Trump About to Open a Nuclear Pandora’s Box

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Trump Iran deal plan risks opening nuclear ‚Pandora’s box‘

Story highlights

  • Rep. Eliot Engel said Wednesday that the US needs to remain in the agreement and certify Iran’s compliance
  • Trump will likely stop short of scrapping the agreement entirely but is expected to lay out an aggressive new whole-of-government strategy to counter Iran

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump appears poised to „decertify“ the Iran nuclear deal in an effort to initiate tougher and more wide-ranging restrictions on Tehran, but his plan — which hinges on Congress determining a path forward — is raising concerns of a potential backlash that could set the stage for another nuclear crisis.

Two senior US officials told CNN that Trump plans to „decertify“ the deal this week despite the international community’s assessment that Iran is fulfiling its obligations under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the JCPOA.

While Trump will likely stop short of scrapping the agreement entirely, he is expected to lay out an aggressive new whole-of-government strategy to counter Iran’s regional aggression and its threats worldwide.
The plan is also expected to highlight how the United States can work with allies to counter Iranian behavior and also address certain flaws in the nuclear deal.
The world needs to look at Iran’s actions beyond the terms of just nuclear compliance, a source with knowledge of the plan told CNN on Wednesday.
This approach could allow the US to stay in the deal but help Trump avoid the political headache of having to re-certify it every 90 days.
It might also help keep the Europeans on board with administration efforts to fight Iran’s other destabilizing activities.
Congress will have 60 days to pass legislation reimposing sanctions on Iran, but the plan for Trump to declare that the agreement is no longer in the best interests of the United States has sparked warnings that the decision could backfire in a way that ultimately expedites Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.
„The nuclear deal wasn’t meant to fix Iran’s regional meddling, irritating as that may be. Its goal, rather, was to ensure that Iran doesn’t acquire nuclear weapons, which would then set off a regional nuclear arms race in the Middle East where Saudi Arabia would quickly follow suit,“ CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen wrote in a recent op-ed.
Several lawmakers and members of the Trump administration agree that more needs to be done to counter threats that are not explicitly included in the Iran deal, but many have also indicated that those efforts should not come at the expense of creating a scenario in which the agreement is terminated.
Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis testified last week that it is in America’s national security interest to remain in the agreement.
European diplomats, anticipating Trump’s move, have already been meeting with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to take lawmakers‘ temperatures and lobby them on the merits of the agreement.
The message these diplomats have gotten from administration officials is that they were „looking for a middle way“ and didn’t want to „kill the deal,“ one envoy said. Amending the US law provided a way out, but the envoy said there is little appetite in Congress for the hot potato Trump had handed them.
Democrats back the deal and even the few who voted against it, like Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, have now said they will support it, the envoy said.
Conveying what Republicans are saying, the envoy said, „they want to avoid a crisis and they don’t want to kill the agreement“ and be saddled with the blame for that.
House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ed Royce said Wednesday that he believes it is in the United States‘ national security interest to „enforce the hell“ out of the Iran nuclear deal — imploring President Donald Trump to clearly explain the facts behind whatever decision he makes regarding the deal’s certification this week.
„As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it,“ the California Republican said while speaking at a hearing on how to best counter threats posed by Iran. „Let’s work with allies to make certain that international inspectors have better access to possible nuclear sites, and we should address the fundamental sunset shortcoming, as our allies have recognized.“
Despite voting against the original deal when it was reached in 2015, New York Rep. Eliot Engel — the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee — said Wednesday that the United States needs to remain in the agreement and certify Iran’s compliance.
„Withholding certification would be a distraction from the real issues … and it’s playing with fire,“ Engel said, adding that the move would be viewed by Iran and countries around the world as the first step toward withdrawing from the deal.
Iran has said that such action could lead to its refusal to recognize the terms of the pact and potentially launch it immediately into a program to develop a nuclear weapon in a year rather than a decade or more.
„Wouldn’t an Iran armed with nuclear weapons behave worse than a non-nuclear-armed Iran? Just take a look at the behavior of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whose antics on the world stage only get attention because he has nukes,“ argued Bergen.
If Iran were to begin reinstalling its centrifuges and rebuilding its plutonium reactors, they would be able to begin rapidly expanding toward nuclear capability within a few years, said Jake Sullivan, a former top foreign policy adviser for Hillary Clinton who worked on negotiating the original deal in 2015.
By opting not to certify Iran’s compliance, Trump would risk creating a scenario similar to that in North Korea, in which the United States has no good options and is left solely responsible, Sullivan said on Wednesday while testifying before the House Foreign Relations Committee.
Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council, echoed Sullivan’s concerns.
„A failed certification would be the first step to unraveling the Iran nuclear deal and
taking us to a new, devastating war of choice in the Middle East,“ Parsi said in a statement to CNN. „Congress would be empowered to kill the accord through the front door by snapping back sanctions, or to kill it through the back door by moving the goalposts on sanctions relief.“
„The risks are too great to allow Trump to open up a nuclear Pandora’s box in the Middle East,“ he added. „Trump’s national security team, and all serious thinkers in Congress, must block the President from a failed certification before it is too late.“
But despite concerns over decertifying the deal, some lawmakers said the move could allow Congress to address some of the current agreement’s shortcomings.
„It’s different than tearing up the deal, if he in fact chooses to decertify, but it gives us the opportunity for something that’s more ironclad, while dealing with the broader issues in the region,“ Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said on MSNBC Wednesday.
Trump was asked again on Wednesday whether he has made a decision on the Iran deal, but only offered a very short response: „You’re going to see very soon. We’re going to be announcing that very shortly.“

 

The Ramapo: The Sixth Seal Fault Line (Revelation 6:12)

Image result for ramapo fault lineThe Ramapo fault and other New York City area faults 

 Map depicting the extent of the Ramapo Fault System in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

The Ramapo Fault, which marks the western boundary of the Newark rift basin, has been argued to be a major seismically active feature of this region, but it is difficult to discern the extent to which the Ramapo fault (or any other specific mapped fault in the area) might be any more of a source of future earthquakes than any other parts of the region. The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east. This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.

There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.

A 2008 study argued that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake might originate from the Ramapo fault zone, which would almost definitely spawn hundreds or even thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage. Studying around 400 earthquakes over the past 300 years, the study also argued that there was an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault zone into southwestern Connecticut. As can be seen in the above figure of seismicity, earthquakes are scattered throughout this region, with no particular concentration of activity along the Ramapo fault, or along the hypothesized fault zone extending into southwestern Connecticut.

Just off the northern terminus of the Ramapo fault is the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, built between 1956 and 1960 by Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.

Trump Antis Up America’s Nuclear Weapons (Daniel 8:8)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday denied a report from NBC News that he told his national security advisers in July he wanted to increase the country’s nuclear arsenal by nearly tenfold, saying he argued for its modernization.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Manufacturing Day Proclamation at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

 

NBC News said the president called for the increase after he was shown a chart indicating the stockpile of U.S. nuclear weapons had slid from a high of 32,000 in the 1960s. Trump said he wanted to have that same number now, NBC reported.

Speaking to reporters at the White House during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said the report was not true.

“I never discussed increasing it. I want it in perfect shape. That was just fake news by NBC,” he said. “We don’t need an increase. But I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation. It’s got to be in tip-top shape.”

The president’s denial was buttressed by a statement from his defense chief.

“Recent reports that the president called for an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal are absolutely false. This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.

Although U.S. presidents have modernized weapon stockpiles over the years, any meaningful addition to the nuclear arsenal would violate treaty agreements. The Federation of American Scientists says the United States currently has about 4,000 nuclear warheads earmarked for use in its military stockpile.

After the meeting in July, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Trump as a “moron,” according to NBC. U.S. news reports have painted the relationship between Trump and Tillerson as tense.

The NBC report comes during a time of high tension between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, and just ahead of an expected announcement from Trump on whether to decertify the international deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

Trump told Reuters in February that he wanted to ensure that the U.S. nuclear arsenal was at the “top of the pack.”

MSNBC reported in 2016 that as a candidate, Trump asked a foreign policy adviser three times in a one-hour meeting why the United States could not deploy its nuclear weapons.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Makini Brice and Susan Heavey; editing by Tim Ahmann and Steve Orlofsky

The Upcoming Nuclear War (Revelation 15)

 

William Perry has spent much of his career professionally worried about the possibility of nuclear war.

Before a stint as the 19th U.S. secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton, Perry frequently advised the government on national security during the Cold War. He was on the team that analyzed surveillance photos exposing the Soviet Union’s installation of nuclear armed missiles in Cuba in October 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis.

When the Cold War ended, says Perry, now 90, he thought the threat of imminent nuclear catastrophe would recede. But he was wrong. It’s now worse than ever, he says, citing the return of tensions between Russia and the U.S., alongside new threats of regional nuclear conflict, such as one between India and Pakistan. He set up his organization, the Perry Project, “to educate and engage the public on nuclear danger.”

And now there’s Donald Trump. “I think the probability of war has increased since January, partly because of actions that President Trump has taken or not taken,” Perry tells Newsweek.

Perry’s comments, made in an interview on the sidelines of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, come as Trump is facing two escalating international situations with a nuclear dimension—the future of America’s nuclear agreement with Iran and the escalating rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea.

On Iran, Perry is clear. “If the deal were abandoned, I think it’s quite clear that Iran will resume the nuclear program that they had before the deal was signed,” he says. “There will be no better deal, there will be no other deal. We will have either that deal or no deal at all.”

Media reports have suggested that Trump will fail to recertify the deal before an October 15 deadline, a move that would not automatically end it, provided that Congress does not decide to impose new sanctions on Iran.

But, says Perry, a presidential commitment to the deal is still important. “It’s not only a bad idea in terms of what it might do relative to Iran in particular.… I think it sends a very bad statement…[with] the United States not being willing to support diplomatic agreements that it has made in good faith.”

A longtime proponent of the Iran deal, Perry says it has gone „a long way to taking the danger away from a war with Iran. We don’t want to be in the position with Iran seven years from now that we are today with North Korea.”

Meanwhile, Perry says the world runs the risk of “blundering” into nuclear catastrophe over North Korea.

“And the blundering, it seems to me, is made more dangerous, more possible, by the inflammatory rhetoric between Kim Jong Un and President Trump, and so I think the rhetoric that the president is using is creating the danger that one side or the other will react.”

He adds, “I think it’s clear that the president does not have experience in international diplomacy, or in dealing with national security issues.”

But, he says, there is some hope. “He does have some very seasoned and cautious people in positions of responsibility in his administration…. The issue here, really, is will President Trump accept the guidance and the counsel of [Defense Secretary James] Mattis and [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson and [National Security Adviser H.R.] McMaster.”