Babylon Trying to Create “Conventional” Nukes

Why New York City Will Be Shut Down At The Sixth Seal

Indian Point tritium leak 80% worse than originally reported

Published time: 10 Feb, 2016 22:12Edited time: 11 Feb, 2016 01:51

New measurements at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in upstate New York show levels of radioactive tritium 80 percent higher than reported last week. Plant operator insists the spill is not dangerous, as state officials call for a safety probe.

Entergy, which operates the facility 25 miles (40 km) north of New York City, says the increased levels of tritium represent “fluctuations that can be expected as the material migrates.”

“Even with the new readings, there is no impact to public health or safety, and although these values remain less than one-tenth of one percent of federal reporting guidelines,” Entergy said in a statement.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo raised an alarm last Saturday over the reports of groundwater contamination at Indian Point, noting that the company reported “alarming levels of radioactivity” at three monitoring wells, with “radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent” at one of them.

The groundwater wells have no contact with any drinking water supplies, and the spill will dissipate before it reaches the Hudson River, a senior Entergy executive argued Tuesday, suggesting the increased state scrutiny was driven by the company’s decision to shut down another nuclear power plant.

“There are a number of stakeholders, including the governor, who do not like the fact that we are having to close Fitzpatrick,” Michael Twomey, Entergy’s vice president of external affairs, said during an appearance on ‘The Capitol Pressroom,’ a show on WCNY public radio.

The James A. Fitzpatrick plant is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, near Oswego, New York. Entergy said it intended to close the plant once it runs out of fuel sometime this year, citing its continued operations as unprofitable.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson river © wikipedia.org

‘65,000% radioactivity spike’: New York Gov. orders probe into water leak at Indian Point

“We’re not satisfied with this event. This was not up to our expectations,” Twomey said, adding that the Indian Point spill should be seen in context.

Though it has never reported a reactor problem, the Indian Point facility has been plagued by issues with transformers, cooling systems, and other electrical components over the years. It currently operates two reactors, both brought on-line in the 1970s.

In December, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed Entergy to continue operating the reactors, pending license renewal. The facility’s initial 40-year license was set to expire on December 12, but the regulators are reportedly leaning towards recommending a 20-year extension.

By contrast, Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine was only three years old when it exploded in April 1986. To this day, an area of 1000 square miles around the power plant remains the “exclusion zone,” where human habitation is prohibited.

The tritium leak at Indian Point most likely took place in January, during the preparations to shut down Reactor 2 for refueling, according to Entergy. Water containing high levels of the hydrogen isotope reportedly overfilled the drains and spilled into the ground.

According to Entergy, tritium is a “low hazard radionuclide” because it emits low-energy beta particles, which do not penetrate the skin. “People could be harmed by tritium only through internal exposure caused by drinking water with high levels of tritium over many years,” an Entergy fact sheet says.

Environmentalist critics are not convinced, however.

“This plant isn’t safe anymore,” Paul Gallay, president of environmental watchdog group

Riverkeeper, told the New York Daily News. “Everybody knows it and only Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refuse to admit it.”

Iran Expands Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

The National

Iran may have been advancing its ballistic missile capabilities in a remote desert site in the country’s northeast, according to a group of US-based academics.

Weapons researchers from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California identified a previously unknown testing site while reviewing recent Iranian state TV broadcasts.

They then analysed satellite imagery of the facility, unearthing evidence that the site may be actively used for researching rocket designs, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Although developing long-range missiles would not violate existing international agreements, it will likely draw the ire of the United States, and could discourage the EU from working towards a new nuclear deal, following the Trump administration’s exit from the 2015 agreement.

Iran’s missile programme – and its stock of such weaponry – is controlled by its Revolutionary Guard, which operates outside the authority of the government, answering directly to the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

When researchers initially identified the site, near Shahrud, northeast of Tehran, they believed it had only been used for a single missile test in 2013, as the Iranian authorities claimed. But when they examined images of the site over time, they noticed that the number of structures gradually increased, the Times reported.

They also noticed ground scars, indicative of missile exhaust blasts, a sign of final-stage testing of ballistics.

Between 2016 and 2017, the researchers also saw two craters appear in the satellite imagery a few kilometres away from the site, which they identified as a further sign of missile tests.

The Iranians, the researchers believed, had kept their research secret by working at night.

The Iranian regime denies they are developing long range ballistic missiles.

Tehran has been under sanctions imposed by UN resolution 2231, which called on the Islamic republic to refrain from ballistic missile activities including their development or testing.

Mr Khamenei, who as supreme leader has been Iran’s ultimate authority since 1989, maintains his country is entitled to develop ballistic capabilities for self-defence. Military officials, however, have said that they will not develop missiles with a range exceeding 2,000 km.

The new research could contradict that.

The report said analysis of the imagery suggests Iran may be developing long-range missile technology, beyond 2,000 km. Iran already possesses medium-range missiles capable of striking much of the Middle East, including Israel and many US bases.

The new research will be seized upon by supporters of US President Donald Trump.

Having pulled out of the nuclear deal early this month, his government has since imposed new sanctions on Iran. One of Mr Trump’s main criticisms of the agreement was that it it failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities.

While the report acknowledged that the evidence about long-range missiles was inconclusive, the researchers said recent moves by the Iranian regime could validate their theory, while Mr Trump’s exit from the nuclear deal could embolden the government in Tehran to further develop its missile programme.

According to Jeffrey Lewis, who led the research team, Iran may have have been limiting its weapons research up to now.

“The Iranians are choosing to restrain themselves for political reasons,” he told the Times. “If we tell them to go to hell, we’re not going to like what they do.”

Trump Preps for Nuclear War with Iran

Predictions are dicey things, and few human institutions are more uncertain than war. But several developments have come together to suggest that the rationale for using sanctions to force a re-negotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is cover for an eventual military assault by the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia aimed at regime change in Tehran.

Sanctions Seem Designed to Fail

As clueless as the Trump administration is on foreign policy, the people around the White House — in particular National Security Advisor John Bolton — know that sanctions rarely produce results, and unilateral ones almost always fail.

Sanctions aimed at Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, and Libya did not dislodge any of those regimes and, in the case of North Korea, spurred Pyongyang into producing nuclear weapons. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi were eventually overthrown, but by American firepower, not sanctions (and with disastrous results).

The only case in which sanctions produced some results were those applied to Iran from 2010 to 2015. But that embargo was multi-lateral and included China, India, and one of Iran’s major customers, the European Union. When the U.S. unilaterally applied sanctions to Cuba, Iran, and Libya in 1996, the move was a conspicuous failure.

This time around, the White House has made no effort to involve other countries. The Trump plan is to use the power of the American economy to strong-arm nations into line. Back our sanctions, threatens the administration, or lose access to the U.S. market. And given that the world uses the dollar as its de-facto international currency, financial institutions may find themselves barred from using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunications (SWIFT), the American-controlled network that allows banks and finance centers to transfer money from country to county.

Those threats have not exactly panicked the rest of the world. China and India, which between them buy more than 1 million of the 2.1 million barrels of oil Iran produces each day, say they will ignore the sanctions. And according to Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign affairs minister, “The European Union is determined to act in accordance with its security interests and protect its economic investments.”

Adding up all the countries that will go along with the sanctions — including South Korea and Japan — will cut Tehran’s oil exports by 10 to 15 percent. That hurts, but it’s nothing like the 50 percent plus that Iran lost under the prior sanctions regime.

The War Party

In short, the sanctions won’t work, but were they really meant to?

It’s possible that the White House somehow thinks they will — delusion is a characteristic of the Oval Office these days — but other developments suggest the administration is already putting in place a plan that will lead from economic sanctions to bombing runs.

For starters, there’s the close coordination between the White House and Tel Aviv. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s April 30 speech shortly before Trump withdrew from the Iran agreement was tailored to give Washington a casus belli to dump the agreement. Virtually all of what Netanyahu “revealed” about the Iranian nuclear program was old news, already known by U.S., Israeli, and European intelligence services.

Four days before Netanyahu’s speech Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with his American counterparts and, according to Al Monitor, got a “green light” for any military action Tel Aviv might take against Iran.

The same day Lieberman was meeting with the Pentagon, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Saudi Arabia to end its campaign against Qatar because the Americans wanted the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to be united around a campaign against Iran.

Each of these moves seems calculated to set the stage for a direct confrontation with Iran involving some combination of the U.S., Israel, and the two most aggressive members of the GCC, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The latter two are currently waging a brutal war on the Iranian-supported Houthis in Yemen, racking up thousands of civilian casualties.

The Likely Fallout

It’s almost impossible to imagine what the consequences of such a war might be.

On paper, it looks like a cakewalk for the anti-Tehran axis. Iran has an antiquated air force, a bunch of fast speedboats, and tanks that date back to the 1960s. The military budgets of the U.S., Israel, and the GCC are more than 58 times those of Iran. But, as the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once remarked, the only thing one can determine in war is who fires the first shot.

Military might does not translate into an automatic win. After almost 17 years of war, the U.S. is still bogged down in Afghanistan, and it basically left Iraq with its tail between its legs. Indeed, the last time the American military indisputably won a war was in Grenada.

As for the GCC, in spite of more than two years of relentless warfare in Yemen, the monarchs are no nearer victory than they were when the war started. And in Lebanon, the Iranian-allied Hezbollah fought Israel to a stalemate in 2006.

While Iran doesn’t have much in the way of military force, it has 80 million people with a strong streak of nationalism who would certainly unite against any attacker. It would be impossible to “win” a war against Iran without resorting to a ground invasion.

But none of Iran’s antagonists have the capacity to carry that out. The Saudis have a dismal military record, and the UAE’s troops are stalemated in their campaign to take Yemen’s capital, Saana, from the rag-tag Houthi militia. The Israelis don’t have the troops — and, in any case, would never put them in harm’s way so far from home — and the Americans are not about to send in the Marines.

Most likely this would be a war of aircraft and missiles to destroy Iran’s military and civilian infrastructure. There’s little that Tehran could do to stop such an assault. Any planes it put up would be toast, its anti-aircraft weapons are obsolete, and its navy wouldn’t last long.

But flattening Tehran’s military isn’t winning a war, and Iran has other ways to strike back. The Iranians, for instance, have shown considerable skill at asymmetric warfare in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and Iran does have missiles of its own.

The real damage, however, will be the fallout from the war. The price of oil is already on the rise, and hostilities in the middle of one of the world’s largest petroleum repositories will likely send it through the roof. While that will be good for the GCC, high oil prices will put a dent into the economies of the EU, China, India, and even the United States.

What a war will almost certainly do is re-ignite Iran’s push to build a nuclear weapon. If that happens, Saudi Arabia will follow, and the world will be faced with several new nuclear powers in one of the most volatile regions of the world.

Halting the Inevitable

Which doesn’t mean war is inevitable.

The Trump administration hawks broke the JCPOA because they hoped Iran would then withdraw as well, giving the anti-Iranian axis an excuse to launch a war. Iranians are divided on this issue, with some demanding that Tehran accelerate its uranium enrichment program, while others defend the agreement.

Europe can play a key role here by firmly supporting the JCPOA and resisting the American sanctions, even if it means taking a financial hit. Some European firms, however, have already announced they will withdraw their investments.

The U.S. Congress can also help stop a war, although it will require members — mostly Democrats — to put aside their anti-Iranian bias and make common cause with the “stay in the pact” Europeans. This is a popular issue. A CNN poll found that 63 percent of Americans opposed withdrawing from the agreement.

It will also mean that the Congress — again, mainly Democrats — will have to challenge the role that Israel is playing. That will not be easy, but maybe not as difficult as it has been in the past. Israel’s brutality against Palestinians over the past month has won no friends except in the White House and the evangelical circuit, and Netanyahu has made it clear that he prefers Republicans to Democrats.

Lastly, Congress should cut the arms pipeline to the GCC and stop aiding the Saudis in their war on Yemen

If war comes, Americans will find themselves in the middle of an unwinnable conflict that will destabilize the Middle East and the world’s economy, and pour more of this country’s resources into yet another quagmire.

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com

Al-Abadi May Return But Only Under the Antichrist

210506760Al Abadi may return but under Al Sadr’s turban

Mustapha Karkouti, Special to Gulf News

 

Whoever forms Iraq’s next government will run the country according to the vision of the rising political leader, Moqtada Al Sadr. Leading his new Sa’iroon (March On) alliance, the young Shiite politician has already gained the title of ‘King Maker’ not because his alliance has won most seats in the new Council of Representatives (Parliament), but for the courage and vision he has shown during the election campaign. Some of world affairs watchers began to liken his movement to that of President Emanuel Macron’s French La Republique En Marche party.

However, as the final election’s results are fully declared, the task ahead for Al Sadr is intrinsically colossal. The most strenuous obstacle he’ll be facing is to overcome the direct Iranian interference in running Iraq’s government. Before the election, Tehran had publicly announced it would not allow Al Sadr’s alliance to govern. Just as the counting of ballot boxes concluded, the commander of foreign operations of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), General Qasim Sulaimani, was holding talks with politicians in Baghdad to ensure that any new cabinet must enjoy Iran’s consent.

Sulaimani is a highly influential figure in Iraq and Tehran has become the de facto authority in the country after the power vacuum created by Barack Obama administration’s decision to pull out from Iraq almost eight years ago. Immediately after the election results were announced, Al Sadr tweeted: “Reform is victorious, and corruption is diminishing.” Many have interpreted the tweet as an indirect message the increasingly confident Al Sadr, to the Iranians and their Iraqi protegees.

Though Al Sadr is not expected to get involved into confrontation with the Iranians in his country, he is likely to play a balancing role in shaping up politics in Iraq for the next four years. He surely understands how vital Iraq is for the success of Iran’s enterprise in the region. Many believe that Iraq is, for Iran’s regional strategy, much more important than Syria, Lebanon or Yemen is. Al Sadr himself cannot become prime minister as he did not run in the election, but his bloc’s victory puts him in a position to have a strong say in negotiations during the next three months.

His alliance came first in the election as it captured 54 of the parliamentary 329 seats. This is 20 more seats than what the alliance had in 2014 election. the newly established Fatah bloc led by Hadi Al Amiri, well known for his close ties with Iran and personal loyalty to Sulaimani, came second with 47 seats. Al Amiri is the leader of the powerful Iran-backed “Popular Mobilisation Forces” (PMF), the largest militia in Iraq after the country’s national army. PMF is structured along Iran’s IRGC militia. The incumbent prime minister, Haidar Al Abadi’s Nasr (Victory) coalition, took third place with 42 seats.

The biggest loser in the election was Iran’s staunchest ally former prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, whose “State of Law” coalition’s representation in the new parliament fell from 92 to 25 seats. The fifth Shiite group is the National Wisdom Movement (Al Hikma) led by Imam Ammar Al Hakim, won 19 seats, down from 29 in last election. The non-sectarian list Al Wataniya (Nationalist), led by former prime minister, Eyad Allawi kept its 19-seat share in the new parliament. The two main Kurdish groups, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party (PUK), won 25 and 18 seats successively. The Sunni region political group “Muttahidoon” (Uniters) alliance led by Usama Al Nujayfi, won 14 seats down from 19.

Constitutionally, Iraq premiership goes to the Shiites, the Sunnis get the speaker post and the presidency goes to the Kurds.

Turning point

Iraq’s election could be a turning point for the country after 15 years of continuous state stagnation. Al Sadr success is a fresh air in Iraq’s political arena which might provide the necessary conditions to improve the performance of the country’s government. But Al Sadr, who established his leadership after leading two violent uprisings against US troops, was clearly side lined for years by Iranian-backed rivals.

Al Sadr is now facing an unprecedented situation where he may find himself in charge of deciding who would become the next prime minister in Iraq.”Share on facebookTweet this

That is why his latest success in the election is considered a challenge against his powerful Shiite opponents who have been in the seat of government for long time and who have been accused by large section of Iraqis — including Al Sadr himself — of widespread corruption. Al Sadr’s bloc, an unorthodox one of communists and secular individuals — including a Kurd candidate from Masoud Barzani’s KDP who ran in his list- made its ferocious opposition to any foreign intervention in Iraq clear, be it from Tehran or Washington.

However, post-election reality would make Al Sadr task acutely difficult. He has not only led a fierce campaign against the ruling elites, but he uniquely presented himself as an independent politician in contradiction with the country’s Shiite populace. He was openly critical of Iran’s role in Iraq’s politics, he called on Syria’s president, Bashar Al Assad to step down and he was meeting senior officials in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi when their confrontation with Tehran in Yemen was at its peak.

Al Sadr is now facing an unprecedented situation where he may find himself in charge of deciding who would become the next prime minister in Iraq. The new prime minister would not be from Al Sadr list nor his alliance as the premiership position is mostly decided by the other Shiite groups of which Al Sadr’s is not a part. But this time round, Al Sadr as a winner in the election, is likely to use his input in naming the next prime minister. Al Abadi is so far the candidate to fill this position, but he is expected to be a ‘different Al Abadi’ from the Al Abadi who had governed the country during the last four years, i.e. less Iranian and more open to the rest of Iraq’s neighbours.

Like all leaders of the Shiite parliamentarian groups, Al Sadr is not necessarily anti-Iran, but he is comparatively a pragmatic leader who succeeded in forming a wide-ranging alliance based on the understanding that Iraq’s national interests come first. If he can maintain this vision he may keep Iran at arm’s length.

Mustapha Karkouti is a columnist and former president of the Foreign Press Association, London. Twitter: @mustaphatache