LA Will Be The First Nuclear Casualty (Revelation 16)

A Los Angeles suburb released this ominous video about how to survive a nuclear attack

Leanna Garfield and Dave Mosher

Aug. 9, 2017, 3:36 PM 4,246

Earlier this week, an analysis from US intelligence officials revealed that North Korea has figured out how to fit nuclear warheads on missiles, and that the country may have up to 60 nuclear weapons. (Some independent experts estimate the figure is much smaller).

On Monday, North Korea issued a stark warning to the US: If you attack us, we will retaliate with nuclear weapons.

Several American cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu, have response plans for terrorist attacks, including so-called “dirty bombs” containing radioactive material. But few have publicized plans to deal with a real nuclear explosion.

One exception is Ventura County, a suburb about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. In 2003, the local government launched a PSA campaign called Readythat aims to educate Americans how to survive a nuclear attack. The goal, according to the campaign site, is to “increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation.”

One of the more recent PSA videos is the one below, published in 2014. It opens with a short message from Ventura County public health officer Dr. Robert Levin, then cuts to a little girl with an ominous expression around the one-minute mark.

“Mom, I know you care about me,” she says. “When I was five, you taught me how to stop, drop, and roll … But what if something bigger happens?” The video then flashes to the girl walking down empty streets alone.

The Ventura County Health Care Agency has published several guides on what to do in the event of a nuclear bomb hitting the area. As the girl says in the video above, the agency’s focus is to “go in, stay in, tune in.”

The scenario assumes a terrorist-caused nuclear blast of about 10 kilotons’ worth of TNT or less. Few people would survive within the immediate damage zone, which may extend up to one or two miles wide, but those outside would have a chance.

Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, previously told Business Insider that he likes Ventura County’s PSAs because they’re simple and easy to remember. “There is a ton of guidance and information out there,” he said, but “it’s kind of too hard to digest quickly.”

Buddemeier said you’d have about 15 minutes – maybe a little bit longer, depending on how far away you are from the blast site – to get to the center of a building to avoid devastating exposure to radioactive fallout. Going below-ground is even better.

“Stay in, 12 to 24 hours, and tune in – try to use whatever communication tools you have. We’re getting better about being able to broadcast messages to cell phones, certainly the hand-cranked radio is a good idea – your car radio, if you’re in a parking garage with your car,” he said.

The protection factor that various buildings, and locations within them, offer from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear blast. The higher the number, the greater the protection.Brooke Buddemeier/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Buddemeier adds, however, that you shouldn’t try to drive away or stay in your car for very long, because it can’t really protect you. Today’s vehicles are made of glass and very light metals, and offer almost no shielding from damaging radiation.

In large cities, hundreds of thousands of people would be at risk of potentially deadly exposure. But fallout casualties are preventable, Buddemeier said.

“All of those hundreds of thousands of people could prevent that exposure that would make them sick by sheltering. So, this has a huge impact: Knowing what to do after an event like this can literally save hundreds of thousands of people from radiation illness or fatalities,” he said.

Nuclear Tensions Increase with China (Daniel 7)

Xi Jinping military parade camo

Chinese military displays conventional, nuclear missiles at parade

PTI|
Updated: Jul 30, 2017, 02.51 PM IST

BEIJING: Chinese military today showcased five models of its homemade conventional and nuclear missiles in a massive military parade, marking the 2.3-million strong People’s Liberation Army’s 90th founding anniversary.

The models include the Dongfeng-26 ballistic missile, which can be fired at short notice and fitted with a nuclear warhead, the Dongfeng-21D land-based anti-ship ballistic missile described as a “carrier killer” and the Dongfeng-16G conventional missile designed for precision strikes against key enemy targets.

Also on display were two types of solid-fuel inter- continental strategic nuclear missiles, which rumbled on top of long-bed missile launchers, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The equipment and soldiers driving the mobile launch vehicles came from the PLA‘s Rocket Force, which was established in December 2015 as part of the PLA’s extensive military structural reform.

The predecessor of Rocket Force, the Second Artillery Force, was founded on July 1, 1966.

China’s latest J-20 stealth fighters made their parade debut in north part.

Three J-20 jets led an echelon formation consisting of 15 fighter aircraft which roared over the Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region during the country’s first-ever Army Day parade.

The J-20 is China’s indigenous fourth-generation medium and long-range fighter jet. It made its maiden flight in 2011 and was first publicly displayed at the 11th Airshow China in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in November last year.

“The enlisting of fourth-generation jets will bring fundamental changes to the rules of the game in air battlefield,” said Wang Mingzhi, a professor with the PLA Air Force Command College.

“It will also draw the curtain on transformation in the PLA Air Force,” Wang said.

Besides J-20, J-16 fighters and Y-20 heavy transport aircraft were also among the new aircraft making parade debuts today.

The J-16 is a two-seat, dual-engine multi-role fighter with beyond-visual-range air-to-air and air-to-ship strike capabilities.

The Y-20 plane with a maximum take-off weight of about 200 tonnes, is designed to carry cargo and personnel over long distances in complicated meteorological conditions. It officially entered military service in July, 2016.

The PLA was founded on August 1, 1927 when the ruling Communist Party of China under the leadership of Mao Zedong carried on with his national liberation movement.

The parade was held in the backdrop of over month-long standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam in Sikkim section.

Besides Doklam, China is also concerned by the situation in North Korea and the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile by the US in South Korea much to the opposition of the Beijing.

Why a U.S.-Russian War is NOT in Prophecy

PUTIN WARNS U.S.-RUSSIA NUCLEAR WAR WOULD LEAVE NO SURVIVORS

Damian Sharkov

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed the idea that the U.S. would claim victory in a conflict with Russia, noting that “nobody would survive” such a clash.

Speaking to U.S. movie director Oliver Stone for The Putin Interviews, a four-part series on Showtime, Putin shared a negative view of U.S. military action and its NATO alliance.

“NATO is a mere instrument of U.S. foreign policy,” Putin says in a clip of the interview, aired by the Showtime channel. “It has no allies, it has only vassals. Once a country becomes a NATO member, it is hard to resist the pressures of the United States.”

Russian officials frequently claim that the U.S. commands European allegiance through NATO, despite the alliance arguing that participation in the alliance is voluntary and that allies merely agree to broad military cooperation upon entry, rather than to specific deployment or combat obligations.

Troubled by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has reoriented resources to defend allies near Russia. The Kremlin has vowed to respond with its own deployments and argued the move is aggressive.

Poland and Romania have claimed they volunteered to host elements of a U.S. missile shield—but speaking to Stone, Putin says this is just another example of U.S. dictated policy.

“In this case we have to take countermeasures,” Putin tells Stone. “We have to aim our missile systems at the facilities that are threatening us. The situation becomes more tense.”

In 2015, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council Yevgeny Lukyanov warned that countries that accept the U.S. missile shield system “ automatically become targets ” for Russia.

“Romania cannot be intimidated by threats! The Missile Defense System is fundamental for the national and regional security,” Romania’s then Prime Minister Victor Ponta said in response.

Meanwhile, the Polish Ministry of National Defence refused to refer to Lukyanov’s hypothetical conflict scenario—concluding that “the Ministry of National Defense refers to the facts.”

The Shia Crescent Forms (Daniel 8:8)

shiacrescentBaghdad and Tehran sign a deal to boost military cooperation

Mina Aldroubi

Iraq and Iran signed an agreement on Sunday to boost military cooperation days after the US imposed new sanctions against Tehran for its “malign” activity in the region.

The agreement to help “combat terrorism” was signed a day after the Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi said Shiite militias backed by Iran would remain an integral part of the state.

Iranian military advisers have played a key role in the campaign to drive ISIL from territory seized by the extremist group in 2014 and the militias, known as Hashed Al Shaabi, have also fought against the extremists along with Iraq’s regular military and police.

But the militias have been accused of abuses against Sunni populations in areas recaptured by government forces and there are fears over their future role in the country.

The agreement between Iran and Iraq, which extends “cooperation and exchanging experiences in fighting terrorism” was signed in Tehran by the Iranian defence minister Hossein Dehghan and his Iraqi counterpart, Erfan Al Hiyali.

The agreement also covered border security, logistics and training, the Iranian official news agency IRNA reported.

Since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, Iran’s influence in the country has increased, empowering Shiite leaders and leaving Sunni populations neglected and resentful of the central government, which contributed to the rise of ISIL.

With the extremists defeated in Mosul, the last major city under its control, many Sunnis are fearful of a sectarian backlash as the country tries to rebuild.

The role of the Hashed Al Shaabi in Iraq has been an issue of widespread contention and will be a key issue in elections next year.

The government passed a bill in November that made the Hashed a legitimate entity of Iraq’s security forces and on Saturday Mr Al Abadi declared after meeting militias commanders that “the forces are an essential and neutral security entity and will remain within the structure of the Iraqi state”.

While maintaining that “the state is the main leader” of the security structure in the country, he said the Hashed “is a neutral security establishment, and it is here to stay”.

“It is our duty to protect it, because we are one,” Mr Al Abadi added.

The announcement is the clearest sign of support from the prime minister for the Hashed’s continued role in Iraq after ISIL’s defeat. While his predecessor, Nouri Al Malaki, was widely condemned for his sectarian policies, Mr Al Abadi has been more conciliatory.

He has condemned sectarian violence carried out by the militias and tried to build ties with Sunni countries in the region. Last month, he travelled to Jeddah and met King Salman after the Saudi foreign minister visited Baghdad in February.

But the Hashed endorsement will raise concerns among Sunni leaders in Iraq.

Sarah Allawi, advisor to Iraqi vice president Ayad Allawi, said: “We thank the security forces for their efforts in liberating Mosul from ISIL – however we now are entering a new phase rebuilding Iraq post ISIL, which is aiming to achieve national reconciliation between political forces.”

The Hashed are an amalgamation of various subgroups with allegiances to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iraq’s top Shiite clerics Ali Al Sistani and Muqtada Al Sadr, according to a report on the militias by the Carnegie Middle East Center.

“Some subgroups have assumed political roles and will seek to leverage their roles in combatting ISIL to win votes in Iraq’s 2018 elections,” said the report.

For militia members, the legitimacy of their struggle against ISIL is a direct result of a fatwa issued by Ali Al Sistani in response to the fall of Mosul in 2014 in which he called the fight a “sacred defence”.

“As of November 2016 and the passing of the Hashed Al Shaabi law, the Hashed has become a formally institutionalised part of Iraq’s security apparatus tied to the office of the commander-in-chief,” said Fanar Haddad, senior research fellow in the National University of Singapore.

“However, unlike other security units, disbanding the Hashed would not be a straightforward administrative procedure given their immense popularity and legitimacy amongst many Iraqis and given the Hashed’s powerful backers in Iraq and Iran”.

The Hashed’s role in defeating ISIL has also given them support from other sections of Iraq and not just Shiites.

“The fact is that the Hashed will be a permanent feature of Iraq’s social, political and military landscapes for the foreseeable future,” Mr Haddad added.

The Rising China Nuclear Horn

China is our enemy, not Pakistan: Mulayam Singh Yadav on Doklam standoff | The Indian Express

Samajwadi Party MP Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday claimed that China has installed the nuclear bomb on Pakistan soil and is fully prepared to attack India.

“Today, India has immense threat from China. China is conspiring against India, taking Pakistan under its fold. I have been informed that China has installed nuclear bomb on Pakistani soil. China has prepared fully to attack India,” Yadav said in the Lok Sabha.

On the ongoing standoff between China and India at Doklam, Yadav said that it is India’s responsibility to protect Bhutan and Sikkim from foreign incursions. “Protecting Bhutam and Sikkim is our responsibility. China is our enemy, not Pakistan,” he said.

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar informed a parliamentary committee that China was articulating its position more aggressively, unlike in the past. In a detailed presentation to the committee members, Jaishankar stressed that the standoff will be resolved diplomatically.

Jaishankar is learnt to have said that in the “changing world”, China was trying to spread its influence but India was doing everything to protect its interests. He is learnt to have said that while both countries stick to their positions, the situation is not as volatile as is being projected. A source quoted Jaishankar as having said that “in diplomacy, there is an approach; take a deep breath, stop and re-engage.”

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The Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Australia-India+Uranium+Deal+Under+Scrutiny+For+'Lack+of+Safeguards'First Australian Uranium shipment is on its way to India

By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

NEW DELHI: The first ever shipment of uranium from Australia — having world’s biggest reserves of yellow cake — is on its way to India elevating strategic partnership to a new level, informed visiting foreign minister

Julie Bishop

She also suggested that China, pursuing an aggressive foreign policy, must adhere to international norms amid Sino-Indian border standoff.

“The first shipment of uranium under the commercial arrangement is on its own way to India. The parliamentary clearance for uranium supplies was approved in Australia.India and Australia have also agreed on nuclear safeguards agreement,” the Minister told a select group of reporters here on Tuesday after her meeting with the PM, Foreign Minister and Defence & Finance Minister.

India and Australia signed a civil nuclear pact in 2014 and Canberra has been a supporter of India’s entry into the NSG besides other export control regimes. Besides expansion of defence and security partnership, the ongoing standoff in Dokalam figured high on the agenda of Bishop’s meetings with PM and the two key Ministers.

“This is long term dispute. While maritime border disputes should be settled based on UNCLOS, land boundary disputes should be settled peacefully. We don’t want to see an escalation. Any miscalculation could lead to tensions,” Bishop remarked.

The visiting Minister was of opinion that China has an increasingly assertive foreign policy and it should adhere to international norms and order.

“India and Australia have a growing strategic and economic partnership to provide stability in the Indo-Pacific region. We hope to expand defence partnership besides working on counter-terror and countering violent extremism.”

When asked about India’s reluctance to include Australia in the Malabar Naval exercise, the Minister avoided a direct reply and said, “The matter is not upsetting.

Each country has different priorities. India and Australia have had bilateral Naval exercises. And Australia have series of bilateral military exercises and remain keen for more such exercise.”‘

“There are all indications from the top leadership of US that it is continuing with its pivot to Asia-Pacific. Besides President Donald Trump will attend East Asia Summit,” the Australian Foreign Minister pointed out.

Iran Versus the Saudi Nuclear Horn

shia-vs-sunni1-300x224Iranian Foreign Minister: Saudis Support Our Enemies

By Patrick Goodenough | July 18, 2017 | 4:16 AM EDT


(CNSNews.com) – Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday accused Saudi Arabia of sponsoring Iran’s enemies, ranging from the exiled opposition movement to the perpetrators of a terrorist attack targeting parliament in Tehran last month.

The kingdom did so, he said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, because it hates the fact that Iran enjoys what it does not – democracy.

Zarif characterized Shi’ite Iran as the victim of Sunni-sponsored terrorism. In fact, the U.S. government has long maintained that Iran is the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism.

In conversation with CFR president Richard Haass, Zarif attributed extremism in the region both to a history of foreign intervention and to frustration of people living in countries where they have no ability to vote for their leaders.

He made it clear he was referring in the latter instance to Arab Gulf states. They and other Sunni countries made common cause against Iran with President Trump during last May’s U.S.-Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh.

The Iranian minister said Iran has become the “enemy of choice,” because that appeals both to the Arab states and to the U.S.

Haass then asked Zarif about a comment last May by Mohammed bin Salman – then Saudi deputy crown prince, now crown prince – who said he would work to ensure that the fight for regional influence takes place “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.”

Asked what he made of that, Zarif said the comment amounted to a threat – “and a threat they have been trying to make real for some time, by helping terrorist organizations.”

“You saw them participating in person in the rallies in Paris of terrorist organizations, who are chanting outside this hall too. They were there. They support various terrorist organizations who are operating from Pakistan, and finally they were able to bring some of them to our parliament – the place they hate the most because that reflects something that we have that they don’t and that is a type of democracy.”

“They brought terrorism to Iran,” he said.

He accused the regime of pursuing “expansionist ambitions, criminal practices, interferences in the internal affairs of other countries, flagrant violations of the international law, and violations of the principles of good-neighborliness, coexistence and mutual respect.”

Iran rejects claims of support for terrorism, charging that it is the West and its Sunni Arab allies that are sponsoring terrorists like ISIS, while insisting that it supports only legitimate “resistance” groups – its label for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

Zarif’s claim that Iran’s foes do not enjoy democracy points to the fact that Saudi Arabia, ruled by a royal family, does not hold national elections. Until 2015 it did not even allow women to stand or to vote in municipal elections.

Iran does hold elections, of a sort. In the most recent presidential election, in May, a small body appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified more than 1,600 aspiring candidates, allowing just six to run. Two dropped out shortly before election day and President Hasan Rouhani won a second term. Khamenei wields overall power.

The Washington-based democracy watchdog Freedom House ranks both countries as “not free,” although its current annual evaluation of political rights and civil liberties gives Iran marginally better scores than Saudi Arabia.

Iran Hegemony Courtesy of Obama 

Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’

Tim Arango

BAGHDAD — Walk into almost any market in Iraq and the shelves are filled with goods from Iran — milk, yogurt, chicken. Turn on the television and channel after channel broadcasts programs sympathetic to Iran.

A new building goes up? It is likely that the cement and bricks came from Iran. And when bored young Iraqi men take pills to get high, the illicit drugs are likely to have been smuggled across the porous Iranian border.

And that’s not even the half of it.

Across the country, Iranian-sponsored militias are hard at work establishing a corridor to move men and guns to proxy forces in Syria and Lebanon. And in the halls of power in Baghdad, even the most senior Iraqi cabinet officials have been blessed, or bounced out, by Iran’s leadership.

When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East, and vast amounts of blood and treasure — about 4,500 American lives lost, more than $1 trillion spent — were poured into the cause.

From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region.

In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost.

Over the past three years, Americans have focused on the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq, returning more than 5,000 troops to the country and helping to force the militants out of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul.

But Iran never lost sight of its mission: to dominate its neighbor so thoroughly that Iraq could never again endanger it militarily, and to use the country to effectively control a corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean.

“Iranian influence is dominant,” said Hoshyar Zebari, who was ousted last year as finance minister because, he said, Iran distrusted his links to the United States. “It is paramount.”

The country’s dominance over Iraq has heightened sectarian tensions around the region, with Sunni states, and American allies, like Saudi Arabia mobilizing to oppose Iranian expansionism. But Iraq is only part of Iran’s expansion project; it has also used soft and hard power to extend its influence in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, and throughout the region.

Iran is a Shiite state, and Iraq, a Shiite majority country, was ruled by an elite Sunni minority before the American invasion. The roots of the schism between Sunnis and Shiites, going back almost 1,400 years, lie in differences over the rightful leaders of Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. But these days, it is about geopolitics as much as religion, with the divide expressed by different states that are adversaries, led by Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran on the other.

Iran’s influence in Iraq is not just ascendant, but diverse, projecting into military, political, economic and cultural affairs.

At some border posts in the south, Iraqi sovereignty is an afterthought. Busloads of young militia recruits cross into Iran without so much as a document check. They receive military training and are then flown to Syria, where they fight under the command of Iranian officers in defense of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

Passing in the other direction, truck drivers pump Iranian products — food, household goods, illicit drugs — into what has become a vital and captive market.

Iran tips the scales to its favor in every area of commerce. In the city of Najaf, it even picks up the trash, after the provincial council there awarded a municipal contract to a private Iranian company. One member of the council, Zuhair al-Jibouri, resorted to a now-common Iraqi aphorism: “We import apples from Iran so we can give them away to Iranian pilgrims.”

Politically, Iran has a large number of allies in Iraq’s Parliament who can help secure its goals. And its influence over the choice of interior minister, through a militia and political group the Iranians built up in the 1980s to oppose Mr. Hussein, has given it substantial control over that ministry and the federal police.

Perhaps most crucial, Parliament passed a law last year that effectively made the constellation of Shiite militias a permanent fixture of Iraq’s security forces. This ensures Iraqi funding for the groups while effectively maintaining Iran’s control over some of the most powerful units.

Now, with new parliamentary elections on the horizon, Shiite militias have begun organizing themselves politically for a contest that could secure even more dominance for Iran over Iraq’s political system.

To gain advantage on the airwaves, new television channels set up with Iranian money and linked to Shiite militias broadcast news coverage portraying Iran as Iraq’s protector and the United States as a devious interloper.

Partly in an effort to contain Iran, the United States has indicated that it will keep troops behind in Iraq after the battle against the Islamic State. American diplomats have worked to emphasize the government security forces’ role in the fighting, and to shore up a prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, who has seemed more open to the United States than to Iran.

But after the United States’ abrupt withdrawal of troops in 2011, American constancy is still in question here — a broad failure of American foreign policy, with responsibility shared across three administrations.

Iran has been playing a deeper game, parlaying extensive religious ties with Iraq’s Shiite majority and a much wider network of local allies, as it makes the case that it is Iraq’s only reliable defender.

A Road to the Sea

Iran’s great project in eastern Iraq may not look like much: a 15-mile stretch of dusty road, mostly gravel, through desert and scrub near the border in Diyala Province.

But it is an important new leg of Iran’s path through Iraq to Syria, and what it carries — Shiite militiamen, Iranian delegations, trade goods and military supplies — is its most valuable feature.

It is a piece of what analysts and Iranian officials say is Iran’s most pressing ambition: to exploit the chaos of the region to project influence across Iraq and beyond. Eventually, analysts say, Iran could use the corridor, established on the ground through militias under its control, to ship weapons and supplies to proxies in Syria, where Iran is an important backer of Mr. Assad, and to Lebanon and its ally Hezbollah.

At the border to the east is a new crossing built and secured by Iran. Like the relationship between the two countries, it is lopsided.

The checkpoint’s daily traffic includes up to 200 Iranian trucks, carrying fruit and yogurt, concrete and bricks, into Iraq. In the offices of Iraqi border guards, the candies and soda offered to guests come from Iran.

No loaded trucks go the other way.

“Iraq doesn’t have anything to offer Iran,” Vahid Gachi, the Iranian official in charge of the crossing, said in an interview in his office, as lines of tractor-trailers poured into Iraq. “Except for oil, Iraq relies on Iran for everything.”

The border post is also a critical transit point for Iran’s military leaders to send weapons and other supplies to proxies fighting the Islamic State in Iraq.

After the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, swept across Diyala and neighboring areas in 2014, Iran made clearing the province, a diverse area of Sunnis and Shiites, a priority.

It marshaled a huge force of Shiite militias, many trained in Iran and advised on the ground by Iranian officials. After a quick victory, Iranians and their militia allies set about securing their next interests here: marginalizing the province’s Sunni minority and securing a path to Syria. Iran has fought aggressively to keep its ally Mr. Assad in power in order to retain land access to its most important spinoff in the region, Hezbollah, the military and political force that dominates Lebanon and threatens Israel.

A word from Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s powerful spymaster, sent an army of local Iraqi contractors scrambling, lining up trucks and bulldozers to help build the road, free of charge. Militiamen loyal to Iran were ordered to secure the site.

Uday al-Khadran, the Shiite mayor of Khalis District in Diyala, is a member of the Badr Organization, an Iraqi political party and militia established by Tehran in the 1980s to fight against Mr. Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

On an afternoon earlier this year, he spread a map across his desk and proudly discussed how he helped build the road, which he said was ordered by General Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, the branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps responsible for foreign operations. General Suleimani secretly directed Iran’s policy in Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, and was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in attacks carried out by militias under his control.

“I love Qassim Suleimani more than my children,” he said.

Mr. Khadran said the general’s new road would eventually be a shortcut for religious pilgrims from Iran to reach Samarra, Iraq, the location of an important shrine.

But he also acknowledged the route’s greater strategic significance as part of a corridor secured by Iranian proxies that extends across central and northern Iraq. The connecting series of roads skirts the western city of Mosul and stretches on to Tal Afar, an Islamic State-controlled city where Iranian-backed militias and Iranian advisers have set up a base at an airstrip on the outskirts.

“Diyala is the passage to Syria and Lebanon, and this is very important to Iran,” said Ali al-Daini, the Sunni chairman of the provincial council there.

Closer to Syria, Iranian-allied militias moved west of Mosul as the battle against the Islamic State unfolded there in recent months. The militias captured the town of Baaj, and then proceeded to the Syrian border, putting Iran on the cusp of completing its corridor.

Back east, in Diyala, Mr. Daini said he had been powerless to halt what he described as Iran’s dominance in the province.

When Mr. Daini goes to work, he said, he has to walk by posters of Iran’s revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, outside the council building.

Iran’s militias in the province have been accused of widespread sectarian cleansing, pushing Sunnis from their homes to establish Shiite dominance and create a buffer zone on its border. The Islamic State was beaten in Diyala more than two years ago, but thousands of Sunni families still fill squalid camps, unable to return home.

Now, Diyala has become a showcase for how Iran views Shiite ascendancy as critical to its geopolitical goals.

“Iran is smarter than America,” said Nijat al-Taie, a Sunni member of the provincial council and an outspoken critic of Iran, which she calls the instigator of several assassination attempts against her. “They achieved their goals on the ground. America didn’t protect Iraq. They just toppled the regime and handed the country over to Iran.”

The Business of Influence

The lives of General Suleimani and other senior leaders in Tehran were shaped by the prolonged war with Iraq in the 1980s. The conflict left hundreds of thousands dead on both sides, and General Suleimani spent much of the war at the front, swiftly rising in rank as so many officers were killed.

“The Iran-Iraq war was the formative experience for all of Iran’s leaders,” said Ali Vaez, an Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution organization. “From Suleimani all the way down. It was their ‘never again’ moment.”

A border dispute over the Shatt al Arab waterway that was a factor in the hostilities has still not been resolved, and the legacy of the war’s brutality has influenced the Iranian government ever since, from its pursuit of nuclear weapons to its policy in Iraq.

“This is a permanent scar in their mind,” said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, a lawmaker and former national security adviser. “They are obsessed with Baathism, Saddam and the Iran-Iraq war.”

More than anything else, analysts say, it is the scarring legacy of that war that has driven Iranian ambitions to dominate Iraq.

Particularly in southern Iraq, where the population is mostly Shiite, signs of Iranian influence are everywhere.

Iranian-backed militias are the defenders of the Shiite shrines in the cities of Najaf and Karbala that drive trade and tourism. In local councils, Iranian-backed political parties have solid majorities, and campaign materials stress relationships with Shiite saints and Iranian clerics.

If the Iraqi government were stronger, said Mustaq al-Abady, a businessman from just outside Najaf, “then maybe we could open our factories instead of going to Iran.” He said his warehouse was crowded with Iranian imports because his government had done nothing to promote a private sector, police its borders or enforce customs duties.

Raad Fadhil al-Alwani, a merchant in Hilla, another southern city, imports cleaning supplies and floor tiles from Iran. He slaps “Made in Iraq” labels in Arabic on bottles of detergent, but the reality is that he owns a factory in Iran because labor is cheaper there.

“I feel like I am destroying the economy of Iraq,” he said. But he insists that Iraqi politicians, by deferring to Iranian pressure and refusing to support local industry, have made it hard to do anything else.

Najaf attracts millions of Iranian pilgrims each year visiting the golden-domed shrine of Imam Ali, the first Shiite imam. Iranian construction workers — many of whom are viewed as Iranian spies by Iraqi officials — have also flocked to the city to renovate the shrine and build hotels.

In Babil Province, according to local officials, militia leaders have taken over a government project to set up security cameras along strategic roads. The project had been granted to a Chinese company before the militias intervened, and now the army and the local police have been sidelined from it, said Muqdad Omran, an Iraqi Army captain in the area.

Iran’s pre-eminence in the Iraqi south has not come without resentment. Iraqi Shiites share a faith with Iran, but they also hold close their other identities as Iraqis and Arabs.

“Iraq belongs to the Arab League, not to Iran,” said Sheikh Fadhil al-Bidayri, a cleric at the religious seminary in Najaf. “Shiites are a majority in Iraq, but a minority in the world. As long as the Iranian government is controlling the Iraqi government, we don’t have a chance.”

In this region where the Islamic State’s military threat has never encroached, Iran’s security concerns are mostly being addressed by economic manipulation, Iraqi officials say. Trade in the south is often financed by Iran with credit, and incentives are offered to Iraqi traders to keep their cash in Iranian banks.

Baghdad’s banks play a role, too, as the financial anchors for Iraqi front companies used by Iran to gain access to dollars that can then finance the country’s broader geopolitical aims, said Entifadh Qanbar, a former aide to the Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi, who died in 2015.

“It’s very important for the Iranians to maintain corruption in Iraq,” he said.

The Militias’ Long Arm

For decades, Iran smuggled guns and bomb-making supplies through the vast swamps of southern Iraq. And young men were brought back and forth across the border, from one safe house to another — recruits going to Iran for training, and then back to Iraq to fight. At first the enemy was Mr. Hussein; later, it was the Americans.

Today, agents of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards openly recruit fighters in the Shiite-majority cities of southern Iraq. Buses filled with recruits easily pass border posts that officials say are essentially controlled by Iran — through its proxies on the Iraqi side, and its own border guards on the other.

While Iran has built up militias to fight against the Islamic State in Iraq, it has also mobilized an army of disaffected young Shiite Iraqi men to fight on its behalf in Syria.

Mohammad Kadhim, 31, is one of those foot soldiers for Iran, having served three tours in Syria. The recruiting pitch, he said, is mostly based in faith, to defend Shiite shrines in Syria. But Mr. Kadhim said he and his friends signed up more out of a need for jobs.

“I was just looking for money,” he said. “The majority of the youth I met fighting in Syria do it for the money.”

He signed up with a Revolutionary Guards recruiter in Najaf, and then was bused through southern Iraq and into Iran, where he underwent military training near Tehran.

There, he said, Iranian officers delivered speeches invoking the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the revered seventh-century Shiite figure whose death at the hands of a powerful Sunni army became the event around which Shiite spirituality would revolve. The same enemies of the Shiites who killed the imam are now in Syria and Iraq, the officers told the men.

After traveling to Iran, Mr. Kadhim came home for a break and then was shipped to Syria, where Hezbollah operatives trained him in sniper tactics.

Iran’s emphasis on defending the Shiite faith has led some here to conclude that its ultimate goal is to bring about an Iranian-style theocracy in Iraq. But there is a persistent sense that it just would not work in Iraq, which has a much larger native Sunni population and tradition, and Iraq’s clerics in Najaf, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the world’s pre-eminent Shiite spiritual leader, oppose the Iranian system.

But Iran is taking steps to translate militia power into political power, much as it did with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and militia leaders have begun political organizing before next year’s parliamentary elections.

In April, Qais al-Khazali, a Shiite militia leader, delivered a speech to an audience of Iraqi college students, railing against the United States and the nefarious plotting of Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Then, a poet who was part of Mr. Khazali’s entourage stood up and began praising General Suleimani.

For the students, that was the last straw. Chants of “Iran out! Iran out!” began. Scuffles broke out between students and Mr. Khazali’s bodyguards, who fired their rifles into the air just outside the building.

“The thing that really provoked us was the poet,” said Mustafa Kamal, a student at the University of al-Qadisiya in Diwaniya, in southern Iraq, who participated in the protest.

Mr. Kamal and his fellow students quickly learned how dangerous it could be to stand up to Iran these days.

First, militiamen began threatening to haul them off. Then media outlets linked to the militias went after them, posting their pictures and calling them Baathists and enemies of Shiites. When a mysterious car appeared near Mr. Kamal’s house, his mother panicked that militiamen were coming for her son.

Then, finally, Mr. Kamal, a law student, and three of his friends received notices from the school saying they had been suspended for a year.

“We thought we had only one hope, the university,” he said. “And then Iran also interfered there.”

Mr. Khazali, whose political and militia organization, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, is deeply connected with Iran, has been on a speaking tour on campuses across Iraq as part of an effort to organize political support for next year’s national election. This has raised fears that Iran is trying not only to deepen its influence within Iraqi education, but also to transform militias into outright political and social organizations, much as it did with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“It’s another type of Iranian infiltration and the expansion of Iran’s influence,” said Beriwan Khailany, a lawmaker and member of Parliament’s higher-education committee. “Iran wants to control the youth, and to teach them the Iranian beliefs, through Iraqis who are loyal to Iran.”

Political Ascendancy

When a group of Qatari falcon hunters, “including members of the royal family, were kidnapped in 2015 while on safari in the southern deserts of Iraq, Qatar called Iran and its militia allies — not the central government in Baghdad.

For Mr. Abadi, the prime minister, the episode was an embarrassing demonstration of his government’s weakness at the hands of Iran, whose proxy militia Kataibb Hezbollah was believed to be behind the kidnapping.

So when the hostage negotiations were about to end, Mr. Abadi pushed back.

Around noon on a day in April, a government jet from Qatar landed in Baghdad, carrying a delegation of diplomats and 500 million euros stuffed into 23 black boxes.

The hunters were soon on their way home, but the ransom did not go to the Iranian-backed militiamen who had abducted the Qataris; the cash ended up in a central bank vault in Baghdad.

The seizure of the money had been ordered by Mr. Abadi, who was furious at the prospect of militias, and their Iranian and Hezbollah benefactors, being paid so richly right under the Iraqi government’s nose.

“Hundreds of millions to armed groups?” Mr. Abadi said in a public rant. “Is this acceptable?”

In Iraq, the kidnapping episode was seen as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and emblematic of Iran’s suffocating power over the Iraqi state.

In a post on Twitter, Mr. Zebari, the former finance minister, who was previously foreign minister, called the episode a “travesty.”

Mr. Zebari knows firsthand the power of Iran over the Iraqi state.

Last year, he said, he was ousted as finance minister because Iran perceived him as being too close to the United States. The account was verified by a member of Parliament who was involved in the removal of Mr. Zebari, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Iran.

Mr. Zebari, who recounted the events in an interview from his mountainside mansion in northern Iraq, said that when President Barack Obama met with Mr. Abadi last September at the United Nations, the American leader personally lobbied to save Mr. Zebari’s job. Even that was not enough.

Mr. Abadi now finds himself in a difficult position. If he makes any move that can be seen as confrontational toward Iran, or as positioning himself closer to the United States, it could place a cloud over his political future.

“He had two options: to be with the Americans or with the Iranians,” said Izzat Shahbander, a prominent Iraqi Shiite leader who once lived in exile in Iran while Mr. Hussein was in power. “And he chose to be with the Americans.”

Mr. Abadi, who took office in 2014 with the support of both the United States and Iran, has seemed more emboldened to push back against Iranian pressure since President Trump took office.

In addition to seizing the ransom money, he has promoted an ambitious project for an American company to secure the highway from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan, which Iran has opposed. He has also begun discussing with the United States the terms of a deal to keep American forces behind after the Islamic State is defeated.

Some are seeing an American troop commitment as a chance to revisit the 2011 withdrawal of United States forces that seemingly opened a door for Iran.

When American officials in Iraq began the slow wind-down of the military mission there, in 2009, some diplomats in Baghdad were cautiously celebrating one achievement: Iran seemed to be on its heels, its influence in the country waning.

“Over the last year, Iran has lost the strategic initiative in Iraq,” one diplomat wrote in a cable, later released by WikiLeaks.

But other cables sent warnings back to Washington that were frequently voiced by Iraqi officials they spoke to: that if the Americans left, then Iran would fill the vacuum.

Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador in Iraq from 2007 to 2009, said that if the United States left again after the Islamic State was defeated, “it would be effectively just giving the Iranians a free rein.”

But many Iraqis say the Iranians already have free rein. And while the Trump administration has indicated that it will pay closer attention to Iraq as a means to counter Iran, the question is whether it is too late.

“Iran is not going to sit silent and do nothing,” said Sami al-Askari, a senior Shiite politician who has good relationships with both the Iranians and Americans. “They have many means. Frankly, the Americans can’t do anything.”

Celebrating for Nothing (Revelation 15)

http://leftopia.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Nuclear-powers-rebuked-as-122-nations-adopt-U.N.-ban-696x365.jpgCelebration as UN adopts historic nuclear weapons ban

Tim Wright

For more than seven decades, the international community has grappled with the threat of nuclear weapons. At the United Nations on Friday, July 7th, the vast majority of the world’s governments made clear their total rejection of these abhorrent devices, concluding a treaty to prohibit them, categorically, for all time. It was a moment of great historical significance.

Prolonged applause broke out as the president of the negotiating conference, Costa Rican ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, gavelled through the landmark accord. “We have managed to sow the first seeds of a world free of nuclear weapons,” she said. Diplomats and campaigners who had worked tirelessly over many years to make the treaty a reality embraced in celebration of the extraordinary achievement.

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and long-time champion of disarmament, became overwhelmed with emotion as she welcomed the formal adoption of the treaty, backed by 122 nations. She asked delegates to pause to feel the witness of those who perished in 1945 or died later from radiation-related illnesses. She was a 13-year-old schoolgirl when hell descended on earth.

“Each person who died had a name. Each person was loved by someone,” she told the crowded conference room. “I’ve been waiting for this day for seven decades, and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived. This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.” She urged nations never to return to the failed policy of nuclear deterrence, and never to return to funding nuclear violence instead of meeting human needs.

The treaty recognizes the harm suffered both from nuclear weapons use and the two-thousand-plus nuclear test explosions that have been conducted across the globe since 1945. It obliges nations to provide assistance to the victims of these heinous acts. Its overriding mission, as reflected in the preamble, is to ensure that no one else ever suffers as they have.

Abacca Anjain-Maddison, from the Marshall Islands—a Pacific nation devastated by US nuclear testing in the 1940s and 1950s—delivered a powerful closing statement on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, whose 400 non-governmental organizations in 100 nations worked for more than a decade to bring about the treaty.

“The adoption of this landmark agreement today fills us with hope that the mistakes of the past will never be repeated,” she said, emphasizing the special meaning that it has for those who have suffered nuclear harm. “The international community has at last acknowledged what we have always known: that nuclear weapons are abhorrent and immoral.”

Governments, too, delivered impassioned statements in celebration of the treaty’s adoption. Among them was South Africa, which played a pivotal role during the negotiations and is the only nation to have built a nuclear arsenal before eliminating it completely. “Working hand in hand with civil society, [we] took an extraordinary step [today] to save humanity from the frightful specter of nuclear weapons,” its ambassador, Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, said. “For us, as a country, it was a duty to vote ‘yes’ for this treaty … to have voted ‘no’ would have been a slap in the face to the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

One nation participating in ban negotations, the Netherlands—which hosts US nuclear weapons on its territory—did opt to vote against the treaty. Its government opposes meaningful disarmament efforts, despite overwhelming public support.

All nine nuclear-armed nations boycotted the negotiations, and therefore were absent for the vote. Some had exerted great pressure on other nations not to participate. But ultimately they failed to thwart the process. The commitment and resolve of the international community to declare nuclear weapons illegal was evident from the beginning of negotiations.

The treaty prohibits its state parties from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using, or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging, or inducing anyone to engage in any of those activities, and they must not permit nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory.

A nation that possesses nuclear weapons may join the treaty, so long as it agrees to remove them from operational status immediately and destroy them in accordance with a legally binding, time-bound plan. One that hosts another nation’s nuclear weapons on its territory may also join the treaty on condition that it will remove them by a specified deadline.

The treaty will open for signature in New York on September 20th, when world leaders meet for the annual opening of the UN General Assembly. “If you love this planet, you will sign this treaty,” said Setsuko Thurlow. Fifty nations will need to ratify it before it can enter into full legal force. Much work will then be needed to ensure that it is implemented and becomes universal.

With close to 15,000 nuclear weapons remaining in the world—and efforts underway in all nuclear-armed nations to bolster their arsenals—the ultimate goal of eliminating this paramount threat to humanity is far from being realized. But now, the United Nations has established the foundations for making a nuclear-weapon-free world possible.

The treaty establishes a powerful norm that, many expect, will prove transformative. It closes a major gap in international law. Nuclear weapons—like other indiscriminate weapons, including biological and chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions—are now categorically and permanently banned.

This post is part of Ban Brief, a series of updates on the historic 2017 negotiations to create a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Ban Brief is written by Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Ray Acheson, director of Reaching Critical Will.

Too Little Too Late (Revelation 15)

More than 120 nations adopted the first international treaty banning nuclear weapons on Friday at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The initiative—led by Austria, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and New Zealand—was approved by 122 votes, with only the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. The nine countries generally recognized as possessing nuclear weapons—the U.S., Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel—were noticeably absent from the negotiations, as were most members of NATO.
Despite being a victim of atomic attacks in 1945, Japan also boycotted the meeting. Nevertheless, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki informed Friday’s dialogue—and the conversation thereafter. “It’s been seven decades since the world knew the power of destruction of nuclear weapons,” the president of the UN conference, Elayne Whyte Gómez, told The Guardian. The agreement, she added, “is a very clear statement that the international community wants to move to a completely different security paradigm that does not include nuclear weapons.”
Friday’s ten-page treaty is extensive in its demands, prohibiting signatories from developing, testing, manufacturing, possessing, or threatening to use nuclear weapons. Nations are also prohibited from transferring nuclear weapons to one another. Having now been approved by the UN, the treaty will be open for signatures on September 20, at which point it will need to be ratified by 50 states before entering into international law.The major obstacle, of course, is that many prominent members of the international community—and their allies—remain vocally opposed. In a joint statement on Friday, the UN ambassadors for the U.S., Britain, and France said they had no intention of joining the treaty, arguing that it “clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment.” Of particular concern, they said, was the fact that the treaty failed to address of the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Earlier this week, North Korea claimed to have tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say may be capable of striking Hawaii and Alaska. The nation has also conducted five nuclear tests since 2006—and could be preparing for its sixth.Rather than ban nuclear weapons and risk vulnerability to a North Korean attack, the U.S., Britain, and France hope to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which provides nations other than the five original nuclear powers—the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, and China—from pursuing nuclear programs. In exchange, the five powers have pledged to make steps toward nuclear disarmament and give non-nuclear states access to nuclear technology for producing energy.

But many nations have criticized the NPT for failing to elicit a speedy disarmament. At the very least, Friday’s treaty introduces the concept of a nuclear-free world, and could even put pressure on nuclear powers to adopt a new set of standards. “The key thing is that it changes the legal landscape,” Richard Moyes, the managing director of Article 36, a U.K.-based organization that aims to prevent harm caused by nuclear weapons, told Agence France-Presse. As Moyes sees it, the newly-approved treaty “stops states with nuclear weapons from being able to hide behind the idea that they are not illegal.”