On the Brink of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

India and Pakistan on the Brink: A Nuclear Nightmare in Southeast Asia

Studies have estimated that regional nuclear war could lead to the deaths of some two billion people worldwide.

With last week’s U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi, Congressional Democrats’ revolt against President Donald Trump’s state of emergency and Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee; you may have missed the news that the Indian Air Force launched airstrikes against targets in Pakistan.

This was quietly one of the dangerous crises of the post–Cold War era.

On February 26, Indian fighter jets attacked a terrorist training camp operated by the Pakistani-based group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The attack was a reprisal for an earlier suicide bombing in Kashmir on February 14 that killed over forty Indian paramilitary police.

The raid was the first instance since the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 that either of the two powers have used airpower against the other. It also marked the first time in history that a nuclear weapons state has conducted airstrikes against another nuclear weapons power.

There is a very good reason for that. Deploying air assets against another state signals a level of hostility that far exceeds cross border skirmishes. The ability of a state to field high-tech aircraft is often seen as a metric of sophistication, making air power a powerful symbol of national pride. It also worth noting that the Mirage 2000 jets used by the Indian Air Force in the raid are the same type of aircraft that deliver some of India’s airborne nuclear weapons. When a country is willing to go on the attack with tens of millions of dollars worth of airplanes and bombs, including aircraft that may or may not be carrying its nuclear weapons, it can trigger a spiral of escalation that can quickly get out of control.

That spiral was quickly triggered. Pakistan responded to India’s air-assault with artillery strikes and conducted airstrikes of its own. Both sides lost aircraft, with Pakistan claiming to have shot down two Indian jets and captured one of the pilots, while India claims to have downed a Pakistani jet.

Fortunately, the capture of the Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was a positive turn in crisis, providing a human face to the standoff and ultimately leading to his release by Pakistan as a “ peace gesture ” that helped defuse tensions.

It could have been much worse.

India and Pakistan possess two of the fastest growing nuclear arsenals in the world. Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, estimates that India possesses some 140 nuclear weapons, while Pakistan has around 150. Of particular concern is Pakistan’s growing inventory of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons. According to Kristensen, these weapons are part of an effort “to create a full-spectrum deterrent that is designed not only to respond to nuclear attacks, but also to counter an Indian conventional incursion onto Pakistani territory.”

This is extremely concerning. Just possessing nuclear weapons meant to be used against conventional forces, could lower the threshold for their use during a conflict.

The Trump administration agrees, with officials having gone on the record saying , “we are particularly concerned by the development of tactical nuclear weapons that are designed for use [on the] battlefield. We believe that these systems… increase the likelihood of nuclear exchange in the region.”

These fears are more than just hyperbole. Earlier this week a retired Pakistani general told his colleagues that in order to deter India, “our response should be to escalate and push the envelope of hostilities so that nuclear war is a likely outcome.”

We know that this sort of thinking is misguided. Why? Because the United States once had a similar strategy.

During the Cold War the United States stockpiled thousands of tactical nuclear weapons, including nuclear bazookas, landmines and artillery shells as a counter to Soviet conventional superiority in Europe. The plan was simple. If an army of Soviet tanks rolled through the Fulda Gap, we would would counter with small scale nuclear weapons. The theory went that by showing you were willing to use a small nuke, the enemy would consider that you might just be crazy enough to use your big ones too, causing them to back down.

This strategy was unironically referred to as the Madman Theory. Unfortunately, under scrutiny, it turned out to be just that, mad.

In 1955, the Department of Defense conducted a wargame called Carte Blanche in which more than three hundred simulated tactical nuclear weapons were used against Soviet targets on German soil with the aim of halting an advancing Soviet army. When the simulated dust settled, an estimated 1.7 million Germans had been killed, with 3.5 million wounded and incalculable number of additional casualties resulting from radiological fallout. When the results of the exercise were leaked to the press, they “produced widespread unrest and agitation” in West Germany over the proposed U.S. nuclear strategy.

The Reagan administration tested the premise again in 1983 with the wargame Proud Prophet. This scenario saw NATO launch limited nuclear strikes against Soviet targets in response to a conventional provocation. But instead of backing down, the Soviet team doubled down.

“The Soviet Union team interpreted the nuclear strikes as an attack on their nation, their way of life and their honor. So they responded with an enormous nuclear salvo at the United States,” writes Department of Defense  advisor and nuclear historian Paul Bracken. “The United States retaliated in kind. The result was a catastrophe that made all the wars of the past five hundred years pale in comparison… a half-billion human beings were killed in the initial exchanges and at least that many more would have died from radiation and starvation. NATO was gone. So was a good part of Europe, the United States and the Soviet Union. Major parts of the Northern Hemisphere would be uninhabitable for decades.”

The results reportedly shocked President Ronald Reagan so badly that his schedule had to be cleared for the rest of the day. A few months later, he famously told the American people that, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

The lessons of these wargames apply to the Indian subcontinent as well. Recent studies have estimated that regional nuclear war, such as one between India and Pakistan, could lead to the deaths of some 2 billion people worldwide.

To prevent this nightmare from becoming a reality, the international community must condemn further acts of violence and build space for the conflict to be mediated, before the situation escalates further out of hand. It is not without irony that as President Trump negotiates a nuclear agreement with North Korea, another nuclear crisis is unfolding out on the same continent. Under normal circumstances the United States would have already dispatched mediators to the region to defuse the crisis. As it stands, Washington has been painfully slow to respond.

The current crisis is a symptom of a larger problem. The last five years have seen a dramatic increase in tensions between nuclear weapons states across the board. The U.S.-Russian relationship has soured to a point not seen since the Cold War, and a cornerstone of the international arms control regime, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, has been abandoned. Russia and NATO forces have engaged in direct hostilities in Syria, even leading to the downing of a Russian fighter-bomber. The number of confrontations between U.S. and Chinese assets in the South China Sea have reached an all-time high. Sooner or later our luck will run out and the unthinkable will happen.

When nuclear weapons states made the decision to develop nuclear weapons they also assumed the responsibility to take every precaution to ensure that they are never used. It is time they took that obligation seriously. The nuclear weapons states of the world must take concrete steps to work together and breath new life into the arms control regime that has prevented the use of nuclear weapons for more than seventy years. An international agreement to limit the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons would be an excellent place to start.

At the height of last week’s standoff, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan asked India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, “given the weapons capability on both sides, can we afford a miscalculation?”

The world must respond with a resounding no. These types of crisis can never be allowed to escalate into a full-blown nuclear powers conflict.

The stakes are far too great.

Geoff Wilson is a communications manager at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. The views expressed are his own.

Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago

It happened before, and it could happen again.

By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg

Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM

On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.

According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.

The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.

A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:

“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”

The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.

The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.

The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.

“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”

The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.

“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.

The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.

There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.

According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.

“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,

that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,

the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;

O turn to God; lest by his Rod,

he cast thee down to Hell.”

Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”

There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.

Well, sort of.

In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”

It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.

In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”

If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The Nations Threaten War Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinians holding Palestinian flags walk past burning tires during clashes near the security fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 22, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israel said to warn Hamas that attacks from Gaza risk wide-scale military action

Egyptian officials reportedly convey message from Jerusalem telling the terror group not to try to intervene in Israel’s election campaign

Palestinians holding Palestinian flags walk past burning tires during clashes near the security fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 22, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Egyptian officials have reportedly sent Hamas a message from Israel that warned the terror group it is playing with fire by instigating a near-constant stream of attacks from Gaza during the Israeli election campaign.

The warning, reported in the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper, comes amid rising tensions along the Israel-Gaza border after balloons carried several explosive devices from Gaza into Israeli towns on Tuesday and Israeli jets launched retaliatory strikes against Hamas posts in the Strip.

An Egyptian delegation traveled to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to urge Hamas leaders to tamp down the attacks, warning that “creating tensions on the border by launching incendiary balloons will bring the IDF to launch a broad military confrontation in the Strip,” according to Al-Akhbar, which said it was citing a senior Hamas source.

The Egyptians also warned Hamas not to try to “intervene in the elections in Israel or try to influence them.”

Abbas Kamel, the director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, who has served as mediator between Israel and Hamas in the past, is due to visit the Strip in the coming days to up the pressure on Hamas to avoid escalation.

Hamas said in response that it was examining its own options for military escalation in response to the Israeli retaliatory strikes.

The Israel Air Force carried out airstrikes on several targets in the Gaza Strip Tuesday night, after balloons with explosives were flown into Israel earlier in the day.

The Israel Defense Forces said its aircraft hit “a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip.”

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the Strip.

The pro-Hamas al-Risala newspaper said an unmanned Israeli aircraft hit a site that belongs to “the Palestinian resistance” in Gaza.

Earlier on Tuesday, two bombs tied to balloons were flown over the Gaza border and exploded inside communities in southern Israel. There were no injuries or damage. On Monday, three bombs exploded near communities and last week an explosive tied to a balloon damaged a home in the region.

Israel has carried out five rounds of strikes in the last four days in response to the balloons.

Recent weeks have seen a dramatic increase in the level of violence along the Gaza border, with near nightly riots and a return of airborne arson attacks, which had waned in light of a de facto ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas at the end of last year.

In these nightly demonstrations, led by so-called “confusion units,” participants generally set off loud explosives, burn tires and throw rocks at Israeli troops on the other side of the security fence. The Israeli soldiers typically respond with tear gas and, in some cases, live fire.

The border riots are part of the March of Return protests, which call for the right of Palestinians displaced in the 1948 Independence War to return to their homes and for an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the enclave. The protests have taken place weekly along the border since last March and have periodically escalated into major flare-ups between the Israeli military and Gaza-based terror groups.

Israel has accused Hamas of orchestrating the clashes and using them as cover to breach the border fence and carry out attacks.

The latest riots came after the release last week of a report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council on Israel’s handling of the clashes that alleged there is evidence Israeli soldiers committed war crimes. The inquiry investigated possible violations from the start of the protests on March 30, 2018, through December 31.

Israeli leaders angrily rejected the findings of the UN probe, calling it “hostile, deceitful and biased.”

Judah Ari Gross and Agencies contributed to this report.

Russia Extends Her Nuclear Reach (Daniel 8)


RUSSIA could “be forced” to deploy missiles capable of firing upon the “whole” of Europe, the Russian Ambassador to Washington has warned.

 

Anatoly Antonov told The Moscow Times on Monday if the US were to position new missiles in the territory of allied European countries, Russia will respond by deploying their own. He said Russia is “concerned” that this eventuality is more likely now the US has withdrawn from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, the INF treaty was an arms control treaty that banned intermediate-range land-based ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the treaty on February 1 this year, after accusing Russia of violating its terms.

Russian Ambassador Mr Antonov said: “We are very much concerned that after the decision of the United States to withdraw from the INF treaty, missiles could be deployed on the territory of America’s European allies.“

He added: “We will be forced to deploy our missiles.

“And here you will see that the whole territory of European countries will be covered.”

donald trump vladimir putin

Presidents Trump and Putin have both withdrawn from the INF treaty (Image: GETTY)

Anatoly Antonov russia US

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov spoke on Monday (Image: GETTY)

He was speaking at the Henry L Stimson Centre, a Washington security think tank and reportedly displaying a map of Europe.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree formally suspending Russia’s participation in the INF treaty.

He has warned that Russian missiles could be turned to target US sites in Europe as well as “decision-making centres” in the US if their rival were to deploy more missiles in Europe.

Putin said: “We don’t want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the US.

“I’m saying this clearly and openly. Russia will be forced to deploy weapons that can be used against the decision-making centres that are behind the missiles systems which threaten us.”

 

First Deputy Defence Minister Army General Valery Gerasimov warned that Trump’s withdrawal from the INF treaty could foreshadow him abandoning other arms agreements.

According to Russia’s Tass news agency, he said: “In 2002 the US unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

“Their next step after demonstratively suspending their participation in the INF treaty could be the withdrawal from the New Strategic Arms Reduction treaty.

He added that Trump’s Space Force announcement could lead to an “escalation of the military-political situation and emergence of new threats.”

He said Russia would “respond with reciprocal and asymetrical measures”.

Building the Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Before Saudi Arabia Goes Nuclear, It May Have to Follow Iran’s Lead

Jonathan TironeMarch 6, 2019, 8:04 AM MST

Kingdom has yet to clinch enhanced atomic monitoring deal

International monitors reminded Saudi Arabia this week that it still has work to do before delving deeper into an ambitious nuclear program that could transform how the kingdom generates its energy.

Focus on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program has risen in the last month after the U.S. Congress opened an investigation into the potentially illegal transfer of sensitive technologies to the kingdom. This week the International Atomic Energy Agency, responsible for verifying that countries don’t divert material for weapons, weighed in on what its inspectors need before the kingdom can start generating nuclear power.

Riyadh’s nuclear program is developing “based on an old text” of safeguard rules, even as it expects to complete its first research reactor this year and plans to tap uranium reserves, according to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, who told journalists this week in Vienna that he’s “appealing to all countries to rescind” those old ways of doing business.

“We’re encouraging all countries to conclude and implement an additional protocol and that includes Saudi Arabia,” said Amano, who’s also in charge of enforcing the 2015 nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers. The Japanese career diplomat has called the set of rules established by that accord, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from in May, as “the most rigorous monitoring mechanism ever negotiated.”

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Saudis wants to diversify electric capacity with nuclear power

Rising power consumption and desalination costs are pushing Saudi Arabia to look at nuclear energy. The world’s top crude exporter currently burns oil to generate most of its power and provide drinking water. Pivoting toward nuclear would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and free up more crude to sell on world markets.

But the IAEA comments could strike a precautionary note among vendors lining up to service the kingdom’s nuclear ambitions. Receiving the imprimatur of IAEA inspectors, who account for gram-level quantities of nuclear material worldwide, is a precondition for receiving technologies and fuel. Without reaching a new understanding with monitors, Saudi plans for 3.2 gigawatts of atomic power by the end next decade could flounder.

Saudi Arabia didn’t respond to emails and phone calls placed to its IAEA mission in the Austrian capital.

In order to get its nuclear program on track, Saudi Arabia may need to look at the allowances made by its regional rivals in Iran, according to Robert Kelley, a U.S. nuclear engineer and former IAEA director.

The Iran deal “is unprecedented in terms of previous monitoring regimes,” according to Kelley, who worked in the Department of Energy’s nuclear-weapons complex before overseeing inspections in countries including Libya, South Africa and Iraq.

Maintaining that level of IAEA access to Iran’s nuclear program is the reason that China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. continue to defy U.S. calls to abandon the 2015 deal and reimpose sanctions. Diplomats from those countries convened Wednesday in Vienna in their first meeting since the European Union established a trade channel to skirt U.S. threats.

Snap Inspections in Iran

IAEA complementary access to sites rose under agreement with world powers

Source: IAEA 2018 Safeguards Implementation Report

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For Saudi Arabia, which threatened a year ago to develop nuclear weapons if Iran did, aligning its atomic rule book with current best practices may be the best option for it to accelerate its nuclear program.

“It has a ridiculously weak agreement right now,” Kelley said. “The additional protocol is the gold standard and has some teeth to it. Getting that in place should be straightforward.”