Monday, July 31, 2017

Pressure Mounts Against North Korea

  • US ‘ready to respond with rapid, lethal and overwhelming force’
  • Japan vows to put ‘heaviest possible pressure’ on North
  • China warns launch violates UN Security Council resolutions
  • Trump derides Chinese response in tweets: ‘They do NOTHING for us with North Korea’
The US has flown two bomber jets over the Korean peninsula in a show of force after recent North Korean missile tests, according to a US Air Force statement.
Saturday’s move came after North Korea said it conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday that proved its ability to strike the US mainland, drawing a sharp warning from President Donald Trump.
The flight of B-1B bomber jets was in direct response to the missile test and the previous July 3 launch of the “Hwansong-14” rocket, the US statement said.
The bombers took off from a US airbase in Guam, and were joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets during the exercise, according to the statement.
“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” Pacific Air Forces commander General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said. “If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing”.
The US has in the past used similar flights as a show of force in response to North Korean missile or nuclear tests.

Pyongyang: Entire US in range

The Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed “great satisfaction” after the Hwasong-14 reached a maximum height of 3,725 kilometres and travelled 998 kilometres, before accurately landing in waters off Japan.
The agency quoted Kim as saying that the launch reaffirmed the reliability of the country’s ICBM system and ability to fire at “random regions and locations at random times”, with the “entire” US mainland now within range.
Analysts estimate that the North’s first ICBM in early July could have reached Alaska, and said that the latest missile appeared to extend that range significantly.
Trump condemned the test as a threat to the world, and rejected North Korea’s claim that nuclear power ensures its security.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said he held telephone talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and agreed on the need to put “the heaviest possible pressure” on North Korea.
“We confirmed that we will closely cooperate in adopting a fresh [UN Security Council] resolution, including severe measures, and working on China and Russia,” Kishida told reporters.
China, the North’s main ally, said that it opposed North Korea’s missile launches, which it said violate UN Security Council resolutions designed to curb Pyongyang’s banned nuclear and missile programmes.
“At the same time, China hopes all parties act with caution, to prevent tensions from continuing to escalate,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
However, Trump said he was “very disappointed in China”.
In messages on Twitter, he wrote: “Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet…
“…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”
Kiyul Chung, professor at China’s Tsinghua University, said China has few options and is doing all it can.
“Chinese participation in UN sanctions against [North Korea] has been [significant],” he told Al Jazeera. “What Trump says doesn’t mean much.”
He explained that besides pressuring China, the US has few options.
“I don’t think China will do more, because there is nothing more it can do,” he said.

Growing concern

Washington and its allies have watched with growing concern as Pyongyang has progressed towards its goal of having all of the US within range of its missiles, to counter what it labels as US aggression.
There are other hurdles, including building nuclear warheads to fit on those missiles and ensuring reliability.
But many analysts have been surprised by how quickly Kim has developed North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, despite several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions that have squeezed the impoverished country’s economy.
North Korea is not believed to have yet developed the technology to miniaturise a nuclear weapon to fit in a missile’s warhead.

Source: AP news agency

New York Quake Overdue (The Sixth Seal Rev 6:12)

New York Earthquake Overdue
New York Earthquake Overdue
New York City could start shaking any minute now. Won-Young Kim, who runs the seismographic network for the Northeast at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the city is well overdue for a big earthquake.
From Metro New York:
The last big quake to hit New York City was a 5.3-magnitude tremor in 1884 that happened at sea in between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook. While no one was killed, buildings were damaged.
Kim said the city is likely to experience a big earthquake every 100 years or so.
“It can happen anytime soon,” Kim said. “We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”
New York has never experienced a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake, which are the most dangerous. But magnitude 5 quakes could topple brick buildings and chimneys.
Seismologist John Armbruster said a magnitude 5 quake that happened now would be more devastating than the one that happened in 1884.
“Today, with so many more buildings and people … we’d see billions in damage,” Armbruster said. “People would probably be killed.”

The US Will Soon War With Iran (Daniel 7-8)

President Donald Trump speaking at CPAC, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (Gage Skidmore, CC 2.0)The mask is off: Trump is seeking war with Iran

+972 Blog
By Trita Parsi
President Donald Trump speaking at CPAC, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (Gage Skidmore, CC 2.0)
Something extraordinary has happened in Washington. President Donald Trump has made it clear, in no uncertain terms and with no effort to disguise his duplicity, that he will claim that Tehran is cheating on the nuclear deal by October — the facts be damned. In short, the fix is in. Trump will refuse to accept that Iran is in compliance and thereby set the stage for a military confrontation. His advisors have even been kind enough to explain how they will go about this. Rarely has a sinister plan to destroy an arms control agreement and pave the way for war been so openly telegraphed.
The unmasking of Trump’s plans to sabotage the nuclear deal began two weeks ago when he reluctantly had to certify that Iran indeed was in compliance. Both the US intelligence as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency had confirmed Tehran’s fair play. But Trump threw a tantrum in the Oval Office and berated his national security team for not having found a way to claim Iran was cheating. According to Foreign Policy, the adults in the room—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster — eventually calmed Trump down but only on the condition that they double down on finding a way for the president to blow up the deal by October.
Prior to the revelation of Trump’s Iran certification meltdown, most analysts and diplomats believed that Trump’s rhetoric on Iran was just that — empty talk. His bark was worse than his bite, as demonstrated when he certified Iran’s compliance back in April and when he renewed sanctions waivers in May. The distance between his rhetoric and actual policy was tangible. Rhetorically, Trump officials described Iran as the root of all problems in the Middle East and as the greatest state sponsor of terror. Trump even suggested he might quit the deal.
In action, however, President Trump continued to waive sanctions and admitted that Iran was adhering to the deal. As a result, many concluded that Trump would continue to fulfill the obligations of the deal while sticking to his harsh rhetoric in order to appease domestic opponents of the nuclear deal — as well as Trump’s allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
But now, assessments are changing. The tangible danger of Trump’s malice on the Iran deal — as well as the danger of the advice of the “adults in the room”  —became further clarified this week as tidbits of the reality TV star’s plans began to leak.

How to Wreck a Deal

An IAEA expert demonstrating how the safeguards Next Generation Surveillance System (NGSS) works, March 20, 2015. (Photo: Dean Calma / IAEA)An IAEA expert demonstrating how the safeguards Next Generation Surveillance System (NGSS) works, March 20, 2015. (Photo: Dean Calma / IAEA)

Recognizing that refusing to certify Iran would isolate the United States, Trump’s advisors gave him another plan. Use the spot-inspections mechanism of the nuclear deal, they suggested, to demand access to a whole set of military sites in Iran. Once Iran balks — which it will since the mechanism is only supposed to be used if tangible evidence exists that those sites are being used for illicit nuclear activities — Trump can claim that Iran is in violation, blowing up the nuclear deal while shifting the blame to Tehran.
Thus, the advice of the adults in the room — those who we are supposed to restrain Trump — was not to keep the highly successful nuclear deal that has taken both an Iranian bomb and war with Iran off the table. Rather, they recommended killing it in a manner that would conceal Trump’s malice and shift the cost to Iran.
According to The New York Times, the groundwork for this strategy has already been laid. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker (R-TN) calls this strategy “radical enforcement” of the deal. “If they don’t let us in,” Corker told The Washington Post, “boom.” Then he added: “You want the breakup of this deal to be about Iran. You don’t want it to be about the U.S., because we want our allies with us.”
This is a charade, a rerun of the machinations that resulted in the Iraq war. It doesn’t matter what Iran does or doesn’t do. If it were up to Trump, he’d never have accepted that Iran was in compliance in the first place. He admitted as much to the Wall Street Journal. “If it was up to me, I would have had them [the Iranians] non-compliant 180 days ago.”
Sounding supremely confident of the “radical implementation” strategy, Trump added that “I think they’ll be noncompliant [in October].” In so doing, he further confirmed doubts that the process is about determining whether Iran is in compliance or not. The administration is committed to finding a way to claim Iran has violated the accord, regardless of the facts—just as George W. Bush did with Iraq.
Potential for Backfire
But Trump’s confidence may be misplaced on two levels. First, abusing the inspection mechanisms of the deal may prove harder than Trump has been led to believe. The inspections are the cornerstone of the deal, and Iran’s ability to cheat on the deal is essentially non-existent as long as the integrity and efficiency of the inspections remain in tact. But if Trump begins to abuse the mechanism to fabricate a conflict, he will end up undermining the inspections regime and actually enhance the ability of those in Iran who would like to pursue a covert nuclear program. Precisely because of the commitment of Europe and others to non-proliferation, they are likely to resist Trump’s efforts to tinker with the inspections.
Second, by revealing his hand, Trump has displayed his duplicity for all to see. That includes the American public, whose anti-war sentiments remain strong and are a key reason they supported the nuclear deal in the first place.
The American public knows the Iraq playbook quite well. Trump’s own supporters remain enraged by the disastrous war with Iraq. They know how they got played. It’s difficult to imagine why they would allow themselves to get played again by a president who has left little doubt about his intent to deceive.
Trita Parsi is the president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy. This article was first published in LobeLog.

Nuclear Winter Will Come Soon (Revelation 16)

In a March 23 news story in The New York Times, the general in charge of our nuclear arms arsenal, Jack Weinstein, called for “…a strengthened and modernized nuclear deterrence force in this country.” Why? Because nuclear deterrence has worked in the past and it will work in the future. On that premise, General Weinstein said, “I sleep very well at night.”
Many of us don’t. We recall that four or five times during the Cold War, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union had over 60,000 nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert, there were accidents that came close to triggering a catastrophic exchange of nuclear missiles. For example, in 1979, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) computers showed that 200 Soviet missiles were streaking towards U.S. targets. “It took us several days to ascertain that an operator had mistakenly installed a training tape in the computer, “ said William Perry, in his book My Journey at the Nuclear Brink.
The unavoidable fact is, no plan of defense is perfect and the leadership of any country is not always reliably rational. What’s more, the belief in failsafe deterrence does not take into account the lightening fast response required in the face of a perceived nuclear missile attack—with only 15 minutes to decide whether to respond.
Nine countries now have nuclear weapons, and that in itself makes the current risk of mishap or misbehavior even higher than it was during the Cold War. What if an unstable commander in chief is seized by a maniacal sense of humiliation, depression, fury? History is replete with unlikely events spinning out of control. For example, the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian prince in 1914 triggered a concatenation of events that exploded into the horror of World War One-–a horror magnified because all countries were armed to the teeth. .
Contrary to General Weinstein, nuclear deterrence does not mean we can sleep more peacefully. It means rather that we had better start taking a closer look at the possibility of nuclear winter.
Recall that nuclear winter was the subject of a major scientific paper called TTAPS published in Science Magazine in December of 1983, so-named for the initials of the authors on the project, Robert Turco, Owen Toon, Thomas Ackerman, James Pollack, and Carl Sagan, the most famous of the group. Although there was a flurry of media for a short time, the subject evoked a vigorous backlash from industrial and military interests, and then vanished from attention once the Cold War collapsed at the end of the decade. Between 1990 and 2003 no new scientific papers on the subject were published.
However, after 9/11 and our headlong plunge into a misbegotten “war on terror” came a resurrection of interest . A number of leading climatologists and physicists returned to their laboratories to re-investigate the subject, only this time with new computers and advanced modeling tools, including NASA’s latest climate models. Within the last decade or so these scientists have produced at least five notable scientific papers in prestigious scholarly journals, each of which has been subject to peer review by reputable scientists. These studies not only confirmed the soundness of the basic physics but also showed a nuclear war could be even more devastating than previously thought.
One of the most riveting examples was a scientific paper published by the American Geophysics Union in the journal Earth’s Future in April, 2014. Four scientists, Drs. Owen B. Toon, Michael J. Mills, Julia Lee-Taylor, and Alan Robock studied the likely effects of a regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, assuming each side would detonate 50 bombs of the same size as the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The immediate result would be 20 million deaths. This would be followed by massive firestorms which would send millions of tons of smoke and black carbon into the stratosphere, higher than the cleansing effects of rain, where a layer of particles would then form and circle the globe. The earth’s temperature would drop to the coldest average surface levels in the last 1000 years—and killing frosts would reduce growing seasons by 10 to 40 days, producing a 30 to 40 percent reduction in agricultural yield over five years and cause massive human starvation.
What’s more, the bombs used in this computer study were only 15 kilotons, whereas the actual bombs in the present nuclear arsenal are seven to eight times more powerful. Dr. Steven Starr, director of clinical laboratories at the University of Missouri, declares that “Nuclear Winter would cause most humans and large animals to die from famine in a mass extinction event similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.”
These scientists are saying, in effect, that a war fought with nuclear weapons is a game of Russian roulette with bullets in all chambers. Nuclear war, in short, is tantamount to mass suicide. If we choose to believe this science has any credence at all, and if we wish to bequeath a habitable planet to our offspring, then we had better start mounting a much louder cry to abolish these dreadful weapons.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Iranian Hegemony Courtesy of Obama

Two Years after Nuclear Deal, Iran Seeking Regional Dominance
By Keyvan Salami
New York – July marks the second anniversary of the controversial nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).A deal which not only did not stop Iran’s nuclear program, but it only delayed it and at the same time provided billions of dollars to the regime to pursue its destructive policies in the region.
The Obama Administration and other advocates of the appeasement policy claimed that this agreement would bring serious changes to Iran’s behavior, including its actions in the Middle East. Two years on, it is increasingly evident that these claims, hollow and baseless on some levels, have fallen short.
The deal and the misguided policy that it influenced have emboldened Iran in many areas, especially its malign regional activities. The agreement not only failed to improve the Iranian people’s economic status, but it actually granted the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) billions of dollars to pursue its destructive policies in the region.
After spending the billions in windfall from the nuclear deal, Iran has begun meddling with its neighboring countries. Superficially, Iran has become a regional power, but what is the reality? Is Iran truly a regional powerhouse, and is there an ulterior motive behind the involvement in other countries’ affairs?
A quick look at Iran’s modern history suggests that its current actions in the region might actually signal that it possesses less power than is thought. Since the start of their rule, the mullahs based their regime on two pillars: crushing any domestic opposition and creating crises abroad. The adoption of such polices embodies the very nature of this regime. The mullahs’ regime is a backward-minded regime belonging to the Middle Ages which opposes social liberties and developments.
The system is based on Velayat-e Faqih (custodianship of the clergy) and it places all religious and legal authority in the hands of the Supreme Leader. What this means, in both theory and in practice, is that the Ali Khamenei (like Ruhollah Khomeini before him) plays a direct role in all the country’s affairs; and no individual, group, or committee in the country has the right to question or hold him accountable.
By contrast, Iranian society is a sizable demographic of young, highly educated citizens seeking increased development and more social liberties. This regime cannot match the contemporary society’s needs and considers force and suppression to be the only methods of maintaining their grip on power.
To perpetuate the systematic and widespread suppression inside the country, the mullahs rely on external crises to divert public attention. As a result, the “export of revolution”—more precisely the “export of terrorism”—and “creating crises outside of Iran” became Tehran’s official policy. There are numerous examples of the consequences of this policy.
The Iran-Iraq war, for example, lasted eight years, leaving millions on both sides either dead or injured, and many more displaced. Hundreds of cities and villages were destroyed, and damages were estimated at $1 trillion for Iran alone. It also contributed to the establishment of Hezbollah and general interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs, the rise of Houthis in Yemen, the ascendancy of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and the subsequent Syrian Civil War.
Former regime Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini described the war as “God’s blessing.” During the war, Tehran brutally crushed its opposition through mass executions; in the summer of 1988 alone, 30,000 political prisoners were massacred across the country. The victims were mainly members and supporters of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI-MEK).
Other international crises have served the regime in the same way. Tehran has brought carnage and suffering to thousands of innocent people in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and other Arab countries with their attempts to maintain their power.
Senior Iranian officials argue, “One reason we have been in Syria… and Iraq, and carried out these measures, is that instead of fighting the enemy in the streets of Tehran, Kermanshah, Arak, Qum, Sanandaj and Tabriz, we have taken the fight to Deir ez-Zur, Raqqa, Aleppo, Homs and Mosul….”
Iran’s tactics and daliances in other countries affairs are not due to the nation’s inherent strength. supporting regime change is the only real policy to stand against their export of terrorism.
Change to: Iran is not a regional power and its meddling in other countries affairs is not a sign of their dominance, but on the contrary it’s a smoke screen to hide their internal instability and weakness. As a result, the only real policy to stop Iran’s export of terrorism is a change in the government and regime in Iran.
The annual Iranian Resistance gathering on July 1 clearly demonstrated how regime change is within reach. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, was the keynote speaker of the conference. She emphasized that the only way to liberate the Iranian people from religious tyranny and to establish peace and tranquility in the region is to overthrow the Velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule).
The overthrow of this regime is necessary, feasible and within reach, and that a democratic alternative and an organized resistance exists to topple it, she underscored.
The parties behind the democratic alternative are working to establish freedom and democracy in Iran. Their plans will bring harmony to various ethnic groups, end discord and divide between Shiites and Sunnis, and eliminate tensions between Iran and its neighbors, Mrs. Rajavi concluded.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

The Smaller Horn of the Antichrist Grows

Iraq’s Shiite leaders shrugging off Iran? Don’t bet on it

Sami Moubayed
A handful of Iraqi Shiite leaders have been trying – with very limited success – to shrug off long-held stereotypes that they are stooges of the Iranian regime. In April, the powerful cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down, raising speculation that he was ready to part ways with the mullahs, given the amount of support Tehran has shown its Syrian ally since 2011.
Sadr, who commands a powerful parliamentary bloc and runs a militia bearing his name, was formerly a firm friend of Damascus and a 2012 recipient of the Syrian Order of Merit. His words were seen as a “soft defection” from the Iranian orbit; yet three months later, they seem like more of a trial balloon, as he remains firmly allied to Tehran and Damascus.
This month, heavyweight Shiite leader Ammar al-Hakim walked out on the Iran-funded Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, an all-Shiite party established by his uncle and father back in 1980. Hakim set up a new “independent” party called the National Wisdom Movement that denounces the “militarization of Iraqi society,” conveniently ignoring the fact that, for decades, his family operated a deadly militia that fought alongside the Iranians during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and commanded death squads on the streets of Baghdad post-2003.
Hakim claims that his new party is not a vehicle for Iranian influence in Iraq, saying that it welcomes membership from Iraqi Sunnis, Christians, and ethnic Kurds. The influential Saudi daily, al-Hayat, sees this as a clear break from Iranian influence, hailing Hakim’s audacity and claiming that he is now seen as “moderate and acceptable” throughout the wider Arab and Muslim worlds.
In late July, a third heavyweight, Vice-President Nuri al-Malki, also hinted that he too was distancing himself from the Iranians, even though during his tenure as prime minister in 2006-2014, he was one of Iran’s staunchest allies in the Arab World. Almost single-handedly, Malki steered Iraq fully into the Iranian orbit, using his Dawa Party to infiltrate the Iraqi civil service and armed forces with Shiite affiliates. Under his premiership, Shiite militias executed Saddam Hussein and, six years later, entered the Syrian battlefield, fighting alongside Hizbullah.
Whether these overtures are sincere or synchronized and fake remains to be seen from how distant these three figures start becoming from Iran
However, Malki recently wrapped up a visit to St Petersburg – where he met Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin – by asking the Russians to play a greater role in Iraqi affairs. If that happens, it would be at the expense of Iranian influence. Some are speculating that Malki is upset with Iran for failing to protect him when he was ousted and replaced by the current premier Haidar Abadi, accused of failing to protect Iraqi towns and cities when they were overrun by the Islamic State in the summer of 2014. Now Malki is saying that he wants to achieve a “balanced policy,” one that “doesn’t allow a foreign political entity” to exert tutelage over Iraq — another veiled reference, it seems, to the Iranians.
Malki discussed revisiting an outstanding US$4.2 billion arms deal with Moscow that has been put on hold due to massive corruption and profiteering in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. He asked to buy T-90 battle tanks from the Russians, a contract that could potentially reach US$1 billion.
Whether these overtures are sincere or synchronized and fake remains to be seen from how distant these three figures start becoming from Iran. The fact that all of them have been on Iranian payroll since the 1980s and 90s makes it difficult to take their new positioning seriously. Indeed, they would all be political nobodies had it not been for solid Iranian political backing: Iran financed their rise to power, arming militias to protect them and cement their rule on the streets of Baghdad. In return, they willingly played the bridge for Iranian influence, helping to transform the country into an Iranian satellite from 2003 onwards.
Their defection, therefore, is more of a re-branding stunt than an actual rebirth, and aimed at polishing their image in non-Shiite circles. Hakim lost his parliamentary majority during the elections of 2010 because ordinary Iraqis wrote him off as an Iranian stooge, while Malki was hissed at on the streets of Baghdad in 2011 because of his submissiveness to Iranian hegemony. Instead of inventing new leaders, Tehran may have decided to give the existing ones a face-lift with an eye on upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections in April 2018.

History Warns New York Is The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

History says New York is earthquake prone

New York Earthquake 1884
New York Earthquake 1884
Friday, 18 March 2011 – 9:23pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: ANI
If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.
According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.
A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.
Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.
There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.
There’s another fault line on Dyckman St and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.
“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.
He adds: “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.”
“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.
Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.
The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale.

Instability in the Pakistani Horn

Why the ousting of the Pakistan prime minister is such a big deal
Stockbyte | Getty Images
Luke Graham
Pakistan is likely to face serious political and economic instability after the country’s three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is ousted from power by the Supreme Court following a corruption investigation into his family’s wealth.
“He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister,” Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court, Reuters reported.
But the nuclear-armed country is now set for political uncertainty with no clear successor in place.
Why has Nawaz Sharif resigned?
Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday morning to disqualify Sharif, along with the country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar, from power. Sharif also faces a corruption trial after investigators said his family could not account for its wealth. Sharif resigned shortly after the ruling.
The allegations relate to the 2015 “Panama Papers,” which revealed three of Sharif’s children had links to offshore companies which owned properties in London, according to BBC reports.
The court’s decision is a victory for the rule of law, according to Timothy Ash, emerging markets senior sovereign strategist at BlueBay Asset Management.
“Politicians have been brought to account in Pakistan – can the same be said for many emerging markets, e.g. Ukraine and South Africa. On the latter we talk a lot about the strength of South African institutions, but have any major politicians been brought to account for stuff that is not dis-similar, even worse, than this?” he said in an email to CNBC.
Ash said the ruling is a credit to Pakistan, even though it raises questions over the country’s political stability.
Will this affect the U.S.?
The ruling will make it more difficult for the U.S. to find a solution to the war in Afghanistan, says Wali Aslam, senior lecturer in international security at the University of Bath.
“High-ranking military and civilian officials in Washington have recently been reiterating the significance of Pakistan in resolving the conflict. In his recent visit to the region, Senator John McCain said, ‘We will not have peace in the region without Pakistan,'” he said in a press statement.
Aslam warns Pakistan’s relations with the U.S., China and India could be disrupted now Sharif is gone.
Who will take over from Sharif?
Sharif has been prime minister of Pakistan three times: from 1990 to 1993; from 1997 until 1999; and since July 2013. Pakistan’s prime minister is the chief executive of the country, with the power to form a cabinet, assign government ministers and control the country’s nuclear weapons.
Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), will get to choose the next prime minister, at least until the elections in the summer of 2018, according to Daniel Salter, head of equity strategy and head of research for Eurasia at Renaissance Capital. There may be infighting within the party, he warns.
“Nawaz’s daughter, Mariam Nawaz Sharif, who was being groomed as potential successor was also caught up in the (corruption) case: local sources seem to assume the army may have given its support to this ruling, perhaps to prevent the Sharif dynasty becoming overly powerful,” Salter said in a note.
With Sharif’s daughter compromised, Salter says the most likely successors are Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the national assembly; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, minister of petroleum; Khurram Dastgir Khan, commerce minister; and Khawaja Muhammad Asif, defense minister. He adds that Sharif may try to guide the party from the background.
The defence minister or railway minister Khawaja Saad Rafique are the most likely successors, says Asad Ali, Asia country risk analyst at IHS Markit, but he warns there’s risk of a split within the party.
“An official split in the PML-N ahead of the election would fracture the party’s vote bank in Punjab,” he told CNBC via email.
What does this mean for the economy?
Sharif’s ousting will weaken PML-N’s chances of winning the election in 2018. The party is Pakistan’s most investment-friendly and pro-business party, according to Ali.
“Since it came to power in 2013, Pakistan’s key economic indicators have gradually improved due to better economic management while foreign investment has slowly picked up”, Ali said.
Pakistan’s all-share stock exchange fell sharply on the news, falling by 1.6 percent, but bounced back to finish up 44 points on Friday.
The country’s currency is also vulnerable, according to Daniel Salter.
“The Pakistani rupee has been vulnerable in recent months, overvalued on our REER (real effective exchange rate) metric. The currency had a mini sell off in early July which was quickly reversed and the central bank governor replaced,” he said.
“The current account has been worsening, FX reserves falling and exports contracting. We had assumed the government would keep the currency supported and allow weakening post-election.”
The Supreme Court ruling has increased uncertainty ahead of Pakistan’s next election, Salter cautions.
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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Iran’s Hegemony in Iraq

Tehran’s New Scheme For Iraq
In his visit to Moscow this week, Iraqi Vice President Nuri Al-Maliki peddled what he presented as his big idea: inviting Russia to build “a significant presence’ in Iraq to counter-balance that of the United States.
Since Maliki is reputed to be Tehran’s candidate as the next Iraqi prime Minister his “invitation” to Russia cannot be dismissed as a mere personal whim.
With ISIS driven out of Mosul and, hopefully, soon to be driven other pockets of territory it still controls in Iraq, the decks are being cleared for the forthcoming general election that would decide the shape of the next government in Baghdad. Fancying itself as the “big winner” in Iraq, the Tehran leadership is working on a strategy to make that fancy a reality.
That strategy has three key elements.
The first is to create a new, supposedly “liberal” and “non-sectarian” Shi’ite coalition to dominate the next parliament and, through that, the next government in Baghdad. That requires a reshuffling of political cards and the discarding of some old outfits.
In an editorial last Tuesday the Islamic Republic official news agency IRNA, argued that “old formations” that had come into being during the struggle against Saddam Hussein and the subsequent post-liberation crisis were no longer capable of dealing with “new realities in Iraq.”
It was on the basis of that analysis that Ammar al-Hakim, a leading politician-cum cleric announced his separation from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the formation of a new party named “National Wisdom Movement “(Tayar al-Hikmah al-Watani).
Hakim who hails from an old and respected dynasty of clerics originally from Shiraz argues that time has come to “break barriers of sects and ethnicities” in favor of the concept of “citizenship”. Tus he comes close to advocating the concept of “uruqah” (Iraqi-ness) that has long been a theme of such Iraqi Shiite politicians as Ayyad Allawi and Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Tehran sources expect the “new model” to be adopted by other Shiite parties and groups. Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi is reportedly studying the creating of a new “secular” formation away from his original political home in the Ad-Da’awah (The Call) Party which has always been a clearly sectarian formation.
Talks are already under way for the merger of Abadi’s support base with the Sadrist Movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, scion of another distinguished clerical dynast originally from Mahallat, southwest of Tehran. According to unconfirmed reports the new Abadi-Sadr coalition will be called “Freedom and Reconstruction”, a clearly non-sectarian identity.
Tehran’s hope is that Maliki will transform his wing of the Ad-Dawah into yet another “non-sectarian” outfit to support his bid for premiership, presumably with support from Hakim.
The apparent de-sectarianization of pro-Iran Shiite parties will make it difficult for Allawi and other genuinely non-sectarian Shiite politicians, who are hostile to Iranian influence in Baghdad, to appeal to the Shiite majority on the basis of citizenship and “uruqah”.
The new “de-sectarianization” gambit will also put pressure on Kurdish parties at a time some of them are campaigning for an “independence” referendum. It would be more difficult to sell the idea of an “independent” mini-state of Kurdistan to the international public opinion at a time that Iraq is seen to be moving towards a non-religious democratic and pluralist political system.
The gambit will also make it more difficult for Arab Sunni sectarians to garner support in the name of resisting a Shiite sectarian takeover of government in Baghdad. Salim al-Juburi, a leading Arab Sunni politician and Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, is reportedly moving towards the creation of a non-sectarian party of his own.
The second element of the Iranian strategy is to almost oblige the clerical authority in Najaf (Marja’iyah) to endorse, even reluctantly, a Shiite political leadership clearly committed to Iran. Tehran knows that no government in Baghdad would have a chance of success without at least tacit blessing from Grand Ayatollah Ai-Muhammad Sistani.
Sistani has consistently refused to play the sectarian card and has advised politicians of all shades to think in terms of national rather than religious considerations. Thus, Tehran’s decision to “de-sectarianize” the Iraqi parties it supports will be a concession to Sistani.
Tehran is offering yet another concession to Sistani by abandoning its campaign to influence the Grand Ayatollah’s succession. The initial Iranian candidate for succession, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahrudi, a former senior official of the Islamic Republic, has been quietly cast aside and is reported to be in declining health.
Without formally saying so, Iran now admits that the issue of Sistani’s succession must be sorted out by the “howzah” (seminary) in Najaf possibly with some input from Qom and certainly not through diktat from Tehran.
The third element of the strategy is to draw Russia into Iraq as a façade for Iranian influence.
Tehran leaders know that the vast majority of Iraqis resent the emergence of Iran as arbiter of their destiny. Russia, however, is seen as remote enough not to pose a direct threat to the internal balance of power in Iraq. Yet, because Russia has no local support base in Iraq, it would have to rely on Iranian guidance and goodwill to play a leading role there.
A new Baghdad government composed of “non-sectarian” Shiite leaders promising a better deal for Arab Sunnis and Kurds, and backed by Russia, will be a better cover for the spread and consolidation of Iranian influence in Iraq.
There is, of course, no guarantee that the new Tehran strategy will work. Many Iraqis, including some among those reputedly close to Iran, believe that Iraq itself can and must aspire after becoming a major player in the Middle East rather than playing Sancho Panza to the “Supreme Guide” in Tehran.
Iraqi leaders also see no logic in turning the United States and Arab states into enemies just to suit Tehran’s doomed empire-building project, especially at a time that the Islamic Republic seems to be heading for the choppy waters of Khamenei’s succession.
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Often go awry
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy.
Amir Taheri
Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. Mr. Taheri has won several prizes for his journalism, and in 2012 was named International Journalist of the Year by the British Society of Editors and the Foreign Press Association in the annual British Media Awards.

The Sixth Seal by Nostradamus (Rev 6:12)

The Sixth Seal by Nostradamus
To Andrew the Prophet
Completed February 5, 2008
Nostradamus and the New City
Nostradamus and the New City
Les Propheties
(Century 1 Quatrain 27)
Michel de Nostredame Earth-shaking fire from the center of the earth.Will cause the towers around the New City to shake,Two great rocks for a long time will make war, And then Arethusa will color a new river red.(And then areth USA will color a new river red.) Earth-shaking fire from the center of the earth.Will cause the towers around the New City to shake,Two great rocks for a long time will make war
There is recent scientific evidence from drill core sampling in Manhattan, that the southern peninsula is overlapped by several tectonic plates. Drill core sampling has been taken from regions south of Canal Street including the Trade Towers’ site. Of particular concern is that similar core samples have been found across the East River in Brooklyn. There are also multiple fault lines along Manhattan correlating with north-northwest and northwest trending neo-tectonic activity. And as recently as January and October of 2001, New York City has sustained earthquakes along these plates. For there are “two great rocks” or tectonic plates that shear across Manhattan in a northwestern pattern. And these plates “for a longtime will make war”, for they have been shearing against one other for millions of years. And on January 3 of 2010, when they makewar with each other one last time, the sixth seal shall be opened, and all will know that the end is near.
And then Arethusa will color a new river red.
Arethusa is a Greek mythological figure, a beautiful huntress and afollower of the goddess Artemis. And like Artemis, Arethusa would have nothing to do with me; rather she loved to run and hunt in the forest. But one day after an exhausting hunt, she came to a clear crystal stream and went in it to take a swim. She felt something from beneath her, and frightened she scampered out of the water. A voice came from the water, “Why are you leaving fair maiden?” She ran into the forest to escape, for the voice was from Alpheus, the god of the river. For he had fallen in love with her and became a human to give chase after her. Arethusa in exhaustion called out to Artemis for help, and the goddess hid her by changing her into a spring.But not into an ordinary spring, but an underground channel that traveled under the ocean from Greece to Sicily. But Alpheus being the god of the river, converted back into water and plunged downthe same channel after Arethusa. And thus Arethusa was captured by Artemis, and their waters would mingle together forever. And of great concern is that core samples found in train tunnels beneath the Hudson River are identical to those taken from southern Manhattan. Furthermore, several fault lines from the 2001 earthquakes were discovered in the Queen’s Tunnel Complex, NYC Water Tunnel #3. And a few years ago, a map of Manhattan drawn up in 1874 was discovered, showing a maze of underground waterways and lakes. For Manhattan was once a marshland and labyrinth of underground streams. Thus when the sixth seal is broken, the subways of the New City shall be flooded be Arethusa:the waters from the underground streams and the waters from the sea. And Arethusa shall be broken into two. And then Arethusa will color a new river red.
And then areth USA will color a new river red.
For Arethusa broken into two is areth USA. For areth (αρετη) is the Greek word for values. But the values of the USA are not based on morality, but on materialism and on wealth. Thus when the sixth seal is opened, Wall Street and our economy shall crash and “arethUSA”, the values of our economy shall fall “into the red.” “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17)

North Korea Closes in on U.S.

North Korea tests another ICBM, putting U.S. cities in range
Jack Kim and Elaine Lies
SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea fired a missile on Friday that experts said was capable of striking Los Angeles and other U.S. cities and the United States and South Korea responded by staging a joint missile exercise, the South Korean news agency Yonhap said.
The unusual late-night launch added to exasperation in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo over Pyongyang’s continuing development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to deliver them. North Korean President Kim Jong Un’s military had already raised alarms early this month with its first ICBM launch.
“As a result of their launches of ICBM-level missiles, this clearly shows the threat to our nation’s safety is severe and real,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who planned to call a meeting of his National Security Council.
Following a meeting of South Korea’s National Security Council, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he wanted the U.N. Security Council to discuss new and stronger sanctions against the North, the presidential Blue House said.
The top U.S. military official, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, and Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, spoke by phone with the top South Korean military official, General Lee Sun-jin, to discuss military response options to the launch.
Later the United States and South Korea took part in a ballistic missile exercise.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered discussions to be held with the United States on deploying additional THAAD anti-missile defense units following North Korea’s test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, his office said on Saturday.
Moon also wanted the United Nations Security Council to discuss new and stronger sanctions against the North, the presidential Blue House said following a National Security Council meeting.
Two units of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system have been deployed by the U.S. military in a southern South Korean region, with four more planned but delayed over concerns about their environmental SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered discussions to be held with the United States on deploying additional THAAD anti-missile defense units following North Korea’s test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, his office said on Saturday.
Moon also wanted the United Nations Security Council to discuss new and stronger sanctions against the North, the presidential Blue House said following a National Security Council meeting.
Two units of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system have been deployed by the U.S. military in a southern South Korean region, with four more planned but delayed over concerns about their environmental impact.
Reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul, Elaine Lies and William Mallard in Tokyo, Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom in Washington and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Writing by Philip Blenkinsop and Bill Trott; Editing by John Stonestreet and James Dalgleish

Friday, July 28, 2017

Iran’s ICBM Courtesy of Korea

Matthew Kroenig
Earlier this month, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable (ICBM), capable of reaching Alaska. It is believed that Pyongyang now has enough nuclear material for up to 30 nuclear weapons, missiles that can easily range U.S. bases and allies in Asia, and, in a couple of years, it will possess an ICBM capable of holding at risk the continental United States. This would make North Korea only the third U.S. adversary (after Russia and China) with the ability to threaten nuclear war against the United States and its allies.
If we are not careful, Iran may be next.
The North Korean nuclear crisis began in the 1990s. At the end of the Cold War, Pyongyang signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), but international inspectors immediately found discrepancies in North Korea’s declarations. Washington suspected Pyongyang of harboring a secret program to reprocess plutonium for the production of nuclear weapons. (Along with uranium enrichment, plutonium reprocessing is one of two methods to produce nuclear fuel for either nuclear reactors, or for nuclear weapons.)
President Bill Clinton’s administration prepared a military strike on North Korea’s nuclear reactor, but the operation was called off due to hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough. Republicans in Congress derided the Clinton administration’s naivety for its engagement with a nuclear-seeking totalitarian regime, but a deal was eventually struck. Under the 1994 “Agreed Framework” North Korea agreed to freeze its plutonium production program in exchange for economic aid and other benefits. Some of the deal’s proponents argued that the details of the agreement did not really matter, however, because it was only a matter of time before the Kim regime in North Korea fell, solving the problem for us.
We now know that North Korea cheated on the agreement almost from day one, launching a secret uranium-enrichment program with the help of sensitive nuclear assistance from Pakistan.
The Bush administration confronted North Korea with its suspicions in 2002, setting off a decade of bipartisan policy failures. Bush and Obama increased sanctions and engaged in futile negotiations, but it was not enough.
In October 2006, North Korea conducted its first of six nuclear tests. Since that time, it has conducted over 70 missile tests, including 17 this year. Some take comfort that some of these tests are failures, but practice makes perfect. With every test, successful or not, North Korea further ensconces itself in the nuclear club.
There were flickerings of renewed diplomacy and even a couple of agreements. In 2007, the six parties agreed to an “action plan” for North Korean denuclearization. And in February 2012, there was a “Leap Day deal.” But both unraveled in a spectacular fashion. The Leap Day deal, for example, prohibited missile tests, but just weeks after the agreement was signed, North Korea conducted a satellite launch, scuttling the accord. (Recall Sputnik: The technology required to launch a satellite into space is exactly the same needed to launch an ICBM.)
Of course, hopes of regime change did not materialize, and Kim Jong Un is the third generation in the Kim family to rule the Hermit Kingdom with an iron fist.
President Donald Trump assumed office amid a bipartisan consensus that North Korea should now be a foremost national-security priority and the administration has conducted a comprehensive review that will leave no options off the table.
It is likely that Trump’s strategy will contain two key pillars. First, Washington will seek to increase diplomatic, economic, and military pressure on North Korea with the goal of forcing Pyongyang to the negotiating table and persuading them to limit and then roll back their nuclear and missile program. Recent moves in this direction include secondary sanctions on Chinese firms and banks doing business with the North. Second, realizing that this could be a difficult and lengthy task but that serious threats exist in the here and now, the United States will take steps to defend itself and its allies. This will include the deployment of missile defenses, such as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea. It will also include the development of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to track North Korea’s nuclear assets and offensive strike capabilities to make sure that if North Korea uses a nuclear weapon, it will not be permitted to use a second or a third.
This is not a great set of options, but it is better than the alternatives. I remain hopeful, but others insist that the game is over. They claim we need to learn to live with a nuclear-armed North Korea, despite the fact that several consecutive U.S. presidents have declared that a nuclear North Korea is “unacceptable.”
The Iranian nuclear crisis began in the 1990s when Tehran cheated on its NPT commitments and began a secret uranium-enrichment program with the help of Pakistan. The program was revealed in 2002, leading to over a decade of increased sanctions, unproductive negotiations, and an ever-expanding Iranian uranium-enrichment and missile program. Israel threatened military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and President Barack Obama declared “all options on the table,” but, once again the prospect of a diplomatic resolution proved irresistible. In 2015, a deal was struck and the Obama administration hailed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as one of its crowning achievements.
Unlike the Agreed Framework, however, which prohibited North Korea from making nuclear fuel altogether, the JCPOA gives Iran’s uranium enrichment program an international stamp of approval. The deal places limits on Iranian enrichment, but those restrictions begin to expire after 10 years (or roughly eight years from last week).
Some of the deal’s proponents argue that we should not worry about these sunset clauses because Iran will be a fundamentally different country when the deal expires. Years of cooperation with the West and integration in the international economy under the terms of the deal, they argue, will help topple the mullahs and usher to power a more reasonable, and possibly even a pro-Western and democratic, government. Hope springs eternal, but we have been wish-casting for democratic uprisings in Iran and North Korea for many years, and neither appears close to becoming Switzerland any time soon.
Few experts expect this deal to resolve the Iranian nuclear threat. In a recent workshop in Washington, D.C., several other specialists and I (including those who had favored and opposed the deal) forecasted the future of the accord. We all assessed that Iran’s ultimate goal is to have its cake and eat it too: sanctions relief and a robust nuclear and missile program. All but one of us believed that Iran would cheat on the deal before it expires. The only one who believed the deal would endure reasoned that the mullahs had every incentive to abide by the accord because it was such a sweetheart deal. They can revitalize their economy with a decade of sanctions relief and then recommence their march to the bomb once the limits expire. In short, none of us were optimistic.
Moreover, the deal does not cover Iran’s ballistic-missile program. Iran has the most sophisticated ballistic-missile program in the Middle East. The Obama administration made a strategic decision to exclude ballistic missiles from negotiations because they thought including them would have been too hard. Iran has conducted several ballistic-missile tests since the nuclear deal went into effect. It now possesses medium-range ballistic missiles capable of ranging the Middle East (including Israel) and Southeastern Europe. And earlier this year, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency estimated that Iran could have the ability to deploy an operational ICBM by 2020.
We are in a tough spot, but, unlike in North Korea, we do have the ability to stop Iran from going nuclear. As an adviser to then-presidential candidate Marco Rubio, I recommended tearing up the Iran deal on day one. That moment has passed. At present, I believe the best we can do is to do to Iran what Iran is doing to us: Abide by the strict terms of the deal, but compete in every other area not covered by the deal. The Trump administration should ratchet up economic pressure on the still-economically-vulnerable clerical regime: new ballistic-missile tests, new sanctions; new human-rights abuses, new sanctions. We should also seek to push back on Iran’s malign influence in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon.
What is the ultimate purpose of this increased pressure? The Trump administration is still completing its Iran-policy review. Some argue that we should use the increased pressure to force Iran back to the table and seek to increase the limits on the sunset clause to 25 or 50 years.
This might be worthwhile. Or, like the previous deals with North Korea and Iran, renegotiations might prove counterproductive. I am a political scientist by training. Political science is not physics. We don’t have many valid covering laws. But one thing we are pretty sure we know is that autocracies are less likely than democracies to sign international agreements, and when they do, they are more likely to cheat. But we never seem to learn our lesson. North Korea cheated on the agreed framework and several follow-up accords, Russia is currently violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and I would not bet my life that the JCPOA will die a natural death.
Yet, still some will argue for continued diplomacy with the Islamic Republic. Indeed, many critics initially scoffed at Trump’s calls for “renegotiating” of the Iran deal, but today even E.U. officials and Democrats in Washington are calling for “additional negotiations,” which is a distinction without a difference.
Other experts in Washington have made a renewed press for an explicit policy of regime change in Iran, not through military force, but through increased pressure on the mullahs and increased support to opposition groups.
Regardless of the path we choose, we must be absolutely clear that we are willing to do whatever it takes to stop Iran from acquiring enough nuclear material for even a single nuclear weapon. If and when Tehran cheats on the accord or the limits expire, we will snap back sanctions per the terms of the JCPOA (although this admittedly is a thin reed). And, if necessary, we are willing to use force if necessary to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.
The JCPOA put us in a bad spot and we are left with few good options. But, fortunately, we still have alternatives to living with another North Korea, but this time in the volatile Middle East.
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Matthew Kroenig is an Associate Professor and International Relations Field Chair in the Department of Government at Georgetown and a Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at The Atlantic Council. He formerly worked as a special adviser on defense policy and strategy for Iran in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is the author of A Time to Attack: The Looming Iranian Nuclear Threat.

History Warns New York Is The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

History says New York is earthquake prone

New York Earthquake 1884
New York Earthquake 1884
Friday, 18 March 2011 – 9:23pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: ANI
If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.
According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.
A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.
Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.
There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.
There’s another fault line on Dyckman St and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.
“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.
He adds: “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.”
“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.
Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.
The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale.

Why North Korea is not a Nuclear Horn

A view of a firing contest among multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) batteries selected from large combined units of the KPA, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on December 21, 2016. KCNA/via ReutersThe Surprisingly Simple Reason North Korea Has Nuclear Weapons
Robert E Kelly
Pyongyang knows there is no way to use their weapons for gain that would not immediately provoke massive counter-costs.
Since the launch of a North Korean medium- to long-range intercontinental missile this month, there has been much anxiety about Pyongyang’s ability to strike U.S. cities. It seems likely that North Korea can at least strike Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage. Some analysts have suggested Pyongyang already has the capability to strike the east coast of the United States. Skepticism may be warranted. North Korea may have trouble with missile reentry, guidance, warhead miniaturization and other technical issues. But nonetheless, it appears quite likely that if Pyongyang does not yet have the ability to strike the lower forty-eight American states, it will soon. Last month, I suggested the United States is on countdown of sorts. North Korea is rushing toward a nuclear ICBM, and Americans will soon be forced to adapt to it, or fight. It seems that decision fork is coming sooner than many expected.
Striking North Korea would be incredibly risky, and the United States has learned to live with other states’ nuclear missilization. Russia, China and Pakistan are powers whom Washington would almost certainly prefer were not nuclear. Yet the United States has adjusted. Each of those three, including Pakistan, has treated its weapons reasonably carefully. There has not been the much-feared accidental launch or hand-off to terrorist groups. All appear to think of their nuclear weapons as defensive and for deterrence purposes. Indeed, the offensive potential of nuclear weapons is curiously constrained. They would so devastate an enemy that conquest of said enemy would be pointless—who wants to take-over an irradiated wasteland? Plus, nuclear use would likely bring nuclear retaliation on the attacker, in which case any benefit of a war would be lost to the huge costs of nuclear destruction in the homeland.
This logic seems to apply to North Korea as well. In the most extreme possible scenario, where Pyongyang used nuclear weapons against Seoul to facilitate a successful invasion, the devastation in the South would be so awful, that one wonders why North Korea would want to invade at all. Due to the peninsula’s mountainous terrain, only a few areas of South Korea are easily habitable for large numbers of people. Nearly 75 percent of the population lives on 30 percent of the landmass. Those small areas—basically the South biggest cities—would be targets of Northern nuclear weapons in any such war. If North Korea were to win that conflict, it would then inherit those irradiated, blasted population zones, in addition to scarcely usable mountains. What would be the point of winning then? Of fighting at all?
Similarly, North Korean nuclear use against the South—or Japan or the United States—would lead to devastating American nuclear retaliation. South Korea and Japan have been treaty allies of the United States for decades. These relationships are about as robust as any in the U.S. alliance network. Countless secretaries of state and defense have pledged to protect Seoul and Tokyo. So American nuclear retaliation would almost certainly follow any Northern offensive nuclear strike. North Korea would inherit an apocalyptic wasteland in the South, while absorbing punishing nuclear retaliation at home—so punishing in fact, that the regime itself might collapse under the weight of the social chaos unleashed by American nuclear strikes.
And if that were not bad enough, one could easily imagine China attacking North Korea if Pyongyang offensively used nuclear weapons. China may tolerate North Korea’s nuclearization, but it is hard to imagine Beijing tolerating North Korea using such weapons to start a war. Beijing knows that China may well could be the next target. It is easy to foresee the United States and China working together to destroy North Korea if it aggressively used nuclear weapons.
Some fear North Korea might ‘hand off’ a weapon to rogue groups, but no states have done this yet. Others suggest nuclear weapons might be a method to bully South Korea into subservience or permanent subsidization. But so long as South Korea remains allied to the United States, it is not clear why North Korean nuclear blackmail would succeed. Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons level the playing field in the peninsula rather than shift it against South Korea.
In short, North Korea’s possible use of its nuclear arsenal is highly constrained. It fits the profile of other state’s nuclear weapons—great as an ultimate guarantee of national defense and sovereignty, great for national prestige, but hugely risky for the offense. It is not clear that North Korea can escape the issue of practical use which so many other nuclear powers have tried to solve. There is simply no way to use these weapons for gain that would not immediately provoke massive counter-costs.

Mulling the First Nuclear Attack (Revelation 8)

Musharraf mulled N-attack against India’

Orissa Post
‘Musharraf mulled N-attack against India’ Dubai, July 27: Pakistan’s former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf says he mulled the use of nuclear weapons against India amid tensions following the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament, but decided against doing so out of fear of retaliation, according to a media report.
Musharraf, 73, also recalled that he had many sleepless nights, asking himself whether he would or could deploy nuclear weapons, the Japanese daily ‘Mainichi Shimbun’ said The former President disclosed that amid tensions between India and Pakistan following the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, he contemplated the use of nuclear weapons, but decided against doing so out of fear of retaliation.
“When tensions were high in 2002, there was a “danger when (the) nuclear threshold could have been crossed,” the paper quoted Musharraf as saying.
At the time, Musharraf had publicly said that he would not rule out the possibility of using nuclear weapons.
Musharraf also said, however, that at the time, neither India nor Pakistan had nuclear warheads on their missiles, so it would have taken one to two days to make them launch-ready.
Asked whether he had ordered that missiles be equipped with nuclear warheads and put into firing position, he said, “We didn’t do that and we don’t think India also did that, thank God” – pointing, perhaps, to a fear of retaliation, the paper reported.
The two countries subsequently avoided an all-out clash and tensions subsided. The then army chief Musharraf ousted the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup in October 1999. The army general served as president from 2001 to 2008. Musharraf has been living in Dubai since last year when he was allowed to leave Pakistan on pretext of medical treatment. He has been charged with involvement in the murder of the former two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Too Little Too Late (Revelation 15)

Donald Trump Has His Finger on the Nuclear Button. Maybe We Should Do Something About That.
By Mark HertsgaardTwitter July 24, 2017
We can’t afford to leave that power to an impulsive egomaniac.
President Donald Trump walks from Marine One in Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on July 22, 2017. (Carolyn Kaster / AP)
We need to get Donald Trump’s finger off the nuclear button. This is not a partisan plea. It is not a call to lower America’s guard against potential nuclear attacks. It is an appeal to common sense in the face of a president whose volatile temperament and erratic judgment should rule out allowing him to single-handedly start a nuclear war.
At present, US law and long-standing policy give president Trump unilateral, unstoppable authority to launch a nuclear attack. He need not present a compelling reason for such an attack; perhaps he simply decides that it’s time to teach North Korea a lesson. He need not notify, much less obtain agreement from, leaders in Congress or the secretary of defense or other military officials. Trump’s status as commander in chief empowers him and him alone to unleash nuclear weapons at a moment’s notice.
Seven hundred strategic warheads in silos and submarines are poised for immediate launch, and the president has absolute, unchecked authority to order their launch with a single verbal command to the Pentagon War Room,” Bruce Blair, a former nuclear-launch officer for the US Air Force and current scholar with Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, told The Nation. Trump need only turn to the military officer who carries the nuclear-codes suitcase, who is never more than a few feet away. The officer opens the suitcase (the so-called “football”), Trump makes one phone call authenticating his identity, and he orders the warheads unleashed—warheads that, once launched, cannot be called back.
Four minutes after he gave the order, missiles would fly; 30 minutes later, they would explode on their targets,” explained Joe Cirincione, a former staff member of the US House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services and current president of the Plowshares Fund. “Hundreds of targets. As quickly as he could post a tweet, Trump could destroy human civilization.”
All US presidents of the nuclear age have possessed the same awesome, unfettered authority Trump currently holds. But none of those presidents, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon during the darkest days of Watergate, displayed the psychological profile of the current commander in chief. Donald Trump “has shown himself time and again to be easily baited and quick to lash out, dismissive of expert consultation and ill-informed of even basic military and international affairs—including, most especially, nuclear weapons,” stated a public letter Blair and nine other former US nuclear launch officers released a month before the 2016 presidential election.
Could the military veto an ill-advised attack order from Trump? There is precedent: When Nixon was brooding and drinking heavily in the final months of his presidency, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger reportedly instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that “any emergency order coming from the president” should first be cleared with Schlesinger or the secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. Have Trump’s secretary of defense or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff implemented any similar measures? The Pentagon press office declined to comment.
Defense Secretary Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Dunford “are sober, prudent, and intelligent individuals who must be concerned about Trump’s impulsiveness and have surely considered how to ensure that he does not make a bad nuclear call,” said Blair. “They may well have taken extraordinary steps to ensure that a presidential command to use nuclear weapons would require their approval under unusual circumstances—e.g., out of the blue the president orders a preventive nuclear strike against [North Korea].” Steven Pifer, an arms-control expert at the Brookings Institution, also praised Mattis and Dunford as “sober-minded individuals” who “might try to intercede if they saw an inappropriate order.” However, Pifer stressed, “the system is not designed to give others a veto over a presidential decision.
The system, then, must be changed. Set aside political ideology and partisan calculations for the moment. For the sake of the nation and indeed humanity, it is imperative to reform US nuclear-weapons policy. Start with three concrete, common-sense measures: The United States should take its nuclear weapons off of “hair-trigger” status; it should declare a policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons; and it should prohibit this or any president from unilaterally launching a nuclear attack. Instead, it should require the president to act in concert with military and congressional leaders—except under exceptional circumstances, such as an adversary’s imminent nuclear attack.
Launching a nuclear attack is “a decision [so] momentous for all of civilization [that it] should have the kinds of checks and balances on executive powers called for by our Constitution,” said William Perry, the US defense secretary from 1994 to 1997. Perry has urged Congress to pass the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017, introduced in January by Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California. To bring Congress into the decision-making loop and prohibit the president from acting unilaterally, the bill stipulates that “the President may not use the Armed Forces of the United States to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a declaration of war by Congress that expressly authorizes such strike.”
“In addition to passing Markey-Lieu, the single most important other step would be to take our nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert,” said Cirincione. “Currently, four minutes after Donald Trump gives an order, hundreds of nuclear warheads could be launched. Each is many times more powerful than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is insane. There is not need for this rapid-launch capability. Having our missiles ready to launch in hours, days, or weeks instead of seconds would provide some time for reflection, debate, and possible reversal of a launch command. Secretary Mattis could do the nation a great service by recommending in his Nuclear Posture Review, due out late this year, that this Cold War practice be ended.”
None of these reforms will happen without strong, sustained public pressure. “Removing nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert, adopting a no-first-use policy, and passing the Markey-Lieu legislation…will require grassroots energy and political will that, until Trump, has been dormant for decades,” Meredith Horowski, the global campaign director for the NGO Global Zero, told The Nation. “Now many Americans are waking up to the nuclear danger posed by Donald Trump,” she said. “That’s why in the coming weeks Global Zero and partners are mounting a new large-scale grassroots campaign—of students, activists, community leaders, universities, institutions, cities, and elected officials—to powerfully reject Donald Trump’s sole authority to launch us into nuclear war.” The campaign is slated to begin with a Day of Action in Washington, DC, on September 25.
There is no more urgent issue confronting the nation than Donald Trump and the nuclear button. Climate change, which likewise poses an existential threat to civilization, does not have such a short fuse. Fights over health care, immigration, budgets, and taxes—these can be won or lost today but resumed tomorrow. Go wrong with nuclear weapons, and there may be no tomorrow.