakes near Indian Point. A couple of years after the licenses were approved for Indian Point 2 in 1973 and Indian Point 3 in 1975, the state appealed to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeal Panel over seismic issues. The appeal was dismissed in 1976, but Michael Farrar, one of three members on the panel, dissented from his colleagues.
He thought the commission had not required the plant to be able to withstand the vibration that could occur during an earthquake. “I believe that an effort should be made to ascertain the maximum effective acceleration in some other, rational, manner,” Farrar wrote in his dissenting opinion. (Acceleration measures how quickly ground shaking speeds up.)
Con Edison, the plants’ operator at the time, agreed to set up seismic monitoring instruments in the area and develop geologic surveys. The Lamont study was able to locate the new fault line as a result of those instruments.
Ironically, though, while scientists can use the data to issue reports — the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot use it to determine whether the plant should have its license renewed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission only considers the threat of earthquakes or terrorism during initial licensing hearings and does not revisit the issue during relicensing.
Lynn Sykes, lead author of the Lamont report who was also involved in the Indian Point licensing hearings, disputes that policy. The new information, he said, should be considered — “especially when considering a 20 year license renewal.”
The state agrees. Last year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began reaching out to other attorneys general to help convince the commission to include these risks during the hearings.
Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation delivered a 312-page petition to the commission that included reasons why earthquakes posed a risk to the power plants. The petition raised three major concerns regarding Indian Point:
  • The seismic analysis for Indian Point plants 2 and 3 did not consider decommissioned Indian Point 1. The state is worried that something could fall from that plant and damage the others.
  • The plant operators have not updated the facilities to address 20 years of new seismic data in the area.
  • The state contends that Entergy, the plant’s operator, has not been forthcoming. “It is not possible to verify either what improvements have been made to [Indian Point] or even to determine what improvements applicant alleges have been implemented,” the petition stated.
A spokesperson for Entergy told the New York Times that the plants are safe from earthquakes and are designed to withstand a magnitude 6 quake.
Lamont’s Sykes thinks the spokesperson must have been mistaken. “He seems to have confused the magnitude scale with intensity scale,” Sykes suggests. He points out that the plants are designed to withstand an event on the intensity scale of VII, which equals a magnitude of 5 or slightly higher in the region. (Intensity measures the effects on people and structures.) A magnitude 6 quake, in Sykes opinion, would indeed cause damage to the plant.
The two reactors at Indian Point generate about 10 percent of the state’s electricity. Since that power is sent out into a grid, it isn’t known how much the plant provides for New York City. Any abrupt closing of the plant — either because of damage or a withdrawal of the operating license — would require an “unprecedented level of cooperation among government leaders and agencies,” to replace its capacity, according to a 2006 report by the National Academies’ National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution chartered by Congress.
Indian Point Nuclear Plant
Indian Point Nuclear Plant
Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center, a three-unit nuclear power plant north of New York City, lies within two miles of the Ramapo Seismic Zone.
Beyond the loss of electricity, activists worry about possible threats to human health and safety from any earthquake at Indian Point. Some local officials have raised concerns that radioactive elements at the plant, such as tritium and strontium, could leak through fractures in bedrock and into the Hudson River. An earthquake could create larger fractures and, so they worry, greater leaks.
In 2007, an earthquake hit the area surrounding Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world’s largest. The International Atomic Energy Agency determined “there was no significant damage to the parts of the plant important to safety,” from the quake. According to the agency, “The four reactors in operation at the time in the seven-unit complex shut down safely and there was a very small radioactive release well below public health and environmental safety limits.” The plant, however, remains closed.

Shaking the Streets

A quake near Indian Point would clearly have repercussions for New York City. But what if an earthquake hit one of the five boroughs?
In 2003, public and private officials, under the banner of the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation, released a study of what would happen if a quake hit the metropolitan area today. Much of the report focused on building damage in Manhattan. It used the location of the 1884 quake, off the coast of Rockaway Beach, as its modern muse.
If a quake so serious that it is expected to occur once every 2,500 years took place off Rockaway, the consortium estimated it would cause $11.5 billion in damage to buildings in Manhattan. About half of that would result from damage to residential buildings. Even a moderate magnitude 5 earthquake would create an estimated 88,000 tons of debris (10,000 truckloads), which is 136 times the garbage cleared in Manhattan on an average day, they found.
The report does not estimate possible death and injury for New York City alone. But it said that, in the tri-state area as a whole, a magnitude 5 quake could result in a couple of dozen deaths, and a magnitude 7 would kill more than 6,500 people.
Ultimately, the consortium decided retrofitting all of the city’s buildings to prepare them for an earthquake would be “impractical and economically unrealistic,” and stressed the importance of identifying the most vulnerable areas of the city.
Unreinforced brick buildings, which are the most common type of building in Manhattan, are the most vulnerable to earthquakes because they do not absorb motion as well as more flexible wood and steel buildings. Structures built on soft soil are more also prone to risk since it amplifies ground shaking and has the potential to liquefy during a quake.
This makes the Upper East Side the most vulnerable area of Manhattan, according to the consortium report. Because of the soil type, the ground there during a magnitude 7 quake would shake at twice the acceleration of that in the Financial District. Chinatown faces considerable greater risk for the same reasons.
The city’s Office of Emergency Management agency does offer safety tips for earthquakes. It advises people to identify safe places in their homes, where they can stay until the shaking stops, The agency recommends hiding under heavy furniture and away from windows and other objects that could fall.
A special unit called New York Task Force 1 is trained to find victims trapped in rubble. The Office of Emergency Management holds annual training events for the unit.
The Buildings Department created its first seismic code in 1995. More recently, the city and state have adopted the International Building Code (which ironically is a national standard) and all its earthquake standards. The “international” code requires that buildings be prepared for the 2,500-year worst-case scenario.

Transportation Disruptions

With the state’s adoption of stricter codes in 2003, the Port Authority went back and assessed its facilities that were built before the adoption of the code, including bridges, bus terminals and the approaches to its tunnels. The authority decided it did not have to replace any of this and that retrofitting it could be done at a reasonable cost.
The authority first focused on the approaches to bridges and tunnels because they are rigid and cannot sway with the earth’s movement. It is upgrading the approaches to the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel so they will be prepared for a worst-case scenario. The approaches to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street are being prepared to withstand two thirds of a worst-case scenario.
The terminal itself was retrofitted in 2007. Fifteen 80-foot tall supports were added to the outside of the structure.
A number of the city’s bridges could be easily retrofitted as well “in an economical and practical manner,” according to a study of three bridges by the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. Those bridges include the 102nd Street Bridge in Queens, and the 145th Street and Macombs Dam bridges, which span the Harlem River. To upgrade the 155th Street Viaduct, the city will strengthen its foundation and strengthen its steel columns and floor beams.
The city plans upgrades for the viaduct and the Madison Avenue bridge in 2010. The 2008 10-year capital strategy for the city includes $596 million for the seismic retrofitting of the four East River bridges, which is planned to begin in 2013. But that commitment has fluctuated over the years. In 2004, it was $833 million.
For its part, New York City Transit generally is not considering retrofitting its above ground or underground structures, according to a report presented at the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2004. New facilities, like the Second Avenue Subway and the Fulton Transit Center will be built to new, tougher standards.
Underground infrastructure, such as subway tunnels, electricity systems and sewers are generally safer from earthquakes than above ground facilities. But secondary effects from quakes, like falling debris and liquefied soil, could damage these structures.
Age and location — as with buildings — also add to vulnerability. “This stuff was laid years ago,” said Rae Zimmerman, professor of planning and public administration at New York University. “A lot of our transit infrastructure and water pipes are not flexible and a lot of the city is on sandy soil.” Most of Lower Manhattan, for example, is made up of such soil.
She also stresses the need for redundancy, where if one pipe or track went down, there would be another way to go. “The subway is beautiful in that respect,” she said. “During 9/11, they were able to avoid broken tracks.”

Setting Priorities

The city has not made preparing its infrastructure for an earthquake a top priority — and some experts think that makes sense.
“On the policy side, earthquakes are a low priority,” said Guy Nordenson, a civil engineer who was a major proponent of the city’s original seismic code, “and I think that’s a good thing.” He believes there are more important risks, such as dealing with the effects of climate change.
“There are many hazards, and any of these hazards can be as devastating, if not more so, than earthquakes,” agreed Mohamed Ettouney, who was also involved in writing the 1995 seismic code.
In fact, a recent field called multi-hazard engineering has emerged. It looks at the most efficient and economical way to prepare for hazards rather than preparing for all at once or addressing one hazard after the other. For example, while addressing one danger (say terrorism) identified as a priority, it makes sense to consider other threats that the government could prepare for at the same time (like earthquakes).
Scientists from Lamont-Doherty are also not urging anybody to rush to action in panic. Their report is meant to be a first step in a process that lays out potential hazards from earthquakes so that governments and businesses can make informed decisions about how to reduce risk.
“We now have a 300-year catalog of earthquakes that has been well calibrated” to estimate their size and location, said Sykes. “We also now have a 34-year study of data culled from Lamont’s network of seismic instruments.”
“Earthquake risk is not the highest priority in New York City, nor is dog-poop free sidewalks,” Seeber recently commented. But, he added, both deserve appropriately rational responses.

Antichrist’s Men Show Their Power



Peace Brigades parades ‘Rapid Intervention Brigade’ in Samarra
BY CALEB WEISS | May 26th, 2017 |
Saraya al Salam (Peace Brigades), an Iraqi Shia militia led by powerful cleric Muqtada al Sadr, recently paraded its forces near the city of Samarra in Iraq’s Salahadin province. The parade was meant to showcase the militia’s “Rapid Intervention Brigade” and its preparedness to be deployed in the region.
Last month, Saraya al Salam announced that a regiment of its Rapid Intervention Brigade (RIB) was being sent to Samarra, which sits north of Baghdad. Earlier this week, the militia’s Facebook page advertised a large-scale military parade for the brigade. The parade featured several tanks, rockets, mortars and a significant amount of ground troops. The RIB was estimated to have around 1,000 troops in its formation last year.
It is unclear if all the troops and vehicles belong to the Peace Brigades or if some are property of the Iraqi Army, however, the banners, patches, and flags on display indicate that the parade featured units belonging to the RIB exclusively.
Saraya al Salam is the current incarnation of the Mahdi Army, Sadr’s militia that fought US forces in pitched battles in Baghdad and central and southern Iraq between 2004 and 2008. Sadr purportedly disbanded the Mahdi Army in the spring of 2008 after US forces battled the group in Baghdad’s sprawling neighborhood of Sadr City, and created the Promised Day Brigade. Saraya al Salam was formed in 2014 to combat the Islamic State as Iraqi forces in northern, central, and western Iraq disintegrated in its wake.
Last year, Sadr said that US troops in Iraq are a target for his militia. “If the time comes and the proposed bill is passed, we will have no choice but to unfreeze the military wing that deals with the American entity so that it may start targeting American interests in Iraq and outside of Iraq when possible,” Sadr said. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, US troops ‘are a target for us,’ Iraq’s Muqtada al Sadr says.]

Iran’s Straight Faced Lies



Iran denies Trump’s claims it sponsors terrorism
By TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF
May 30, 2017
Iran on Monday dismissed US President Donald Trump’s allegations that it is a major sponsor of terrorism as “incorrect and irrelevant.”
Trump, during his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, accused Tehran of spearheading global terror. Along with Saudi King Salman he called for the Islamic Republic to be shunned.
“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi dismissed the accusations during a press briefing.
“These improper, incorrect and irrelevant positions of certain countries are nothing new and they try to project the blame on others and such remarks are unbelievable and unacceptable,” he said.
According to the Fars news agency, Qassemi also questioned how Tehran could be a sponsor of terror when it had just recently proven to the world its democratic bona fides with its presidential elections.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed Saturday that Saudi Arabia’s monarchy faces “certain downfall” for aligning itself with the US and that its regime could be toppled sooner rather than later.
“They will be gone, they can be toppled and can perish [or be destroyed]… there is no doubt about it… it is certain that it will happen,” Khamnei said during a religious gathering in comments translated from Persian.
In further scathing remarks against Riyadh, Khamenei said the Muslim world has been placed in “grave danger” by “a group of worthless, inept and villainous people [who] are ruling over a community of the Muslim nation, namely the Saudi government.”
Khamenei also said that Saudi Arabia is a “cow being milked” by the United States, a week after the kingdom signed an $110 billion weapons deal with Trump during his visit last Saturday. Private sector and other agreements with the US totaled some $350 billion.
Majority Shiite Iran and predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia support opposite sites in the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East.
AP contributed to this report.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why South Korea Will Become A Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)


As Pyongyang continues to ratchet up tensions, a growing number of South Koreans want their nation to develop its own nuclear deterrent. Photo: AFP
As Pyongyang continues to ratchet up tensions, a growing number of South Koreans want their nation to develop its own nuclear deterrent. Photo: AFP
North Korea stunned the world early last month by claiming that it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb.
While many western experts and observers believe that Pyongyang was only bluffing, the bold announcement however leaves the world in no doubt about Kim Jong-un’s determination to press ahead with his brinkmanship and even “Mad Man’s Diplomacy”.
In face of the continued nuclear threat posed by the north, there have been calls in recent years among South Koreans for developing their own nuclear weapons. The idea gained more traction after Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in 2013.
According to a survey conducted by civilian think-tank Asan Institute in 2013, as many as two-thirds of South Koreans were in favor of developing their own nuclear countermeasures, and only less than half had confidence in the so-called “nuclear umbrella” provided by the US.
The main arguments for developing South Korea’s own nuclear weapons are as follows:
1. The success of North Korea’s nuclear program suggests that the so-called “six-party” talks have completely failed to check Pyongyang’s aggression. Besides, the Stalinist state has warned that it might launch pre-emptive strikes against the South if the need arises. Hence, Seoul is completely justified in developing its own nuclear weapons, people argue.
2. Although Washington has an obligation, under a Mutual Defense Treaty, to defend South Korea in case of an invasion from the North, the US has in the past two decades withdrawn basically all of its tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea. That makes it imperative for Seoul to develop its own deterrent.
3. Surrounded by nuclear powers such as Russia, China and North Korea, and given Japan’s potential for becoming the next nuclear power in East Asia, South Korea has to have its own nuclear deterrent in order to make sure it can always negotiate with its neighbors from a position of strength.
However, there are still a considerable number of influential figures in South Korea who are against the idea of development of nuclear weapons. Among them is Moon Chung-in, a professor with the Yonsei University and a former foreign policy advisor to the South Korean government.
Moon’s arguments are as follows:
1. If South Korea develops and deploys its own nuclear weapons on its soil, it might cause the US troops stationed along the 38th parallel to have second thoughts about intervening directly and immediately in case of an armed clash between the North and the South. It is because Washington might not want to risk getting involved in a military conflict that may escalate into a full-scale nuclear war. In other words, the deployment of nuclear weapons may backfire and put South Korea in an even more dangerous position.
2. A fully operational nuclear deterrence capability is a lot more than just rolling out nuclear bombs from the factory, as it requires a lot of supporting facilities and an entire framework of strategic and military planning to enable the bombs to produce real deterrent effect. In this aspect, South Korea has basically zero experience. Besides, US nuclear capabilities that have global reach are enough to deter North Korea.
3. The US and even China are unlikely to support any attempt by South Korea to develop its own nuclear weapons, because it may trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and Japan will then have the perfect excuse it has waited for so long to build its own weapons, thereby endangering China’s national security and undermining Washington’s influence on Tokyo. Moreover, nuclear proliferation in East Asia is against the basic interests of US, Russia and China, and they will definitely not sit on the sidelines watching South Korea build nuclear bombs.
4. Since South Korea is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, developing its own nuclear weapons will definitely put it under fire from the UN and other major powers, thereby undermining international sympathy for Seoul. Besides, any attempt by South Korea to develop its own nukes may prompt North Korea to build more.
In the foreseeable future, I believe South Korean President Park Geun-hye will continue to observe the non-proliferation treaty unless Kim Jong-un’s brinkmanship spins out of control. If that worst-case scenario comes about, it is not totally impossible that South Korea may press ahead with its own nuclear weapons program regardless of international pressure, just like what Israel did in the 70s.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 2.
Translation by Alan Lee

Trump Steps Up Pressure Against Korea


3rd-naval-strike-force-sent-north-korea-trump-wwiii

Pentagon Deploys 3rd US Naval Strike Force To Deter North Korea From Their Nuclear Ambitions

North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is seen as a major security challenge for President Donald Trump, who has vowed to prevent the country from being able to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile, a capability experts say Pyongyang could have some time after 2020.

The United States is sending a third aircraft carrier strike force to the western Pacific region in an apparent warning to North Korea to deter its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, two sources have told VOA.

The USS Nimitz, one of the world’s largest warships, will join two other supercarriers, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, in the western Pacific, the sources told VOA’s Steve Herman.

The U.S. military has rarely simultaneously deployed three aircraft carriers to the same region.

But North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is seen as a major security challenge for President Donald Trump, who has vowed to prevent the country from being able to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile, a capability experts say Pyongyang could have some time after 2020.
Sitting alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said Friday just before the start of Group of Seven (G-7) meetings in Sicily that G-7 leaders would have a “particular focus on the North Korea problem.”

US Navy Show Of Might Near North Korea:

A White House statement issued Friday said the two leaders have agreed to “enhance sanctions on North Korea” in an attempt to prevent the further development of North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

US tests missile defense system

The U.S. military, meanwhile, will test a system to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time next week.It is intended to simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S.
The Missile Defense Agency said it will test an existing missile defense system on Tuesday to try to intercept an ICBM. The Pentagon has used the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system to intercept other types of missiles, but never an ICBM.
The GMD has been inconsistent, succeeding in nine of 17 attempts against missiles without intercontinental range capability since 1999.
The most recent test, in June 2014, was successful — but three straight subsequent tests were failures.

Babylon the Great Upgrades Her Nukes



Upgrading U.S. nuclear missiles, as Russia and China modernize, would cost $85 billion. Is it time to quit the ICBM race?

W.J. Hennigan and Ralph VartabedianContact Reporters
The sky over the turbulent Pacific was pitch-black earlier this month when a Minuteman III missile blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a column of fire that illuminated the California coastline for miles.
The unarmed missile thundered past the outer reaches of the atmosphere, tracing a fiery arc around the globe before plunging into a lagoon at Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific, 4,200 miles away.
The Minuteman III tested May 3 near Lompoc is a critical element of U.S. defense strategy: a fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of obliterating any spot on Earth with a nuclear blast in 30 minutes or less.
Although the flight test proved Minuteman is still capable of performing its mission, major components of the missile and the control centers used to launch them are Cold War-era relics that have become increasingly expensive to maintain. Spare parts are in such short supply that the military has been known to pull them from museums.
At the same time, Russia and China are upgrading their nuclear capabilities. Pakistan, India and Israel continue to build new nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Air Force officials worry increasingly about the Minuteman’s ability to penetrate adversaries’ future missile defense systems.
The result is one of the most strategically complex and financially difficult challenges the Trump administration faces in making good on the president’s pledge for a “great rebuilding of the armed forces,” including the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal.
The Pentagon has begun work to replace the Minuteman fleet with a new generation of missiles and launch control centers, but the plan would cost an astronomical $85 billion, one of the most expensive projects in Air Force history.
Two defense firms will be awarded three-year contracts for $359 million each this year, with a test flight program scheduled for launch in the mid-2020s.
The tremendous expense of deploying a missile fleet capable in the long term of countering nuclear threats has spawned a debate in the American military establishment: How essential, in the 21st century, are the 400 strategic missiles embedded in silos deep under the plains of Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota?
The discussion has opened for review the very essence of the nation’s nuclear defense strategy: the “triad” deployment of nuclear weapons, in submarines, strategic bombers and land-based silos, to guarantee the ability to retaliate against any nuclear strike.
The Minuteman III was developed in the 1960s and first deployed in 1970. The nearly 50-year-old hardware is still working fine, but not without extensive maintenance.
“I look at the Minuteman III like a classic car,” said Col. Craig Ramsey, commander of the fleet’s flight test squadron at Vandenberg. “I love my 1966 Mustang, but it requires a lot of tender loving care and maintenance whether you drive it or leave it in the garage.”
At its peak in about 1990, the Air Force fielded 450 Minuteman IIs, 500 Minuteman IIIs and 50 Peacekeeper missiles, a total of 1,000 ICBMs that had more than 2,000 warheads on them. Today’s 400 Minuteman missiles each field a single warhead.
Pentagon officials want to replace almost the entire nuclear arsenal, at a cost of up to $1 trillion. But no component has raised more questions than the replacement of the ICBM fleet, which critics have said is no longer crucial to preventing a nuclear war.
The argument for eliminating ICBMs is stronger than at any time in the past. Advocates of that strategy say submarine-based missiles and strategic bombers have improved their capability and are now more than potent enough to deter an enemy attack.
Former Defense Secretary William J. Perry fired the opening salvo last year, calling for phasing out the entire land-based ICBM force. He argued that its continued deployment is too costly. And with the missiles on continuous alert in order to be able to launch instantly if an enemy launch is detected by satellites and radar, a mistake or faulty warning could trigger an accidental nuclear war.
“The ICBM system is outdated, risky and unnecessary,” Perry, who served in the Clinton administration 20 years ago, said in a recent interview. “Basically, it can bring about the end of civilization with a false alarm. It’s a liability because we can easily achieve deterrence without it.”
Perry has not been alone in expressing doubts about the ICBM program, but senior Pentagon leaders have always been persuaded to keep it. Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called for elimination of ICBMs before entering office and then changed his mind. Trump’s Defense secretary, James N. Mattis, questioned the need for the missiles in 2015 when he was a four-star general. But as soon as he was nominated, he began supporting a full-blown modernization of the triad.
The reevaluation of the role of ICBMs in America’s defense comes in an era when nuclear weapons are proliferating, not fading away. GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike, who has analyzed U.S. military systems and strategies for more than three decades, says critics “are gaining no traction” in calling for the elimination of the ballistic missile fleet.
The Air Force makes the case that replacing the Minuteman will be less costly than trying to keep its Elvis-era fleet in perfect working order for decades into the future. The nation’s strategic forces represent a small slice of defense spending, while providing a large measure of security against an unprovoked attack on U.S. soil.
Air Force leaders also worry that Russia, China and North Korea are investing in new nuclear missile systems that would erode the military edge that the Minuteman has provided with its reliability and accuracy. At some point, they say, the Minuteman’s ability to penetrate future missile defense systems could be compromised.
“Nuclear weapons are foundational to our national security,” said Maj. Gen. Fred Stoss III, director of operations at the Air Force Global Strike Command. “The ICBMs are the most responsive. They have the quickest launch times. The ICBMs are the most stabilizing leg of the triad.”
Eliminating the more than 400 ICBMs and their launch capsules as targets, Stoss said, would allow an enemy to wipe out the rest of the nation’s nuclear deterrent — three strategic bomber bases and two strategic submarine bases — with just five nuclear weapons. That leaves the U.S. vulnerable to attack even from “nations with limited arsenals,” such as North Korea, Stoss said.
Failing to maintain strategic parity puts the U.S. at a disadvantage with potential adversaries, Stoss added. “Russia has a triad. China is on the cusp of a triad.”
Beyond the military arguments, there is the question of cost.
Numerous Pentagon officials and outside experts have warned that the current approach cannot be sustained without significant and sustained increases to defense spending or cuts to other military priorities. The costs for modernization would peak during the mid-2020s and overlap with large increases in projected spending on other weapons that address more immediate threats, such as counter-terrorism, cyberattacks, and space-based technology.
Two years ago, the Pentagon said the new ICBM system, known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, would cost $62.3 billion. But outside estimates put it far higher. The Pentagon’s independent office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation said last year the plan could cost at least $85 billion.
The costs are likely to climb because of the technological complexity of the program. By comparison, the last time the U.S. fielded a new ICBM, the massive, 10-warhead MX in the mid-1980s, the cost was an inflation-adjusted $900 million per missile. The new, smaller ICBM and its launch centers will optimistically average out to about $132 million per missile. Though the MX cost was elevated by its large size and small production numbers, just 50 deployed missiles, it saved money by using the existing launch complex.
“Unless the Defense and Energy departments find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or get a loan from the same man or woman who sold Jack his magic beanstalk beans, I do not believe the current spending plans are feasible,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Assn. in Washington. “I think the ICBM leg of the triad is by far the least valuable leg of the triad, and the effort to sustain it should reflect that.”
Col. Heath Collins, Air Force program manager for the ICBM replacement program, said a new missile program will need an all-new command-and-control system, meaning full replacement of the old analog computers that now operate the Minuteman system — and that’s only the start.
One of the biggest costs will be the guidance system, notes Aloysius G. Casey, a retired general who was the program manager for the MX missile.
The MX guidance system, which cost $10 million to $12 million per missile, had 19,401 parts packaged inside a device the size of a basketball. The device was so accurate that engineers at the time said it could detect variations in the rotation of Earth while it was on the silo, relying on mechanical gyroscopes suspended in a fluid.
Today, it would be vastly cheaper to use a GPS guidance system, Casey said. The satellite-based navigation system is used on a large range of conventional weapons systems and is a standard feature of smartphones.
But critics fear that GPS satellites could be attacked or their signals jammed or spoofed. The upshot is that any guidance system is almost sure to require a massive expenditure.
Advocates say the shocking price tags are the cost of doing business in a dangerous world currently engaged in a new technology race. There are few precedents on which to judge it, Collins said. “It is the most complex program that I’ve ever been a part of.”

Columbia University Warns Of Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study
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A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones. The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
Many faults and a few mostly modest quakes have long been known around New York City, but the research casts them in a new light. The scientists say the insight comes from sophisticated analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on tremors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer, say the scientists. All are based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which runs the network of seismometers that monitors most of the northeastern United States.
Lead author Lynn R. Sykes said the data show that large quakes are infrequent around New York compared to more active areas like California and Japan, but that the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure. “The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.” Sykes, who has studied the region for four decades, is known for his early role in establishing the global theory of plate tectonics.
The authors compiled a catalog of all 383 known earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City. Coauthor John Armbruster estimated sizes and locations of dozens of events before 1930 by combing newspaper accounts and other records. The researchers say magnitude 5 quakes—strong enough to cause damage–occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. There was little settlement around to be hurt by the first two quakes, whose locations are vague due to a lack of good accounts; but the last, thought to be centered under the seabed somewhere between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook, toppled chimneys across the city and New Jersey, and panicked bathers at Coney Island. Based on this, the researchers say such quakes should be routinely expected, on average, about every 100 years. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said Armbruster. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”
Starting in the early 1970s Lamont began collecting data on quakes from dozens of newly deployed seismometers; these have revealed further potential, including distinct zones where earthquakes concentrate, and where larger ones could come. The Lamont network, now led by coauthor Won-Young Kim, has located hundreds of small events, including a magnitude 3 every few years, which can be felt by people at the surface, but is unlikely to cause damage. These small quakes tend to cluster along a series of small, old faults in harder rocks across the region. Many of the faults were discovered decades ago when subways, water tunnels and other excavations intersected them, but conventional wisdom said they were inactive remnants of continental collisions and rifting hundreds of millions of years ago. The results clearly show that they are active, and quite capable of generating damaging quakes, said Sykes.
One major previously known feature, the Ramapo Seismic Zone, runs from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing within a mile or two northwest of Indian Point. The researchers found that this system is not so much a single fracture as a braid of smaller ones, where quakes emanate from a set of still ill-defined faults. East and south of the Ramapo zone—and possibly more significant in terms of hazard–is a set of nearly parallel northwest-southeast faults. These include Manhattan’s 125th Street fault, which seems to have generated two small 1981 quakes, and could have been the source of the big 1737 quake; the Dyckman Street fault, which carried a magnitude 2 in 1989; the Mosholu Parkway fault; and the Dobbs Ferry fault in suburban Westchester, which generated the largest recent shock, a surprising magnitude 4.1, in 1985. Fortunately, it did no damage. Given the pattern, Sykes says the big 1884 quake may have hit on a yet-undetected member of this parallel family further south.
The researchers say that frequent small quakes occur in predictable ratios to larger ones, and so can be used to project a rough time scale for damaging events. Based on the lengths of the faults, the detected tremors, and calculations of how stresses build in the crust, the researchers say that magnitude 6 quakes, or even 7—respectively 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5–are quite possible on the active faults they describe. They calculate that magnitude 6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and sevens, every 3,400 years. The corresponding probabilities of occurrence in any 50-year period would be 7% and 1.5%. After less specific hints of these possibilities appeared in previous research, a 2003 analysis by The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of quakes this size in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimates that a magnitude 7 would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone. The researchers point out that no one knows when the last such events occurred, and say no one can predict when they next might come.
“We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California,” said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. “The problem here comes from many subtle faults. We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought. We need to take a very close look.” Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. “The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great,” he said. “It could be like something out of a Greek myth.”
The researchers found concrete evidence for one significant previously unknown structure: an active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Stamford-Peekskill line stands out sharply on the researchers’ earthquake map, with small events clustered along its length, and to its immediate southwest. Just to the north, there are no quakes, indicating that it represents some kind of underground boundary. It is parallel to the other faults beginning at 125th Street, so the researchers believe it is a fault in the same family. Like the others, they say it is probably capable of producing at least a magnitude 6 quake. Furthermore, a mile or so on, it intersects the Ramapo seismic zone.
Sykes said the existence of the Stamford-Peekskill line had been suggested before, because the Hudson takes a sudden unexplained bend just ot the north of Indian Point, and definite traces of an old fault can be along the north side of the bend. The seismic evidence confirms it, he said. “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident,” says the paper. “This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”
The findings comes at a time when Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is trying to relicense the two operating plants for an additional 20 years—a move being fought by surrounding communities and the New York State Attorney General. Last fall the attorney general, alerted to the then-unpublished Lamont data, told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel in a filing: “New data developed in the last 20 years disclose a substantially higher likelihood of significant earthquake activity in the vicinity of [Indian Point] that could exceed the earthquake design for the facility.” The state alleges that Entergy has not presented new data on earthquakes past 1979. However, in a little-noticed decision this July 31, the panel rejected the argument on procedural grounds. A source at the attorney general’s office said the state is considering its options.
The characteristics of New York’s geology and human footprint may increase the problem. Unlike in California, many New York quakes occur near the surface—in the upper mile or so—and they occur not in the broken-up, more malleable formations common where quakes are frequent, but rather in the extremely hard, rigid rocks underlying Manhattan and much of the lower Hudson Valley. Such rocks can build large stresses, then suddenly and efficiently transmit energy over long distances. “It’s like putting a hard rock in a vise,” said Seeber. “Nothing happens for a while. Then it goes with a bang.” Earthquake-resistant building codes were not introduced to New York City until 1995, and are not in effect at all in many other communities. Sinuous skyscrapers and bridges might get by with minimal damage, said Sykes, but many older, unreinforced three- to six-story brick buildings could crumble.
Art Lerner-Lam, associate director of Lamont for seismology, geology and tectonophysics, pointed out that the region’s major highways including the New York State Thruway, commuter and long-distance rail lines, and the main gas, oil and power transmission lines all cross the parallel active faults, making them particularly vulnerable to being cut. Lerner-Lam, who was not involved in the research, said that the identification of the seismic line near Indian Point “is a major substantiation of a feature that bears on the long-term earthquake risk of the northeastern United States.” He called for policymakers to develop more information on the region’s vulnerability, to take a closer look at land use and development, and to make investments to strengthen critical infrastructure.
“This is a landmark study in many ways,” said Lerner-Lam. “It gives us the best possible evidence that we have an earthquake hazard here that should be a factor in any planning decision. It crystallizes the argument that this hazard is not random. There is a structure to the location and timing of the earthquakes. This enables us to contemplate risk in an entirely different way. And since we are able to do that, we should be required to do that.”
New York Earthquake Briefs and Quotes:
Existing U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard maps show New York City as facing more hazard than many other eastern U.S. areas. Three areas are somewhat more active—northernmost New York State, New Hampshire and South Carolina—but they have much lower populations and fewer structures. The wider forces at work include pressure exerted from continuing expansion of the mid-Atlantic Ridge thousands of miles to the east; slow westward migration of the North American continent; and the area’s intricate labyrinth of old faults, sutures and zones of weakness caused by past collisions and rifting.
Due to New York’s past history, population density and fragile, interdependent infrastructure, a 2001 analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks it the 11th most at-risk U.S. city for earthquake damage. Among those ahead: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Behind: Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Anchorage.
New York’s first seismic station was set up at Fordham University in the 1920s. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y., has operated stations since 1949, and now coordinates a network of about 40.
Dozens of small quakes have been felt in the New York area. A Jan. 17, 2001 magnitude 2.4, centered in the Upper East Side—the first ever detected in Manhattan itself–may have originated on the 125th Street fault. Some people thought it was an explosion, but no one was harmed.
The most recent felt quake, a magnitude 2.1 on July 28, 2008, was centered near Milford, N.J. Houses shook and a woman at St. Edward’s Church said she felt the building rise up under her feet—but no damage was done.
Questions about the seismic safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which lies amid a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, were raised in previous scientific papers in 1978 and 1985.
Because the hard rocks under much of New York can build up a lot strain before breaking, researchers believe that modest faults as short as 1 to 10 kilometers can cause magnitude 5 or 6 quakes.
In general, magnitude 3 quakes occur about 10 times more often than magnitude fours; 100 times more than magnitude fives; and so on. This principle is called the Gutenberg-Richter relationship.

The French Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)


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Putin visits France for talks; Macron does not give an inch – WLOX.com

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, SYLVIE CORBET and JOHN LEICESTER
Associated Press
VERSAILLES, France (AP) – Flexing his diplomatic muscles, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had “extremely frank, direct” talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, pushing for cooperation on Syria and against the Islamic State group but also launching an extraordinary attack on two Russian media outlets he accused of spreading “lying propaganda.”
The two leaders emerged from their first meeting – discussions at the sumptuous Palace of Versailles that lasted more than an hour longer than planned – clearly still at odds on multiple issues, but also seemingly keen not to let their differences define their fledgling relationship.
Macron said he spoke to Putin about LGBT rights in Chechnya and about the rights of embattled NGOs in Russia, vowing he would be “constantly vigilant” on these issues. Putin emphasized the need for closer cooperation between Russia and France, two nuclear-armed permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Speaking with remarkable frankness, Macron tore into the state-funded Russian media outlets Sputnik and Russia Today, for spreading what he said were “serious untruths” during the French election.
“When press outlets spread defamatory untruths, they are no longer journalists, they are organs of influence. Russia Today and Sputnik were organs of influence during this campaign, which, on several occasions produced untruths about me and my campaign,” Macron said.
“I will not give an inch on this,” he said. “Russia Today and Sputnik … behaved as organs of influence, of propaganda, of lying propaganda.”
Macron was the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the Group of Seven summit over the weekend, where relations with Russia were a key topic.
His invitation to the Russia leader was a surprise after the tough stance on Russia Macron took during the French election. Macron’s aides also claimed that Russian groups launched hacking attacks on his campaign.
Moscow strongly denied all allegations of meddling in the French election that Macron won on May 7. Putin on Monday again poo-pooed the idea as unfounded press speculation.
But he also defended his March meeting with Macron’s rival in the presidential race, far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Putin described Le Pen as a politician who wants to develop friendly ties with Russia and said it would have been strange to rebuff her overtures.
He said the meeting with Le Pen didn’t represent an attempt to sway the race. Putin added that Russia had been well-aware of opinion polls predicting Macron’s victory.
Macron said he was firm on other issues, too.
He said any use of chemical weapons in Syria – where Russia is propping up the government of President Bashar Assad – is a “red line” for France and would be met by “reprisals” and an “immediate riposte” from France.
He did not specify what form such reprisals could take, but France flies warplanes over Syria and Iraq, striking Islamic State targets as part of an international coalition.
Macron portrayed the meeting as just a first step in resetting the country’s relations with Russia.
“Big things are built over time,” he said. “It was an exchange that was extremely frank, direct, with a lot of things that were said.”
“We have disagreements, but at least we talked about them,” he added.
The leaders’ first handshakes – relatively brief and cordial – after Putin climbed out of his limousine at Versailles were far less macho than Macron’s now famous who-will-blink-first handshake showdown with President Donald Trump when the two leaders met for the first time last week.
Putin said he and Macron agreed to discuss pursuing closer cooperation on anti-terror efforts, with a proposed exchange of experts to work toward that goal.
On Syria, Putin underlined the importance of securing the Syrian state, adding that it’s essential for combatting terrorism. Macron took the same stance, saying: “I want us to organize a democratic transition but also preserve a Syrian state.”
“Failed states in that region are a threat for our democracies,” and fuel terrorism, he said.
Later Monday, Putin was visiting a newly built Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center near the Seine River that includes the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The site was sold to Russia under former President Nicolas Sarkozy amid criticism from human rights groups.
Ostensibly, the reason for Putin’s visit was for him to tour an exhibition in Versailles about the 300th anniversary of Russian Czar Peter the Great’s trip to Paris. But it became an opportunity for him and Macron to go over all the thorny issues that divide them, and see where they have common ground.
Human rights activists protested Monday in Paris over the situation of gays in the Russian republic of Chechnya, holding a banner “Stop homophobia in Chechnya” near the Eiffel Tower.
The Macron-Putin relationship got off to a less-than-ideal footing during Macron’s presidential campaign.
Macron had strong words for Russia in his race for the presidency, saying France and Russia don’t share the same values. Putin bet – wrongly – on Macron’s far-right opponent Marine Le Pen, hosting her at the Kremlin in March, before Macron then handily beat her.
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Leicester contributed from Paris.

Blame Trump For the German Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)


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If Germany goes nuclear, blame Trump before Putin

Maximilian Terhalle, (c) 2016, Foreign Policy
Donald Trump has put Germany’s security at risk. His campaign trail claim that NATO was “obsolete” eroded the alliance’s most important resource – its credibility. But his repetition of the same comments as U.S. president has been a five-alarm fire for German strategists and for anyone else who cares about the future of Europe.
NATO is not just the world’s most powerful and long-standing military alliance, which has successfully deterred the potential enemies of its members for seven decades. It is a guarantor of Germany’s national security and a precondition of its continued existence as a politically independent state in Europe. And nobody disputes that NATO’s backbone is the United States’ superior and vast military capacities. They protected Germany against Soviet aggression during the Cold War and have deterred revisionist Russia’s repeated demonstrations of force over the last decade. And at the core of this deterrent are nuclear weapons, many of them stationed in Germany itself.
That leaves Germany with a very serious debate ahead: whether to continue relying on a United States that is now committed to signaling its unreliability or to begin pursuing its own nuclear deterrent – either on its own or as part of a new European security structure. Rudolph Herzog’s recent Foreign Policy article presented a simple view of this argument, where proponents of the idea, such as myself, were represented as adventurous cowboys blind to the lessons of history. But the debate is far more complicated, and more critical, than Herzog portrayed. This is a debate triggered not by indulgent fantasies but by the potential of a strategic vacuum at the heart of the continent.
The withdrawal of this security guarantee, as repeatedly suggested by Trump (to the delight, or perhaps at the prompting, of Vladimir Putin), would expose Germany and its neighbors to an increasingly revisionist and aggressive Russia, intent to redress the collapse of the Soviet Union that cost Russia its imperial possessions in Eastern Europe. We can’t be blind to the signs of Russian aggression. Look at the fate of Crimea in 2014, annexed by Russia in a fit of pique at Ukraine’s refusal to be a vassal state, or the Russian nuclear weapons in the exclave of Kaliningrad (the former K├Ânigsberg) now pointing at German targets.
Russia is unlikely to invade Germany itself. But if the power balance swings in favor of Russia and against Western Europe, that leaves small states like the Baltics in danger from Putin’s revanchist ambitions. With the whip hand in Eastern Europe, Putin would be able to pressure or frighten Western Europe into accepting his authoritarian view of the world. Smaller states would swing toward the Russian side, leaving Germany dangerously exposed. For both moral and realist reasons, Germany needs to shield Eastern Europe against Trump – and nuclear weapons are the only way to guarantee its neighbors independence.
Putin is one tweetstorm by Trump away from having the conventional and strategic military upper hand in Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel cannot sustain her sanctions regime, backed by the EU, if the United States retreats from Europe, precisely because Putin knows that her very effective use of economic power ultimately rests on American military power standing at the ready in the background. But if NATO goes, the weakness of German and European diplomacy, faced with a revisionist great power, becomes conspicuously clear.
If this really were to happen, German nuclear weapons would be the most powerful way to compensate for the American withdrawal and the best means to even out the military imbalance that Trump would have created in Russia’s favor. The inherent terror of nuclear weapons means even a relatively small German program could be a mighty deterrent against Russia’s 7,000 nuclear warheads.
In his piece, Herzog argues that nuclear weapons go against Germany’s post-World War II efforts to act as a global moral leader. But Germany’s European neighbors don’t want lecturing but a more engaged and militarily active Germany. The Baltic states openly demanded German panzer battalions during the Crimean crisis. Even the powerful conservative Polish politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski, formerly an outspoken Germanophobe, publicly welcomed the idea of a German-driven “European nuclear superpower” in February.
World War II has no real political weight in today’s relations between Germany and its eastern (and western) neighbors anymore. Rather, today’s perception of the Russian-driven security dilemma in Eastern Europe determines the views of the Eastern European countries whose courage helped bring down Soviet oppression in the late 1980s. Central and Eastern Europe share this perception of threat from Russia, and, as Kaczynski indicated, this means nuclear power projection on the part of Berlin would be accepted as legitimate.
We might ask why the Germans don’t figure something out with the British and the French, both of whom already own nuclear weapons. But the U.K.’s and France’s nuclear stockpiles are partly outdated, too small, and largely tactical (i.e., short-range). And, critically, would the two countries really step in and shield Germany and Eastern Europe against a Russian attack? Extended deterrence is a fine thing – as long as it works when push comes to shove. The question that the U.K. and France would most likely ask themselves in such a scenario is why not stay out and make peace with Russia, rather than risk war for the sake of interests in Eastern Europe that they see as distant from their own concerns. Such a self-protective reaction would be understandable (and predictable). But it also underlines Germany’s need to acquire nuclear weapons that provide it the ability to independently protect itself and its neighbors to the east.
It’s true that Germany is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This tremendously important international treaty requires all “have-nots” of nuclear weapons to refrain from acquiring them while the “haves,” in turn, make sure that no one else gets them. That is a valid statement, as long as the foundations that made it unnecessary for Germany to even consider nuclear weapons and sign the treaty still exist. But with NATO becoming “obsolete,” the times are rapidly and drastically changing. If the power conditions that made Germany’s position as a “have-not” justifiable are removed, the country cannot be obliged to remain unprotected in the face of a heavily nuclear-armed Russia. Other countries, like Japan, may remain shielded by the United States – but if Europe is abandoned, a responsible, and deeply realistic, government can’t afford this degree of self-denial.
All this talk of a Berlin deterrent has another purpose, which outsiders – even the Economist – have not fully appreciated. Proponents of a German nuclear deterrent are fully aware that despite the U.S. president’s final executive power, making NATO “obsolete” would require the more explicit approval of the administration’s top echelons. Starting the debate has been a reminder to the more cautious or wiser elements in the U.S. government of the stark consequences of abandoning NATO. The United States doesn’t want Germany to have nuclear weapons, and preventing Bonn – and eventually Berlin – from getting them has been one of the side benefits of NATO.
This is not to say that the nuclear proposal was critical in taming Trump’s wild talk for the moment. Other factors may have pushed and pulled the administration much more strongly to cautiously re-appreciate the strategic value of NATO. Still, with Merkel having to deny any such nuclear plans in public early this year, it is not unlikely that the debate was noted in the United States. Certainly this was the case at NATO itself when its (American) deputy secretary-general, Rose Gottemoeller, rejected the idea and instead reassured the European public that the new U.S. president was aware of his long-standing obligations and the benefits for international stability.
Nuclear weapons are expensive, contentious, potentially contagious, and dangerous. Germany is in no rush to get them. But if the shelter of the U.S. nuclear umbrella is removed while Russian weapons are still pointed at Berlin, it will have no choice.
– – –
Terhalle is an associate professor of international politics at Winchester University in Britain and is a senior research fellow at Cambridge University. His most recent book is “The Transition of Global Order: Legitimacy and Contestation.”

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Labile Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Revelation 8)


Who guards Pakistan’s Islamic bomb?

Raaskoh1By Shahdad Baloch
Like every year this year also the Free Balochistan Movement headed by Baloch national leader Hyrbyair Marri has announced to organise a worldwide protest against Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in Balochistan. Pakistan tested his deadly nuclear weapons in Balochistan’s Koh-e-Kambaran and Raaskoh range of Chaghai Balochistan on 28 May 1998. The Baloch nation has been demanding from the civilised nations of the world and the UN to send medical and nuclear experts to examine the effects of the Pakistan’s nuclear radioactive against the local population.
The aftermaths of the nuclear blasts have been horrendous as each other hundreds of people and livestock die due to the mysterious disease. New babies are born abnormal and skin diseases in the region have dramatically increased. These are the effects that the people of Balochistan have been suffering but the nuclear weapons of Pakistan pose a great threat to the world peace if immediate action is not taken to neutralise Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
“Pakistan’s nukes in the hand of religious fanatics” the rising concerns that whether the nukes of Pakistan are safe from terrorist has rendered them as “Apprehended nukes”, mostly apprehensions come up with reality which then became a trauma for the world. The growing concerns that militants might try to snatch a nuclear weapon in transit or insert sympathisers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities, leaves loopholes that who is guarding the growing nukes of Pakistan?
The killing of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad near the army academy already proved that al Qaeda sympathisers might also be among those guarding Pakistan’s nukes. Pakistan does not release details of its nuclear arsenal before IAEA or the world. Estimates vary on the size of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, although analysts suggest Pakistan has between 60 and 120 nuclear warheads. The attack on Pakistan’s Air Force headquarters and GHQ Rawalpindi shows that the terrorists had advance knowledge of the general’s routes, indicating that they had contacts and allies inside the security forces.
Pakistan has the scattered nuclear arsenal, from tactical nuclear weapons to nukes carrying missiles, which lacks proper security planning. The successes of major attacks on Pakistan army bases and the attack carried out at Mehran Base to hijack a naval frigate by serving Navy personals along with Owais Jakhrani, a former Navy cadet, raised an obvious question: Are the bombs safe? Pakistan maintains there is no chance of Islamist militants getting their hands on atomic weapons. But evidence is on record that Pakistani army and ISI are in cardinal relation with terrorists and there is a big lobby within the army who support Taliban, Daesh and Al Qaeda. In such a state if there occurs a coup than how the world defines the guardians of nukes? Might be in That fashion that the militant army and jihadis are guarding nuclear arsenal unanimously!
On April 29th, President Obama was asked at a news conference whether he could reassure the American people that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could be kept away from terrorists. he said, “gravely concerned”. He added that the biggest threat to Pakistan nukes comes internally. It seems that the world is pessimistic regarding the fragile civilian government of Pakistan and her army’s nexus with religious fanatics.
The first reaction in 1998, came when Bill Clinton was president of America. ”I cannot believe,” Mr. Clinton said. ”that we are about to start the 21st century by having the Indian subcontinent repeat the worst mistakes of the 20th century, when we know it is not necessary to peace, to security, to prosperity, to national greatness, or to personal fulfilment.”
The reiterations from religious extremists that they could carry out more organised attacks on Pakistan’s military basis has enhanced the probability of nuclear theft. It is widely believed that tactical nukes are not far from the reach of religious fanatics who see these as Islamic atom bomb, which could be used on the basis of the ideological clash with Jews and Christians. There is growing hatred within Pakistan against countries like Israel, India, USA and occupied Balochistan. On several forums of the world, it was debated that Pakistan might use its nukes on India and occupied Balochistan, holding the pre-emptive measures Pakistan has scattered the nukes due to which nuclear theft is high risk.
Pakistan army is more a Jihadist factory than a state army, for them both non-Muslims and secular Muslim nations like the Baloch nation are infidels and worthy to be killed which reflect ideological similarities between Pakistan army and religious extremists such as ISIS. Since the test of Islamic atom bomb the world leaders, analysts, institutions, states, and nations are of the same lineage that the nukes of Pakistan are in transition towards extremist mentality, but still, the guardians of nukes are being discussed in theories.
Pakistan has turned occupied Balochistan as her “War terrain”, from where she could operate her evil designs against Baloch nation, Israel and India, even American navy and soldiers are not barred from the presence of Pakistani Navy in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, this is because it is hard to differentiate between the guardians of nukes and the religious extremist who are hell bent to destroy the peace of world. The reduced risk of nuclear war is possible only when the world supports the Baloch struggle for the restoration of an independent, nuclear free secular Balochistan, which would be a buffer state against dogmatic extremist and their supporters like Pakistan.

The French and German Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)


As German Chancellor Angela Merkel floats the notion that Europe cannot rely on the United States in the capacity is has in the past, core U.S. allies are ramping up discussions of a European Union nuclear weapons program—or “Eurodeterrent”—that would place France’s weapons arsenal under a common European command, the New York Times reports.
Though proponents are in the minority on the European continent, the idea is a sign of growing concern that the United States, under President Donald Trump, is not committed to the defense of Europe in the same way his predecessors were.
German Council on Foreign Relations head Jana Puglierin said some senior European officials have “triggered a public debate about this, taking place in newspapers and journals, radio interviews and TV documentaries.”
“That in itself is remarkable,” she added. “I am indeed very astonished that we discuss this at all.”
Foundation for Strategic Research deputy director Bruno Tertrais told the Times he previously would have said, “don’t bother, there’s no story here,” but said such a plan could be enacted provided “a serious loss of trust in the U.S. umbrella.” And, given Britain’s pending departure from the E.U., “the French might feel they have a special responsibility” to protect Europe.
Such a loss in trust may be on the horizon. Trump is just now returning from a trip to a NATO summit, which House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said “disrespected out closest allies.” He also failed to voice support for NATO’s Article 5, which is the principle of collective defense that guides the alliance. It commits member nations to protect fellow members and was invoked for the first time after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
On Saturday, Chancellor Merkel argued, “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days.”
“’We Europeans must take our destiny into our own hands,” she added.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Vipin Narang, who was originally skeptical of a “Eurodeterrent,” acknowledged “there is a logic” to such a plan.
“I never thought we would see this again. I never thought there would actually be this concern,” he said. “You can see where the debate is surfacing from.”

North Korea Fires Yet Another Missile


North Korea fires ANOTHER ‘unidentified’ missile as Kim Jong-un threatens WAR

By Henry Holloway & Jamie Micklethwaite /
Kim Jong-un and nuclear explosion GETTYHERE WE GO AGAIN: Kim Jong-un launches his 9th missile this year
North Korea has fired an unidentified projectile, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has said. Kim Jong-un has been questing to create a nuclear-capable ICBM able to strike the US – with dozens of tests in the past year.
Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Pyongyang launched a projectile in the eastern direction from Wonsan, Gangwon Province at dawn.
“The president was immediately notified of the situation, and the president ordered the NSC Standing Committee at 7:30 am,” the military statement said.
It added: “The flight distance is around 450 km, and South Korea and the U.S. are in the process of conducting detailed analysis on additional information.”
North Korea is believed to be on the verge of their sixth nuclear bomb test – but have yet to make good of threats to ramp up their nuclear programme.Kim believes securing a nuclear ICBM will cement his rule in the beggar kingdom and also allow him to put further pressure on the US.Trump has taken a hardline on North Korea since taking office in response to a string of missile launches this spring.