Pakistan Ready To Produce Plutonium Weapons (Rev 15:2)

Pakistan’s 4th nuclear reactor has just become operational: Govt
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 – 20:58

New Delhi: The fourth nuclear reactor of Pakistan capable of producing plutonium for use in nuclear weapons has just become operational, the government on Wednesday informed the Lok Sabha.

In a written reply in the House, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said the Indian government is aware of Pakistan’s nuclear reactors at Khushab.

“Government of India is aware that Pakistan is operating nuclear reactors at Khushab capable of producing plutonium for use in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. According to reports, the 4th such reactor has just become operational,” he said.

Singh, however, said the government is committed to taking all necessary steps to safeguard India’s interests on the basis of India’s national security requirements.

In reply to another question on alleged spying on Indian missions, he said government is aware of reports stating that US national security agency spied on 38 diplomatic missions of foreign countries, including the Indian Embassy in Washington, by implanting bugs and using specialised antenna.
“Government has expressed concerns over the reports of monitoring of the Indian embassy and our mission to the UN in New York by US agencies. Government has raised these concerns with the US authorities at senior levels,” he said.

In reply to another question, Singh said that during the current financial year India has spent Rs 580.52 crore (till January 2015) on assistance to Afghanistan.


New Zealand Is One Of The Ten Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)

Dita De Boni: Don’t oversell the moral case for war

A Danish trainer tells an Iraqi army trainee to correct his weapon's position during a simulated exercise. Photo / US Army

In the lead-up to the decision on committing troops to the war against Isis (Islamic State) in Iraq, that country’s foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, made a surprise visit to New Zealand to shore up support last week.

He looked earnest and kindly as he took the stand beside Murray McCully. The face of rational Islam, wearing a suit and glasses, and pleading for international help because Isis is a foe unlike any other.
He didn’t need to say it, but the spectre of pilots burned in cages, women raped, summary executions and terror are the ever-present, horrifying backdrop to all and every comment on why America and her allies must rush to provide help.

Dr al-Jaafari represents the “right side” to support, as the Prime Minister forcefully emphasised in Parliament after the announcement of troop deployment had been made.

Let us examine, then, this “right side” that New Zealanders may yet lose their lives in supporting.
Dr al-Jaafari left Iraq during the Saddam Hussein years when the Shi’ite Islamic Dawa Party, to which he belonged, was targeted for its aim of combating secularism.

While living in London in the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, he visited the White House to petition the Americans to help overthrow Saddam. Some reports suggest he was part of a Shi’ite elite eager to seize control of Iraq’s enormous resources and wealth after the dreaded tyrant was overthrown.

Dr al-Jaafari was installed as Prime Minister of the transitional government of Iraq until May 2006, a period that was one of the bloodiest in the country after the Saddam era. Some believed Dr al-Jaafari’s government was, at the least, turning a blind eye to the sectarian cleansing which saw mainly Sunnis summarily executed, disappeared and beaten.

For example, according to The New York Times, Americans found evidence of an underground prison where Sunni prisoners were regularly beaten, tortured, subjected to electric shocks and some blindfolded for months on end. Others were only allowed to use the toilet every three days.
Dr al-Jaafari’s main backer in those early days, and more recently, was cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr’s militia, known as the Madhi Army, boasted death squads that would kill Sunnis at random, leaving them on the roadside with bullet holes in their faces and chests and their arms tied. Female – often very young girls – and male victims thought to be involved in extramarital sex were not just murdered but their genitals also mutilated.

Thousands of Sunnis died at the hands of Shi’ite militia during years of violence – a militia that still continues to reject the presence of any foreign troops in Iraq. Sadr militias have targeted the allied presence repeatedly and violently over decades of unsuccessful intervention in Iraq. According to German news agency Deutsche Welle, it committed thousands of bombings, detonated roadside explosives and fired mortar shells toward the Green Zone, where the US and the Iraqi Government had their administrations – “analogous to the Sunni terrorist organisation, al-Qaeda”.

Could this be the reason Dr al-Jaafari completely rejected the idea of our troops in combat during “World War III” against Isis, as he calls it? Is it possible he is for the use of foreign capital to fund and arm and train his own people, but not for ongoing help from us for the establishment of democracy? Is that why our soldiers enter without badges – without legal protection?

On the one hand, there’s no doubt that Isis uses, and broadcasts the use of, the most extreme forms of violence in an attempt to horrify and mobilise Western involvement in Iraq; they dream not only of an Islamic caliphate but a killing field where they die as martyrs fighting the evil West, according to an article in the Atlantic published this month. If they can radicalise groups of impressionable young people to carry out the work of slaughtering infidels further afield, so much the scarier for us.

But it’s not a simple equation of good versus evil, like it is being painted by our Government with such vehemence. I believe the decision to commit our troops to Iraq was made a long time ago, and was a decision our Prime Minister had to make for geo-political reasons that gave him little option.
Fair enough, I suppose, but there’s no need to oversell the moral aspect, or wrap it up in the language of having “guts”. Especially when morality is murky, and you are committing other people’s children to war.

Saudi Arabia Will Join The US, Babylon The Great (Daniel 7:7)

Saudi Arabia Prepared to Let Israel Into Saudi Airspace to Bomb Iranian Nuclear Sites If Necessary
February 25, 2015 2:15 pm
  JERUSALEM—Saudi Arabia has let Israel know that it is prepared to allow Israeli warplanes to fly over Saudi territory to bomb nuclear installations in Iran if that should prove necessary, Israel’s Channel Two has reported.

The station cited a “knowledgeable” European official in Brussels as saying “The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran.”

The Jewish state and the Saudi kingdom, site of the holiest shrines in Islam, share a strategic concern over Iran’s pursuit of influence in the region and the possibility that it will produce nuclear weapons. Israel’s concern is focused on threats by Iranian leaders that it will be wiped off the map. Saudi Arabia, whose state religion is Sunni Islam, sees Iran as an aggressive Shiite opponent. Both are unwilling to countenance the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran.

According to the television report, Israel and Saudi Arabia share intelligence regarding Iran’s nuclear program and are concerned about reported concessions made by the West in the comprehensive agreement it is attempting to hammer out with Tehran on the issue. Although the agreement is supposed to diminish the possibility of Iran’s producing a bomb in the near future, both Jerusalem and Riyadh object to the possibility that it will be left with a nuclear infrastructure capable of being activated in a brief time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is set to address a joint session of Congress on the subject next week at the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio). The White House and Democratic leaders have expressed displeasure with the planned speech.
Channel Two’s foreign affairs reporter said that the Saudis have asked Israel for “some kind of progress” on the Palestinian issue to make Riyadh’s cooperation with Israel more palatable in the Muslim world. There has been no Israeli reaction to the report.

If Israeli planes overfly Saudi territory they would be spared a lengthy detour around the Persian Gulf, leaving them more time over target.

Israeli warplanes have overflown Saudi territory at least once before when they bombed and destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981. The eight planes involved flew close to the desert floor in an attempt to avoid Saudi radar. There was no attempt to intercept them.

In November, 2013, the Sunday Times of London reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia were secretly discussing cooperation for an Israeli air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities should talks held in Geneva fail to roll back Iran’s nuclear program. In addition to opening its air space to Israeli warplanes, according to the report, Riyadh was willing to permit Israel to use its territory, or air space, for passage of drones, rescue helicopters, and tanker planes. “Once the Geneva agreement is signed,” said an unnamed diplomatic source quoted by the Times, “the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs.”

Meanwhile, Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan army general who is seen by many in Libya as a bulwark against Islamic militias in that country, is planning to meet Israeli officials in the Jordanian capital of Amman, according to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi. The president of Libya’s elected parliament has proposed appointing Haftar as top military commander.

Iraq The Second Horn (Daniel 8:3)

Iraqis look up to Iran as main ally in fighting ISIL
Iran and Iraq
Political Desk
25 February 2015

As Baghdad struggles to fight the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, many Iraqi now look up to Iran as their main ally.

Many Iraqis have grown to trust the powerful Iranian-backed fighters that have taken charge since the Iraqi army deserted en masse last summer. Dozens of paramilitary groups have united under a branch of the Iraqi government called the Popular Mobilization Committee, or Hashid Shaabi. Created by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s predecessor Nuri al-Maliki, the official body now takes the lead role in many of Iraq’s security operations. From its position at the nexus between Tehran, the Iraqi government, and the militias, it is increasingly influential in determining the country’s future.

Until now, little has been known about the body. But in a series of interviews with Reuters, key Iraqi figures inside Hashid Shaabi have detailed the ways the paramilitary groups, Baghdad and Iran collaborate, and the role Iranian advisers play both inside the group and on the frontlines.

Those who spoke to Reuters include two senior figures in the Badr Organization.

In all, Hashid Shaabi oversees and coordinates several dozen factions. The insiders say most of the groups followed a call to arms by Iraq’s leading Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. However, they also cite the religious guidance of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, as a key factor in their decision to fight and defend Iraq.

Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organization, told Reuters: “The majority of us believe that … Khamenei has all the qualifications as an Islamic leader. He is the leader not only for Iranians but the Islamic nation. I believe so and I take pride in it.”

“Khamenei would place the interests of the Iraqi people above all else,” Amiri said.

Iraqi and Kurdish officials put the number of Iranian advisers in Iraq between 100 and several hundred – fewer than the nearly 3,000 American officers training Iraqi forces. In many ways, though, the Iranians are a far more influential force, the Reuters said.

The Iranians, the Iraqi officials say, helped organize volunteers after Grand Ayatollah Sistani called on Iraqis to defend their country days after ISIL seized control of the northern city of Mosul last June.

Prime Minister Abadi has said Iran has provided Iraqi forces and militia volunteers with weapons and ammunition from the first days of the war with ISIL.

They have also provided troops. Several Kurdish officials said that when ISIL fighters pushed close to the Iraq-Iran border in late summer, Iran dispatched artillery units to Iraq to fight them. Farid Asarsad, a senior official from the semi-autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, said Iranian troops often work with Iraqi forces. In northern Iraq, Kurdish peshmerga soldiers “dealt with the technical issues like identifying targets in battle, but the launching of rockets and artillery – the Iranians were the ones who did that.”

Kadhimi, a senior Badr official, said Iranian advisers in Iraq have helped with everything from tactics to providing paramilitary groups with drone and signals capabilities, including electronic surveillance and radio communications.

“The U.S. stayed all these years with the Iraqi army and never taught them to use drones or how to operate a very sophisticated communication network, or how to intercept the enemy’s communication,” he said. “The Hashid Shaabi, with the help of [Iranian] advisers, now knows how to operate and manufacture drones.”

Pakistan Tests Another Nuclear Missile (Daniel 8:8)

Air Weapons: Two And A Half Pakistani Cruise Missiles


Strategy Page

February 24, 2015: Pakistan recently announced the successful test of its second cruise missile design, the Hatf 8 (Raad). Hatf 8 appears to be an original design, first tested in 2007, that weighs 1.1 tons and has a range of 350 kilometers. It can carry a nuclear or conventional warhead.

Pakistan’s first cruise missile was the Hatf 7 (Barbur), which was first tested in 2005. Hatf 7 appeared to be a copy of the American Tomahawk, (several of which had crashed on Pakistani territory during a 1998 American attack on Taliban camps in Afghanistan). The Tomahawk was not terribly high tech, and easy for the Pakistanis to copy. GPS made it easier to replace the earlier (and only high tech aspect of the missile) terrain following guidance system. Hatf 7 is a 1.5 ton, 6.8 meter (22 foot) long missile has a range of 500 kilometers. It appears to carry a 225 kg (500 pound) warhead, and the Pakistanis appear to have developed a nuclear weapon that fits in Hatf 7. This missile can be used from ships or aircraft. 

Another Pakistani cruise missile was not publicized much at all. In 2009 the United States accused Pakistan of stealing military technology by modifying American made Harpoon anti-ship missiles (received in the late 1980s) to attack land targets. The 545 kg (1,200 pound) Harpoon has a 221 kg (487 pound) warhead and a range of 220 kilometers. It approaches the target low, at about 860 kilometers an hour. GPS gets the missile to the general vicinity of the target, then radar takes over to identify and hit the target. The Harpoon has successful combat experience going back to the 1980s. Most Indian warships (corvettes and frigates) are small enough to be destroyed by one Harpoon. The modified Harpoons can hit land targets like air defense radars or headquarters.

How Many More Secret Sites Does Iran Have? (Daniel 8:4)

Iran opposition unveils ‘secret’ Tehran nuclear site
Washington (AFP) – An exiled Iranian opposition group Tuesday accused Tehran of running a “secret” uranium enrichment site close to Tehran, which it said violated ongoing talks with global powers on a nuclear deal.

“Despite the Iranian regime’s claims that all of its enrichment activities are transparent … it has in fact been engaged in research and development with advanced centrifuges at a secret nuclear site called Lavizan-3,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

He said the site was hidden in a military base in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.

He presented to reporters a series of satellite images drawn from Google Maps which he said backed “this intelligence from highly placed sources within the Iranian regime as well as those involved in the nuclear weapons projects.”

The Lavizan-3 site was apparently constructed between 2004 and 2008 and has underground labs connected by a tunnel.

“Since 2008, the Iranian regime has secretly engaged in research and uranium enrichment with advanced… centrifuge machines at this site,” Jafarzadeh said.

The group had shared its information with the US administration, he added.

The existence of the site was “a clear violation” of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as UN resolutions and an interim November 2013 deal struck with global powers gathered in the P5+1 group, he said.

Under the interim accord, Iran agreed not to allow “any new locations for enrichment” and to provide IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, all information about its nuclear facilities.

“It is absolutely senseless to continue the negotiations,” added Jafarzadeh.

The NCRI is a political umbrella of five Iranian opposition groups, the largest of which is the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, which was once banned in Europe and the United States as a terror group.

The People’s Mujahedeen has long opposed the nuclear negotiations, and with the NCRI has made several important revelations of the existence of secret nuclear sites in Iran.

The so-called P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany is trying to strike an accord that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.

In return, the West would ease sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program, which Iran insists is purely civilian in nature.

A new March 31 deadline is looming for agreement on a political framework, after two previous dates for a comprehensive deal were missed.

“Despite the Iranian regime’s claims of transparency, these nuclear activities, today’s intelligence, makes clear it has been continuing to lie for more than a decade,” added NCRI member Soona Samsami.

Korean Horn Growing (Daniel 7)

N.Korea could have 100 nuclear weapons by 2020: US researchers

Agence France Presse

North Korea appears poised to expand its nuclear program over the next five years and in a worst case scenario could possess 100 atomic arms by 2020, US researchers warned Tuesday.

And cutting-edge European companies could be unwittingly contributing to Pyongyang’s suspect nuclear program with their equipment diverted to the isolated country via China, they said.
Unveiling the first results of what will be a 15-month study, Joel Wit, senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said some of their conclusions were very “disturbing.”
Although the North Korea’s nuclear program remains shrouded in uncertainty, Pyongyang is currently believed to have a stockpile of some 10 to 16 nuclear weapons fashioned from either plutonium or weapons-grade uranium.
Those years, which followed the 2008 collapse of international six-party nuclear talks, were “banner years” for Pyongyang’s nuclear program and missile systems development, Wit said.
“For these kinds of programs there have been developments that make it at least more possible to predict the future,” Wit told reporters. “We’re making our best guess about the future … we’re estimating the future, just like intelligence agencies do.”
In the first scenario, Pyongyang would almost double its stockpile to about 20 weapons, including plutonium-based weapons which have been miniaturized sufficiently to be mounted on its Rodong-class medium-range ballistic missile, capable of reaching Japan.
In the second — and most likely scenario — North Korea continues its current trajectory and manages to produce 50 weapons by 2020.
In what Wit dubbed “the worst case scenario,” the North Korean stockpile would grow more rapidly to 100 weapons and make “significant advances” in weapons designs to enable it to potentially deploy battlefield and tactical weapons.
“This is a pretty scary scenario, where we are seeing a dramatic expansion in North Korea’s stockpile,” Wit said.
Despite a network of international sanctions Pyongyang is able to acquire equipment, even from Western countries, which in some cases is bought by private Chinese companies and transported across the Chinese-North Korean border, said Albright.
“Just cracking down on the border could do a lot, and they (China) do very little now,” said Albright, who exposed flaws in US claims in 2003 that Iraq had large stocks of nuclear and chemical weapons.
US lawmakers introduced legislation earlier this month that would widen sanctions by imposing harsher penalties on foreign companies doing business with Pyongyang.

– See more at:

How The Shia Horn Will Expand (Daniel 8)

Special Report: How Iran’s military chiefs operate in Iraq
File photo of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy marching during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war, in Tehran

BAGHDAD | Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:00am EST

By Ned Parker, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Isabel Coles
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The face stares out from multiple billboards in central Baghdad, a grey-haired general casting a watchful eye across the Iraqi capital. This military commander is not Iraqi, though. He’s Iranian.
The posters are a recent arrival, reflecting the influence Iran now wields in Baghdad.
Iraq is a mainly Arab country. Its citizens, Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims alike, have long mistrusted Iran, the Persian nation to the east. But as Baghdad struggles to fight the Sunni extremist group Islamic State, many Shi’ite Iraqis now look to Iran, a Shi’ite theocracy, as their main ally.
Until now, little has been known about the body. But in a series of interviews with Reuters, key Iraqi figures inside Hashid Shaabi have detailed the ways the paramilitary groups, Baghdad and Iran collaborate, and the role Iranian advisers play both inside the group and on the frontlines.
Those who spoke to Reuters include two senior figures in the Badr Organisation, perhaps the single most powerful Shi’ite paramilitary group, and the commander of a relatively new militia called Saraya al-Khorasani.
In all, Hashid Shaabi oversees and coordinates several dozen factions. The insiders say most of the groups followed a call to arms by Iraq’s leading Shi’ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. But they also cite the religious guidance of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, as a key factor in their decision to fight and – as they see it – defend Iraq.
Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organisation, told Reuters: “The majority of us believe that … Khamenei has all the qualifications as an Islamic leader. He is the leader not only for Iranians but the Islamic nation. I believe so and I take pride in it.”
He insisted there was no conflict between his role as an Iraqi political and military leader and his fealty to Khamenei.
Hashid Shaabi is headed by Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, a former Badr commander who once plotted against Saddam Hussein and whom American officials have accused of bombing the U.S. embassy in Kuwait in 1983.
The body he heads helps coordinate everything from logistics to military operations against Islamic State. Its members say Mohandis’ close friendships with both Soleimani and Amiri helps anchor the collaboration.
The men have known each other for more than 20 years, according to Muen al-Kadhimi, a Badr Organisation leader in western Baghdad. “If we look at this history,” Kadhimi said, “it helped significantly in organizing the Hashid Shaabi and creating a force that achieved a victory that 250,000 (Iraqi) soldiers and 600,000 interior ministry police failed to do.”
Kadhimi said the main leadership team usually consulted for three to four weeks before major military campaigns. “We look at the battle from all directions, from first determining the field … how to distribute assignments within the Hashid Shaabi battalions, consult battalion commanders and the logistics,” he said.
Soleimani, he said, “participates in the operation command center from the start of the battle to the end, and the last thing (he) does is visit the battle’s wounded in the hospital.”
Iraqi officials say Tehran’s involvement is driven by its belief that Islamic State is an immediate danger to Shi’ite religious shrines not just in Iraq but also in Iran. Shrines in both nations, but especially in Iraq, rank among the sect’s most sacred.
The Iranians, the Iraqi officials say, helped organize the Shi’ite volunteers and militia forces after Grand Ayatollah Sistani called on Iraqis to defend their country days after Islamic State seized control of the northern city of Mosul last June.
They have also provided troops. Several Kurdish officials said that when Islamic State fighters pushed close to the Iraq-Iran border in late summer, Iran dispatched artillery units to Iraq to fight them. Farid Asarsad, a senior official from the semi-autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, said Iranian troops often work with Iraqi forces. In northern Iraq, Kurdish peshmerga soldiers “dealt with the technical issues like identifying targets in battle, but the launching of rockets and artillery – the Iranians were the ones who did that.”
Kadhimi, the senior Badr official, said Iranian advisers in Iraq have helped with everything from tactics to providing paramilitary groups with drone and signals capabilities, including electronic surveillance and radio communications.
“The U.S. stayed all these years with the Iraqi army and never taught them to use drones or how to operate a very sophisticated communication network, or how to intercept the enemy’s communication,” he said. “The Hashid Shaabi, with the help of (Iranian) advisers, now knows how to operate and manufacture drones.”
One of the Shi’ite militia groups that best shows Iran’s influence in Iraq is Saraya al-Khorasani. It was formed in 2013 in response to Khamenei’s call to fight Sunni jihadists, initially in Syria and later Iraq.
The group is responsible for the Baghdad billboards that feature Iranian General Hamid Taghavi, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Known to militia members as Abu Mariam, Taghavi was killed in northern Iraq in December. He has become a hero for many of Iraq’s Shi’ite fighters.
Taghavi “was an expert at guerrilla war,” said Ali al-Yasiri, the commander of Saraya al-Khorasani. “People looked at him as magical.”
In a video posted online by the Khorasani group soon after Taghavi’s death, the Iranian general squats on the battlefield, giving orders as bullets snap overhead. Around him, young Iraqi fighters with AK-47s press themselves tightly against the ground. The general wears rumpled fatigues and has a calm, grandfatherly demeanor. Later in the video, he rallies his fighters, encouraging them to run forward to attack positions.
Within two days of Mosul’s fall on June 10 last year, Taghavi, a member of Iran’s minority Arab population, traveled to Iraq with members of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guard. Soon, he was helping map out a way to outflank Islamic State outside Balad, 50 miles (80 km) north of Baghdad.
Taghavi’s time with Saraya al-Khorasani proved a boon for the group. Its numbers swelled from 1,500 to 3,000. It now boasts artillery, heavy machine guns, and 23 military Humvees, many of them captured from Islamic State.
“Of course, they are good,” Yasiri said with a grin. “They are American made.”
In November, Taghavi was back in Iraq for a Shi’ite militia offensive near the Iranian border. Yasiri said Taghavi formulated a plan to “encircle and besiege” Islamic State in the towns of Jalawala and Saadiya. After success with that, he began to plot the next battle. Yasiri urged him to be more cautious, but Taghavi was killed by a sniper in December.
At Taghavi’s funeral, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, eulogized the slain commander. He was, said Shamkhani, one of those Iranians in Iraq “defending Samarra and giving their blood so we don’t have to give our blood in Tehran.” Both Soleimani and the Badr Organisation’s Amiri were among the mourners.
Saraya al-Khorasani’s headquarters sit in eastern Baghdad, inside an exclusive government complex that houses ministers and members of parliament. Giant pictures of Taghavi and other slain al-Khorasani fighters hang from the exterior walls of the group’s villa.
Commander Yasiri walks with a cane after he was wounded in his left leg during a battle in eastern Diyala in November. On his desk sits a small framed drawing of Iran’s Khamenei.
He describes Saraya al-Khorasani, along with Badr and several other groups, as “the soul” of Iraq’s Hashid Shaabi committee.
Asarsad, the senior Kurdish official, predicts Iraq’s Shi’ite militias will evolve into a permanent force that resembles the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. That sectarian force, he believes, will one day operate in tandem with Iraq’s regular military.
That could have big implications for the country’s future. Human rights groups have accused the Shi’ite militias of displacing and killing Sunnis in areas they liberate — a charge the paramilitary commanders vigorously deny. The militias blame any excesses on locals and accuse Sunni politicians of spreading rumors to sully the name of Hashid Shaabi.
The senior Shi’ite official critical of Saraya al-Khorasani said the militia groups, which have the freedom to operate without directly consulting the army or the prime minister, could yet undermine Iraq’s stability. The official described Badr as by far the most powerful force in the country, even stronger than Prime Minister Abadi.
Amiri, the Badr leader, rejected such claims. He said he presents his military plans directly to Abadi for approval.
His deputy Kadhimi was in no doubt, though, that the Hashid Shaabi was more powerful than the Iraqi military. 
“A Hashid Shaabi (soldier) sees his commander … or Haji Hadi Amiri or Haji Mohandis or even Haji Qassem Soleimani in the battle, eating with them, sitting with them on the ground, joking with them. This is why they are ready to fight,” said Kadhimi. “This is why it is an invincible force.”
(Editing By Simon Robinson and Richard Woods)

The Sixth Seal: The Whole World Will Know (Rev 6:12)

The New Madrid Earthquake That Will Divide The United States In Half
Published on Monday, 23 February 2015 20:39
Written by Michael Snyder

Once upon a time, North America almost divided along a very deep subsurface rift. Today, that rift system and the faults associated with it are known New-Madrid-Fault-Earthquake-Zone-300x192as the New Madrid fault zone. This fault zone is six times larger than the San Andreas fault zone in California and it covers portions of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Back in 1811 and 1812, four of the largest earthquakes in U.S. history struck that area of the country. The movement of the ground was so powerful that it changed the course of the Mississippi River and it rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts. So could such an earthquake (or worse) strike today?
Well, last year the U.S. Geological Survey released a report that warned that the New Madrid fault zone has the “potential for larger and more powerful quakes than previously thought“, and the USGS also admits that the number of significant earthquakes in the middle part of the country has more than quintupled in recent years. We also know that the U.S. government and large corporations are so concerned about the potential for a major New Madrid earthquake that they have held major exercises that simulate one.

Scientists tell us that it is just a matter of time until another superquake hits the region, and personally I am one of the millions of Americans that believe that we will eventually see a New Madrid earthquake that will divide the United States in half.

That is one of the reasons why I included a New Madrid earthquake in my novel. But others are skeptical. They point out that we have not seen a truly devastating earthquake in that region for more than 200 years. So why be concerned about one now?

What everyone can agree on is that there is an area of significant geological weakness under the New Madrid fault zone. This area of weakness formed when the continents were breaking up. The rift that formed did not end up splitting the North American continent at that time, but the area of weakness remains. The following comes from Wikipedia…

The faults responsible for the New Madrid Seismic Zone are embedded in a subsurface geological feature known as the Reelfoot Rift that formed during the breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia in the Neoproterozoic Era (about 750 million years ago). The resulting rift system failed to split the continent, but has remained as an aulacogen (a scar or zone of weakness) deep underground, and its ancient faults appear to have made the Earth’s crust in the New Madrid area mechanically weaker than much of the rest of North America.

This relative weakness is important, because it would allow the relatively small east-west compressive forces associated with the continuing continental drift of the North American plate to reactivate old faults around New Madrid, making the area unusually prone to earthquakes in spite of it being far from the nearest tectonic plate boundary.

And indeed, there have been some awesome earthquakes in this region throughout history.
Back in 1811 and 1812, there were four earthquakes along the New Madrid fault zone there were so immensely powerful that they are still talked about today.

Those earthquakes opened deep fissures in the ground, caused the Mississippi River to run backwards, and were reportedly felt more than 1,000 miles away. It is said that the stench of fire and brimstone hung in the air for months afterwards.

The most powerful of this series of quakes was on December 16th, 1811. The following is one description of what happened on that day…

This powerful earthquake was felt widely over the entire eastern United States. People were awakened by the shaking in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Charleston, S.C. Perceptible ground shaking was in the range of one to three minutes depending upon the observer’s location. The ground motions were described as “most alarming and frightening” in places like Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky. Reports also describe houses and other structures being severely shaken, with many chimneys knocked down. In the epicentral area the ground surface was described as being in great convulsion, with sand and water ejected tens of feet into the air — a process called liquefaction.
But there have also been others times throughout history when we have seen a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

For example, according to scientists there is evidence of other superquakes in the distant past…
Geological evidence indicates that two such super-earthquakes happened twice in the past 1,200 years: the first some time between 800 and 1000 A.D., and the second between 1300 and 1600 A.D.
And now earthquake activity in the central portion of the nation is increasing again.

As I noted above, the USGS says that the frequency of earthquakes in the central and eastern portions of the United States has more than quintupled in recent years. And the USGS has now gone so far as to point out the relationship between human activity and the increase in earthquakes. The following comes from an article done by the U.S. Geological Survey…

The number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years within the central and eastern United States. Nearly 450 earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and larger occurred in the four years from 2010-2013, over 100 per year on average, compared with an average rate of 20 earthquakes per year observed from 1970-2000.

This increase in earthquakes prompts two important questions: Are they natural, or man-made? And what should be done in the future as we address the causes and consequences of these events to reduce associated risks? USGS scientists have been analyzing the changes in the rate of earthquakes as well as the likely causes, and they have some answers.

USGS scientists have found that at some locations the increase in seismicity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed for this purpose.
So what would happen if a major earthquake did strike the New Madrid fault zone?

This is something that scientists have studied. If a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the region today, thousands would die, hundreds of thousands of buildings would be damaged, and the economic losses would be measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The following comes from Wikipedia…
In October 2009, a team composed of University of Illinois and Virginia Tech researchers headed by Amr S. Elnashai, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), considered a scenario where all three segments of the New Madrid fault ruptured simultaneously with a total earthquake magnitude of 7.7. The report found that there would be significant damage in the eight states studied – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee – with the probability of additional damage in states farther from the NMSZ. Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri would be most severely impacted, and the cities of Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri would be severely damaged. The report estimated 86,000 casualties, including 3,500 fatalities; 715,000 damaged buildings; and 7.2 million people displaced, with 2 million of those seeking shelter, primarily due to the lack of utility services. Direct economic losses, according to the report, would be at least $300 billion.

But remember, that study only considered a magnitude 7.7 earthquake.

If we had an earthquake of magnitude 8 or magnitude 9, we could be talking about an earthquake many, many times more powerful.

It is also important to note that there are 15 nuclear reactors along the New Madrid fault zone. In the event of a major New Madrid earthquake, we could be looking at Fukushima times 15.

Of course most Americans are completely oblivious to all of this. In fact, most Americans don’t even know what the New Madrid fault zone is or where it is located.

But there are people in the government that are very aware of this threat. In fact, the federal government considered it important enough to hold a major five day simulation known as “National Level Exercise 11″ just a few years ago…

In May, the federal government simulated an earthquake so massive, it killed 100,000 Midwesterners instantly, and forced more than 7 million people out of their homes. At the time, National Level Exercise 11 went largely unnoticed; the scenario seemed too far-fetched — states like Illinois and Missouri are in the middle of a tectonic plate, not at the edge of one. A major quake happens there once every several generations.

National Level Exercise 11, or NLE 11, was, in essence, a replay of a disaster that happened 200 years earlier. On Dec. 16, 1811, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the New Madrid fault line, which lies on the border region of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. It’s by far the largest earthquake ever to strike the United States east of the Rockies. Up to 129,000 square kilometers [50,000 square miles] were hit with “raised or sunken lands, fissures, sinks, sand blows, and large landslides,” according to the U.S. Geological Service. “Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared.” People as far away as New York City were awakened by the shaking.

More quakes, of a similar size, followed. But the loss of life was minimal: Not too many people lived in the area at the time. Today, there are more than 15 million people living in the quake zone. If a similar quake hit, “7.2 million people could be displaced, with 2 million seeking temporary shelter” in the first three days, FEMA Associate Adminsitrator William Carwile told a Congressional panel in 2010. “Direct economic losses for the eight states could total nearly $300 billion, while indirect losses at least twice that amount.”

And major corporations are also concerned about what could happen.

For example, in a previous article I noted that Wal-Mart had “participated in an exercise” that simulated a major earthquake in the New Madrid fault zone…

Buried in a Wall Street Journal article from about a week ago was a startling piece of information. According to a Wal-Mart executive, Wal-Mart “participated in an exercise to prepare for an earthquake on the New Madrid fault line” earlier this summer.

Nobody knows when it is going to happen.

But this is a real threat.

And if we do see a magnitude 9.0 earthquake or greater, we could be talking about a continent changing event

Nebuchadnezzar Passes Buck To Next Administration

The US is reportedly willing to make another huge nuclear concession to Iran

Kerry Iran Nuclear Deal
They’re this close to a deal — if the US stomachs another big concession.

The outline of a landmark nuclear deal between a US-led group of countries and Iran is coming into focus.

According to the AP, Iran will be able to keep 6,500 uranium enrichment centrifuges under a final agreement. This would allow Iran to achieve one nuclear weapon’s worth of uranium enrichment in between six months and a year (depending on the amount and enrichment level of low-enriched uranium the country’s allowed to have hand), and to keep as many as 5,500 more centrifuges than the minimum needed to run a “demonstration cascade” that would allow Iranian scientists to maintain a basic mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Even before the AP article was published on February 22, the 6,500 number had been reported in Israeli media and partly corroborated by the New York Times. But the AP includes news of a second and equally significant US concession.

The nuclear deal will apparently include a 15-year sunset, with certain restrictions on Iranian uranium enrichment lifted after 10 years and Iran permitted to keep somewhere in the neighbourhood as 10,000 centrifuges at the moment the deal expires. As the AP explains, the US had initially wanted a 20-year deal going into the latest round of talks, which means that the full, as-yet unknown set of restrictions will be in place for anywhere between one quarter one half the amount of time American negotiators were aiming for.

Javad zarif

Why are US negotiators willing to stomach this concession? While a 10-15 year sunset is far from ideal, it at least freezes the amount of uranium Iran can possess and produce for a decade or more. It would keep Iran under a strict inspection regime and give the US and its allies a long lead-time to build support for another round of sanctions if Tehran evinced plans to further develop its nuclear program or otherwise buck the international system.

There’s another reason for accepting a short deal. As David Ignatius explained in a February 19th column in the Washington Post, the Israelis believe that the US is willing to accept a shorter agreement because the administration “wants to tie Iran’s hands for a decade until a new generation takes power there.”
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has been ill recently. The Islamic Republic’s founding generation is dying out, and US negotiators hope that Iran will be a much different place in 10-15 years, with a government willing to draw down the more threatening aspects of its program even after a nuclear deal has expired. It’s probably also hoped that a nuclear agreement and Iran’s resulting reintegration with the international mainstream may even push the country towards this more pragmatic course.
But justifications have one troubling thing in common: They both make huge assumptions about the future nature of Iran’s relationship with the US and the rest of the world.

Iran Nuclear Plant
A security official stands in front of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran, August 21, 2010.

Under a short deal, the international community must re-implement sanctions if Iran decides to pocket its concessions and restart its program once the deal expires — something Tehran will be able to easily do, since the deal the AP describes would allow it to keep significant aspects of its nuclear infrastructure.

But it might be a huge leap to think that in 2030 the world will have any appetite for a second Iranian nuclear standoff, especially after economic and diplomatic ties have been fully restored for a decade or more under the preceding deal.

The current round of sanctions took substantial time and US political capital to implement. The global leaders of the future may wonder whether it’s worth doing it all over again to resolve an issue that they may feel has already been settled.

Ayatollah ali khamenei

A short deal might also transform Iran’s nuclear calculus. When a 15 year deal expires, Tehran would be justified in figuring that it had been able to lift the international sanctions regime while being able to keep as many as 10,000 centrifuges. With sanctions gone and much of the country’s nuclear infrastructure in place, the Iranian leaders of 2030 will have little incentive to negotiate a second deal, should the US consider such a deal necessary.

The sunset clause’s assumptions about the Iranian regime’s future moderation may be wishful as well. The Islamic Republic has vacillated between reform and retrenchment for much of the past two decades. In 1997, the reformist Mohammad Khatami was elected Iran’s president. But ten years ago, the newly-elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made headlines for denying the Holocaust and expounding on the importance of destroying the state of Israel.

A short deal gambles on an opaque and highly compartmentalized regime transforming itself by a specific future date. This is a strange basis for an epochal diplomatic agreement in the Middle East or any other part of the world.

Iran streets American embassy gun
A mural in Tehran

Finally, a short nuclear deal reflects a kind of short-term thinking that’s disconcertingly out of keeping with the actual challenges of nuclear proliferation. This is partly a structural problem. Presidential administrations last between four and eight years. Nuclear weapons, however, may be with humanity for the rest of the species’ existence, and once a country goes nuclear it seldom if ever crosses back over the threshold.

The ephemeral timetable of American political leadership at least makes it comprehensible that US political leaders wouldn’t be approaching the Iranian nuclear issue on a 50-or 100-year scale. But there was a 26-year lag between the inauguration of Pakistan’s nuclear program in 1972 and its first test of a nuclear weapon in 1998. North Korea attempted its first nuclear test in 2006, 12 years after signing the Agreed Framework with the US.

Determined nuclear proliferates understand that even long delays are meaningless so long as a capability is eventually established. The only countries that have lost their nuclear weapons have either destroyed or exported them voluntarily; once you’ve got the bomb, you’ve got it for good. And Iran, which has built illicit plutonium and a uranium programs while laboring under strict international sanctions, has been incredibly determined.

A 10-15 year sunset clause seems oblivious to some of the dangers of approaching the Iranian nuclear issue as a short-term matter that can be solved in a single go — rather than an question that could dog successive US administrations for decades or even centuries to come.