The French Nuclear Horn Prepares for the End (Daniel 8:8)

France conducts nuclear strike simulation, seen as message to Moscow amid tensions

Louis Casiano

A French Rafale fighter jet equipped with nuclear cruise missiles.  (French Ministry of Defense)

The French Air Force on Tuesday said it conducted a rare simulation test launch of a nuclear cruise missile just days after the United States announced it will withdraw from a Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russia.

The French nuclear missile strike mission– that included a Rafale warplane– lasted 11 hours and included aerial refueling. The mission comes as France looks to double down on its own nuclear dissuasion program. French air force officials did not say when the test was carried out.

“These real strikes are scheduled in the life of the weapon’s system,” a French official said. “They are carried out at fairly regular intervals, but remain rare because the real missile, without its warhead, is fired.”

The announcement comes days after the U.S. pulled out a 1987 pact known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces. Tensions between Washington and Moscow have led to growing concerns from Europe over its own security.

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“We Europeans cannot remain spectators of our own security,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly said at a conference in Portugal, according to Reuters.

The U.S. cited violations by Russia and unsolved disputes in its decision to withdraw from the treaty. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will terminate the deal entirely if Russia doesn’t bring itself into compliance within six months. France spends around 4$ billion annually to maintain its 300 nuclear weapons that are launched via submarine and aircraft.

The Tip of the Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Saudi Arabia’s Ballistic Missile Programme: The Tip of the Iceberg?

Lindsay Hughes, Senior Research Analyst, Indian Ocean Research Programme

Background

It was recently reported that Saudi Arabia could be working towards developing a nuclear-capable ballistic missile programme. The fact that the news came as a surprise was, arguably, the biggest surprise of all. Saudi Arabia had made it clear, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and ex-Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, that it would acquire nuclear weapons if its regional rival, Iran, did. The issue now is not whether Riyadh wishes to acquire ballistic missiles – nuclear capable or not – but whether it has the technological expertise to manufacture them, or the ability to acquire them. The main question arising from this is how would Riyadh’s acquisition of ballistic missiles affect the regional security balance?

The Crown Prince has been known to speak his mind when he feels that it is warranted. In a TV interview in March 2018, he stated unequivocally that: ‘Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.’ That statement followed his justification for calling Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, the new Hitler of the Middle East and deriding Iran and its army. It would be no exaggeration to state that the Crown Prince does not hold Iran in high regard.

That sentiment would also imply a healthy distrust of Iran’s motives in the region. Tehran’s actions in Syria, Iraq and Yemen have left Riyadh feeling that it is being surrounded by a regime that seeks to replace it as the de facto regional leader. The two countries have sought to enhance their influence in the region for years. That competition, the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s and, later, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, saw Riyadh decide to acquire missiles to protect itself. Satellite images, published by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly in July 2013, showed missile sites being prepared to accommodate Chinese Dongfeng DF-3A intermediate-range ballistic missiles that Riyadh had purchased during the Iran-Iraq War. Saudi Arabia publicly announced its possession of the missiles during a military parade in 2014. A news investigation, also published in 2014, alleged that the CIA had worked to enable Riyadh to purchase Chinese DF-21 missiles in 2007.

While Saudi Arabia was known to have possessed missiles prior to the Crown Prince’s remarks, the satellite images appeared to show that Saudi Arabia now sought to manufacture its own missiles, albeit with foreign assistance. After Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ousted the elected government in Yemen, they began to fire missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia. Consequently, Riyadh sought to purchase counter-measures, including missiles of their own. Afraid of upsetting the regional balance, however, Washington refused to sell missiles to Riyadh, which then, unsurprisingly, turned to Beijing for its purchases.

The Washington Post, which broke the initial story of the missile manufacturing facility, noted that: ‘The ballistic missile manufacturing complex – which satellite images suggest broke ground in 2013 when King Salman was defence minister – highlights the nation’s intention to make its own advanced missiles after years of seeking to purchase them abroad.’ It remains unclear where Riyadh obtained the expertise required to build the facility, but China, once again, remains a top contender. As the report noted, while most countries conduct rocket engine tests in the open, China opts to partially cover the exhaust flame and cools the test building with water. The Saudi facility follows a similar philosophy, with a water trench situated next to the engine test stand and a waste-water run-off site nearby. Saudi Arabia appears to be taking steps to wean itself off its dependency on its North American ally, so as not to be constrained in making sovereign decisions.

Ballistic missiles are, however, only one part of the issue. Another news report alleged that before he was implicated in the murder of a journalist, the Crown Prince was being investigated by American intelligence agencies, who suspected he was preparing to build a nuclear weapon in the kingdom. According to that report, Prince Mohammed had initiated discussions with the US Department of Energy, seeking to persuade Washington to sell Saudi Arabia designs for nuclear power plants. The deal would be worth around US$80 billion ($110 billion), depending on how many such plants Saudi Arabia built. He was adamant, however, that Saudi Arabia would produce its own nuclear fuel, since the kingdom has vast uranium reserves and five nuclear research centres. Washington was concerned on two immediate counts, however. Uranium enriched to four per cent purity can be used in power plants, but when enriched to around 90 per cent it could be used in nuclear weapons. Secondly, the Crown Prince’s assertion that the kingdom could potentially pursue the development of nuclear weapons, gave Washington pause for thought.

There is another aspect of this matter that needs to be considered. It was reported in 2013 that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan for Saudi Arabia were ready to be delivered. The Pakistan Army had allegedly entered into an agreement with Riyadh to provide it with a nuclear weapon if Iran developed its own. Riyadh’s existing links with Beijing lend a degree of credence to the allegation. Being unable to supply Riyadh with a nuclear weapon directly, it is certainly plausible that Beijing would use Islamabad as an intermediary to do so. It would not be the first time that China has used the Pakistan route to supply weapons to end-users. After all, it already supplies some weapons systems to the Gulf States and, according to one news source, provided the weapons that enabled Sri Lanka to rout the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebel group.

Weapons aside, Pakistan also provides Riyadh with the military expertise it requires. In the 1980s, when Saudi Arabia lacked a foreign intelligence service, the Pakistani Army’s ISI provided Riyadh with that facility. Today, both retired and serving Pakistani officers work in, or are seconded to, the Gulf Arab states. In May 2018, the former Chief of Pakistan’s Army, General Raheel Sharif, was made the leader of a military alliance of around forty Muslim countries, all Sunni, which aimed to counter Iran’s activities.

This development is bound to have regional and wider implications. It could start a regional arms race. Iran could now demand that Saudi nuclear ambitions be curtailed by the international community, specifically the United States, in an attempt to drive a wedge between those two countries. If Washington did not check Riyadh’s nuclear ambitions, it could give Tehran the moral high ground and the excuse to develop nuclear weapons overtly. That development could see Israel threaten to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. If Washington did attempt to curtail Riyadh’s nuclear ambitions, moreover, it would risk driving the latter closer to Beijing, thus further reducing Washington’s standing in the region and enhancing Beijing’s. Turkey, which sees itself as a regional leader, could also seek to pursue its own goals and threaten to initiate its own weapons programmes.

If the Saudi experiment with ballistic missiles proceeds, it could, in short, have a drastic effect on the region’s security balance.

Iran Horn Extends Its Nuclear Reach

Commander: Iran to Extend Range of Coast-to-Sea Missiles

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A ranking Iranian Army commander unveiled plans for a boost in the range of the country’s coast-to-sea missiles, beyond 300 kilometers.

Tasnim News Agency

Speaking to reporters in Tehran on Wednesday, lieutenant commander of the Army for operations, Admiral Mousavi, said Iran’s coast-to-sea missiles can now hit the targets within a range of 300 kilometers.

The range of Iran’s coast-to-sea missile are going to be extended in the near future, he added.

The commander also highlighted the Iranian Navy’s mighty presence in the Persian Gulf and the international waters, saying the advances in the submarine industry and the missile capabilities have greatly boosted the country’s deterrent power.

In comments in November 2018, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei urged the Iranian Armed Forces to boost their military capabilities and preparedness in such a way that the enemies would not ever dare think of threaten the country.

The commander-in-chief of the Iranian Armed Forces had also praised as “great and fabulous” the advances that Iranian military forces, the Navy in particular, have made since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, saying the Navy’s success in bringing into service homegrown vessels such as the Sahand destroyer or Fateh and Qadir submarines heralds more progress day after day.

Ayatollah Khamenei had stressed that Iran’s enhanced military preparedness would frighten the foes and be deterrent against the enemies, underlining, “The Islamic Republic is not intending to begin a war against anyone, but you (the Iranian military forces) should boost your capabilities in such a way that not only the enemy would be fearful and afraid of attacking Iran, but also thanks to the solidarity, might, and effective presence of the Armed Forces, the specter of threats against the Iranian nation would be swept away.”

More Rockets Fired Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

IDF attacks Hamas position in Gaza after rocket lands in Israel

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF

The IDF struck targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket being launched at Israel an hour earlier on Wednesday night.

According to the IDF spokesperson, an IDF tank attacked a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip.

Earlier tonight, rocket sirens went off in southern Israel after at least one rocket was launched at Israel from the Strip, landing in Israeli territory.

Israeli residents in the area reported hearing explosions, but no casualties were reported.

Unconfirmed reports said another rocket was shot towards Israel, but landed within the Gaza Strip.

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Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed the government on Twitter saying the “imaginary quiet” was broken once again and that Israel should act more determinedly against Hamas.

“Confrontation is inevitable,” Liberman wrote, adding that “there is no need to wait for human lives on our side. We must return to a policy of targeted assassinations and massive damage to terrorist infrastructure.”

The Ramapo: The Sixth Seal Fault Line (Revelation 6:12)

The Ramapo fault and other New York City area faults 

 Map depicting the extent of the Ramapo Fault System in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

The Ramapo Fault, which marks the western boundary of the Newark rift basin, has been argued to be a major seismically active feature of this region, but it is difficult to discern the extent to which the Ramapo fault (or any other specific mapped fault in the area) might be any more of a source of future earthquakes than any other parts of the region. The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east. This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.

There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.

A 2008 study argued that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake might originate from the Ramapo fault zone, which would almost definitely spawn hundreds or even thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage. Studying around 400 earthquakes over the past 300 years, the study also argued that there was an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault zone into southwestern Connecticut. As can be seen in the above figure of seismicity, earthquakes are scattered throughout this region, with no particular concentration of activity along the Ramapo fault, or along the hypothesized fault zone extending into southwestern Connecticut.

Just off the northern terminus of the Ramapo fault is the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, built between 1956 and 1960 by Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.

Building Up The Middle Eastern Nuclear Horns (Daniel 8)

Dangers of a Mideast nuclear arms race cast a long-term shadow

Yaakov Lappin9 hrs ago

The danger of a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race in the near future is casting a shadow over the long-term future of a region that already has its fair share of security problems.

While such a race has yet to break out, former Israeli security officials have told JNS that several Sunni states in the region are watching Shi’ite Iran’s nuclear project with concern and could in future set up their own nuclear programs to counter the threat of a “Shi’ite bomb.”

Recent reports about an alleged new Saudi ballistic-missile base have served as a reminder of a vow by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who warned in 2018 that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia would follow suit.

For now, a number of Sunni states are creating civilian nuclear-energy programs. But such programs could in the future act as “shortcuts to military projects,” said Shaul Shay, a former deputy head of the National Security Council of Israel.

“Russia is the main supply source for the technology and the building of cores, as part of its economic and strategic interest,” he said.

A key to avoiding the outbreak of runaway nuclear proliferation in the Middle East is to stop Iran’s atomic ambitions, he argued.

“Israel must activate its influence to curb the Iranian nuclear project, in cooperation with the U.S. and Arab states,” Shay stated. “There also needs to be tight supervision of the civilian projects in Arab states,” he added.

The international community, for its part, must plays its role in restraining Tehran’s nuclear program, Shaul said, noting that “there are states like Saudi Arabia that declare that if Iran will have nuclear weapons, it, too, will obtain this capability.”

Ultimately, he said, Israel has a “limited ability to influence the situation, and most of the burden is on the U.S., which must lead the processes.”

In a report published by Shay in February 2018 for the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, he wrote that countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) “have legitimate reasons to develop nuclear energy programs, but the nuclear initiative among the MENA countries can be also viewed as a response to the Iranian nuclear program in the context of their strategic competition with Iran.”

Shay warned that “the Middle East is in the process of going nuclear … several countries including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and UAE have announced plans to build nuclear power plants and over the next decade.”

“Iran’s program has already triggered a number of civilian nuclear programs in other Sunni Arab countries,” he stated.

‘A strategic nightmare, but not the end of humanity’

Chuck Freilich, a former deputy Israeli national security adviser and author of Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change, told JNS that prospects of a multilateral nuclear Middle East do not form “an immediate threat.”

“The Iranians, who are more advanced and sophisticated, certainly in nuclear scientific studies, have been working on this for 30 years and still don’t have nuclear weapons. Israel has prevented it. The other candidates—the Saudis, Egyptians and Turks—are 10, 20, perhaps 30 years away from reaching a capability. Maybe only the Saudis can do it faster, if they buy turnkey technology from Pakistan. But it is not simple,” explained Freilich.

While not immediate, prospects of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East would be a “strategic nightmare” if they materialized, he cautioned. “These are not the capabilities that the Soviets and the U.S. had; it would not be the end of humanity. But the chances that someone might use these weapons in the Middle East are much higher,” Freilich argued.

The kind of deterrence and de-escalation paths that were available to Washington and Moscow during the Cold War, or “even to India and Pakistan,” are not present in the Middle East, warned Freilich.

Here, at least one state is calling for the destruction of others. The Americans, Soviets, Indians or Pakistanis never had that objective,” he noted. “The Americans wanted to end communism; the Soviets wanted to topple capitalist democracy. No one wanted to destroy the other.”

The Shi’ite theocratic regime in Tehran is “a very rational player, [but] its rationality is different from others. Its willingness to take risks is higher.”

Freilich said “the Saudis disconnected diplomatic relations with the Iranians. The Egyptians and the Iranians have not had links for decades. How do you manage a nuclear crisis without communications, and when you have seconds or minutes to act?”

And he echoed Shaul’s call that the key to avoiding a nuclear arms race rests, first and foremost, with stopping Iran from going nuclear.

At the same time, if Iran did end up going nuclear, there would be “no real solution” to a Middle East with multiple nuclear states, Freilich said. Israel ending its nuclear ambiguity would not have a major effect, he assessed, since all regional actors already assume that Israel is a nuclear state.

Freilich said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Syrians are trying to renew their nuclear program under the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Israel destroyed the nuclear-weapons production site in eastern Syria in a 2007 airstrike.

In his report, Shaul noted that in 2017, Egypt and Russia’s Rosatom energy cooperation signed a document to launch an Egyptian nuclear power plant west of Alexandria.

Saudi Arabia announced in 2011 that it planned to build 16 nuclear-power reactors by 2030 at a cost of $100 billion, which would generate around 20 percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Jordan, which currently imports more than 95 percent of its energy needs, plans to create nuclear power to generate 30 percent of its electricity needs by 2030. South Korean constructors built the Kingdom’s first nuclear reactor in 2013.

The UAE has built the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world. A further three South Korean-designed reactors are under construction.