Russia Threatening Nuclear War

World War 3 fears: Russia threaten NUCLEAR WEAPONS to Syria in response to US sanctions

Vladimir Gutenev said Russia should deploy tactical nukes in Syria (Image: GETTY)

RUSSIA may deploy nuclear weapons to Syria in response to the US policy of imposing sanctions over Moscow crossing “red lines”, a senior Russian lawmaker has warned.

By MATT DRAKE

PUBLISHED: 04:26, Mon, Aug 27, 2018

UPDATED: 08:42, Mon, Aug 27, 2018

Vladimir Gutenev, first deputy head of the economic policy committee of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, said it is time for Russia to draw its own red lines.

Among such measures, the official said the deployment of Russian tactical nukes in countries such as Syria, the use of gold-linked cryptocurrencies for Russian arms exports and the suspension of a number of treaties with the US – such as non-proliferation of missile technologies.

Mr Gutenev said: “I believe that now Russia has to draw its own ‘red lines.’

“The time has come to ponder on variants of asymmetric response to the US, which are now being suggested by experts and are intended not only to offset their sanctions but also to do some retaliatory damage.

“It’s no secret that serious pressure is being put on Russia, and it will only get worse.

“It is intended to deal a blow to defence cooperation, including defence exports.”

The minister added that Russia should follow the advice of “experts” and follow the US’ example of deploying nuclear weapons in other countries.

He added: “We should follow the advice of certain experts, who say that Russia should possibly suspend the implementation of treaties on non-proliferation of missile technologies, and also follow the US example and start deploying our tactical nuclear weapons in foreign countries.

Advertisement

<style amp-boilerplate>body{-webkit-animation:none;-moz-animation:none;-ms-animation:none;animation:none}</style>

You’ve moved to Denver.

Time to switch to Verizon.

The minister added that Russia should follow the advice of “experts” (Image: GETTY)

RELATED ARTICLES


Russia-NATO tensions FIRE UP as Putin forced to respond to US missiles


Russian bots and trolls spreading anti-vaccine ‘LIES’ on social media

“It is possible that Syria, where we have a well-protected airbase, may become one of those countries.”

Commenting on sanctions already in place, Mr Gutenev said they are unlikely to do serious damage to Russia’s defence industry.

He continued: “The import substitution program has produced very good results, alternative suppliers have been found.

“However, we are concerned about the fact that the sanctions are still gaining momentum and have become somewhat imminent.”

John Bolton warns Syria ‘we will act very strongly’

Share

Play Video

Advertisement

<style amp-boilerplate>body{-webkit-animation:none;-moz-animation:none;-ms-animation:none;animation:none}</style>

You’ve moved to Denver.

Time to switch to Verizon.

Sergei and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench (Image: GETTY)

The US hit Russia with a fresh batch of sanctions on August 22 over its alleged involvement in the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

Sergei and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury.

The Department of State claims Russia breached the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, 1992.

How Bush Set the Prophecy in Motion

‘The ground feels unsteady’: Exposed CIA spy on why Iraq was ‘one of the worst foreign policy decisions in history’ and its consequences

CommonSpace spoke to Valerie Plame, the ex CIA spy who’s story was turned into a film, about the “trumped up” intelligence in the US and UK which led to the Iraq war, and why mistrust in government now runs deep in western society

OVER 10 years after the invasion of Iraq, Valerie Plame travels the world with her spy thriller story, but the unlikely peace activist, formerly a senior spy tasked with nuclear counter-proliferation missions, never expected to attract sell-out crowds. 

Sitting down to lunch at the Beyond Borders festival before the interview begins, it is clear that Plame is more comfortable as part of a room than at its centre. Masterfully turning questions from journalists and film crew around and asking them herself, most notably finding out the hometown of those quizzing her before revealing where she lives now in New Mexico, it’s clearly her spy training hasn’t left her.

Plame’s life and career has been the plot of a major Hollywood blockbuster, and she has written her own account in a spy novel, but the unlikely protagonist of the “Plame affair” could not have dreamed of becoming a household name when she signed up to the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] in the 1980’s.

Valerie Plame was a covert agent specialising in the counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in her own words she “chased down the bad guys” who threatened the security of the West.

“When I was with the CIA, I was recruiting foreign spies to provide good, critical intelligence to senior policymakers. My expertise was counter-proliferation, essentially that means making sure bad guys did not get nuclear weapons,” she says.

Speaking to CommonSpace two years after the UK’s official inquiry into the Iraq war concluded that the invasion was founded on inaccurate intelligence, the woman behind the US intelligence gathering mission reaffirmed her belief that the Blair and Bush governments misused intelligence to support “one of the worst foreign policy decisions in history”.

“I would say that the whole time period, here we are 15 years on from the invasion of Iraq, and it is a decision that I think will go down in history as probably one of the worst foreign policy decisions in the US and perhaps in the UK, although it has a much longer history [in Iraq] than the US.

“Nevertheless, the UK at that time under Tony Blair was famously closely allied with US choices on this. What I saw, somewhat contemporaneously, and even more so today, of course, knowing what we know, is that the US administration was set to go to war with Iraq. The intelligence was famously wrapped around the policy, rather than intelligence driving policy.”

Plame’s identity as a covert CIA spy was leaked to the press in July 2003 by then Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby in retaliation for a column authored by her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, himself a distinguished diplomat, which disputed the central premise behind the US and UK Government’s argument for the Iraq war.

Wilson, formerly second in command at the US embassy in Iraq, was sent to Niger, in Western Africa, in February 2002 to investigate UK intelligence passed to the US Government concerning the sale of enriched uranium to Saddam Hussein, a critical component part of a nuclear weapon of mass destruction.

Despite Wilson finding no evidence of such a sale, the faulty intelligence was quoted by the then American president George Bush when he announced action in Iraq, leading Wilson to conclude in a New York Times column that: “Some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat”.

The retired ambassador was no friend of Saddam Hussein and had been a trusted advisor to Republican presidents and military commanders, serving as deputy chief of mission in Iraq he responded to threats by the then Iraqi dictator to “kill all foreigners” by appearing at a press conference with a homemade hangman’s noose around his neck and said: “If the choice is to allow American citizens to be taken hostage or to be executed, I will bring my own fucking rope”.

Only a handful of people outside of the CIA knew of Plame’s real identity, and her “cover” as a venture capitalist extended to even her children and closest friends. After a prolonged investigation, Scooter Libby was later found guilty of exposing the CIA spy, but using his executive powers Bush ensured that Libby would not serve his sentence, and after coming into office President Donald Trump officially pardoned Libby.

Central to Tony Blair’s case for war, set out in the infamous “dodgy dossier” which made the public case, was that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction [WMDs] within 45 minutes of an order to use them.

Asked by CommonSpace if her experience in Iraq had ever indicated if this claim could be true, Plame laughed.

“No. No significant WMDs, in particular nuclear, were found of any sort [in Iraq],” She says. “Government at the very highest levels knew that. We had recruited the Iraqi foreign minister and he was a source providing intelligence and others.

“Again, an extremely complicated question, but why the US and the highest levels of government chose to ignore the understanding of that and still proceeded is the subject of many books and lots of ink.”

She explains that in the US, a coordinated marketing campaign for war in Iraq was tasked with convincing the public of the need for war: “How you market a war, and the thing that gets people to sit up and take notice is, ‘hey, psst, they got a nuclear weapon.’ That gets people to pay attention.”

Despite her exposure and initial reservations, Plame was able to launch a fightback against the political campaign which attempted to smear her, which included a leading politician telling the media she was simply a “secretary” with the CIA.

“I never wanted to be a public person, if none of that had happened I would be overseas now chasing nuclear weapons around the world. It took me some years to come to terms with it. I found it horrifying that my name and picture were in the newspaper and on TV,” she says.

Plame agreed that there was a public mistrust both in government and the intelligence services following the failures of the Iraq war: “Whether it is in the US or the UK, the politicisation of intelligence is always a possibility and always a threat.

“It happens and you try to pull back and re-establish a semblance of trust with the general public. That is very difficult because of the nature of the intelligence business. If it continues to happen you become a banana republic.

“in part, we are where we are today, and the general trend of populism we are seeing throughout the world and particularly in Western Europe can be traced back to 9/11 and the aftermath. Going to war on essentially trumped up charges, democratic institutions being eroded and a deep mistrust of those institutions.

“It has created a world where we are today where you sort of have people with pitchforks out on the street, exacerbated of course by the financial crash of 2008. The ground feels unsteady.”

Hesitant to comment on the details of the plans, Plame was uneasy at proposals from the new UK Government home secretary Sajid Javid, who would for the first time share secret intelligence relating to terror subjects outwith the tightly controlled grip of the security services.

“I haven’t read much on this, but it doesn’t sound like the way to go. We would have to read and understand more to look at this properly.”

The interview came in the same week that Donald Trump used powers to remove security clearance from political opponents who have access to secret or classified information, a McCarthyite tactic, according to Plame, used by Trump to remove the security clearance of people who say things he disagrees with.

“This is a dangerous precedent, and I keep waiting, and I may wait in vain, for someone in the Republican leadership to step forward and say, ‘that’s enough, Mr President,”‘ she says.

On the next global crisis, Plame says she would always revert back to her expertise on nuclear weapons: “What I know best is the nuclear threat, and right now we have nine declared nuclear countries. We’ve had some sabre rattling between North Korea and the United States, turns out that not everything was sorted out at the North Korea and Trump summit.

“That continues to be of grave concern, as does Pakistan, which is to my mind a country always ready to implode but which has nuclear weapons. And one can’t forget the Iran nuclear deal, which the US unilaterally withdrew from.

There are lots of problems in the world, but I always come back to the nuclear threat and how it should be discussed by clear thinking people.”

Picture courtesy of Paul Morse 

Pakistani Horn Again Threatens India

OSA-AKM surface-to-air missile launcher fires a missile on target during Indian Air Force fire power demonstration exercise

Pakistan on Saturday said India will face ten surgical strikes in response if it dares to launch one inside Pakistan, in the latest war of words between the two estranged nuclear-armed neighbours.

“If India dares to launch a surgical strike inside Pakistan, it will face 10 surgical strikes in response,” Ghafoor was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesperson of the military’s Inter Services Public Relations, stated this while talking to the media in London, where he is accompanying Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on a visit.

He also said “those who think of any misadventure against us should have no doubt in their minds on Pakistan’s capabilities”.

The military spokesman said the Pakistan Army was the custodian of the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and that the mega project will strengthen the economy of the country.

Ghafoor said the army wanted strengthening of democracy in Pakistan, and claimed that the general election in July was the most transparent in the history of the country.

“If anyone has evidence of rigging then it should be brought forward,” he remarked.

He also rejected reports of restriction on the media and said there was “complete freedom of expression” in the country.

He said there were more good developments in Pakistan than bad and that the international media should also highlight the good things.

Russia Has More Nuclear Exercises


Unlike in 2017, this year’s strategic forces exercise did not involve the launch of ICBMs.

Russia’s Strategic Forces conducted their annual readiness exercise that involved the test firing of air-launched cruise missiles, aero-ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles on October 11.

“The exercises involved ground, naval and aviation strategic nuclear forces along with nuclear early-warning systems,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in an October 11 statement. “Shifts on combat duty at command posts, combat crews of missile regiments, crews of nuclear-powered submarines of Northern and Pacific Fleets as well as pilots of strategic missile carriers and bombers practiced training actions.”

The ministry did not specify the types of aircraft, missiles, and submarines involved. However, based on videos released on the ministry’s website, it appears that the exercise involved Soviet-era Project 667BDR Kal’mar (Squid) Delta-III or Project 667 BDRM Delta IV-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) armed with the R-29R/R-2S (NATO reporting name: SS-N-18 Stingray) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

Interestingly, the routine exercise did not involve Russia’s most advanced SSBN armed with its latest SLBM, the Project 955 Borei-class (“North Wind”) aka Dolgoruky-class carrying the Bulava (RSM-56) ICBM — a sea-based variant of the Topol-M — capable of carrying up to ten warheads. (The Borei-class was also not part of last year’s exercise.)

All SLBM launches were purportedly detected by the EKS space-based early-warning system and early warning radars. “Single space system and ground-based radar stations promptly detected all ballistic missiles launched by submarines,” the statement reads. “Information on them was issued to the command posts of government and the Armed Forces in accordance with established procedure.”

The recently released videos also show a Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber armed with a Rhaduga Kh-15 aero-ballistic missile, a Tupolev Tu-95MS bomber armed with the Kh-101/Kh-102 (nuclear variant) air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), and a supersonic Tupolev Tu-160 most likely also armed with a Kh-101/Kh-102 ALCM.

“Troops carried out combat training launches of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, air-based cruise missiles and aircraft-guided missiles from the waters of the Barents and Okhotsk seas, as well as long-range aircraft operating from Engels, Ukrainka and Shaykovka airfields,” according to the press release. “Objectives of the exercises were fulfilled. All training targets at the Kura, Chizha, Pemboi and Terekta test sites have been successfully engaged.”

Notably, the exercise did not involve the launch of ground-based intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBM). Last year, the Strategic Forces fired four Topol-M ICBMs from the Plesetsk space center is located in Arkhangelsk Oblast. The Topol-M (aka RS12M2/NATO reporting name: SS-27), a three-stage solid fueled ICBM with a reported maximum range of 11,000 kilometers (6,835 miles).

The absence of any mention of an ICBM launch could point to a failed missile launch. The test firing could also have been cancelled for a number of technical reasons. Given the critical role that Russia’s ground-based ICBMs play in the country’s nuclear triad, it appears highly unlikely that the ICBMs were deliberately excluded from this year’s exercise. It is also possible that a launch did take place and the ministry of defense has chosen not reveal it to the public.

Notably, the exercise also tested Russian nuclear command and control systems. “The exercise tested the control system of the Armed Forces, as well as the reliability of combat training orders and signals through the whole chain of command from the National Centre for State Defense Control of the Russian Federation to the command posts of formations and military units,” the ministry notes.

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.

Be Prepared for the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Be Prepared for an India-Pakistan Limited War

Why is there an assumption that nuclear weapons would preclude a limited conflict between India and Pakistan?

Nishank Motwani

Nuclear strategy and deterrence in South Asia will play by its own rules. As obvious as this statement is, the problem is that most of the literature on the nuclear strategies and postures of regional nuclear powers is seen through the lens of the Cold War. This hangover imposes the experiences of the United States and the former Soviet Union on smaller nuclear weapons states and fails to acknowledge that the calculations and choices of India and Pakistan are fundamentally distinct. Because of the assumption that the strategic rivalry between India and Pakistan will largely mirror that of the superpowers, it is unsurprising that the strategic changes taking place on the subcontinent are overlooked.

What, exactly, is changing? Based on fieldwork, I argue that small but significant shifts in Indian and Pakistani strategic thinking point to the viability of a limited conventional war under a nuclear threshold. The interviews reaffirmed that this trend had gained traction in some sections of the strategic communities in New Delhi and Islamabad, increasing the likelihood of a short, sharp, but limited conflict. The potential ramifications of a war between the South Asian rivals mean that any such change in the strategic landscape should command serious attention.

Recent developments suggest that there is scope for a limited conflict under the nuclear threshold. Speaking at a press conference in January 2018, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat stated that India would not be restrained from responding to Pakistani aggression and questioned Islamabad’s red lines for nuclear first use. Unsurprisingly, a Pakistani military spokesperson invited New Delhi to test its resolve and cautioned Rawat against taking any military action. While the rhetoric between them follows an old playbook, the status quo on the subcontinent is not impermeable to change.

Tensions, Challenges, and Opportunities

What has held India back from initiating a limited conflict? The architect of Pakistan’s rationale for introducing short-range tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs), General Khalid Kidwai of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division, reasoned that TNWs would remove India’s ability to wage limited war. This need, he said, was urgently felt across Pakistan’s military establishment due to India’s growing conventional military superiority and its drive to modernize its military hardware. Yet it seems that Pakistan’s moves to permanently close the space for limited war have instead energized and prompted significant changes in India’s conventional military doctrine. In 2004, the Indian Army concluded that its defensively oriented doctrine, which it had maintained since 1947, was no longer suitable to respond to Pakistani threats at the conventional and subconventional levels. Although not formally in print, in April 2004 the Indian Army adopted a doctrine known as “Proactive Military Operations” or “Cold Start,” which it has been implementing ever since. This doctrine envisions rapid mobilization of integrated battle groups (IBGs) to enable a series of surprise but shallow offensives into Pakistan. Such offensives would seek to achieve limited objectives without triggering a nuclear response and occur before international pressure could come into play to halt India’s military operations.

Certain changes on the Indian side underscore small but notable shifts that have been taking place over the past few years and are designed to circumvent Pakistan’s lowering of the nuclear threshold via TNWs. New Delhi believes that the Pakistani military establishment has continued to calculate that it can sponsor terrorists to target India without the fear of reprisal attacks due to the belief that its first strike nuclear posture prevents India from taking military action. For Indian strategists, the lack of an Indian military response following the assaults in Mumbai in 2008 and Pathankot in January 2016, among others, reinforced the notion that New Delhi prefers strategic restraint. This restraint arguably reached its shelf life on September 18, 2016, when Pakistani militants killed 19 Indian soldiers in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. On September 29, 2016, at a rare joint press conference at the Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian director general of military operations briefed the media about an Indian Special Forces operation against militant camps across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Although Pakistan denied India’s claim that such an attack occurred, an independent BBC investigation confirmed that a covert operation of some sort had taken place. More recently, the Indian government released video footage of this operation.

India’s decision to retaliate challenges Pakistan’s view that its first-strike nuclear posture, together with its arsenal of short-range TNWs, compels India to eschew military action. Despite their limited deterrence value, India’s tactical strikes were packaged to convey the existence of a political will to respond to terrorist attacks traced back to the Pakistani state. Concurrently, the military action also helped to assuage public opinion that is increasingly demanding the political leadership in New Delhi punish Pakistan. But, as public opinion gets stronger, any government in New Delhi will have to grapple with the challenge of not being at odds with the electorate while balancing the efficacy of a proportionate response. For India, the dual requirements to counter Pakistani aggression and to convey to the public that New Delhi refuses to be hurt without a commensurate response are reasons why a window is being sought for the conduct of such offensive operations under the nuclear threshold. Whether this shift is likely to alter Pakistan’s behavior toward India is unknown, but it has the potential to change its cost-benefit calculus for better or for worse. These events demonstrate that the strategic dynamics on the subcontinent are not static and it would be perilous to assume otherwise.

Views From India and Pakistan

Proponents of India’s limited war doctrine discount Pakistan’s red lines for the use of its nuclear weapons. In interviews with advocates of this doctrine in New Delhi, including senior Indian military generals, intelligence officers, and diplomats, they argued that TNWs would not stop an Indian military response, despite Pakistan’s posturing. They disavowed claims by Pakistan that TNWs have changed the calculus and have improved its nuclear deterrence posture against India. Indian military specialists contended that the Pakistani military establishment might be adventuristic, but they are not suicidal, as any use of nuclear weapons by Pakistan would trigger massive retaliation from India.

A former Indian Army general who commanded one of three strike corps argued that Pakistan intentionally makes a show of instability to advance its strategic agenda, to suggest that Islamabad’s threshold for nuclear use would be low enough to result in early nuclear use. The general warned that the responsibility for escalating a conflict to the nuclear level rests on Pakistan’s shoulders, given India’s no-first-use nuclear doctrine, and he cautioned that if it chose to escalate, India would respond as per its doctrine of assured massive retaliation. Indian political and military leaders also stressed that the country possesses the military capability to execute proactive military operations, even though India’s Army, Air Force and Navy have well-known capability deficiencies.

Another argument advanced by those who want to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff argue that geography calls into question Pakistan’s rationale for the employment of TNWs. A former Indian general that commanded a corps in Jammu and Kashmir gave credit to the Pakistani Army’s capability to mobilize more quickly than India’s after the forward deployment of many of its formations that leave a forward zone of 4 to 8 km from the international border. But Pakistan’s ability to mobilize rapidly near the border with India comes at the cost of diminishing the space in which it could use TNWs. The general cautioned that Pakistan would have to contend with the situation of using TNWs on its own soil that could endanger its own forces or alternatively launch a strike against Indian IBGs that would still be within Indian territory. He maintained that despite Islamabad’s rhetoric on the early use of nuclear weapons, “Pakistan is not itching to employ the TNW trigger” because it knows India would exercise its doctrine of massive retaliation, and due to these constraints India could exercise flexibility as it deems. This flexibility has been war-gamed by the Indian IBGs, which the general said suggests that thrusts of around 25 km into Pakistani territory across the international border are open for exploitation without the threat of a Pakistani TNW strike. Furthermore, he claimed that such shallow thrusts would be viable as they do not threaten Pakistan’s national highway, a likely Pakistani redline.

What these views indicate is that the doubting of Pakistan’s red lines within Indian political and military circles stems from a conviction that Pakistani decision-makers have deliberately manufactured instability to profit at the strategic level by inducing fear and policy deadlock in New Delhi. This means that Islamabad cannot discount an Indian military response if there is a gross provocation that New Delhi traces back to the Pakistani state.

Surprisingly, some interviewees in the Pakistani military agreed that nuclear deterrence does not necessarily preclude the space for a limited conventional conflict. For instance, a former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate in Islamabad noted that a limited conventional conflict was a possibility under the nuclear threshold as the introduction of TNWs has generated a paradoxical effect. On the one hand, TNWs have increased pressure on Pakistan to convince India that it would use these weapons at an early stage of a limited conflict, but the Pakistani military has failed to persuade India that it has lowered its nuclear threshold. On the other hand, labels such as “tactical” for TNWs are irrelevant, as nuclear weapons are inherently strategic weapons irrespective of their yield. What this means is that any nuclear exchange, once initiated, would be strategic and trigger India’s nuclear doctrine of assured massive retaliation.

Another Pakistani general in Islamabad had a similar view, noting that TNWs have failed to generate stability at the lower end of the nuclear threshold. He added that the inability of Pakistan’s TNWs to close the space for limited war had granted India an advantage to exploit for a limited conflict. The main advantage that exists for Pakistan, he quipped, was India’s haphazard military modernization program, which curbs New Delhi’s ability to prosecute a limited war.

A prominent Pakistani strategic analyst who agreed to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity also rejected the popularly held view on TNWs in Pakistan. This analyst stated that “TNWs are hugely detrimental for Pakistan,” and questioned the logic of deploying these weapons, which could fall into Indian hands, arguing that even desperate local commanders would not use them for fear of self-destruction. The interviewee added that more than the Pakistan Army, it was more likely for an extremist group to use them based on their long history of martyrdom operations and suicide bombings.

Such views demonstrate that Pakistan’s strategic community is not unanimous on whether its TNWs have permanently removed the prospect of a limited war under nuclear conditions.

Implications

The notion that the space for limited war exists makes the prospect seem more attractive and workable for its advocates in New Delhi. Notwithstanding the limited nature of India’s covert strike in September 2016, it is significant for four reasons. First, it demonstrates that New Delhi is determined to change the rules of the game by overtly showing that it has the political will to take military action against Pakistan, despite the risk of escalation. Second, it indicates New Delhi’s intention no longer to tolerate the costs of terrorism without inflicting costs of its own on the perpetrators: in other words, it seeks to increase the cost for Pakistan to employ terrorism against India. This cost, however, could be inflicted covertly to force Pakistan to retract or dampen its actions against India. Third, it is intended to show observers on both sides of the border as well as the international community (particularly China, Pakistan’s primary political and military supporter) that Pakistan is vulnerable to Indian strikes. Fourth, it signals India’s readiness to absorb the costs of a potential Pakistani retaliatory strike, as well as its willingness to escalate hostilities if required.

The political decision to attack militant camps in Pakistan does not mean that New Delhi has abandoned its decades-long policy of strategic restraint, but rather that it has shifted to an active policy of calibrated response, which opens the space for it to wage a limited conventional war. It is too early to say what impact a shift in India’s strategy will have on bilateral relations with Pakistan and how the latter intends to respond, but what can be said is that the old playbook is probably reaching its end. It is imperative to recognize these shifts given that despite the risk of escalation, India has demonstrated its willingness to use force and to publicize its action even though what it did was by no means strategic. Furthermore, New Delhi has signaled that it is progressively working toward developing and refining the means to devalue Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent posture and diminish its ability to serve as a firewall behind which it can sustain its strategic agenda.

Even if the views reported above are minimally held on either side of the India-Pakistan border, which currently they probably are, the emergence of these perspectives indicate that the strategic environment is not moored to the past. Over time, such views have the capacity to alter the strategic dynamics between New Delhi and Islamabad significantly, which would have broader political, military and strategic implications.

Dr. Nishank Motwani is a Visiting Fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, The Australian National University, and Consulting Researcher for Armed Conflict at The International Institute for Strategic Studies (London). His research examines transnational conflicts, regional competition, nuclear strategy and security with a focus on South Asia.

The Antichrist Demands Deadline for Reforms (Revelation 13)

Iraqi Shiite populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr delivers a sermon to worshippers during Friday prayers at the Kufa mosque near Najaf, Iraq, September 21, 2018. Reuters

Sadr gives Iraq PM-designate free hand but demands deadline for reforms

The populist cleric says politicians loyal to him will not be part of new government

Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr warned on Thursday that prime minister designate Adel Abdul Mahdi must achieve significant reforms within a year or face a nationwide uprising.

Mr Abdul Mahdi has 30 days to bring together sharply divided Iraqi political factions and present a cabinet that wins parliamentary approval before he can begin governing. If he fails, another candidate will have to be chosen for the prime minister’s post.

“We have begun the steps of reform … we managed to make the prime minister designate independent from the corruption seen in the previous administration,” Mr Al Sadr said on Twitter.

The cleric said he would not propose candidates for cabinet positions, instead giving Mr Abdul Mahdi free reign over appointments.

“We have ordered the formation of this new cabinet without partisan pressures or sectarian divisions while preserving Iraq’s true identity,” Mr Al Sadr said.

Mr Al Sadr, alongside outgoing Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, leads one of the two main Shiite blocs. The other is led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi Al Amiri and former premier Nouri Al Maliki.

The largest bloc traditionally appoints the prime minister and presides over the formation of the next government, but the exact contours of a new governing coalition are yet to be drawn.

Iraq is suffering from an infrastructure crisis, corruption and wasteful spending. This led to months of protests in southern Basra where nearly 100,000 people have been hospitalised because of contaminated drinking water. Protesters have demanded action to fix the stagnant economy and provide better services.

Baghdad also faces a political crisis with the northern Kurdish region over the budget, governance, oil and gas.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that he hoped for the “swift” formation of an “inclusive” Iraqi government.

After months of delay following the May 12 election, political developments unfolded quickly on Tuesday night with parliament electing Barham Salih – a moderate Kurd – to the presidency. Mr Salih immediately named independent Shiite politician and former vice president Mr Abdul Mahdi as his prime minister designate. Both politicians are long-standing members of the political class that has dominated Iraqi politics.

Mr Salih, of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), won the votes of 220 of the 273 MPs present on Tuesday for a second round vote. The PUK and its main rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), had struggled to agree on a nominee for president, threatening their usually united front in regard to Baghdad.

The KDP candidate Fuad Hussein, a chief of staff to former Kurdish president Massoud Barzani, received 90 votes in parliament’s first ballot while Mr Salih, a former Iraqi deputy prime minister, got 165 votes.

Kurdish parties are also on edge after the results of elections for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region’s parliamentary were postponed due to complaints of fraud.

The results were to be announced on Wednesday but the electoral commission said it had to examine 400 complaints first.

The commission’s preliminary results showed the KDP in the lead with 45 seats and the PUK in second place with 21.

More than 700 candidates competed for 111 seats, 11 of which are reserved for religious and ethnic minorities, five for Turkmen candidates, five for Christians and one for the Armenian community.

An estimated three million people were eligible to vote across three provinces in the region, but many were disillusioned after years of debt problems, corruption and cuts to public salaries.

The Advanced Russian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Russia’s Most Advanced (And Stealthly) Nuclear Submarine Ever Just Went to Sea

And the navy is worried, and for good reason.

Russia’s second Severodvinsk-class submarine K-561 Kazan , which is a modified Project 08851 Yasen-M design, went to sea for the first time for builder’s trials on September 24.

The massive nuclear-powered guided missile submarine (SSGN) was designed by the Malachite design bureau in St. Petersburg and was built in the northern Russian city of Severodvinsk. Kazan was launched on April 8, 2027, and was originally expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy this December, but construction work on the vessel was delayed. At present, Kazan is not expected to be delivered to the Russian Northern Fleet until at least 2019. Nonetheless, the Russian vessel is expected to be the most formidable enemy submarine the United States Navy has ever faced.

The United States Navy was already impressed with the original Severodvinsk, which is an older design that had been under construction since 1993 before eventually being commissioned into service in December 2013. Shortly thereafter in 2014, Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, who was then Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) program executive officer (PEO), told me he was so impressed with the Russian submarine that he had a model of Severodvinsk built for display outside of his office.

“We’ll be facing tough potential opponents. One only has to look at the Severodvinsk, Russia’s version of a [nuclear guided missile submarine] (SSGN). I am so impressed with this ship that I had Carderock build a model from unclassified data.” Johnson said during the Naval Submarine League’s 2014 symposium in Falls Church, Va . “The rest of the world’s undersea capability never stands still.”

Later in 2016, Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, who was then the Navy’s program executive officer for submarines—speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies— said on July 8, 2016,  that the Navy launched its Acoustic Superiority Program to improve the performance of Virginia-class attack submarine as a response to the advent of the Severodvinsk-class.

“This is our response to the continued improvement in our peer competitors’ submarine quality,” Jabaley said. “The Russians with the production of the Severodvinsk SSGN took a significant step forward in their acoustic ability. We want to maintain pace ahead of that. We never want to reach acoustic parity, we always want to be better than anything any other country is putting out there in the submarine domain.”

Adm. James Foggo—now the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe—had also expressed how impressed he was with the Severodvinsk design. “It’s a very impressive submarine,” Foggo had told The National Interest in 2016 . “If you look across the design of the Russian Federation Navy, where they have put their resources and their research and development efforts has primarily been in the undersea domain and in the submarine force.”

Though Severodvinsk—and her more modern sister ships like Kazan—are very capable submarines, Foggo had said, the U.S. Navy still retains an edge. But Russia will continue to invest in submarine research and development and it will continue to build an evermore-capable undersea fleet. “I believe that we—the West—still have an asymmetric advantage,” Foggo said. “I believe they will continue to refine their submarine capabilities with the intent of achieving parity with the West—ourselves included.”

Kazan is an example of Russia’s efforts to refine their submarine technology. Kazan is believed to be roughly 10 meters shorter than her predecessor, but appears to pack a larger punch. According to some reports, the refined Yasen-M design is thought to have eight torpedo tubes, which is two less than the original Severodvinsk. However, the new vessel is thought to incorporate two additional missile tubes for a total of ten silos. Each of those silos is thought to be able to carry four missiles—thus Kazan and the subsequent Yasen-Ms will pack an enormous offensive punch.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

More Wounded Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Palestinian protesters gather during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip, October 15, 2018.AFP

24 Palestinians Said Wounded by Live Israeli Fire During Gaza Border Clashes

Yaniv Kubovich15.10.2018 | 19:07

According to the Israeli military, 2,000 Palestinians have been demonstrating for several hours in northern Gaza near the border

Twenty-four Palestinians were wounded by live Israeli military fire on Monday during clashes near the Gaza border, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The wounded were taken to nearby hospitals, and dozens suffering from teargas inhalation were treated at the scene.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, 2,000 Palestinians have been demonstrating for several hours near the border in northern Gaza.

Earlier Monday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said Israeli aircraft fired at a Hamas position in southern Gaza after two Palestinians placed an explosive charge near the border fence. There were no casualties in the incident.

The Israeli military confirmed on Sunday its aircraft struck a group of Palestinians in northern Gaza throwing firebombs toward Israeli territory. There’s no word on casualties from the strike.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas earlier in the day, saying that if the attacks from Gaza against Israel won’t stop, Israel will launch a “different” kind of response.

“Hamas apparently didn’t get the message,” Netanyahu said during Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting. “If they don’t stop the attacks against us, they will be stopped in a different way and it will be painful – very painful. We are very close to a different kind of activity, an activity that will include very powerful blows. If it has sense, Hamas will stop firing and stop these violent disturbances, now.”

On Friday, seven Palestinians were reportedly killed by Israeli army fire as some 15,000 protesters demonstrated along the border.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said before Israel opts to go to war, it needs to exhaust all of the other options. “In recent months, I think we have made every effort, turned over every stone,” he said, speaking to the Ynet news website.

“Hamas has turned violence on the [border] fence into a strategic weapon, through which they are hoping to erode our resilience. They are hoping to erode our deterrence,” the defense minister added.

Burning the Forests Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

INCENDIARY DEVICES BURNED HALF OF FORESTS NEAR GAZA, DATA SHOWS

By AVRAHAM GOLD,TOVAH LAZAROFF

A firefighter attempts to extinguish a fire burning scrubland in an area where Palestinians have been causing blazes by flying kites and balloons loaded with flammable materials, on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, near kibbutz Nir Am, June 5, 2018. (photo credit:” AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Despite a late-summer lull in the number of incendiary devices launched, the amount sent into Israeli territory has steadily increased again in October.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman pushed for a military solution to the Gaza conflict on Tuesday, as a study shows that Palestinian-launched incendiary devices have burned half of the forested land near the southern border.

“Now is the time for decisions. My position is very clear: We must deal a heavy blow against Hamas. This is the only way to return the situation to its previous state, and to reduce the level of violence to nearly zero,” Liberman said.

He spoke during a visit to the Gaza periphery to meet with top military brass and in advance of a security cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The defense minister has been among the most hawkish voices on the issue of the continued low-level Gaza violence that began on March 30. It has included Palestinian riots along the Gaza border, infiltrations into Israel and the launching of incendiary devices that have burned thousands of hectares on the Israeli side of the border.

The security cabinet, however, has not decided to launch a military operation.

Egypt this week is making another attempt to broker a cease-fire understanding between Israel and Hamas.

Liberman acknowledged that a Gaza military operation must come after “a decision of the entire cabinet. Everyone understands that the situation today cannot continue. We cannot accept violence week after week,” he said.

“The Defense Ministry has done everything possible to attempt to restore the situation in Gaza to what it was prior to March 30,” he said. “We have exhausted our options,” Liberman added.

He explained that he became convinced of the necessity of a military strike after Hamas responded with violence to Israel’s humanitarian gesture last week. To alleviate Gaza’s electricity crisis, Israel facilitated the transfer into the Strip of a large shipment of Qatari-funded fuel for Gaza’s only power plant.

“The change came last Friday. We allowed tanks of diesel to enter Gaza. In return, we faced the kind of violence that we have not seen in a long time,” Liberman said, adding that: “We also saw [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh saying: ‘Diesel and salaries are not going to stop the violence until the blockade is lifted.’”

Liberman said he accepts Hamas at face value when it states that the violence will end when the Gaza borders are completely open.

The absence of any inspection mechanism at the Gaza border would allow Iran to strengthen its influence on the Strip, and facilitate a heavy influx of arms.

“This means Iranian weapons and Hezbollah fighters in Gaza,” he said.

Hamas’s cease-fire terms are unacceptable: it wants full benefits but does not want to demilitarize or to abandon its goal of destroying Israel, Liberman said.

“The only formula in my opinion is rebuilding in exchange for disarmament. At the moment, we need to make decisions, and I hope the cabinet will make decisions. The only way is a heavy blow that can, in my opinion, lead to five years of quiet,” Liberman said.

On Tuesday, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) published data that 1,100 fires have been set since April 10, the day KKL-JNF workers first reported Palestinian-launched arson devices.

The fires have burned nearly 1,200 hectares of land near the Gaza Strip, more than half of the 2,100 hectares of forested land in the region.

Early on Tuesday, an IAF aircraft struck a launching post for incendiary balloons that had been sent into Israel, one of five reported by local authorities for the day.

“This week we mark exactly half a year of the phenomenon of kite terrorism, which caused more than 1,000 fires that consumed 12,000 dunams of the forests of the western Negev,” Daniel Gigi, director of the KKL-JNF Southern Region, said in a statement.

“Although the fire continues today, thanks to joint work with the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, the residents of the communities, the volunteers and the IDF, we manage to take control of the fires quickly,” the statement continued. “In the past six months, all of the regional authorities have united, and together we have built a working model to fight the fires when they are still small.”

Since April, Palestinians have routinely sent incendiary devices – kites and balloons with Molotov cocktails or burning cloth attached – across the border fence, with the aim of setting Israeli territory ablaze. In recent weeks, a number have been found in Jerusalem as well, which have been dealt with by Israeli police.

Despite a late-summer lull in the number of such devices, the amount sent into Israeli territory has steadily increased again in October.

The left-wing organization B’Tselem on Tuesday said that since March 30, the IDF has killed at least 166 Palestinians along Israel’s southern border – 31 of them minors – and injured more than 5,300 with live gunfire.