Iran Smashes Nuclear Limits

Iran smashing uranium stockpile limit

Today the countdown to pass the 300 kilograms reserve of enriched uranium has started, and in 10 days’ time [June 27] we will pass this limit,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesperson for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. “This is based on the Articles 26 and 36 of the (nuclear deal), and will be reversed once other parties live up to their commitments.”

Article 26 says there will be no re-imposition of sanctions, by the EU or the United States. Article 36 explains the ways in which a country can break the agreement.

Kamalvandi also warned that Iran could enrich uranium up to 20 percent. Although not weapons-grade, 20 percent purity is generally considered “highly enriched” uranium. 90% is considered weapons grade, but it’s easier to go from 20% to 90% than from 0 to 20. So this announcement moves Iran closer to nuclear weapons.

Last month, Iran scaled back some commitments under the deal and warned that in 60 days it would resume refining uranium to a higher degree if Europe failed to shield its trade from US sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water agreed under the nuclear deal. Tehran has said it may go even further by July 8 unless the remaining partners to the deal circumvent US sanctions — and, especially, enable it to sell oil.

There is evidence that Iran has already broken other provisions in the agreement. New satellite images of Iran’s Fordo Nuclear Facility released in 2018 show that Iran has opened the gates and added new construction to its nuclear weapons plant. Fordo is dug deep into a mountain and thought to be resistant to air strikes. There is no reason to expand the site unless Iran has a bomb-making program.

A May 31, 2019 paper released by the Institute for Science and International Security explained that the “International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest safeguards report on the verification and monitoring of the JCPOA. The report discusses one potential violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in footnote 27, which states, “up to 33 IR-6 centrifuges have been installed, of which up to 10 have been tested with UF6 (uranium hexafluoride, which is a chemical form of uranium that is used during the uranium enrichment process). This number of deployed centrifuges is far in excess of what is a reasonable interpretation of the deployment rate implied in Iran’s long-term enrichment plan.”

Keep in mind that while the IAEA may be allowed to count the number and kinds of centrifuges, because of a secret side deal revealed by the Associated Press long before the deal was agreed to, Iran gets to self-inspect the Parchin military base with no IAEA inspectors present. All other military base inspections are allowed under the JCPOA. However, Iran has stated more than once they will not allow inspections of military sites, which has restricted IAEA from completing its inspection tasks.

In early June 2019, German intelligence issued a report claiming that Iran was illegally purchasing technology necessary for building delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.

These threats of increased uranium are just the latest actions to ramp up tensions made by the rogue regime. Per Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests, and they should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.

“On May 12th, Iran attacked four commercial ships near the Strait of Hormuz.  On May 14th, Iran-backed surrogates attacked by armed drones struck two strategically important oil pipelines into Saudi Arabia. On May 19th, a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. On May 31st, a car bomb in Afghanistan wounded four U.S. service members, killed four Afghan civilians, and wounded bystanders. Yesterday [June 12], Iranian surrogates fired a missile into Saudi Arabia, striking the arrivals terminal of an international airport, injuring 26 people.”

And on June 13th, Iran attacked two Japanese oil tankers just outside Iranian waters.

Pulling out of the flawed deal was an excellent foreign policy move by the president. As explained many times in this space, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry were not honest about many of the deal’s provisions. The JCPOA tied the hands of the United States more than it did Iran. When certain provisions of the agreement expire six years from today, in 2025 Iran will be free to produce nuclear weapons, and by all indications they will need only a few months to make the jump. The announcement by Kamalvandi will shorten that even further.

By re-imposing sanctions, President Trump has squeezed the regime’s wealth. If they want to spend money on Islamist terror groups such as Hezbollah, they won’t have the funds to stabilize their economy.

Iran has a choice: give up on building atomic weapons and funding terrorism, or have a viable economy. It seems they’ve chosen the former, and the Iranian people are getting restless.

How India Could Trigger a Nuclear War (Daniel 8)

Why India’s Hypersonic Missile Could Trigger A Nuclear War

National Interest

India’s test of a hypersonic missile signifies more than the advance of Indian weapons technology.

It also is one step closer to triggering a nuclear war with Pakistan.

Ironically, the first launch of the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle, or HSTDV, was a failure. The HSTDV, which is shaped almost like a sailing ship, is supposed to be a testbed for developing future hypersonic weapons such as cruise missiles. It is launched atop an Agni 1, an Indian ballistic missile.

“The vehicle was test launched using the Agni 1 missile platform that was to take it up to a predetermined altitude where scramjet technology—the ability to fly at speeds in excess of Mach 6 while using atmospheric oxygen as oxidizer—had to be validated with separation of the platform and a short flight at high altitude,” according to India’s Economic Times.

“Sources said that while the missile on which the platform was mounted successfully took off from the range, the test could not be completed to demonstrate the vehicle at hypersonic speed as the Agni 1 did not reach the desired altitude for the test. Scientists are looking at the technical reasons behind this and are studying all available data.”

While that doesn’t necessarily mean the HSTDV has a problem, it’s not good news for India’s strategic nuclear deterrent. “The Agni 1 is a nuclear-capable missile that is in service with the strategic forces and has been successfully tested several times in the past,” noted the Economic Times. “Its failure to reach the desired altitude is a reason for concern and is being studied.”

Yet unproven or not, the existence of an Indian hypersonic project is an ominous step for India’s cold war with its neighbor Pakistan. Hypersonic missiles—defined as rockets with a velocity of at least Mach 5, though Russia and America are developing Mach 20 weapons—are dangerous because of their speed. Though the weapons have yet to be tested in combat, the U.S. military is concerned that Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons may travel so fast that they can’t be intercepted. At the tactical level, this means that aircraft carriers and air bases could be destroyed by a salvo of missiles.

But on the strategic level, hypersonic weapons are truly frightening. A hypersonic missile can deliver a nuclear warhead more quickly than a ballistic missile. Or, a hypersonic missile armed with a conventional warhead might be able to destroy an opponent’s nuclear missiles in a first strike, but without the attacker having to resort to nuclear weapons.

Whether or not such a strike would be successful, or whether anyone would be confident enough to risk a nuclear exchange by using hypersonics, isn’t the point. Unlike the United States versus Russia and China, whose homelands are separated by thousands of miles of ocean, the distance between New Delhi and Islamabad is just over 400 miles. A Mach 5 or 10 weapon missile launched from India or Pakistan could hit its target in minutes (Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glider reportedly has a speed of Mach 20, with the United States working on a weapon equally as fast).

Knowing that India has hypersonic weapons could make Pakistan feel trapped in a “use them or lose them” mindset regarding its nuclear weapons.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitterand Facebook.

Image: Reuters.

The Sixth Seal: The Big Apple Shake (Revelation 6:12)

Image result for new york earthquake

Big Apple shake? Potential for earthquake in New York City exists

NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) – For the last 43 years John Armbruster has been a seismologist with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.  A veteran of what he describes as “a couple of dozen” quakes, he is interested in the seismic activity throughout the Pacific region in recent weeks.

However, does the amount of plate movements around the world in recent weeks as well as years to translate to New York City being more vulnerable, “These earthquakes are not communicating with each other, they are too far apart,” said Armbruster in an interview with PIX 11 News on Wednesday.

What would a magnitude 6.0 earthquake inflict upon the city?

“We know that its unlikely because it hasn’t happened in the last 300 years but the earthquake that struck Fukushima Japan was the 1000 year earthquake and they weren’t ready for the that.

Trump says he aborted retaliatory strike to spare AMERICAN lives

Trump says he aborted retaliatory strike to spare Iranian lives

Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate for Iran’s downing of an unmanned U.S. drone because it could have killed 150 people and signaled he was open to talks with Tehran.

An Iranian surface-to-air missile destroyed a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone on Thursday. Tehran said the drone was shot down over its territory and Washington said it occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

The incident aggravated fears of a direct military clash between the longtime foes and oil prices rose more than 1% to above $65 per barrel on Friday over worries about possible disruptions to crude exports from the Gulf.

Trump’s abrupt decision to cancel what he said was a planned attack on three sites suggests he wants a diplomatic solution to end weeks of festering tensions with Iran, which Washington accuses of a spate of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf region.

Iranian sources told Reuters that Trump had warned Iran via Oman that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent but had said he was against war and wanted talks. Washington also requested a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday.

In a series of early morning tweets, Trump said he was in no hurry to launch a strike and that U.S. economic sanctions designed to force Iran to curb its nuclear and missile programs and its involvement in regional wars were having an effect.

We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night,” he said.

“Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world,” Trump tweeted.

White House national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel, along with the rest of Trump’s team, favored a retaliatory strike, said a senior Trump administration official.

“There was complete unanimity amongst the president’s advisers and DOD (Department of Defense) leadership on an appropriate response to Iran’s activities. The president made the final decision,” said the official.

Trump’s abrupt decision drew mixed reviews in Washington, with some people criticizing him for flinching while others, notably senior Democrats, praising what they saw as restraint.

“A strike of that amount of collateral damage would be very provocative, and I’m glad the president did not take that,” House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, told reporters.

However, Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official who heads the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), a think tank that favors strong U.S.-Israeli security ties, said Trump was undermining U.S. credibility.

“Trump has given the impression he lost his nerve,” Makovsky said in a statement.

Iran’s destruction of the U.S. drone was the latest among ever more serious incidents in the Gulf region, a critical artery for global oil supplies, since mid-May, including explosive strikes on six oil tankers.

After interviewing Trump for NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, NBC correspondent Chuck Todd said had said he had no preconditions for talks with Iran and was willing to speak to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani or Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands by in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2019.



News of the Trump message to Iran, delivered through Oman overnight, broke shortly after the New York Times reported that Trump had called off air strikes targeting Iranian radar and missile batteries at the last minute.

“In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues,” one Iranian official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran’s immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader Khamenei to decide about this issue.”

A second Iranian official said: “We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision.

“However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”

Khamenei has the last say on all state matters and has ruled out any talks with Washington while Tehran is under sanctions.

The most recent cycle of tension was sparked by Trump’s decision in May to tighten U.S. economic sanctions to try to eliminate Iran’s oil exports. The sanctions followed Trump’s 2018 decision to unilaterally abandon the 2015 deal between Iran and major powers under which Tehran curtailed its path to building a nuclear bomb in return for sanctions relief.

The sanctions have hurt Iran’s economy, squeezed its vital oil exports and barred it from the dollar-dominated global finance system, dimming hopes for a trade bonanza for Tehran for having curbed its nuclear capabilities under U.N. monitoring.

Iran this week threatened to breach one of the deal’s key limits by June 27, which could aggravate tensions further.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey; additional reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva, Jamie Freed in Singapore, David Shepardson in Washington and Tom Westbrook in Sydney, Tom Balmforth in Moscow, David Alexander, Roberta Rampton, Phil Stewart in Washington, Sabine Siebold in Brussels and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Mark Heinrich and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Alistair Bell and Grant McCool)

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Why a U.S.-Iran War WILL End Up Being a Historic Disaster

Why a U.S.-Iran War Could End Up Being a Historic Disaster

National Interest

Sixteen years ago, the George W. Bush administration manipulated intelligence to scare the public into backing an aggressive war against Iraq. The smoking gun mushroom clouds that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warned against didn’t exist, but the invasion long desired by neoconservatives and other hawks proceeded. Liberated Iraqis rejected U.S. plans to create an American puppet state on the Euphrates and the aftermath turned into a humanitarian and geopolitical catastrophe which continues to roil the Middle East.

Thousands of dead Americans, tens of thousands of wounded and maimed U.S. personnel, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, and millions of Iraqis displaced. There was the sectarian conflict, destruction of the historic Christian community, the creation of Al Qaeda in Iraq—which morphed into the far deadlier Islamic State—and the enhanced influence of Iran. The prime question was how could so many supposedly smart people be so stupid?

Now the Trump administration appears to be following the same well-worn path. The president has fixated on Iran, tearing up the nuclear accord with Tehran and declaring economic war on it—as well as anyone dealing with Iran. He is pushing America toward war even as he insists that he wants peace. How stupid does he believe we are?

Naturally, the administration blames Iran for not accepting its supposedly generous offer to talk. However, Tehran has no reason to believe that Washington is serious. One doesn’t have to be a hardline Shiite ayatollah to see little point in negotiating with a president seemingly determined on surrender or war—and who can’t be counted on to keep any agreement he makes.

Indeed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently proposed talks without preconditions, other than that Iran needed to behave as “a normal nation” and accede to Washington’s many impossible demands even before sitting down at the negotiating table. National Security Adviser John Bolton later explained the president was “prepared to talk about what the future” but only after Iran gave up “their nuclear and other unacceptable activities.” In other words, Iran needed to surrender first. The United States would not negotiate under such circumstances. Why would Iran do so?

The Iranian regime is malign. Nevertheless, despite being under almost constant siege it has survived longer than the U.S.-crafted dictatorship which preceded the Islamic Republic. And the latter did not arise in a vacuum. Washington did much to encourage a violent, extremist revolution in Tehran. The average Iranian could be forgiven for viewing America as a virulently hostile power determined to do his or her nation ill at almost every turn.

In 1953 the United States backed a coup against democratically selected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. Washington then aided the Shah in consolidating power, including the creation of the secret police, known as SAVAK. He forcibly modernized Iran’s still conservative Islamic society, while his corrupt and repressive rule united secular and religious Iranians against him.

The Shah was ousted in 1979. Following his departure the Reagan administration backed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran, triggering an eight-year war which killed at least half a million people. Washington reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect revenue subsequently lent to Baghdad, provided Iraq with intelligence for military operations, and supplied components for chemical weapons employed against Iranian forces. In 1988 the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in international airspace.

Economic sanctions were first imposed on Iran in 1979 and regularly expanded thereafter. Washington forged a close military partnership with Iran’s even more repressive rival, Saudi Arabia. In the immediate aftermath of its 2003 victory over Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration rejected Iran’s offer to negotiate; neoconservatives casually suggested that “real men” would conquer Tehran as well. Even the Obama administration threatened to take military action against Iran.

As Henry Kissinger reportedly once said, even a paranoid can have enemies. Contrary to the common assumption in Washington that average Iranians would love the United States for attempting to destroy their nation’s economy, the latest round of sanctions apparently triggered a notable rise in anti-American sentiment. Nationalism trumped anti-clericalism.

The hostile relationship with Iran also has allowed Saudi Arabia, which routinely undercuts American interests and values, to gain a dangerous stranglehold over U.S. policy. To his credit President Barack Obama attempted to rebalance Washington’s Mideast policy. The result was the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It provided for an intrusive inspection regime designed to discourage any future Iranian nuclear weapons program—which U.S. intelligence indicated had been inactive since 2003.

Although the Obama administration oversold the accord, the JCPOA offered the potential of changing both Iranian politics and the bilateral relationship. Younger Iranians like America and want economic opportunity. Drawing the country into the larger international community would intensify the country’s internal contradictions. Had Washington done more to ease Iranian access to Western markets, then pressures for more openness would have risen despite Islamist opposition.

However, candidate Donald Trump had an intense and perverse desire to overturn every Obama policy. His tight embrace of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ignored the advice of his security chiefs in denouncing the accord, and the Saudi royals, who Robert Gates once warned would fight Iran to the last American, also likely played an important role.

Last year the president withdrew from the accord and followed with a declaration of economic war. He then declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a military organization, to be a terrorist group. (Washington routinely uses the “terrorist” designation for purely political purposes.) Finally, there are reports, officially denied by Washington, that U.S. forces, allied with Islamist radicals—the kind of extremists responsible for most terrorist attacks on Americans—have been waging a covert war against Iranian smuggling operations.

The president claimed that he wanted to negotiate: “We aren’t looking for regime change,” he said. “We are looking for no nuclear weapons.” But that is what the JCPOA addressed. His policy is actually pushing Tehran to expand its nuclear program. Moreover, last year Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech that the Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian, who spent more than a year in Iranian prison, called “silly” and “completely divorced from reality.”

In a talk to an obsequious Heritage Foundation audience, Pompeo set forth the terms of Tehran’s surrender: Iran would be expected to abandon any pretense of maintaining an independent foreign policy and yield its deterrent missile capabilities, leaving it subservient to Saudi Arabia, with the latter’s U.S.-supplied and -trained military. Tehran could not even cooperate with other governments, such as Syria, at their request. The only thing missing from Pompeo’s remarks was insistence that Iran accept an American governor-general in residence.

The proposal was a nonstarter and looked like the infamous 1914 Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia, which was intended to be rejected and thereby justify war. After all, National Security Advisor John Bolton expressed his policy preference in a 2015 New York Times op-ed titled: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Whatever the president’s true intentions, Tehran can be forgiven for seeing Washington’s position as one of regime change, by war if necessary.

The administration apparently assumed that new, back-breaking sanctions would either force the regime to surrender at the conference table or collapse amid political and social conflict. Indeed, when asked if he really believed sanctions would change Tehran’s behavior, Pompeo answered that “what can change is, the people can change the government.” Both Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations have recently argued that the Islamic Republic is an exhausted regime, one that is perhaps on its way to extinction.

However, Rezaian says “there is nothing new” about Tehran’s difficult Iranian economic problems. “Assuming that this time around the Iranian people can compel their government to bend to America’s will seems—at least to anyone who has spent significant time in Iran in recent decades—fantastical,” he said. Gerecht enthusiasm for U.S. warmaking has led to mistakes in the past. He got Iraq wrong seventeen years ago when he wrote that “a war with Iraq might not shake up the Middle East much at all.”

Today the administration is using a similar strategy against Russia, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. The citizens of these countries have not risen against their oppressors to establish a new, democratic, pro-American regime. Numerous observers wrongly predicted that the Castro regime would die after the end of Soviet subsidies and North Korea’s inevitable fall in the midst of a devastating famine. Moreover, regime collapse isn’t likely to yield a liberal, democratic republic when the most radical, authoritarian elites remain best-armed.

Dozens More Injured Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)



PALESTINIANS TAKE PART in a protest last week marking Nakba Day, east of Gaza City. . (photo credit:” MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

Approximately 6000 people were in attendance during protests along the Gaza border on Friday.

Protests broke out, as on every Friday, along the Gaza border, with some 6000 protesters in attendance.

Three explosive devices were thrown over the fence into Israeli territory, and one person attempted to climb over the fence. Soon after crossing over, the IDF sent the Palestinian back into Gazan territory.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 39 people were injured during the protests, including a Palestinian paramedic.

The weekly protests continue on the eve of the US-sponsored “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Bahrain, which has been met by wide-spread objection with even the Palestinian Authority’s rivals Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups have coming out in support of the PA’s strong rejection of the conference.

Babylon the Great’s Nuclear Doctrine

National Insider

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in mid-June 2019 briefly published the Pentagon’s official doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons. The joint chiefs quickly pulled the document — Joint Publication 3-72, Nuclear Operations — from the public website.

The document presents an unclassified, mostly familiar overview of nuclear strategy, force structure, planning, targeting, command and control and operations, commentedSteven Aftergood, an analyst with the Federation of American Scientists.

Aftergood preserved a public copy of Joint Publication 3-72.

Nuclear forces provide capabilities to achieve U.S. national objectives. Nuclear forces deter threats by sustaining modern, credible military capabilities,” the doctrine states. “It is imperative that nuclear force capabilities are diverse, flexible, adaptable, effective, responsive and survivable.”

Aftergood highlighted one bit of phrasing in the doctrine that he described as “Strangelovian,” a reference to Stanley Kubirck’s 1964 satirical film Dr. Strangelove, which ends in gleeful nuclear apocalypse.

Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” the doctrine opines. “Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”

The joint chiefs published the nuclear document around the same time that the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published its annual report, detailing the world’s atomic arsenals.

At the start of 2019, Russia, the United States, and seven other countries possessed 13,865 nuclear weapons, SIPRI found. That represents “marked decline” from the 14,465 atomic weapons in world arsenals at the beginning of 2018, according to SIPRI.

The decrease mainly is due to Russia and the United States, which together possess nine-tenths of all nukes, cutting their nuclear arsenals under the auspices of the New START treaty while also making unilateral reductions, Radio Free Europe explained.

But the cuts could reverse. New START will expire in 2021 unless both parties agree to extend the treaty. “There are currently no discussions about extending New START or negotiating a follow-on treaty,” Shannon Kile, a SIPRI director, told RFE.

“The prospects for a continuing negotiated reduction of Russian and U.S. nuclear forces appears increasingly unlikely given the political and military differences between the two countries,” Kile added.

Moscow and Washington have become increasingly suspicious of each other’s intentions when it comes to atomic weapons. A senior U.S. intelligence official on May 29, 2019 accused Russia of secretly conducting nuclear tests in violation of an international treaty and the country’s own moratorium on such tests.

But there was no hard evidence of these alleged tests, one arms-control group pointed out.

“The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the ‘zero-yield’ standard” outlined in the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, Jr., director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said at an event at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.

“Russia has likely been secretly carrying out very low-yield nuclear tests to upgrade its nuclear arsenal,” The Wall Street Journalreported the same day Ashley made his comment.

But the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C. was skeptical of the general’s claim. “Ashley would only say that Russia had the ‘capability’ to conduct very low-yield supercritical nuclear tests in contravention of the treaty, a capability which Russia, China and the United States have long had. He did not say that Russia has conducted or is conducting such tests.”

Ashley’s allegation is consistent with repeated attempts by Pres. Donald Trump, his administration and his allies in Congress to dismantle existing arms-control regimes by accusing Russia of violating them, thus justifying a U.S. withdrawal from the same regimes and clearing the way for a U.S. arms build-up.

The Trump administration echoed the administration of Pres. Barack Obama in accusing Russia of willfully violating the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, an accusation Russia has denied. The White House in February 2019 announced the United States’ withdrawal from the treaty, which bans land-based, medium-range missiles in Europe.

There’s irony in Ashley accusing Russia of violating the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which according to the Arms Control Association “prohibits any nuclear test explosions that produce a self-sustaining, supercritical chain reaction and creates a robust international verification regime.”

The United States has signed but not ratified the treaty,” the association pointed out.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is a noted critic of the CTBT, having “long claimed that the treaty does not adequately define a nuclear test, that Russia and China have a different interpretation than the United States of what the treaty prohibits and that Moscow and Beijing have conducted nuclear tests in violation of the treaty.”

Again, there’s no hard proof that Russia has violated the treaty. But that didn’t stop Ashley from undermining the accord. Ashley claimed that Russia has “not affirmed the language of zero-yield,” which would guarantee no nuclear explosions in tests.

“But Russia has repeatedly affirmed publicly that they believe the treaty prohibits all nuclear test explosions,” the Arms Control Association explained.

“The most effective way for the United States to enforce compliance with the zero-yield standard is for the Trump administration and the U.S. Senate to support ratification of the treaty and help to bring it into force, which would allow for intrusive, short-notice, on-site inspections to detect and deter any possible cheating.”

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War FixWar Is Boring and Machete Squad.