Russia Prepares For Nuclear War (Daniel 7)

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during celebrations for Navy Day as it rains in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad region, Russia, July 26, 2015.

Reuters

Russia could be storing nuclear weapons less than 50 miles from the Polish border

• Russia could be storing nuclear weapons at a recently renovated underground bunker in the Kaliningrad region roughly 30 miles from the Polish border, according to a report released by a nuclear watchdog on Monday.

The findings show the bunker is now an active site.

• This will likely increase concerns about Moscow’s nuclear activities in the region at a time of heightened tensions between NATO and the Kremlin.

Russia could be storing nuclear weapons at a recently renovated underground bunker in the Kaliningrad region roughly 30 miles from the Polish border, according to a report released by a nuclear watchdog on Monday.

Satellite images showed the site being excavated beginning back in 2016, renovated, and then covered in 2018, which suggests it could be returning to operational status, according to the report from the Federation of American Scientists.

“The latest upgrade obviously raises questions about what the operational status of the site is,” Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said in the report.

“The features of the site suggest it could potentially serve Russian Air Force or Navy dual-capable forces. But it could also be a joint site, potentially servicing nuclear warheads for both Air Force, Navy, Army, air-defense, and coastal defense forces in the region,” the reported added.

Kristensen told The Guardian that the bunker “has all the fingerprints” of Russia’s standard nuclear storage sites, and while there have been upgrades at the site in the past, none have been as “dramatic” as this one.

“There is a heavy-duty external perimeter of multilayered fencing,” he added. “The bunkers themselves have triple fencing around them as well. These are typical features from all the other nuclear weapons storage sites that we know about in Russia.”

In short, it’s not clear whether Russia is currently storing nuclear warheads at the facility or is planning to, but this shows the bunker is now an active site.

Moreover, these developments will likely increase concerns about Moscow’s nuclear activities in the region at a time of heightened tensions between NATO and the Kremlin, Kristensen told Business Insider.

“The upgrade has been known to NATO for some time,” Kristensen said. “But it would appear to reaffirm Russia’s nuclear posturing in Kaliningrad and is likely to deepen eastern European concerns that Russia is increasing the role of nuclear weapons in the Baltic region.”

Back in March, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia had developed and was testing an array of new strategic nuclear-capable weapons he claimed could outmaneuver American defenses.

“I would like to tell those who have been trying to escalate the arms race for the past 15 years, to gain unilateral advantages over Russia, and to impose restrictions and sanctions… the attempt at curbing Russia has failed,” Putin said at the time.

Kaliningrad also happens to be a base for Russia’s Baltic fleet and is one of the venues for the 2018 World Cup, which is occurring over the next few weeks.

China Nuclear Horn Modernizes Its Nukes

China adds to nuclear arsenal amid military modernisation drive

Country now has 280 warheads, according to think tank, which calls nuclear states’ renewed focus on deterrence and capacity ‘a very worrying trend’

Lee Jeong-ho

Monday, 18 Jun 2018, 10:18PM

China is pushing ahead with modernising its nuclear weapon delivery systems and has added to its arsenal as it boosts military expenditure, according to a report released by an independent think tank on Monday.

As of January, the country had 280 warheads, up from 270 a year earlier, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in an annual report.

But it said none of the nuclear warheads were deployed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces. They were instead classified as “other warheads” – meaning they are being stored or have been retired.

China is the world’s second biggest spender on military, allocating US$228 billion for defence last year – up 5.6 per cent from 2016. That was its lowest increase in military spending since 2010, but was in line with gross domestic product growth and inflation.

It was a long way off the US$610 billion military spend of the United States, which again topped the list last year.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan also expanded their nuclear weapon stockpiles and accelerated development of new missile delivery systems for land, sea and air, according to the report.

Both countries had added about 10 warheads as of January, with India’s total at 130 to 140, and Pakistan’s at 140 to 150, the think tank said. None of those warheads were deployed on missiles.

North Korea also advanced its nuclear weapon capabilities, including testing a thermonuclear weapon in September.

“Despite the clear international interest in nuclear disarmament reflected in the conclusion of the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty in 2017, the modernisation programmes under development in states possessing nuclear weapons indicate that genuine progress towards nuclear disarmament will remain a distant goal,” said Shannon Kile, a senior researcher with the SIPRI disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation programme.

Other nuclear-armed states either reduced the total number of warheads or did not add to their arsenals.

The US cut its nuclear warheads to 6,480 as of January from 6,800 a year earlier, while Russia went from 7,000 to 6,850 this year, the report said.

There was no change from last year for the United Kingdom at 215 warheads, France at 300, Israel at 80, and North Korea with 10 to 20.

But although they reduced their arsenals, the US and Russia accounted for nearly 92 per cent of all nuclear weapons in the world.

“Despite making limited reductions to their nuclear forces, both Russia and the USA have long-term programmes under way to replace and modernise their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities,” the report said.

Jan Eliasson, chairman of the SIPRI Governing Board, said: “The renewed focus on the strategic importance of nuclear deterrence and capacity is a very worrying trend.

“The world needs a clear commitment from the nuclear weapon states to an effective, legally binding process towards nuclear disarmament.”

Nine countries – the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – now have some 14,465 nuclear weapons between them, down from a total of 14,935 last year.

The SIPRI was set up in Sweden in 1966 to carry out research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

The Sixth Seal: A Stack of Cards (Revelation 6:12)

Image: Experts Warn NYC Could Fall Like 'House of Cards' With 5.0 Earthquake

Experts Warn NYC Could Fall Like ‘House of Cards’ With 5.0 Earthquake

A 3-D rendering of a destroyed NYC. (Pavel Chagochkin/Dreamstime.com)

By Mike Dorstewitz    |   Wednesday, 04 April 2018 06:30 PM

A magnitude-5.0 earthquake in New York City would cause an estimated $39 billion in damage after buildings topple like a “house of cards,” according to the Daily Mail.

And the city is overdue for a quake of that size, seismologists say. The last one was in 1884 and they occur about every 100 years.

An estimated 30 million tons of debris would litter the streets after a 5.0 earthquake in NYC , and anything bigger than that would almost certainly collapse buildings and cause loss of life to the city’s 8.5 million residents.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” said Lynn Skyes, lead author of a study by seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the New York Daily News reported. “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.”

New York City is riddled with fault lines. The largest runs down 125th Street, extending from New Jersey to the East River. The Dyckman Street Fault runs from Inwood to Morris Heights in the Bronx. The Mosholu Parkway Fault line runs a bit farther north. The East River Fault is an especially long one, running south, skirting Central Park’s west side then heading to the East River when it hits 32nd Street.

New York’s main problem isn’t the magnitude of earthquakes, it’s how the city is built.

“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,” New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation wrote on its website.

The Great Satanic Hope for Babylon (Revelation 13)

By Michael D. Sullivan

BAGHDAD — I’ve fought against Muqtada al-Sadr’s Shiite militias in Iraq. I’ve ducked from rockets from his Mahdi Army and lost friends to improvised explosive devices from his Promised Day Brigade. But the Muqtada al-Sadr of 2018, whose Sairun coalition won the most seats in this recent Iraq parliamentary election, is not the Muqtada al-Sadr of 2004. The man who once directed his Mahdi militias to fight U.S. forces in Najaf and Baghdad has changed for the better.

While Sadr may have acted counter to U.S. interests in the past, he is now more aligned with Western attempts to reign in Iranian influence and Sunni extremism. Sadr has, in his view, always been a pragmatist. But his pragmatic approach went from trying to change the situation in Iraq through physical violence (2003 to 2008) to understanding the power of politics and civic actions (2011 to 2018). Today, Sadr understands the need for coalition support to help bolster Iraq’s security forces, thereby preventing another collapse that allows an extremist group like the Islamic State to emerge.

I have read the doom and gloom articles. I have received panicked e-mails, Facebook messages, and WhatsApp texts from friends who have served in Iraq.

They all ask the same question: “Sadr? Really? Didn’t we fight this guy for years? How can this happen?” They, too, lost loved ones fighting against Sadr’s militias in Najaf, Baghdad’s Dora neighborhood, and along the infamous Route Irish from the Green Zone to the Baghdad airport.

I understand their fears because I once shared the same concerns. However, having been in Iraq for multiple combat tours and during last month’s parliamentary election, I now have a much more positive view of the country than I ever would have imagined. The Sadr I witnessed leading his Sairun alliance in the 2018 election, while not pro-American, was both pro-Iraqi and anti-Iranian. This is a huge shift from 2004.

This is the first Iraqi election since the defeat of the Islamic State and the fifth since Saddam Hussein was deposed. I was in Iraq for the 2010 parliamentary elections. I remember being in a U.S. cavalry squadron operations center in Baghdad as reports of improvised explosive devices, rockets, shootings, and Iraqi casualties at polling places came pouring in. One could feel the reverberations of an IED echoing through the walls of Forward Operating Base Falcon at the southern end of Baghdad in 2010. This year there has been nothing of the sort: No explosions, no incoming rockets, no car bombs.

The Iraqi security forces, along with their coalition partners from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and over 80 other nations have provided solid security for the population. While there were minimal incidents in other areas of Iraq, Baghdad was quiet on Election Day. Unlike in 2010, when two Shiite-led political blocs dominated the share of votes, 2018 split the spoils across Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish lines. In such an atmosphere, Sadrists, who received roughly 30 to 40 seats in previous elections, were poised to make a much stronger showing. As the election results came in, it became clear his list would win a plurality of the 329 seats in the Council of Representatives. That’s when the angst, bordering on panic, began in Washington, London, and in the minds of hundreds of thousands of Iraq War veterans who only knew the Sadr who’d tried to kill them during past deployments in Iraq.

After all, Sadr doesn’t like the United States. He never has and most likely never will. Sadr and his militias fought numerous battles against U.S. forces whom he viewed as occupiers. Even the government of Iraq launched Operation Charge of the Knights against Sadr and his militias in Basra in 2008 with massive help from coalition forces, an operation that prompted Sadr to flee to Iran. Following the 2008 cease-fire, Sadr shifted the Mahdi Army’s focus away from military operations to the provision of social services, establishing a nonmilitary wing called the Mumahidoon and reassigning most of the Mahdi Army’s members to it. Attacks against the Iraqi military and citizens were halted, although a small number of Mahdi militia members were assigned to the Promised Day Brigade and continued their attacks on U.S. forces until the U.S. withdrawal in December 2011.

The Sadr who returned to Iraq in 2011 from his exile in Iran was different. He disbanded the Mahdi Army, ordered his militias not to attack U.S. forces, and, in 2014, instructed them instead to defend Iraq against the Islamic State. The rise of the Islamic State coupled with the fall of Mosul resulted in an odd coalition: Iraqi Shiite militias, Iranian-backed forces, Iraqi counterterrorism forces, and U.S.-led coalition forces all fought against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. Sadr’s forces, unlike other Shiite militias, cooperated with Iraqi government forces in that fight. More important, after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in December 2017 that the Islamic State had been defeated in Iraq, Sadr ordered his militias to disband and continued to follow the instructions of the Iraqi government.

Sadr has always been an Iraqi nationalist, placing his country before all others, including the United States and, more importantly, Iran.

He is a pragmatist, and while he would never say it publicly, Sadr appears to understand that Iraq alone — without the United States and its coalition partners — cannot strengthen its security forces to prevent another implosion like what happened from 2013 to 2014, when the Islamic State took over large swathes of the country. In 2013, the citizens of Baghdad could hear Islamic State artillery firing in the distance; Iraq was that close to total defeat. The Iraqi people, including Sadr, remember this.

Now, with the Islamic State almost vanquished in Iraq, sectarianism and corruption are the two biggest challenges facing the country. Sadr knows what sectarianism can do to Iraq; he was a major participant in it and his militias were directly responsible for numerous atrocities against fellow Iraqis. The bloody civil war between Sunnis and Shiites from 2006 to 2008 killed thousands and tore at the very fabric of Iraqi society. Entire neighborhoods were ethnically cleansed and mutilated bodies were pulled from the Tigris River every day. It was sectarianism combined with corruption under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that provided the opening for the Islamic State to emerge in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar.

Corruption is the other major challenge facing Iraq. Despite current Prime Minister Abadi’s pledge to rein in government corruption, he didn’t accomplish much during his four years in office. As an oil-dependent economy, Iraq needs to diversify its economic portfolio, create jobs for hundreds of thousands of citizens, and redevelop its nonexistent middle class. Forty percent of Iraqis are employed by the state — a government rife with systemic corruption. As Sarah Chayes argues in her 2015 book, Thieves of State, corruption “is a cause — not a result — of global instability.”u

Sadr and his Sairun list have the best chance to positively impact both of these issues by forming a broad-based, ethnically diverse, government to lead Iraq forward. Sadr’s list has brought together strange bedfellows: His Shiite group joined Iraqi communists united in their calls for government reform and to fight systemic corruption. Sadr is continuing to work closely with a variety of other lists in an effort to form the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament. This includes outreach to Prime Minister Abadi and his Victory Alliance (Nasr), Vice President Iyad Allawi and his predominantly Sunni list, as well as Kurdish lists. A nonsectarian, multicultural government bodes well for Iraq. Rather than the Fatah Alliance, a heavily Iranian-influenced list dominated by violent Shiite militia groups such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah, a Sairun and Nasr list seems the best hope for a stable Iraqi government.

That said, Sadr will still need to embrace elements of the Iranian-backed Fatah Alliance to avoid military confrontation during government formation

; a worst-case scenario would be the militias of Fatah and Sairun fighting for power on the streets of Baghdad. Sadr seems to recognize that elements of the Fatah list, such as the Badr Organization, were responsive to Iraqi government during the fight against Islamic State forces and would more than likely be allies with Sadr as he seeks to form a governing coalition. More extreme elements of the Fatah Alliance, such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah, who openly receive support from Iran and publicly call for the removal of coalition troops from Iraq through violence, are reminders that a list like Fatah has varying elements and Sadr must deal with them carefully as he negotiates.

Most important, Sadr’s list does not have a single current politician on it. Rather than putting the same people in office to do the same poor job of managing the country, Sadr wants to put technocrats in office — people who have the skills to manage and reform the bloated bureaucracy. These technocrats come from across Iraqi society: private sector leaders, engineers, doctors, academics, and former military leaders. The next Iraqi government needs to focus on security sector reform, institution building, countering corruption, and wholesale economic reform to develop a viable middle class once again. Sadr believes he can do this.

His metamorphosis from the little-known son of a famous father, to a violent militia leader, to the leader of the winning party in the 2018 parliamentary election is encouraging. As an Iraqi nationalist, religious leader, and pragmatist, Sadr has both the credibility to form a stable government and the ability to do so effectively.

Sadr has both the credibility to form a stable government and the ability to do so effectively.

Sadr has both the credibility to form a stable government and the ability to do so effectively.

Things could still take a turn for the worse. Iran is actively working to make sure their Shiite coalition forms the next government. We’ve seen this before in 2010: a hard-fought election result quickly slipped away from the Iraqi people mostly due to Iranian interference, U.S. apathy, and Sadr buckling under pressure to support then-Prime Minister Maliki.

Transitions in Iraq are always painful; they are a time of both opportunities and risks. I’ve witnessed many of them: the start of the Iraqi insurgency in 2004; the surge of U.S. forces in 2007; the transition of U.S. forces out of Iraqi cities in 2009; the lost chance for change during the 2010 Iraqi elections; the emergence of Operation New Dawn in September 2010 and the eventual drawdown of U.S. troops and withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.

Unlike all those previous transitions, this election has left me with a feeling I’ve rarely experienced in all of my years in Iraq and certainly one I would have never thought I’d associate with Muqtada al-Sadr: hope.

The Antichrist Will Crush His Opposition (Revelation 13:18)

Efforts are ongoing in Iraq to form the largest bloc in parliament that would be able to form a new government in wake of last month’s elections that saw the surprise victory of Sadrist Movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

 

Sadr’s Sairoun alliance in recent days announced an alliance with the pro-Iran Fateh coalition of Hadi al-Amiri.

Head of the Hikma movement Ammar al-Hakim surprisingly announced on Saturday that he would not join the Shiite Sadr-Amiri partnership, opting instead for forming a “technocrat” ministerial bloc.

The “national majority” is the most acceptable and realistic solution to the current political problems in Iraq, he added.

“It would be wrong to return to the old equation and expect to get better results. Sectarian alliances cannot form a national government that meets the aspirations of our people,” he stressed.

Leading member of the Hikma movement Mohammed Jamil al-Mayahi explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that Hakim’s reference of a “national majority” means that he is seeking the formation of large alliance that would include various Iraqi factions, including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.”

He also spoke about the formation an opposition front, which would ensure that all Iraqi components are represented in rule.

Commenting on recent political alliances, he said that Sadr and Amiri did not form an alliance, but they simply struck an agreement.

On the possibility that Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s Nasr (Victory) alliance may forge an alliance with State of Law coalition chief former PM Nouri al-Maliki, and later align with the Sairoun, Fateh and Hikma movements, he replied: “There are five main Shiite currents, but that does not necessarily mean that they may all combine their efforts to form the largest parliamentary bloc.”

“It is enough for three of them to meet and form a government, while the rest will become part of the opposition,” explained Mayahi.

Hikma is expected to join the Sairoun and Fateh alliance, while Abadi and Maliki are predicted to form an opposition front in parliament.

A source close to the Islamic Dawa party, however, ruled out the possibility that Abadi and Maliki may reach an agreement.

Maliki would prefer to join the Sairoun-Fateh alliance, he told Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity.