China Nuclear Horn Strengthens (Daniel 7:7)

China puts nuclear missiles on submarines

By David Tweed

Bloomberg News
POSTED: 07:02 a.m. HST, Dec 09, 2014
China Nuclear Submarine

China is preparing to arm its stealthiest submarines with nuclear missiles that could reach Hawaii and the U.S. mainland, cloaking its arsenal with the invisibility needed to retaliate in the event of an enemy strike.
Fifty years after China carried out its first nuclear test, patrols by the almost impossible-to-detect JIN class submarines armed with nuclear JL-2 ballistic missiles will give President Xi Jinping greater agility to respond to an attack.
The nuclear-powered subs will probably conduct initial patrols with the missiles by the end of this year, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” according to an annual report to Congress submitted in November by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Deploying the vessels will burnish China’s prestige as Xi seeks to end what he calls the “cold war” mentality that resulted in U.S. dominance of Asia-Pacific security. Since coming to power, Xi has increased military spending with a focus on longer-range capacity, including plans to add to the country’s tally of a single aircraft carrier.
“For the first time in history, China’s nuclear arsenal will be invulnerable to a first strike,” said independent strategist Nicolas Giacometti, who has written analysis for The Diplomat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s the last leap toward China’s assured nuclear-retaliation capability.”
China’s nuclear-defense strategy is engineered to provide retaliation capability in the event of attack from nuclear powered nations as far away as the U.S. and also from Russia and India, according to Felix Chang, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.
While China doesn’t view North Korea as a direct nuclear risk, officials are concerned about what might happen if North Korea threatened South Korea or Japan and the region became unstable, Chang said.
China’s nuclear-armed submarines will be “useful as a hedge to any potential nuclear threats, including those from North Korea, even if they are relatively small,” he said.
The deployment of the submarines could pressure China to assure foreign militaries that its navy chiefs and political leaders can communicate with and control them. Chinese and U.S. ships and planes are coming into greater proximity in the Pacific as China asserts its claims to territory in the South China Sea and East China Sea, risking near misses or a clash.
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview in January that ex-President Hu Jintao “did not have strong control” of the People’s Liberation Army. The “best example,” Gates said, was China’s roll out of its J-20 stealth fighter jet during a visit he made in January 2010. The event seemed to catch Hu unaware, Gates said.
Since coming to power Xi has tightened his grip on the military, taking over as head of the Central Military Commission in November 2012, when he became Communist Party chief. Hu waited about two years before becoming chairman of the commission.
“China is going to have to reassure their adversaries that those submarines are under positive control at all times,” said Malcolm Davis, an assistant professor of China-Western relations at Bond University on Australia’s Gold Coast.
“Positive control” refers to the procedures to ensure the CMC’s absolute control of its nuclear assets, such as the authorization codes it would send to submarines, where, after verification by the commander and probably two other officers, missiles would be launched.
“It demands that China set up appropriate command and control infrastructure to ensure that the CMC can keep in touch with the submarines, even when they are at sea and under the water,” said Davis. “The U.S., U.K., France and Russia all maintain such communications capabilities for ensuring positive control” of their submarines at sea.
By assuring potential enemies that weapons will only be fired if ordered by central command, China’s military would increase the deterrent value of its nuclear-armed submarines, he said.
“Those assurances are likely to be made at the highest level military-to-military meetings behind closed doors,” Davis said. Otherwise China is largely expected to keep its nuclear capabilities secret.
“High-confidence assessments of the numbers of Chinese nuclear capable ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads are not possible due to China’s lack of transparency about its nuclear program,” the U.S. report to Congress said. The Pentagon hasn’t provided an estimate of the size of China’s nuclear warhead stockpile since 2006, according to the report.
China’s defense ministry did not reply to faxed questions about when regular patrols by nuclear-armed JIN-class submarines would begin, or China’s nuclear strategy.
The modernization of China’s nuclear forces is focused on improving the capacity to deter other nuclear powers, said Giacometti, speaking by phone from Brussels.
Until 2006, its only ballistic missile able to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S. was the liquid-fueled, silo-based DF-5A, he said. These were considered vulnerable because fueling takes a few hours during which the missile must remain in its silo. To protect them, China built mock silos and adopted a policy of secrecy that made a disarming first strike harder to execute.
In 2006, China introduced the land-based mobile DF-31A ballistic missiles, whose 6,959-mile maximum range could reach the U.S. The missiles are solid-fueled, so can be fired almost immediately if warheads are pre-fitted, Giacometti said.
The U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities — from satellites to high-altitude drones, such as the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk — can monitor vast areas of territory and detect mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, he said. Any information gleaned could be transmitted to U.S. strike assets, from long-range high-speed missiles to B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers, to take out the launchers before they fire.
In comparison to the land-based launchers, nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines that rarely need to surface are much better at hiding.
Right now, China has three of those — the JIN class — and is likely to add two more by 2020, according to the Commission’s report. Each could carry 12 JL-2 missiles, which after a decade of development “appear to have reached initial operational capability,” it said.
The JL-2’s range of about 4,598 miles means China could conduct nuclear strikes against Alaska if it unleashed the missiles from waters near China; against Alaska and Hawaii if launched from waters south of Japan; against Alaska, Hawaii, and western continental U.S. if fired from waters west of Hawaii; and against all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii, the report said.
“The big scoop would be determining where those submarine patrols will take place,” said Chang.
The submarines are expected to initially confine themselves to China’s coastal waters and the South China Sea where they could roam with little chance of detection. For the missiles to reach Hawaii or the continental U.S. the submarines would need to foray into the western Pacific and beyond, which Davis from Bond University said would be “more challenging because they’d have to run the gauntlet of U.S. anti-submarine capabilities.”
China’s advances are cause for concern in some parts of the U.S. defense establishment.
“We must continue to modernize our nuclear capabilities,” Adm. Harry Harris said Dec. 2 at his nomination hearing to become commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, when asked how the U.S. should respond to China’s build up. Harris said that he considered North Korea, which is developing its own nuclear arsenal, to be the biggest threat to security in Asia.
Analysts don’t expect China to modify its longstanding “no-first-use” nuclear policy that states its weapons will only be used if China comes under nuclear attack.
Having enhanced its nuclear-deterrence capability, China may begin to communicate more about the planned evolution of its nuclear forces, Giacometti said.
“More openness on China’s side might then open up more space for confidence-building measures and lay the ground for future arms control discussions,” he said.

The Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Australia in talks to help Ukraine avoid energy crisis by exporting uranium and coal to the war-torn region

Australian Uranium Mining Sites

Australian Uranium Mining Sites
Updated about 2 hours agoWed 10 Dec 2014, 7:49pm

Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko is in Australia for a two-day state visit.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Melbourne this morning, Mr Poroshenko said the two countries had been brought together by the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 tragedy.

He said both countries were now keen to discuss ways of strengthening the bilateral relationship.

“I want to stress that my visit, the first visit of the Ukrainian president to Australia, is a demonstration of the strategic character of our partnership and Ukraine recognise and thank Australia,” he told reporters.

“We discuss today the possibility of the cooperation in the sphere of nuclear energy; there is a possibility to buy Australian uranium for our nuclear power station.

“We discuss about the possibility for supply of Australian coal for Ukraine energy system.”

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs website, Australia’s trade relationship with Ukraine is “modest”.

“Merchandise exports from Australia were valued at $35 million in 2013 and consisted mainly of manganese ores and concentrates,” the website stated.

“In the same period, Australia imported $46 million worth of products from Ukraine, mainly fertilisers, and electrical circuits equipment.”

Mr Abbott said if an export deal could be secured, it would be good for both jobs and prosperity in the two countries.

“Australia is an energy super power and energy security is very important to Ukraine, particularly given its current vulnerability to supply shocks,” he said.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June over a pricing dispute forcing Ukraine to take steps to conserve its insufficient reserves for the current winter.

Ongoing embassy in Kiev to expand diplomatic relations

Australia had established an interim embassy in Ukraine following the MH17 disaster and today Mr Abbott indicated the Government would set up a permanent diplomatic post in Kiev early next year.

“Coming from this tragedy, I believe will be a strong and lasting friendship between the Australian people and the Ukrainian people,” Mr Abbott said.

“Already there are some tangible manifestations of our friendship.

“We have an interim embassy in Kiev, we expect to open our ongoing embassy in February.”

Mr Poroshenko welcomed the move and said he had invited Mr Abbott to visit Kiev next year.
“I told him that he is one of the most popular foreign politicians in Ukraine,” he said.

Mr Abbott responded, telling journalists it was nice to be popular “even if just in Kiev”.

The two leaders had attended a prayer vigil in Melbourne for the 298 victims of the MH17 tragedy.

Iran Strengthens The Antichrist And His Men (Daniel 8:3/Rev 13:18)

Shiite militias deepen Iraq’s sectarian conflict

Shiite militiamen in Iraq (AFP)
The Khorasani Brigades is a departure from the norm as it declares open allegiance to Tehran, underlining deepening fragmentation in Iraq
The emergence of a new Shiite militia in Iraq in the form of “Saraya al-Khorasani” (Khorasan Brigades) points to a deepening sectarian divide and a concomitant rise in Iranian influence. Whilst the militias are undoubtedly indispensable in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group, there is much less certainty on their long-term impact.

Iraq’s Shiite militias are becoming more sectarian and parochial in their outlook and declared positions as the fight against IS and its allies intensifies. For example, the Khorasani Brigades is named after Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei – who is referred to as Sayyed Khorasani by his more enthusiastic supporters – and openly declares allegiance to the Islamic Republic.

Iran sees the fight against IS and its allies as an opportunity to deepen influence in Iraq and to develop power centres independent from the Iraqi government.

But as this policy develops, Iranian strategists are at a loss to explain the actual or potential benefits pursuant to deeper Iranian engagement in Iraqi affairs.

A history of militias

The development of non-state actors has been a consistent feature of Iran’s regional policy for more than three decades. The most successful example is the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, which has extended Iran’s reach to the eastern banks of the Mediterranean Sea.

In neighbouring Iraq, the Islamic Republic began organising dissident Iraqi Shiites in the early years of the Iran-Iraq War. Besides developing the capacity of existing groups such as Hizb al-Daawah (Party of the Islamic Call), Iran established the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is now known as the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

The group’s armed wing, the Badr Brigades, proved useless to Iran during the eight-year war with Iraq. However, Badr played a pivotal role in establishing Iranian influence in Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the US-led invasion of March-April 2003. Now known as the Badr Organisation and led by the influential Hadi al-Amiri, this paramilitary group is spearheading the fight back against ISIL.

The insurgency against the Anglo-American occupation (2003-2008) and the parallel Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict, gave Iran the opportunity to broaden its military influence in Iraq beyond the Badr Brigades.

Significant resources were dedicated to developing the more capable and disciplined factions in Muqtada al-Sadr’s so-called Mahdi Army. Labelled as “Special Groups” by the US military, these factions received advanced training from the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to fight the Anglo-American occupation.

The Special Groups’ trademark was the so-called explosively formed penetrators, a more advanced and deadly form of the ubiquitous improvised explosive devices (IED) deployed by Iraqi insurgents. The special groups’ tactics wreaked havoc against American and British troops and probably played a direct role in accelerating the British retreat from Iraq.

Some of the special groups were later integrated into the Iraqi army as well as the security forces. Three years after the official ending of the US-led occupation, these structures constitute the most capable, motivated and reliable layers of the official Iraqi armed forces.

IS’s storming offensive in Iraq this June has given fresh impetus to the long-standing Iranian policy of developing Iraqi paramilitary groups. Besides the old Badr Brigades, at least two dozen other militias and paramilitary groups are operating against IS and its allies across western, central and northern Iraq. The most prominent include Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Battalions) and the Saraya al-Zahra (the Zahra Brigades).

The most striking feature about the new militias, in particular the Khorasani Brigades, is their open allegiance to Iran. Besides swearing allegiance to Iran’s leader, the Khorasani Brigades use an insignia which bears a strong resemblance to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) standard.

In the past, Iran’s ideological compatriots in Iraq never openly declared their allegiance to the Islamic Republic for fear of alienating Iraqi and wider Arab public opinion. This development speaks to the growing fragmentation in Iraq and the decline of the Iraqi state.

Influence without gain?

Whilst the weakness of official Iraqi armed forces to some extent justifies the deployment of militias and paramilitaries against a deadly foe, nonetheless, there is growing worry on the long-term impact of this trend.

The most obvious problem is the deepening sectarian divide, especially in light of reports that the Shiite militias are wreaking havoc and destruction in Sunni-majority areas, in particular Salahuddin province. Whilst the Shiite militias are not as extreme as IS, nevertheless some of their actions and rhetoric is heightening the sectarian conflict and storing up trouble for the future.

Moreover, the proliferation of the militias is inimical to the long-term viability of the Iraqi state. The Iraqi government is understandably reliant on the militias to contain a massive threat, but it is apparently blind to the dangers of over-reliance on these groups. Long-term threats to the Iraqi state, such as Kurdish nationalism, can only be met by powerful and professional armed forces.

The militias are also a potential problem for their Iranian patrons. Hitherto Iran has had a unified and coherent policy on Iraq centred on shoring up the post-war Shiite led government in Baghdad. During the years of the Anglo-American occupation the development of non-state actors was not inconsistent with this stated policy.

The intensification of support for militias points to growing IRGC influence on Iran’s Iraq policy. This risks fragmenting policy and decision-making with resulting loss of strategic leverage. To be successful in Iraq over the long term, Iran must maintain a coherent and clear-eyed strategic approach and not embrace the politics of sectarianism.

Mahan Abedin is an analyst of Iranian politics. He is the director of the research group Dysart Consulting.  
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

The White House Turns A Blind Eye Towards Iran’s Cheating

State Dept. rejects reports that Iran is cheating on its nuclear commitments

The State Department on Monday insisted that Iran is still in compliance with its nuclear obligations as it and other countries try to negotiate an end to Iran’s nuclear program, despite reports that Iran is buying materials needed to boost its production of plutonium.

“Iran has kept all of their commitments under the JPOA, we continue to believe that,” State spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, referring to the Joint Plan of Action negotiated by the U.S., Iran and others. Psaki acknowledged “concerns” State has with Iran, but said Iran is still in compliance.
Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 3.51.39 PM
That goes against a report in Foreign Policy Monday morning, which said the Obama administration privately believes Iran’s purchases have put it out of compliance with the JPOA. That story noted that Secretary of State John Kerry has insisted publicly that Iran has “held up its end of the bargain,” even though the U.S. wrote a brief noting that Iran has purchased material for its heavy water research reactor in Arak, and has helped move weapons to its allies in Syria and Iraq.

Many Republicans have criticized the administration’s effort on Iran, especially its decision to extend the nuclear talks for another seven months. Republicans have said that delay will only give Iran more time to develop its nuclear program, and that more sanctions are needed immediately in order to stop that from happening.

The Foreign Policy story predicted that Republicans would further criticize the Obama administration for its private admission that Iran has violated the terms of the talks. And by Monday afternoon, a key House lawmaker did just that.

“The wheels seem to be coming off of the administration’s Iran strategy,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). “There are now multiple reports that Iran has violated its commitment to freeze its nuclear program. These include two separate reports that it was testing and operating centrifuges in violation of the interim agreement.”

“And today’s report is that Iran is trying to illicitly acquire components for its ‘plutonium bomb factory’ at Arak,” he added. “This regime is proving to be a determined cheater, showing no willingness to accept an effective verification regime.”

Royce added that despite these problems, the Obama administration’s “optimistic talk goes on,” and said it is “beyond time” for more sanctions.

China, US, and UK “Saving Face” At Vienna Nuclear Peace Conference

China Sends Official Posing As ‘Academic’ To Attend Vienna Nuclear Conference: Report

 @KukilBora on December 09 2014 8:04 AM
A mushroom cloud rises with ships below during Operation Crossroads nuclear weapons test on Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands in this 1946 handout provided by the U.S. Library of Congress. Reuters
China sent a high-profile official posing as an “academic” to attend an international conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Vienna, despite declining earlier to participate in the meeting, a report said Tuesday.

While the United States and Britain participated in the Vienna conference, the other three officially recognized nuclear weapon countries — Russia, France and China — had shunned the event. However, an anonymous conference speaker told Sputnik that Beijing had sent an official to the event.

“China has sent somebody who is not officially here as a representative of China, but he is a very high level Chinese official who deals with nuclear weapons, and he is here as ‘academic’, but he is certainly here to listen on behalf of the Chinese government,” the source told Sputnik.

This is the first time that the U.S. and Britain are taking part in such a conference. Explaining its decision to be a part of the Vienna conference, the U.S. said last month that it had decided “there were real prospects for constructive engagement with conference participants”, but added that America will not involve itself in disarmament negotiations at the meeting, Reuters reported.

The conference, which is the third in a series that began last year, takes place amid growing concerns over a new “Cold War” between Russia and the West due to Moscow’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis.

Under the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the five recognized nuclear weapons countries agreed to work toward eliminating their atomic arsenals, while India, Israel and Pakistan, which also have nuclear weapons, have not signed the NPT, Reuters reported.