“The Day After” Its’ All In God’s Plan (Revelation 16)

Rethinking our complacency on nuclear weapons threat

Irish Examiner
Monday, December 08, 2014

Nuclear weapons continue to underpin the international security policy of the most powerful states

IN 1983, three years before I was born, a chilling television docu-drama about the consequences of a nuclear war was broadcast around the world.
My generation has conveniently consigned such fears to history.
Indeed, with the Cold War tensions of 1983 far in the past and the international order dramatically changed, many people nowadays ask why these memories should concern us at all.
But the premise of that question is both wrong and dangerous.
These weapons, which terrified people 30 years ago, still remain in countries’ arsenals and continue to pose a grave risk to human security and safety. Austria’s concern is that, as long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of their use exists, either by accident or design. An overwhelming majority of states share this view.
Consider how many nuclear weapons there are: An estimated 16,300 around the world, with 1,800 on high alert and ready for use at short notice. Nearly 25 years after the Cold War’s end, we remain stuck with its strategic legacy: Nuclear weapons continue to underpin the international security policy of the world’s most powerful states.
There are too many risks — human error, technical flaws, negligence, cyberattacks, and more — to believe these weapons will never be used. Nor is there good reason to believe adequate fail-safe mechanisms are in place.
The history of nuclear weapons since 1945 is studded with near-misses, both before and after the Cuban missile crisis. On more than one occasion, the actions of plucky individuals, applying their intelligence against orders, saved us from catastrophe.
For example, in 1983, the Soviet Union’s nuclear early-warning system reported, not once but twice, the launch of US missiles. Fortunately, Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov of the Soviet Air Defence Forces recognised these as false alarms, preventing a mistaken nuclear retaliation.
Since 2012, when the humanitarian impact initiative was conceived, most countries have stepped up to support it, owing to their anxiety and frustration at the snail-like pace of disarmament.
Still, one might legitimately ask whether world leaders shouldn’t first focus their attention on other problems, such as climate change and sustainable development.
In fact, like past generations’ loading of the earth’s atmosphere with carbon, nuclear weapons represent a legacy to overcome. But nuclear weapons, unusable and extremely expensive to maintain, are low-hanging fruit — a risk that we can easily grasp and eliminate.
Enticing the nuclear-weapon states to give up their arsenals will not be easy. As long as some states possess them, other states will be led by envy or fear to desire their own.
But the status quo reflects yesterday’s thinking. Acknowledgement that these Cold War relics are outmoded security tools, indeed, that they cause insecurity, is coming from a diverse range of voices.
Thirty years ago, The Day After galvanised a president. The goal of next week’s Vienna conference is to provide the public with new and updated evidence of the impact of using nuclear weapons. The picture is even grimmer and the consequences more dire than we believed in 1983.
As long as nuclear weapons exist, it is irresponsible not to confront the implications of their use — implications for which there is no antidote or insurance policy. They are not some deadly virus or long-term environmental threat. They are the poisonous fruit of a technology that we created, and that we can and must control.

Sebastian Kurz is the foreign minister of Austria and the host of the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2014.

Pakistan Upgrades Its Nuclear-Capable Jets

Revamped Pakistan JF-17 jet fighter key to country’s aim of boosting defence exports

Published on Dec 7, 2014 3:21 PM
Visitors look at a PAC JF-17 Thunder multirole combat aircraft, conceived and initially developed with the help of China, on static display at the International Defence Exhibition and seminar (IDEAS) in Karachi on Dec 3, 2014. A revamped version of the JF-17 jet fighter took centre stage at the defence exhibition as the restive nuclear-armed state looks to boost its role as a military exporter on the world stage. — PHOTO: AFP
KARACHI (AFP) – A revamped version of Pakistan’s JF-17 jet fighter took centre stage at a defence exhibition in Karachi this week, as the restive nuclear-armed state looks to boost its role as a military exporter on the world stage.

Pakistan’s large, well-funded military has long been a major importer of defence equipment, particularly from key ally China.

But Pakistan is hoping the updated JF-17, conceived and initially developed with the help of China, along with Pakistani-made tanks and surveillance drones, will help grow military exports and bring in much-needed foreign exchange revenue.

Pakistan’s forex reserves are slowly recovering after falling to just US$3 billion (S$4 billion) in November 2013, from nearly US$15 billion in 2011. But the economy is still shackled by a long-running energy crisis and growth remains sluggish, predicted at 4.3 per cent this financial year.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-asia/story/revamped-pakistan-jf-17-jet-fighter-key-countrys-aim-boosting-defence-exp#sthash.Fe0CPIVi.dpuf

Don’t Believe The White House Reports On Iranian Concessions

Iran rejects US claims it made concessions for talks extension

Nuclear spokesman says there are no new conditions, despite AP report; source says no freeze on centrifuge machine tests

December 7, 2014, 6:00 am

An Iranian official denied reports that Tehran had made significant concessions in exchange for extending talks on its nuclear program.

“The conditions for extending the nuclear negotiations to July 1, 2015 were like the conditions reining the extension of the previous deadlines and no new undertaking has been added to it,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Kamalvandi was responding to an AP report that Iran promised to allow snap inspections of its facilities and to neutralize much of its remaining uranium stockpile.

Those terms are included in a document that US officials say represents the terms for a seven-month extension in nuclear negotiations between world powers and Iran, agreed to when the last deadline of November 24 passed without an accord. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press.

Fars also reported than a source close to Iran’s nuclear negotiating team rejected claims that Iran had put a freeze on testing new centrifuges.

“This is not true at all and the trend of R&D on enrichment is moving along its natural track at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran,” said the source.

The authenticity of the document outlining the agreement was confirmed by three US officials and congressional aides familiar with closed-doors discussions in recent days that have included top US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan, formerly Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser. The officials have been presenting the Iranian concessions to lawmakers in the hopes of convincing them to support the extension and hold off on new economic sanctions that could derail the diplomatic effort.

There is no proof Tehran has agreed to or will follow through on the steps outlined, and negotiators representing world powers and Iran offered few specifics on their progress when they agreed to extend negotiations until July. No signed agreement emerged from that understanding, but administration officials say Iran accepted important limits on its nuclear program in the discussions last month. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the sensitive negotiations and insisted on anonymity.

The US says Iran will further limit its development of new technology for enriching uranium that could be used for energy generation, as Tehran says is its objective, or for use in a nuclear warhead, which Washington and its international partners fear may be Iran’s ultimate intent. It also seems to patch up what critics of last year’s interim nuclear agreement described as loopholes on Iran’s research and development of advanced centrifuges.

For one centrifuge model Iran has been working on, the US says Tehran won’t be able to pursue the industrial-scale operation needed for any “breakout” effort toward producing enough material for a nuclear weapon. For other models in the pipeline, Iran won’t be permitted to feed the centrifuges with uranium gas or begin testing on a cascade level, which are needed steps in their development.

Iran also has reportedly agreed to turn 35 kilograms of higher-enriched uranium oxide stocks into fuel, making it unusable in the event Iran tries to secretly reach nuclear weapons capacity. That amounts for almost half of Iran’s remaining stockpile of material that could in theory be converted into a form that is close to weapons-grade uranium.

In addition, the administration says Iran will grant international inspectors expanded access to its centrifuge production facilities, allowing the UN nuclear agency to double the amount of visits it makes to sites and to undertake unannounced or “snap” inspections. The monitoring aims to deter Iran from producing centrifuges for any covert facility.

Lastly, Iran will refrain from any other forms of enrichment, including through the use of laser technology. Last year’s agreement halted Iran’s progress on its gas centrifuge program, but US officials feared the Iranians could experiment with other technology designed to do the same thing. Iran has attempted laser enrichment in the past, the US believes, but now has committed to refrain from exploring it any further.

It’s unclear how Congress is receiving the message.

Many lawmakers are decrying the stalemate in negotiations and what they perceive as wide concessions by the US and its partners for few steps by Iran to dismantle its nuclear program. Several Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are threatening new sanctions designed to pressure Iran into caving in the nuclear talks. The House voted overwhelmingly for new sanctions 17 months ago.

However, President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any new sanctions legislation while American diplomats continue their push for an accord that would set multi-year limits on Iran’s nuclear progress in exchange for an easing of the international sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. Senate hawks are still trying to build a veto-proof majority of 67 votes with Republicans set to assume the majority next month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

It’s All About The First Horn Of Prophecy (Daniel 8:3)

Iran deal more than a nuclear issue

persian empire
Trita Parsi
Sunday 7 December 2014 16:08 GMT

Concern in Washington and Tehran over who is seen as ‘winner’ in negotiations is a key obstacle to finding solution

The dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme was never just about centrifuges or breakout capabilities. It has always been a symptom of a larger geopolitical contest between the West (primarily the United States) and Iran, with roots that predate the 1979 Iranian revolution.

But the West and Iran have very different narratives about their conflict, with the Iranians casting it as their quest for independence and self-sufficiency while fending off Western attempts to subjugate the country. Yet the narrative of the conflict is distinct from that of resolving the conflict – and here, the two sides face even greater obstacles.

The latter narrative is a contest over who determined the terms of the solution – who gave in and who came out on top. This is not a mere Iranian obsession. It is equally important to the US and its allies. After all, if the conflict is rooted in Iran’s challenge to the US’s regional dominance, Washington will reject the narrative of Iran successfully forcing the world’s sole superpower to accommodate Tehran.

Consequently, the language US and European Union officials deploy reveals a near infatuation with establishing the West’s dominance over Iran. It is a language of Western power and control. The West decides the terms of the conversation, as well as the terms of the outcome.

“The Iranians know what they have to do,” is a phrase often aired by Western officials. Or in the words of US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, “There are steps they need to take to meet their international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, and the ball is in their court.”

The language and attitude trickles into the news media coverage, where reports describe the West debating what Iran will be “permitted” to do and not do, or the extent of a nuclear program it will be “allowed” to maintain. Iran is essentially at the mercy of the West, the narrative suggests.

The language does not depict a negotiation, but rather court proceedings where Iran is the transgressing party and the US and its allies are both the prosecutor and judge.

As such, it is Iran’s obligation to prove its innocence. “What Iran needs to do is prove to the international community that it’s not building a military nuclear program,” EU foreign affairs spokesman Michael Mann said last year at the height of the negotiations. The onus is on Iran, the language signals. It is Iran’s responsibility to “act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over their nuclear program”, Psaki recently stated.

Moreover, in its role as both prosecutor and judge, the West positions itself as the spokesperson for the entire international community. “It is now up to Iran to decide whether they are looking for a way to cooperate with the international community or if they want to remain in isolation,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier commented in July.

This language further accentuates Iran’s isolation and the moral strength of the West, backed by the entire international community. Of course, given that the West’s negotiators are, with China and Russia, representatives of the UN Security Council plus Germany, there is validity to this interpretation. The Iranians, however, counter by pointing to the support they have received from the nonaligned movement, which constitutes a majority of the states in the international community.

Tehran, in turn, is equally obsessed with a narrative that restores Iran’s dignity by displaying its successful defiance against attempts – real or imagined – to dominate it.

The Iranian narrative centers on resistance. When the parties extended the deadline for the negotiations in November, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the decision by casting it as a victory over a Western attempt at forcing Iran to surrender. “In the nuclear issue,” he said, “America and colonial European countries got together and did their best to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees, but they could not do so – and they will not be able to do so.”

Iran’s leaders espouse the idea that the nuclear issue is nothing but a pretext for the West to oppress Iran, subjugate it and prevent it from reaching its full potential. Ayatollah Khamenei often refers to the nuclear issue as an “excuse” to prevent Iranian progress. It is a narrative that builds on long-standing perceptions in Iran about Western intentions based on the country’s experience with European colonial powers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

So according to this narrative, Western pressure is not because of Iranian policies or behavior, but because West desires to dominate Iran. Resisting subjugation, in turn, means restoring Iran’s dignity.

The concept of dignity is central in the narrative of the Iranian revolution as a whole. The revolution was about restoring the Iranian people’s dignity against a repressive monarchical regime imposed by and supported by the US. Throughout his speeches, Khamenei has repeatedly emphasized that upholding the nation’s and the revolution’s dignity is paramount.

“Whenever the Islamic Republic backed down against America and Europe, they grew more insolent, and whenever the Islamic Republic insisted on its revolutionary slogans and principles, the dignity of the Islamic Republic was increased,” Khamenei said in 2011. While many world leaders would measure the success of their country and tenure by focusing on the economy or societal progress, Khamenei habitually offers updates on the state of the Iranian nation’s dignity internationally.

Dignity in turn is restored by resisting pressure and standing up to the “bullying of the West”. Or as Khamenei would put it, “Our problem is with the US government’s bullying and excessive demands.”
The negotiations are a victory for Iran in and of themselves because the West has been forced to come to the negotiating table (the George W Bush administration initially refused to negotiate with Iran).

“European officials are still stuck in the bullying mindset of the colonial 19th century, but they will face many problems in the face of the resistance of the Iranian nation and officials,” he said the day after the European Union toughened sanctions against Iran in 2011.

Furthermore, Tehran harps on the idea that Iran seeks a fair agreement without excessive demands from the Western side. The agreement, according to Tehran, has to be balanced and based on logic. “We accept rational words; we accept fair and sensible agreements. But if there are bullying and excessive demands, no we won’t accept,” Khamenei reiterated after the November round of talks.

The emphasis on logic, fairness and rationality has political significance. A nuclear agreement based on these principles is consequently not based on the power of the negotiating parties. These principles level the playing field for Iran and neutralize the West’s superiority in terms of military and economic power.

By rejecting strength as a basis for the solution, Iran believes it will have achieved what no other Middle East player has thus far: force the West to meet it half-way and deal with it on an equal basis. That’s the win Iran is looking for – one that restores its sense of dignity. If you are in Iran, that’s the narrative you want coming out of the negotiations.

But contrary to Tehran and Washington’s efforts to find a win-win solution, their narratives remain fundamentally win-lose. A narrative celebrating a compromise as a win is yet to emerge on either side. At some point, a compromise on centrifuges and enrichment may be reached. But finding a middle ground between the Iranian and Western narratives on the negotiations may prove a harder nut to crack.