Why New York City Will Be Shut Down At The Sixth Seal

Published time: 10 Feb, 2016 22:12Edited time: 11 Feb, 2016 01:51

New measurements at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in upstate New York show levels of radioactive tritium 80 percent higher than reported last week. Plant operator insists the spill is not dangerous, as state officials call for a safety probe.

Entergy, which operates the facility 25 miles (40 km) north of New York City, says the increased levels of tritium represent “fluctuations that can be expected as the material migrates.”

“Even with the new readings, there is no impact to public health or safety, and although these values remain less than one-tenth of one percent of federal reporting guidelines,” Entergy said in a statement.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo raised an alarm last Saturday over the reports of groundwater contamination at Indian Point, noting that the company reported “alarming levels of radioactivity” at three monitoring wells, with “radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent” at one of them.

The groundwater wells have no contact with any drinking water supplies, and the spill will dissipate before it reaches the Hudson River, a senior Entergy executive argued Tuesday, suggesting the increased state scrutiny was driven by the company’s decision to shut down another nuclear power plant.

“There are a number of stakeholders, including the governor, who do not like the fact that we are having to close Fitzpatrick,” Michael Twomey, Entergy’s vice president of external affairs, said during an appearance on ‘The Capitol Pressroom,’ a show on WCNY public radio.

The James A. Fitzpatrick plant is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, near Oswego, New York. Entergy said it intended to close the plant once it runs out of fuel sometime this year, citing its continued operations as unprofitable.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson river © wikipedia.org

‘65,000% radioactivity spike’: New York Gov. orders probe into water leak at Indian Point

“We’re not satisfied with this event. This was not up to our expectations,” Twomey said, adding that the Indian Point spill should be seen in context.

Though it has never reported a reactor problem, the Indian Point facility has been plagued by issues with transformers, cooling systems, and other electrical components over the years. It currently operates two reactors, both brought on-line in the 1970s.

In December, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed Entergy to continue operating the reactors, pending license renewal. The facility’s initial 40-year license was set to expire on December 12, but the regulators are reportedly leaning towards recommending a 20-year extension.

By contrast, Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine was only three years old when it exploded in April 1986. To this day, an area of 1000 square miles around the power plant remains the “exclusion zone,” where human habitation is prohibited.

The tritium leak at Indian Point most likely took place in January, during the preparations to shut down Reactor 2 for refueling, according to Entergy. Water containing high levels of the hydrogen isotope reportedly overfilled the drains and spilled into the ground.

According to Entergy, tritium is a “low hazard radionuclide” because it emits low-energy beta particles, which do not penetrate the skin. “People could be harmed by tritium only through internal exposure caused by drinking water with high levels of tritium over many years,” an Entergy fact sheet says.

Environmentalist critics are not convinced, however.

“This plant isn’t safe anymore,” Paul Gallay, president of environmental watchdog group

Riverkeeper, told the New York Daily News. “Everybody knows it and only Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refuse to admit it.”

The Nations to Attack From Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Hamas Agrees to Pincer Attack Israel

In the event of a northern war, Hamas has agreed to open a southern front to divide Israeli forces.

BY WARREN REINSCH • AUGUST 5

Israel is surrounded by enemies; its ability to fight on multiple fronts may soon be tested. According to a July 31 report, the lone Jewish state may yet again face a coordinated Arab attack that could overwhelm its defenses.

Israeli defense officials say they believe Hamas and Iran have come to an agreement: If war breaks out in Israel’s north, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will open a southern front to divide Israeli troops and air defenses. This pincer movement has reportedly been orchestrated by Iran.

Iran has been working to turn Hamas into a powerful force against Israel. Iran has increased its involvement in the Gaza Strip, primarily by backing the military elements of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Iran and Hamas have engaged in increased contact in recent months. Hamas Deputy Chief Saleh al-Arouri has visited Iran five times in the past two years. While visiting Iran with several high-ranking Hamas officials in July, Arouri said, “We are on the same path as the Islamic Republic—the path of battling the Zionist entity and the arrogant ones.” He told pro-Hamas al-Quds tv in February 2018 that Iran is the only country “prepared to provide real and public support to the Palestinian resistance.”

Hamas Political Bureau Deputy Head Saleh Al-‘Arouri: Iran Is the Only Country that Provides Real and Public Support to the Palestinian Resistance

Commenting on the strengthening relationship between Iran and Hamas, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukon, warned that “Iran is trying to take control of the Strip.”

But Iran also has its eyes on the West Bank.

Israeli defense officials are concerned about Hamas operatives in the West Bank working to establish an infrastructure from which the terrorist group can exert its influence. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is 83 years old, with failing health. Hamas wants to fill the void when he is gone. A post-Abbas civil war within the Palestinian Authority could give Hamas the opportunity it is looking for.

Just as Hamas snatched power in the Gaza Strip by taking advantage of a factional war, it could grab power in the West Bank by taking advantage of the succession struggle, especially if it becomes violent. In “Iran Conquered Lebanon … Now What?” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote:

The Arabs of the Fatah party currently control the West Bank. However, Hamas terrorists (and weapons) are present throughout the West Bank and there is little doubt that they are working toward getting control of this strategic region of Israel.

Hamas’s ultimate goal is to overrun Jerusalem. Such an event would likely motivate many moderate Arabs in East Jerusalem to turn radical. Control of the West Bank, which adjoins East Jerusalem, is therefore a crucial step for Hamas to achieve its goal.

Compared to Hamas and other Palestinian groups, Israel is significantly more advanced technologically and militarily. Could it lose control of Jerusalem?

Overwhelming Force

A June 3 report by the Wall Street Journal found that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have replenished their rocket supplies to roughly 10,000 short- and mid-range rockets. Israeli intelligence estimates that number to be closer to 20,000.

Yahya Sinwar, one of Hamas’s military leaders, thanked Iran for supporting the group’s arsenal. “Iran provided us with rockets, and we surprised the world when our resistance targeted Beersheba,” he said, referring to Gaza terrorists firing nearly 700 rockets at Israeli civilians in May. Sinwar warned Israel that next time it would respond with twice as many rockets.

Israel’s threat from the north, Hezbollah, is suspected to have around 130,000 rockets. Israel’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow 3 missile defense systems are sophisticated and have saved many lives. But at what point those systems would fail to handle an overwhelming barrage of rockets is uncertain.

Israel’s survival hinges on technology and successful intercepts because it has lost sight of the one, true way it can be protected.

Hosea 8:14 says, “For Israel hath forgotten his Maker … and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.” Does Israel trust in its defenses more than it trusts in God? In Israel’s early wars, such as the 1948 War of Independence, the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, God’s miracles were evident in the victories. Has Israel outgrown the need for God to protect it?

Have we forgotten God’s promise that “a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand”? (Psalm 91:7).

God tells Israel, who relies on its technological advancements as its shield, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help” (Hosea 13:9). Those who turn to God for protection, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4).

Zechariah 14:2 prophesies that half of Jerusalem will fall under Arab control. But these future events will lead to the coming of the Messiah. When His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, He will be “king over all the earth” (verses 4 and 9), and “there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited” (verse 11).

The Rising South Korean Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Will South Korea Get Nuclear Weapons?

05.08.2019

Andrei Lankov

© 2019 South Korea Defense Ministry via AP

On July 29, Cho Kyoung-Tae, one of the leaders of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP), went on record as saying that South Korea should give serious thought to developing a nuclear deterrent of its own.

In actual fact, he said that an ideal solution would be to obtain America’s consent to the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn in the early 1990s. If, however, the consent was not forthcoming, he said, South Korea should formally quit the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and start deploying its own nuclear missiles.

The Liberty Korea Party is no marginal political group. Right now, the South Korean right-wing forces are in disarray but the LKP has a membership of three million and over 100 seats in parliament, which makes it the biggest right-wing conservative party and the main parliamentary opposition party.

The question of South Korea acquiring nuclear weapons has been mooted for quite a while and, properly speaking, it was Seoul rather than Pyongyang that instigated a nuclear arms race on the Korean Peninsula.

In the early 1970s, the United States, influenced by the “Vietnam syndrome,” proclaimed the so-called Guam Doctrine that provided for a phased withdrawal of US forces from Asia. It was highly likely at that point that US troops would be withdrawn from South Korea as well. What is more, Washington was in fact considering this scenario.

The then South Korean leadership was far from pleased with this turn of events, given that their entire strategy was based on a US military presence in the country. This is why Gen. Park Chung Hee’s government, on the one hand, took all conceivable diplomatic steps to prevent a US withdrawal, while on the other, launched a clandestine project to develop own nuclear weapons.

The South Korean attempts of this kind soon ceased to be a secret and caused much concern in the United States. As a result, both governments reached a compromise in the late 1970s, with Washington promising to keep its military presence in South Korea and the latter pledging not to develop nuclear weapons. The compromise has held for 50 years, although over the last 10 or 15 years, many in South Korea have voiced discontent with the commitments Seoul assumed at that time.

According to opinion polls, nuclear weapons are quite popular in South Korea, with 50 to 70 percent of respondents consistently supporting (for years!) the idea that their country should have a nuclear deterrent of its own. True, the polls reflect vox populi, whereas the political elites, until recently, had no nuclear ambitions.

South Korea is an ideologically split society and the outlook of its left-wing nationalists (now in power) is a far cry from what their right-wing conservative opponents have in mind. Nevertheless, both flanks had a negative attitude to nuclear weapons.

The South Korean right-wingers have taken a consistently – and I am even tempted to say a “radically” – pro-American position. For this reason, they, firstly, did not doubt (again, until recently) the reliability of the US “nuclear umbrella,” and, secondly, they were not prepared to do anything that would inevitably raise the ire of Washington.

The left-wingers, on the contrary, are traditionally pacifist-minded and tend to believe that South Korea can cope with outside threats diplomatically, without recourse to military means or a deterrent. Moreover, they do not take the threat from the North so seriously as their right-wing opponents and for the most part are certain that the North Koreans will never use nuclear weapons against their kin.

Nevertheless, some developments over the last two or three years could – at least at first sight – impel the South Korean establishment to change its attitude to nuclear weapons.

One of these developments is the election of Donald Trump. After he assumed office in early 2017, Seoul, including its right-wing conservative elites, conceived doubts as to whether the United States was ready to perform its allied obligations under the new conditions. Contributing to these apprehensions are statements made by Trump himself, who is constantly displeased with both the system of US military-political alliances as a whole and the alliance with South Korea in particular.

Second, North Korea’s technological breakthrough of recent years is also an important factor contributing to a change of sentiment in Seoul (at least on the right flank of South Korean politics). During 2017, North Korea tested two ICBM models capable of reaching targets on the North American continent and carried out successful tests of a thermonuclear charge. Work is also advancing on submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), with North Korea ready to commission its second missile-carrying submarine.

This means that the DPRK either already is or will soon become the world’s third country (after China and Russia) with the potential to wipe New York or Washington off the map. Under these circumstances, even the most pro-American members of the Seoul elite began asking themselves whether the United States would risk supporting South Korea if the cost of its interference in an inter-Korean conflict would be the death of millions of US civilians. In other words, South Korea is beginning to have doubts as to whether the US will be ready to sacrifice San Francisco to defend Seoul, while Donald Trump’s words and deeds only strengthen these misgivings.

When the reliability of the main – and, in fact, the only – strategic ally is in doubt, the idea of creating one’s own nuclear deterrent begins to appear much more attractive than previously.

Thus, it is clear why pro-nuclear sentiments have emerged among the South Korean right-wingers and why, taking into account the situation in which their country finds itself, this is quite logical. But does this mean that these plans can soon be translated into reality? Should we start being anxious about the “East Asian nuclear dominoes?”

According to the “East Asian nuclear dominoes” concept, North Korea’s nuclear development effort may trigger a geopolitical chain reaction, with nuclear weapons being acquired first by Japan and South Korea, then by Taiwan, and later possibly by some Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam. All of these countries have the economic and technological potential to create and deploy their own nuclear deterrents within an acceptable timeframe.

But most probably there is no cause for alarm and nuclear dominoes are unlikely to start falling in East Asia any time soon. Even if we assume that the South Korean conservatives (and the question of nuclear weapons is mooted only in the conservative camp, which is currently in opposition) will try to live up to their nuclear ambitions after coming to power in an election, they most likely are in for a failure.

The obstacle to Seoul achieving its nuclear ambitions does not lie in technological or financial problems. There are no such problems for South Korea and it would take it a couple of years at the most to develop its own nuclear weapons. But if Seoul started working on nuclear weapons (which is frankly improbable), it would immediately face serious economic and political consequences which, more likely than not, would force it to change position and abandon its nuclear ambitions.

By withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, South Korea would very probably lay itself open to international sanctions. For a number of reasons, on which we have no need to dwell, sanctions against South Korea would be less strict than those imposed on North Korea. Nevertheless, they would have a tangible impact on the country’s economic situation, given its strong dependence on international trade.

China’s position will be an even more serious problem. Right now China is the country with the most reason to fear that the “nuclear dominoes” scenario in East Asia will become a reality. With the exception of South Korea, all countries in the region with the potential to acquire nuclear weapons of their own will do so primarily in order to contain China. For this reason, China must prevent the dissolution of the nuclear non-proliferation system in East Asia, for which purpose Beijing will stop at nothing, including operations by secret services, clandestine support for anti-nuclear groups in South Korea, and sabotage at research centers (if this seems like an exaggeration, please recall Israel’s reaction to the Iranian nuclear program).

So, if and when South Korea’s putative nuclear project gets under way, the country will be subjected to the most severe Chinese sanctions. China may go as far as imposing a near total embargo on trade with South Korea.

These sanctions will be a crushing blow for the South Korean economy, given that China accounts for nearly 23% of South Korean trade. International and particularly Chinese sanctions will inevitably result in a substantial deterioration in the country’s economic status.

We saw something like this, albeit on a modest scale, in 2017, when Seoul allowed the United States to deploy its THAAD missile defense system on its territory and China in response introduced sanctions against South Korean companies. The sanctions were of a limited nature and included a restriction on the travel of Chinese tourists to South Korea and various “unofficial” obstacles for South Korean firms in China. Nevertheless, even this moderate action had a certain impact on the economy and proved a shock for the South Korean public. Eventually, the Moon Jae-in administration made concessions to Beijing.

Any large-scale sanctions would cause a full-blown economic crisis and a perceptible drop in living standards. The resultant disaffection would be much greater than what came in the wake of those semi-symbolic moves that were undertaken in response to the THAAD deployment.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority of South Koreans do not feel that their country is facing an existential threat or that its very existence is in question. With the exception of the right-wing conservative radicals, the people at large are surprisingly calm and relaxed with regard to the North Korean nuclear program. Seoul is certainly far from pleased with the fact that the neighboring hostile state has developed nuclear weapons, but the majority of South Koreans have no fear. Most of them are absolutely sure that North Korea will under no circumstances use nuclear weapons against its ethnic brothers. This certainty may be naïve but it is a political factor in its own right. This means that the ordinary South Korean voters, though theoretically supporting the idea of South Korea as a nuclear power, are not prepared to make considerable sacrifices for the sake of this goal.

On the other hand, economic success is the criterion by which the South Korean public assesses the efficiency of any government. The Moon Jae-in administration has to become convinced of this once again as it sees the steady decline of its popularity ratings in the wake of a gradual deterioration in the economy.

Therefore, the South Korean electoral reaction to a potential crisis provoked by international and Chinese sanctions would most likely be unequivocal. Outraged by a perceptible slide in living standards, voters would demand an immediate renunciation of the economically damaging and, from their point of view, hardly justified nuclear ambitions. If the ruling party refused to make concessions, its chances of winning the next election would drop to zero. In addition, the South Korean media, though extremely politicized, are not controlled by any single force, being equally divided between the left and right wings. Therefore, the right-wingers, even if they found themselves in a position of power, would hardly be able to carry out a proactive propaganda campaign in favor of the nuclear option.

More likely than not, however, things will not go as far as this, since most Korean politicians are aware – or at least feel intuitively – that all attempts to create South Korea’s own nuclear potential are doomed to failure. There is every likelihood that all the talk about nuclear weapons, although reflecting the hidden hopes of many right-wing politicians, is just an additional means for bringing pressure to bear on Washington and the world community, a “soft blackmail” method, if you will. In this way, South Korea wants to elicit a more serious international attitude to the North Korean nuclear issue and is reminding the world that Seoul too can pose problems to the nuclear non-proliferation regime on a par with Pyongyang.

Apart from that, the Korean rightists are hoping that this talk will impel Washington to strengthen the military alliance. For example, a group of US military experts, almost simultaneously with Cho Kyoung-Tae’s statement, made an informal proposal in a Joint Forces Quarterly article on US-South Korean joint control of a certain number of nuclear munitions. Agreements of this kind have long been in force with some NATO countries. In many respects, these ideas may be put forward in response to Seoul’s nuclear ambitions.

This does not mean, of course, that the fears in connection with the “nuclear dominoes” scare, a geopolitical chain reaction in East Asia, are totally groundless. But there is no need to panic over such a turn of events in the near future. If, after all, the chain reaction does begin, Seoul is unlikely to be its hub, no matter what conservative South Korean politicians have been saying recently.

Babylon the Great and U.K. Unify Against Iran (Revelation 6:6)

Britain, U.S. to Protect Shipping Through Strait of Hormuz From Iranian Threats

U.K. government says decision came after London struggled to build a European maritime coalition

By Max Colchester in London and Isabel Coles in Beirut

Updated Aug. 5, 2019 4:16 pm ET

Britain joined the U.S. in forming an international mission to protect shipping through the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian threats, the British government said on Monday, a decision that came after London struggled to build a European maritime coalition to safeguard ships in the region.

“Both the U.K. and U.S. are committed to working with allies and partners to encourage others to join and broaden the response to this truly international problem,” the U.K. government said.

The U.K. was dragged into the center of the simmering crisis between Iran and the West after Iran seized a tanker flying the British flag in July. The capture came after Britain seized an Iranian tanker the U.K. claimed was carrying oil to a sanctioned entity in Syria.

The U.S., meanwhile, has separately lobbied countries to join its effort to police the Middle Eastern waterway.

The latest effort represents an effort to fuse the British and American initiatives. According to the new mission, British navy ships will accompany commercial ships that are owned by U.K. companies, are carrying British cargo, have a British crew or are operating under the British flag. The Americans are expected to provide intelligence and reconnaissance information.

The mission is called the “international maritime security construct” to convey the impression that it is an international initiative that is not run by the American military, which originally referred to it as the Sentinel program.

More nations will be invited to join, which will be necessary if more tankers need projection.

“We welcome the decision of the United Kingdom to participate in the international maritime security construct to enhance maritime domain awareness, promote safe passage, and enhance freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Arabian Sea, and Bab al-Mandeb,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich.

British naval vessels are there to protect British merchant traffic, and the British naval presence will be reduced if the Iranian threat to shipping diminishes. This is a signal to Iran that Britain isn’t building up its Persian Gulf presence indefinitely, a British official said.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has released footage showing some of its forces boarding the British tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz. Photo: Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Britain currently has a frigate and a destroyer in the Gulf along with four minesweepers. The U.K. government previously said it would escort British shipping through the strait, through which it has already accompanied 47 ships. The government on Monday didn’t mention any extra Royal Navy ships being sent to the region.

The U.K. has been caught between diverging foreign-policy goals over Iran. Britain, along with its European Union partners France and Germany, is seeking to defend a nuclear accord with Iran and wants to avoid further antagonizing the country. The U.S., meanwhile, is taking a more forceful approach to Iran, and has repudiated the agreement. Britain initially tried to build a maritime coalition with France and Germany, but the project struggled to gain traction.

“Our approach to Iran hasn’t changed. We remain committed to working with Iran and our international partners to de-escalate the situation and maintain the nuclear deal,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

Britain’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, has repeatedly stressed the importance of building closer ties to the U.S. With the U.K. set to leave the EU this fall, Mr. Johnson is eager to bolster trade and security relations with Washington.

Mr. Raab is due to travel to the U.S. this week to meet with officials. Mr. Johnson is due to meet President Trump at the end of the month. The two leaders have spoken twice by phone.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday denied that Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz in July was a retaliation for the earlier detention of a tanker carrying Iranian oil. Photo: Rouzbeh Fouladi/Zuma Press

Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday denied that Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz in July was a retaliation for the earlier detention of a tanker carrying Iranian oil. British authorities intercepted the Iranian tanker off the coast of its overseas territory in Gibraltar, saying it was on its way to deliver oil to a refinery in Syria that is under EU sanctions.

The British-flagged Stena Impero was detained because Iran will no longer turn a blind eye to misconduct and wrongdoing in the Strait of Hormuz, Mr. Zarif said. His comments came a day after Iran seized a vessel it identified as Iraqi, allegedly smuggling fuel in the Persian Gulf.

Iran says it is trying to maintain maritime security in the region. But its officials also have repeatedly warned they would block the Strait of Hormuz—through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil is transported—in response to crippling U.S. sanctions.

Iran has accused the Europeans of not providing adequate relief from American pressure. “The Europeans should note how much they want to be a hostage of the U.S.,” Mr. Zarif said.

Iran’s minimum expectation is for oil exports to be restored to 2.5 million to 2.8 million barrels a day—their level before the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear accord in May 2018, Mr. Zarif said. Iran’s oil exports have plummeted since the U.S. ended waivers for importers of Iranian crude this year, prompting Tehran to assume a more-aggressive posture in response, some analysts said.

“The U.S. can’t be arsonist and firefighter at the same time in the Persian Gulf. It [the U.S.] is responsible for the current tension and instability in the region,” Mr. Zarif said.

Mr. Zarif said the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on him last week came after he refused an invitation to meet with members of the Trump administration during a recent visit to the U.S.

Oil, Defense and Sanctions: Why the Strait of Hormuz Is So Volatile

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran rise, a series of incidents has put a strategic maritime waterway back into the spotlight: The Strait of Hormuz. WSJ’s John Simons explains. Photo: Getty Images

—Michael R. Gordon in Washington contributed to this article.

Putin tries to talk some sense into Trump

Putin Warns U.S. of New Arms Race After Nuclear Deal’s Collapse

By Ilya Arkhipov

August 5, 2019, 9:23 AM EDT

Updated on August 5, 2019, 9:58 AM EDT

Russia will deploy new missiles if U.S. does, Putin warns

Cold War-era INF treaty ended last week amid recriminations

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the U.S. to resume nuclear talks to safeguard strategic stability, as he blamed the Trump administration for the collapse of a key missile treaty.

The demise of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty last week has “created fundamental risks for everyone,” Putin said Monday in a Kremlin statement. He urged a return to “common sense” in international security policy, warning that the loss of the accord may spark a new arms race.

“The U.S. simply made null and void many years of effort to reduce the likelihood of a large-scale military conflict, including with the use of nuclear weapons,” Putin said. If the U.S. begins production of missiles that would have been banned by the INF treaty, “Russia will be forced to begin full-scale development of similar missiles,” though it would deploy them only in regions where the U.S. had already done so, he said.

The U.S. withdrawal from the treaty took effect on Friday, after President Donald Trump gave six months’ notice in February and accused Russia of violating the Cold War-era agreement by deploying a missile that breached its terms. Putin rejected the charge and responded by pulling Russia out of the accord last month. The U.S. is planning to conduct tests on new missile technology that would have been banned under the INF treaty, though it will be a conventional weapon and not a nuclear one, according to senior administration officials.

Strategic Arsenals

The deal between the U.S. and the then Soviet Union eliminated 2,692 short- and medium-range land-based missiles from their inventories by 1991. The only nuclear agreement still in force between the U.S. and Russia is the 2010 New START treaty limiting their strategic arsenals that’s due to expire early in 2021.

The collapse of the INF accord “inevitably” undermines the New START treaty as well as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Putin said. “Such a scenario means the resumption of an unrestrained arms race,” he said.

The Trump administration says new or renewed nuclear arms control treaties should include China’s expanding arsenal as well as U.S. and Russian weapons, a prospect China has already rejected.

(Updates with Putin comments in third, sixth paragraphs)

The Situation Worsens between Pakistan and India (Revelation 8)

An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard in Srinagar on August 4, 2019. (AFP)

Authorities could impose an indefinite curfew on residents as early as Sunday night, a police official says as tensions raise in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Growing panic in Kashmir as India, Pakistan bicker over border clashes

Fears of an impending curfew in the disputed region of Kashmir ratcheted up tensions Sunday, as nuclear rivals India and Pakistan traded accusations of military clashes at the de facto border.

Kashmir has surged back into the spotlight in recent days, just months after a deadly militant attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy claimed by a Pakistan-based group sparked cross-border air strikes.

The nuclear-armed rivals have controlled parts of the Himalayan region since the end of British colonial rule in the subcontinent in 1947.

The recent spate of tensions started last weekend after New Delhi deployed at least 10,000 troops, with media reports of a further 25,000 ordered to the region.

Security measures

The government has introduced other security measures — including a call to stock up food and fuel — over terror threat claims.

The measures have sparked growing panic among residents with long queues outside petrol stations, food stores and cash machines. Most petrol stations have reportedly run dry.

Authorities could impose an indefinite curfew on residents as early as Sunday night, a police official told AFP.

Locals said they saw large numbers of paramilitary personnel arriving at police stations and unloading sleeping bags outside government facilities.

Accusations over attacks

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan have traded tit-for-tat accusations of attacks across the Line of Control, the de facto border dividing Kashmir.

The Indian army said on Sunday it had foiled an attempt by a Pakistani team of army regulars and militants to cross the Line of Control, killing “five to seven” attackers.

Pakistan denied the claims, describing them as “baseless” as it accused India of using cluster bombs against civilians, killing two people — including a four-year-old boy — and critically injuring 11 others.

New Delhi has denied the charge.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday accused India of taking “new aggressive actions”, saying it could “blow up into a regional crisis”.

He called for a meeting of the country’s national security committee to review the situation in Kashmir.

Fear grips locals

Kashmir is a popular tourist destination for foreigners and Indians, who visit the picturesque valley in their tens of thousands every year.

But tourists and students have been scrambling to leave since the government said they should depart “immediately”, amid new intelligence about “terror threats” to a major Hindu pilgrimage in the region.

While the Indian military and the state government have highlighted the security risk, Kashmiri and opposition politicians in New Delhi are concerned the extra troops were deployed for other reasons.

Since mid-2018, India-administered Kashmir has been under Delhi’s direct rule after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew support for its local partner and dissolved the local government.

There are fears Modi’s Hindu nationalist government could carry out a threat to scrap the region’s special status under the constitution.

Local political leaders warn that cancelling constitutionally guaranteed rights — which mean only state domiciles can buy land in the region — could spark unrest in the Muslim-majority state.

Media reports said Modi’s close aide, Home Minister Amit Shah, was meeting with top officials Sunday and was reportedly planning a trip to the region.

Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik hinted Delhi was planning to discuss a Kashmir-related matter in parliament on Monday, according to Indian media.

Rebel groups have for decades fought against Indian soldiers deployed in the part of Kashmir controlled by New Delhi, seeking the territory’s merger with Pakistan or outright independence.

Iran Seizes Another Oil Tanker

A picture taken on July 21, 2019, shows Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrolling around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero as it’s anchored off the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

Hasan Shirvani | AFP | Getty

Iran seizes foreign tanker in the Gulf, detains sailors, state TV says

Natasha Turak

Published Sun, Aug 4 2019 6:10 AM EDTUpdated Sun, Aug 4 2019 9:31 AM EDT

DUBAI — Iran has seized a foreign tanker in the Gulf carrying 700,000 liters of fuel, Iranian state TV said Sunday, citing the country’s Revolutionary Guards.

Seven sailors on board have also been detained, according to Revolutionary Guard commander Ramezan Zirahi, who was quoted by Al Mayadeen TV.

“The IRGC’s naval forces have seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling fuel for some Arab countries,” state TV quoted Zirahi as saying.

“It carried 700,000 liters of fuel. Seven sailors onboard of the tanker, who are from different nationalities, were detained.” The tanker’s origin is unclear. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said it did not have sufficient information to confirm the reports.

On July 19, Iranian commandos seized a British-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz on grounds of alleged maritime violations. The U.K. government has called the seizure illegal. The incident followed British forces capturing an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar, which it accused of violating sanctions on Syria.

Last week a second British warship arrived in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway for 30% of the world’s seaborne oil, to protect British tankers. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged Iran to “come out of the dark” and release the Stena Impero.

Rising risks and a dying nuclear deal

The latest tanker seizure comes a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced Tehran would make a third move to roll back its commitments to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, signed under the Obama administration to lift economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for controls on its nuclear program.

“The third step in reducing commitments to (the nuclear deal) will be implemented in the current situation,” Zarif said Sunday, without elaborating.

Iran in July said it had moved to increase its stockpiles of uranium beyond the deal’s internationally-agreed limits and enrich uranium beyond the civilian energy level of 3.67%, taking it further along the technical path toward being able to produce a nuclear bomb.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. and fears of a new war in the Middle East have been rising since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 accord and re-imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran in an attempt to push it into a more stringent deal involving broader security concessions.

In May and June, six foreign tankers were hit in alleged sabotage attacks that the U.S. government has blamed on Iranian forces, a charge Tehran denies. Iran on June 20 shot down a U.S. surveillance drone it says was flying over its territory, prompting a planned U.S. military strike on Iranian military targets that President Trump says he called off with ten minutes to spare.

Most analysts maintain war in the Persian Gulf remains unlikely, but fear that with tensions so high and no diplomatic channel of communication, a mere miscalculation could set off a serious conflict.