Saturday, March 31, 2018

USA’s Fukushima At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)


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Ernie Garcia, elgarcia@lohud.com
A review of unplanned shutdowns from January 2012 to the present showed this year’s events happened within a short time frame, between May 7 and July 8, in contrast with events from other years that were more spread out, according to data released by Indian Point.
If a nuclear plant has more than three unplanned shutdowns in a nine-month period, its performance indicator could be changed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which results in additional oversight. That’s what happened with Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., after four unplanned shutdowns in 2013.
So far, Entergy said there doesn’t appear to be a pattern to the Indian Point shutdowns.
“You do want to look at these events holistically to see if there is something in common, but you also look individually to see what the causes were,” Nappi said. “A plant shutdown in and of itself is not a safety issue.”
One of the four recent Buchanan shutdowns triggered a special inspection by the NRC and calls to close the nuclear plant by environmental groups and elected officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said in the past Indian Point should close, but his office did not respond to a request for comment about whether the recent shutdowns have prompted any state scrutiny.
The NRC is expected to release a quarterly report on Indian Point this month that will address the transformer failure and, by year’s end, is planning an inspection of the transformer and an analysis of transformer issues since 2007.
Besides its transformer-related inquiries, the other three shutdowns have not raised “any immediate safety concerns or crossed any thresholds that would result in additional NRC oversight,” agency spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an email.
The unplanned shutdowns at Indian Point and Pilgrim in Massachusetts were mostly preventable, said Paul Blanch, a former Indian Point employee with 45 years of nuclear power experience.
“For this to happen this frequently indicates a deeper problem,” he said. “I believe it’s management oversight in the maintenance of these plants.”
Nappi said the transformer that failed May 9 and caused a fire and oil spill into the Hudson was regularly monitored. Investigators determined the failure was due to faulty insulation.
“The transformer inspection and reviews were in accordance with our standards and industry expectations, yet there was no indication the transformer was going to fail,” Nappi said.
The NRC conducted a separate, but related special inspection into the May 9 incident that focused on a half-inch of water that collected in an electrical switchgear room floor. Inspectors determined a fire suppression system’s valve failed to close properly.
Inspectors noted in their report that Entergy knew about that problem since April 2011 and replaced the valve but didn’t discover the actual cause — a dysfunctional switch — until after the fire.
Indian Point’s Unit 3 was down 19 days May through July, with the transformer failure accounting for 16 days. The shutdowns didn’t cause the public any supply problems because New York’s grid can import electricity from other states and New York has an energy plan to maintain reliability, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The nuclear energy industry judges a power plant on how continuously it produces energy, which is called a capacity factor.
There were 100 nuclear plants in the United States in 2014, a record year in terms of efficiency. In January, the Nuclear Energy Institute announced the U.S. average capacity factor was 91.9 percent.

Indian Point has an above-average efficiency rate. The plant’s Unit 2 and 3 reactors were each online more than 99 percent of the time during their most recent two-year operating cycles. They are currently in the middle of other cycles.

Blame Trump and Obama When Iran Races for the Bomb

Blame Trump When Iran Races for the Bomb – Foreign Policy
Blame Trump When Iran Races for the Bomb
If the United States breaks its end of the nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic's hard-liners are going to want a weapon ASAP.
The nuclear deal with Iran hangs by a thread. The appointment of John Bolton — an unapologetic proponent of war with Iran — as U.S. national security advisor has prompted celebrations among Iran deal detractors. The announcement that nuclear talks with North Korea will be held around the same time that U.S. President Donald Trump must decide whether to keep or kill the Iran deal has further complicated the picture. Yet few in Washington understand how Trump’s gamble with Pyongyang may impact Tehran’s nuclear calculations.
Conventional wisdom declares that Trump would be foolish to kill the Iran deal (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) if he genuinely seeks to reach an agreement with the North Koreans. If Trump shows that he does not honor America’s agreements, why would Pyongyang strike a deal with him?
But Trump is anything but conventional. His logic runs in the opposite direction, and Bolton will be more than happy to enable Trump’s worst instincts. By killing the JCPOA, Trump thinks he’ll signal to the North Koreans that they should have no doubt that he is ready to walk away from the talks if he doesn’t get what he wants. After all, walking away from ongoing negotiations is much easier than killing an existing deal.
Trump may know bluster, be he does not know diplomacy. Strong-arming subcontractors may work in the Manhattan real estate market, but it won’t work in international diplomacy. Sovereign states don’t react like jilted architects and electricians.
How will Iran react if Trump pursues this path? For Tehran, the JCPOA was never just about the nuclear issue. It was a test to see if the West could come to terms with the Islamic Republic and accept Iran as a regional power. By testing this proposition, the talks became a defining showdown between the two dominant schools of thought within the Iranian elite.
The first school, dominated by conservative elements in the government and military, argues that the United States — pressured by Israel and Saudi Arabia — is inherently hostile to Iran and will never recognize the country as a regional power or come to terms with its regime, regardless of Iran’s policies or the compromises it offers. The inclusion Tehran seeks can only be achieved by forcing the United States and its allies to accept the reality of Iran’s power. The hard-liners’ skepticism of diplomacy and resistance to compromise is partly rooted in their belief that no Iranian compromise can change Washington’s hostility to Tehran.
Iran’s second, more moderate group of policy-makers recognizes both that the country’s own actions have contributed to infectious conflict and that the United States has legitimate concerns about Iranian policies. An American acceptance of Iran’s inclusion in the regional security architecture can be obtained, they argue, through diplomacy and a genuine give-and-take. If Iran compromises, so will the West, the logic goes.
Up until the nuclear negotiations began in earnest, the debate between these two schools was theoretical. Though Tehran had made many diplomatic overtures in the past, America’s willingness to come to terms with Iran had never been tested through a mutual compromise that both sides had signed on to.
Until, that is, the JCPOA.
The Iran nuclear deal was the first time the United States and Iran had agreed to a significant exchange of concessions that not only eliminated Iran’s pathways to a bomb and lifted sanctions, but also put an end to almost four decades of American efforts to completely isolate Iran. It signaled that America, 36 years after the Iranian revolution, was coming to terms with Iran.
Both sides agreed to painful concessions, both faced fierce domestic political opposition, and both recognized that the agreement signaled a major break with past policies. America was coming to terms with Iran. And the Islamic Republic was speaking of the United States not as the Great Satan, but as a negotiation partner.
It was a major victory for the second school of thought in Iran — at least for the moment.
But increasingly, the JCPOA has become a victory for the hard-liners. Despite Iran’s concessions and its adherence to the deal (confirmed by 10 reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency), Trump, Saudi Arabia, and Israel have clearly rejected Iran’s regional integration under any circumstance. Changes in Iran’s policies proved insufficient, so nothing short of Iran’s complete capitulation can seemingly satisfy Trump’s allies.
This conclusion will be unavoidable in Tehran if Trump kills the JCPOA to make a deal with Pyongyang. It will strengthen the Iranian hard-line narrative that Tehran’s mistake was that it only obtained enrichment capabilities — but not a bomb — before it agreed to seriously negotiate. Had it built a bomb — like the North Koreans — then the United States would have no choice but to show Iran respect, strike a deal with it — and honor that deal. Trump will essentially incentivize Iran to go nuclear.
Ultimately, Trump’s bluster won’t work. He lacks a properly staffed State Department with the capacity to negotiate, and his new national security advisor ideologically opposes diplomacy. By killing the Iran deal to impress Pyongyang, Trump will destroy one functioning arms deal without securing a new one. And in the process, he will tilt the balance in favor of those in Tehran who have argued all along that America only understands the language of force.

Trump Will Allow the Saudi Nuclear Bomb

Trump’s Silence On A Saudi Nuclear Bomb
March 30, 2018
Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore via Flickr)
by Joe Cirincione
It’s said that the only two people Donald Trump does not criticize are Vladimir Putin and Stormy Daniels. You can add Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to that list.
With the prince’s two week trip to the United States coming to a close, Trump remained stone silent after the heir apparent to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced his nuclear plans on American television. “Without a doubt,” MbS told CBS host Norah O’Donnell, “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” Not a single voice of protest was heard from the Trump administration.
For that matter, the rolling shocks of the Trump presidency seem to have dulled the response mechanisms of most of America’s national security establishment. Very few have objected to the prince’s statement that he would break his treaty commitments and go nuclear if his neighbor did. Just so you know: this is not normal.
There is no excuse for any nation under any circumstances getting a nuclear weapon. There is no exception allowed in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Saudi Arabia has signed. There is no Get A Bomb Free Card in international law. U.S. policy for over 72 years has been to oppose any nation from getting the bomb. Period.
On the contrary, U.S. leaders have tried through persuasion and punishment to prevent the spread of these weapons to foes and friends alike. It hasn’t always worked, but each time, Washington tried.
This policy began at the dawn of the nuclear age. In 1946, Congress passed the Atomic Energy Act, prohibiting nuclear weapons technology transfers to any third party, including the United Kingdom. Even though the UK was a key partner in the Manhattan Project that built the first weapons, President Harry Truman refused to assist the UK when it declared its intent to develop the bomb in the late 1940s. Even after it detonated its first device in 1952, the U.S. restricted British access to U.S. nuclear programs for years, including the development of the H-bomb.
All presidents until now have agreed with John F. Kennedy’s admonition: “The deadly arms race, and the huge resources it absorbs, have too long overshadowed all else we must do. We must prevent the arms race from spreading to new nations, to new nuclear powers and to the reaches of outer space.”
This was not just a policy applied to hostile nations. When Kennedy learned that Israel was secretly trying to build nuclear weapons, he tried to block the program and insisted on U.S. inspections of the Dimona reactor, where Israel was making the fuel for its bombs. President Richard Nixon did the same both before and after Israel got its first weapon in 1968. Could they have done more? Almost certainly. But they never okayed the program.
Similarly, the United States could have done more to stop India and Pakistan’s nuclear programs, but, again, it tried. After India detonated a “peaceful nuclear device” in 1975, there was a fierce debate inside the Ford administration on how harshly the U.S. should denounce the test. As Carnegie Endowment scholar George Perkovich details in his masterful India’s Nuclear Bomb, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger decided that “public scolding would not undo the event, but only add to US-India bilateral problems.” And it would make Kissinger look foolish for having been “generally neglectful of non-proliferation issues.” Congress was much tougher, passing major legislation to strengthen U.S. policies to stop the spread of these weapons, including laws that eventually curtailed aid to Pakistan over that nation’s secret program.
After India tested again in 1998, Pakistan announced it would match any nuclear advances made by India. The United States did not sit idly by and stay silent. President Clinton urged Pakistan, “not to follow the dangerous path India has taken.” The pressure and persuasion failed, but the president did not stand on the sidelines. Again,

Khamenei Suppresses Christianity in Iran (Daniel 8:4)

Christian Property in Iran to Be Taken Over by Supreme Leader’s Organization – Center for Human Rights in Iran

Sharon Gardens, a valuable property near Tehran confiscated from Iran’s largest Christian Protestant organization by a group controlled by the country’s supreme leader, was hit with an eviction order on March 7, 2018.

“This action is part of the pressure put on individuals with different beliefs and religious minorities in Iran,” Kiarash Alipour, a spokesman for the London-based Article 18 Christian organization, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 26, 2018.
In essence, they are trying to eliminate Protestant Christians from Iranian society,” he said.
Alipour added that representatives of Sharon Garden’s new owners had visited the property and ordered the live-in caretaker to evacuate even though he has nowhere else to go.
Sharon Gardens is located on 2.5 acres of land in the Valadabad district of Karaj, 32 miles west of the Iranian capital. It had belonged to the Jama’at-e Rabbani Church Council, also known as the Iran Assemblies of God, since the early 1970s.
Alipour told CHRI that many Iranian Christians have fond memories of the garden property, which was used as a camp for youths and their families before it was confiscated.
In August 2016, an Appeals Court upheld the confiscation order in favor of an organization under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei known as the Headquarters for Implementation of the Imam’s Decree, which accused Jama’at-e Rabbani of having ties to the CIA.
The Headquarters for Implementation of the Imam’s Decree, which had sued to take over Sharon Gardens, was established by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Rouhollah Khomeini, in 1989 to confiscate properties abandoned after the revolution. Today it operates under the supervision of current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and is not accountable to the government or Parliament.
Besides the financial damages resulting from the confiscation of this garden, our members are living under the shadow of espionage allegations,” Alipour told CHRI, adding that the charges have never been substantiated.
“The church has been accused of being a branch of an American church in Philadelphia that was operated by the CIA to infiltrate Muslim countries, which is a complete and baseless lie,” he added.
“The Jama’at-e Rabbani Church Council was very popular in Iran and had many branches in different cities,” said Alipour. “But, unfortunately, the church was shut down between 2011 and 2012 during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency. Not just this church, but all the churches performing prayers in Persian [Farsi language] were closed.”
“One reason was a speech by Khamenei in Qom [city] around that time [October 2010] accusing these churches of being a gateway for enemies to infiltrate the country,” he added.
Despite assertions by government officials that Christians enjoy full rights as citizens of Iran, the Christian community—particularly Evangelicals and Protestant communities, which are seen as encouraging conversion to Christianity—suffers severe and widespread discrimination and persecution in Iran, as documented in CHRI’s report, “The Cost of Faith: Persecution of Christian Protestants and Converts in Iran.”
Article 18 advocates for the rights of Christians in Iran based on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states, “No one shall be subject to coercion that would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”
Iran’s Constitution recognizes the rights of Christians to “perform their religious rites and ceremonies” (Article 13), but the state has only tolerated non-Farsi speaking churches.
“Although Article 13 of the Constitution recognizes Christians as a religious minority, in reality we see that the state has divided them into two groups; one is officially recognized, the other is not,” Alipour told CHRI.
“Persian speakers are not recognized at all,” he said. “In other words, only Assyrian and Armenian Iranians born to Christian families are accepted, but those from Muslim backgrounds are not.”
He added: “In 1991, the Islamic Republic, which felt threatened when many former Muslims joined the growing number of Persian churches, shut down the Bible Society, the only publisher of Christian books in the country and since then you can only buy Christian books on the black market because our Holy Book is no longer allowed to be published in Iran.”

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12)

https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/aftershock-640x484.png?044193 
New York City is Past Due for an Earthquake
by , 03/22/11
filed under: News
New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.
Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.
There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation rates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.
John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.
The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.
Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”
Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”
Via Metro and NY Daily News
Images © Ed Yourdon

Pakistan Completes the Nuclear Triad (Daniel 8:8)

 
ISLAMABAD —Pakistan announced Thursday that it had successfully conducted another test-firing of a nuclear-capable, submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM), which has a range of 450 kilometers.
The indigenously developed Babur missile was fired from an underwater platform and "engaged its target with precise accuracy," a military statement said.
The rocket is capable of delivering "various types of payloads" and provides Pakistan a "credible" second-strike capability.
Military spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor, while referring to the country's archrival India, said the development of Babur was a response to "provocative nuclear strategies and posture being pursued in the neighborhood." He also released some footage of the testing.
Pakistan said its nuclear and missile development programs are India-specific and have effectively deterred the bigger neighbor, with its larger military power, from imposing another war on the country.
"When it comes to responding to India for their threat, anything and everything that we have is for them and for nobody else," Ghafoor told reporters a day earlier.
Military tensions are running high over the divided Kashmir region, which has caused two of the three wars between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.
Both South Asian nations are locked in almost daily skirmishes along the Line of Control, which separates Pakistan's portion from the Indian-ruled two-thirds of the Himalayan region.
Meanwhile, earlier this week the United States imposed sanctions on seven Pakistani companies for alleged links to the nuclear trade.
The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIC) places those companies on its Entity List, which the U.S. uses to identify foreign parties that are "acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States," the BIC website explains.

Making the Deal with Korea

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Never mind about John Bolton. Trump's ego could force a North Korea deal anyway
Michael Desch is the Director of the Notre Dame International Security Center. The views expressed are his own.
(CNN)Many people are understandably alarmed by President Trump's appointment of unrepentant George W. Bush-era hawk John Bolton as his new National Security Adviser to replace General H.R. McMaster, who is unceremoniously marching off into the sunset on the heels of his predecessor, General Michael Flynn.
In 2003, Bolton rode in the vanguard of the war party, pushing to topple Saddam Hussein on the specious grounds that Iraq was pursuing nuclear and chemical weapons and in cahoots with al Qaeda. Unchastened by the Iraq debacle and the exposure of the bogus rationales for the war, an out-of-power Bolton has sniped at the Obama administration's Iran nuclear agreement and beat the drums for war to denuclearize North Korea.
While putting Bolton back in power may signal the demise of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran, I am less worried, ironically, about the prospects for a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis. Indeed, I can see a way that the President's ego, combined with his penchant for ignoring his advisers, could advance a diplomatic solution to the tinderbox straddling both sides of the 38th Parallel even while they drive the last nail in the coffin of the Iran nuclear deal.
This would be a shame, given that the JCPOA has broad international support among our allies and other important powers such as Russia and China. Like most arms control agreements, it is not perfect, but most of its supposed defects involve things like Iranian meddling in other countries, support for terrorist organizations, or development of ballistic missiles which were not covered by the original agreement.
Kim Jong Un's cunning strategy could lead the world down a dangerous path
Most knowledgeable observers inside and outside the United States concede, even if grudgingly, that Iran has abided by the narrow terms of the agreement itself.
So why would President Trump discard a good agreement with Iran and pursue what is likely to be a far more flawed one with North Korea? Such an approach makes little strategic sense, but strategy has little to do with how the President thinks about the world. Rather, our Art-of-the-Deal President operates primarily on a personal level.
While he hates former President Obama's Iran deal, primarily because he, himself, did not cut it, I could imagine him reaching a far worse deal with North Korea which he would love, warts and all, because it was his.
To be sure, there are also more credible reasons for him to pursue a diplomatic, rather than military, solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis. It has become apparent in recent months that, despite the President's badgering of his military advisers for a plan to pre-emptively knock out the Hermit Kingdom's budding nuclear arsenal, the best he can get out of them are plans to give Pyongyang a bloody nose through symbolic strikes, hoping that will scare Kim into surrendering his arsenal.
Nor can America's military planners assure the President that even a reasonably successful first strike on Kim's nuclear arsenal would prevent a catastrophic conventional war that would kill hundreds of thousands of Korean civilians. This realization that their capitol Seoul and millions of their citizens are within range of tens of thousands of North Korean artillery pieces has led our South Korean allies to push hard for jaw-jaw rather than war-war, to borrow Winston Churchill's famous phrase.
China is joined at the hip with North Korea in a dysfunctional marriage of inconvenience, in which the Middle Kingdom provides its wayward younger brother with most of its food and energy supplies to avoid having an American ally on its border and preserve the last shred of its increasingly threadbare international Communist legitimacy. So it would also welcome a deal that ends the slow-motion crisis between Washington and Pyongyang.
Finally, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's flurry of diplomacy with the South and hasty train trip to visit his patrons in Beijing could signal that North Korea's foremost Dennis Rodman fan may also want to play Let's Make a Deal.
Predicting what President Trump will likely do is as fraught an endeavor as divining the murky palace politics of "little rocket man's" regime. But assuming that ego trumps strategy in Washington these days, the desire to cut a North Korean nuclear deal makes sense of some of the recent puzzling moves from the President, particularly the indecent alacrity with which he accepted Kim's olive branch delivered via Seoul a couple of weeks ago.
Incoming Trump National Security Adviser Bolton will surely not want to play along with this diplomatic Kabuki dance, which is unlikely to roll back North Korea's nuclear program. Indeed, most analysts think that in exchange for an easing of the crippling economic sanctions, the best President Trump is likely to get is a "freeze" on additional North Korean missile tests. This is hardly a great deal from Bolton's global regime change perspective or even compared with the JCPOA.
But if I am right that Trump's ego will trump Bolton's hardline strategic agenda, any flaws in an agreement with North Korea may be irrelevant.
Ironically, this might be one instance in which the President's well-documented penchant for bypassing his advisers may favor diplomacy. Indeed, a cynic might wonder whether Bolton's appointment was in part Trump's effort to protect his right flank as he pursues a historic, if flawed, North Korean nuclear "deal."

The Russian Nuclear Horn and Satan


Russia Says It Launched Something Worse Than Satan
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has successfully tested its latest intercontinental ballistic missile, the country's military said Friday.
The Defense Ministry said the launch from Plesetsk in northwestern Russia tested the Sarmat missile's performance in the initial stage of its flight.
Sarmat is intended to replace the Soviet-designed Voyevoda, the world's heaviest ICBM that is known as "Satan" in the West.
Presenting Sarmat and an array of other nuclear weapons earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin said that they can't be intercepted.
Putin said that Sarmat weighs 200 metric tons and has a higher range than Satan, allowing it to fly over the North or the South Poles and strike targets anywhere in the world. He added that Sarmat also carries a bigger number of nuclear warheads, which are more powerful than the ones on Satan.
The Russian president also said the new ICBM accelerates faster than its predecessor, making it harder for the enemy to intercept in its most vulnerable phase after the launch. He also said Sarmat could carry an array of warheads capable of dodging missile defenses.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Saudi Arabia and Ending the Iran Deal


Saudi Crown Prince Urges U.S. to Withdraw from Iran Nuclear Deal During Visit
by Adelle Nazarian28 Mar 2018
AFP/ FAYEZ NURELDINE
During his two-week visit to the United States, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) renewed his calls for the U.S. to fully withdraw from the nuclear Iran deal, saying the accord would not prevent Iran’s regime from acquiring nuclear weapons and likened it to “waiting for the bullet to reach your head.”
“Delaying it and watching them getting that bomb, that means you are waiting for the bullet to reach your head,” MBS, 32, said Monday during a meeting with the New York Times. “So you have to move from today.”
MBS’s visit reportedly will include Washington, New York, Silicon Valley, and Houston before he returns home.
“We know the target of Iran,” MBS reportedly said. “If they have a nuclear weapon, it’s a shield for them to let them do whatever they want in the Middle East, to make sure that no one attacks them or they will use their nuclear weapons.”
MBS asserted this month during a CBS interview that Riyadh will pursue the development of nuclear weapons development if Iran acquires one. In that same interview, MBS said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is “very much like Hitler” and referred to him as “the new Hitler.”
“Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia. Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world,” MBS said. “The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy. Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia.”
Both nations follow different sects of Islam, with Iran being mostly Shia and Saudi Arabia being Sunni. They are also in the midst of a bloody power struggle throughout the Middle East which includes Yemen, Syria, and Libya.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia intercepted and destroyed seven missiles that were fired at it by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. According to CNN, one person, an Egyptian resident, died as a result of falling debris, marking the first such casualty on Saudi soil in three years.
“These hostile acts continue to pose a direct threat to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and threaten regional, as well as international, security,” a statement from Saudi coalition forces spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki read.
Saudi Arabia intercepted an Iranian missile launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in December.
That same month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said a marker on one of the fragments bore distinct signatures and markings of a typical Iranian missile.
However, Iran denied this and claimed the missile Haley displayed was “fabricated.”
Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Making A Golden Deal with Trump

http://kanivatonga.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Trump-and-Kim.jpgDumping North Korea nuclear weapons: What does Kim Jong Un want from Trump?
Oren Dorell
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has committed to a nuclear free Korean Peninsula ahead of his planned summit with President Trump, according to Chinese media. But what will he want in return for his prized possessions?
Past agreements and statements by the North's government show that Kim wants normalized relations with the United States, something no American president has had the stomach to deliver to one of the most brutal regimes in the world.
“An end to US enmity remains Kim Jong Un’s aim just as it was his grandfather’s and father’s for the past thirty years,” says Leon Sigal, author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea.
Kim may be willing to denuclearize and even take steps to disarm if Trump commits to end hostile relations with the North — and takes action to show he means it, Sigal wrote Monday in 38 North, a publication of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
The problem for U.S. leaders has always been that the highly militarized and totalitarian North Korean government is so brutal to its own people and aggressive toward its neighbors that exchanging ambassadors and conducting normal trade would be politically unappetizing.
Trump, however, signaled Tuesday that this time might be different.
"For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility," Trump said on Twitter. "Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!"
For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
Received message last night from XI JINPING of China that his meeting with KIM JONG UN went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me. In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
U.S. statements and failed agreements under past presidents show what the Kim family has always wanted.
The Clinton years
During the Cold War, Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, sought to reduce over-dependence on China by working with the Soviet Union. As the Soviet Union was about to collapse, he reached out to the U.S., Japan and South Korea for the same reason.
That led to the 1994 Agreed Framework, which required North Korea to freeze work on nuclear reactors suspected of being part of a covert nuclear weapons program in exchange for two nuclear power reactors that would be hard to use for weapons' work.
The agreement, negotiated under then-President Bill Clinton, also required the U.S. and North Korea “to move toward normalizing economic and political relations, including by reducing barriers to investment, opening liaison offices, and ultimately exchanging ambassadors,” according to the Arms Control Association.
That level of agreement never happened. And U.S. intelligence agencies later concluded that the North had launched a new nuclear weapons project in secret.
George W. Bush
Under President George W. Bush, White House officials said they had no hostile intent toward North Korea. But after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bush named North Korea in his “Axis of Evil.” Then the White House issued a report that discussed pre-emptive attacks on countries like North Korea that were developing weapons of mass destruction.
Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, restarted his dormant nuclear reactors. And the Bush administration returned to negotiations with the North.
That led to the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six Party Talks, in which North Korea committed to “the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner,” and “to abandoning all nuclear weapons.”
Again, the North and the U.S. said they would “respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together, and take steps to normalize their relations subject to their respective bilateral policies.”
Two more rounds of talks took place, with no substantial results.
Barack Obama and Trump
In April 2009, North Korea tested a long-range missile and later announced it would no longer negotiate or abide by previous agreements. In all its statements since, it asserted its right to develop nuclear weapons to deter the U.S. threat.
North Korea quickly ramped up its nuclear weapons program when President Barack Obama was in office, and during the first year of Trump's presidency.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

North Korea is no Longer a Nuclear Threat

https://1434697713.rsc.cdn77.org/assets/uploads/2018/03/28/Xi-Jinping-Kim-Jong-Un-hold-talks-in-Beijing.jpgNorth Korea agreed to give up nuclear weapons, claims China
Mahmood IdreesMarch 28, 2018

BEIJING – China on Wednesday claimed that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has agreed to denuclearize the Korean peninsula in a meeting with President Xi Jinping during his “unofficial” to Beijing, reported CNBC.
Ending two days of speculations on the visit, China has confirmed that Kim Jong Un had been in China from Sunday to Wednesday on an unofficial visit, which is his first known foreign trip since taking office in 2011.
Xinhua cited Kim as saying that situation on the Korean Peninsula is starting to get better after the DPRK took steps to defuse tension and sent proposals for peace talks.
“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim Jong Un said, according to the media outlet.
He said that North Korea was willing to have dialogue with the United States President Donald Drup and South Korea, and hold a summit of the two countries.
“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” he said.
“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if south Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” said Kim.
However, Chinese President Xi in his remarks said Kim’s current visit to Bejing fully embodied the great significance that Comrade Chairman and the WPK Central Committee have attached to the relations between the two countries and the two parties. He added friendship of both nations should be passed on continuously and developed better.

Antichrist Establishes Peace Back in Iraq

Under construction Fifteen years after America’s invasion, Iraq is getting back on its feet
The Economist
With Islamic State defeated, a new sense of unity prevails. But it is fragile
With Islamic State defeated, a new sense of unity prevails. But it is fragile
WHISKY is back on the tables in Mosul, one of Iraq’s biggest cities. Until last year, boozing was punishable with 80 lashes. These days a refurbished hotel with a nightclub on the roof, set in a wood that had sheltered the high command of the so-called Islamic State (IS), is fully booked. Shops around the ruins of Mosul’s university have new fronts. Families queue at restaurants on the banks of the Tigris. There is not a niqab, or face-veil, in sight.
The revival of Mosul is a metaphor for Iraq as a whole. When IS captured the city in 2014, Iraq seemed a lost cause. Its armed forces had fled. The government controlled less than half the country and the jihadists stood primed to march into Baghdad. With the collapse of oil prices in 2015, the government was broke. Iraq was a byword for civil war, sectarianism and the implosion of the Arab state order established at the end of the first world war.
Now Iraq, home to nearly 40m people, is righting itself. Its forces have routed the would-be caliphate and regained control of the borders. A wave of victories has turned Iraq’s army into what a UN official calls the Middle East’s “winniest”. Baghdad feels safer than many other Middle Eastern capitals. The government is flush with money as the oil price has doubled since its low in 2016 and production has reached record levels. No wonder 2,000 foreign investors packed hotel ballrooms earlier this year at an Iraq-reconstruction conference in Kuwait.
Remarkably, given its belligerent past and the region’s many conflicts, Iraq enjoys cordial relations with all its neighbours. America and Iran may be bitter rivals, but both give Iraq military and political backing. Gulf states, overcoming decades-long sectarian and security fears, have restored diplomatic relations and want to invest. To cap it all, Iraq remains a rarity—the only Arab state, other than Tunisia, to get rid of its dictator and remain a democracy. Its fourth multiparty election since 2003 will take place on May 12th. In a region of despots, Iraqis talk freely. Media and civic groups are vibrant.
Counting the cost
Some think the war was needed to bring Iraqis to their senses. If so, it was a terrible form of therapy. In the 15 years since America’s invasion of Iraq, some 300,000 Iraqis and 4,400 American soldiers have been killed (see chart). Of the many rounds of strife, none matched the viciousness of the fight against IS. At least 7,000 civilians, 20,000 security personnel and over 23,000 IS fighters were killed, according to a think-tank in Baghdad. Priceless heritage, like Mosul’s old city, was reduced to rubble. About 6m people, most of them Sunnis, lost their homes.
In quick succession, three ideologies tearing the country apart have been tamed. Revanchism by the Sunni Arab minority, who are about 15-20% of the population but have dominated Iraq since Ottoman times, was a cocktail of Saddam Hussein’s brutal Baathist nationalism and even more brutal jihadism. It spawned al-Qaeda in Iraq and IS. But today it seems weaker than ever. “Sunnis finally felt what it meant to be Kurdish or Shia,” says an influential government adviser. “They know they are no longer top dogs.”
Triumphalism by the long-repressed Shia Arab majority, making up about 60% of the population, also turned violently sectarian. But this seems to have lost much of its appeal after 14 years of misrule by Shia religious parties. The Shia south may have most of Iraq’s oil, but it looks as wrecked and neglected as the Sunni north.
And Kurdish nationalism lies in tatters, too. Denied independence in the 1920s, the Kurds are scattered across four countries. In Iraq they have long enjoyed quasi-independence in an enclave in the north-east. But last September Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish president, overreached by calling a referendum for a fully fledged state, defying Baghdad as well as protests from America and Iran. When he refused to back down, Iraqi forces snatched back the disputed territories that Kurds held beyond their official autonomous region (about 40% of their realm); the Iraqi government also imposed an embargo on foreign flights (now lifted). Kurdish leaders are negotiating a way out of their isolation. But many Kurds seem none too upset, given how autocratic and dirty Mr Barzani’s regime is. “It would have been a Barzanistan, not a Kurdistan,” says a teacher.
Iraq has not looked so united since 1991, when Kurds and Shias rose up against Saddam after his occupying forces were pushed out of Kuwait by an American-led coalition. Many Shia volunteers died delivering Sunnis from the barbarous rule of IS. About 45,000 Sunnis mustered alongside the Shia-led Hashd al-Shaabi, or “popular mobilisation units”. And millions of Sunnis fled the would-be caliphate to seek refuge in Kurdish and Shia cities.
Revenge killings by Shia militias have been rarer than many had feared. “We expected much worse,” says a local councillor in Falluja, a Sunni city recaptured in 2016. The Hashd still display their religious insignia at checkpoints on the highways (softened with plastic flowers), but in Sunni cities the policing is largely local. Hashd barracks are low-key and often mixed. “Half of them are Sunni,” says a Hashd commander in Tikrit, Saddam’s home town, pointing at the dozen men in his mess. A Kurdish politician who supported the referendum expresses relief. “No one threatened me or my job,” says Dara Rashid, a deputy housing minister.
As security improves, barriers within the country are coming down. Many of the checkpoints snarling traffic in central Baghdad have gone. The curfew was lifted in 2015. The Suqur checkpoint separating Baghdad from Anbar province, notorious for delays and maltreatment, still shuts at sundown. But Anbar’s Sunnis no longer need a sponsor to enter Baghdad. For the first time since 2003, your correspondent drove the length of Iraq, from the border with Kuwait to the one with Turkey, without a security escort or special permits.
The calm is drawing Iraqis home. Worldwide it takes five years on average for half of those displaced by conflict to return home after a war, says the UN. In Iraq it has taken three months. “We’ve seen nothing like it in the history of modern warfare,” says Lise Grande, who headed UN operations during the war on IS. Millions returned without compensation, electricity or water. Rather than wait for the government to provide homes, they are repairing the wreckage themselves.
Lecturers at Tikrit University have raised funds from private evening classes, rebuilt their war-battered campus and redesigned the curriculum “to promote peaceful coexistence”, says the dean of Sharia Studies, Anwar Faris Abd. In this staunchly Sunni city, trainee clerics now study Shia as well as Sunni schools of law. In the spirit of reconciliation, half of the university’s 30,000 students are Shia.
Religious minorities feel safer, too. Over 70% of the 100,000 Christians who fled to Kurdistan have returned to their homes on the Nineveh plains, says Romeo Hakari, a Christian parliamentarian in Erbil. Sunnis from Mosul joined Chaldean Catholics to celebrate mass at their church in Bakhdida, whose icons IS used for target practice.
There has been a striking backlash against organised Islam. Mosque attendance is down. Although Sunnis are rebuilding their homes in Falluja, the minarets and domes in the city once known as “the mother of mosques” lie abandoned and ruined. “Only old men go to pray,” explains a 22-year-old worker mixing cement. Designer haircuts and tracksuit tops are the latest male fashion, because IS banned them. “Our imams radicalised us with IS and terror but refuse to admit it,” says a Sunni final-year student at Tikrit University with a bouffant hairdo.
Mistrust of clerics is as keenly felt in the Shia south. The turbaned Iranians gracing Basra’s billboards invite scorn. Cinemas banned since 1991 are reopening. Iraq’s first commercial film in a generation went on release this month. “The Journey” tells of a female suicide-bomber who, just as she is about to blow herself up, questions how she will rip apart the lives of people around her. It pours compassion on perpetrator and victim alike.
Secularism is making inroads even in the holy city of Najaf, the seat of Iraq’s ayatollahs, which has thrived on Shia pilgrimage since the American invasion. The new public library at the golden-domed shrine of Imam Ali includes sizeable collections of Marx’s tracts and non-Muslim scriptures. Shia clerics who until recently banned Christmas trees and smashed shop windows displaying love-hearts on Valentine’s Day now let them pass.
Iraq’s dominant religious parties used to flaunt their sectarian loyalties to get out the vote at elections. Now many hide them. An opinion poll last August showed that only 5% of Iraqis would vote for a politician with a sectarian or religious agenda. Yesteryear’s Shia supremacists these days promise to cherish the country’s diversity, and recruit other sects to their ranks.
All this produces strange bedfellows. Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia cleric with a base in the shantytowns of Baghdad and Basra, has allied with communists, whom he once damned as heretics. Iraq’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist party, has joined forces with al-Wataniya, an anti-sectarian party led by a former Baathist, Iyad Allawi. As old alignments break apart, the Iraqi National Alliance, which grouped the main Shia parties, has split into its constituent parts. Kurdish and Sunni blocs are fragmenting too. Several religious factions have assumed secular names. “At least five masquerade behind the word ‘civil’,” complains the leader of the Civil Democratic Alliance, a genuinely secular party.
Against this background one worry stands out. Iraq’s politicians are mostly failing to rise to Iraq’s new spirit. If not on the international conference circuit, the government can be found in the Green Zone, the city within a city that the Americans carved out of Baghdad with six-metre-high concrete blast walls. The fortress provides a safe space for foreigners and officials to do business, say its residents. But for many Iraqis it is where officials conspire to siphon off public money.
The main government jobs are still dished out by sect and ethnicity. In healthy democracies the opposition holds the executive to account. In Iraq the government is a big tent. Factions name their own ministers, and they in turn appoint ghost workers to claim salaries. Ports, checkpoints and even refugee camps are seen as sources of cash and divvied out between factions. Appointment is rarely on merit. The head of Najaf’s airport is a cleric. Opinion polls suggest that most Iraqis want new faces, but Iraq’s leaders remain mostly the ones America installed in 2003.
Reasons for disillusion include the slow pace of reconstruction and the lack of jobs. Many Iraqis praise the speed with which the UN helped the displaced get home; they think their own politicians were remiss. Three million children are still out of school. A quarter of Iraqis are poor.
Iraq’s economy has fluctuated as wildly as its geopolitical fortunes. GDP per person collapsed after the war for Kuwait in 1991 and during the American-led invasion of 2003. A gradual recovery was interrupted by the upheaval of 2014 and 2015 (see chart). Economic activity may now be set to take off again. Oil output has risen from a low of 1.3m barrels a day (b/d) in 2003 to 4.4m. Iraq is already OPEC’s second-biggest producer, with output predicted to rise to 7m b/d by 2022. It has amassed over $50bn in reserves, about a quarter of GDP.
There are small signs of government investment: fancy lampposts in Falluja and Mosul, astro-turf pitches in Hilla and a grass verge with fountains along Baghdad’s airport road. But some of the Middle East’s largest factories still lie idle—everything from steel and paper mills to factories that made syringes, textiles and more. Since most sanctions were lifted in 2003 a country that used to make things has come to rely far more on oil. It uses its oil money to finance patronage in the bloated public sector and imports almost everything, including petrol, from its neighbours. Officials pocket commissions and bribes in the process.
As a result, foreign governments are wary of giving aid. “It’s a bottomless pit,” despairs a Gulf minister. The country has an anti-corruption watchdog, the Commission of Integrity, but that too is said to have succumbed to factional profiteering.
Suspicion of foreigners, a relic of the Saddam era, risks lowering the appetite of potential investors. Iraq’s Safwan border crossing lies an hour’s drive away from the Kuwait conference where Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister, declared Iraq open for business. It could not be less inviting. Rubble left over from American bombing 15 years ago spills over the pavements. Four sets of officials had to sign and stamp entry papers before your correspondent could bring in his laptop. “We still think foreigners are spies or imperialists bent on plunder,” grumbles an Iraqi fund manager.
Disgruntlement carries great dangers. It is common to hear Iraqis long for a military strongman like Egypt’s general-cum-president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, or a Chinese-style autocrat, to rid Iraq of democracy’s curse. Many even express nostalgia for Saddam, most notably in the south, where his yoke fell heaviest. They recall how, despite UN sanctions, he repaired bombed bridges and power plants within a year of the war of 1991. He somehow kept the hospitals and electricity running, criminals off the streets and the country self-sufficient in rice, sugar and vegetable oil. “Before 2003 the state still cared about art, theatre and the preservation of antiquities,” says a sculptor who works above Basra’s old canal, which now flows black with sewage.
For all the war fatigue, the threat of renewed violence is never far away. Mr Barzani’s humiliated Peshmerga fighters threaten to hit back if their marginalisation continues. “Just as they destabilised Kurdistan, we can destabilise Iraq,” says one of his advisers. He threatens to send fighters to pillage Iran, which he holds ultimately responsible for the Iraqi army’s strike against the Kurds. The Hashd, for their part, are armed and expect to be treated like heroes, not sent home empty-handed.
Abadi in motion
On a map of northern Iraq, a UN official draws five large red boxes, covering most of its main cities. Each, she warns, indicates where IS could resurface. “Many IS fighters shaved their beards, put on dirty sandals and walked out,” says an international observer. In February a squad hiding in the Hamrin mountains north of Tikrit ambushed and killed 27 soldiers. There have been frequent strikes since. The refugee camps are thought to be full of sleeper cells, padlocked behind wire fencing. The rain floods their tents, watering grievances. Just as Egypt’s prisons nurtured Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s leader, and America’s Camp Bucca in Iraq bred Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the IS leader, Iraq’s prisons may now be “incubating a new generation of trauma and terror”, says Nada Ibrahim, a Sunni doctor in Baghdad.
Break the curse
Iraq has known, and wasted, other hopeful moments. The overthrow of Saddam was botched by America, which shut Sunnis out of the new order. The respite won by its surge of troops in 2007-08 was botched by Nuri al-Maliki, the then prime minister from Dawa, a Shia Islamist party, who ran a sectarian government. Can Mr Abadi break the cycle?
Iraq holds much promise, given its abundant oil and water and its educated population. And Mr Abadi is remarkably popular among Sunnis even though he, like Mr Maliki, is from Dawa. “We want elections and we want Abadi to win,” cheers a female lawyer in Mosul’s courthouse, surrounded by nodding colleagues.
Yet Mr Abadi has failed to turn his military victory into political gain. Some of his own advisers compare him to Churchill, who led Britain to victory over Nazi Germany only to be voted out of office. Iraq’s leaders seem unlikely to act as Britain’s did, turning from war to social reform; instead they are risking a reversion to civil strife. Confronted with a dispirited population, powerful militias, lurking jihadists and scheming politicians, Iraq’s governing class has yet to show it knows how to win the peace.
This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline "Moving forward"

The Sixth Seal Long Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

More of Obama's Lies Help the Iran Nuclear Horn

The Obama administration did not act on evidence that Russia was aiding Iran’s nuclear development, instead approving nuclear energy deals favorable to Moscow, according to a new report from The Hill.
Former FBI informant Douglas Campbell, who worked undercover for the agency from 2008 to 2014, told reporters in a videotaped interview how he acquired his information.
While officially working as a consultant for Rosatom, Campbell says that he was privy to the secret plans of Russian nuclear energy policymakers, which included efforts to help Iran’s nuclear program by lending them intelligence, technical advice, and even equipment and materials to run one of Iran’s domestic nuclear facilities.
According to Campbell, Rosatom executives were worried that this nuclear assistance, if exposed, could derail nuclear contracts with American businesses:
“The people I was working with had been briefed by Moscow to keep a very low profile regarding Moscow’s work with Tehran,” Campbell said in an interview. “Moscow was supplying equipment, nuclear equipment, nuclear services to Iran. And Moscow, specifically the leadership in Moscow, were concerned that it would offset the strategy they had here in the United States if the United States understood the close relationship between Moscow and Tehran.”
In spite of Campbell providing evidence of Russia-Iran nuclear cooperation to FBI officials, the Obama administration cleared several deals with the Russian government or its state-owned companies related to nuclear energy, including the now-infamous Uranium One deal, which was potentially facilitated by Russian infusions of cash into the Clinton Foundation.
Campbell told The Hill that the forward progress on these types of deals greatly concerned him:
“I got no feedback. They took the reports and the reports, I assume, went to specific people assigned to analyze the reports and that was the last I heard of it,” he said.
Of course, in 2015, the Obama administration went on to approve the Iran nuclear deal, another potential case of them ignoring the significance of Campbell's intel. At the time, the agreement was touted as a major step forward in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but we now know that one of the only real “accomplishments” of the deal was giving the Iranians $1.7 billion in cash, some of which eventually ended up in the hands of terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
Check out the original report here, which includes part of the video interview with Campbell.

Why the Iranian Horn Will Not Back Down (Daniel 8:3)


Iran: How New Developments in US Foreign Policy Will Affect the Nuclear Deal
Pooya Stone28 March 2018
by Pooya Stone
With the new developments in US foreign policy and the prospect of the country’s walking away from Iran nuclear deal getting more serious, the question that keeps popping up more than ever is what would be Iran’s approach and what options it would have at its disposal?
Before delving into possible solutions, it should be pointed out that despite Iran’s expectations, it’s now quite clear that the 2015 nuclear deal has actually made the situation more complicated for the Iran, giving rise to different viewpoints within the Iran to deal with the current crisis.
Some suggest sticking to Europe, arguing that Europeans’ interests and independent policies will push them towards standing against the United States.
Meanwhile, head of Iran Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission ‘Alaeddin Boroujerdi’ says “we need to get closer to Russia and China.”
Still there are others who say “we could turn the threat into an opportunity. We’d better resume uranium enrichment activities and adopt a ‘resistance economy’ approach.”
The fact, however, is that none of the suggestions are practical or able to resolve any of Iran’s contradictions.
Although it’s quite natural for Europe to benefit to a great extent from its economic relations with Iran, but Europeans have extremely huge interests in their relations with the United States as well, so much so that it seems quite unlikely for Europe to sacrifice its US ties over having economic relations with Iran.
Since other suggested solutions actually serve more to please Iran’s worried forces and boost their morale, the most obvious point here is the degree of Iran’s fear and its concerns about the issue.
With some of Iran’s experts recommending a ‘Look East’ policy and getting closer to Russia and China – an approach also previously encouraged by Iran leader Ali Khamenei – the question is how practical or effective this solution could be?
If the ‘Look East’ approach was going to help and if Russia and China were willing to offer their unwavering support to Iran after benefiting from decades of political and economic relations, then the Iran would undoubtedly have adopted that policy from the very beginning, thus eliminating the need to sit down at the negotiating table and eventually sign the 2015 nuclear deal. Moreover, the ‘Look East’ policy was also the government’s dominant approach during Ahmadinejad’s presidency, but it failed to resolve much of Iran’s problems.
In a global economy where the United States is qualitatively different from others, the balance of power dictates that the others adjust themselves with US policies.
With the United States walking away from Iran nuclear deal and Trump’s refusal to extend suspension of sanctions, the severity of sanctions would more or less return to the same level as it was prior to the 2015 nuclear deal, in which case no big company --whether it’s European, Russian or Chinese-- would dare to take the risk of trading with Iran while fearing of being heavily fined by the United States. So, Russia and China are not able to come to Iran’s rescue.
Likewise, foreign investors will be unwilling to invest in Iran since they believe that the country’s situation is not stable enough, not to mention that they’ll be incapable of dealing with new US sanctions under the present conditions as well.
The Iran meanwhile seeks to take advantage of the gap between the United States and Europe. Europe in turn has to choose between going along with the Iran and respecting its ties with the United States, which after all is the world’s number one economic power. Would it be within Europe’s interests to risk its ties with the United States over having trade relations with Iran in a post nuclear deal era?
The fact is that even now that the nuclear deal is still in place, no foreign company other than France’s Total – which has set special conditions to invest and operate in Iran-- has been willing to take the risk of investing in Iran.
As for Iran’s missile program and regional interventions, we see that Europe and the United States are on the same side of the table. So, seeking to take advantage of the gap between Europe and the United States only suggests that the Iran is out of any imaginable solution.
Having said that, although Europe has its eyes on making huge profits out of its trade with Iran, but at the same time it aligns itself more with US policies than the Iran’s as the importance and benefits of having economic and financial relations with the United States for Europe is beyond compare.
But as the last option, it’s still possible that towards the end of Trump’s 120-day deadline, Iran decides to back down from its missile program and regional interventions, thus to gain Europe’s support and preserve the nuclear deal. Could this be considered as a solution?
Well, it’s clear that this means nothing but acceding to second and third JCPOA-like deals, meaning the Iran has to take missile program and regional poisoned chalices. But if that was regarded as a real option, then the Iran would have done that much sooner so as to avoid the current difficult situation.
But taking the new poisoned chalice would have such dangerous repercussions for the Iran that the fear of which has prevented the Iran from taking a step in that direction. If the Iran decides to back down, the first message it sends to Iranian people and the international community would be that the Iran is in a position of absolute weakness.
Likewise, the Iran was in a position of total weakness when it decided to take part in nuclear negotiations, but it could however gain some points out of its backing down and taking the poisoned chalice due to West’s appeasement policy at the time.
Considering the current balance of power reflected in recent international developments (particularly the recent changes in the White House) as well as domestic ones (nationwide protests asking for a Iran change), Iran’s backing down will not only fail to break its deadlock, but will even serve to push it deeper into a crisis that will lead to Iran’s inevitable collapse.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

History Says Expect The Sixth Seal In New York (Revelation 6:12)


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.
“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.”
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. (ANI)

The End of Nuclear Deterrence (Revelation 8)

See the source image


After India and Pakistan first tested nuclear devices in 1998, people in both countries hoped that nuclear weapons would decrease the incentive for war and lead to sustainable peace in the region. The 1999 Kargil conflict that took place when Pakistan’s military tried to gain control of the 70-kilometer-long Siachen glacier occupied by India in 1984, and the military standoff a few years later in which troops massed along both sides of the border, however, dashed these hopes, and both nations once more found themselves in the spotlight. Unfortunately, the current situation is not much different from the past, with relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors remaining troubled. As the recently announced US National Security Strategy noted, “the prospect for an Indo-Pakistani military conflict that could lead to a nuclear exchange remains a key concern requiring constant diplomatic attention.”
Disappointment regarding India-Pakistan relations is partly a result of the misplaced and overstated expectations that commentators attach to technological capability, forgetting the naked reality—in situations like these, it is not the gun, but the man behind the gun, that matters. Pinning high hopes on nuclear weapons capability, while underestimating the role of human agency, is contradictory to the logic of deterrence theory. Deterrence only works well when decision makers behave in a rational manner. Leaders in both India and Pakistan must recognize that a continued Cold War-style military arms buildup, absent a framework for conflict resolution, threatens the stability of deterrence in South Asia.
Deterrence and human behavior. Interestingly, deterrence theory is silent on the behavior of the “irrational actor.” As Admiral Arleigh Burke, the longest-serving Chief of Naval Operations in US naval history, put it in 1960, “the major deterrent [to war] is in a man’s mind.” And history is witness to the fact that technological transformation has had little impact on the human inner self. Despite tremendous progress in material terms, basic human instincts remain the same, and the instinct of survival continues to be a central element in shaping human lives and their surroundings. The nation-state is an extension and accumulation of individuals and their threat perceptions, creating a national survival instinct.
There are many factors that determine the behavior of an individual. These include genetics, social norms, faith, culture, and attitudes. Likewise, state behaviors in international affairs are determined by collective historical experiences, belief systems, and geographic parameters. India and Pakistan are no exception; they are the result of historical, political, and geographic forces—and the interaction of these forces with human agency.
New technologies, old thinking. Despite economic progress and technological transformations, strategic planners in both India and Pakistan still operate in a conventional manner. Their respective security strategies and rationales are heavily militarized, and relics of Cold War politics.
The rules of the game changed in 1998, and India’s political leadership must understand that it can neither gain significant strategic advantage from a conventional war with Pakistan, nor does it currently possess the capability to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability. Similarly, Pakistan’s security planners must be cognizant of the fact that they cannot overpower India by any means, conventional or nuclear.
Bernard Brodie, the famous architect of nuclear deterrence strategy, once observed that “thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them. It can have almost no other useful purpose.” Because of deep prevailing political paranoia, however, security elites in both India and Pakistan continue to formulate dangerous nuclear strategies that are not in sync with the basic concept of deterrence. The two countries’ strategic planning is gradually shifting from “war prevention” to “war fighting,” and they are trying hard to undo each other.
In South Asia, nuclear technological transformation is driving the military and nuclear policies of both nations. India’s hybrid warfare strategy is fueling a secessionist movement in Baluchistan (one of four provinces in Pakistan), opening a “second front” with Afghanistan through support to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (or TTP, the largest militant organization in Pakistan), and threatening to cut water supplies governed by the Indus Waters Treaty between the two nations. India’s military Cold Start Doctrine, which aims to undercut a conventionally weak—but nuclear—adversary by quickly mobilizing conventional retaliatory attacks, is highly destabilizing. In fact, this approach is laying a structural foundation for a potential nuclear war.
In response to India’s Cold Start doctrine, Pakistan developed the NASR short-range ballistic missile to compensate for the rapidly increasing conventional asymmetry between the two nuclear rivals. Pakistan’s approach to the looming conventional threat resembles Russia’s doctrine of “escalate to deescalate,” which conceives of using tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict to compel an adversary to halt large hostilities and respect the status quo. The other potential reason for the development of the NASR missile is the lack of margin of error for Pakistan, which does not have the large nuclear force and vast strategic depth of its nuclear adversary.
The colossal conventional arms buildup in the region, coupled with the nuclearization of the Indian Ocean and policies for the development and potential deployment of ballistic missile defense systems, has the potential to change the balance of power in the region. An unchecked nuclear arms race would have a negative effect on the fragile security environment of the Asian continent in general, and South Asia in particular, pushing the region toward a perpetual “security trilemma” in which actions taken by India to defend against China trigger insecurity in Islamabad.
In my opinion, the strategic landscape of the Asian continent drastically changed after the 2011 announcement of a US “pivot to Asia,” also known as the Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific. This US policy gave rise to what I believe is more accurately described as a “security quadrilemma” than a trilemma: China’s nuclear and conventional buildup to counter the increasing US military buildup in Asia and the Pacific sets off alarm bells in New Delhi, and India’s countermoves against Beijing in turn aggravate Pakistan’s sense of insecurity.
It appears as if the Indian nuclear establishment is under the delusion that possession of nuclear weapons and associated advanced weaponry protects India from any security challenge. That, in turn, gives India the confidence to pursue an aggressive stance and test the credibility of Pakistan’s deterrence by committing serious ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (a temporary border, agreed to by both nations in 1972, that divides the disputed Kashmir region) and the Working Boundary (which India identifies as the international border, but which also includes the disputed Indian-occupied Kashmir territory along with India’s internationally recognized land). To make matters worse, the Indian military’s rhetoric of carrying out “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control—in response to the 2016 attacks by militants on the Pathankot and Uri Indian military bases—is inherently a tectonic shift away from deterrence theory.
Deteriorating conditions. In 2018, according to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indian forces have carried out more than 415 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the death of 20 civilians and injuries to 71 others. In retaliation, Pakistan forces have destroyed Indian military check posts, resulting in the killing of five Indian soldiers. According to India’s defense minister, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control as many as 351 times this year.
In a study published by American disarmament expert Lewis Dunn at the end of the Cold War, Dunn named three conditions that played a critical role in stabilizing deterrence and preventing the use of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union: political, technical, and situational conditions. Politically, according to Dunn, if a country’s stakes are low, deterrence works, but if the stakes are existential in nature, deterrence cannot work. Technically, deterrence depends on how reliable and survivable nuclear command and control structures are. And thirdly, the situational conditions for deterrence depend upon the overall global power structure. During the Cold War, deterrence worked because it was bilateral, but today the world power structure is inherently multipolar and therefore more unpredictable.
Unfortunately, in the context of South Asia, these three factors are negatively affecting stability in the region. Political dialogue between India and Pakistan has been suspended since the 2008 Mumbai attacks by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and today there is no chance of resumption of this dialogue. Regarding the technical conditions today, both countries’ command and control systems are still in development and are untested. Situationally, the strategic landscape of South Asia is very complex, with multiple internal and external factors that cast deep shadows on both nations’ national security strategies, pushing the deterrence stability in South Asia toward failure.
Without a credible conflict-resolution framework, and in the absence of a regional arms-control mechanism, strategic circumstances in South Asia are likely to deteriorate further and head toward complete gridlock. Deterrence stability is under tremendous pressure from increasing conventional and unconventional imbalances. The nuclear threshold is getting blurred, and war is no longer a distant threat.
In these circumstances, political and military establishments in both countries should do some soul-searching and realize that clinging to the past will darken the future. All stakeholders should ask themselves three simple questions: Do nuclear war-fighting capabilities enhance or erode deterrence? Are these military and nuclear buildups sustainable? And could these gigantic resources instead be invested in building peace, reducing abject poverty, and saving humanity from the edge of nuclear winter?