The Nuclear Threat From Pakistan (Daniel 8:8)

Are Pakistan’s Nuclear Assets Under Threat?

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April 28, 2016
The fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, held in Washington D.C. on March 31- April 1 2016, once again reiterated the apocalyptic threat of nuclear terrorism. Having over 1,000 atomic facilities across 50 odd countries, all having different standards of security, is bound to raise alarm bells in an age where terrorist organizations have expressed their intention of using the “absolute weapon.” The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) even asserted in the May 2015 issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq that it can buy a nuclear bomb through links to corrupt officials in Pakistan. While there is no evidence of these alleged links, such statements are part of the group’s psychological war of spreading fear. They also accentuate the Islamic State’s interest in acquiring the bomb.

With al-Baghdadi’s group losing ground in both Syria and Iraq, ISIS is becoming more and more desperate to carry out spectacular attacks and reaffirm its strength. Already numerous reports have claimed that the Islamic State has enough radioactive material to make a dirty bomb and use it in Europe. The recent incident of a Belgian nuclear plant worker shot dead and his security pass stolen, alongside reports of two Belgian nuclear plant workers joining ISIS, signify the colossal threat confronting European states.

At the same time, some experts, journalists, and government officials have insinuated that Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile, especially its tactical weapons developed in response to India’s “Cold Start” doctrine, could be stolen by terrorists, including ISIS. President Barack Obama also mentioned in his speech at the Summit that “small, tactical nuclear weapons … could be at greater risk of theft.”

Do terrorist pose a threat to Pakistan’s nuclear assets? The answer is both yes and no.

Security of Pakistan’s Nuclear Assets

More than once, Pakistan has come under the limelight for not ensuring the security of its nuclear assets. For instance, in January 2001, Pakistani nuclear scientists with extremist sympathies created a what was supposedly a humanitarian nongovernmental organization, Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTN). Bashiruddin Mahmood, the former head of Pakistan’s Khushab plutonium reactor, was its chairman. In November 2001, at the request of the United States, Pakistan’s intelligence services arrested a number of UTN associates and members, including Mahmood. Mahmood later confessed that he met with Osama bin Laden and they discussed the possibility of developing a nuclear bomb.

Similarly, the discovery of the infamous AQ Khan network in 2004 almost jeopardized Pakistan’s entire nuclear program. The father of the country’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, was found proliferating nuclear technology to other countries, including Libya, North Korea, and Iran. While members of al-Qaeda also tried to contact Khan’s associates for assistance with their weapons program, the AQ Khan network reportedly rejected them.

The aforementioned events, together with the General Headquarters attack in 2009 by Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP), underscore that Pakistan’s nuclear security might not be impregnable.

However, time and again Pakistan has expressed confidence in the security arrangements of its nuclear weapons. Even at the Nuclear Security Summit 2016, Pakistan reiterated that its nuclear assets are secure, and of a modest level, in accordance with the country’s doctrine of minimum deterrence. While the entire program is engulfed in secrecy, reports have ascertained that Pakistan is doing enough to prevent its weapons being used by rogue elements, including terrorists.

For instance, according to Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, who has been closely involved with the country’s nuclear program, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are stored in “three to four different parts at three to four different locations.” Therefore, they are stockpiled in component form, which means if the weapon is not about to be launched then it is not in an assembled form.

With the warheads disassembled, they cannot be used by terrorists. Similarly, Islamabad has improved the reliability of its nuclear personnel by making security clearance procedures more stringent, decreasing the likelihood of an insider threat. However, Islamabad recognizes more can be done to control its nuclear expertise. The Nuclear Security Summit has raised awareness and the sense of urgency of increasing nuclear security among all nuclear states. Pakistan, being part of the NSS, has also pledged to take the necessary steps.

ISIS in particular does not have a profound presence in Pakistan and exists only in the form of small, independent cells. It’s extremely doubtful it can steal Pakistan’s nuclear material. However, a threat does emanate from local militant groups who can exploit the already unstable security environment in South Asia. India’s Cold Start doctrine and Pakistan’s acquisition of battlefield nukes are a cause for concern, and can be exploited by terrorists.

Exploiting Cold Start Doctrine and Tactical Nuclear Weapons

The Cold Start doctrine was developed after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament. India claimed that the attacks were perpetrated by Pakistan-based militant groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, who were in cahoots with some institutions of Pakistan. In response, the Indian state initiated the largest military build-up since 1971. However, it took India three weeks to get to the international border. By that time Pakistan was able to counter-mobilize, which allowed for the United States to intervene and forestall the conflict from precipitating. Then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf also denounced terrorism, and promised a crackdown. This reduced India’s political justification for a military action.

Unsatisfied with this slow response, India developed the Cold Start doctrine. The said doctrine involves offensive operations, allowing India’s conventional forces to perform holding attacks in order to prevent a nuclear response from Pakistan. In reply to this, Pakistan developed tactical nuclear weapons to deter any military action from India.

This situation should raise concern. If terrorist attack is plotted against India from Pakistani soil and India operationalizes its doctrine, presumably, in reaction, Pakistan will deploy its tactical nuclear weapons. India too then is likely to use its conventional nuclear weapons, inviting a full-blown nuclear war between the two neighboring states.

As such, the combination of tactical nuclear weapons and the Cold Start doctrine provides an opportunity for terrorist elements to initiate a nuclear war. Both India and Pakistan need to work out a plan whereby India gives up its Cold Start doctrine in the event of a militant attack, and in response, Pakistan abandons its tactical nuclear weapons. Otherwise, there will always be room for militants to ensure a nuclear attack by conducting traditional acts of terror. If a terrorist can compel a nuclear war between two nations, how is that different from nuclear terrorism?

Shahzeb Ali Rathore is a Research Analyst at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore.

Belgium Prepares For Nuclear Terrorism (Daniel 8:4)

Iodine pills help reduce radiation build-up in the thyroid gland
Iodine pills help reduce radiation build-up in the thyroid gland Credit: Rex 
The entire population of Belgium is to be issued with a ration of iodine tablets, months after warnings about the threat of Isil building a dirty bomb.

Iodine pills, which help reduce radiation build-up in the thyroid gland, had previously only been issued to people living within 20km (14 miles) of the Tihange and Doel nuclear plants.
Maggie De Block, the Health Minister, said that would be extended to 100km, covering the whole country of 11 million people, following advice from an expert council.

The pills will be sent to pharmacies, and the public would be ordered to collect their ration in the event of a meltdown. Children, pregnant women and those breast-feeding would be given priority.
It emerged following last month’s terrorist attacks that an Isil cell may have been plotting to kidnap a nuclear expert in order to build a “dirty bomb”. Eleven nuclear workers had their passes revoked.

Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui, the brothers behind the suicide strikes on Brussels airport and Metro, are believed to have been involve the plot to scatter radioactive material over a populated area.
A senior Belgian nuclear industry official was secretly filmed by jihadists late last year, according to the country’s nuclear authority, and the brothers were linked to the surveillance.

There are also concerns over Belgium’s ageing nuclear plants that have been subject to repeated safety warnings, including defects in pressure vessels and fires.

Last week Germany asked that the 40-year-old Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors be turned off “until the resolution of outstanding security issues”.
The reactor pressure vessels at both sites have shown signs of metal degradation, raising fears about their safety. They were temporarily closed but resumed service last December.

Belgium’s official nuclear safety agency (AFCN) rejected the German request, saying the two plants “respond to the strictest possible safety requirements.”

The key figure in the suspected dirty bomb plot is Mohammed Bakkali, 28, from Brussels, who was arrested in November on suspicion of helping to plan the Paris massacre. Police raided his wife’s flat and found a ten-hour video taken by a camera hidden opposite the home of an executive at the Centre for the Study of Nuclear Energy in Mol, northern Belgium. The executive had access to radioactive isotopes at the country’s national nuclear research centre.

Antichrist Has Coup Against Iraqi Government (Rev 13:18)

Muqtada al-Sadr’s supporters storm Iraq’s parliament

The unrest in Baghdad kicked off just after Sadr condemned the political deadlock in a press conference [Reuters]
The unrest in Baghdad kicked off just after Sadr condemned the political deadlock in a press conference [Reuters]
A state high alert has been declared in the Iraqi capital Baghdad after protesters broke into the fortified Green Zone and stormed the parliament building, shortly after politicians again failed to approve new ministers.

Saturday’s development was the climax of weeks of political turmoil in Iraq that has seen MPs hold a sit-in, clash in the parliament chamber and seek to dismiss the speaker, halting efforts by Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister, to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats.
The unrest also coincided with a blast that targeted Shia pilgrims near Baghdad, killing at least 23 people.

Muqtada al-Sadr’s role in Iraq
 

The Green Zone is the most secure part of the Iraqi capital, housing the parliament, the prime minister’s office and embassies.

“You are not staying here! This is your last day in the Green Zone,” shouted one protester as thousands broke into the central Baghdad area.

Protesters attached cables to the tops of heavy concrete blast walls that surround the Green Zone, pulling them down to create an opening, television footage showed.
They then headed to parliament, where some protesters ran around the building and broke into offices, while others shouted “peacefully, peacefully” and tried to contain the destruction, an AFP news agency reporter at the scene said.

Security forces were present but did not try to prevent the demonstrators from entering the parliament building, the reporter said.

Protesters pulled barbed wire across a road leading to one of the exits of the Green Zone, effectively preventing some scared lawmakers from fleeing the chaos.

Protesters attacked and damaged several vehicles they believed belonged to parliamentarians, sources told Al Jazeera.

Ministerial nominees

Parliament failed to reach a quorum on Saturday after approving some of Abadi’s ministerial nominees earlier in the week.

The Green Zone unrest kicked off minutes after Muqtada al-Sadr, the powerful Shia leader, ended a news conference in the holy city of Najaf during which he condemned the political deadlock.
Last month he had threatened that his supporters would storm the Green Zone, but he did not order them to enter the area in his Saturday address.
Sadr has led mass protests in support of the planned cabinet reshuffle [Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters]
The politicians “refused to end corruption and refused to end quotas”, Sadr said, adding that he and his supporters would not participate in “any political process in which there are any type… of political party quotas”.

Key government posts have for years been distributed based on political and sectarian quotas.
Abadi’s move to change the system has been opposed by powerful political parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.

Baghdad bombing

Both the US and the UN have warned that the political crisis could distract from the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

Iraqi government forces backed by US-led military assistance have regained significant ground from ISIL, which overran large expanses of the country in 2014.

Inside Story: Revenge and reprisals in Iraq?
 

But the group still controls a large part of western Iraq, and are able to carry out frequent attacks against both civilians and security forces in government-held areas, including Baghdad.
Saturday’s car bombing, which occurred in the city’s Nahrawan area, killed at least 23 people and wounded up to 38 others, security and medical officials said.

ISIL, which considers Shia to be heretics, claimed the attack and said it was carried out by a suicide bomber who detonated a vehicle laden with three tonnes of explosives.

The officials said the explosion struck a road used by Shia pilgrims who were walking to the shrine of Imam Musa Kadhim in northern Baghdad for annual commemorations.

Kadhim, the seventh of 12 imams revered in Shia Islam, died in 799 AD.

The pilgrimage has in recent years turned into a huge event that brings Baghdad to a standstill for days.
Saturday’s car bombing in Baghdad’s Nahrawan area was the latest in a continued wave of violence [Reuters]

More Nuclear Terrorism On The Loose (Daniel 8:4)

Georgia Arrests Uranium-Sellers

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Five people have been arrested in the former Soviet republic of Georgia for trying to sell more than a kilogram of uranium.

State Security Committee investigator Savle Motiashvili told a briefing Thursday that the 1.665 kilograms consisted mostly of U-238, the isotope most commonly found in nature, and only about 0.2 percent of it was U-235, which can be used in nuclear weapons and reactors.

The arrests were made in Kobuleti, he said.

The suspects aimed to sell the uranium for $3 million, but no potential buyer was specified. Although U-238 itself is not fissile, it can be used as a component in nuclear weapons.

It was the second such arrest this month. Georgia announced April 18 that six people were arrested for trying to sell uranium.

Pakistan Moves Nukes Closer To India (Daniel 8:8)

A Pakistani military complex has been established close to the international border in Punjab, according to a report in The Tribune.

Details have emerged on social media, about the base housing nuclear missiles at Rahwali Cantonment near Gujranwala. It reveals two transport-erector-launcher vehicles, assessed to be those of the Nasr short-range missile, along with support vehicles laid out for inspection.A satellite imagery expert posted images dated 27 January on his personal Twitter page, along with an assessment.

The complex is well-fortified and includes hardened shelters with blast doors, garages, ammunition bunkers, administrative and support areas. It is believed to have been constructed in August 2014.
According to experts, a missile base close to the border indicates that deployment of ‘low yield’ nuclear weapons could be employed to counter an Indian onslaught. The brief flight time of short range missiles makes them difficult to combat.

Babylon Tries To Stop The Antichrist (Ezekiel 17)

Biden presses Iraq to not let political chaos upend gains

Posted: Apr 28, 2016 7:27 AM MST Updated: Apr 28, 2016 3:47 PM MST

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By JOSH LEDERMAN
  Biden slipped into Baghdad on an unannounced trip, his first to Iraq in nearly five years. Officials said the stop was planned before Iraq’s political system descended into turmoil, hindering U.S.-led efforts to defeat extremists who control parts of both Iraq and Syria. Sitting down with Iraq’s beleaguered leaders, he praised them for working “very, very hard” to construct a new Cabinet and touted progress wresting back territory from IS.

“It’s real, it’s serious, and it’s committed,” Biden said as he met with Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, a Sunni politician facing calls from his colleagues to resign.

Still, the anxious undertones of Biden’s brief visit were clear from the moment he stepped off a military transport plane into blistering heat after an overnight flight from Washington. White House staffers donned body armor and helmets as Biden was whisked by helicopter to the relative safety of the heavily fortified Green Zone, reminders of the dire security situation even in Iraq’s capital.
Biden’s roughly eight-hour visit came amid a wave of tense protests and demands for sweeping political reforms that have paralyzed a government already struggling to tackle a dire economic crisis and battle IS. The United States has deployed more troops and equipment in hopes of putting Iraq on a better path as President Barack Obama prepares to leave office in January.

Though there’s been progress in wresting back territory from IS and weakening its leadership, senior U.S. officials traveling with Biden said any lost momentum would likely be due to political unrest rather than military shortcomings. Chaotic politics are nothing new in Iraq, but the present infighting risks becoming a distraction, with politicians more focused on keeping their jobs than fighting IS, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to speak on the record.

While Obama and Biden came into office pledging to end the war – and did so in 2011 – U.S. troops returned here in 2014 amid the rise of IS violence.

Obama now acknowledges that his goal of defeating the militants won’t be realized during his presidency.

Still, this month Obama agreed to deploy more than 200 additional troops to Iraq, bringing the authorized total to just over 4,000, and to send Apache helicopters into the fight. Biden thanked some of those troops and American diplomats during a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where he alluded to the deep sectarian divides still plaguing Iraq long after U.S.-led forces toppled the late dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

“Think of all the places we are today trying to keep the peace, all the places we’ve sent you guys and women,” Biden said. “They’re places where because of history, we’ve drawn artificial lines, creating artificial states, made up of totally distinct ethnic, religious cultural groups and said, ‘Have at it. Live together.’”

Biden, as a U.S. senator in 2006, proposed dividing Iraq into semi-autonomous regions for Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis. Though that plan wasn’t adopted, the persistent strains among the groups that have flared recently in Iraq’s government illustrate the difficulty in holding the country together.
The current round of turmoil grew out of weeks of rallies by followers of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanding an end to pervasive corruption and mismanagement. Thousands have protested just outside Baghdad’s Green Zone, calling for politicians to be replaced by independent technocrats and for Iraq’s powerful Shiite militias to be brought into key ministries.

At the center of the crisis is Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite who met with Biden on Thursday at one of Saddam’s grandiose former palaces. Long overdue to deliver on his promises for reform, Al-Abadi is caught between ordinary Iraqis pleading for government accountability and entrenched political blocks that are reluctant to give up a powerful patronage system.

Last month, al-Abadi pulled troops fighting IS on the front lines to protect Baghdad amid the protests, and other Arab nations have declined to provide Iraq more financial support until it gets its political act together. An economic crisis spurred by collapsing oil prices has further compounded Iraq’s troubles.

Biden said he and al-Abadi discussed plans for retaking the key northern city of Mosul, an immense challenge for Iraqi forces and their U.S. backers. Biden said he was “very optimistic,” though U.S. officials predict a long road ahead.

“If you think about it, the history of the region is a nightmare from which everyone is trying to awake,” Biden said of Iraq and the Middle East, riffing on a passage from James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”
While in Iraq, Biden also stopped briefly in Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s mostly autonomous northern Kurdish region, where he met with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani. Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been among the most effective forces battling Islamic State extremists, but the U.S. partnership with Kurdish forces in neighboring Syria has been a sore point with U.S. NATO ally Turkey.
Biden headed for Rome after leaving Iraq.
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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP