Iranian Hegemony in Iraq

Iraq as a ‘client state’ of Iran | The Strategist

Iraq as a ‘client state’ of Iran

Iraq is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in May. At least 28 Iraqi political parties associated with paramilitaries that fought Islamic State (IS) have registered to run candidates. Many of these parties, like their ‘parent’ militias, have close ties to Tehran.

Most of these militias formed after IS captured Mosul. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s senior Shiite cleric, issued a fatwa proclaiming that fighting against IS was ‘a sacred defence’. Those who died would be revered as ‘martyrs’.

The fatwa led to the formation of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF)), which attracted around 60,000 fighters organised into some 60 units. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directs at least 44 of these 60 Shia paramilitaries; others are under the authority of Sistani or are affiliated with Moqtada al-Sadr. These fighters played a central role in countering IS in Fallujah, Ramadi and Baiji. Many in Iraq believe the PMFs probably ‘saved’ Baghdad from IS.

To understand why Iran is determined to see a sympathetic government in Baghdad, it’s important to recall two key events that took place soon after the Iranian Revolution began in 1979, and which have come to define Iranian national security considerations.

First, the US government attempted to free the 53 diplomats who had been taken hostage in November 1979 after students had overrun the US embassy in Tehran. In April 1980, as diplomatic negotiations continued to secure their release, Washington sent a military force into Iran in a failed attempt to free the hostages. Iran has come to see Operation Eagle Claw as typifying American perfidy.

Second, within months of the revolution, Saddam Hussein launched an all-out war against Iran. Between 300,000 and 1 million Iranians died in the eight-year conflict.

These experiences have instilled in Iran’s ruling elite (many of whom were alive during the war) a sense that Iran is always under threat. One Iranian strategy to ensure its security has been the development and support of proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Taliban in Afghanistan , Shia militias in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen. These entities promote Iranian national interests by engaging Iran’s enemies, whether they are Israelis, Americans or Saudis.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Tehran held the view that a pro-US administration in Baghdad was unacceptable. Iran fears encirclement by the Americans. It already shares a 920-kilometre border with Afghanistan and a 960-kilometre border with Pakistan, both American allies.

Now the regime wants a pro-Tehran government in Baghdad. That would give Iran a safe western border, allow it to influence oil prices (Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves with 140 billion barrels), and enable Tehran to continue to challenge Saudi dominance in the region.

In the early 2000s, Tehran preferred that both Iraq and Afghanistan should remain in a state of manageable chaos that kept the Americans occupied and unable to focus on Iran. Thus, from the moment that the Americans took charge of rebuilding Iraq, the Iranians sought ways to bleed the Americans dry, primarily through their campaign in Anbar province.

Iran’s growing influence in Iraq became clear in 2008 when David Petraeus, then-commander of US Central Command, received a text message from Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite al-Quds Force. The message read:

General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who’s going to replace him is a Quds Force member.

The message highlighted the brazenness of Suleimani and of Iran when it came to dealing with Iraq. And it illustrates why Iraq’s former national security minister, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, later noted that nothing got done in Iraq without the approval of Suleimani.

Following the 2010 parliamentary elections, when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was struggling to form a government, a group of Iraqi parliamentarians went to Qom to celebrate the Eid al Fitr holiday. They met with Suleimani, who then persuaded Moqtada al-Sadr to support Maliki. In return, Maliki agreed to work towards removing US forces from Iraq.

Seven years later, Iran’s influence across Iraq remains obvious. With the rise and fall of IS, Tehran has another opportunity to shape political developments in Iraq. This is bound to concern Iran’s neighbours, particularly the Saudis, who appear determined to stop Iran’s growing influence in the region.

Isaac Kfir is the director of the National Security Program and head of the Counter-terrorism Policy Centre at ASPI. Image courtesy of Tasnim News Agency via Wikemedia Commons.

The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12) 

Living on the Fault Line

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.

The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.

After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.

Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.

During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.

“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”

Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.

Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.

After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.

But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.

Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.

Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.

The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.

For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.

Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”

The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.

The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.

This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”

Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”

But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.

Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.

All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.

For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.

Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.

To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.

In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.

As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)

In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.

The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (

Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.

Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.

This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.

“Any vulnerable structure on these weak soils would have a higher failure hazard,” Stanford says. And the scary truth is that many structures in New Jersey’s largest cities, not to mention New York City, would be vulnerable, since they’re older and built before anyone gave much thought to earthquake-related engineering and construction codes.

For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at

All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.

Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”


Planning for the Big One

For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.

In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.

Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”

Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.

This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”

A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.

“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”

Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

Israel is Correct about the Iran Deal

Author: Jason Ditz

Speaking at the AIPAC conference on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to shift focus away from his mounting political and legal struggles to focus instead on a favored subject of discussion, how worried he is about Iran.

Holding a map of the Middle East which claimed to show Iran’s growing “empire,” Netanyahu declared that “darkness is descending on our region,” while talking up Israel’s willingness, and indeed eagerness,  to confront them militarily in Syria.

At the same time, Netanyahu talked up discussions with President Trump earlier in the week, saying that Trump remains committed to walking away from the P5+1 nuclear deal, adding that Israel and other countries in the region stand by that decision.

Netanyahu sought to die Trump’s hostility to the nuclear deal to general opposition to Iran’s putative “aggression,” and said Trump’s position proved he won’t accept a “nuclear-armed Iran,” even though Trump’s objections about the Iran deal are entirely based on extending restrictions on Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

The Nuclear Stand in Korea Suddenly Dissipates

two men in a room

No Nuclear Weapons Against the South

Newsweek David Brennan 19 hrs ago
  North Korea has promised not to use nuclear or conventional weapons against its southern neighbour, The Associated Press has reported.

Pyongyang also said it would no longer need nuclear weapons if all military threats against the country are resolved and it receives a security guarantee.

Th  e comments were reportedly made to a 10-member South Korean delegation, led by South Korea’s presidential national security director Chung Eui-yong, which visited the North to meet with leader Kim Jong Un.

T  he delegation has now returned to Seoul to report to South Korean President Moon Jae-in on its progress.

The two Koreas have agreed to hold summit talks in late April, and will set up a telephone hotlines to connect the leaders of the two countries.

Chung told a media briefing that the North Korean leadership was willing to open “heart-to-heart” talks with the U.S. over denuclearization and the normalization of ties.

The U.S. has previously said it is open to talks with North Korea, but has stressed that the issue of denuclearization must be addressed first. Chung said that the North has now agreed to impose a moratorium on tests of nuclear weapons and missiles if it holds talks with the U.S.

The meeting was the first between Kim Jong Un and South Korean officials since the dictator succeeded his father Kim Jong Il in 2011. It is the first time that South Korean envoys have visited Pyongyang since 2007.

North Korea’s official state broadcaster, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said on Tuesday that it is his “firm will to vigorously advance” inter-Korean ties and pursue reunification, Reuters reported.

KCNA said that the meeting involved “an exchange of in-depth views on the issues for easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange.”

The recent Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, represented a thaw in North-South relations after several months of tension over the North’s nuclear weapons development program and resulting international sanctions. The North has not conducted any military or missile tests since November.

The North sent an Olympic team and a high-level diplomatic delegation to the event. During the games, Kim Jong Un’s sister and close advisor, Kim Yo Jong, met with Moon Jae-in and invited him to visit Pyongyang.

a person in a suit and tie © Provided by IBT Media


The Hegemony of the Iranian Horn (Daniel 8:4)

By INU Staff

INU – Supporters of the JCPOA, commonly known as the nuclear deal, say that is has curtailed the Iranian regime’s nuclear program, and prevented the development of nuclear weapon. Critics call it a short-term fix because of the sunset clause that does not end, but only delays Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The Iran nuclear deal has thus far not curtailed the regime’s interference in the affairs of the region, and Iran has become a threat to the Middle East’s peace and stability.

Recently, Iran announced it was bolstering ties with Pyongyang — in fact, they announced it on the day that North Korea claimed it successfully tested an ICBM capable of reaching the US. It is believed that Iran and North Korea have been sharing nuclear technology, as they have shared missile technology over the years.

After implementation of the nuclear deal, billions of dollars that had been impounded, was returned to Iran. As well, sanctions were lifted, allowing foreign investors to make trade deals, to bring about a much more prosperous Iran. However, the Iranian people have not benefitted from this boost in the economy. Unemployment is high, and many Iranians live below the poverty level. Instead, the regime strengthens its military, and develops a long-range missile defense system.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has the last say on all forms of governance, making Iran’s president unable to act without his permission. Khamenei advocates hegemonic control against the Islamic and Arab world.

It has been reported that Iranian training camps have been preparing foreign fighters for decades, and many of these trainees have gained ‘on the ground’ training during the war in Syria. In Iraq, Iran’s Qods Force has been active. This has been subsidized by cash from the Iran deal, according to experts. When European governments send trade delegations to Tehran, and make lucrative deals, this also subsidizes Iran’s meddling in the region.

US President Trump is now threatening to renegotiate the deal, or abandon it entirely. Iran’s officials claim that if the deal ends, the Iranians can resume enriching their stockpile of uranium to 20 percent, which would take it to weapon’s grade.

In response to Trump’s threat, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, commented that it would be possible for Iran to produce 20 percent enriched uranium at its Fordo plant, within four days of the nuclear deal collapsing.

If the regime gains a nuclear weapon, it does not need to actually use it — it will be a terrifying threat to Iran’s neighbors.

The Futility of Babylon the Great

By Tom O’Connor On 3/6/18 at 6:18 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently revealed new nuclear-capable weapons, claiming they could thwart even the world’s most advanced missile defense systems.

He wasn’t lying. The RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—known to the NATO Western military alliance as SS-X-30 Satan 2—along with a nuclear-powered cruise missile, the Kanyon long-range torpedo and the Kinzhal hypersonic missile could all potentially be fitted with nuclear warheads and trump U.S. defenses. Putin explained his rationale for developing such weapons capable of “bypassing interception boundaries,” which he said Moscow first announced plans for nearly 14 years ago.

“Why did we do all this? Why did we talk about it? As you can see, we made no secret of our plans and spoke openly about them, primarily to encourage our partners to hold talks. Let me repeat, this was in 2004. It is actually surprising that despite all the problems with the economy, finances and the defense industry, Russia has remained a major nuclear power,” he told the Russian parliament as part of his State of the Nation speech Thursday.

“No, nobody really wanted to talk to us about the core of the problem, and nobody wanted to listen to us. You will listen to us now,” he added.

  The RS-28 Sarmat ICBM, called Satan 2 by NATO, is seen in this screenshot from an animation accompanying Russian President Vladimir Putin’s State of the Nation address, March 1, 2018. RT SCREENSHOT The oft-delayed RS-28 Sarmat ICBM was said capable of being equipped with up to 10 or 15 nuclear warheads, each bearing 750 kilotons of destructive power. They are intended to replace the aging RS-36M, originally dubbed SS-18 Satan by NATO during the height of the Cold War in the 1970s. Instead of taking the traditional North Pole route, the RS-28 Sarmat could be launched over either the South Pole, facing only 30 anti-ICBM receptors that have proven only a 50 percent success rate under perfect test conditions, according to The National Interest.

Putin claimed the RS-28 Sarmat “has practically no range restrictions” and “is untroubled by even the most advanced missile defense systems.”

The new nuclear-powered cruise missile unveiled Thursday was particularly significant because such a weapon has never been developed. The closest equivalent would be the Pentagon’s ill-fated Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile, a mid-20th-century project to develop a massive Mach 3 cruise missile powered by a nuclear chain reaction. It was abandoned because of how incredibly dangerous even testing the weapon would be, as Popular Mechanics explained. The Russian cruise missile could potentially slide through U.S. missile defenses, which were designed to counter high-altitude ICBM attacks.

“It is a low-flying stealth missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with almost an unlimited range, unpredictable trajectory and ability to bypass interception boundaries. It is invincible against all existing and prospective missile defense and counter-air defense systems,” Putin said.

“I will repeat this several times today,” he added.

RTX3E30Z A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, before being successfully intercepted by Standard Missile-6 missiles fired from the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, in Kauai, Hawaii. Latonja Martin/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS The Kinzhal hypersonic missile would also prove a formidable threat to the U.S. Putin said the missile would be fitted on to a high-speed carrier aircraft and would fly 10 times the speed of sound and maneuver mid-flight—overcoming not only all current, but proposed anti-missile defenses, to destroy targets within 1,242 miles with a nuclear or conventional blast.

The Kanyon nuclear torpedo, also known as the Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System, was described as a “doomsday weapon” in the Nuclear Posture Review published by the Pentagon in January. Leaked documents from 2015 suggested the weapon could carry a 100-megaton nuclear explosive that can travel up to 6,200 miles away at a depth of trajectory of up to 3,300 feet, according to BBC News.

The weapon would about as twice as powerful as the most powerful nuclear weapon ever produced, the roughly 50-megaton Tsar Bomba, built by the Soviet Union and tested in 1961.