How Saudi Arabia Will Go Nuclear (Daniel 7)

How Saudi Arabia Can Go Nuclear (But Prevent Proliferation)

Mark Hibbs

February 4, 2018

Barrels with uranium oxide are stored at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in the northeastern industrial city of Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk), Kazakhstan May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

Riyadh might mine its own uranium, but without any enrichment infrastructure currently, where would it obtain enough help to enrich uranium for power reactor fuel?

Renewed interest in nuclear cooperation between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has relaunched debate over whether Washington should insist upon a legally binding “gold standard” commitment from the KSA that forecloses Saudi deployment of sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technology.

The KSA aims to eventually enrich uranium itself. Riyadh might mine its own uranium, but without any enrichment infrastructure currently, where would it obtain enough help to enrich uranium for power reactor fuel?

Every country that has developed enrichment technology for that purpose belongs to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the world’s most important nuclear export control body. Its guidelines on sensitive transfers contain red lines and urge states to exercise restraint. These guidelines today also inform decision-making by Israel, India, and—notably—Pakistan, a state frequently cited by some observers as likely to divert nuclear know-how to Riyadh.

What the NSG Rules Say

In response to 9/11 attacks, and to proliferation of Pakistan’s nuclear technology, in 2011 the NSG specified conditions that countries must meet to receive sensitive transfers. Henceforth, a recipient must be a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), comply with a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), not be subject to suppliers’ denial notifications, implement United Nations Security Council resolution commitments to prevent proliferation, and not be subject to IAEA resolutions seeking demonstration that nuclear activities are peaceful.

The guidelines also urge suppliers to forbid retransfer, replication, and sharing of sensitive technology, and to commit recipients to limit enrichment levels, provide for adequate physical protection, and apply IAEA safeguards in perpetuity. Beyond that, the NSG counsels suppliers to authorize transfers only when they are satisfied that the transfers will not contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation or nuclear terrorism.

The KSA is an NPT party, has a comprehensive safeguards agreement, and the IAEA has concluded that Riyadh’s few declared nuclear materials are used peacefully. But, the IAEA has not confirmed absence of undeclared nuclear activities in the KSA, and the IAEA cannot do this unless Riyadh adopts the IAEA Additional Protocol giving inspectors greater access.

The KSA would not, therefore, be explicitly disqualified by NSG rules from obtaining sensitive technology from its members; the decision to transfer these would be a judgment call by supplier states. But without Riyadh demonstrating an effective nonproliferation track record, including export controls and IAEA verification (including through an Additional Protocol), no responsible supplier state would agree to transfer enrichment or reprocessing items to the KSA. Suppliers would consider the region’s legacy of conflict, as well as nuclear, missile, and chemical weapon proliferation, along with Riyadh’s bitter rivalry with Tehran. NSG members know that Saudi officials have justified their interest in enrichment, referencing Iran’s nuclear build-up and absence of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.

Pakistan, the KSA and the NSG

Media reports are peppered with unconfirmed assertions of past interactions between the KSA and Pakistan, including concerning matters of Pakistan’s nuclear development. These include allegations that the KSA funded Pakistan’s nuclear program, that a KSA defense minister met with Pakistani nuclear physicist A.Q. Khan two decades ago, and that Islamabad might in the future provide Riyadh with nuclear weapons under a previously concluded secret pact. In light of the above regional background, to suggest that NSG governments are wary of Pakistan-Saudi nuclear commerce would be an understatement.

Pakistan is enriching uranium, separating plutonium and building nuclear weapons using these materials. Pakistan is not an NPT party and thus not obligated by it to restrict its nuclear commerce with other states. Pakistan’s past failure to protect its nuclear assets might encourage the KSA and others to seek enrichment or reprocessing assistance from Pakistan.

But, the NSG guidelines should dissuade Pakistan from aiding the KSA. In 2016, Pakistan notified the NSG that it is implementing the group’s guidelines. Pakistani officials say that this means that Pakistan will not transfer enrichment and reprocessing items to the KSA. Islamabad’s own updated rules state that “there is a strong presumption of denial in case of enrichment and reprocessing technologies.”

Pakistan took these steps in the course of five years of enhanced engagement with the NSG. In 2010, the United States announced that it would support India’s bid for NSG membership. The aim of Pakistan’s accelerated outreach was to ensure that any conversation in the NSG about Indian membership would also include consideration of Pakistan. Islamabad established a program to implement the NSG guidelines as part of its effort to rehabilitate its image and its nonproliferation practices after A.Q. Khan’s activities were exposed in 2004.

Today, NSG members are considering membership for both Pakistan and India for at least one very compelling reason: to encourage states with sensitive nuclear technologies to implement the NSG guidelines, thereby contributing toward the NSG’s effectiveness.

In theory, Pakistan in the future could change its policy and not implement NSG guidelines. In practice, the potential that Pakistan might in future not implement the guidelines could be viewed as a form of Pakistani leverage to gain membership. That might also imply that a future NSG decision not to admit Islamabad would run the risk that Pakistan may again proliferate.

History Says Expect The Sixth Seal In New York (Revelation 6:12)

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If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.

According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)

The Russia Horn Building Devastating Nuclear Weapon

Russia building devastating nuclear weapon; Pentagon seeks to counter

JJ Green

WASHINGTON — In late 2015, word leaked out that Russia was working on a powerful nuclear weapon designed to be an unmistakable, existential threat to the U.S.

On Feb. 2, the release of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) confirmed its existence.

The “Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6” as it’s called by the Russian military, has generated genuine and profound concern among current and former U.S. military and intelligence community members.

“I cannot offer you in Mike Hayden’s own logic, what in God’s name, such a weapon would be useful for,” said Michael V. Hayden, former director of both the Central Intelligence and the National Security Agencies; and a retired four-star Air Force General.

The armament known as “Kanyon” to the U.S. military, is a 100 megaton thermonuclear drone-torpedo that would be launched from a Sarov-class submarine. It would be the most powerful thermonuclear device ever built.

The existence of the “Kanyon” was allegedly accidentally leaked on Russian television in November of 2015. One minute and 46 seconds into a news video about a military meeting, a document showing the weapon appeared on camera.

“I remember this. That document, showed up as a view graph during a Russian presidential meeting at his villa in Sochi,” Hayden said.

At that meeting, between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his generals, Putin warned that Russia would do all in its power to preserve the strategic balance.

Based on what’s known about the capabilities of the weapon, it would do much more than achieve balance.

According to nuclearsecrecy.org, the “Kanyon” would be at least 6,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and if a large city like New York were targeted, almost 9 million people would be killed instantly, and another five million would be injured.

The weapon would be two times more powerful than Russia’s Tsar Bomba, which was tested in the 1960s.

Hayden, who clarified that he no longer gets briefings on U.S. intelligence matters, said his 40 years of experience tell him Russia is aiming to deploy a weapon that could truly devastate the U.S.

“There is no doubt the Russians are adjusting their nuclear doctrine to include ‘first use’. They are looking at ‘first use’ as some sort of de-escalatory step, in other words, if we use it, the war will stop. I don’t think that’s very logical either.”

First use refers to the order in which a conflict is started using nuclear weapons.

Michael Kofman, Senior Research Scientist at CNA Corporation thinks the Russian weapon under development would be used not as a first-strike tool, but one to achieve the last word.

“It’s principally a third strike weapon designed to ensure that Russia has a viable nuclear deterrent which cannot be intercepted by missile defenses.”

Entering an era of uncertainty and risk

The chilling possibilities of this new nuclear era have not been lost on the Pentagon.

The NPR states, “There now exists an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent nonstate actors. These developments have produced increased uncertainty and risk.”

The rapid deterioration of the threat environment since the 2010 NPR, according to the document, “must now shape our thinking as we formulate policy and strategy, and initiate the sustainment and replacement of U.S. nuclear forces.”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan said during the NPR release, “Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has worked to reduce the number and role of our nuclear weapons, but the world looks different since the last NPR in 2010,”

The NPR states, “While the United States has continued to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons, others, including Russia and China, have moved in the opposite direction. They have added new types of nuclear capabilities to their arsenals, increased the salience of nuclear forces in their strategies and plans, and engaged in increasingly aggressive behavior, including in outer space and cyber space.”

The world Shanahan referred to includes confirmation by U.S. military officials in 2017 that North Korea’s nuclear program could likely produce a reliable, nuclear capable, intercontinental ballistic missile sometime in 2018.

Ambassador Joseph Detrani, former director of the National Counter Proliferation Center and U.S. Special Envoy for negotiations with North Korea, told WTOP that North Korea has a missile that “could reach the whole of the United States,” Detrani said.

The overall global nuclear weapons climate and threats from North Korea, Russia, China and Iran have led the Pentagon and its partners at the State and Energy departments to develop what Shanahan called “a tailored nuclear deterrent strategy”, that can “deter any potential adversary”.

That strategy includes modernizing nuclear land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), strategic bombers, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and command and control systems.

Shanahan said “it’s necessary, affordable and long overdue. Our nuclear fleet has kept us safe for more than 70 years. We can’t afford to let it become obsolete.”

Strategy criticized

While the Trump administration’s National Security strategy seeks, “Peace through strength,” critics of the Nuclear Posture Review say any kind of nuclear build up is risky.

“President Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review is deeply troubling and is a dangerous departure from past reviews. It lowers the threshold for using nuclear weapons, a particularly frightening proposition given this president’s support for a nuclear arms race,” said California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein in a statement.

Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Ed Markey accuses the Trump team of fueling a new nuclear arms race.

“This isn’t deterrence — it’s an invitation for America’s adversaries to expand and diversify their nuclear arsenals too. These policies also would divert resources away from maintaining America’s conventional military superiority, especially after years of uncertainty from running our Defense Department on short-term budget agreements,” Markey said in a statement.

Shananan and his counterparts from State and Energy all vigorously pointed out the U.S. does not want to use nuclear weapons, but will if it has to even in response to some other non-nuclear attack.

They say the gap between U.S. nuclear superiority and the rest of the world is closing and Russia appears to be most aggressively pursuing that objective.

Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana White told WTOP that is a challenge the U.S. military has to meet.

“Russia is a strategic competitor. Russia seeks to undermine our leadership around the world. It was Russia that defined NATO as its greatest threat. We have to work with Russia where we can, but we will confront them if we have to.”

Read the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (PDF)

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Trumps Diplomacy Will Lead to World War III

Trump’s diplomacy is all about the ultimatum. That could spell disaster.

Jackson Diehl

President Trump’s supporters expected he would bring a new, business-seasoned negotiating style to U.S. diplomacy. What we’ve seen in the past month is something rather different: the art of the ultimatum.

Sure, Trump’s team has been bargaining with Mexico and Canada over trade, with China over North Korea, and with Russia over Syria and Ukraine. But the most striking thing about the president’s diplomacy so far in 2018 has been the public demands he has placed on European allies, Pakistan and the Palestinians. He has told the Europeans, and Congress, that he will withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran unless they agree to a “new supplemental agreement” by the middle of May. He pledged to cut off aid to the Palestinians unless they agree to participate in the peace talks he wants to sponsor. And he has already frozen aid to Pakistan for giving “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

Perhaps, for Trump, this is simply another way to bargain. If so, the fallout from the president’s would-be diktats suggests it’s not working.

Take Pakistan. Trump’s first tweet of the year blindsided Islamabad with this broadside: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the past 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit.” Days later the administration announced it was suspending nearly all security aid, up to $1.3 billion annually, while saying it could be restored if Pakistan took steps against the Taliban and other terrorists. In other words: Meet U.S. demands or forfeit the funds.

Pakistani officials predictably rejected the public challenge, saying they didn’t need the money and anyway could probably get it from China. Then they shut down the Pakistan operations of Radio Free Europe, which broadcasts in the Pashto language used on both sides of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, saying it served a “hostile intelligence agency’s agenda.”

Then, on Jan. 20, came a deadly assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, which killed at least 22, including several Americans, and bore all the hallmarks of the Haqqani network, the Taliban faction that Pakistan’s military intelligence agency is accused of supporting, if not directing. If Trump’s tweet was meant to intimidate, it appears to have spectacularly backfired.

Next come the Palestinians, who predictably took umbrage when Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Palestinian Authority leaders refused to meet with Vice President Pence when he visited the region and said they would not consider the peace plan the White House has been working on. That prompted Trump to announce that aid to the Palestinians would be cut off “unless they sit down and negotiate peace.” Half the $125 million in expected U.S. aid to the U.N. refu­gee agency for Palestinians has already been withheld.

To punish Trump for that ultimatum, the Palestinians need only sit tight. The withdrawal of U.S. aid is the last thing Israel wants — it would cause the collapse of the West Bank Palestinian security forces that in recent years have worked closely with Israel to prevent terrorist attacks. Israeli military forces might have to redeploy in Palestinian areas they now avoid. In short, if Trump follows through, he’ll do less damage to the Palestinians than to Israel, the ally he thinks he’s appeasing.

The most costly Trump diktat, however, concerns the Iran nuclear deal. In a statement stuffed with bullying rhetoric, Trump demanded on Jan. 12 that Europeans and Congress agree within 120 days to a rewrite of the 2015 accord that would impose new conditions on Iran and reverse sunset provisions — without bothering to negotiate with Tehran. European diplomats and a handful of senators are duly seeking to finesse something that would appear to address Trump’s demands without actually infringing on the pact — a nearly impossible task.

If they fail, which is likely, Trump will have the choice of failing to deliver on his threat or reimposing U.S. sanctions on Iran. The latter would trigger an international crisis for which the United States would be universally blamed and open the way for Iran to resume the large-scale production of enriched uranium — something it is now prevented from doing.

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All these disruptions might make sense if Trump had a plan for what happens after he blows up the status quo. Does he have a strategy up his sleeve for coercing Pakistan? Does he know how the West Bank will be secured if the Palestinian Authority collapses? Does he have a new way to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon?

He doesn’t. The worst thing about Trump’s ultimatums is that there is nothing behind them. In foreign policy, that’s an invitation to disaster.

China Feels Threatened by Babylon the Great

China accuses US of ‘Cold War mentality’ over nuclear policy

BBC News

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, US 6 February 2013.Reuters

The US nuclear force is based on land, sea and air-based weapons

China has urged the US to drop its “Cold War mentality” after Washington said it planned to diversify its nuclear armoury with smaller bombs.

“The country that owns the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, should take the initiative to follow the trend instead of going against it,” China’s defence ministry said on Sunday.

The US military believes its nuclear weapons are seen as too big to be used and wants to develop low-yield bombs.

Russia has already condemned the plan.

Iran’s foreign minister claimed it brought the world “closer to annihilation”.

What is the new US policy?

The US is concerned about its nuclear arsenal becoming obsolete and no longer an effective deterrent. It names China, Russia, North Korea and Iran as potential threats.

Where are the world’s nuclear weapons?

The Pentagon document released on Friday, known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), argues that developing smaller nuclear weapons would challenge that assumption. Low-yield weapons with a strength of under 20 kilotons are less powerful but are still devastating. The policy also proposes:

Land-based ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and air-delivered weapons – to be extensively modernised, as begun under ex-President Obama

Proposed modification of some submarine-launched nuclear warheads to give a lower-yield or less powerful detonation

Return of sea-based nuclear cruise missiles
Countering the “growing threat from revisionist powers”, such as China and Russia, was at the heart of America’s new defence strategy announced last month.

What did China say?

China said on Sunday it “firmly” opposed the Pentagon’s review of US nuclear policy.

The defence ministry in Beijing said Washington had played up the threat of China’s nuclear threat, adding that its own policy was defensive in nature.

“We hope that the United States will abandon its Cold War mentality, earnestly assume its special disarmament responsibilities, correctly understand China’s strategic intentions and objectively view China’s national defence and military build-up,” its statement said.

China has used the Cold War label before to criticise US policy. Late last year it denounced Washington’s updated defence strategy and urged the US to abandon “outdated notions”.

In the NPR document, the US accused China of “expanding its already considerable nuclear forces” but China defended its policy on Sunday saying it would “resolutely stick to peaceful development and pursue a national defence policy that is defensive in nature”.

How did others react?

The Russian foreign ministry accused the US of warmongering, and said it would take “necessary measures” to ensure Russian security.

“From first reading, the confrontational and anti-Russian character of this document leaps out at you,” it said in a statement on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed “deep disappointment” at the plan.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif argued the proposals were in violation of the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty.