The Rising Threat of Nuclear War (Revelation 16)

Nuclear threat increasing…

Gordon Boyle

Rumours are circulating that Iran is about to exit the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal agreed in 2015 along with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s resignation are imminent. The Iranians have denied these rumours even although it has not received any real benefit from the agreement. Hardliners argue that only nuclear weapons can provide for Iran’s security and shield it from potential attacks by the USA, Israel, or both.

Should the government of President Rouhani succumb to hardliner pressures, Iran hawks in the US and some Iranian opposition groups, along with Israel, Saudi and the UAE would certainly lobby President Trump to take military action against Iran. Within the Trump administration, National Security Adviser John Bolton would champion such a move. Bolton and other Iran hawks would argue that, if Iran is still standing, the USA cannot reduce the level of its military engagement in the Middle East and Southwest Asia because Iran would otherwise fill the vacuum.

Bolton has been quoted saying experts are worried that the Middle East would face an uncontrollable nuclear-arms race if Iran ever acquired weapons capability. Given the region’s political, religious and ethnic conflicts, the logic is straightforward. He highlights in other nuclear proliferation cases like India, Pakistan and North Korea, America and the West were guilty of inattention when they should have been vigilant, and this is no excuse for making the same mistakes again.

Bolton additionally says that comprehensive international sanctions, rigorously enforced and universally adhered to, might have broken the back of Iran’s nuclear programme. But the sanctions imposed have not met those criteria. There is now acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons programme was halted in 2003, was little more than wishful thinking.

Presently, the arms race is underway in neighbouring countries, driven by fears that Obama’s diplomacy helped foster a nuclear Iran. Bolton has stated that Saudi is expected to move first and has surely advised President Trump, that there would be no way the Saudis would allow the Persians to outpace them in the quest for dominance within Islam and Middle Eastern geopolitical hegemony.

Bolton additionally has quoted that Saudi nuclear funding is underway and analysts have long believed that Saudi can, overnight, become a nuclear power obtaining weapons from Pakistan. Egypt and Turkey, both with imperial legacies and modern aspirations, and similarly distrustful of Tehran, would be right behind.

Israel’s nuclear weapons have not triggered an arms race. Other regional states understood, even if they couldn’t admit it publicly, that Israel’s nukes were intended as a deterrent, not as an offensive measure.

Iran is a different story. Extensive progress in uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing reveal its ambitions. Saudi, Egyptian and Turkish interests are complex but faced with Iran’s threat, all have concluded that nuclear weapons are essential. The evidence is accumulating that they have quickened their pace toward developing weapons.

Finally, remember US thinking lies in a 1992 policy paper entitled US Defence Planning Guidance. The paper stipulates that US policy is designed “to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources under consolidated control be sufficient to generate global power.”

Iran Looks Forward to Destroying Israel (Daniel 8:4)

Iran official: We cannot wait to fight and destroy Israel

The head of Iran’s air force said Monday that Iran was impatient to fight Israel and destroy it in retaliation for the Israeli attack on Iranian weapon facilities in Syria, said state-linked news website.

“The young people in the air force are fully ready and impatient to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth,” Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh was quoted as saying by state-linked the Young Journalists Club news agency.

The comments came hours after Israeli warplanes launched a massive early-morning attack on Iranian targets in Syria and a day after Iranian fighters fired a surface-to-surface rocket at the northern Golan Heights. The Israeli bombardment, which targeted an airport in Damascus, killed at least 11 pro-regime fighters, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring organization.

The IDF said the air bombardment was “a direct response to a surface-to-surface rocket—intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system—launched by the Quds Force from Syrian territory at the northern Golan Heights on Sunday.”

The Quds Force spearheads the Iranian Revolutionary Guards overseas operations. According to Russian sources, the Syrian military’s air defenses destroyed more than 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs during the Israeli air strikes. The strikes killed at least 11 pro-regime fighters, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, making the Israeli raid the deadliest in months. The IDF confirmed its jets came under fire from anti-aircraft missiles during the raid, prompting the military to strike Syrian defense batteries.

The IDF attack in Syria (Photo: EPA)

In an official statement, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said munition storage sites, a site located in the Damascus International Airport, along with an Iranian intelligence site and an Iranian military training camp, had also been targeted. Monday’s overnight strikes followed cross-border attacks on Sunday in which Syria said it repelled an Israeli air attack. Israel said it intercepted the rocket fired at the Golan Heights, aimed at a popular ski site on Mount Hermon. “We have a permanent policy, to strike at the Iranian entrenchment in Syria and hurt whoever tries to hurt us,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

The prime minister and former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot recently confirmed that Israel had carried out hundreds of attacks in Syria, in an effort to curtail Iran and its Lebanon-based ally Hezbollah.

The Sixth Seal Is Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

 

Is New Jersey overdue for major earthquake?

Devin Loring, @DevinLoring

17 hours ago

One of the most noticeable earthquakes in New Jersey measured a 5.30 on the Richter scale — a moderate quake – and was felt throughout Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

But that was in 1783, before colossal bridges connected New Jersey and New York, and cities were pre-skyscraper and modern infrastructure.

What would happen if New Jersey was rocked by a strong, or even moderate, earthquake today?

New Jersey may well soon find out. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said 10 years ago that we’re due for at least a moderate earthquake.

The region is not really well prepared for any level of shaking,” said Vadim Levin, an associate professor in the earth and planetary sciences department at Rutgers University. “The population density is so extremely high. … Look at earthquake-related disasters. They don’t link to the large size of earthquakes, but the confluence of how close they are to people.”

There are earthquakes in Jersey?

It has been over 200 years since New Jersey experienced that historic quake in 1783, and almost 100 years since Asbury Park experienced a quake – in 1927 – that toppled chimneys and knocked items off shelves

That means New Jersey is overdue for an earthquake, at least according to a brochure published by the NJDEP, in 2005.

The agency’s data indicates that intense quakes are likely to happen in New Jersey every 100 years or less.

“Long overdue for how long, that’s the question,” said Levin. “Once in ten generations is very difficult to study. That’s the biggest challenge (because) we live inside a stable plate.”

A “stable plate,” describes New Jersey’s tectonics. Here, the Earth’s crust “fits together and doesn’t deform very much,” Levin said.

Despite the stability of New Jersey’s crust, earthquakes are felt throughout New Jersey frequently.

In fact, earlier this month, a light earthquake was very noticeable to residents in and around Morristown. It was felt as far south as Jackson, and as far north as Suffern, New York.


The big one

Researchers don’t really understand why earthquakes happen on the East Coast, especially because in New Jersey, small earthquakes happen over a diffuse area and do not form an easily identifiable zone of action, Levin said.

“What makes us slightly more nervous these days is the recent Virginia earthquake,” Levin said. “That event was rather large, there was serious damage, and of course, no prior history of such events recorded.”

In 2011, the 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia was felt from Georgia to Maine, in Michigan and Illinois, and in Canada according to the United States Geological Survey.

“That (2011 earthquake) damaged a nuclear power plant — not severely, only to the extent that it had to shut down operations,” said Arthur Lerner-Lam, deputy director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

It points out the issue of fragility on our infrastructure,” Lerner-Lam said. “The resiliency or vulnerability of our bridges, tunnels, power lines, pipelines, is a very important feature of the overall vulnerability of the metropolitan region.”

What makes East Coast quakes all the more unpredictable is that quakes here differ from those on the West Coast, where they are more frequent. Because the earth on the East Coast has different properties than the west, shakes from quakes are transmitted farther here than they are in California, Levin said.

Getting protection

Standard homeowner, renter, and business insurance policies typically do not cover earthquake damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Only 7 percent of homeowners that responded to an Institute survey in 2014 said they had earthquake insurance.

Only about 2 percent of homeowners in the Northeast have earthquake coverage, the survey revealed.

Levin said he declines to have earthquake coverage, saying hurricanes and flooding are a much greater risk in New Jersey.

“If an event is extremely unlikely, how much money is worth investing in safeguarding from it?” Levin said.

Although there is no reliable way to predict a major earthquake, let’s just say experts don’t think whole cities will crumble or be consumed by the ocean, as depicted by Hollywood.

“I’m planning to take my class to see ‘San Andreas.’ Oh my God, that’s such overkill,” Levin said.

Devin Loring; ; dloring@gannettnj.co

Antichrist Urges Iraqi Nationalism

Sadr urges technocrats as armed factions look beyond the border

Shelly Kittleson January 20, 2019

SADR CITY, Baghdad — Some eight months after elections, which were won by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance, domestic social concerns continue to be sidelined as political wrangling between parties linked to armed factions to varying extents continues.

The key justice, defense and interior ministries remained unfilled as of mid-January. Sadr has long staunchly opposed national security adviser Faleh al-Fayad, who also heads Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), for the post of interior minister.

Fayad has been strongly supported by pro-Iran PMU, many of which have fought “unofficially” across the border in Syria, while Sadr and his armed faction Saraya al-Salam have long said that the PMU should operate exclusively within Iraqi borders.

It now seems more likely that there may soon be official PMU involvement in the neighboring country.

While the largely poverty-stricken, dusty Sadr City in northeastern Baghdad with its faded posters of “martyrs” has long been the stronghold of Sadr supporters, Saraya al-Salam operates mostly elsewhere, spokesman Safa al-Tamimi told Al-Monitor.

Saraya al-Salam has two brigades within the PMU, he said, and about 10,000 of the total 15,000 fighters are spread out between the Sunni-majority city of Samarra, roughly 81 miles north of Baghdad, and around Karbala.

Tamimi claimed that Saraya al-Salam had been requested by locals to take part in the operation to liberate western Anbar from the Islamic State (IS) in late 2017, but the government had not granted approval at the time.

Other PMUs that often find themselves in opposition to Sadr politically, such as Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, were instead sent there and still continue to maintain a heavy presence near the border.

Some of these groups continue to hold Sunni areas where they allegedly refuse to allow inhabitants to return, such as in Jurf al-Sakhar. In the Babil province, the town was officially renamed Jurf al-Nasr after it was retaken from IS and continues to be guarded by Kata’ib Hezbollah.

In Samarra, instead, initial wariness by Sunni inhabitants of the Shiite Saraya al-Salam largely gave way to acceptance of the group after property and stolen goods were returned to their owners, Al-Monitor was told when reporting from the town in 2017, though Samarra locals have complained that the area remains too much of a military zone.

In Baghdad, Tamimi said there is no military presence of the group, despite — for example — a sign placed in recent weeks at the entrance to the Karrada Dakhil district proclaiming the presence of Saraya al-Salam there, and that it simply has “offices … for example, for widows to request pensions” or salaries.

Since not all Saraya al-Salam fighters get a government salary, Tamimi said, those who do share part of their monthly 300,000 Iraqi dinars (about US$250) with those who don’t. He said the families of those killed on duty receive a larger amount — 500,000 Iraqi dinars (about US$450) — per month, even if the fighters were not officially registered when they died.

While rumors are rife in Baghdad about some armed groups demanding “protection money” from lucrative businesses in certain areas such as nightclubs and “massage parlors,” Saraya al-Salam enjoys a cleaner reputation.

In Samarra, locals have repeatedly told Al-Monitor that the group does not demand bribes.

The Sairoon Alliance brought together Sadr and communists on a reform platform that focused a great deal on corruption, an issue that the Shiite cleric has long stressed must be a priority.

The backing of an armed group in a volatile country with a confusing array of armed factions — even in a context of the best security in many years — can be seen as a sort of guarantee against various possible threats and a “playing card in reserve.”

However, a parliament member from Sadr City with Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance — who was previously the director of the Imam Ali Hospital there, Dr. Jawad al-Musawi — stressed to Al-Monitor that Saraya al-Salam is not linked to the political sphere.

He claimed that the armed group simply fulfills its duties as part of the government-integrated PMU and “protects Shiite shrines, especially in the areas of Samarra, Najaf and Karbala.”

Musawi said that “one of the main causes of poor health services in the past four years is widespread corruption in the ministry and management,” and this is a priority that should take precedence over other concerns.

At a recent inauguration for a triage unit set up by the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders at the Imam Ali Hospital, Musawi was met with ululation from members of the community awaiting him in the halls of the medical institute awash in posters of Sadr.

He noted in his speech for the event that “there have not been any new hospital facilities built since the 1970s” in Sadr City, despite an exponential rise in the population.

On Sairoon’s staunch opposition to the nomination of Fayad, Musawi told Al-Monitor that the party did not disagree with the choice of Fayad per se, but that it was against any candidate chosen for political instead of technocratic reasons.

Though some inconveniences may stem from Iraq’s lack of an interior minister for so many months, he said, “It is certainly less of a problem than an incompetent person” in the position would be.

The ministries yet to be assigned will greatly affect Iraq’s future security and the extent of the focus on domestic as opposed to regional concerns.

How close the ministers are to armed factions within the country, whether they are officially incorporated into the government apparatus and who holds effective control over these factions is likely to as well.

Israel goes after Hamas Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israel goes after Hamas in Sinai

Adnan Abu Amer January 18, 2019

The escalation Nov. 13 between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip revealed Hamas’ use of a Kornet missile that hit an Israeli military bus inside Israel, north of Gaza. Hamas announced killing and wounding an unspecified number of passengers, while Israel said one soldier was seriously wounded.

Hamas gets Kornet missiles from smuggling operations through the tunnels from the Sinai Peninsula. Israel believes they are dangerous because they are anti-tank and anti-reinforcement, and they carry a highly flammable tip and have a destructive penetration ability.

Amir Bohbot, an expert on Israeli military affairs at Walla website, cited Jan. 6 Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and other officers saying on condition of anonymity, “Israel is pursuing Hamas in Sinai and is spearheading a big battle against its growing military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in this border region, by foiling dozens of arms shipments heading from Sinai to Gaza. Israel managed to destroy 15,000 advanced missiles on their way to Hamas warehouses in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas spokesman in Gaza Hazem Qassem told Al-Monitor, “Hamas is a national liberation movement limiting its activity to fighting Israel in the Palestinian territories. It has the right to possess the necessary tools to defend its people against Israeli aggression.”

Qassem added, “Hamas deploys constant efforts to possess fighting tools used to resist Israel only. Our relationship with Egypt is positively evolving, and we have joint coordination to ensure security between Gaza and Sinai. Hamas considers Egyptian security part of Gaza’s security.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Jan. 6 during an interview on CBS News that the Egyptian army is working with Israel in Sinai, and relations between the two countries are the strongest since they were built 40 years ago, when they signed the peace treaty in 1978.

Sisi’s statement, and the Israeli report before that, seem to contradict the evolving relations between Hamas and Egypt in the past months. Their relations reached their peak with the exchange of visits. On Jan. 10, Hamas welcomed a delegation from the Egyptian intelligence to cement reconciliation and the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. In November, Hamas leaders visited Egypt to develop bilateral relations, end the blockade and achieve national reconciliation.

An Egyptian journalist told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The Israeli air force has been raiding Sinai since 2013 to pursue arms shipments headed to Gaza. The raids led to human and material losses, and Sinai residents have grown used to seeing Israeli warplanes infiltrating into Sinai to capture targets or launch specific raids. The military coordination between the Israeli and Egyptian armies allowed the Israeli warplanes to move freely in Sinai.”

Israel considers Sinai its weak southern underbelly because Egyptian security and military control over it is not strong, and the security situation on Israeli borders is volatile. Israel is concerned about the ties between Sinai militants and Hamas in Gaza and the smuggling of weapons, including machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons, heavy weapons, mortars, RPGs, bombs and sniping guns, to the movement.

French website Intelligence Online reported May 2 that Israel built communication channels with Libyan Gen. Khalifa Hifter to exchange security information in order to halt the flow of weapons from Libya to Sudan, reaching Sinai and then the Gaza Strip. In February 2016, Hamas militants in Gaza carried anti-aircraft Libyan arms, type GSh-23L. These are Soviet weapons specific for military aircraft, like machine guns, and they are fixed on a ground base for firing.

Wasef Erekat, Palestinian military expert in the West Bank and former artillery unit commander of the PLO, told Al-Monitor, “Israel is giving Egypt security information about the weapons shipments heading from Sinai to Gaza. Meanwhile Israel is raiding these shipments. Israel shelled similar vehicles coming from Sudan to Gaza in the past. Hamas is seeking to get weapons from Iran and Hezbollah or from Israeli weapons traders despite being pursued in Sinai.”

In November 2016, the Israeli army foiled an attempt to smuggle weapons from Sinai into Gaza by sea on board of a boat carrying weapons, explosives and fighting equipment to Hamas. Transferring weapons by sea was the new alternative for Hamas when the tunnels were closed in 2013.

Yoav Zeitoun, military correspondent for Yedioth Ahronoth, cited on Nov. 22, 2016, an officer in the Israeli navy as saying, “Relations between the Israeli naval force and its Egyptian counterpart are strong and friendly, and the two countries maintain a high level of security coordination through commander meetings on the coast.”

Al-Monitor tried to contact Egyptian security sources, but to no avail as they refuse to talk about security matters to the media.

Israeli security expert and investigative reporter Yossi Melman revealed in Maariv newspaper Dec. 1 that, alongside the Israeli aircraft raids in Sinai to stop weapons shipments from reaching Hamas in Gaza, the Israeli security agency Shin Bet and military intelligence apparatus Aman pooled more sources to gather information in Sinai. Israel’s Unit 8200, an electronic espionage corps of the intelligence apparatus, also conducted wiretapping and took photos in Sinai.

Alaa Remawi, head of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies in Ramallah, told Al-Monitor, “Hamas has a strong network of relations with some armed groups in Sinai that provide it weapons arriving from Sudan and Libya. But Egyptian-Israeli joint efforts since 2013 against Hamas have resulted in Egypt striking border tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, while Israel handled the air raids on arms shipments.”