Korea Prepares For Another “Iranian” Nuclear Test


Visitors walk by a TV screen showing a news program with a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 22, 2017. North Korea's latest missile launch ended in failure Wednesday. The Korean letters read: "Launch a missile."

Visitors walk by a TV screen showing a news program with a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 22, 2017. North Korea’s latest missile launch ended in failure Wednesday. The Korean letters read: “Launch a missile.”

North Korea has maintained readiness to conduct a nuclear test at any time, a South Korean military official said Friday, amid a report of a possible test within days as Pyongyang defies international pressure.

U.S. and South Korean military surveillance assets were closely monitoring the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site on the reclusive state’s east coast, said the official, who declined to be identified.

North ‘ready … any time’

Speaking by telephone, the official also declined to comment on whether there were fresh signs pointing to an imminent test.

“North Korea is ready to carry out a nuclear test at any time, depending on the leadership’s decision. We are keeping a close eye on its nuclear activities,” the official said.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and is believed by experts and government officials to be working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that could reach the United States.

Fox News in the United States reported Thursday that the North was in the final stages of preparing for another nuclear test, possibly within the next few days. The network cited U.S. officials with knowledge of recent intelligence.

It quoted one of the officials as saying the test could come as early as the end of the month.

Satellites show activity

The Washington-based think tank 38 North said in February satellite imagery showed the North’s nuclear site continued low-level activity in a possible sign that it could conduct another test soon. However, it said it was unclear exactly when such a test might take place.

The South Korean military has said several times since the September test that Pyongyang was ready to conduct another nuclear blast at any time, and that a tunnel was available at the site to do so.

North Korea said last year it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile and has been ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations appear powerless to contain.

A North Korean missile appeared to have exploded just after it was launched Wednesday, the latest in a series of weapons tests that have alarmed the region.

The Sixth Seal: The Big Apple Shake (Rev 6:12)

Big Apple shake? Potential for earthquake in New York City exists

NY bridge

NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) – For the last 43 years John Armbruster has been a seismologist with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.  A veteran of what he describes as “a couple of dozen” quakes, he is interested in the seismic activity throughout the Pacific region in recent weeks.

However, does the amount of plate movements around the world in recent weeks as well as years to translate to New York City being more vulnerable, “These earthquakes are not communicating with each other, they are too far apart,” said Armbruster in an interview with PIX 11 News on Wednesday.

Nonetheless, Armbruster added that there are many faults around the area and a few in Manhattan, including on specific fault capable of producing a magnitude 6.0 earthquake, “The 125th street fault.”

What would a magnitude 6.0 earthquake inflict upon the city?

“I think there would be serious damage and casualties,” said Armbruster.  The reason?  Most of the buildings and infrastructure was not constructed  to withstand earthquakes.  This said, what does Armbruster think of the chances of a major earthquake catching New York City by surprise?

“We know that its unlikely because it hasn’t happened in the last 300 years but the earthquake that struck Fukushima Japan was the 1000 year earthquake and they weren’t ready for the that.

Antichrist threatens to boycott Iraq elections

Muqtada al-Sadr threatens to boycott Iraq elections

Powerful Shia leader demands changes to electoral law at Baghdad demonstration attended by thousands of supporters.

Thousands of people joined a protest in Iraq's capital, Baghdad [Reuters]
Thousands of people joined a protest in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad [Reuters]

Influential religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr has told thousands of supporters in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, that he will boycott upcoming elections unless the country’s electoral law is changed.

Supporters of the Shia cleric have repeatedly rallied for changes to the law and the country’s electoral committee, which is dominated by affiliates of powerful political parties.

If “the law remains … this means that we will order a boycott of the elections,” Sadr said in remarks televised at Friday’s demonstration in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

Iraq is set to hold holding provincial elections later this year, and parliamentary elections in 2018.

Sadr, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, did not specify the specific changes he wants to take place, but the current law has been criticised as being biased towards large political parties over smaller ones.

The United Nations has backed demands for electoral reform, urging parliament last month to “finalise the ongoing review” of the election law and the electoral commission.

Sadr is the scion of a powerful clerical family who, in earlier years, raised a rebellion against US-led forces and commanded a feared militia.

He had lost some of his political influence in recent years but has brought himself back into relevance by calling for demonstrations to push for reforms.

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Erbil in northern Iraq, said Friday’s demonstration showed Sadr has the ability to mobilise thousands of people.

“What we’re seeing really has to do with internal Iraqi politics. [Sadr‘s] been campaigning on an anti-corruption platform – how politicians and the electoral commission are corrupt. This is important because Iraq will have provincial elections later this year.

“He’s been highlighting this for over a year now but since the Mosul offensive [against ISIL] … it’s slowed down and attention has shifted.

“So this is an apparent effort by him to re-launch his campaign and remind people of his message – and thousands are heeding his call.”

Rallies demanding improved services and opposing widespread corruption broke out in the summer of 2015, drawing pledges from authorities that reforms would be made that ultimately led to little in the way of lasting change.

Last year, his supporters broke into Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone area on several occasions, where the government is headquartered, while clashes at a Baghdad protest in February left seven people dead.

Antichrist Continues To Dictate Iraq

Muqtada al-Sadr preaches to demonstrators in Baghdad on Friday. Photo: Rudaw TV
Muqtada al-Sadr preaches to demonstrators in Baghdad on Friday. Photo: Rudaw TV

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gathered today with hundreds of thousands of his supporters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, where he said could be assassinated, but encouraged them to continue their demonstrations and protests in the capital until all corrupt government officials are removed from their posts.
“No matter what ethnic or religious group the corrupt belong to, we will stop them and shake their seats,” Sadr said. “The seats of those who enriched themselves at your expense.”

Sadr told his cheering supporters that government and party officials tried to manipulate the election law in order to stay in power and warned that unless the laws and commission presiding over the elections are changed his party and people will boycott the next vote.

“In next elections, never vote for the corrupts,” Sadr told his supporters amid chants of “Yes, yes to Iraq” and “Your vote is for freedom and your demonstrations will be their end.”

Iraq is scheduled to hold provincial elections this year and general elections next year. However, the displacement of some 3 million Iraqis because of the fight against ISIS complicates the process.
“They try to manipulate the election law. But I tell you to vote for the clean ones and those against corruption and sectarianism, Sadr said.

“I want you to do a revolution through the ballet box.”

As he had done on several occasions before, Sadr voiced strong criticism of Iraq’s election commission, saying: “The existence of this election commission is a crime because they will keep these corrupt faces in power. Unless they change these faces we will not take part in the elections if they don’t make changes.”

On Friday, he advised the crowds that he may one day be killed or silenced but that they must continue their demonstrations and “reform revolution.”

“Iraq’s corrupt leaders are not corrupt alone they also have money and arms,” Sadr said. “They will do their best to sow the seed of sectarian strife.”

Demonstrators in January called on Sadr to resume leadership of the protests.

“But we are not cowed by threats and death,” he went on. “Many tried that before and failed.”

He said that “If they succeeded in assassinating me” his followers should continue “the reform revolution without fear or exhaustion. No one should say Muqtada is gone there will be no reform.”

“It will be for God and the country,” Sadr insisted.

Previously, riot police have been used to disperse the crowds and some protestors were reportedly arrested.

“Also keep the peacefulness of your gatherings and demonstrations to the end,” he added. “Iraq should not go back to square one.”

Trump Prepares the US for Nuclear War

Despite Campaign Promises, Trump Set To Outdo Obama On Military Adventurism

Donald Trump tours the nuclear aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON — For some, Donald Trump’s campaign trail claim that he had always been against the Iraq war – a claim that he would also use as a jibe aimed at Hillary Clinton – seemed to signal that he would refrain from sending the United States spiraling into another armed conflict.

“I’m the only one on this stage that said, ‘Do not go into Iraq, do not attack Iraq.’ Nobody else on this stage said that. And I said it loud and strong,” he said in February 2016 during one of several Republican debates. Months later, in June, Trump would use this argument to blame Hillary Clinton for the rise of ISIS.

“It all started with her bad judgment in supporting the war in Iraq in the first place. Though I was not in government service, I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, and yes, even before the war ever started,” he claimed.

The only problem? Trump was no dove prior to or after the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And since the destruction of Iraq – and his inauguration – Trump has sent the U.S. into a number of military conflicts and his administration is looking to promote even greater military interventionism in a region already steeped in violence.

When asked about Trump attitudes toward war, MIT professor and renowned linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky told MintPress News that the idea that he was an anti-war candidate “was based on his criticisms of the Iraq and Libya attacks (which, contrary to his lies, he supported) and his ambiguous statements about reducing tensions with Russia – a good thing, if he meant it. But his actual policies are extremely dangerous.

“[This includes] the sharp increase in the military budget, the weakening of restrictions on drone strikes, and the wild charges about Iran,” Chomsky said, adding that what really worries those who pay attention to these issues “is his megalomania and unpredictability…we know how someone who goes berserk over minor slights might react in a moment of crisis.”

Despite what some have claimed, Trump has never given a “loud and strong” argument against invading Iraq. According to a report from PolitiFact, during an interview with Howard Stern in 2002, Trump was asked whether or not he supported the U.S. invasion, to which he responded “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.” In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he wrote:

“We still don’t know what Iraq is up to or whether it has the material to build nuclear weapons…if we decide a strike against Iraq is necessary, it is madness not to carry the mission to its conclusion. When we don’t, we have the worst of all worlds: Iraq remains a threat, and now has more incentive than ever to attack us.”

There’s no evidence of genuine opposition on Trump’s part regarding the invasion and occupation of Iraq. His few mealy-mouthed anti-war statements are meaningless in light of what he has said previously. And now, with the U.S. military under his command, Trump has already begun exercising armed force and is actively suggesting that his administration will engage in further military action, including putting more troops on the ground in Syria to combat ISIS.

According a report from the Washington Post, marines that have already been deployed there are establishing an outpost in Raqqa so they can fire on ISIS combatants. The report argues that the deployment “marks a new escalation in the U.S. war in Syria and puts more conventional U.S. troops in the battle.” The marines will soon be accompanied by special operations troops and attack helicopters.

Syria is certainly not the only country that will suffer from more U.S.-sanctioned violence. Nearly 19 million people in Yemen are now in need of aid, with more than seven million “not knowing where their next meal will come from,” according to the United Nations. Despite the UN having described Yemen as being “on the brink of famine,” the Trump administration has not been afraid to inflict further harm on the country’s vulnerable population. As millions of Yemenis are on death’s door, the U.S. government is escalating a horrific war in Yemen.

On March 3, the U.S. launched a second round of airstrikes that government officials alleged was part of a larger campaign meant “to roll back territorial gains [an Al Qaeda affiliated group] has made in the past two years.”

The U.S. launched over 30 strikes against alleged combatants and their safehouses between March 2 and 3. This escalation came only a few months after the notorious January raid during which at least two dozen civilians, including 10 children, were reported to have been killed. The media’s pointed focus on the commando raid came after it was revealed that a member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 was also killed.

The Trump administration has also been escalating tensions with Iran, a country that has faced tremendous pressure from previous administrations for its use of nuclear energy. After ballistic missile tests in February, former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn officially “put Iran on notice.” Donald Trump would later threaten Iran via Twitter: “Iran is playing with fire—they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”.

In February, James Mattis, who is currently serving as the U.S. Secretary of Defense, described Iran as being “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” Mattis has held an obsessive hatred towards Iran for decades, with Politico author Mark Perry describing him as having an “anti-Iran animus [that] is so intense that it led President Barack Obama to replace him as Centcom commander.”

Douglas Williams, a contributor for The Guardian and PhD student in political science at Wayne State University, told MintPress News that Trump never genuinely campaigned on being anti-war “aside from a brief moment after he clinched the Republican nomination for president.”

Williams argues, “he always beat that drum about ISIS, and then there was the talk of the ban on Muslims entering the United States.” That said, Williams believes that the anti-war movement has a chance of beating Trump “if they play the ball and not the man.” This would mean responding to Trump’s militarism by “connecting the already-outsized military budget to the things that they care about — health care and the economy.”

There is a demonstrable and significant difference between what Trump says and what his administration actually does. It is clear that his alleged anti-war sentiment is entirely imagined.

The Antichrist Will Unify Iraq (Revelation 13)

As Mosul falls, a new threat to peace looms

Mona Alami

Fighters from the Popular Mobilisation Units after recapturing a village near Mosul from IS [AFP]

Date of publication: 23 March, 2017

Comment: The war on IS has partially suppressed disagreements among the different Shia blocs in Iraq, but as victory draws closer, tensions are rising once again, writes Mona Alami.

As the war against the Islamic State group (IS) appears to be entering its final stages in the city of Mosul, Iraq seems more divided than ever.

Yet the post-IS phase may be marked not only by increasing ethnic and sectarian strife, but also by internal communitarian struggles, particularly among Shias.

Divisions among the Shia community in Iraq are echoed in the country’s fractured nature as a whole.

The fight to push out the Islamic State group looks likely to end successfully in the next few months. But the military victory may be mitigated by dissent among the various Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) factions attempting to capitalise on the terror organisation’s losses, each with differing views of what the next phase should entail.

The PMU Shia militias were formed at the behest of grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who called on Shia volunteers to rise against IS advances in Iraq in 2014.

The respected cleric insisted that the formation of the militias should be temporary, to be disbanded once IS had been crushed.

Last year, a new law passed by the Iraqi parliament designated the PMU an official military force, operating in parallel to other security forces. In addition, PMU militias appear to have been eyeing Iraq’s upcoming local elections, and the 2018 federal elections, with tensions rising between the three main PMU blocs.

The first is led by Sayed Muqtada al-Sadr, a respected Iraqi cleric who has placed himself at the vanguard of the war on corruption. Sadr has also been pushing his Initial Solutions plan, a national reconciliation proposal for post-IS Iraq which is backed by many Sunnis.

But the plan seems incompatible with the views of another major Shia player, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Sadr’s initiative encompasses a UN-supported entity focusing on human rights and minorities, and calls for a dialogue among political players and the dissolution of the PMU – with their integration into the standard national security forces.

Sadr also argues for the expulsion of “occupying” as well as “friendly” forces. The Sadrist movement has also called for electoral reforms, which would put an end to Maliki’s political hegemony.

This puts Sadr at odds with Maliki, Iran’s man in Iraq. A controversial figure, accused of rampant corruption and of contributing to the country’s divide – facilitating the rise of IS – Maliki still has ambitions for the premiership. Building on his role in the creation of the PMU, he feels a certain entitlement after the victories in the war on IS.

The third major Shia bloc is led by the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar Hakim. Hakim has been arguing for a large-scale reconciliation process that remains somewhat vague and does not, as yet, seem to have seduced the Sunni constituency.

The war on IS has, to an extent, suppressed disagreements among the different blocs vying for regional and political power, without preventing clashes. Last February, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s procession was attacked by pro-Sadrist university students in Kut. According to some, Sadr accused former Prime Minister Maliki of being behind the attack, claiming it was motivated by a desire to distort the Sadrist movement’s image.

Last April, pro-Sadrist crowds stormed parliament, with Shia factions coming close to direct paramilitary confrontation. The takeover of the parliament came after rival political groups blocked parliamentary approval of a new cabinet made up of independent technocrats.

The political infighting marked by intermittent episodes of violence offers a glimpse of what may lie ahead for Iraq in the post-IS phase. The prospect of domestic strife risks taking centre stage, with a resurgence in the struggle for dominance among the Shia constituency.

Mona Alami a non-resident fellow with the Atlantic council covering Middle East politics with a special interest in radical organizations. Follow her on Twitter: @monaalami

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

Iran Is Already A Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Does Iran Already Have Nuclear Weapons?

What happens to the Iran nuclear deal if Iran already has a nuclear weapon?

Both Iran and North Korea were part of the A.Q. Kahn proliferation network, and bilateral trade in oil and weapons has continued despite UN resolutions designed to stop it. Ballistic missile cooperation is documented, and nuclear cooperation has been an unspoken theme in Washington. Pyongyang helped Damascus, Iran’s ally, build a secret reactor. There are reports that North Korean experts visited Iran in May to help Iran with its missile program. Pressed by reporters on the subject of North Korea-Iran nuclear cooperation a few weeks ago, even the State Department acknowledged that it takes reports of such cooperation seriously.

In 2006, again in 2009, and more recently in 2013, North Korea carried out what appear to have been nuclear tests. The tests were all small, well below the blast that was achieved by the first Hiroshima atomic bomb and the subsequent Nagasaki explosion.

When America dropped a uranium-fueled simple bomb on Hiroshima (August 1945) it achieved a blast rated at about 15 kilotons (KT). The plutonium bomb with a sophisticated triggering system, used at Nagasaki three days later, had a yield of about 20 KT. The most recent North Korean nuclear explosion, by contrast, was approximately 6 KT, much smaller and it was detonated underground. Such a bomb is not trivial: its fireball would cover about four Manhattan blocks. It is, by itself, not sufficient to destroy the city of New York, but it would do a lot of damage.

Experts think the North Koreans have been developing small nuclear warheads, which they believe explains why the blasts were so small. DIA expressed “moderate confidence” that North Korea had mastered a nuclear weapon small enough to mount on a ballistic missile, and other senior American officials agree. But in May, an NSC representative said, ““We do not think that they have that capacity.” Both sides caveat their views with the fact that there is no direct, observable evidence — only extrapolations from events in a closed country.

If North Korea can make a small nuclear weapon, why would it?

The main threat for North Korea lies to its south. If Pyongyang wanted to use its ballistic missiles to attack South Korea with atomic warheads, U.S. spy satellites would surely pick up the preparation and preemptive action could be taken to make sure they were never launched. Thus the better nuclear option for North Korea is to do it in a more stealthy way: perhaps by using a mini submarine or a fishing boat in a key South Korean harbor. In that case, the bigger the bomb the better.

Of course, the North Korean ambition does not stop at South Korea and perhaps it wants a nuclear capability to threaten the United States and Japan, two archenemies.

On the other hand, North Korea desperately needs cash to prop up a regime that has been teetering for a long time.  A good part of that cash comes from abroad, and outside of illicit activities the big money seems to be from Iran.

Given relations between the two and North Korean capabilities, it is quite possible that the North Korean tests have either been of Iranian-made warheads or of warheads made for Iran by North Korea. Which may mean Iran is shipping uranium (and possibly plutonium) to North Korea and the North Koreans are developing the warheads and testing them.

If Iran already has nuclear weapons, the agreement with the United States, Europe, and Russia is a canard, enabling Iran to bring in a lot of cash and technology while continuing to expand its nuclear program outside its borders. Ending the UN arms embargo against Iran would also allow it to ship items (warheads?) into the country without international inspection.

There is nothing new about Iran operating outside its borders. On September 5, 2007, Israeli aircraft and commandos attacked and destroyed Deir al-Zor in Syria and the nearby complex of Kibar. The complex was confirmed by the IAEA as a nuclear weapons development site, operated by Iran with the participation of North Korea.

It was not the only nuclear site in Syria. Marj as-Sultan, a facility near Damascus, is believed to be a uranium enrichment facility. With fighting taking place around this town, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports that the uranium and other material and equipment have been moved “to a well-hidden underground location just west of the city of Qusayr, not even two kilometers from the border with Lebanon.” And Der Spiegel believes that yet another nuclear facility was built this year at a secret location. According to Der Spiegel, Assad’s goal is nuclear capability, but how would this help him deal with the civil war raging in Syria? A more likely explanation is that this is an Iranian operation supported by North Korea.

Countries developing nuclear weapons often follow multiple tracks and build significant redundancy into their program so that a single point of failure won’t block progress in development. The U.S. pursued both uranium and plutonium weapons and created multiple facilities and different processes to get to its goal. Ditto for Russia, Britain, France, Iraq, India, and Pakistan. Iran is pursuing multiple paths to weaponization, but it is doing it with a twist. Because it needs a deal for sanctions relief, Iran is pursuing both domestic and extraterritorial nuclear weapons development. There is no doubt about its close ties to North Korea, and Syria provides concrete evidence of the convergence of the main players.

The nuclear deal with Iran does not consider these external relationships, or even officially recognize that they exist. Nor does it take into account that the explosions in North Korea could have been Iranian bombs. Although American intelligence is not completely confident on the matter, it is clear that the administration has heard voices of concern from within its own establishment.

This is another example of the ardor with which the Obama administration has pursued the Iran nuclear deal without regard for Iranian behavior before and during the negotiation.

What happens to the Iran nuclear deal if Iran already has a nuclear weapon?

Both Iran and North Korea were part of the A.Q. Kahn proliferation network, and bilateral trade in oil and weapons has continued despite UN resolutions designed to stop it. Ballistic missile cooperation is documented, and nuclear cooperation has been an unspoken theme in Washington. Pyongyang helped Damascus, Iran’s ally, build a secret reactor. There are reports that North Korean experts visited Iran in May to help Iran with its missile program. Pressed by reporters on the subject of North Korea-Iran nuclear cooperation a few weeks ago, even the State Department acknowledged that it takes reports of such cooperation seriously.

In 2006, again in 2009, and more recently in 2013, North Korea carried out what appear to have been nuclear tests. The tests were all small, well below the blast that was achieved by the first Hiroshima atomic bomb and the subsequent Nagasaki explosion.

When America dropped a uranium-fueled simple bomb on Hiroshima (August 1945) it achieved a blast rated at about 15 kilotons (KT). The plutonium bomb with a sophisticated triggering system, used at Nagasaki three days later, had a yield of about 20 KT. The most recent North Korean nuclear explosion, by contrast, was approximately 6 KT, much smaller and it was detonated underground. Such a bomb is not trivial: its fireball would cover about four Manhattan blocks. It is, by itself, not sufficient to destroy the city of New York, but it would do a lot of damage.

Experts think the North Koreans have been developing small nuclear warheads, which they believe explains why the blasts were so small. DIA expressed “moderate confidence” that North Korea had mastered a nuclear weapon small enough to mount on a ballistic missile, and other senior American officials agree. But in May, an NSC representative said, ““We do not think that they have that capacity.” Both sides caveat their views with the fact that there is no direct, observable evidence — only extrapolations from events in a closed country.

If North Korea can make a small nuclear weapon, why would it?

The main threat for North Korea lies to its south. If Pyongyang wanted to use its ballistic missiles to attack South Korea with atomic warheads, U.S. spy satellites would surely pick up the preparation and preemptive action could be taken to make sure they were never launched. Thus the better nuclear option for North Korea is to do it in a more stealthy way: perhaps by using a mini submarine or a fishing boat in a key South Korean harbor. In that case, the bigger the bomb the better.

Of course, the North Korean ambition does not stop at South Korea and perhaps it wants a nuclear capability to threaten the United States and Japan, two archenemies.

On the other hand, North Korea desperately needs cash to prop up a regime that has been teetering for a long time.  A good part of that cash comes from abroad, and outside of illicit activities the big money seems to be from Iran.

Given relations between the two and North Korean capabilities, it is quite possible that the North Korean tests have either been of Iranian-made warheads or of warheads made for Iran by North Korea. Which may mean Iran is shipping uranium (and possibly plutonium) to North Korea and the North Koreans are developing the warheads and testing them.

If Iran already has nuclear weapons, the agreement with the United States, Europe, and Russia is a canard, enabling Iran to bring in a lot of cash and technology while continuing to expand its nuclear program outside its borders. Ending the UN arms embargo against Iran would also allow it to ship items (warheads?) into the country without international inspection.

There is nothing new about Iran operating outside its borders. On September 5, 2007, Israeli aircraft and commandos attacked and destroyed Deir al-Zor in Syria and the nearby complex of Kibar. The complex was confirmed by the IAEA as a nuclear weapons development site, operated by Iran with the participation of North Korea.

It was not the only nuclear site in Syria. Marj as-Sultan, a facility near Damascus, is believed to be a uranium enrichment facility. With fighting taking place around this town, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports that the uranium and other material and equipment have been moved “to a well-hidden underground location just west of the city of Qusayr, not even two kilometers from the border with Lebanon.” And Der Spiegel believes that yet another nuclear facility was built this year at a secret location. According to Der Spiegel, Assad’s goal is nuclear capability, but how would this help him deal with the civil war raging in Syria? A more likely explanation is that this is an Iranian operation supported by North Korea.

Countries developing nuclear weapons often follow multiple tracks and build significant redundancy into their program so that a single point of failure won’t block progress in development. The U.S. pursued both uranium and plutonium weapons and created multiple facilities and different processes to get to its goal. Ditto for Russia, Britain, France, Iraq, India, and Pakistan. Iran is pursuing multiple paths to weaponization, but it is doing it with a twist. Because it needs a deal for sanctions relief, Iran is pursuing both domestic and extraterritorial nuclear weapons development. There is no doubt about its close ties to North Korea, and Syria provides concrete evidence of the convergence of the main players.

The nuclear deal with Iran does not consider these external relationships, or even officially recognize that they exist. Nor does it take into account that the explosions in North Korea could have been Iranian bombs. Although American intelligence is not completely confident on the matter, it is clear that the administration has heard voices of concern from within its own establishment.

This is another example of the ardor with which the Obama administration has pursued the Iran nuclear deal without regard for Iranian behavior before and during the negotiation.

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

History Says New York Is Earthquake Prone

Fault Lines In New York City

Fault Lines In New York City


If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.

According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)

Korea Increases Its Nuclear Arsenal (Daniel 8)

North Korea has expanded its enriched uranium facility, U.N. nuclear inspector says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks at a rocket warhead tip in this undated handout photo.
WASHINGTON — North Korea has doubled the size of its facility for enriching uranium in recent years, according to the United Nations’ top nuclear inspector, who voiced doubt that a diplomatic agreement can end leader Kim Jong Un’s weapons programs.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, described North Korea as rapidly advancing its capacity to produce nuclear weapons on two fronts: the production of plutonium at its Yongbyon nuclear facility and the enrichment of uranium.

Amano played a leading role in negotiating the landmark nuclear agreement reached between world powers and Iran in 2015 to scale back Tehran’s nuclear program.

The Japanese diplomat, who was tapped this month to serve a third term as the IAEA’s chief, played down the chances for a similar diplomatic approach with Kim and his military government. “This is a highly political issue. A political agreement is essential,” Amano said, but added. “We can’t be optimistic. The situation is very bad. We don’t have the reason to be optimistic.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

 

Get Ready For Nuclear War (Revelation 15)

What You Need to Know About the Future of Nuclear Weapons Under Donald Trump

Emma Sarran WebsterMAR 22, 2017 1:09PM
In late January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the “Doomsday Clock” 30 seconds closer to midnight. The clock is symbolic, with midnight representing the end of the world; the group moves the minute and second hands based on its analysis of various threats to humanity. Now, at two and a half minutes to midnight, the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand is closer to the catastrophic hour than it’s been since 1953. The decision to move it was in part because of Trump’s recent comments on nuclear arms, as well as nuclear tests by North Korea and new ballistics missiles being built by Russia.

Right now, nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons are estimated to exist in the world (that’s down from the 70,000-plus that existed in the Cold War era), with the U.S. and Russia owning approximately 93% of those. The remaining 7% is owned by six other countries: France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, and Israel.

Here’s what you need to know about nuclear weapons.

What are nuclear weapons and proliferation?

Nuclear weapons are explosive devices that derive their destructive force from a combination of chemical explosives and nuclear reactions. They can be fired using airplanes, submarines, or missiles launched from silos. They can destroy entire cities, wipe out millions of people, and cause long-term, devastating effects to the environment and to human health.

The first nuclear weapons were developed during World War II, and they’ve only been used in warfare twice, when the United States bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Since then, other countries have acquired nuclear weapons, and more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted.

Under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the term “nuclear proliferation” refers to the spread of nuclear weapons (including weapon material, information, and technology) to states that don’t already have them, while nonproliferation refers to preventing such a spread.

What is the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and why is it important?

The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is an international agreement covering three pillars: disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The core of the NPT states that “countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament; countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful nuclear technology.”

The NPT was developed in the aftermath of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis (when the U.S. and the Soviet Union teetered on the brink of nuclear war following the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba) and has been in effect since 1970. There are 190 countries that are signatories to the NPT, including five nuclear states: the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, and China. North Korea signed the NPT in 1985 but withdrew in 2003. India, Israel, and Pakistan have never signed the agreement.

“This treaty is just a piece of paper, but it has done a great deal in terms of limiting the creation of new nuclear capable states and fostering international cooperation,” Angelica Gheen, a radiation-health physicist at a large research university, tells Teen Vogue. Along with nonproliferation, “this has led to an environment of global cooperation on nuclear security…and it allowed for [South Africa] to successfully disarm with international resources,” a process that took place from 1989 to 1991, culminating in South Africa joining the NPT in ’91.

Some believe that nuclear proliferation can actually prevent war, with the dangerous weapons acting as deterrents to countries considering attacks. However, some studies state otherwise. Research has also shown that the closer a country is to acquiring nuclear weapons, the more likely it is to be attacked.

What are the main concerns with nuclear weapons?

Despite treaties and presumptions of deterrence, the fear that nuclear weapons could end up in the wrong hands or that existing nuclear states could choose to attack is real. “Terrorists are working every day to try to get their hands on weapons-grade materials that they could use in a bomb,” John Tierney, executive director at the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization “dedicated to enhancing peace and security” through policy analysis and research, tells Teen Vogue.

There are also concerns associated with nuclear states that aren’t bound by the NPT, like North Korea, which has conducted several nuclear weapons tests over the years, as well as India and Pakistan, which have both conducted nuclear tests and are pursuing new nuclear delivery systems.

Though Syria and Iran don’t currently have nuclear weapons, both are believed to have taken steps toward proliferation, in violation of the treaty’s terms. (The 2015 Iran nuclear deal among Iran, the U.S., and five other countries was developed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.) And then there are China and Russia. A Chinese state-run newspaper, Global Times, recently called for an increase in nuclear capabilities, and U.S. officials believe that China — North Korea’s only major ally — has supplied nuclear technology and materials to other countries. Russia has also caused concern recently: In 2014, U.S. officials said Russia violated the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by testing a ground-launched cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The treaty bans missiles capable of traveling between 310 miles and 3,400 miles, and experts believed the weapon Russia tested had that capability. And in December 2016, Russian president Vladimir Putin said the country needed to “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces.”

And though in 2010 the U.S. and Russia signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to further limit nuclear arsenals (requiring each state to limit its number of deployed warheads to 1,550 by February 5, 2018), both countries (as well as China) are undergoing modernization of their nuclear arsenals. But if the goal is to eliminate nuclear weapons, what’s the point of updating them? From the looks of it, some people believe Russia’s modernization is a sign that they’re working on a new bomb and that America’s modernization is in response to that. Then again, the Center for Arms Control states that the U.S. modernization plans are based on maintaining the amount of nuclear weapons (as deterrents) agreed upon under the New START Treaty — and those goals may be necessary, considering some systems still currently exist on floppy disks. “I don’t think anybody would have an objection [to modernization] as long as [the weapons are] serving the purpose of deterrent, and if we’re committed to eventually reducing the numbers and eliminating them, you want them to be safe and secure,” Tierney says. “But if people are using this modernization process as a guise to proliferate [and] to create more dangerous and risky weapons, then that just escalates the risk of a nuclear mistake or a nuclear incident.”

What is the risk of a nuclear mistake or incident?

Which brings us to another important point: Aside from acts of aggression, there’s the very real concern about simple mistakes that could have catastrophic effects. Between 1950 and 2013, there were 32 nuclear weapon accidents, or “broken arrows,” in which weapons were accidentally launched, fired, detonated, stolen, or lost; six lost weapons were never found. Fortunately, those accidents haven’t resulted in a nuclear explosion, but there have been close calls. In 1980, a missile technician dropped a socket from a socket wrench, which fell 70 feet and pierced the side of the underground Titan II missile, causing it to explode, killing one person. But had the incident caused the missile’s nuclear warhead to detonate, it would have wiped out all of Arkansas.

And then there are the close calls that come with making the decision to detonate a nuclear weapon. In 1983, the Soviet Union’s missile-detection systems mistakenly detected an incoming strike from the U.S. that was triggered by the sun’s reflection off of cloud tops. Instead of registering the supposed nuclear attack, the Soviet duty officer, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, acted on a gut feeling and instead registered it as a false alarm, avoiding a nuclear disaster. There have been other close calls with similar outcomes: narrowly avoided catastrophes based on human decisions.

And making that decision is something that has to be done in an incredibly short time frame, given that if a nuclear weapon is on its way, it’s only a matter of minutes before it hits. Thus, the U.S. has weapons that are on “hair-trigger alert,” which enables them to be launched within minutes, but it also means an increased likelihood of accidental launches or launches in response to false alarms.

When an alert happens, the military chain of command has less than 30 minutes to go through the process of assessing the threat, communicating with the president, and launching a retaliation if the president gives the go-ahead. “One of the reasons why these weapons are so dangerous is that unlike sending people to war and having a little bit of process and hopefully a congressional debate, and then a vote about whether or not to go into war, this is a decision that one person is making and in such a short time frame,” Tierney says.

Why is there concern surrounding Donald Trump and nuclear weaponry?

The U.S. has a “first strike” nuclear weapon policy, meaning America can activate weapons against another country without being attacked first. And President Donald Trump has the final say. Though national security advisors can brief him, it’s ultimately up to the president whether or not to attack, a point that came up during the presidential campaign when Hillary Clinton called out Trump’s impulsivity and how it could affect his decisions with the nuclear codes.

And though Trump said that receiving the nuclear codes was “sobering,” his various statements on the topic are cause for concern. Just one month before his inauguration, Trump tweeted that the U.S. should “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,” a statement in direct contrast with Obama’s stated policy of nonproliferation. When asked about the tweet, Trump told MSNBC in a statement, “Let it be an arms race.” He seemingly reinforced those views just a few weeks ago, telling Reuters that the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be at the “top of the pack.”

“When Donald Trump tweets casually about the U.S.’s need to ‘strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,’ it drastically undermines all of these efforts and years of work to denormalize the escalation of nuclear weapon proliferation,” Gheen says. She notes that the NPT was already weakened by the loss of North Korea, and if the U.S., one of the two remaining major nuclear powers in the agreement, were to ever withdraw, the NPT would likely be dissolved.

On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to do away with the Iran nuclear deal, though his more recent lack of comments on the deal give the impression that he may keep the agreement intact. Even if he does try to renegotiate or withdraw from the deal — which, Tierney says, has already been a success — he’ll likely face pushback from U.S. officials and other countries that support it. “The fact of the matter is … [the deal] has worked,” Tierney says. “It’s done what it was intended to do: It’s put us in a much less risky situation, and the other [nations] that were partners in negotiating this…they want it to stay.”

Not long after that tweet, Trump took to Twitter again, in response to North Korea’s recent missile test, dismissing the country’s claims that it is developing a weapon capable of hitting the U.S. Some experts, however, believe it’s only a matter of time before North Korea develops such a weapon. “With an unpredictable Kim Jong Un [North Korea’s leader]…it is time for a very delicate diplomacy,” Gheen says. “With Donald Trump tweeting without thought for consequence, you have a scenario with two prideful, impulsive, nuclear-armed leaders. Add China into the mix, which is pretty much DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]’s only ally and [a nation that] has nuclear capabilities, and [there’s] a growing anxiety over Donald Trump.”

Part of that also has to do with Trump’s hiring — and firing — decisions. The president nominated former Texas governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy (DOE), which oversees the country’s nuclear programs. But unlike his predecessors, like MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, Perry — who once advocated for abolishing the DOE — has minimal education or experience in the field. During his confirmation hearings, Perry gave vague responses to questions about the U.S. nuclear warheads program, and it turns out he may not have been clear on what his role would be when he accepted the offer. Tierney noted that between Trump and Perry, “there’s concern that there’s a lack of technical knowledge [and] a lack of appreciation for the complexity and for the risk involved.”

And those concerns are heightened when you consider the fact that aside from his one-off tweets and eyebrow-raising statements, Trump hasn’t really shared a clear vision for the future of nuclear arms. “Effective nuclear and radiological emergency response, detection, and prevention requires a well-coordinated national effort,” Gheen says. “A unified national message is essential to maintain funding and efficacy of these programs…. The Trump transition team [showed] little interest in making the continuation of these programs a priority.”

What’s next?

Clearly, the issue of nuclear weaponry and proliferation is a sensitive and dangerous one. To maintain safety and avoid large-scale destruction, Tierney believes Trump needs to continue President Obama’s efforts in nonproliferation, and that he and Perry need to hire experts in the DOE and the administration who have significant knowledge and understanding of nuclear weapons necessary to advise the president and the secretary of energy.

As for the weapons themselves, Tierney and others believe the U.S. needs to take weapons off high alert and work with Russia to do the same. “No matter who’s the president, it’s almost too huge a task to expect anybody to encumber and have 100% accuracy all the time,” Tierney says. “If you’ve only got about 30 to 45 minutes to make a decision as monumental as that, that clearly isn’t enough time in most instances for somebody to have a full appreciation of all the facts that are going on and to make good judgment.” Multiple leaders as well as scientists have called for weapons to be taken off high alert.

And in January, Democratic senator Ed Markey and congressman Ted Lieu introduced legislation to restrict the “first use” policy and prohibit Trump from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war from Congress.

Ultimately, Gheen says, Trump and the U.S. need to continue to partner with other countries, particularly nuclear states, to help avoid a disaster. “There is a great tradition of international nuclear cooperation, especially within organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency, an international organization that promotes “safe, secure, and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology,” she says. “Together we can propose creative solutions for [nuclear] issues.”

Tierney notes, though, that this is something that may also require a grassroots effort. “We need to get a public movement in gear again to understand that these risks are out there, and as frightful as they are, they can be dealt with,” he says. “We’ve had success in the past and we need to get people together, but it’s [going to] take a voice of people, a movement, to get people to speak up loudly enough that the people who make these decisions in the capitals of various countries react as they did in the ’80s and start taking action to stop the proliferation of these weapons and eventually keep on decreasing them, and put us in a safer environment.”