The Labile Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Rev 8)

Who guards Pakistan’s Islamic bomb?

Raaskoh1By Shahdad Baloch

Like every year this year also the Free Balochistan Movement headed by Baloch national leader Hyrbyair Marri has announced to organise a worldwide protest against Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in Balochistan. Pakistan tested his deadly nuclear weapons in Balochistan’s Koh-e-Kambaran and Raaskoh range of Chaghai Balochistan on 28 May 1998. The Baloch nation has been demanding from the civilised nations of the world and the UN to send medical and nuclear experts to examine the effects of the Pakistan’s nuclear radioactive against the local population.

The aftermaths of the nuclear blasts have been horrendous as each other hundreds of people and livestock die due to the mysterious disease. New babies are born abnormal and skin diseases in the region have dramatically increased. These are the effects that the people of Balochistan have been suffering but the nuclear weapons of Pakistan pose a great threat to the world peace if immediate action is not taken to neutralise Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

“Pakistan’s nukes in the hand of religious fanatics” the rising concerns that whether the nukes of Pakistan are safe from terrorist has rendered them as “Apprehended nukes”, mostly apprehensions come up with reality which then became a trauma for the world. The growing concerns that militants might try to snatch a nuclear weapon in transit or insert sympathisers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities, leaves loopholes that who is guarding the growing nukes of Pakistan?

The killing of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad near the army academy already proved that al Qaeda sympathisers might also be among those guarding Pakistan’s nukes. Pakistan does not release details of its nuclear arsenal before IAEA or the world. Estimates vary on the size of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, although analysts suggest Pakistan has between 60 and 120 nuclear warheads. The attack on Pakistan’s Air Force headquarters and GHQ Rawalpindi shows that the terrorists had advance knowledge of the general’s routes, indicating that they had contacts and allies inside the security forces.

Pakistan has the scattered nuclear arsenal, from tactical nuclear weapons to nukes carrying missiles, which lacks proper security planning. The successes of major attacks on Pakistan army bases and the attack carried out at Mehran Base to hijack a naval frigate by serving Navy personals along with Owais Jakhrani, a former Navy cadet, raised an obvious question: Are the bombs safe? Pakistan maintains there is no chance of Islamist militants getting their hands on atomic weapons. But evidence is on record that Pakistani army and ISI are in cardinal relation with terrorists and there is a big lobby within the army who support Taliban, Daesh and Al Qaeda. In such a state if there occurs a coup than how the world defines the guardians of nukes? Might be in That fashion that the militant army and jihadis are guarding nuclear arsenal unanimously!

On April 29th, President Obama was asked at a news conference whether he could reassure the American people that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could be kept away from terrorists. he said, “gravely concerned”. He added that the biggest threat to Pakistan nukes comes internally. It seems that the world is pessimistic regarding the fragile civilian government of Pakistan and her army’s nexus with religious fanatics.

The first reaction in 1998, came when Bill Clinton was president of America. ”I cannot believe,” Mr. Clinton said. ”that we are about to start the 21st century by having the Indian subcontinent repeat the worst mistakes of the 20th century, when we know it is not necessary to peace, to security, to prosperity, to national greatness, or to personal fulfilment.”

The reiterations from religious extremists that they could carry out more organised attacks on Pakistan’s military basis has enhanced the probability of nuclear theft. It is widely believed that tactical nukes are not far from the reach of religious fanatics who see these as Islamic atom bomb, which could be used on the basis of the ideological clash with Jews and Christians. There is growing hatred within Pakistan against countries like Israel, India, USA and occupied Balochistan. On several forums of the world, it was debated that Pakistan might use its nukes on India and occupied Balochistan, holding the pre-emptive measures Pakistan has scattered the nukes due to which nuclear theft is high risk.

Pakistan army is more a Jihadist factory than a state army, for them both non-Muslims and secular Muslim nations like the Baloch nation are infidels and worthy to be killed which reflect ideological similarities between Pakistan army and religious extremists such as ISIS. Since the test of Islamic atom bomb the world leaders, analysts, institutions, states, and nations are of the same lineage that the nukes of Pakistan are in transition towards extremist mentality, but still, the guardians of nukes are being discussed in theories.

Pakistan has turned occupied Balochistan as her “War terrain”, from where she could operate her evil designs against Baloch nation, Israel and India, even American navy and soldiers are not barred from the presence of Pakistani Navy in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, this is because it is hard to differentiate between the guardians of nukes and the religious extremist who are hell bent to destroy the peace of world. The reduced risk of nuclear war is possible only when the world supports the Baloch struggle for the restoration of an independent, nuclear free secular Balochistan, which would be a buffer state against dogmatic extremist and their supporters like Pakistan.

North Korea Fires Yet Another Missile

North Korea fires ANOTHER ‘unidentified’ missile as Kim Jong-un threatens WAR

By Henry Holloway & Jamie Micklethwaite /

Kim Jong-un and nuclear explosion GETTYHERE WE GO AGAIN: Kim Jong-un launches his 9th missile this year
North Korea has fired an unidentified projectile, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has said.

Kim Jong-un has been questing to create a nuclear-capable ICBM able to strike the US – with dozens of tests in the past year.

Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Pyongyang launched a projectile in the eastern direction from Wonsan, Gangwon Province at dawn.

“The president was immediately notified of the situation, and the president ordered the NSC Standing Committee at 7:30 am,” the military statement said.

It added: “The flight distance is around 450 km, and South Korea and the U.S. are in the process of conducting detailed analysis on additional information.”

North Korea is believed to be on the verge of their sixth nuclear bomb test – but have yet to make good of threats to ramp up their nuclear programme.Kim believes securing a nuclear ICBM will cement his rule in the beggar kingdom and also allow him to put further pressure on the US.Trump has taken a hardline on North Korea since taking office in response to a string of missile launches this spring.

History of the Pakistan Nuclear Horn

Journey to making Pakistan a nuclear state was not easy, as  successive rulers and governments faced and resisted all kinds of pressures and sanctions. And, at last, we became a nuclear state on May 28, 1998.

Founder of nuclear programme, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was made a ‘horrible’ example and executed, which many believe was linked to his bold decision on January 20, 1972 and refusal to abandon country’s nuclear programme.

The dream finally came true on this day, May 28, 1998 when another prime minister, Nawaz Sharif (NS), in his second tenure, took the most popular decision and Pakistan joined the nuclear club.

There is a general consensus in the country that Bhutto was the founder of the bomb, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was the father of the bomb. Then the credit goes to Nawaz Sharif, who finally took the decision to make Pakistan a powerful nuclear state, after India conducted its second nuclear test in the same month.

Pakistan twice waited for the US and the West to stop India from initiating an arms race in the region and creating a situation wherein Pakistan was left with no choice but to go for the tests. According to former foreign minister, Sahibzada Yaqub Khan (the late), “Had the US played a responsible role during India’s first nuclear test and stopped India, the country would not have even heard the name of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.”  The decision to launch Pakistan’s nuclear programme was taken in Multan, at the residence of Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi, when Bhutto called the meeting of country’s eminent scientists.  Dr Samar Mubarak Mand, who attended that historic meeting, once quoted Bhutto’s remarks during the meeting. Bhutto said, “Faith placed him in a position where he could make decisions that would lead the country into a nuclear arms race.”

In the same meeting, Bhutto asked the scientists, “Can we make the bomb?” After some pause, a junior scientists said: “Yes, we can.”  He then asked, “How many years will it take?”

The reply came, “Five years.” And Bhutto raised three fingers: “three years.”

“Yes, it can be done in three years,” the scientists replied.

Bhutto smiled and said, “This is a very serious political decision which Pakistan will make, and perhaps other third world countries will have to make one day.” It was perhaps one of those decisions which Bhutto took at a time when the nation had not even recovered from 1971 tragedy of East Pakistan. But, many books written on this subject revealed that since the days Bhutto had entered Pakistani politics as a junior minister in Ayub Khan’s cabinet in 1958, it was in his mind. He sent many junior scientists to US under the ‘Atom for Peace’, programme in the 1960s to get training.

He finally came out more aggressively after 1965 war with India, when he said, “We will eat grass but will make bomb to make Pakistan strong.”

Many of his opponents at that time termed it a political stunt and statement, but years later when he became the prime minister he launched the program and wanted it to be completed in his tenure. But, events which unfolded resulted in massive US pressure, followed by serious warning to him from former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who came to Pakistan with a message of carrot or stick. When ZAB refused, he was made a ‘horrible’ example.

The most unfortunate part was the event which followed after Kissinger’s visit. Massive US pressure, threats, sanctions and political turmoil, which led to 1977 crisis. It’s a tragedy but the fact remains that the then military dictator, General Ziaul Haq signed the death warrant of the founder of Pakistan ‘s nuclear programme. Bhutto, was hanged on April 4, 1979, after a controversial murder trial.

The “Father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme”, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, who was discovered by Bhutto, termed former prime minister a true nationalist. “I have never seen a nationalist like Bhutto,” he told the writer in a TV interview few years back. “I tried to save Bhutto’s life and even visited some Islamic countries including Turkey, met its president to use their influence on Zia to commute his sentence as I knew Pakistan needed someone like him,” he added.

AQ Khan further said that the then Turkish President told him that he would call Zia, but also cautioned him (AQ) that Zia would not spare him.

Dr Qadeer said that Bhutto gave him powers like a PM, and that was exactly what he said when he met him and complained about certain hurdles from his bureaucracy. He called a meeting and told all those concerned: “I have given complete power to him as far as this programme is concerned. You just have to follow his instructions,” AQ Khan quoted Bhutto as telling the senior most bureaucrats.

Making Pakistan a nuclear state, was a national decision since the day India conducted its first nuclear test and Pakistan got cold response from the US, which did not stop India nor impose that kind of sanctions which Pakistan faced.

In the aftermath of 1979, Iranian revolution and later Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, the US needed Pakistan. It not only lifted sanctions but also provided unprecedented support in the form of civil and military aid, for the ‘Afghan jihad’. It came like a blessing for Pakistan as during all this period Pakistan played a decisive role in “jihad-e-Afghanistan”.

Dr Qadeer said: “Bhutto’s dream to make Pakistan nuclear came true in the 80s and he had even told Zia and later former president, the late Ghulam Ishaq Khan, that we are ready and just needed a green signal.”

But, it took Pakistan another 10 years, before it finally conducted the nuclear test after India’s second test.

Nawaz Sharif, who was the prime minister, took the bold decision with complete backing of all stakeholders. He once told this writer that during his consultation with some of his colleagues, one voice which really encouraged him was that of Syed Mushahid Hussain Syed, who told him, “Mian Sahib, do it.”

What former military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf did with Dr AQ Khan was most unfortunate. Though, he himself defended his decision by saying, “It was taken in the national interest”, it did not go well and people generally were upset. What he did with Nawaz Sharif, from trial to conviction and from sentence to exile is also a matter of history.

As a state, Pakistan is the only Islamic nuclear state. But, today, our challenges are different and more serious i.e. internal threats like growing extremism, terrorism, ethnic and sectarian division. In the fight against terrorism, we have lost 70,000 people including 25,000 soldiers and officers.  Pakistan has come a long way and is trying to change its narrative from the one damaged during General Zia’s period and later due to bad policies of Gen Musharraf.

It’s time to learn few lessons that until and unless we become a strong economic power, and succeed in eliminating extremist narrative and change the mindset, our problems would persist as a nuclear nation.  Let’s make Pakistan a strong nation, an economic power and all this is only possible if we defeat the mother of all ills, extremism.

The writer is a senior columnist and analyst of Geo, The News and Jang

India’s Nuclear Hegemony

Pakistan has said that India is capable of producing 2600 nuclear weapons

India Today

Amid heightened tension between the two neighbouring nations in the wake of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, Pakistan has said that India is capable of producing 2600 nuclear weapons.

Claiming the India has the fastest growing nuclear programme in the world, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told reporters in Islamabad that India’s nuclear aspirations pose a threat to strategic stability in the south Asian region.

“Pakistan has been underscoring the risk of diversion by India to imported nuclear fuel, equipment and technology received pursuant to civil nuclear accord and 2008 energy waiver by Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Radio Pakistan quoted Zakaria, as saying.

The top Pakistan official also raised concerns over India’s bid for a permanent membership at the NSG, saying the world community should check the risks involved in allowing New Delhi a seat in the elite group.

‘INDIA RETHINKING NO FIRST USE NUCLEAR POLICY’

Pakistan’s statement regarding India enhancing its nuclear capability has come just days after reports suggested that New Delhi may be rethinking its nuclear doctrine.

India may abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear policy and launch a preemptive strike against Pakistan if it feared that Islamabad was likely to use the weapons first, a top nuclear expert on South Asia has claimed.

“There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first,” Vipin Narang, an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had said.

He also pointed out that India’s preemptive strike may not be conventional strikes and would also be aimed at Pakistan’s missiles launchers for tactical battlefield nuclear warheads.

Trump’s Nepotism Backfires

‘This is off the map’: Former intelligence officials say the reported Kushner-Russia plan is unlike anything they’ve ever seen

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner listens during President Donald Trump’s joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 17, 2017.Jim Bourg/Reuters

Former intelligence officials described Jared Kushner’s reported attempt to set up a backchannel line of communication with Russia last December that would bypass the US’ national security and intelligence apparatus as “off the map,” “explosive,” and “extremely dangerous.”

Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said during a press conference on Saturday that, if Kushner did try to set up such a back channel, “I would not be concerned about it.”

“We have back-channel communications with a number of countries,” McMaster said. “So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner.”

Scott Olson, a recently retired FBI agent who ran counterintelligence operations and spent more than 20 years at the bureau, agreed that it is not unusual for low-level staffers to work between governments and bypass bureaucracy to exchange views and build consensus in advance of higher-level negotiations.

But what Kushner appears to have done is “substantially different, in two ways,” he said.

“First, he is not seeking a back-channel for a low-level staff exchange,” Olson said. “He wants high-level direct-contact communication. This is extremely dangerous because it results in verbal (and therefore undocumented and unwitnessed) agreements, which are binding on governments. Free governments do not work this way. They can’t. If they do, they are no longer free.”

He continued:

“Second, he asked to use a foreign government’s communication facilities. This is way beyond a private server. This is doing US government diplomatic business over a foreign government’s communication system. It’s not an off-the-record conversation. It’s a conversation recorded by the opposing party. This shows a staggering lack of understanding of the US and its place in the world. Actually, it shows a staggering lack of common sense. When he negotiates a business deal does he use the other guy’s notes?”

Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser, was willing to go extraordinary lengths to establish a secret line of communication between the Trump administration and Russian government officials, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Kushner met with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December at Trump Tower, where he floated the possibility of setting up a secure line of communication between the Trump transition team and Russia – and having those talks take place in Russian diplomatic facilities in the US. That would essentially conceal their interactions from US government scrutiny, The Post wrote, citing US intelligence officials briefed on the matter.

Jared KushnerWhite House Senior Advisor and son-in-law to the president Jared Kushner (L) joins other cabinet members and senior members of the Trump administration during a news conference. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The New York Times confirmed the Post’s story late Friday night, adding that the planned purpose for the secure channel was to discuss military strategies in Syria.

If true, “this actually is even more disturbing,” said Susan Hennessey, a former attorney for the National Security Agency. “Why in God’s name would they want to conceal plans on Syria strategy from the US military?”

“Even accepting their Syria spin, what Kushner tried to do was blind the US government on incredibly important national security matters,” Hennessey added. “That’s not how it works. That’s not the behavior of someone who recognizes America is still, at its core, a common endeavor.”

Kislyak reportedly passed along Kushner’s request to Moscow. The Post’s Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller reported that the Russian ambassador was “taken aback” by Kushner’s request, because it posed significant risks for both the Trump team and the Kremlin.

“This was probably as off-putting to Kislyak as it is for you and me,” Michael Hayden, who served as the director of the NSA and the CIA, told CNN on Saturday. “This is off the map. I know of no other experience like this in our history, and certainly not within my life experience.”

“What manner of ignorance, hubris, suspicion, and contempt [for the previous administration] would you have to have to think doing this with the Russian ambassador would be a good or appropriate idea?” Hayden added.

Kushner, who did not disclose the meeting on his security clearance form, is now under scrutiny in the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s election interference, and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to undermine Hillary Clinton.

GOOD GRIEF. This is serious,” Robert Deitz, a veteran of the NSA and the CIA who worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations, said in an email of the latest developments.

“This raises a bunch of problematic issues. First, of course, is the Logan Act, which prohibits private individuals conducting negotiations on behalf of the US government with foreign governments. Second, it tends to reinforce the notion that Trump’s various actions about Comey do constitute obstruction.”

“In other words, there is now motive added to conduct,” Deitz said. “This is a big problem for the President.”

‘You are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor’

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey earlier this month as Comey was overseeing the FBI’s investigation. Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt shortly thereafter that “the Russia thing” was on his mind when he fired Comey, leading lawmakers and legal experts to question whether Trump obstructed justice – a criminal and impeachable offense.

Kushner was among those who pressured Trump to fire Comey, according to The New York Times.

“If you are in a position of public trust, and you talk to, meet, or collude with a foreign power” while trying to subvert normal state channels, “you are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor,” said Glenn Carle, a former top counterterrorism official at the CIA for more than two decades. “That is what I spent my life getting foreigners to do with me, for the US government.”

Carle said that if the Kushner-Kislyak meeting and reported discussion were an isolated incident, it could be spun as “normal back-channel communication arrangements among states.”

But Kislyak and the Trump campaign interacted extensively, and Trump associates either kept those interactions secret from US officials or misrepresented them. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign on February 13 amid questions about his communication with Kislyak, also spoke with the Russian ambassador about setting up a secret backchannel during the transition, according to Reuters.

Trump reportedly pressured Comey, in a meeting one day after Flynn resigned, to drop the bureau’s investigation into his foreign contacts and payments.

“We know about the multiple meetings of Trump entourage members with Russian intel-related individuals,” Carle said. “There will be many others that we do not know about.”

‘A huge red flag’

Mark Kramer, the program director of the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, said Saturday that Kushner’s reported backchannel plan is “a huge red flag.”

“If the report accurately recounts what Kislyak transmitted, and if Kislyak’s transmission accurately reflects what Kushner was seeking, then it’s a very damaging piece of evidence,” Kramer said.

He added: “A back channel in itself would not be suspicious, but a back channel relying solely on Russia’s facilities would be egregiously unwise and dangerous. It’s a huge red flag, and it’s not surprising that the FBI investigators would have been taken aback by it.”

Carle said that while this reported back channel is “explosive,” it is worth questioning who tipped off The Post to the story. The Post said it received an anonymous letter in December tipping it off to the Kushner-Kislyak meeting.

Donald Trump Sergey Lavrov Sergey KislyakU.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, next to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP

Additionally, as a longtime diplomat, Kislyak would have known that his communications were being monitored. So the possibility remains, Carle said, that the Russians used the meeting with Kushner to distract the intelligence community and the public from potentially more incriminating relationships between the campaign and Moscow.

Indeed, “FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump,” Reuters reported on Friday, citing a current US law enforcement official.

Kushner met with the CEO of Russia’s state-owned Vnesheconombank, Sergey Gorkov, in December 2016, The New York Times reported in late March. The meeting – which had not previously been disclosed and came on the heels of Kushner’s meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower – caught the eye of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation Russia’s election interference.

Kislyak reportedly orchestrated the meeting between Kushner and Gorkov, who was appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2016 as part of a restructuring of the bank’s management team, Bloomberg reported last year.

The Kremlin and the White House have provided conflicting explanations for why Kushner met with Gorkov.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, in testimony last week before the House Intelligence Committee, said that “the information and intelligence” he saw before leaving office in January “revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals.”

“It raised questions in my mind about whether the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of such individuals,” he said.

What Antiballistic System?

As North Korea claims missile progress, Pentagon plans ICBM interceptor test

As North Korea makes headway in developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the US mainland, the Pentagon is preparing to test its missile interceptor – which has a very inconsistent record, APA reports quoting Sputnik.

First developed during the Cold War as part of former US President Ronald Reagan’s multi-billion dollar “Star Wars” effort to counter Soviet ballistic missiles, the US missile interceptor has only had nine successful tests among the 17 conducted since 1999.

After a recent successful missile test, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the US mainland was in “sighting range for a strike,” and claimed that they have missiles capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, though this has not been verified.

Earlier this week, US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart warned a Senate hearing that if Pyongyang’s activities aren’t reined in, “the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” calling such an event “inevitable” if action isn’t taken.

Though the Pentagon has a number of missile defense systems, only one of them, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, is designed to counter a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This system is also the least reliable, according to critics.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has scheduled the test for Tuesday, when a target will be launched from the Kwajalein Atoll test range in the Pacific. The intention is that the missile will be met by an interceptor launched from an underground chamber at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Missile Defense Agency spokesman Christopher Johnson explained that the target will be custom made to resemble an ICBM, meaning it will travel at a quicker pace than test missiles used in the past.

“We conduct increasingly complex test scenarios as the program matures and advances,” Johnson said on Friday. “Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process.”

There has been much saber rattling between Washington and Pyongyang, with the two countries trading barbs and shows of force. North Korea refuses to halt its nuclear weapons and missile testing despite international calls for denuclearization and sanctions from the United Nations.

The US has riled Pyongyang by sending a Navy carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson along with the USS Michigan, a Tomahawk missile-armed nuclear powered submarine, near its waters.

The Problem With Trump’s Big Mouth

Has there ever been a more indiscreet world leader than Donald Trump? We knew in the campaign that he had a big mouth when he was caught on tape bragging about assaulting women and getting away with it, but very few people would have predicted that this propensity to discuss private matters in wildly inappropriate contexts would extend to classified intelligence.

After all,  month after month he excoriated Hillary Clinton for allowing some confidential emails to be inadvertently sent over her personal email server when she was secretary of state. He said it disqualified her, in fact, and “she should not have been allowed” to run for president because of it.

Trump told Clinton to her face that if he were president she would be in jail:

Well, Donald Trump is the president now and several different government entities are investigating his campaign and administration. And he’s been shamelessly blurting out highly sensitive intelligence to foreign adversaries, unstable tyrants and even the press without a second thought.

Trump felt the need to meet with the Russian ambassador and the foreign minister at the behest of Vladimir Putin and in the course of their conversation he bragged that he had “great intel” and proceeded to expose a foreign ally’s asset by giving them  highly sensitive “code-word” intelligence without the ally’s permission. As former CIA chief John Brennan explained in testimony  before Congress this week, while it’s true that a president has the authority to declassify information, he is supposed to follow protocols:

The first [protocol] is that this kind of intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors. It’s shared through intelligence channels. The second is that, before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it has to go back to the originating agency to ensure that revealing it won’t compromise sources, methods and future collection capabilities.

There has never been a need for a protocol to guide a proudly ignorant, inexperienced president with a pathological need to brag to everyone he meets, since nobody anticipated such a thing before. Now we know.

And nobody anticipated that this same president would visit the foreign ally he exposed and confirm to reporters from all over the world that it had been the source of that intelligence. But Trump did that too.

And while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put on a good face for the cameras, the effect on the relationship has been profound. After the breach was reported, BuzzFeed spoke to two Israeli intelligence officials who said that this was their worst fear confirmed. One explained, “There has to be trust for this sort of arrangement. I cannot speak for Israel’s entire security apparatus, but I would not trust a partner who shared intelligence without coordinating it with us first.”

Foreign Policy reported that the Israeli defense minister admitted that the two countries have since revised their “protocols” and when asked what they were he tartly replied, “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.” A certain president shouldn’t talk about such things in closed rooms either, since he is incapable of understanding protocols for anything.

But that wasn’t the only report we had this week of Donald Trump’s loose lips putting national security in danger. The Intercept released a transcript of the Trump’s recent phone call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (I wrote about it here.) The actual words were worse than we knew. Not only did the president effusively compliment Duterte on his murderous drug war, he also insulted former President Barack Obama for failing to be equally impressed.

The two leaders  discussed the threat from North Korea, mused about the mental state of Kim Jong-un and batted around the idea that nuclear war might end up being necessary. Trump said he hoped the Chinese would take care of it but promised that if they didn’t the U.S. would. Then he shared some military secrets with a foreign leader widely seen as unbalanced and untrustworthy:

We have two submarines – the best in the world – we have two nuclear submarines – not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but [Kim] could be crazy so we will see what happens.

According to BuzzFeed, the Pentagon was in shock:

“We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movements secret is key to their mission.

While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that, in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of force. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.

Trump, Duterte, Kim Jong-un and nuclear weapons. What could go wrong?

There are dozens of reasons why America’s allies and adversaries alike are starting to panic a little bit about Donald Trump serving as the supposed leader of the free world. Until now, despite major misgivings, it was not entirely clear whether Trump might grow into the job or whether American institutions and expertise would be able to guide his behavior. After four months it seems clear that’s not as easy as everyone hoped.

In this context, the fact that U.S. officials apparently leaked the identity of the accused Manchester bomber to the press before U.K. authorities were ready to do so was received with sharp irritation by the British government. If this had happened under any other administration, the misunderstanding between two close allies would likely have been handled quietly. But it’s obvious that the gusher of leaks throughout the government and at high levels of the White House has other countries spooked.

Along with the president’s ongoing inability to understand and respect the seriousness of classified intelligence, this lack of trust in the United States government’s basic competence and predictability is making the world order as we’ve known it for the last 60 years suddenly feel very unstable. It will be interesting to see whether the NATO meeting being held over the next few days can provide any sense of reassurance.

The Real “Korea” Problem

Image result for korea iran alliance

Iran is Our Biggest North Korea Problem

Far from being smart and pragmatic, thinking North Korea’s odious regime can be reformed into a better regime seems to rely on magical Unicorns spreading sparkly poop across Pyongyang and infecting their leadership class with hopeful goodness. Getting rid of the Iranian mullah regime is the key to a successful North Korea policy.

Yeah, nice work if you can get it:

Our main argument is that a smart, practical foreign policy on North Korea must include cooperation with China, a controlled Russia, strong assurances to South Korea, the equities of Japan, robust domestic support in the United States and no direct military confrontation to achieve the political objective of a denuclearized Korean peninsula. [emphasis added]

Is that all a successful North Korea policy to bring Kim Jong-Un to his senses rather than to his knees requires? Plus North Korea’s cooperation, of course. A simple oversight, I’m sure.

I feel foolish not to have thought of this approach before. Especially the “equities” of Japan. I don’t know what it means but it sounds awesome.

But really, there are more modifiers than policy in this policy description. And ponder that Russia is the wild card in their framework–not North Korea itself.

And one more thing. Why muddy the waters by pretending that the problem is denuclearizing the “Korean peninsula” when the nuclear problem lies solely north of the 38th parallel?

I remain convinced that our main problem with reacting to North Korea lies outside of North Korea in Iran.

Back when President Bush named the Axis of Evil, I felt the proper response to each was invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam, support for an Iranian revolution to overthrow of Iran’s mullahs, and containment of North Korea until they collapsed–ideally before they get nukes.

We invaded Iraq. And you must admit that having an Iraq that fights rather than supports terrorism; doesn’t slaughter their own Kurds; and which doesn’t seek WMD or threaten to invade Kuwait and points south is a good thing.

But we never supported the people of Iran who polls show like America but don’t like their government. Under Bush, the Democrats would have impeached the man for trying that.

And under Obama there was no interest in that solution given we sided with the mullahs when the people took to the streets in 2009 in support of real reform rather than accepting the rigged elections that perpetuate mullah rule; and given the horrible nuclear deal that shoveled money at Iran with only the fig leaf of delaying Iran’s nuclear threshold a decade (assuming Iran does not cheat).

Ponder that President Obama looked the other way while the Iranian regime suppressed their people in order to pave the way for the monumentally stupid Iran nuclear deal. The Obama administration truly believed that an Iranian ruler was “moderate” if he could avoid screaming “Death to America!” in English while a Western camera was pointed at him.

Unless the Iranian people somehow topple the regime, we’re stuck with this aggressive nutball regime that wants nukes.

In my view, overthrowing Iran’s mullahs was the necessary condition for supporting containment of North Korea. North Korea is awful, but I think they can be deterred from using nukes because their priority is regime survival.

As distasteful as accepting that regime is, the cost of war (and any narrow strike on nuclear targets could easily and rapidly expand to general war) would be monumental. I’m sorry that the North Korean people suffer under this approach, but somebody will and I’d rather it not be us or our allies. Life is rough, eh?

With a nutball Iranian regime that could very well buy nuclear technology from North Korea (or even complete nuclear weapons systems), containing North Korea just enables Iran to go nuclear.

When North Korea announces this, are they just letting a customer know that they are ready to take orders?

North Korea said on Monday it successfully tested what it called an intermediate-range ballistic missile, which met all technical requirements and could now be mass-produced, although U.S. officials and experts questioned the extent of its progress.

You must admit that the nuclear deal with Iran could result in Iran technically abiding fully with the terms of the agreement and also buying nuclear weapons from North Korea.

As long as Iran needs North Korea to get nukes, simply containing North Korea is a less than ideal solution.

Not to mock the authors too much. I do have great respect for SAMS. Maybe my imagination is insufficient to appreciate their policy proposal. Although in my own defense their presentation invited mockery. Yet I do think deterrence rather than use of force could be the policy of choice if North Korea has no nutball customers for their nukes.

And I do want to keep pressure on North Korea. Although I think regime (or state) collapse is the more likely goal rather than hoping that the regime will evolve into something less horrible. North Korea is clearly willing to impoverish and starve their people to remain in power. I think North Korea is wrong to believe nukes are necessary to deter invasion and so remain in power, but the North Korean elites apparently believe it very much.

South Korea evolved from a non-murderous authoritarian regime to a real democracy. North Korea has a long way to just reach South Korea’s starting point. Is there really hope of going even part of the way down that route?

The only way to get to a North Korea policy that doesn’t involve war to destroy North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure is to destroy the mullah regime in Iran before it gets nuclear weapons. Do that and North Korean nukes are a bilateral deterrence issue rather than a proliferation issue.

This makes President’s Trump to the Middle East very significant:

One speech cannot change Arab or Muslim perceptions of the president or the U.S. as an ally. Much will depend on the years and actions that follow. Words really matter, however, and especially in the Middle East. This time, the president used the right words to start rebuilding the foundations of America’s strategic partnerships in the Muslim world and Middle East, and to deal with truly urgent threats. This speech is the right beginning — in remarkably well-crafted terms — and it deserves bipartisan and expert respect.

Indeed, with a focus on defeating Iran that this trip highlights rather than the last administration’s hope to befriend and neuter Iran,

the deal may handcuff Iran’s nuclear production ambitions long enough to defeat the mullahs

.

And a friendly Iran would have a great effect on our Afghanistan dilemma, too.

US Spreads Its Nukes Into Korean Waters

President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate operations.

North Korea On Path To Nuke The US

The remarks by Defence Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant-General Vincent Stewart at a Senate hearing on Tuesday are the latest indication of mounting US concern over Pyongyang’s advancing missile and nuclear weapons programmes, which the North says are needed for self-defence.

US lawmakers pressed Stewart and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to estimate how far away North Korea was from obtaining an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach the United States.

They repeatedly declined to offer an estimate, saying doing so would reveal US knowledge about North Korea’s capabilities, but Stewart warned the panel the risk was growing.

“If left on its current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” Stewart said.

“While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable.”

The UN Security Council was to meet on Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss Sunday’s test of a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile, which defies Security Council resolutions and sanctions. The meeting was called at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

John Schilling, a missile expert contributing to Washington’s 38 North think-tank, estimated it would take until at least 2020 for North Korea to be able to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland and until 2025 for one powered by solid fuel.

But Coats acknowledged gaps in US intelligence about North Korea and the thinking of its leader Kim Jong-un.

He cited technological factors complicating US intelligence gathering, including gaps in surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), which rely on assets such as spy satellites and drone aircraft.

“We do not have constant, consistent ISR capabilities and so there are gaps, and the North Koreans know about these,” Coats said.

Washington has been trying to persuade China to agree to new sanctions on North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile firings and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of last year.

Last month, US President Donald Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a telephone call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, according to a transcript of a April 29 conversation released by US media on Tuesday.

“We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that. We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20. But we don’t want to use it,” Trump said, citing “two nuclear submarines” the Pentagon sent to the area.

Transcribed by the Philippine government, the conversation was released by The Washington Post and The Intercept.

Trump also queried Duterte about whether he believed Kim was “stable or not stable”. The Philippine leader responded their North Korean counterpart’s “mind is not working and he might just go crazy one moment”.

Kim has a “dangerous toy in his hands that could create so much agony and suffering for all mankind”, Duterte added.

But Trump appeared reassured that North Korea’s recent missile tests had failed, saying “all his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news”.

Turning to China and its ability to counter the nuclear threat, Trump pressed Duterte to call Chinese President Xi Jinping to exert pressure.

“I hope China solves the problem. They really have the means because a great degree of their stuff come through China,” Trump said. “But if China doesn’t do it, we will do it.”

Duterte agreed. However, he cautioned: “The other option is a nuclear blast, which is not good for everybody.”