Jesus Would Condemn Both Israel And Iran

Tehran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, used his Twitter account to lambaste Israel by invoking Jesus.

Khamenei's Iron Fist

Khamenei’s Iron Fist

The Jerusalem Post

Iran’s ruler took to Twitter on Christmas Eve to remind the world that “if Jesus were alive today, he would stand up against Israeli crimes.”

Tehran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, used his Twitter account to lambaste Israel by invoking Jesus.

Khamenei also conflated Israeli “crimes” in Gaza with the racial unrest that has spread in the United States following the shooting death of an unarmed black man by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

North Korea Increases Nuclear Weapons

Study: North Korea could have 79 nuclear weapons by 2020

North Korea Nuclear Missiles
By Thomas Lifson

The world is spiraling toward nuclear Armageddon, with Iran nearing nuclear weapons, and North Korea on a path toward a substantial nuclear arsenal. The crazy-sounding threats of the gangster regime in Pyongyang to inflict mortal damage in its enemies may soon be achievable. Josh Rogin and Ei Lake summarize the bad news in Bloomberg:

A new analysis of North Korea’s nuclear program by a group of top U.S. experts, led by David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, estimates that North Korea could have enough material for 79 nuclear weapons by 2020. The analysis, part of a larger project called “North Korea’s Nuclear Futures” being run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies, has not been previously published. Albright said the North Korean government is ramping up its production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, speeding toward an amount that would allow it to build enough nuclear weapons to rival other nuclear states including India, Pakistan and Israel.

North Korea is on the verge of being able to scale up its nuclear weapons program to the level of the other major players, so its critical to head this off,” Albright said in an interview. “It is on the verge of deploying a nuclear arsenal that would pose not only a threat to the United States and its allies but also to China.”

The regime now has four facilities churning out nuclear material, or preparing to do so.
“They are engaged in building a more fearsome nuclear arsenal. They see it as a vital part of their defense and want to make sure people are scared enough by it that they won’t try any offensive actions against North Korea,” Albright said. “You have this growing arsenal in the hands of people who are always on edge, and it creates an environment that is unstable and could lead to a very large arms race in the region.”

With the Sony hack showing that the Norks are willing to take offensive action, and with President Obama displaying weakness and speaking only of “proportional” response, there is little chance of Pyongyang correcting its course. Instead, it will be further emboldened. Expect Japan to respond by going nuclear, now that the US has reneged on its security guarantee to Ukraine when that nation gave up its nuclear arsenal. A world in which a dozen or more nations have nuclear weapons, as will result from Iran gong nuclear, is not likely to avoid nuclear war,. And once that starts, where it ends is hard to predict.

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India And Pakistan In A “Hot War”


India Pakistan Nuclear Missiles
By Yasir Hussain
The South Asian security architecture became complex and less predictable after India carried out its first nuclear weapons test in 1974 – in a so-called Peaceful nuclear test. Since India only received a slap on the wrist, this partly emboldened New Delhi to test again in 1998 and its abstention from recent voting on the resolution that seeks a ban on future testing makes their intentions doubtful. It remains to be seen, how the international community will react if India resumes testing.
The conflict prone Indo-Pak subcontinent has witnessed an arms buildup by India that Pakistan is trying to match, and nuclear weapons have bridged that conventional military asymmetry to some extent. However, the Indian acquisition of a ballistic missile defense system, massive expenditures on satellites and Russian leased nuclear powered submarines that India is reverse engineering, are dangerous trends. The nature of strategic stability between these arch rivals could then tilt from that of deterrence to compellence, as India could have assumed a sense of enhanced power that may motivate it to coerce by taking ‘pre-emptory action’ rather than deterring Pakistan. The Western powers and other minions, who have economic or geo-strategic interests with India, unfortunately encourage this imbalance in power. This dangerous trend could push the region towards perpetual instability.
This shift in Indian policy of credible minimum deterrence is motivated by global power ambitions and has become possible because of three reasons: India’s economic rise, its narrative to project itself as a prospective counter-weight China and willingness of Beijing’s competitors to let New Delhi bid to such position. The facts are, however, a bit different. It is not necessary that India could do American and Western bidding to actually contain China. Like them, New Delhi also has huge trade interests with Beijing and there is visible economic interdependence. In this sense, China does not react to Indian provocations to consider it is a competitor.
Since, the BJP came into power, security artists in New Delhi have drafted policies for more bombs and better ways to deliver them. The shift in the Indian nuclear posture from credible minimum deterrence to that of effective deterrence is clear from the recent developments that have taken place since Modi came to power. Developments, such as flight testing of the subsonic cruise missile, Nirbhay, ICBM Agni V, super-sonic cruise missile Brahmos, Dhanush missiles, and the most controversial Indo-Australian uranium deal and recent refusal to the UN Draft resolution on NPT depicts Modi’s over–consciousness in national security. Recently, the BJP government has opted to buy $525m worth of Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel. Indian echoes arms imports have increased by 111% within 3 to 4 years and its weapons purchases account for about 14% of the global arms trade.
Indian domestic politics also plays a role in this policy shift. The Indian nuclear establishment creates the conditions that favor weapons acquisitions by encouraging extreme foreign threats and actively lobbying for increased defense spending. The roots of Modi’s security driven initiatives can be found in BJP’s maiden budget that overwhelmingly boosted its defense budget to 12% and foreign direct investment in domestic weapons industry has also increased to 49%. The nuclear establishment in India has the lion’s share in the country’s defense budget and more importantly a nod from Modi in making more sophisticated missile systems – a shift to reliance on hard power.
From the developments of last three months, it can be seen that the word minimum has lost its meaning in Indian nuclear policy of deterrence. Minimum is just a hangover of a bygone era that was only associated with an economically weak India. With newfound money and political support, India is pushing towards a more aggressive nuclear posture to deter regional adversaries. In pursuit of regional hegemony, its nuclear posture is even more aggressive than other nuclear powers. India sees its unchecked nuclear spending as a policy tool in achieving national interests. It is quite clear that, in the near future Modi’s hawkish policies and aggressive doctrinal shift will further deteriorate regional peace and stability — and Western myopia has let this happen.

Saudi Arabia Is One Of The Ten Nuclear Horns Standing With Babylon The Great (US) (Daniel 7:7)

Dual Engagement: The Saudi Factor in an Iran Rapprochement

For the United States to advance its national interests in the Middle East, Obama should pursue a policy of dual engagement with Saudi Arabia and Iran.
December 24, 2014
As the last pillar of America’s dual containment policy crumbles with an Iranian nuclear deal on the distant horizon, President Obama risks a further break down in relations with Saudi Arabia. This comes at a time when Washington requires both Riyadh and Tehran’s support in advancing its core national interests: ensuring a free-flow of oil to global markets through the Gulf, preventing nuclear proliferation, and curtailing the emergence of ISIS and local Al Qaeda affiliates from threatening America’s homeland and its interests and personnel abroad.

Washington’s long engagement in the region has been based on strong relations with key regional states, including Saudi Arabia and Israel. These stable alliances have enabled the U.S. to advance its core interests, and avoid the temptation of extension, despite the brief reckless adventurism of the Bush administration. Entering office in 2009, President Obama has muddled between realism and liberal interventionism in an attempt to pivot the U.S. away from the unilateralism of his predecessor and to vaguely leading with others.

Pivoting geopolitically, the President initially sought to stake out a more assertive political, military, and economic legacy in Asia with an envisioned de-escalation in the Middle East. Underlying his proclivity to tone down Washington’s emphasis on democracy promotion in the region, Obama quickly dispatched a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offering engagement and mutely responded to the violent crackdown of the Green Movement’s 2009 protests. Seeking a quick exit from Baghdad in 2010, President Obama acquised to Prime Minister Maliki’s rejection of a residual U.S. force in Iraq, and tacitly acknowledged Tehran’s political, economic, and military presence in the post-2003 Iraq. At the same time, Obama assured long-time Arab leaders that he would de-emphasize democracy promotion.

This broader disengagement policy soon ran up against the popular activism, protests, and insurgency in the Arab world in 2011. Instead of maintaining course, Obama weakly embraced the popular protests in the region to the angst and anger of a number of his allies in the region, who looked on with apprehension as Obama hesitated and then pushed for Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. At the same time, the president reluctantly remained silent as the host of the U.S.Fifth Fleet, Bahrain, enveloped into sectarian strife that resulted in an armed intervention by the GCC.

Both privately and publicly, Riyadh has expressed concern and anger at Obama’s weak commitment to U.S.allies at a time of crisis, most notably in the case of Hosni Mubarak, and more broadly, Obama’s inconsistent actions and rhetoric in the face of these broader regional shocks. Obama has “led from behind” at a time when America’s regional allies have looked for the U.S. to be a credible military detterent to regional threats to their interests and security.

Deepening tensions, Saudi Arabia has witnessed Obama disregarding its interests in two critical areas: initially embracing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and failing to provide the military and economic support necessary to tilt the balance of power on the ground against President Assad in Syria, to the benefit of  its regional political opponent, Iran, as well as Russia and the Assad regime who have benefited from a fragmented, radical, weak Syrian opposition. Breaking his private commitment to King Abdullah to enforce his “red line” in August 2013, Obama’s public about-face furthered the impression that his word couldn’t be counted on. Riyadh has watched with alarm as ISIS has surged, Iran has encircled its borders, and a new wave of Islamist popular democratic politics has lit up the region.

Obama’s willingness to engage Iran on its nuclear program and to tacitly accept Tehran’s growing political and military role in Iraq and Syria  in countering ISIS has further strained the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Obama’s letter this fall assuring  Ayatollah Khamenei of his commitment not to target Assad’s government in the U.S.-led military campaign underscored to Riyadh that Obama would be willing to accommodate a more unconstrained Iran in the region in exchange for a nuclear deal, at the expense of Saudi Arabia and its interests. The depressed global oil prices, as a result of slowing demand and a surplus of oil on the market, and the prospects of more Iranian oil entering the market further underscores to Riyadh the negative benefits of an economically rehabilitated Iran.

Disregarding these concerns, Obama hasn’t placed his engagement with Iran in any clear foreign policy strategy that takes in account both the preservation and advancement of America’s national interests, as well as those of core allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia. As a result, Obama has arguably opened the door for ending America’s decades old containment policy against Iran on the premise that such a policy rested primarily on Iran’s behavior on its nuclear program, without tying improved relations to America’s other core national interests. While the president has welcomed cooperation with Iran on ISIS, deep differences exist still between Iran and the United States over Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria. By loosening the economic leverage of the sanction regime without taking in account other areas of contestation, Obama is making the risky bet that Tehran will be incentivized to cooperate with the U.S. on broader regional issues beyond ISIS.

Instead, engaging Iran should be incorporated into a broader regional strategy of dual engagement, which can replace the U.S. containment policy and assure Saudi Arabia of America’s long-term security commitment. By incorporating Riyadh’s interests and concerns in America’s engagement with Iran, a comprehensive dialogue can begin on the future stability and security of the Gulf, as well as the broader Middle East where Saudi Arabia and Iran have overlapping and at times, competing interests. Such a policy would importantly safeguard America’s broader national interests, and also provide an opportunity for sustainable engagement with Iran in the long-term.

Going beyond offering security assurances as these nuclear negotiations enter a critical phase, the P5 + 1 should invite Saudi Arabia to join the talks as an observing party. While Riyadh may decline such an invitation, this invitation could be a trust building measure with GCC states who view these negotiations with skepticism and distrust, and also an opportunity to address GCC security concerns in the final round negotiaitons.

Washington should also take more steps to support the establishment of a joint GCC military command. With their already significant military presence in the region, Washington and London could feasibly offer logistical, training, and advisory support in building a joint command and advising in its execution based on the U.S. and the UK’s experience with multi-national security organizations. Mindful of budget constraints and global defense commitments in the Pacific and in the broader Middle East (notably in Turkey and in Jordan), Obama could also upgrade America’s military and security assistance and arrangements in the Gulf, including expanding its naval presence in the Gulf. As once proposed by Hiliary Clinton, Obama could also offer to extend the U.S. nuclear deterrence to the Gulf if a nuclear agreement isn’t reached. Less feasible, while Tehran and Riyadh have had limited dialogue these past few months on improving relations, Obama could support Riyadh’s engagement with Tehran. As a state that has deep relations with Saudi Arabia, and nascent negotiations with Iran, Washington could play an effective role in chairing negotiations, if both states buy-in to U.S. mediation.

Finallly, if P5+1 talks are successful, Obama should move quickly to convene a broader dialogue on the future security and stability of the Middle East. Obama, with support of the EU and possibly Russia, could incentivize Tehran to take this path by conditioning the upgrading of relations and broader economic support and investment on cooperation on areas of mutual concern.

The failure to take such steps will only heighten Saudi Arabia’s insecurity and deepen King Abdullah’s distrust, at a time when the U.S. heavily relies on Riyadh’s support in stabilizing the Egyptian government, aiding the beleaguered government in Benghazi, containing Hezbollah politically in Lebanon, supporting the Syrian opposition, financing the government of Jordan, and participating in U.S. counterterrorism in the region.  While many of these initiatives are in Riyadh’s own interests, and Saudi Arabia would continue them regardless of U.S. support, the absence of a strong working relationship decreases opportunities for cooperation and collaboration. A strained relationship isn’t a substitute for engagement, and only opens the door for distrust and destructive policies detrimental to both states’ interests.

President Obama’s reluctance to lead threatens to leave his successor a Middle East characterized by a weaker relationship with Saudi Arabia and an emboldened Iran. Such a path is not a legacy the President should want or leave to his successor in his final two years in office.

Andrew J. Bowen, Ph.D., Scholar for the Middle East, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

2014: Iranian Horn Makes Babylon The Great Look Like Suckers

2014: P5+1 and Iran’s Nuclear Negotiations

Kerry and Iranian Policy

Kerry and Iranian Policy

Majid Rafizadeh | Huff Post
12/23/14 06:22 PM ET

The 2014 nuclear negotiations marked one of the most contentious issues in Iran’s domestic politics and foreign affairs alike. The partial diplomatic headways, two failures to meet the extended nuclear deadlines, and the possibility of the historic comprehensive nuclear deal highlighted progression and setbacks with respect to the nuclear negotiations for both the Islamic Republic and the six world powers known as the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). At the beginning of the year, Iran and the P5+1 began the process of implementing the Joint Plan of Action, which was proposed by Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif. Parallel with the nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran, the IAEA began its frequent inspection and monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program in order to ensure that Tehran was complying with the November 11 framework agreement. The first IAEA report revealed that Iran was complying with some of the articles of the provisional nuclear deal. The Islamic Republic ceased enriching uranium at the high level, 20 percent, which is a technical step away from developing weapons-grade uranium. Tehran stopped major activities at the Arak heavy water and plutonium reactor. Iran began diluting, and converted its highly enriched uranium, continuing its nuclear research and development within the framework of the interim nuclear deal. Iran promised to build a plant which would convert the newly 5 percent enriched uranium into an oxide, which cannot be utilized for further enrichment. In addition, according to the initial IAEA report, Iran provided “additional information and explanations,” that Tehran has conducted tests on explosive detonators for “a civilian application.”
In return, the United State and European Union began suspension of some of the economic sanctions on Iran, particularly in the automotive sector, gold and precious metals trade, plane parts, and petrochemical exports. Furthermore, the Islamic Republic began receiving approximately $7 billion in sanctions relief, in which $4.2 billion were from the Iranian oil sales revenue in frozen accounts.

President Rouhani appeared to improve the domestic economy, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Islamic Republic progressed in stabilizing its economy and the appreciation of its currency (Rial). In August, Iran failed to meet five spectrums of the requirements in the interim nuclear deal. Unable to bridge the differences, the six world powers and the Islamic Republic failed to reach a comprehensive agreement. However, both sides agreed to extend the nuclear talks for additional four months. In November 24, for the second time, the P5+1 and Iran failed to strike a final nuclear deal. Secretary of the State, John Kerry, proposed a 7 months extension, which was welcomed by Zarif. The gaps appeared to be deep too bridge between the P5+1 and Iran. In addition, no clear agenda was presented to overcome the main stumbling blocks and gaps for the next round of negotiations. Domestic Criticism and Challenges Although President Rouhani and his technocrat team appeared to be successful in making some diplomatic headway with respect to the nuclear negotiations and receive a limited amount of sanction relief, Rouhani’s administration was faced with a series of criticism from hard line media and prominent hardliners, including Mohammad Hossein Karimi-Ghadoosi, a crucial political figure in the hard-line Islamic Endurance Front and a member of the Iranian parliament, Majlis. The main criticisms of Iran’s hardline circle have been linked to the compromising and weak position of the President Rouhani and his negotiating team. In addition, the hardliners demand immediate removal of all economic sanctions and confirming Iran’s right to enrich uranium. President Rouhani reaffirmed Iran’s right by drawing “red lines” and stating “For us there are red lines that cannot be crossed. National interests are our red lines that include our rights under the framework of international regulations and [uranium] enrichment in Iran.” Nevertheless, President Rouhani remains to enjoy the blessing of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to continue with the nuclear talks. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s policy anchored in marinating a balance between and appeasing both the hardliners and the moderates (or centrists). After the second failure to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal, Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out, “We are not opposed to the extension of the talks, for the same reason that we weren’t opposed to the talks in the first place. Of course we will accept any fair and reasonable agreement, but we know that it’s the US government that needs an agreement and will suffer if no agreement is reached. If these nuclear talks do not achieve any results, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not lose anything.”

Stumbling Blocks and Gaps

The seven months extension did not specifically lay out the framework upon which the gaps between Iran’s policies on its nuclear program vis a vis the six world powers’ position would be adequately and efficiently addressed. The major stumbling blocks and crucial gaps remained:

1. The phases through which sanctions will be lifted. The Islamic Republic continues to demand swift lifting of all economic sanctions after a final nuclear deal is struck. The Western countries propose a gradual removal of sanctions as Iran shows signs of fulfilling the comprehensive agreement.

2. Information on Iran’s previous activities with regards to exploding detonators and the military dimension of the nuclear program is another crucial stumbling block.

3. The next issue is whether the Islamic Republic will accept to reduce the volume of its stockpile of uranium. The Western countries attempt to increase the “breakout” timeline, Tehran’s capacity to develop weapon-grade uranium, to at least a year.

4. The time for implementation of the final nuclear deal and lifting of all economic sanction. The Islamic Republic demands much shorter time than the 20 years suggested by the Western members of the P5+1

5. The number of centrifuges that Iran can retain. The Islamic Republic currently holds approximately 19,000 centrifuges. Despite some of the diplomatic headways that President Rouhani and his negotiating team made and despite some of the limited sanction reliefs that Iran has received, the gaps between the six world powers and Iran remain to be deep to bridge. In addition, the extension of nuclear talks continue to ratchet up domestic criticism to Rouhani’s administration, particularly from the hard line circle of Iran’s political spectrum.

Majid Rafizadeh, an American scholar and political scientist, is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is originally from Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria.
This post first appeared on Al Arabiya.