Russia Flexes Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Zachary Keck

Security, Europe

What is Moscow up to?

Russia Keeps Testing Nuclear Missiles That Could Kill Millions

Russia is on a nuclear-capable missile testing spree, having tested short-range and both land and submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in recent months.

On June 16, Russia’s Ministry of Defense released a video showing troops testing a 9K720 Iskander short-range mobile missile system. The fifty-second clip is reportedly from exercises in Russia’s Far East region. The Iskander came into service in 2006 and was first used in the war with Georgia in 2008. Moscow designed it in order to replace its Scud missiles.

According to Missile Defense Advocacy, the Iskander has a “range of 400-500 km and uses both inertial and optical guidance systems to achieve an accuracy of 10-30 m CEP. It can carry conventional and nuclear warheads up to 700 kg and employs a maneuverable re-entry vehicle (MaRV) and decoys to defeat theater missile defense systems.” Other analyses have noted that the “Iskander complexes can fire different types of missiles, which is a truly unique quality.” The conventional munitions capable of being launched on the Iskander include cluster warheads, fuel-air explosives, and bunker-busters. The Iskander-M can also fire cruise missiles.

The Iskander has repeatedly been a source of tensions between Russia and the West. Besides its use in the Georgian war, it is believed that Russia deployed the Iskander missile to Crimea shortly after seizing the territory from Ukraine. This was problematic for at least two different reasons. First, at the time Russian president Vladimir Putin was making not so subtle nuclear threats to the West, and the Iskander is capable of carrying nuclear weapons. “Undeniably, this is very bad because these missiles can carry nuclear warheads,” a Ukrainian general said at the time. Secondly, because the Iskandar has a MaRV capability it could be used to target moving ships. Given Crimea’s proximity to the Black Sea, this was seen as highly threatening by NATO commanders.

The United States and its allies have also expressed dismay with Russia’s decision to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad is a strategically-located slice of Russian territory on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania. Previously, Moscow has defended these deployments as temporary responses to NATO buildups in the Baltic area. Earlier this year, however, Russian media confirmed that the missile had been permanently stationed in Kaliningrad. Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė responded to the news of the permanent deployment by saying that this “means a threat not only to Lithuania, but also to half the European states.” Russian military officials countered by saying that it was necessary in light of the “the constantly expanding military infrastructure of foreign states near Russian national borders.”

In late 2016, an Israeli satellite company reported seeing the Iskandar in Syria. “iSi EROS B very high resolution satellite imagery, taken on 28 December, is the first visual evidence of the system presence in Syria. Two Iskander Vehicles are clearly visible at a logistic site beside the northeastern part of the runway. Those two elements are most probably SS-26 Trans Loading vehicles,” a press release by the Israeli satellite company iSi said, the National Interest reported. The press release added: “This revelation approves several unconfirmed reports of the Iskander presence in Syria and uncovers the system’s deployment site.”

Most of Russia’s Iskander missile batteries are actually deployed in Russia’s Eastern military district where the latest test took place. In July 2017, The Diplomat reported, citing Russia media outlets, that another Ground Forces missile brigade had received the road-mobile 9K720 Iskander-M missile system. According to the report, this was the fourth brigade in the Eastern military district to receive the system. By contrast, at that time only two other brigades in Russia’s other three other military districts had received the 9K720 Iskander-M missile system. “Whereas the task of Iskander-M OTRKs being deployed in Russia’s Western MD is to hold U.S. and allied forces in the Baltics and Poland at risk,” Guy Plopsky, the author of The Diplomat article wrote, “the systems stationed in the Eastern MD appear to primarily serve a different purpose: strengthening both Russia’s conventional and nuclear deterrence against China.”

The Iskandar is not the only nuclear-capable missile Russia has tested in recent months. In late March, Russia’s Defense Ministry released a video showing a test of the Sarmat, its new intercontinental ballistic missile. As Michael Peck has previously written on these pages, the Sarmat is “a hundred-ton, twelve-warhead behemoth which makes America’s thirty-nine-ton Minuteman ICBM look like a rocket-propelled toothpick.” The new ICBM is also believed to be more accurate than its predecessor. The March test was the second one for the Sarmat following an earlier one in December of last year.

Even more recently, last month a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) test fired four Bulava (RSM-56) submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The Bulava has intercontinental range and Russia’s Defense Ministry said the four missiles were fired in just twenty seconds time.

Zachary Keck (@ZacharyKeck) is a former managing editor of the National Interest.

Why North Korea is Willing to Negotiate with Trump

Iran's Revolutionary Guards fire a Saegheh missile (illustrationUS Admits N. Korea, Maybe Iran, Can Now Target it with EMP-Nukes

Contact Editor Mark Langfan, 12/04/15 13:19 Share

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fire a Saegheh missile – Reuters


In a blockbuster admission, Admiral Bill Gortney, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) disclosed that the Pentagon now believes North Korea has mastered the ability to miniaturize its nuclear bombs so they can be fitted onto their latest mobile KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are capable of reaching the continental United States.

At the news conference, Adm. Gortney flatly stated, Pyongyang has “the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland [the continental United States].” He expressed confidence that the US could knock down such a missile if launched by North Korea or its ally, Iran.

He also admitted, however, that it is “very difficult” for the US to counter the threat, because its intelligence is unable to follow the mobile ICBMs and give an efficient warning before they are launched.

The admission was accompanied by the announcement that NORAD is reopening its nuclear-EMP-proof Cheyenne Mountain bunker.

The KN-08 is a road-capable, highly mobile ICBM, which can be hidden anywhere throughout the North Korea and could be fired on a short-countdown virtually undetectable by American intelligence. As Adm. Gortney further explained about the North’s KN-08 ICBM, “It’s the relocatable [highly-mobile, can go anywhere – ML] target set that really impedes our ability to find, fix, and finish the [KN-08] threat. And as the [KN-08] targets move around and if we don’t have a persistent stare [i.e., the ability to monitor its location at all times – ML] and persistent [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] that we do not have over North Korea at this time, that relocatable nature makes it very difficult for us to be able to counter it.”

Despite Adm. Gortney’s concerns, he still believes that if a KN-08 was fired at the US homeland, in the Admiral’s words – “Should one get airborne and come at us [the US homeland], I’m confident we would be able to knock it down.”

Even if this is true, it is not clear if the US ballistic defense could knock down an incoming North Korean ICBM in time, if the nuke is intended as an EMP weapon, which explodes soon after re-entering the atmosphere.

System can defend against Iran strike, too 

In another dramatic revelation, Adm. Gortney revealed that America’s anti-missile missile shield is not only configured to repulse a North Korean missile, but an Iranian ICBM as well. The Admiral explained that the current assessment is that the threat of an ICBM EMP strike comes from North Korea and not from Iran, but that the system could handle both scenarios. “Our system is designed for North Korea, and if we get our assessment wrong, for Iran. Its [the US homeland missile shield] is designed to defend the nation [the homeland] against both those particular threats today,” he said.

Experts have estimated that the KN-08 has a range of 5,600 miles and would be capable of hitting the US’s west coast if launched from North Korea. Experts also believe the missile is not accurate.

However, Adm. Gortney’s statement about North Korea’s nuke-capable KN-08 ICBM must be taken in the context of his simultaneous announcement of the Pentagon’s concern about an EMP-missile strike on the United States homeland.

South Korean intelligence has long believed that North Korea has been developing an EMP-nuclear device. As early as June 2009, Kim Myong Chol, who was an “unofficial” spokesperson of the then-Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il, openly threatened use of a “high-altitude detonation of hydrogen bombs that would create a powerful electromagnetic pulse” bomb.” And, in November of 2013, South Korea’s intelligence service (NIS) issued a report to the South Korean parliament that North Korea had “purchased Russian electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weaponry to develop its own version” of a nuclear EMP device.

EMP strike on South Korea?

In 2005, then-USAF Major Colin Miller posited, in a public-domain US Air Force University thesis, that the North Koreans could tactically use a nuclear-EMP weapon on the Korean Peninsula to “level-the playing field” against the electronic dependent forces of the United States and South Korea.

The tactical North Korean EMP “decapitation” attack would likely bag as POWs the 40,000 living US marines now guarding South Korea because an EMP doesn’t kill human beings, only electronics.

A tactical nuclear-EMP aimed at South Korea would not need an ICBM to reach the 30-50 km level above the earth to explode. Rather, it would only need a much smaller short-range missile to achieve its suitable EMP-location above the Korean peninsula for an effective EMP detonation.

Given the degree of cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea, it is highly likely that any nuclear-EMP-technology mastered by North Korea has already been shared with Iran. Therefore, the EMP-proliferation danger from North Korea to Iran is a catastrophic danger.

North Korea has been threatening a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the US for two years, as explained in this ABC News report from 2013. At the time of the report, North Korea was said to be “years away” from a developing a missile that could hit the US: These “years” have apparently passed.

And yet, inexplicably, US President Barack Obama is currently negotiating a deal with Iran that he himself has admitted would enable it to manufacture its own nuclear weapons, 12-13 years after it is signed. 

Gil Ronen contributed to this report.

Columbia University Warns Of Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study

A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones. The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

Many faults and a few mostly modest quakes have long been known around New York City, but the research casts them in a new light. The scientists say the insight comes from sophisticated analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on tremors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer, say the scientists. All are based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which runs the network of seismometers that monitors most of the northeastern United States.

Lead author Lynn R. Sykes said the data show that large quakes are infrequent around New York compared to more active areas like California and Japan, but that the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure. “The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.” Sykes, who has studied the region for four decades, is known for his early role in establishing the global theory of plate tectonics.

The authors compiled a catalog of all 383 known earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City. Coauthor John Armbruster estimated sizes and locations of dozens of events before 1930 by combing newspaper accounts and other records. The researchers say magnitude 5 quakes—strong enough to cause damage–occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. There was little settlement around to be hurt by the first two quakes, whose locations are vague due to a lack of good accounts; but the last, thought to be centered under the seabed somewhere between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook, toppled chimneys across the city and New Jersey, and panicked bathers at Coney Island. Based on this, the researchers say such quakes should be routinely expected, on average, about every 100 years. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said Armbruster. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”

Starting in the early 1970s Lamont began collecting data on quakes from dozens of newly deployed seismometers; these have revealed further potential, including distinct zones where earthquakes concentrate, and where larger ones could come. The Lamont network, now led by coauthor Won-Young Kim, has located hundreds of small events, including a magnitude 3 every few years, which can be felt by people at the surface, but is unlikely to cause damage. These small quakes tend to cluster along a series of small, old faults in harder rocks across the region. Many of the faults were discovered decades ago when subways, water tunnels and other excavations intersected them, but conventional wisdom said they were inactive remnants of continental collisions and rifting hundreds of millions of years ago. The results clearly show that they are active, and quite capable of generating damaging quakes, said Sykes.

One major previously known feature, the Ramapo Seismic Zone, runs from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing within a mile or two northwest of Indian Point. The researchers found that this system is not so much a single fracture as a braid of smaller ones, where quakes emanate from a set of still ill-defined faults. East and south of the Ramapo zone—and possibly more significant in terms of hazard–is a set of nearly parallel northwest-southeast faults. These include Manhattan’s 125th Street fault, which seems to have generated two small 1981 quakes, and could have been the source of the big 1737 quake; the Dyckman Street fault, which carried a magnitude 2 in 1989; the Mosholu Parkway fault; and the Dobbs Ferry fault in suburban Westchester, which generated the largest recent shock, a surprising magnitude 4.1, in 1985. Fortunately, it did no damage. Given the pattern, Sykes says the big 1884 quake may have hit on a yet-undetected member of this parallel family further south.

The researchers say that frequent small quakes occur in predictable ratios to larger ones, and so can be used to project a rough time scale for damaging events. Based on the lengths of the faults, the detected tremors, and calculations of how stresses build in the crust, the researchers say that magnitude 6 quakes, or even 7—respectively 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5–are quite possible on the active faults they describe. They calculate that magnitude 6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and sevens, every 3,400 years. The corresponding probabilities of occurrence in any 50-year period would be 7% and 1.5%. After less specific hints of these possibilities appeared in previous research, a 2003 analysis by The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of quakes this size in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimates that a magnitude 7 would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone. The researchers point out that no one knows when the last such events occurred, and say no one can predict when they next might come.

“We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California,” said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. “The problem here comes from many subtle faults. 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. We need to take a very close look.” Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. “The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great,” he said. “It could be like something out of a Greek myth.”

The researchers found concrete evidence for one significant previously unknown structure: an active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Stamford-Peekskill line stands out sharply on the researchers’ earthquake map, with small events clustered along its length, and to its immediate southwest. Just to the north, there are no quakes, indicating that it represents some kind of underground boundary. It is parallel to the other faults beginning at 125th Street, so the researchers believe it is a fault in the same family. Like the others, they say it is probably capable of producing at least a magnitude 6 quake. Furthermore, a mile or so on, it intersects the Ramapo seismic zone.

Sykes said the existence of the Stamford-Peekskill line had been suggested before, because the Hudson takes a sudden unexplained bend just ot the north of Indian Point, and definite traces of an old fault can be along the north side of the bend. The seismic evidence confirms it, he said. “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident,” says the paper. “This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”

The findings comes at a time when Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is trying to relicense the two operating plants for an additional 20 years—a move being fought by surrounding communities and the New York State Attorney General. Last fall the attorney general, alerted to the then-unpublished Lamont data, told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel in a filing: “New data developed in the last 20 years disclose a substantially higher likelihood of significant earthquake activity in the vicinity of [Indian Point] that could exceed the earthquake design for the facility.” The state alleges that Entergy has not presented new data on earthquakes past 1979. However, in a little-noticed decision this July 31, the panel rejected the argument on procedural grounds. A source at the attorney general’s office said the state is considering its options.

The characteristics of New York’s geology and human footprint may increase the problem. Unlike in California, many New York quakes occur near the surface—in the upper mile or so—and they occur not in the broken-up, more malleable formations common where quakes are frequent, but rather in the extremely hard, rigid rocks underlying Manhattan and much of the lower Hudson Valley. Such rocks can build large stresses, then suddenly and efficiently transmit energy over long distances. “It’s like putting a hard rock in a vise,” said Seeber. “Nothing happens for a while. Then it goes with a bang.” Earthquake-resistant building codes were not introduced to New York City until 1995, and are not in effect at all in many other communities. Sinuous skyscrapers and bridges might get by with minimal damage, said Sykes, but many older, unreinforced three- to six-story brick buildings could crumble.

Art Lerner-Lam, associate director of Lamont for seismology, geology and tectonophysics, pointed out that the region’s major highways including the New York State Thruway, commuter and long-distance rail lines, and the main gas, oil and power transmission lines all cross the parallel active faults, making them particularly vulnerable to being cut. Lerner-Lam, who was not involved in the research, said that the identification of the seismic line near Indian Point “is a major substantiation of a feature that bears on the long-term earthquake risk of the northeastern United States.” He called for policymakers to develop more information on the region’s vulnerability, to take a closer look at land use and development, and to make investments to strengthen critical infrastructure.

“This is a landmark study in many ways,” said Lerner-Lam. “It gives us the best possible evidence that we have an earthquake hazard here that should be a factor in any planning decision. It crystallizes the argument that this hazard is not random. There is a structure to the location and timing of the earthquakes. This enables us to contemplate risk in an entirely different way. And since we are able to do that, we should be required to do that.”

New York Earthquake Briefs and Quotes:

Existing U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard maps show New York City as facing more hazard than many other eastern U.S. areas. Three areas are somewhat more active—northernmost New York State, New Hampshire and South Carolina—but they have much lower populations and fewer structures. The wider forces at work include pressure exerted from continuing expansion of the mid-Atlantic Ridge thousands of miles to the east; slow westward migration of the North American continent; and the area’s intricate labyrinth of old faults, sutures and zones of weakness caused by past collisions and rifting.

Due to New York’s past history, population density and fragile, interdependent infrastructure, a 2001 analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks it the 11th most at-risk U.S. city for earthquake damage. Among those ahead: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Behind: Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Anchorage.

New York’s first seismic station was set up at Fordham University in the 1920s. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y., has operated stations since 1949, and now coordinates a network of about 40.

Dozens of small quakes have been felt in the New York area. A Jan. 17, 2001 magnitude 2.4, centered in the Upper East Side—the first ever detected in Manhattan itself–may have originated on the 125th Street fault. Some people thought it was an explosion, but no one was harmed.

The most recent felt quake, a magnitude 2.1 on July 28, 2008, was centered near Milford, N.J. Houses shook and a woman at St. Edward’s Church said she felt the building rise up under her feet—but no damage was done.

Questions about the seismic safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which lies amid a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, were raised in previous scientific papers in 1978 and 1985.

Because the hard rocks under much of New York can build up a lot strain before breaking, researchers believe that modest faults as short as 1 to 10 kilometers can cause magnitude 5 or 6 quakes.

In general, magnitude 3 quakes occur about 10 times more often than magnitude fours; 100 times more than magnitude fives; and so on. This principle is called the Gutenberg-Richter relationship.

The Antichrist Moves Closer to Iran

In about-face, Iraq’s maverick al-Sadr moves closer to Iran

The Associated Press

Updated 17 hours ago

BAGHDAD — Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric who emerged as the main winner in Iraq’s parliamentary elections last month, campaigned on a platform to end sectarian politics and replace it with a government that puts Iraqis first.

Instead, he has forged a postelection coalition with a rival Shiite bloc that includes some of the most powerful militias operating in Iraq — groups that get their funding and support from Tehran.

The deal underscores the active role Iran is taking in shaping the next government of Iraq, sending key military and spiritual advisers to revive a grand coalition of Shiite parties as a conduit for its influence in Baghdad. It also illustrates how Iran has gained sway over al-Sadr, who once called for booting foreign influence from Iraq.

Two Shiite politicians with inside knowledge of the party talks told The Associated Press that the new coalition between al-Sadr’s Sa’eroun bloc and Hadi al-Amiri’s Fatah bloc came on the heels of intensive Iranian lobbying, including visits by the influential Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the highly respected son of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who met with al-Sadr earlier this month.

They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

For Iraqi voters, after delivering what was supposed to be a pivotal election result that looked beyond religious affiliation, the coalition means a dispiriting return to business as usual.

“This coalition is a product of Iran’s desire to influence internal forces in Iraq,” said Wathiq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Group for Strategic Studies. “But besides the Shiite National Alliance, there will be a Sunni alliance and a Kurdish alliance, and a return of sectarianism among all the armed blocs and factions… This is the most dangerous thing in Iraq right now.”

With no single party winning the majority of seats, the various blocs need to form coalition in order to name a new government.

On Saturday, the coalition was joined by incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, another Shiite leader, whose bloc came in third in the elections. It could soon include other Shiite parties that underperformed at the polls.

Al-Abadi campaigned on a cross-sectarian platform and included Sunni politicians in his bloc. But the bulk of the winning candidates on his list were Shiites, and al-Abadi is the chairman of Islamic Dawa, a Shiite Islamist party that formed the core of the governing Shiite coalitions of 2006 and 2010.

The alignment paves the way for a return to sectarian-based government where Shiite parties come together to form a grand coalition which doubles as a patronage network that dispenses jobs to supporters.

Last month’s elections were Iraq’s fourth since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein. But voter turnout was the lowest in 15 years due to widespread anger at the dysfunctional political class. Allegations of widespread fraud and irregularities have further complicated the postelection scene, sparking calls for a recount and fresh elections.

Al-Sadr did not seek a seat himself, but Sa’eroun took 54 seats of the 329-seat body, followed by Fatah with 47.

The cleric, who once led a militia in the insurgency against American forces, directed mass protests in recent years that included calls to end foreign interference in Iraqi affairs. He would single out Iran and Iran-backed Shiite militias that were widely accused of human rights violations against Sunnis while fighting IS.

When the results were announced, his followers poured into Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, chanting: “Iran, out, out.”

But now it appears the 44-year-old leader, constrained by his slim margin of victory, has little choice but to cut deals with Iran-backed factions and other Shiite blocs. Al-Sadr’s coalition with the Fatah bloc gives them 101 seats in Parliament — still short of the 165 needed to name a new government — though with the remaining three Shiite blocs they would have 188.

“The reality after the elections is what motivated the alliance between Sa’eroun and Fatah as the two top winners with major seats,” said Jaafar al-Mousawi, a politician linked to al-Sadr.

The Iranian role was further highlighted by indirect discussions between al-Sadr and al-Amiri overseen by Tehran that lasted for ten days, said a third Shiite politician who took part in the discussions. After a five-hour meeting in al-Sadr’s house in Najaf on June 12, the two leaders announced their deal in a surprise press conference after midnight.

“Today’s announcement is a prelude for the National Alliance,” declared al-Amiri.

It followed a deadly blast in al-Sadr’s electoral stronghold in eastern Baghdad and a mysterious fire in warehouse believed to store ballots from the same area. No one has claimed responsibility for either incident.

It was just months ago that al-Sadr derided a short-lived alliance between al-Amiri and al-Abadi as “repugnant.” Now, he has joined in a coalition with both.

The new grouping is already rallying Iraq’s Sunni minority to close ranks and speak with one voice, said Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, a Sunni.

“It will be a catalyst to expedite forming the new government, and it will spur others to arrange their papers ahead of formal discussions,” he said, referring to Sunnis and Kurds.

Al-Amiri, who spent more than two decades in Iran and enjoys close ties with its Revolutionary Guard, leads the powerful Badr Organization, one of the main state-sanctioned militias that fought the Islamic State group.

He is said to have his eyes on the position of prime minister.

A politician close to al-Abadi, who also requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, said the “Iranian will” was behind the “alliance of the militias.” He added that Iran “has sent a message to America that it still has a major role and influence in Iraq.”

The French Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

The Story of How France Built Nuclear Weapons

June 23, 2018

Steve Weintz

Once Europe had trembled under the tramp of French boots; twice Paris had fallen to a foe; three times France had succumbed to invasion. Before the World War II France, like Britain and Germany, led the way in nuclear science, building on the Curie family’s work. Frederic Joliot-Curie set up the first cyclotron or particle accelerator in Europe and with Lew Kowarski succeeded in creating a fission reaction in uranium early in 1939, soon after the discovery of the phenomenon.

France’s interest in nuclear science was at first a quest for an energy source more than a weapon—an industrial nation needed fuel to power its armaments factories. Joliot-Curie asked the government for money and certain rare materials: uranium ore and “heavy water.” The ore came quietly from a Belgian mining firm with a mine in the Congo, but the heavy water–water in which ordinary hydrogen atoms are replaced by twice-as-heavy deuterium atoms—came from Norway, a country endangered by Nazi Germany.

No sooner had French agents secured the world’s entire supply of heavy water than France fell in May 1940. The uranium went to Morocco and the heavy water to Britain, which is where it was used in crucial experiments that led to the Manhattan Project. Once in Canada, Joliot-Curie’s colleague Bertrand Goldschmidt developed the chemical process for separating plutonium from uranium fuel. Though the Joliot-Curies remained in France they did not collaborate, and aided the Allied ALSOS mission to locate and secure German nuclear-research materials.

But American suspicions of some French scientists’ Communist beliefs, along with reluctance to share the bomb with any other nation, hampered French postwar nuclear collaboration. Gen. Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, ordered their conversations tapped in London. After France, at Frederic Joliot-Curie’s urging, established its civil nuclear energy authority in October 1945 General Groves grudgingly allowed Goldschmidt, Kowarski and others to pass on what they knew from their wartime Canadian efforts.

The French nuclear effort proceeded adroitly by small steps despite all this background noise. The fist reactor, ZOE 1 went critical in 1948, a plutonium extraction plant started up in 1949, and within a decade France was producing both kilograms of plutonium and megawatts of electricity every year. By the early 1960s France was self-sufficient in nuclear fuels.

But desire for the Bomb vacillated with French political will and Cold War politics. Widespread support for the French Communist Party and a natural jealousy inflamed Gallic feelings about the “special relationship” between America and Britain. Dien Bien Phu, the catastrophic 1954 defeat of French forces by the Viet Minh in northern Vietnam, spelled the end of France’s colonial empire.

In December 1954 the Cabinet authorized the development of an atomic bomb; but not until France suffered further humiliation would someone seize the weapon. After the Suez Crisis of 1956, in which American pressure on Britain forced its exit from a joint UK-French-Israeli effort to retake the Suez Canal from Egypt, the French drive for the Bomb accelerated. The election of Gen. Charles de Gaulle and the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1958 added impulse to the drive. “A great State,” he said, “which does not possess them [nuclear weapons], while others have them, does not command its own destiny.”

Like the United States and the UK, France looked overseas for big vacant lands to test its nukes. After briefly looking at sites in the Alps and on Corsica the remote Algerian oasis of Raggane deep in the Sahara Desert was designated the Sahara Center for Military Experiments (Centre Saharien d’Expérimentations Militaires, CSEM). Beginning in 1957 all the infrastructure of the nuclear enterprise appeared in ordered patterns in the desert. No ragged Beau Geste fort, CSEM supported its ten thousand personnel with an airport, barracks, laboratories, shops, communication stations, water and power plants.

The first test, code named Gerboise Blue (“Blue Sand Rat”), like the following two atmospheric tests, was mounted atop a three-hundred-foot-tall steel tower, much like America’s first test Shot Trinity. On February 13, 1960, Gerboise Blue yielded a thumping sixty kilotons from its levitated plutonium core—the largest ever first test and a record that still stands. Shots Gerboise Blanc and Gerboise Rouge didn’t come close to Gerboise Blue’s yield but after one test a patriotic, foolhardy commander led his troops wearing shorts across vitrified sand into ground zero to plant the Tricolour.