Jordan May Become The Next Nuclear Horn Of Prophecy (Daniel 8)

The Middle East’s Next Nuclear Power?
Kazakhistan Nuclear Missiles

It may not be the one you’re thinking about.
January 28, 2015
The Kingdom of Jordan has for more than a decade watched near-continuous turmoil swirl around its borders—an American invasion of Iraq on one side, an Israeli war with Lebanon on another, and a Syrian civil war to the north that has seen ISIL flourish. For much of that decade, while Jordan absorbed refugees and was targeted by terror, it largely escaped the first-hand effects of war itself. Wednesday’s news that the Kingdom was prepared to trade a terrorist involved in the worst terrorist attack in Jordanian history to free one of its pilots captured by ISIL after his F-16 crashed in December, represents a new chapter in Jordan’s perpetual struggle against the militants on its borders. Over all of these regional challenges has hung another dark cloud—the fear, uncertainty, and tension that’s sprung from Iran’s secret nascent nuclear program.

And yet even as Western attention has focused all around Jordan—and especially on the nuclear negotiations with Iran—in a little-noticed series of moves, the Kingdom’s been edging closer to going nuclear itself. In fact, the Kingdom of Jordan, Washington’s most reliable Arab partner, is the latest Middle Eastern state considering nuclear energy that is refusing to relinquish its right to enrich.
That “right to enrich” uranium has proved to be one of the key sticking points in the Iran nuclear talks and was at the top of the list of why Washington and Tehran missed and subsequently extended their late November deadline to reach an agreement regulating the theocracy’s nuclear program.

To prevent proliferation, the US has long held that Middle Eastern states seeking nuclear energy must forego the right to enrich nuclear material. The principle of no-enrichment has underpinned the so-called “gold standard” of US-bilateral nuclear agreements. While this standard does not uniformly apply outside the region—Washington’s 2014 Agreement on Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation with Hanoi included no such stipulation—in its December 2009 agreement with the US, the United Arab Emirates acquiesced to forego enrichment and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

Jordan and Washington have been discussing nuclear cooperation for some time, but the conversation gained urgency following the 2011 Egyptian revolution—and the subsequent and repeated destruction of the Sinai natural gas pipeline—when the Kingdom lost its most consistent source of energy. In 2013, these disruptions resulted in a $2 billion, or nearly 20 percent, budget deficit.
Over the past four years, the Kingdom has increasingly focused on nuclear energy, in particular the construction of two 1000-megawatt power plants, to fill this gap. By 2030, Jordanian officials estimate nuclear power will provide 30 percent of the state’s electricity.

Amman’s proposed nuclear facilities have met with opposition both at home and abroad. Washington’s stated opposition to the program revolves around enrichment. Jordan’s resolve to maintain this right has stymied efforts to reach a “123 agreement” governing US international nuclear cooperation. The Kingdom, which has no oil, has significant deposits of uranium ore—reportedly 35,000 tons or enough to last Jordan 100 years—and is hoping to commercially exploit the resource.
Israel, too, has taken issue with Jordan’s nuclear ambitions, primarily due to concerns about safety. One of Jordan’s proposed nuclear plants, at least initially, was slated to be built in the Jordan River Valley, a major earthquake fault line. According to a US diplomatic cable disclosed by WIKILEAKS, Israel highlighted these apprehensions during a meeting with their Jordanian counterparts in 2009—two years before the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe—only to have the Jordanian officials respond by citing Japan as an earthquake-prone country that builds safe nuclear reactors.
The biggest opposition to Jordan’s nuclear project, however, is domestic. It’s not difficult to see why. To start, one of the proposed plants is slated to be built in the heartland of the Bani Sakr, Jordan’s largest tribe. A charismatic young parliamentarian named Hind al Fayez—who hails from the tribe and happens to be married to a prominent local environmental activist—has adopted the no nukes agenda as her cause celebre. In May 2012, she spearheaded a successful vote in parliament to suspend the program.

Among other concerns, Al Fayez questions how a state with such little water will be able to cool a reactor situated more than 200 miles from the shoreline, and whether Jordan has sufficient human capital (i.e., enough nuclear physicists) to safely operate the facilities. She has also expressed dismay with the $10 billion price tag, a sum roughly equivalent to Jordan’s total 2013 annual budget.
Refuting the critics is Jordan’s Atomic Energy Commission Chair Khaled Toukan, who holds a Ph.D in Nuclear Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Toukan is an impressive government advocate for the project.

No access to water, Toukan says, no problem. Like the three nuclear power plants in Palo Verde, Arizona, Jordan will use wastewater from the nearby Khirbat al Samra sewage treatment plant to cool the blistering reactors. The second reactor, closer to the port of Aqaba, will utilize water pumped from the Red Sea—easing Jordan’s water crisis through desalinization.
A dearth of local nuclear technicians? Not for long, says Toukan. The Kingdom is building a research and training reactor, recently established an undergraduate nuclear engineering program, and has sixty-one nationals currently enrolled in graduate programs in nuclear engineering and related fields abroad. As for the financing challenge, according to Toukan, Russia—which is presently slated to build the reactors—will fund and own 49.9 percent, leaving Government of Jordan to finance the remaining and controlling share.

While Toukan’s answers are authoritative, they have not yet succeeded in convincing Jordanian skeptics. Perhaps that’s because serious safety problems emerged at Palo Verde in 2013. Or maybe Toukan’s unsubstantiated 2014 claims before parliament—that radiation leaks from the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona were resulting in increased incidences of cancer in the Kingdom—have further soured Jordanians on nuclear energy. It’s also possible that heightened fears of terrorism fueled by the recent territorial gains by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or ISIS, are dampening enthusiasm for the project.

Last year, Hind Al Fayez said “They’ll build that plant over my dead body.” A year on, her hostility toward the program has not noticeably diminished.

To be sure, Jordan needs energy. Indeed, the requirement is so acute that months ago the palace ignored significant domestic disapproval and signed up to a 15-year $15 billion deal to procure natural gas from Israel. (Amman has temporarily frozen negotiations as Israel deals with anti-trust concerns in its offshore gas sector). While important, however, the agreement is insufficient to meet the Kingdom’s requirements in the decades to come.

In the face of continued foreign and domestic opposition, it isn’t clear that Jordan will actually proceed with the nuclear option. Today the Atomic Energy Commission is calling nuclear power “a strategic choice,” but with nearly a million Syrian refugees in the Kingdom, a stumbling economy, a rising threat of terrorism on the home front, and with a downed Jordanian pilot currently held captive by ISIL, King Abdullah could punt, delaying a decision—and avoiding confrontation with Washington—for the indefinite future. Given the ongoing challenges, for the time being at least, no nukes should be a no-brainer for the Kingdom.

David Schenker is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002-2006, he served as Levant director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Korean Nuclear Horn ReOpens (Daniel 8:8)

North Korea may be trying to restart nuclear reactor: U.S. think tank

WASHINGTON
A North Korean nuclear plant is seen in Yongbyon, in this photo taken June 27, 2008 and released by Kyodo. REUTERS/Kyodo

A North Korean nuclear plant is seen in Yongbyon, in this photo taken June 27, 2008 and released by Kyodo.

Credit: Reuters/Kyodo

(Reuters) – North Korea may be trying to restart a nuclear reactor that can yield plutonium for atomic bombs, a U.S. security think tank said on Wednesday, citing new satellite imagery.

An analysis issued by 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, said it was too early to reach a definitive explanation for signs of activity at the Yongbyon reactor, including steam and indications that snow had melted on the reactor roof.

“One possibility is that the North Koreans are in the early stages of an effort to restart the reactor after an almost five-month hiatus in operations,” it said, basing its observations on commercial satellite images from Dec. 24 to Jan. 11.

“However, since the facility has been recently observed over a period of only a few weeks, it remains too soon to reach a definitive conclusion on this and also on whether that effort is moving forward or encountering problems.”

It said there were clear differences between the latest 2014-1015 imagery and that from more than a year earlier when the reactor was known to have been operating.

Imagery from December 2013 showed snow had melted off the roofs of all the buildings related to the reactor and foam could be seen at the end of the turbine building’s steam and wastewater drainpipe. It said the absence of the foam in recent images could be related to the installation of new piping.

North Korea announced in April 2013 that it would revive the aged five-megawatt research reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, saying it was seeking a deterrent capacity, a move condemned by members states of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security think tank said last year that satellite imagery from late August and late September 2014 indicated the reactor may have been partially or completely shut down, while images from September 2013 until June last year had shown it was operating.

It said the purpose of the shutdown may have been for it to partially refuel the reactor’s core, or for maintenance or renovation.
North Korea is under an array of international sanctions for repeated nuclear bomb and ballistic missile tests.

It said this month it was willing to suspend nuclear tests if the United States called off annual military drills with South Korea. Washington rejected the proposal as a veiled threat.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Saudi Request Falling On Deaf Ears (Daniel 7:7)

Salman to Obama: Don’t let Iran get nuclear bomb

 Salman & Obama

Jan. 28, 2015 | 01:00 AM
 

RIYADH/ON BOARD AIR FORCE ONE: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and U.S. President Barack Obama tackled a range of sensitive regional issues Tuesday during Obama’s one-day visit to Riyadh, as the Saudi monarch highlighted his country’s stance that Iran should not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.

The two leaders touched on the volatile situation in Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Yemen, where Shiite Houthi rebels have launched a power grab, as well as the thorny negotiations between Iran and the West over a nuclear program that Iran insists is for civilian and not military purposes.

King Salman expressed “no reservations” about the ongoing talks but added that Riyadh was adamant that Iran not be allowed to build a nuclear bomb, an administration official said.

The two leaders also touched on stability in the oil market and the king expressed a message of continuity on Saudi energy policy in their talks, the official said.

The talks were attended by Crown Prince Muqrin and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, along with several high-ranking Saudi officials, while Obama was joined by a high-powered delegation that included former secretaries of state and a Republican critic of the administration’s Middle East policy.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One after Obama departed Saudi Arabia, the official said the two men did not discuss current oil prices. He said the king suggested Saudi Arabia would continue to play its role within the global energy market and that one should not expect a change in the country’s position.

During his brief stop in Riyadh Obama held his first formal meeting with King Salman, newly installed on the throne following the death of the 90-year-old King Abdullah Friday.

The roughly hourlong meeting focused on a bevy of Mideast security issues – sectarian divisions in Iraq, the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS, the precarious situation in Yemen and support for Syrian opposition fighting President Bashar Assad, said the U.S. official who briefed reporters traveling with Obama on condition of anonymity, citing the private nature of the talks.

Stepping off the plane earlier in Riyadh, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were greeted by Salman and a military band playing both countries’ national anthems.

Some of the all-male Saudi delegation shook hands with Mrs. Obama while others gave her a nod as they passed by.

Salman formally greeted Obama and the U.S. delegation at the Erga Palace on the outskirts of Riyadh, where dozens of Saudi officials filed through a marble-walled room to greet the Americans under massive crystal chandeliers.

Then they sat for a three-course dinner of grilled meats, baked lobster and Arabic and French deserts.
Obama cut short his trip to India to spend just a few hours in Riyadh. Further underscoring Saudi Arabia’s key role in U.S. foreign policy was the extensive delegation that joined Obama for the visit.

Secretary of State John Kerry joined Obama in Riyadh, along with former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and James Baker III, both of whom served Republican presidents.

Former White House national security advisers Brent Scowcroft, Sandy Berger and Stephen Hadley also made the trip, as did Sen. John McCain, a frequent critic of Obama’s Middle East policy.

CIA Director John Brennan and Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command, which overseas military activity in the Middle East, also took part in the meetings with the Saudis.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have worked in close coordination to address evolving security concerns in the tumultuous region. Most recently, Saudi Arabia became one of a handful of Arab nations that have joined the U.S. in launching airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Yet Obama’s presidency has also been marked by occasional strains with the Saudi royal family, particularly as Abdullah had pressed the U.S. to take more aggressive action to force Assad from power.

In his initial days on the throne, the 79-year-old Salman has given little indication that he plans to bring fundamental changes to his country’s policies. He’s vowed to hew to “the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment.”

– See more at: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Jan-28/285566-salman-to-obama-dont-let-iran-get-nuclear-bomb.ashx#sthash.Usc9LDrG.dpuf