Monday, June 18, 2018

What Works With Korea Won't Work With Iran


An Iranian boy holds a poster of US President Donald Trump during an anti-Israel rally marking Al Quds Day. Abedin Taherkenareh / EPA
Trump's two nuclear deals involve a carrot-and-stick approach
While North Korea is on the receiving end of his charm offensive, the US president is using a stick approach with Iran – but it won't succeed without co-operation from Europe, Russia, and China, writes Raghida Dergham
Raghida Dergham
The US president is using a carrot approach with North Korea to persuade them to denuclearise, the carrot being the promise of a shift in security and economic ties with the US. Meanwhile, the stick remains on the table if the carrot doesn’t work.
With Iran, Donald Trump is using the stick – sanctions and political isolation – to convince the regime to reform, rein in its appetite for regional expansion and re-negotiate the nuclear deal to address its shortfalls. But that is not to say there is no carrot for Iran. Indeed, Mr Trump has left it to European powers to try to persuade Iran to enter negotiations on its nuclear programme and curtail its incursions via its proxies into Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
Either way, the US president has never said anything to rule out a North Korean approach with Iran’s leaders, just as a summit with Kim Jong-un was once in the realm of fantasy.
Today the ball on Iran is in Europe’s court but the Europeans have not yet grasped it. They risk losing a historic opportunity if they do not overcome the myopia that has marked their recent foreign policy, especially on Iran’s role in Syria and Yemen, where they have turned a blind eye to Tehran’s violations.
By comparison, the Russians are more pragmatic on Iran, particularly in their relations with the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Russians have not commented on the major operation in Hodeidah, which came less than 10 days after Saudi Arabia and the UAE signed a strategy of resolve. Washington also appears to have consented to the offensive, although it has not declared its open support.
In truth, success in Hodeidah will intensify the two states’ bid to confront Iran’s scheming. For the Gulf, Yemen is a priority in this regard, just as Syria is a priority for the US and Israel, which is determined to prevent Iranian expansion on its borders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has had two productive weeks, hosting the opening of the Fifa World Cup in Moscow, during which he received about 40 heads of state and senior officials, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Mr Putin also received a gift from Mr Trump, who humiliated his G7 allies by demanding they welcome Russia back into the club to make it the G8 again. Alongside China, Mr Putin helped facilitate the historic summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, which could lead to North Korean denuclearisation. China would gain if North Korea transformed from a source of chaos to a stable neighbour while the process could also end up reducing the US military footprint in the region as relations are normalised with North Korea.
Mr Kim himself appeared elated beside Mr Trump, who made sure to add his personal touch to the summit, showing the North Korean leader “the beast” – his armoured presidential limousine.
Not many are fond of Mr Trump’s unique charms. He has cultivated many enemies at home and abroad and his allies in Canada and Europe are infuriated by his trade policies and political attitudes.
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got a personal taste of Mr Trump’s wrath while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not pleased about having to rally her European partners in the face of American stubbornness. The fact that German firms are defying her policies on Iran by choosing instead to comply with US threats of sanctions if they continue operating there is another source of anger.
Ms Merkel is also aware that she is vulnerable if she continues to embrace the Iranians and exempt them from accountability as an aggressor while Tehran's meddling in other countries is executed through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and proxies, rather than its own armed forces.
It is this incoherent logic that Mr Trump categorically rejects, a logic expressed by the German ambassador to Lebanon, Martin Hoth. Speaking at the American University of Beirut, Mr Hoth said: "Iran is too big to fail, too big to contain and too big to be defeated." The ambassador was participating in a session with former Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who claimed Mr Trump’s actions were emboldening “resistance” in the region.
Some say Mr Trump’s stick approach to Iran will not succeed without co-operation from Europe, Russia, and China. Others believe it will be effective because European firms will pressure their governments and because Mr Putin and Mr Trump might reach an accord.
Either way, Trump is determined to see through his policy on Iran, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen.
Regarding Iraq, there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the recent election outcome and new political alliances. It is not yet clear what Moqtada Al Sadr's alliance with Hadi Al Amiri will mean for the rest of the region as Mr Al Amiri is a former minister, commander of the Popular Mobilisation militia and the Badr organisation and a close associate of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
It appears that the US has dropped Iraq from its bid to confront Iranian expansion. But is it merely part of a practical sorting of priorities or rather a deeper strategy that would allow Iran to have an influence in Iraq in return for scaling back in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon and agreeing to reform the nuclear deal and its own regime? Is there a grand bargaining chip behind this or is this all part of a provisional tactic?
Some believe Iran will not choose any military confrontation with the US or Israel in Syria but will make do with the status quo and the sanctions. By working to contain the fallout, Tehran can wait out the Trump administration, biding its time until another Barack Obama-type figure takes the White House. However, the cost of this strategy is exactly what Mr Trump is betting o, as he sets out to make the costs for Iran so high as to cancel out the gains from "patience".

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Antichrist Tries to Expunge Foreign Influence


Leading Sadrist says foreign powers should not 'hold influence' over Iraq

The Iraqi parliamentary elections on 12 May were the first national polls since the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) group in 2017.
The result saw Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Sairoun Alliance emerge with the largest bloc of seats at 54, although his coalition fell short of a majority in the 329-seat parliament.
On Tuesday, Sadr's Sairoun grouping, which includes the Iraqi Communist Party and other secular groups and individuals, announced a political alliance with Hadi al-Amiri's pro-Iranian Fatih bloc in a bid to form a government.
The elections were marred by violence and fraud, which led the Iraqi parliament to order a vote recount.
In the wake of Sadr's surprise victory, Middle East Eye sat down with Dia al-Asadi, head of Sadr's political office.
MEE: What is your reaction to the Iraqi parliament's call for a partial recount of votes from the 12 May elections?
Dia al-Asadi: I think in every electoral process there is a risk of violations or fraud - you know, meddling in the results. But no matter how large the fraud or violations are, there should be some procedures that should be respected by all. And the normal procedure is to call on the election commission and the federal court.
For the Iraqi parliament to take a unilateral decision without waiting for the decision of the commission or the decision of the federal court is a violation of the established laws. We are with the people who say that there are violations, of course there are violations, and it should be dealt legally, within the legal framework.
MEE:Do you think this recount is the result of pressures from abroad?
DA: Well, I think it is not clear whether there is pressure from outside. But people from inside [Iraq] are complaining. When those who lost in the election gather together, they constitute at least a third of the parliament, more than a third. Then they say: "Why don't we get together and pass a law in order to recount the votes?"
The process of recounting is not an easy one. It needs to be covered by legal legislation. And I think there is a conflict of interest. Who guarantees that there will be no fraud in the recounting process? It's going to be done manually, so who guarantees this?
MEE: Why does the word 'nationalism' hold an important place in Muqtada al-Sadr's speeches? Why did Sadr visit Saudi Arabia?
DA: Well, Muqtada al-Sadr’s speeches on Iran are not about boycotting Iran. But he thinks that Iran is a neighbouring country, just like Turkey and Saudi Arabia. And our relationships with our neighbours should depend on how much they have to offer to Iraq, so the more they offer, the more we offer to them. And we should maintain mutual and equal relationships. We should work to strengthen and deepen our ties. But we should never allow neighbouring countries to hold influence over Iraq.
We should work to strengthen and deepen our ties. But we should never allow neighbouring countries to hold influence over Iraq
- Dia al-Asadi, head of al Sadr's political office
For a person like Muqtada al-Sadr, to visit Saudi Arabia at this particular time was to send a message that our policy is not determined by our relationship with Iran.
That is why nationalism is a religion for Muqtada al-Sadr. When you violate nationalism, it's like if you are attacking this religion. Nationalism is always, for Muqtada al-Sadr, to be independent, to be sovereign, to be be powerful enough to protect the interests of Iraqis.
That's why he talks with Saudi Arabia, because Saudi Arabia is a neighbouring country. And he thinks to a certain extent that it has been influential in regional affairs.
Saudi Arabia was very worried about the situation in Iraq [in 2003], because they thought the Shia of Iraq were an extension of the Iranian Shias, and that Iraq would be used to export the Iranian Islamic Revolution to all Arab countries, which is not the case at all. Saudi Arabia thought that all Iraqi Shia speak Farsi, and use Iranian riyals to pay.
They discovered that the Iraqi Shias are Arabs, and they belong to the same family as Saudi Arabia belongs to. For example, we have tribes that live in Mosul, and members of the same tribe live in Basra, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Shammar tribe for instance. So Iraqi Shias are Arabs, and they have very strong familial ties with Arab people in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
So why should our relation with Saudi Arabia be determined by Iran?
MEE: Is Muqtada al-Sadr's position to rebalance Iraq's ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia?
DA: At the very same time Muqtada al-Sadr visited Saudi Arabia, there was an escalation in the discourse between Saudi and Iran. People thought, since there is a problem between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Iraqi Shia are not going to be friends with Saudi Arabia.
For a person like Muqtada al-Sadr to visit Saudi Arabia at this particular time was to send a message that our policy is not determined by our relationship with Iran.
Some Iraqi governments have given more away to Turkey, other have given more away to Arab countries, and most of them have given more away to Iran. So Muqtada al-Sadr would like to balance Iraq's relationship with all those countries.
MEE: But Turkey is now in northern Iraq, heading towards areas controlled by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)?
DA: Muqtada al-Sadr sent a very clear message to the Turkish brothers, telling them that they are our neighbours, they are Muslims, and there is a huge exchange of interest between them and us. So it is very hard for us to take a very harsh decision. Better they review their decisions. Iraq doesn't want to lose them, they are still our neighbour.
Muqtada al-Sadr will resist any occupation of Iraq by military power. So the Turks understood our message, and they have assured us they will work with the Iraqi government in order to solve this problem.
MEE: Nationalist speech is unusual in post-Saddam Iraq. Did you advise him to do it?
DA: We were working on it actually, all of us, but you know it is a project I have adopted. For me, to turn to this civic movement and embrace civic ideas was an objective. It was as I said, a project.
After I joined the Sadrist movement in 1992, I thought that the salvation of all the identities of Iraqi society could be achieved through this movement. I was full of confidence that this movement could be fruitful and have an impact on the future of Iraq.
When I joined the political process, I never shied away from expressing my ideas - I said that openly. There are so many interviews that go back to 2011, for example, in which I talk about the necessity of leaving religious and sectarian discourses and go for a nationalist discourse, to work with others in order to achieve this.
Muqtada al-Sadr himself is from a family with nationalist views, and he immediately welcomes grievances from his followers. When we discuss ideas with him, he immediately embraces this.
But the problem came later, perhaps. Because his opinions are seen by Western media as holding a violent position against foreign powers in Iraq. But he himself says that anyone in his place, let's say in France or Italy, when they see their country occupied, would have no other choice than resistance.
That's why Muqtada al-Sadr was demonised in Western media.
Stereotype were used by Western media. This blinded them to the fact that Muqtada al-Sadr was one of the most nationalist leaders in the country. And surprisingly for observers outside of Iraq, he developed a position that is very strongly against Iranian intervention.
MEE: Why did Muqtada al-Sadr refuse to run for the election himself?
DA: He think that his duty is not to be part of the political process. His duty is to oversee, to observe, to supervise the political process. And his duty as a religious person is to put some guidelines that he thinks to be the best for the interest of Iraqi people.
Muqtada al-Sadr believes that if a religious person wants to join politics, he has to take off the turban and the religious costume, so that people will not be cheated that this person represent religion.
MEE: What role does Muqtada al-Sadr want to play in the future of Iraq?
DA: Apparently, his role is the role of a father. He is a father in the sense that he takes care of all his sons equally. He loves all his sons equally and tries to sacrifices for them equally. And his sons are not only the Sadrist people, but all Iraqis.

Too Little Too Late for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


Op-Ed: Indian Point Should Be Decommissioned, Cleaned Up ASAP
The NRC allows nuclear power plants up to 60 years and that's too long, says the Riverkeeper Staff Attorney.
By Lanning Taliaferro | Jun 13, 2018 10:24 am ET
Riverkeeper submitted its comments on the Annual Report from the State Indian Point Closure Task Force on Friday, June 8, 2018. The report lays out for the public complex issues regarding spent fuel management, current U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations, the radiological contamination of the site, effects on communities and workers, and useful references regarding other reactors that have closed.
It also clarifies that replacement energy is already available even without new gas power plants.
However, on site reuse, the Task Force report fails to examine one of the best options, which would be to decommission and clean up the whole Indian Point site within a reasonable period, such as 20 years. Instead, the Task Force goes into details on options for the reuse of small parcels that are highly constrained and that Entergy has said it will not make available until the site is decommissioned.
The Task Force took this limited approach because the the NRC, which oversees decommissioning, allows nuclear power plants up to 60 years to decommission. However, the NRC is focused on the interests of nuclear licensees, not the local community.
It is therefore necessary and appropriate for the State and its Task Force to act as a champion of local concerns and interests during the forthcoming Indian Point decommissioning process. Experience with decommissioning so far shows that it can be done within 20 years or even faster if the will is there.
A prompt decommissioning and cleanup that would allow reuse of the whole site would be the best option for the local communities on several levels. First, they would need many workers for the task, supporting local businesses. Second, the whole site would yield far more value than trying to segregate small parcels. Third, it would ensure that spent fuel is moved rapidly into safer dry storage and would protect the Hudson River from the radioactive plumes of contamination that are currently under the site.
Although the NRC has exclusive jurisdiction over safety, the State has jurisdiction over economic issues. It could therefore exert state jurisdiction to mandate a prompt decommissioning.
At a more detailed level, Riverkeeper supports the idea of an inclusive Citizens Oversight Board that would work in parallel with the Task Force, but would include a broader range of stakeholders. We also believe it is important to minimize the risks from the long term storage of spent fuel and to consider the risks from the gas pipelines that are on and close to the site.
Maggie Coulter
(The writer is Riverkeeper Staff Attorney)

2018: The Year of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

15073790937_a2b5f1e61f_bSloshing of Earth’s core may spike major earthquakes
By Paul VoosenOct. 30, 2017 , 1:45 PM
The number of major earthquakes, like the magnitude-7 one that devastated Haiti in 2010, seems to be correlated with minute fluctuations in day length.
SEATTLE—The world doesn’t stop spinning. But every so often, it slows down. For decades, scientists have charted tiny fluctuations in the length of Earth’s day: Gain a millisecond here, lose a millisecond there. Last week at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America here, two geophysicists argued that these minute changes could be enough to influence the timing of major earthquakes—and potentially help forecast them.
During the past 100 years, Earth’s slowdowns have correlated surprisingly well with periods with a global increase in magnitude-7 and larger earthquakes, according to Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick at the University of Montana in Missoula. Usefully, the spike, which adds two to five more quakes than typical, happens well after the slow-down begins. “The Earth offers us a 5-years heads up on future earthquakes, which is remarkable,” says Bilham, who presented the work.
Most seismologists agree that earthquake prediction is a minefield. And so far, Bilham and Bendick have only fuzzy, hard-to-test ideas about what might cause the pattern they found. But the finding is too provocative to ignore, other researchers say. “The correlation they’ve found is remarkable, and deserves investigation,” says Peter Molnar, a geologist also at CU.
The research started as a search for synchrony in earthquake timing. Individual oscillators, be they fireflies, heart muscles, or metronomes, can end up vibrating in synchrony as a result of some kind of cross-talk—or some common influence. To Bendick, it didn’t seem a far jump to consider the faults that cause earthquakes, with their cyclical buildup of strain and violent discharge, as “really noisy, really crummy oscillators,” she says. She and Bilham dove into the data, using the only complete earthquake catalog for the past 100 years: magnitude-7 and larger earthquakes.
In work published in August in Geophysical Research Letters they reported two patterns: First, major quakes appeared to cluster in time
—although not in space. And second, the number of large earthquakes seemed to peak at 32-year intervals. The earthquakes could be somehow talking to each other, or an external force could be nudging the earth into rupture.
Exploring such global forces, the researchers eventually discovered the match with the length of day. Although weather patterns such as El Nino can drive day length to vary back and forth by a millisecond over a year or more, a periodic, decades-long fluctuation of several milliseconds—in particular, its point of peak slow down about every three decades or so—lined up with the quake trend perfectly. "Of course that seems sort of crazy," Bendick says. But maybe it isn’t. When day length changes over decades, Earth’s magnetic field also develops a temporary ripple. Researchers think slight changes in the flow of the molten iron of the outer core may be responsible for both effects. Just what happens is uncertain—perhaps a bit of the molten outer core sticks to the mantle above. That might change the flow of the liquid metal, altering the magnetic field, and transfer enough momentum between the mantle and the core to affect day length.
Seismologists aren’t used to thinking about the planet’s core, buried 2900 kilometers beneath the crust where quakes happen. But they should, Bilham said during his talk here. The core is “quite close to us. It’s closer than New York from here,” he said.
At the equator, Earth spins 460 meters per second. Given this high velocity, it’s not absurd to think that a slight mismatch in speed between the solid crust and mantle and the liquid core could translate into a force somehow nudging quakes into synchrony, Molnar says. Of course, he adds, “It might be nonsense.” But the evidence for some kind of link is compelling, says geophysicist Michael Manga of the University of California, Berkeley. “I’ve worked on earthquakes triggered by seasonal variation, melting snow. His correlation is much better than what I’m used to seeing.”
One way or another, says James Dolan, a geologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, “we’re going to know in 5 years.” That’s because Earth’s rotation began a periodic slow-down 4-plus years ago. Beginning next year, Earth should expect five more major earthquakes a year than average—between 17 to 20 quakes, compared with the anomalously low four so far this year. If the pattern holds, it will put a new spin on earthquake forecasting.
doi:10.1126/science.aar3598

Saudi Arabia is About to Become a Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)


Alexei Druzhinin via Getty Images
As the world assesses whether the Trump-Kim show was an empty gesture for the cameras, or the start of a substantial process, we can be sure this is not the last proliferation crisis the world will have to deal with.
As a new BICOM research paper highlights, a proliferation risk likely to creep up the international agenda in the coming years is Saudi Arabia.
Its young and energetic Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has been grabbing headlines with his global charm offensive and his epic ambition to transform the ultra-conservative kingdom. The overwhelming priority is economic. Despite having 20 per cent of proven global oil supplies, it can no longer sustain its rapidly growing population on this wealth, which accounts for around 70 per cent of government revenue. The Kingdom must create new jobs, implement taxation and cut handouts. It must also create new opportunities for its large youth population, with 32% of under-24s unemployed.
But there is also a strong foreign policy dimension to MBS’s agenda. US retrenchment and growing regional threats have prompted Saudi self-assertion, especially to contain the influence of Iran, which MBS compares with Nazi Germany.
This includes a recent explicit commitment from the Crown Prince that “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
Is that really likely? Certainly the Iranian nuclear threat has not gone away. Even if Iran remains in the framework of the agreement which the Trump administration recently abandoned, restrictions on its nuclear capabilities will begin to ‘sunset’ in 2024. By 2031 Iran will be permitted to stockpile as much enriched uranium as it likes. As Israel’s recent intelligence haul revealed, Iran is well advanced with technologies to turn that uranium into a warhead, meaning it will become a nuclear threshold state, able to construct a bomb within weeks or even days.
The Saudis are generally reckoned to have two possible routes to a bomb. Saudi aid helped fund the Pakistani nuclear program and it has long been speculated that they have secret deal to acquire nukes from Pakistan should they require them. Whilst the wholesale transfer of weapons is considered unlikely, the transfer of sensitive technologies or materials is a very realistic concern.
More recently Saudi Arabia has announced its intention to develop nuclear technology in house, including fuel technologies that could ultimately be used for a bomb. It is in the process of tendering for the first of 16 power reactors, has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with several countries, and begun negotiations with the US on a nuclear technology agreement.
The Trump administration has not clarified whether they will insist the Saudis refrain from sensitive enrichment and reprocessing activities. Trump officials have told US lawmakers if the US does not sign an agreement, the Russians and Chinese will step in. The Saudis will argue that they should not be denied the right to enrich, that Iran was granted by the JCPOA after years of lies about its nuclear program.
A home grown Saudi nuclear program would take years to develop, but the Iranian and North Korean experience could suggest to the kingdom that playing the long and patient nuclear game can bear fruit in the end. They are not the only Middle East power who could join the nuclear arms race. Egypt – though currently preoccupied with domestic turmoil – has signed a deal for Russia to build a nuclear power plant, and in the past asserted its own right to enrich. Turkey and the UAE are also states to watch, according to leading proliferation experts.
But only the Saudis have declared explicitly their intention to match the Iranians. MBS, aged just 32, is thinking long term about his county’s future and barring an unforeseen event, is set to lead Saudi Arabia for many decades to come. He has impressed interlocutors as being both charismatic and visionary, but has also show himself rash and unpredictable, both in domestic and international arenas.
Several recent policies: military intervention in Yemen; attempting to force the resignation of the Lebanese prime minister; and leading a boycott against Qatar, have raised concerns in Western capitals about his judgement.
The possibility of a Saudi nuclear program will be of concern not least to near neighbour Israel. Saudi interests have converged with Israel’s and cooperation is increasing in the face of the threats from Iran and its proxies, as well as Sunni Jihadists. But without progress on the Palestinian issue, security cooperation will remain informal and covert. Israel is unlikely to defer from its long commitment to prevent any of its regional neighbours acquiring nuclear weapons.
Britain and its allies should therefore be concerned not only about the deficiencies in the JCPOA, but about Saudi commitment to match Iran’s capabilities, especially if those capabilities eventually come to match those of North Korea.
Dr Toby Greene is a Senior Research Associate at BICOM and an Israel Institute Post- Doctoral Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University.

Iran Prepared to Ramp Up Its Nuclear Arsenal (Daniel 8:4)


An official for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) threatened on Wednesday that his country will be ready to begin uranium enrichment that will go beyond the limitations set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at its Fordo nuclear facility and install new equipment at its Natanz nuclear facility if the Iran nuclear deal fails.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the AEOI, reportedly told the IRIB-run Young Journalists’ Club (YJC) in Tehran, “Currently the Supreme Leader has ordered that the programs be carried out within the parameters of the nuclear deal. And when he gives the order we will announce the programs for operating outside of the nuclear deal for reviving Fordow.”
Last week, Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the AEOI, told state television that a facility in the Natanz nuclear plant, meant to build advanced centrifuges, will be completed in a month and noted that Iran is prepared to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity.
“After the supreme leader’s order, we prepared this centre within 48 hours. We hope the facility to be completed in a month,” Salehi said.
Under the JCPOA, uranium enrichment research and development activities are permitted only at the Natanz facility but limited to 5,060 centrifuges for the next seven years. However, Salehi said that within ten months, Iran could reach 190,000 SWUs (separative work unit), or centrifuges, of uranium enrichment capacity at Natanz.
Both announcements appear to be the Iranian regime’s latest attempts to preserve what’s left of the JCPOA following President Donald Trump’s historic May 8 announcement that the United States has withdrawn from the deal.
Iran has turned to Russia and especially China to help save the nuclear deal.
In addition to his statements about upping his country’s uranium enrichment, Kamalvandi reportedly also said, “The West doesn’t criticize the Zionist regime and have even helped them,” referring to what is believed to be Israel’s nuclear power. “Without the help of the West and America this regime could never have obtained nuclear weapons.”
However, as Reuters notes, “Israel has never confirmed or denied that it has a nuclear arsenal.” The Times of Israel also notes that Israel “is widely believed to have a stockpile of at least 100 devices.”
Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

NEW YORK IS 40 YEARS OVERDUE A MAJOR EARTHQUAKE AND AMERICA ISN'T PROPERLY PREPARED, 'QUAKELAND' AUTHOR KATHRYN MILES TELLS TREVOR NOAH
BY TUFAYEL AHMED ON 9/27/17 AT 9:28 AM
Updated | An earthquake is long overdue to hit New York and America isn’t prepared, author and environmental theorist Kathryn Miles told Trevor Noah on Tuesday’s Daily Show.
Miles is the author of a new book, Quakeland, which investigates how imminently an earthquake is expected in the U.S. and how well-prepared the country is to handle it. The answer to those questions: Very soon and not very well.
“We know it will, that’s inevitable, but we don’t know when,” said Miles when asked when to expect another earthquake in the U.S.
She warned that New York is in serious danger of being the site of the next one, surprising considering that the West Coast sits along the San Andreas fault line.
“New York is 40 years overdue for a significant earthquake...Memphis, Seattle, Washington D.C.—it’s a national problem,” said Miles.
Miles told Noah that though the U.S. is “really good at responding to natural disasters,” like the rapid response to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, the country and its government is, in fact, lagging behind in its ability to safeguard citizens before an earthquake hits.
“We’re really bad at the preparedness side,” Miles responded when Noah asked how the infrastructure in the U.S. compares to Mexico’s national warning system, for example.
“Whether it’s the literal infrastructure, like our roads and bridges, or the metaphoric infrastructure, like forecasting, prediction, early warning systems. Historically, we’ve underfunded those and as a result we’re way behind even developing nations on those fronts.”
Part of the problem, Miles says, is that President Donald Trump and his White House are not concerned with warning systems that could prevent the devastation of natural disasters.
“We can invest in an early warning system. That’s one thing we can definitely do. We can invest in better infrastructures, so that when the quake happens, the damage is less,” said the author.
“The scientists, the emergency managers, they have great plans in place. We have the technology for an early warning system, we have the technology for tsunami monitoring. But we don’t have a president that is currently interested in funding that, and that’s a problem.”
This article has been updated to reflect that Miles said New York is the possible site of an upcoming earthquake, and not the likeliest place to be next hit by one.

More Fighting Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)


Palestinians in Gaza prepare a kite amid protests at the border fence, June 8, 2018.. (photo credit:" IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Palestinians prep 5,000 kite bombs in Gaza to mark end of Ramadan | The Jerusalem post
By ANNA AHRONHEIM
Israeli media report Palestinians plan to launch 5,000 such devices into southern Israel to mark Eid al-Fitr.
The IDF struck a target in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, two hours after it fired warning shots in the same area toward Palestinians who were preparing airborne incendiary devices near the Bureij refugee camp.
“The IDF struck an infrastructure near the area where a squad had previously been preparing Molotov cocktails in the southern Gaza Strip,” the IDF said. “The IDF considers the use of incendiary kites and balloons to be severe, and will act to prevent their use.”
The announcement came shortly after Palestinians reported that a drone launched a missile at people near the border fence who were flying balloons with Molotov cocktails attached, and unconfirmed reports by Israeli media that Palestinians planned to launch 5,000 incendiary balloons and kites toward Israel from the Hamas-run Strip to mark Eid al-Fitr on Thursday night.
Gazans have been protesting along the border with Israel since March 30 as part of what organizers have called the “Great March of Return.” Demonstrators have been throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and rocks toward Israeli troops and flying incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory, destroying more than 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of forest, nature reserves and agricultural fields.
On Thursday, several fires broke out near Kibbutz Be’eri and in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council from incendiary kites flown from Gaza. Firefighting teams fought to put out the blazes.
Speaking at a conference at Bar-Ilan University on Thursday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that while Israel has managed to intercept more than two-thirds of the kites that have been launched toward Israeli territory, “It is impossible to hermetically seal the sky.”
“But we are looking for solutions and I am sure we will find a solution,” he said, adding that “the trick is to strengthen deterrence and prevent the launch itself.”
On Tuesday, Israel announced that it was limiting the entrance of helium into the Gaza Strip. Helium is used for various medical reasons such as MRI machines.
Israel has said that Palestinians have been using the gas to fill incendiary balloons in order to increase the distance they can travel. The decision to ban the transfer of helium was implemented by Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon following Liberman’s approval.
“The entrance of helium gas into the Gaza Strip will be limited in light of its use by terrorists to fill incendiary balloons,” he said. “The Hamas terror group does not hesitate to use any means, including humanitarian services and channels, in order to carry out terrorist activities. This is despite the efforts by Israel to prevent a deterioration of the civilian situation in the Strip.”
Last week for the first time, Palestinian demonstrators launched kites – and helium balloons, which can fly further – with explosive devices such as pipe bombs attached that are set off by cellphones once they approach troops. Last Friday, one of dozens of these devices exploded in the air above troops, causing no injuries.
“It looks romantic – a small boy is flying a kite, something that seems to be from a movie like Mary Poppins – but the truth is different. These are terror attacks, with IEDs, which are trying to harm Israel,” said IDF Intelligence Directorate head Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heyman on Wednesday at a closed-door forum at the International Homeland Security Forum in Jerusalem.

World War Three Cometh (Revelation 15)


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WORLD War 3 alarm bells went off when researchers urged the United States and Russia to drastically reduce their nuclear arsenals or face destabilising the entire planet in the event of nuclear war.
By SEBASTIAN KETTLEY
PUBLISHED: 14:37, Fri, Jun 15, 2018
UPDATED: 14:50, Fri, Jun 15, 2018
Scientists believe the United States and Russia should have no more than 100 nuclear weapons each – the optimal number to maintain world peace.
Both superpowers currently hold thousands of nuclear weapons in their war chests and if used, they could wipe out swathes of the world’s population.
Two researchers at Michigan Technological University (MTU) and Tennessee State University have now called for widespread nuclear proliferation of the world’s nuclear superpowers.
The news comes after US President Donald Trump secured a historic denuclearisation deal with North Korea’s regime leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea together with the UK, US, Russia, China, Franca, India, Israel and Pakistan is a nuclear-weaponised nation.
Joshua Pearce, professor at MTU, said: “With 100 nuclear weapons, you still get nuclear deterrence, but avoid the probable blowback from nuclear autumn that kills your own people.
“Defence expenditures post-9/11 show we care about protecting Americans.
“If we use 1,000 nuclear warheads against an enemy and no one retaliates, we will see about 50 times more Americans die than did on 9/11 due to the after-effects of our own weapons."

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World War 3: North Korea and the US signed a denuclearisation deal
More than 100 weapons and military powers risk cutting international resource supply chains, causing major starvation and having to burden the economic stress of maintaining a military.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimates there are roughy 14,500 nuclear weapons around the globe as of early 2018, most of which are owned by the US and Russia.
But thanks to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) the number is drastically lower from its 1986 peak of 70,300 nukes.
The two researchers now argued: “No country should have more nuclear weapons than the number necessary for unacceptable levels of environmental blow-back on the nuclear power's own country if they were used.”
These environmental impacts include dropping global temperatures, food shortages, droughts, rapid changes to the atmosphere and increased ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Dr Pearce argued: “It is not rational to spend billions of dollars maintaining a nuclear arsenal that would destabilise your country if they were ever used.
“Other countries are far worse off. Even if they fired off relatively few nuclear weapons and were not hit by any of them and did not suffer retaliation, North Korea or Israel would be committing national suicide."
Dr Pearce and Dr Denkenberger presented their arguments in a co-authored article this week in the journal Safety.

US Plans Fail, But God's Plan Rules (Proverbs 16:9)


Imam Khamenei: US Plans in Middle East Have Failed
Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei says the United States has evidently failed in achieving its intended policies in the region, stressing that Muslim nations worldwide are now more united than ever before in pursuing their common goals despite enemies’ plots.
Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks during a sermon after leading the Eid al-Fitr prayers — an Islamic holiday which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Ayatollah Khamenei stated that the United States has wasted trillions of dollars in its pursuance of certain policies in the Middle East but has achieved nothing instead as openly acknowledged by US President Donald Trump.
“The US president said that ‘we spent $7 trillion in this region, and gained nothing in return.’ This means defeat. The US has suffered defeat in the region. The Great Satan has fallen short of achieving its goals, despite all its efforts, evil dispositions, and hot-air rhetoric. It has just wasted its resources,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
Tweeting in February, Trump had said that his country had “so stupidly” spent the sum in the Middle East.
Muslim nations closer to Iran’
Elsewhere in his remarks, Ayatollah Khamenei said that unity among Muslim nations had grown stronger, stressing that this was clearly evident in the powerful participation of Muslims in last Friday’s rallies to mark the International Quds Day.
Each year, Muslims worldwide rally on the last Friday of Ramadan in solidarity with Palestinians in response to an initiative started by the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini.
“This means that, despite the enemies’ propaganda, Muslim nations and the great nation of Iran have grown closer and more aligned with one another,” Ayatollah Khamenei noted.
Nevertheless, he emphasized, the enemies are constantly plotting against the Iranian nation. This, the Leader added, is because they are afraid of the Iranian nation’s might, steadfastness as well as their ambitions to forge stronger bonds with other nations.
“The enemies will obviously continue their struggles but will fail,” Ayatollah Khamenei noted.
‘Economic plot’
Iran’s Leader further urged the nation to be vigilant in the face of enemy plots specifically manifested in efforts to mount economic pressure on the country and disappoint the Iranian people.
Towards preserving the country’s economic interests, Ayatollah Khamenei advised importers to refuse to bring in commodities which are being already produced at home.
The Leader also advised members of the public against going on “unnecessary and expensive foreign vacations,” and called for a serious fight against corruption.
Source: Press TV

Iran Maintains Hegemony in Iraq (Daniel 8)


Muqtada al-Sadr on cell phone covers. Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
Iraq may soon have a pro-Iran government
Haley Britzky
A coalition of blocs loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri, an Iran-backed militia chief, has emerged from Iraq's disputed election and is now seeking to ease concerns in Washington as it works to form a government, Al-Monitor reports.
The details: A leader in Al-Amiri's Fatah Alliance, Karim al-Nuri, said in a statement on Wednesday that the coalition "is in tune with the vision of Iran and the United States." The coalition is viewed as a win for Iran, which will be able to "maintain its influence" in Iraq, Al-Monitor notes. The coalition is currently sitting at 141 seats, 24 seats below the 165 needed to form a government, per Al-Monitor.

Friday, June 15, 2018

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?
Ashley Fetters
New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.
The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.
The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.
Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?
Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”
And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)
Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.
Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.
Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)
One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”
Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.
And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.
So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?
“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”
Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

Trump: Not so fast with Iran


After North Korea, Trump now wants a 'real deal' with Iran
Holly Ellyatt
Basking in the afterglow of his apparently constructive meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump said that he'd soon like a "real deal" with the U.S.' other long-time enemy Iran.
Speaking to reporters following a historic meeting with Kim, at which the regime's leader signed an agreement that appeared to commit to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Trump said he hoped relations could also improve, in time, with Iran.
"I hope that, at the appropriate time, after the sanctions kick in — and they are brutal what we've put on Iran — I hope that they're going to come back and negotiate a real deal because I'd love to be able to do that but right now it's too soon to do that," Trump said.
Relations between the U.S. and Iran started to sour as soon as Trump was elected to the presidency in November 2016, having called an accord to limit Iran's nuclear capabilities — brokered by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and other world powers — a "terrible deal."
Trump followed through on a threat to withdraw the U.S. from the deal in May and said sanctions would be re-imposed on Iran.
Penalties to be re-imposed by August 6 include sanctions on Iran buying or acquiring U.S. dollars, trading gold and other precious metals, sanctions on its sale, supply or trade of metals such as aluminum and steel, as well as sanctions on issuing Iranian debt and its auto sector.
Further sanctions to come later this year will affect Iran's shipping, financial and oil sectors.
Needless to say, the sanctions are expected to damage Iran's economy, with Trump himself describing the sanctions as "brutal" on Tuesday. He added though that a decline in confidence might make the country's officials think about negotiating another deal with the U.S.
"On the Iran deal, I think Iran is a different country now than it was three or four months ago. I don't think they're looking so much to the Mediterranean, I don't think they're looking so much at Syria like they were, with total confidence, I don't think they're so confident right now," he said.
Not long after Trump and Kim's agreement was announced, Iran warned North Korea not to trust the U.S. president who, it said, could cancel their denuclearization agreement within hours.
"We don't know what type of person the North Korean leader is negotiating with. It is not clear that he would not cancel the agreement before returning back home," Iran's government spokesman, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, said, according to Reuters who quoted the IRNA news agency.

Trump declares victory over North Korea


Trump declares North Korea'no longer a nuclear threat'

By Veronica Stracqualursi and Stephen Collinson, CNN
Updated 4:48 PM EDT, Wed June 13, 2018
Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the North Korean regime no longer poses a nuclear threat following his summit with Kim Jong Un, even though the meeting produced no verifiable proof that the rogue regime will discontinue its nuclear program.
In a series of tweets, Trump sought to take political credit for the summit but risked undermining the US strategy in the region.
"Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office," Trump tweeted as he arrived back in Washington. "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."
Trump also said that his meeting with Kim was an "interesting and very positive experience" and that "North Korea has great potential for the future!"
Trump also said in a separate tweet that North Korea is "no longer" the US' "biggest and most dangerous problem," telling Americans and the rest of the world they can "sleep well tonight!"
After returning to the White House Wednesday, Trump also defended his decision to halt the joint military exercises with South Korea, which he called "war games" -- a term used by Pyongyang -- arguing on Twitter that the US will "save a fortune."
Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer - sleep well tonight!
Trump's tweets pointed to one of the chief gains at the summit from the US point of view -- that its scheduling and the establishing of a relationship between the President and Kim have eased fears that the two sides are on a slide toward a disastrous war.
The argument also allows Trump's political allies and supporters in conservative media to claim ahead of the midterm elections that the President has engineered a triumph overseas that was beyond all his predecessors and has made America and the world much safer.
But much of the fear over imminent war last year was stoked in the first place by Trump's "fire and fury" rhetoric and boasts about the size of the US nuclear button.

No guarantees from summit

After nearly five hours of unprecedented talks between Trump and Kim on Tuesday, the two leaders signed a document in which Kim "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and the US agreed to "provide security guarantees."
However, there was no mention of the previous US aim of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" from Pyongyang. Kim's commitments did not appear to go beyond what he already pledged to do in April when he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in along their countries' border.
Following the summit, Trump told reporters during a news conference in Singapore that Kim agreed to "destroying a major missile engine testing site" and that it would be done "very soon," without elaborating further on which testing site or timing.
The President also added that North Korea's promise to complete denuclearization "will be verified," though the document the two leaders signed did not lay out details of that process.
Trump left the discussions assured that Kim would begin dismantling his country's missile sites in the immediate future, telling ABC News that Kim "trusts me, and I trust him."

Risk of weakening US position

Any lessening of tensions is positive but an assurance that the threat of war is removed based simply on a relationship between a President who is term-limited and a volatile dictator who leads a criminal regime lacks the certainty and permanence of verifiable disarmament that the administration says is its goal.
By claiming that the North Korean nuclear threat has disappeared, Trump also risks weakening the US negotiating position in talks on denuclearization that were mandated by the summit and will be led from the US side by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. After all, if there is no threat, why would the North Koreans need to give up their arsenal?
Trump's rush to claim credit for the supposed disappearance of the North Korean nuclear threat may also give nations like China and Russia an incentive to ease stringent implementation of the "maximum pressure" sanctions that helped bring Pyongyang to the table.
Some analysts are likely to see the comments as part of a worrying trend since North Korea showed no public sign at the summit or since that it is now willing to implement the complete, irreversible and verifiable destruction of its nuclear programs. Ultimately, in the short term, at least while diplomacy continues, Trump's tweets seem to indicate he is ready to live with the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons and potentially the capacity to fire them at the United States, in an implicit erosion of the US strategic position.
Ultimately, that may end up being the only option that the US has short of war. But Trump's triumphalism is not based on concrete commitments by Kim that were established by his own administration's expectations setting before the talks.
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

The End Nuclear Game (Revelation 15)


French Licorne nuclear test, July 3, 1970.
Image: Pierre J/Flickr
Morbid Researchers Imagine a 'Best-Case Scenario' for Nuclear War, and the Results Are Grim
George DvorskyToday 9:55am
There are currently about 15,000 nuclear warheads on Earth—enough to blow our planet to kingdom come. It’s complete overkill, literally. But how many nukes is enough to deter an enemy? And how many nukes could an aggressor nation drop on an enemy before the effects of nuclear winter come back to haunt them? A new study tackles these grim questions, but the answers aren’t as satisfying or clear cut as the researchers would like to believe.
New research published today in the peer-reviewed journal Safety suggests no nation should possess more than 100 nuclear warheads. This is the maximum number, argue Joshua Pearce, a professor at Michigan Technological University, and David Denkenberger, an assistant professor at Tennessee State University, beyond which the blowback from a nuclear strike will affect the aggressor nation in the form of environmental, socioeconomic, and agricultural devastation, in addition to serious losses of life at home—even in the event the enemy doesn’t retaliate with its own nuclear missile strike. At the same time, the researchers say 100 nukes is still enough to ensure nuclear deterrence, effectively reducing the risk of war (and accidents), and by consequence, a catastrophic nuclear winter.
Whittling down the nuclear arsenal to tidy number like 100 sounds nice; it’s certainly the kind of number that looks good at the negotiations table. But on closer inspection this figure is actually quite arbitrary. Modern nuclear weapons, even when used in limited quantities, have the potential to wipe out entire cities and trigger calamitous environmental effects. A nuclear war, whether it’s with 100 or 1,000 nukes, will still be a horrific affair, the effects of which will be felt around the world. Ideally, the safest, most rational, and most humane number of nuclear weapons to possess is zero.
Currently, the United States has 6,550 nuclear warheads, while Russia has 7,010. Add the ones owned by the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Pakistan, India, China, and North Korea, and we come to a figure just shy of 15,000. But if Pearce and Denkenberger were to have their way, this figure would drop down to 900 or fewer. That’s a total reduction of 94 percent, dropping the total number of nukes around the world by a significant margin. Fewer nuclear weapons reduces the chances of an accident, the researchers argue, while also reducing the amount of money spent on these devices. What’s more, it’s “not rational for any of these seven countries to maintain stockpiles of weapons in excess of 100 that could result in such a large potential impact on their own citizens if they were used,” the researchers write in the new paper.
Indeed, this is the very crux of the paper—to determine “the nuclear pragmatic limit where the direct physical negative consequences of nuclear weapons use are counter to national interests.” In other words, that moment when a nuclear strike comes to bite you in the ass—even if the enemy doesn’t retaliate.
Studies that have looked at nuclear winter scenarios before concentrated primarily on a full Russia-versus-US nuclear war and asked questions like ‘could humanity survive?’,” Pearce told Gizmodo. “Studies on smaller regional wars focused on the environmental effects. This was the first study to look at only a one-sided nuclear attack and its effects, specifically on the food supply, on the aggressor assuming the absolute best-case scenario.”
By “best-case scenario,” Pearce is describing a purely hypothetical (and completely unrealistic) situation in which, in addition to not launching a retaliatory strike, the aggressor nation is not beset by ensuing terrorist attacks, mass civil unrest, minimal nuclear fallout, and the myriad other things that would follow in the wake of an unmet nuclear attack. The authors sought to determine the maximum number of nukes that could be dropped on an enemy before a nuclear winter sets in, and by consequence, instigating the collapse of trade, industry, and agriculture back home.
No doubt, we’ve all heard about the dreaded nuclear winter. As the authors write:
Nuclear winter is the potential severe multi-year global climatic cooling effect likely to occur after widespread firestorms following the detonation of a limited number of nuclear weapons...[A] nuclear war would burn vast forest areas, croplands, stored fossil fuels as well as cities and industrial centers. These fires would produce a thick smoke layer in the Earth’s atmosphere, drastically reducing sunlight reaching the earth’s surface causing [what’s called] “nuclear twilight.”
In addition to abnormally low temperatures, a badly damaged ozone layer would no longer block damaging UV rays. Precipitation would drop, as would global food production. Food chains and industry would become completely dysfunctional, and in some cases, non-existent.
To determine the point at which nukes present a blowback problem to the aggressor nation, the researchers calculated the effects of 7,000, 1,000, and 100 nuclear warheads dropped on a single country. The yield of each warhead was arbitrarily assigned a value of 15 kilotons (kt), a problem we’ll get to in just a bit. The authors calculated how much material would burn in each city and how much smoke would waft up into the atmosphere. Climate models were used to predict the impact on agriculture and the global food supply.
In one hypothetical scenario, if the US were to drop 100 nukes on China’s most populous cities, the initial blasts would kill an estimated 30 million people. This “regional nuclear war” would subsequently trigger a nuclear autumn, causing a one-degree Celsius temperature drop and a 10 to 20 percent drop in global food production. The resulting famines would kill scores of people in China, but American citizens would emerge largely unscathed. If the US were to drop 1,000 or 7,000 bombs on China, however, the story would be vastly different, resulting in 140,000 and five million US deaths, respectively.
“Just how damaging the use of even a modest fraction of our nuclear arsenal is on the stability of the US was shocking,” Pearce told Gizmodo. “We thought because America has so much land and so much wealth—all the more modest nuclear bombing scenarios would hardly touch us because it would only cut food supply by tens of percent. We were so wrong. The number of dead Americans from the use of our own bombs were staggering—far worse than all terrorists attacks to date combined.”
Pearce believes his analysis, because of the optimistic and conservative estimates used, severely underestimates the number of US deaths in these scenarios.
“For example, we assumed severe rationing, which is the best way to keep most people alive when there is this level of food shortage,” he said. “It means anyone that would die of starvation is immediately cut off from food. In the real world this would mean our government would be purposefully killing Americans. It is hard to estimate how a heavily armed American population would react when government agents demand they sacrifice themselves and their children so their would be enough food to feed the elite. I don’t think that would go overly smoothly—a lot more people would die in violence internally than what we estimated based on lack of calories.”
But in addition to these sweeping and unrealistic assumptions, this study suffers from another major limitation as well, which has to do with the size and power of modern nuclear weapons. As noted, this study assumes the use of 15-kiloton bombs, which actually makes little practical sense. That’s the explosive yield of the bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today’s bombs are far larger and stronger—a lot stronger. Most modern weapons are five to 25 times more powerful than the ones used in World War II, ranging from 100 to 500 kt. Currently, the largest bomb in the world is five megatons (5,000 kt), with the US’s largest at roughly 1.4 megatons (1,400 kt). It’s a tremendous stretch to believe the nuclear powers will regress to those old-timey 15 kt nukes.

‘Limited’ Nuclear Strikes Could Still Wreak Climate Havoc
With the Cold War a fading memory, some nuclear powers have adopted strategies allowing for limited …
A similar point was made in a study published last year in Environment Magazine. Adam Liska and his colleagues from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln showed that so-called “limited strikes,” like the ones proposed by Pearce and Denkenberger, are still likely to trigger both local and global climate effects. Frighteningly, they found that the US, Russia, and China possess weapons that can trigger a nuclear autumn with the use of fewer than five bombs. Thus, the claim that “100 nukes” is a kind of magic number loses meaning outside the context of explosive yield.
“The most sensitive parameter in these calculations is the size of the bombs, which range from ~25 kt to 5,000 kt based on today’s arsenals,” Liska told Gizmodo. “The larger bombs are the ones that really count today.”
Regardless, it’s fair to say that a reduction in nuclear stockpiles is still a smart move.
“It is simply not rational to invest billions in maintaining superfluous weapons that if ever used would destabilize our own country,” Pearce told Gizmodo. “This logic follows for everyone. Other countries are in a much worse position because they are poor, like Russia, or don’t have enough of their own land, such as Israel,” adding that “we need to take alternative food preparation more seriously and have a plan in place to feed America in the event of a nuclear war even if it has nothing to do with us (e.g. if Russia were to attack Europe). Other countries should be doing the same planning.”
Current events this week suggest North Korea is ready to give up its nukes, but it’s unclear if any other nations will follow suit. Probably not. Ideally, we’ll eventually rid ourselves of this existential blight, but complete relinquishment doesn’t seem possible or even desirable. It’s often argued that nuclear weapons, when in the possession of rational actors, are what keep the peace. That may be true, but we can’t always be sure if leaders, past or present, will continue to be rational.

Iran opens new nuclear plant

Iran Might Start Building Nuclear Reactor in Arak in 2-3 Months - Reports
"In accordance with the planned schedule, we have completed the last stage of the preparatory phase and sent the results to the Chinese side. After agreeing with them within 2-3 months we shall begin the construction stage of the reactor," Kamalundi said as quoted by the agency. The official went on to say that in the event Tehran abandons the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it will be able to rebuild the reactor in Arak.
Kamalundi also added that the cancellation of the nuclear deal will give Iran the opportunity to enrich uranium at its factories in Natanz and Fordo.
"Now there are about six thousand centrifuges in Natanz. At the Fordo plant, enrichment is not being carried out, but in the event of Iran's withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the relevant decision of the management, we will again launch the uranium-processing plant at Fordo," he said.
However, he stressed that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had ordered compliance with the terms of the JCPOA.
The Arak Nuclear Complex consists of a heavy water experimental reactor and a heavy water production plant. In accordance with the JCPOA, Iran had to rebuild the nuclear facility in Arak to satisfy concerns over the possible producing and reprocessing of weapons-grade plutonium. In accordance with the JCPOA, Iran filled the reactor's core with cement to render it inoperable. The redesigned plant is being used for peaceful nuclear research in medical and industrial spheres. Under the nuclear deal, Iran has also pledged to redesign the uranium enrichment facility in Fordo so as to make it a nuclear and technological research center.
Iran's possible move to launch its heavy water reactor is connected with the uncertainty over the fate of the nuclear deal. On May 8, US President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal from the JCPOA. The nuclear deal confined Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of the UN's nuclear sanctions as well as restrictive measures introduced by the US and the EU. Trump vowed not only to reimpose sanctions but to introduce new ones.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Bowls of Wrath (Revelation 15)


Britain's deterrent is delivered by nuclear-armed Royal Navy submarines Credit: TASS / Barcroft Images
Only 100 nuclear bombs needed to cause catastrophe around the world
Nations with huge nuclear arsenals are wasting their money because just 100 missiles would be enough to destabilise the globe and kill their own citizens, scientists have said.
Britain currently possesses approximately 215 warheads of around 15,000 worldwide, the vast majority of which are American or Russian.
But researchers have determined that no nation could fire more than 100 without causing a chain of events so catastrophic the impacts are felt at home.
In the first such exercise of its kind, scientists analysed the “environmental blow-back” of a one-way but massive nuclear strike.
Based on models including those of burnable materials in cities, they calculated the amount of soot and dust that would be thrown into the air by the blasts, the consequent blotting of the sun and damage to the atmosphere.
They found that the “nuclear autumn” of such destruction would damage agricultural output by up to 20 per cent, enough to affect widespread food shortages even on the other side of the world.
The concept of nuclear deterrence has traditionally included the doctrine that the bigger the arsenal, the less likely an adversary is to attack.
However, the authors at Michigan Technological University and Tennessee State University say there is no “pragmatic” reason for any nation to maintain more than 100.

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump agreed to work towards the complete denculiarisation of Korea Credit: AP
Published in the journal Safety, the study follows the historic Singapore summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, where both leaders pledged the “complete denucliarisation” of the Korean peninsula.
There are nine official nuclear weaponised nations: the U.S., Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
Britain’s nuclear deterrent consists of at least one of four nuclear-armed submarines being at sea and ready to launch at any time.
Although both the Conservative and Labour Parties are officially committed to renewing Trident, Jeremy Corbyn has expressed a preference to scrap it.
Under the disarmament proposed in the the new study, the total number of warheads globally would drop to 900 or fewer.
Professor Joshua Pearce, one of the authors, said: “With 100 nuclear weapons, you still get nuclear deterrence, but avoid the probable blowback from nuclear autumn that kills your own people."
"No country should have more nuclear weapons than the number necessary for unacceptable levels of environmental blow-back on the nuclear power's own country if they were used."
Professor Pearce said modeling showed that if the US were to fire 1,000 nuclear warheads, 50-times more Americans would die than did on 9/11, even if no missiles were fired back.
His team analysed a hypothetical US attack on China using 7,000 weapons, 1,000 or 100.
Even in the smallest attack, 30 million people would be likely to die form the initial blasts.
The altered atmosphere would be expected to result in an overall drop in global temperature, a 19 per cent reduction in rainfall as well as an increase in ultraviolet radiation.
The study warns that its estimated long-term casualties suffered by the aggressor nation are likely to be a significant underestimate, because they reflect only the predicted deaths directly resulting from food shortage, but not the violence and unrest that such deprivation would cause.

The “Zone” of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


North Jersey region among ‘most active’ earthquake zones
Matt Fagan, Staff writer, @fagan_nj
Northern New Jersey, which straddles a significant ancient crack in the Earth’s crust known as the Ramapo Fault, recorded 16 earthquakes last year, an unusually high number for the area.
It had been relatively quiet this year, until geologists recorded a 1.3 magnitude quake last weekend in Morris Plains, and then a 1.0 magnitude quake Saturday in Morristown.
Last weekend’s tremor was reported by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Observatory to the Morris Plains Police Department, which issued an advisory to residents on Monday morning.
Lamont-Doherty spokesman Kevin Krajick said the quake was pinpointed to a shallow depth of 6 kilometers just north of Grannis Avenue, between Mountain and Sun Valley ways, about 500 feet southeast of Mountain way School.
Rutgers Newark geology professor talks about earthquakes in northern New Jersey. Matt Fagan/NorthJersey.com
“It was a very small earthquake at a very shallow depth,” Krajick said. “Most people would not feel an earthquake that small unless they were absolutely right under it, if that.”
“To date (there) were no reported injuries or damage related to the earthquake and no Morris Plains residents reported any activity to this agency,” according to Morris Plains police Chief Jason Kohn
On the other hand, Butler Police Lt. Mike Moeller said his department received “a bunch of calls about it, between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.”
Saturday’s earthquake was so minor that Morristown police said they received no calls from residents
Earthquakes are generally less frequent and less intense in the Northeast compared to the U.S. Pacific Coast, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. But due to geological differences between the regions, earthquakes of similar magnitude affect an area 10 times larger in the Northeast compared to the West Coast.
The 16 tremors recorded in 2016 were minor, generally 1 or 2 magnitude, often misinterpreted as explosions, said Alexander Gates, geology professor at Rutgers University Newark campus.
“A lot of people in Butler felt them over the course of the last year, but a lot of them didn’t know it was an earthquake,” Gates said.
Butler is the borough, but also the name of the fault that sits at the end of aseries of others belonging to the Ramapo Fault, Gates said.
The Ramapo fault, Gates said, is the longest in the Northeast and runs from Pennnsylvania through New Jersey, snaking northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before coming to an end in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant.
The small area, Gates said, is considered the most seismically active region east of the Mississippi based on data gathered since 1974, when seismographs were installed.
“I’d be willing to bet that you’d have to go all the way to Canada and all the way to South Carolina before you’d get one that active,” Gates said of the area which runs from the New York state line in the Ringwood and Mahwah area down to Butler and central Passaic County, Gates said.
Of last year’s 16 earthquakes, 12 were directly associated with the faults around Butler, Gates said.
Butler Councilman Ray Verdonik said area residents are well aware of the frequency of earthquakes and agrees they are often difficult to discern.
During one earthquake, the councilman said he and his neighbors rushed from their homes.
“We thought it was from Picatinny Arsenal or a sonic boom.” he said.
Won-Young Kim, director of the  Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, which  monitors earthquakes in the Northeast, said often very shallow, the low magnitude quakes’ waves cause much ground motion. He said even though the waves don’t travel very far, they can seem more intense than the magnitude suggests.
They may not topple chimneys, he said but can crack foundations and frighten residents.
To put earthquake magnitudes in perspective, experts said each year there are about 900,000 earthquakes of 2.5 magnitude or less recorded annually by seismograph. These mild tremors are usually not felt.
There are 30,000 that measure between 2.5 and 5.4, and these are often felt, but cause minor damage.
About 500 quakes worldwide are recorded between 5.5 and 6 magnitude per year and cause slight damage to buildings and structures.
The 100 that fall within 6.1 and 6.9 may cause lots of damage in populated areas.
The 20 or so which fall within the 7 and 7.9 magnitude per year are considered major and cause serious damage.
Those that measure at 8 or greater can totally destroy communities near the epicenter and average one every five to 10 years.
The earthquake recorded in Mexico last week measured 7.1 magnitude.
Gates said he has identified most of the region’s numerous faults, but has yet to name them all. Among the unnamed include the faults responsible for last year’s quakes in the region.
Earthquakes in this region are intraplate ones, Gates said, meaning they occur within the plates. Earthquakes of this type account for more than 90 percent of the total seismic energy released around the world.
Plates are the masses of the earth’s crust that slowly move, maybe as little as a few centimeters a year to as much 18 centimeters, around the globe. Faults such as the San Andreas are interplate and occur near where two plates meet.
The plate North America rides upon runs from the Mid Atlantic Ridge to the Pacific Coast. The theory is that as plates interact with one another, they create stress within the plate. Faults occur where the crust is weak, Gates said. Earthquakes relieve the built up pressure.
Boston College Geophysics Professor John Ebel said he and a Virginia Tech colleague, believe the seismically active areas in New York and South Carolina are where some 200 million years ago, the plates tried to break off but failed. This led to a weakening of the earth’s crust which makes them susceptible to quakes.
While not predictable, the data collected seem to suggest earthquakes occur somewhat periodically, 40 active years followed by 40 less active, Gates said.
“We are over due for a 3 or 4” magnitude, Gates said. “A 4 you’d feel. It would shake the area. Everybody would be upset.”
Ebel does not fully agree. He said saying “overdue” might be somewhat misleading.  Earthquakes happen through a slow process of rising stress, “like dropping individual grains of sand on the table.”
You never know which grain will cause the table to break, he said.
Still all three experts say statistically it is only a matter time before a magnitude 5 quake is recorded in the northern New Jersey area.
The scientists said quakes in the Northeastern part of the United States tend to come 100 years apart and the last one was recorded in 1884 believed to be centered south of Brooklyn. It toppled chimneys and moved houses from their foundations across the city and as far as Rahway.
Washington D.C. experienced a 5.8 magnitude quake in 2011, which was felt in the Northeast, Gates said. That quake cracked the Washington Monument.
A similar quake was recorded in 1737 in Weehawken, Gates noted.
“Imagine putting a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Weehawken, New Jersey next to the Bridge, next to the tunnel,” Gates said. “Boy that would be a dangerous one.”
In 2008 Columbia University’s The Earth Institute posted an article titled: “Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study.”
“Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” the article’s co-author John Armbruster wrote. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling.”
The threat though, is not tangible to many, Armbruster wrote.
“There is no one now alive to remember that last one, so people tend to forget. And having only a partial 300-year history, we may not have seen everything we could see. There could be surprises — things bigger than we have ever seen,” Armbruster wrote.
The Earth Institute’s article did note New York City added earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.
New Jersey also began to require earthquake-resistant standards in the 1990s. The state, following the 2011 Virginia quake, now requires lake communities to make dams able to withstand a magnitude 5 earthquake.
The issue, Gates said, is that many of the buildings were built before these codes went into effect. A “sizable” earthquake could cause much damage.
Then there’s the prediction that every 3,400 years this area can expect a quake at 7 magnitude.
According to the Earth Institute article, a  2001 analysis for Bergen County estimates a magnitude 7 quake would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone.  Likewise, in New York City the damage could easily hit hundreds of billions of dollars.
Ebel noted that depending on the depth and power of a severe quake, damage could be also be wide ranging. In 2011, Washington D.C., 90 miles away from the epicenter, which was located in central Virginia, suffered significant damage.  Cities like Philadelphia fall within that radius.
“The big one could happen tomorrow or 100 years from now. That’s the problem,” Gates said. It geological terms 100 years is just a spit in the ocean, he noted.
Then again North Jersey is more likely to be hit by hurricane in the next three years, Gates added.
Email: Fagan@NorthJersey.com
Staff Writer William Westhoven contributed to this report. 
New Jersey’s top earthquakes
• Dec. 19, 1737 — Weehawken, believed to be a 5-plus magnitude quake, could be very serious if occurred in same spot today.
• Nov. 29, 1783 — Western New Jersey. Geologists are not exactly sure where it happened because area was sparsely populated. Estimated magnitude varies from 4.8 to 5.3. Felt from Pennsylvania to New England.
• Aug. 10, 1884 — A 5.2 earthquake occurred somewhere near Jamaica Bay near Brooklyn. The quake toppled chimneys and moved houses off their foundations as far Rahway.
• The biggest earthquake in the last 45 years of data available form USGS was a 3.8 quake centered in Carneys Point in Salem County on the morning of Feb.28, 1973
• New Jersey has never recorded a fatality due to an earthquake, according to the DEP.
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Russia Joins the Nuclear Band Wagon

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchange documents during a signing ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 8, 2018. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP/Getty Images)
Since March, Russia has watched with dismay as dialogue brokered by South Korea developed rapidly between the U.S. and North Korea, ultimately resulting in a planned nuclear summit next week in Singapore.
The Kremlin’s concerns about being left out of talks on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities and regional security were at least partly addressed by recent visits to North Korea and China by Russian leaders eager to solidify Moscow’s role in whatever happens next on the Korean peninsula.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Friday in China, which provides much of North Korea’s food, energy and trade, for a state visit with President Xi Jinping.
The Russian president emphasized, however, that North Korea would need "absolute security guarantees” if the U.S. managed to persuade Kim to give up the isolated nation’s nuclear arsenal, which few in the Kremlin or most anywhere believe is feasible.
In late May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Kim in Pyongyang, the senior diplomat’s first visit to North Korea in a decade. Lavrov extended an invitation from Putin for the North Korean leader to visit Russia.
"As we start discussions on how to resolve the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula, it is understood that the solution cannot be comprehensive without the lifting of sanctions," Lavrov said, according to Russian state news agencies.
Moscow fears being left outside looking in on a bilateral solution to the North Korean missile and nuclear issue, Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat and lawmaker who's now an independent analyst in Moscow, wrote on the Republic online news site this week.
"This would threaten not only to clearly devalue … the narrative of the international role of Russia as a global great power, which is very important to the Kremlin,” Frolov wrote, “but also to create new and not very Russia-friendly … formats for the provision of security in East Asia, in which the United States and American security guarantees would play the key role.”
Many analysts and observers say that no one should expect Kim to agree to denuclearize and that, in fact, finding a common definition of what denuclearization means to each side may be an important early step in talks between the U.S. and North Korea.
Russian observers in general consider that Trump, for one, may be satisfied initially by accomplishing an unprecedented summit with the North Korean leader and understands that reaching an agreement on weapons may require a long process, said Georgy Kunadze, a former deputy foreign minister of Russia and former ambassador to South Korea.
“Trump may not be prepared to pronounce it a failure,” Kunadze said via email. “This is exactly what Russia expects.”
Russia shares a small border with North Korea, and what happens to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal matters to Russian national security. Any military conflict involving North Korea could send millions of refugees across Russia’s border.
“Russia is happy that the [Singapore] summit is happening and happy if war can be avoided, but it is not happy about being somewhere on the sidelines,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow and the chair of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “So, whenever there is talk about sanctions relief and rewards to North Korea for its good behavior, or anything which involves the United Nations Security Council, Russia is there and wants to be recognized as an important party.”
Historically, relations between Moscow and Pyongyang have gone up and down. The Soviet Union backed the Korean People’s Army in the Korean War. Once North Korea was established, the Soviets treated Pyongyang as a communist sister state, and along with China, supplied it with oil, rice, medicines and industrial equipment.
When the Soviet Union broke up, the economic benefits of that sister-state relationship with both Moscow and China fizzled. The North Korean economy collapsed as it was unable to repay some $10 billion in loans from China and Russia.
Since then, Russia’s relations with North Korea have been “neither good nor bad, but mainly symbolic,” Kunadze said.
Under Putin, Russia has condemned North Korea’s military drills and nuclear weapons tests, while forgiving 90% of Pyongyang’s outstanding Soviet-era debt.
Meanwhile, North Korean workers in the timber, construction, agriculture and fishing industries have filled a labor shortage in Russia’s Far East regions as well as helped bring back hard currency for a struggling North Korean economy. Last year, Russia began pushing Kim to bring North Korea’s workers back home, sending some 100,000 across the border.
Russia expelled workers under pressure from the United Nations, which accuses North Korea of exporting workers to other countries and employing them under “slave-like conditions.” Russian media have reported that hundreds of North Korean workers were involved in the building of the Zenit soccer stadium in St. Petersburg, which will host some of the FIFA World Cup games starting June 14.
Moscow views its relationship with Pyongyang similarly to how it sees its interests in Syria, where it supports the government of President Bashar Assad.
The Kremlin seeks leverage in areas to counter the weight of U.S. influence. If Syria is Russia’s stronghold in the Middle East, an area where the U.S. has been losing influence, then Russia would like North Korea to be the buffer state in Asia against U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
“Since 2014, when Russia became an outcast of international politics, there has also been a growing feeling of shared destiny” between Moscow and Pyongyang, Kunadze said.
If the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore somehow helps North Korea break out of its isolation without conceding too much, Russia would try to learn from the experience for its own needs and expand its relationship with Pyongyang, Kunadze said.
Russia, which has been courting a better relationship with China, must be careful to balance any moves with North Korea that could irritate Beijing, Moscow’s biggest trade partner and an increasingly important source of foreign loans.
“Moscow's maneuvering space is pretty limited because it has to cater to China's agenda as well,” Gabuev said. “China has a clear agenda on the Korean peninsula, which is partially aligned to the Kremlin's agenda, which is to sustain Kim’s regime.”
There is another possible Russian motivation for pushing to play a role in the North Korea talks.
This week, both Russia and the Unites States said they were starting talks about a proposed summit between Putin and Trump. Should that happen, the Kremlin will want “to have some agenda in which Russia can be relevant to the U.S.,” Gabuev said.
“Why should Trump talk to Putin at all? Putin definitely won't give Crimea back to Ukraine, he will not pull out of Syria, so there must be something else,” he said. “This something else must be some big international crisis of great importance to the U.S., and to Trump in particular, such as this issue with North Korea.”
If Putin can portray himself as vital to any talks on North Korea, the topic could drive the agenda at a Trump-Putin summit, Gabuev said. Such a stance could benefit both men.
“Trump could play up meeting with Putin as, ‘Look, I know Putin is bad, but I'm talking to him because of North Korea,’" Gabuev said.