Setting up the Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

 

One big reason? Australia already has the protection of the United States nuclear umbrella. Under this system, the US pledges that if anyone should launch a nuclear strike on one of its allies, Washington would retaliate against the aggressor.

So to suggest that Australia now needs its own atomic arsenal is to suggest that there has been a fundamental breakdown in trust. In short, that the US alliance is dead.

The four fissile firebrands – Hendy, White, Dibb and Brabin-Smith – don’t press this as an urgent priority. But they don’t want Australia to be caught unprepared if it should become so.

But hold on. Why now? Isn’t this exactly the wrong time to be laying such plans? Doesn’t this week demonstrate that the US can act to deal with a hostile nuclear state? Didn’t Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un just reduce a threat for the US allies in the region, including Australia, which falls within reach of Kim’s long-range missiles?

There are two key points here. First, the text of the brief document that the leaders signed does say that North Korea “commits to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”. But this is neither new nor convincing.

A former US nuclear negotiator with the North Koreans, Republican David Asher, who led the North Korean activities group in the White House of George W. Bush, says: “For the President to say that the nuclear threat has been eliminated is, I think, unwise. If he’s wrong, it’ll be on him.”

Asher, a scholar at the Centre for New American Security, says: “I have hope, but after dealing with the North Koreans for 25 years, it’s not a promise I personally can have great faith in.” Asher has a litany of first-person examples of Kim Dynasty duplicity.

The consensus in Canberra is much the same. Although Turnbull has commended Trump for giving it “a red-hot go”, he says that we need to see whether Kim actually delivers. The briefings that the security agencies gave Turnbull and other ministers this week were summarised by one participant as “it’s complex, we need to wait and see”.

So the first point is that no one can yet know whether Trump has actually de-fanged a dangerous enemy. But the second point is what everyone does know now – that Trump is prepared to trade away the interests of an ally if he thinks it will help him get a deal with an enemy.

Trump announced that he had promised Kim he would stop the big military exercises that the US conducts with South Korea twice a year. This is not necessarily a bad idea and may be a useful concession to show US goodwill.

The joint exercises began in 1968 after Pyongyang sent a team of 31 commandos to assassinate South Korea’s president in his official residence, the Blue House, in Seoul. They failed but got within 100 metres of their target. The military manoeuvres were designed to show US and South Korean unity, commitment and readiness.

The problem? The cancellation was news to South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-In. It was news to another keenly interested US ally, Japan’s Shinzo Abe. And it was news to Trump’s own military commanders, who were in the middle of preparations for the next exercises, two months away.

 

And in announcing the end to the manoeuvres, Trump adopted the language of the North Korean propagandists. Pyongyang has long railed against the exercises as “provocative war games”. The US has never called them war games nor described them as provocative; Trump did both.

It seems that Kim put the demand to Trump in the negotiating room and Trump agreed on the spot. He agreed to a demand by an enemy without consulting his ally. “It is urgent to make bold decision,” Kim told the US leader, in the words of the North Korean official news agency, and Trump bought it.

This was greeted with delighted incredulity in Beijing. Because this is precisely what the Chinese Communist Party has sought for many years. Professor Shi Yinhong, of the People’s University in Beijing, said that Trump’s pledge to halt military manoeuvres was almost “too good to be true” from China’s point of view.

Why does China care? Because one of its greatest strategic aims is to separate the US from its allies. One of America’s greatest assets is that it sits at the centre of a global alliance system embracing more than 40 nations, including most of the world’s major economies. China, by contrast, has a only couple of rather unimpressive allies, Pakistan and North Korea.

Shi drew the connection: If US troops in South Korea were to stop the military exercises, it could cause allies to lose confidence in Washington and undermine the entire US military presence in Asia, he told America’s National Public Radio. For China, this is victory on every level.

“We see a clear pattern of Donald Trump turning against his allies,” says a close student of Trump foreign policy, Tom Wright, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “He’s generally hung his allies out to dry.”

Don't kid yourself, Trump and Kim are up to no good

Just in the last two weeks he has harmed US alliances with Britain, France, Germany and Canada, putting punitive tariffs on their exports and insulting Canada’s Justin Trudeau on top, calling him weak and dishonest.

He upset his allies at the annual G7 summit by proposing that Russia be restored to the group’s meetings, when the G7 is supposed to be ostracising Putin for invading Ukraine.

Trump has inflicted so much political damage to America’s European and Canadian alliances that “the community of North American and European nations forming the nucleus of the alliance that won the Cold War for the West is closer to breaking up now than at any time since the 1940s” in the assessment of Walter Russell Mead, an American scholar.

“And,” says Wright, “he completely sidelined Japan” with this week’s Kim summit. It seems that there was only one US ally who had been able to persuade Trump decisively to change US policy, and even that has turned sour, says Wright.

South Korea’s Moon was the one who persuaded Trump to try directly negotiating with Kim, yet in those very negotiations Trump ended up trading away a South Korean interest. “Moon thought he could ride the tiger, control where he went, but didn’t realise the tiger goes where the tiger wants to go,” as Wright puts it. “He brought Trump into this but then lost control.”

Why does Trump consistently act against the interests of his allies? Wright, who predicted just this  pattern of behaviour before Trump was elected, explains: “In his 30-year history of talking and writing about this stuff, Trump has always been more aggravated by America’s friends than its enemies.

“He has been consistent about this for 30 years. It’s not sophisticated or complex, but he is much more ideological than people think: interdependence is a bad deal for America.” Trading partners will cheat America; allies will free ride on America’s military budget.

Australia has been unscathed so far; Wright says that this will likely change only if some disagreement emerges. Trump isn’t so systematic to work down a list of allies he must alienate, but he will “react to what’s in front of him. It’s possible to sneak on by.”

The only time he will turn against a US rival is if he thinks that rival is directly threatening the US with attack, according to Wright. Otherwise, he’s happy to deal with America’s enemies: “He’s open to deals, he worries about commitments.”

Which is how he manages to make concessions to North Korea while sidelining the interests of South Korea. Trump went further, saying that he wanted one day to withdraw the 28,000 US troops that provide an American “trip wire” across the Demilitarised Zone separating North from South.

If the North should invade, the US forces will be engaged automatically, the wire tripped, guaranteeing America will come to Seoul’s defence. Trump said this was a matter for the future; South Korea’s Moon wishes he hadn’t raised it at all.

If Trump’s North Korean gambit works, he will have a serious achievement. If it fails? Says Asher: “The irony of the North Korean denuclearisation deal could be that everybody else decides to go nuclear. If it fails and Kim remains in power and countries doubt our commitment, then what’s to stop Japan or South Korea or Australia going nuclear?”

It could lead to “mass nuclearisation – it’s a very bad position, 20 countries in the region with nukes, like 20 people in a room all pointing guns at each other”.

These are, of course, imponderables, possible futures that no one hopes for but governments need to plan for. Hendy and White and Dibb and Brabim-Smith may be tending towards alarmism, but they want Australians to think about the world after the American-led alliance system has passed into history.

An American journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg, writes in The Atlantic this week that he asked a number of unnamed White House officials whether there is a Trump doctrine in foreign policy. One, described as a senior official with direct access to the President and his thinking, replied that there is. And it is: “We’re America, bitch.” History is in the making.

Peter Hartcher is international editor

Peter Hartcher is the political editor and international editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He is a Gold Walkley award winner, a former foreign correspondent in Tokyo and Washington, and a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

The Growing Indian Nuclear Horn

 

NEW DELHI:

Pakistan may continue to remain slightly ahead of India in terms of the number ofnuclear warheads, with China having double the quantity, but the Indian defence establishment believes its deterrence capability is “robust”, designed to ensure “survivability” for retaliatory strikes and firmly on track for further modernization.Pakistan now has 140-150 nuclear warheads as compared to 130-140 of India, with China hovering around 280, as per the latest assessment of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which was released on Monday.

The US and Russia are in a different league altogether with 6,450 and 6,850 nuclear warheads respectively, together accounting for 92 per cent of the 14,465 nuclear weapons around the globe. Arsenals of the other seven nuclear-armed countries are considerably smaller, but all are either developing or deploying new nuclear weapon systems.

“India and Pakistan are both expanding their nuclear weapon stockpiles as well as developing new land, sea and air-based missile delivery systems. China continues to modernize its nuclear weapon delivery systems and is slowly increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal,” said SIPRI.

Defence establishment sources here say India, confronted with the collusive threat from China and Pakistan, has no other option but to systematically build nuclear deterrence that is “credible” and capable of inflicting massive damage in a retaliatory strike to any first strike by an adversary.

Pak nukes

“The number of warheads do not really matter. With a declared no-first use (NFU) nuclear policy, India is keen to ensure survivability and credibility of our assets and NC3 (nuclear command, control and communication) systems for assured second-strike capabilities…We have achieved this to a large extent,” said a source.

Pakistan, of course, has deliberately kept its nuclear policy ambiguous to deter India from undertaking any conventional military action despite repeated provocations, even as it fast supplements its enriched uranium-based nuclear programme with a weapons-grade plutonium one through the four heavy water reactors at the Khushab nuclear complex with help from China.

Islamabad also often brandishes its 70-km range Nasr (Hatf-IX) nuclear missiles as an effective battlefield counter to India’s “Cold Start” strategy of swift, high-voltage conventional strikes into enemy territory. “For India, nuclear weapons are not war-fighting weapons. But we need credible minimum deterrence, with the certainty of massive retaliation against adversaries,” said the source.

China, with its rapid military modernization and expanding nuclear and missile arsenals, of course remains a major worry. Towards this end, it’s estimated that India, which has a largely plutonium-based nuclear weapons programme, would like to achieve a stockpile of around 200 warheads in the decade ahead.

The tri-Services Strategic Forces Command is now in the process of inducting India’s first intercontinental ballistic missile, the over 5,000-km range Agni-V missile, which can hit even the northernmost region of China.

But the continuing lack of an adequate number of nuclear-powered submarines armed with long-range nuclear-tipped missiles, which can silently stay underwater for extended periods, needs to be plugged to achieve a credible nuclear weapons triad. “Projects are underway to achieve this,” said the source.

 

The Growing Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

 

The number of nuclear weapons worldwide dipped slightly in 2017, with the world’s nine nuclear powers collectively downsizing by 500 weapons.

The United States and Russia entered 2018 with fewer weapons, while China, India, and Pakistan gave their modest arsenals a slight boost. The world’s newest nuclear power, North Korea, is still a mystery with an unknown quantity of nuclear weapons.

The nonprofit Stockholm International Peace Research Institute tracks the arms trade, current conflicts, and the number of worldwide nuclear weapons through its annual yearbook. The 2018 yearbook, just released, has some interesting figures on the state of nukes.

The United States decreased its nuclear arsenal from 6,800 in 2017 to 6,450 in January 2018. That’s a decrease of 350 nukes, or about a warhead a day. Those numbers are deceiving, however, as the U.S. deployed only 1,700 warheads during this period (meaning the weapons that are loaded on submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and standing by at air bases). The rest of the arsenal is in reserve or awaiting destruction. Russia also declined, but not by as much, dropping from 7,000 weapons to 6,850. Russia had 1,600 deployed nukes during the same period.

The United States and Russia are reducing their arsenals to comply with the New START arms control treaty, which mandates no more than 1,550 deployed nukes on either side. Both sides met the February 2018 deadline, with Russia reporting 1,444 nukes on February 5 and the United States 1,350 warheads. The number of nukes each country deploys rises and falls slightly on a regular basis, as submarines—which alone have hundreds of warheads—leave or return from patrols, land-based missiles are taken offline for maintenance, and so on.

Despite increasing tensions between the two countries, both appear committed to adhering to New START. This runs counter to President Donald Trump’s expressed desire to boost the American nuclear arsenal to new post-Cold War heights, deploying ten times as many nuclear weapons as before.

Meanwhile, China, India, and Pakistan all saw rising nuclear arsenals. India’s arsenal increased by an estimated ten warheads, from 120-130 to 130-140. Rival Pakistan also increased its arsenal from 130-140 to 140-150. SIPRI believes both countries will continue to increase the size of their arsenals. Pakistan’s conventional armed forces are smaller than India’s, so the country is apparently trying to make up for it in nuclear weapons.

China’s boost to its nuclear arsenal is the most interesting development, with Beijing adding 10 nukes between 2017 and 2018. China keeps its nuclear arsenal small, reasoning that so long as it can credibly deliver enough of a counterstrike to deter attackers, the intricacies of nuclear warfare and the extreme costs of an arms race are irrelevant. This is a policy known as “assured retaliation.

It’s unknown if China will continue to grow its nuclear arsenal. The country has a relatively small amount of fissile material, keeping its warhead numbers low. Producing more nuclear fuel would be a major undertaking on Beijing’s part. That said, China is said to be concerned about the American ballistic missile shield. Although the American defense doesn’t provide much of an impediment to a Chinese nuclear strike, the Chinese are concerned it could be scaled up by the addition of more missile interceptors.

Holding steady: the United Kingdom (215 warheads), France (300), and Israel (80) all maintained the same size nuclear arsenals over the past year. North Korea, whose numbers are unknown but thought to be between 10 and 20 weapons, might as well be in the category as well.

Overall, it’s a mixed picture for nuclear weapons worldwide. The good news is that the two main nuclear powers, each of which could roll back human civilization by thousands of years in a matter of hours, appear committed to existing arms control treaties. Tensions between the two countries likely mean we won’t see any new treaties any time soon though. On the other hand, the India-Pakistan arms race is a worrying development. China’s numbers remain low for a superpower, but the big question is: Will they stay low, and is there anything that can be done about it?

The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

http://media.pkobp.pl/media_files/6d05d372-bbc0-4a0f-adfa-06e215cc8128.jpg

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan

By Brooklyn Eagle

And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.

But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.

Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.

“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.

While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.

“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”

Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”

While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

Iranian Hegemony and the Antichrist – interesting times!


 

 

WHENEVER I gave a presentation about the Middle East during my higher studies (1994-1999) in US schools, I was often asked: Why all these troubles have been persisting in the Middle East for so long? My usual answer would be: Allah knew how much troublesome this region would be, perhaps that’s why He sent all prophets there!

That was then, when only three burning issues were facing the region — Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Israel and Iran. Today, we are up against a plethora of conflicts. Apart from the seemingly unresolvable problems in Palestine, Iraq and Syria, Iran tops the world’s troublemakers with its involvement everywhere — from Yemen, Kurdistan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, to as far as Nigeria, Morocco and Mauritania.

Turkey is following the suit (after a long period of zero interference), with an open war on the Kurds and the occupation of towns in northern Syria. Instead of siding with its Arab neighbors, the United States and the NATO, the Islamist government seems busy providing ways for Iran to escape sanctions.

Qatar is playing dangerous games with the usual culprits such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Daesh (the so-called IS), Hezbollah, Taliban and Houthis. This was more tolerated with the Democrats were there in the White House. However, there is a new sheriff in town, and they try to ignore, bribe or defy him. None of their tricks is working with a real American president who knows what is at stake and what to do about it. What George W. Bush tried to achieve with super guns, Donald Trump has done it without a single bullet being fired. The United States is finally in the world’s driver seat. Most welcome!

The Shiites in Iraq have decided to hand their Arab country back to Iran. After surprising results in the elections, which put maverick mullah Moqtada Al-Sadr on top, most Iraqis — Shiite included — and the rest of us, felt relieved. The man who called for Iran to get out of Iraq, for its militias to be disarmed and for a total war on corruption and sectarianism, is now in bed with the same parties he deemed sectarian, Iranian and corrupt! What a loss!

The only good news is coming from Yemen. After two years of secret preparation, Yemeni resistance, supported by Emiratis and Arab Alliance, are taking back Tahama coast on the Red Sea, town by town, till reaching Hodeida. This is the second largest Yemeni port, which receives 70 percent of international aid, in addition to smuggled missiles and military experts from Iran and Hezbollah.

The commercial city of 600,000 inhabitants is the coup government’s main source of income and supplies. The Houthis double tax every container, squeeze every merchant, and take away all aid shipments to sell in the black market, provide for their troops and exchange for tribal loyalties. The town is also a lunching pad of missiles and boats threatening 10 percent of world’s sea shipping in the Red Sea. They have always used it as their strongest bargaining chip to blackmail the international community with great success!

Therefore, Hodeida, more than the capital Sana, is the Iranian militias’ crown jewel. Losing it and its region of 2.5 million inhabitants and 300-km coast is the closest phase to losing the game. With total air, land and now sea blockade, the Houthis have become landlocked in the mountainous heartland.

Some might see this is as similar situation to that of Taliban. But even Taliban is not so besieged, with neighboring Iran providing support and open lines to Iraq, the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere. In addition, neighboring Pakistan is not an enemy.

The Houthis, in comparison, are doomed to be tightly encircled by the government and Arab Alliance forces. Sooner or later, they would run out of ammunition and fighters. Iran, Qatar and company would be totally cut off. Their options would be limited to total surrender or gradual disintegration and demise.

The sooner they realize, the better chances they’d have to cut their loses and return to the Yemeni scene as a political party, representing their region in parliament, and running its municipal affairs. And, if they cut their links to foreign enemies, and show themselves worthy, they might gain some seats in the new government.

Game is almost over in Yemen and Syria, for Iran and Qatar. The allied terrorists are defeated, the Iranian militias and forces are under constant attacks. Their “Super Ally,” Russia, is cooperating with Israel against them. Both nations, together with the US, Britain and France, are telling them to leave at once or else! Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are joining the international alliance in eastern Syria to bring back peace and stability. You must be deaf, blind and stupid to miss such clear and loud signals. Get out Iran, now… before it is too late!

— Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him at Twitter:@Kbatarfi