More Problems at Indian Nuclear Point before the Sixth Seal

indian-point-cuomo

More problems with closing Indian Point

By Post Editorial Board

New Yorkers, especially in Westchester, just got another painful reminder of the cost of Gov. Cuomo’s foolish drive to shut the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

Last week, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-West­chester) introduced three bills to deal with some consequences — namely, the risks of storing spent fuel rods on-site and the loss of tax revenue to the local communities.

The bills would require that safety-related fines against the plant go to the communities. They would also speed up removal of the spent rods and bolster safety in the interim.

The loss of a major source of reliable power (Indian Point supplies 25 percent of the electricity for the city and its environs) is still the top concern here. But ending Indian Point’s tax payments also presents huge problems: The plant funds half Buchanan’s budget. Cortlandt and the Hendrick Hudson School District’s finances are at risk, too.

These communities face combined losses of some $32 million a year. Residents must worry about daunting tax hikes — even as many will lose their jobs if the plant closes as scheduled by 2021.

Lowey, who supports the shutdown, is grasping for ways to deal with the blowback. It’d be better to keep the plant open and preserve a pillar of the region’s economy — but that would mean facing down the hysterical fearmongers.

Preparing for War with Iran

Israel had gained air space superiority in the Middle East after it destroyed the Egyptian air force during the 1967 6-days Israeli aggression war against it neighbors. Since then, the Arab weakness in the air force arena had emboldened Israel to use its air force power intensively and unhindered, up till now, to inflict damages to its Arab neighbors without endangering its troops in risky confrontation.

The free open-air space of the region allowed Israeli bombers to hit installations in the heart of some Arab countries, such as the 1981 bombing of Iraqi nuclear facility and the 2007 bombing of the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor. Violating international human rights, and without any international condemnation, Israel used its air force to destroy main civilian infrastructures, bomb civilian homes, hospitals, schools, mosques and churches, and many civilian institutions. This was apparent particularly in Israel’s invasions and wars against Lebanon and against Gaza Strip.

In fact, Israel was so emboldened that it had routinely violated Lebanese air space to attack Syria under bogus claims of self-defense, pre-emptive strikes against rocket convoys to Hezbollah, retaliations against claimed ISIS rocket launchers, and lately against alleged Iranian military facilities and rocket factories in Syria.

Within the last few years, arrogantly emboldened Israeli leaders had intensified their military aggression against Syria without paying any military or political price for it. This has just changed last Saturday February 10th when Syria finally considered that enough is enough and decided to defend its own air space.

Syrian government forces use drones to monitor ISIS’s military movements. Israel, as it had done in the past, decided to help its proxy army; ISIS, by bombing the Syrian drone air base. Two Israeli fighter planes were launched early Saturday morning, violated Lebanese air space, as usual, heading to Syria to do what they accustomed to believe a relatively easy mission.

Yet, the Israelis were surprised to discover that the mission was not business as usual. The Israeli fighter planes were confronted with heavy Syrian defenses and with ground to air missiles that downed their F-16 and damaged another F-15 fighter planes.

Panic and fear of further rocket attacks spread all over the northern Israeli colonies. Warning sirens wailed in many Israeli towns in the north, Israelis hurried into shelters and Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv had temporarily halted air traffic. On Sunday Israel spread its iron dome rockets on its northern border, while sending more reinforcements south on the border with Gaza Strip. Israel does not have any territorial depth that could protect its citizens from any rockets launched from Syria.

Netanyahu, fearing further “Iranian” and/or “Russian” retaliations, or even worse, getting Israel alone involved in an unplanned and unprepared war against Syrian and Hezbollah forces, rushed to the phone calling on Trump and Putin claiming that Israel does not seek “escalation” and that the Israeli attack came as a limited retaliation for Iranian drone violation of Israeli air space. This is a claim that Netanyahu had always used to justify Israel’s continuous aggressions against Arabs accompanied with the bullying daring threat not to retaliate against these aggressions.

 

“We seek peace, but are prepared for any scenario and I wouldn’t suggest to anyone that they test ushe arrogantly challenged in many of his speeches. Finally, Syria decided to test Israel’s resolve, and Netanyahu panicked.

Israeli officials were shocked by the unexpected result of what seemed to be an easy mission for the F-16 that is equipped with the latest American defensive Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) that is supposed to defend the plane from missile attacks. The shock did not hit only the Israelis but also hit the American military air force headquarters even harder especially when it was revealed that the very expensive ECM failed to defend the plane against the older 1960s technology of the Russian S-200 missile that hit the planes. This is so concerning to the Americans since the American air force fleet is comprised mainly of F-16 fighter planes using the same ECM defensive technology.

Israeli officials hastened to justify the attack as retaliation for an Iranian drone that allegedly had violated the Israeli air space. It is worth mentioning, here, that Israel seems to be inflected with a dangerous pathological phobic obsession called Iran; Iranian nuclear bomb, Iranian rockets, and finally Iranian drones. All these have proven to be Netanyahu’s false manifestations of his over-imaginative sick mind, who wants to convince the world that Iran, not Israel, poses threat to the region and to the world. The alleged Iranian threat never escapes all of Netanyahu’s speeches.

History shows that Iran has not entered into any war of aggression for centuries and had never developed nuclear weapons, while Israel had been born out of a colonial war, lives into a state of perpetual aggressive wars against its neighbors, reported to have between 200 – 300 nuclear bombs, and had dropped nuclear tactical bombs on Yemen. Unlike ISIS creator America, Iran has no military presence in Syria, but few military advisers invited by the Syrian government.

This event of downing Israeli F-16 fighter plane is not a casual incident, but could be viewed as a crucial turning point in the on-going Arab/Israeli conflict. It could mean that Israel cannot any longer bomb its neighbors without any heavy price to pay. Israel needs to think deeply and to reconsider its policies before jumping into any military adventure. It is true that Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria have come wounded of devastating wars, yet they had come out experienced, determined, and better armed. The “Order out of Chaos”, the “New Middle East”, and the American Israeli ISIS terrorist wars, that meant to weaken and destroy the Arab Resistance Axis had failed and produced the opposite planned results. The Arab Resistance Axis, leadership and nations, is stronger instead.

Israeli leadership understands, now, that this event ushers a new strategic phase. The era of Israeli air force bullying its Arab neighbors is over. Any future Israeli air engagement could further demonstrate to other Arab leaders that Israel, with its air defense neutralized and without any territorial depth, is very vulnerable. Israelis can only resort to their American protectors to deter any possible confrontation or rocket attacks that would herd Israeli citizens into shelters shuttering the myth of “Israel is the safest place for Jews”, and could initiate a reverse immigration.

The only people Israel can now bully and terrorize are the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza Strip, who are now going into their 11th “Week of Anger” demonstrating against the Israeli occupation, and engaging, with stones, the fully armed Israeli soldiers. The possibility of bombing Gaza to raise the reduced morale of the Israeli pilots, a common practice of Israeli leaders whenever they face a military failure, is very high now. The Hamas military wing; Izz ak-Din al-Qassam Brigades, announced that it had raised its readiness for any possible Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.

 

The Trumpets Will Warn of Nuclear War

Jennifer Sinco Kelleher/AP

Investigators are blaming human error for the panic-inducing false missile alert in Hawaii last month. They say it was sent out by a state emergency management worker who mistook an exercise for a real attack.

At the same time, the incident has exposed what may be a more widespread problem: disagreement over whose job it should be to warn the public about missile attacks.

Technically, the alerts could be sent by any federal, state or local agency that has access to IPAWS, the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System, which sends emergency alerts to TV, radio and smart phones.

But Federal officials say it’s not their role to warn the public about missiles. „FEMA will tell the states that there’s a missile inbound and where it’s going to land,“ says Mark Lucero, chief of engineering for IPAWS. „And then the state will initiate any plans it has in place, one of which being issuing an alert to the public, telling them what to do.“

FEMA’s national warning system manual echoes that localism: Once federal authorities have used the National Warning System (NAWAS) to alert state and local authorities of the missile threat, „Local authorities sound the Attack Warning signal on public warning devices.“

This comes as a surprise to many of those local emergency management offcials.

Francisco Sanchez Jr., deputy emergency management coordinator for Harris County, Texas — which includes Houston — says he assumed the public message would come directly from the federal government.

„Military events are not something that we envision or have within the scope of our responsiblities to alert for,“ Sanchez says.

Sanchez has been active in the recent updating of the national IPAWS system, and knows the system well. He says it’s good that local agencies are able to use it send out their own messages about floods and the like, but missile alerts are different. He says his agency would scramble to relay that warning to the public, but the extra step would slow things down.

„Eighteen minutes before a missile gets here? Who am I going to call at the [Department of Defense] if I get that alert on my phone to verify this is real?“ he asks. „Who can I get confirmation and double-confirmation from to make sure this is an authentic alert, this isn’t the result of a hack, this isn’t a mistake? By the time I’ve done that, something’s gone boom.“

The false alarm in Hawaii happened in part because it was the unusual case of a state that had embraced its role in alerting the public to missile attacks, and was frequently practicing sending those messages out. It was during one such drill that a missile alert was sent out for real.

Now other state and local emergency management agencies wonder if they should also be practicing more. In the last few weeks many have been in communication with each other, and with FEMA, about improving their readiness to send out a missile attack warning.

At the same time, many say they’d rather the federal government took the lead on this. Federal authorities have the technical capacity to send emergency alerts directly to the public, including access to a never-used „presidential message“ system that’s so high-level, smart phone users have no way to block them (unlike other emergency alerts, which can be turned off.)

At a House hearing on the Hawaii incident last week, Benjamin Krakauer of the New York City Office of Emergency Management said the federal government should formally take on the public alerting job.

„The federal government really is in the best position to detect a threat from a state actor and issue warnings, initially, to the general public,“ Krakauer said. „Time is of the essence, and state and local authorities are not really in the best position to make those notifications.“

There are also concerns about widely varying alerting standards, at the local level. In Hawaii, the state’s system allowed alerts to be sent out by a single person — which is how one confused employee was able to trigger a state-wide alarm.

Other agencies require two people to sign off on emergency alerts, although in some cases that’s just a procedural rule, not something enforced by the software.

State agencies are also at a disadvantage when it comes to correcting mistakes. It took Hawaii 38 minutes to countermand its false alarm; Lisa Fowlkes, the Bureau Chief for the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission, told the House hearing that Hawaii’s correction was delayed by their unfamiliarity with the situation.

„They had to figure out what code to issue, they talked to FEMA personnel on what was about a 45-second phone call,“ Fowlkes said. „Then somebody had to go and log on and write a correction message, because they did not have a template for that.“

Local agencies also vary widely in the kind of software they use to upload alerts into IPAWS. The actual messages are written and uploaded in software purchased from private sector vendors. Design and functionality vary, and some of the software products are very basic.

Jared Spool, an expert in user interface engineering, says this makes it harder to fix dangerous design problems, on a national basis. For instance, he says, what do you do when it becomes clear that pull-down menus with pre-written emergency messages are laid out in a way that could lead to false missile alerts?

„Because there are 23 vendors out there, how do you get them all to the same level of understanding,“ Spool says. „And that’s the nature of the distributed way that our government works, and that these systems work.“

FEMA considered supplying local emergency agencies with a free, standard message-sending system, but people inside the agency say software makers pressured FEMA not to compete with emergency messaging products sold by the private sector.

The Hawaii incident has now focused new attention on what one local emergency management official calls „the planning gap,“ when it comes to sending out public missile alerts. Some state and local agencies are now following Hawaii’s lead, thinking through what their procedures would be, and consulting with FEMA about what their emergency alerts should say.

But the incident has also inspired those who want to get the states out of the missile-alert business altogether. Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz has introduced legislation making the public warnings the sole responsibility of the federal government.

Babylon the Great Widens Her Nuclear Arsenal

Pentagon budget seeks billions for modernizing nuclear arsenal, missile defense

February 12, 2018 – 02:37 PM EST

Pentagon budget seeks billions for modernizing nuclear arsenal, missile defense

By Rebecca Kheel

The Trump administration is requesting $24 billion for nuclear deterrence and $12.9 billion for missile defense in fiscal 2019.

The requests, part of the Pentagon’s total $686 billion budget proposal released Monday, come on the heels of the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review and ahead of the release of the Ballistic Missile Defense Review.

“Modernizing the nation’s nuclear delivery systems is the department’s number one priority, and these programs are fully funded in the [fiscal] 2019 budget,” the Pentagon’s budget proposal reads.

President Trump has often spoken about modernizing and bulking up the U.S. nuclear arsenal, saying in his State of the Union last month that it needs to be made “so strong and so powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation.”

The Nuclear Posture Review, released last month, reaffirmed support for plans started by the Obama administration to modernize all three legs of the triad to deter competitors Russia and China. The triad refers to the ability to deliver nuclear weapons by land, sea and air.

To that end, the $24 billion for nuclear deterrence includes modernization for all three legs of the triad, as well as for nuclear command, control and communications systems, according to the White House budget document.

The modernization includes $2.3 billion for the future B-21 bomber, $3.7 billion for the future Columbia-class submarine, $600 million for the future Long Range Stand Off cruise missile and $300 million for the future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missile.

Meanwhile, the $12.9 billion for missile defense has an eye on protecting against North Korea, which has made considerable progress on achieving a nuclear-armed missile capable of striking the United States.

“The budget increases the capability and capacity of the United States to detect, defeat, and defend against any North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and partners,” the White House budget proposal says.

Of the total for missile defense, $9.9 billion would go to the Missile Defense Agency.

That would buy 43 Aegis interceptors for $1.7 billion, four Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptors and 10 silos for $2.1 billion, 82 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptors for $1.1 billion and 240 Patriot Advanced Capability Missile Segment Enhancement interceptors for $1.1 billion.

The Pentagon also says the budget would allow it to develop an additional missile field in Alaska for the GMD and puts it on track to have a total of 64 deployed and operational GMD interceptors by 2023, 20 more than it has now.

The GMD is the system in Alaska and California that would defend against a long-range missile attack such as from North Korea. The system’s most recent test last year was successful, though critics have said it is too costly and has a spotty testing record.

Making Saudi Arabia a Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

See the source imageWith Russias help, Arab states speeding up nuclear arms race

Itamar Eichner

Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa are pushing forward with the construction of nuclear power plants, according to a new report released by the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya led by Major-General (res.) Amos Gilad.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be the first state to operate a nuclear reactor (made in South Korea). Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia and Algeria are expected to follow in its footsteps, having declared their intention to build nuclear reactors. Each of these countries is in the process of implementing the plan.

While these countries say they need the nuclear power plants to meet the growing demand for energy for economic purposes, the IPS report reveals this isn’t the only reason for their efforts. The report’s author, Dr. Shaul Shay, director of research at the IPS and a former deputy head of the National Security Council (NSC), says the purchase of nuclear technology is also the Sunni Arab world’s way of dealing with the Iranian nuclear program. This trend is encouraged by Russia, which is interested in providing the knowledge and technology as a way of reinforcing its position in the region. Dr. Shay believes the information collected as part of the research supports Israel’s claim that the fear of a nuclear Iran is prompting Middle Eastern countries to acquire knowledge and nuclear technology. This trend is particularly evident among Iran’s rivals—Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries.

The world powers‘ nuclear agreement with Iran, which relaxes the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic in exchange for a commitment to avoid developing a nuclear weapon in the coming decade, gives its neighbors time to develop a nuclear infrastructure of their own before the agreement expires. While Dr. Shay stresses there is a major difference between the ability to develop a nuclear program and obtaining knowledge, nuclear technology and a nuclear reactor for energy purposes, he says the existence of knowledge and a nuclear infrastructure could help speed up the processes aimed at turning the civil technology into a military technology.

The first country in the Arab world planning to inaugurate a nuclear reactor is UAE, with South Korea’s help. Its neighbor, Saudi Arabia, will be the second Arab country in the Persian Gulf with nuclear energy. In 2011, Saudi Arabia hired a civilian company to locate the optimal spot for the future reactors. The country has also signed cooperation agreements with the United States, France, Russia and other countries in the field of nuclear energy. Saudi Arabia has officially announced that if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, it will follow in its footsteps. The Saudis have close strategic ties with Pakistan, which already has a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia provided Pakistan with financial aid when the country was dealing with international sanctions, Dr. Shay notes, helping it move forward with the development of its nuclear program.

The arms race is taking place among Israel’s neighbors too. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met several weeks ago with Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign a cooperation agreement for the establishment of a nuclear facility at Dabaa, near Alexandria.

The agreement, which was signed with Russia’s state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, states that Egypt will use the agency’s services to build and operate the facility’s four reactors in the next 60 years. This agreement joins additional cooperation agreements in the nuclear area which Russia has signed with Sudan, Algeria and Tunisia. Israel’s eastern neighbor, Jordan, is also working to obtain nuclear technology with South Korea’s help. Russia’s growing involvement in the Arab world’s nuclear arms race, Dr. Shay believes, has to do with Putin’s efforts to restore Russia’s position as a world power in the Middle East. Putin sends Russian advisors and exports to every country that has signed such an agreement with him, thereby reinforcing his ties with the Arab world.

Putin, apparently, isn’t hiding his intentions. In April 2016, Russia’s nuclear energy agency announced that it was opening an office in Dubai to supervise the nuclear reactors being built with the agency’s help across the Middle East. How is this arms race expected to affect Israel? „While at this stage the countries are developing their nuclear programs for civilian purposes,“ Dr. Shay explains, „they are largely doing it in response to the Iranian nuclear challenge. This means that in the future, if they wish to develop a nuclear weapon, these infrastructures will speed up the process. Security-wise, the affect on Israel will have to do with the nature of its relations with these countries.“ The report was prepared ahead of a seminar on Russia’s return to the Middle East, which will be held by the IPS at the IDC Herzliya next week.