The Real Risk of Nuclear War With Russia (Revelation 16)

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss

We’re More at Risk of Nuclear War With Russia Than We Think

U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to start addressing the danger.

By GEORGE BEEBE

10/07/2019 05:04 AM EDT

George Beebe is vice president and director of studies at the Center for the National Interest, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. He is also the former head of Russia analysis at the CIA, and the author of The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Americans genuinely and rightly feared the prospect of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Schoolchildren regularly participated in air raid drills. Federal, state and local governments prepared for operations in the event of a nuclear emergency. More than a few worried citizens built backyard bomb shelters and stockpiled provisions.

Today, that old dread of disaster has all but disappeared, as have the systems that helped preclude it. But the actual threat of nuclear catastrophe is much greater than we realize. Diplomacy and a desire for global peace have given way to complacency and a false sense of security that nuclear escalation is outside the realm of possibility. That leaves us unprepared for—and highly vulnerable to—a nuclear attack from Russia.

The most recent sign of American complacency was the death, a few weeks ago, of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—a pivotal 1987 agreement that introduced intrusive on-site inspection provisions, destroyed an entire class of dangerous weaponry, and convinced both Washington and Moscow that the other wanted strategic stability more than strategic advantage. The New START treaty, put in place during the Obama administration, appears headed for a similar fate in 2021. In fact, nearly all the key U.S.-Russian arms control and confidence-building provisions of the Cold War era are dead or on life support, with little effort underway to update or replace them.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials from both parties are focused not on how we might avoid nuclear catastrophe but on showing how tough they can look against a revanchist Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. Summit meetings between White House and Kremlin leaders, once viewed as opportunities for peace, are now seen as dangerous temptations to indulge in Munich-style appeasement, the cardinal sin of statecraft. American policymakers worry more about “going wobbly,” as Margaret Thatcher once put it, than about a march of folly into inadvertent war. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the United States and Russia might explore ways to manage their differences diplomatically has produced mostly head-scratching and condemnation.

In my more than 25 years of government experience working on Russia matters, I’ve seen that three misguided assumptions underlie how the United States got to this point.

The first is that American policymakers think that because neither side wants nuclear war, then such a war is very unlikely to occur. Russia would be foolish, we reason, to cross swords with the powerful U.S. military and risk its own self-destruction, and many Americans find it hard to imagine that modern cyber duels, proxy battles, information operations and economic warfare might somehow erupt into direct nuclear attacks. If the Cold War ended peacefully, the thinking goes, why should America worry that a new shadow war with a much less formidable Russia will end any differently?

But wars do not always begin by design. Just as they did in 1914, a vicious circle of clashing geopolitical ambitions, distorted perceptions of each other’s intent, new and poorly understood technologies, and disappearing rules of the game could combine to produce a disaster that neither side wants nor expects.

In fact, cyber technologies, artificial intelligence, advanced hypersonic weapons delivery systems and antisatellite weaponry are making the U.S.-Russian shadow war much more complex and dangerous than the old Cold War competition. They are blurring traditional lines between espionage and warfare, entangling nuclear and conventional weaponry, and erasing old distinctions between offensive and defensive operations. Whereas the development of nuclear weaponry in the Cold War produced the concept of mutually assured destruction and had a restraining effect, in the cyber arena, playing offense is increasingly seen as the best defense. And in a highly connected world in which financial networks, commercial operations, media platforms, and nuclear command and control systems are all linked in some way, escalation from the cyber world into the physical domain is a serious danger.

Cyber technology is also magnifying fears of our adversaries’ strategic intentions while prompting questions about whether warning systems can detect incoming attacks and whether weapons will fire when buttons are pushed. This makes containing a crisis that might arise between U.S. and Russian forces over Ukraine, Iran or anything else much more difficult. It is not hard to imagine a crisis scenario in which Russia cyber operators gain access to a satellite system that controls both U.S. conventional and nuclear weapons systems, leaving the American side uncertain about whether the intrusion is meant to gather information about U.S. war preparations or to disable our ability to conduct nuclear strikes. This could cause the U.S. president to wonder whether he faces an urgent “use it or lose it” nuclear launch decision. It doesn’t help that the lines of communication between the United States and Russia necessary for managing such situations are all but severed.

A related, second assumption American policymakers make is seeing the Russian threat as primarily a deterrence problem. The logic goes something like this: Wars often happen because the states that start them believe they can win, but the United States can disabuse a would-be aggressor of this belief through a show of force, thus deterring conflict. Indeed, Washington seems convinced that showing the Kremlin it will punish Russian transgressions—through toughened economic sanctions, an enhanced military posture in Europe and more aggressive cyber operations—is the best path to preserving peace.

But, when dealing with states that believe they are under some form of assault, focusing on deterrence can be counterproductive. Rather than averting aggression by demonstrating the will to fight back, America might be unintentionally increasing the odds of a war. To a great degree, this is the situation the United States already faces. Years of enlargement of NATO and perceived U.S. involvement in Russia’s internal affairs have convinced the Kremlin that America poses an existential threat. In turn, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, coupled with a string of aggressions against its neighbors, have convinced Washington that Moscow is going for the West’s jugular.

The United States experienced this spiral phenomenon with Georgia in 2008. Convinced that Russia harbored aggressive designs on its southern neighbor, Washington policymakers accelerated U.S. military training in Georgia, openly advocated bringing Tbilisi into the NATO alliance and issued multiple warnings to Moscow against military action, believing this firm resolve would deter Russian aggression. In fact, it had the opposite effect. Russia grew increasingly alarmed by the prospect of Georgian membership in NATO, while Tbilisi felt emboldened to launch a military operation in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, which yielded an immediate and massive Russian military response.

Lastly, the United States assumes that Russia’s anti-American hostility flows from the internal nature of its regime, and therefore is likely to diminish when a more enlightened leader with more liberal approaches succeeds Putin. Sooner or later, the unsatisfied longing for freedom will produce new leadership in Russia that will advance liberal reforms and seek cordial relations with Washington, just as Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin once did. Compromising with the Putin regime, American policymakers believe, is not only immoral, but also unnecessary and counterproductive.

But the notion that Moscow hates us for what we are—a democracy—rather than the ways we influence important Russian interests is inconsistent with Russia’s business-like, if not cordial, relations with democracies that it does not see as threatening, including Israel, India and Japan. Moreover, Putin’s domestic critics include not only the country’s narrow slice of liberal reformers but also its wider expanse of hard-liners on the left and right who think he has been too soft on Washington. The reality is that Russia’s differences with Washington flow from a deep mix of geopolitical, perceptual, historical and systemic factors that will not go away once Putin eventually does.

Managing and containing the combustive mixture of volatile factors in the U.S.-Russian relationship is a daunting, but far from impossible, challenge. Washington’s approach must dispassionately balance firmness with accommodation, military readiness with diplomatic outreach—all without skewing too far toward either concession or confrontation. It’s a difficult balance, but the United States is not even attempting it at the moment. It will require more robust U.S.-Russian communication, as well as new rules of the game to deal with new weapons systems, game-changing cyber technologies and the shifting geopolitical order.

None of this will be possible, however, absent a recognition that real danger is looming—not a modern variation of World War II-style planned aggression, but a nascent World War I-type escalatory spiral that few recognize is developing. That danger could end catastrophically if nothing changes.

***

All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views of the CIA or any other U.S. government agency. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying U.S. government authentication of information or CIA endorsement of the author’s views. This material has been reviewed by the CIA to prevent the disclosure of classified information.

Why Saudi Arabia is Ready to go Nuclear (Daniel 7)

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Saudi King Salman in Jeddah, September 25, 2019. Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Royal Court / Reuters

Analysis Saudi Arabia Recognizes Its Weakness and Is Ready to Talk to the Iranian Foe

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has suffered a raft of regional failures, may have to cut his losses by negotiating with the great Shi’ite enemy

Zvi Bar’el06.10.2019 | 08:00

>> Iran attack on Saudi Arabia shows why Israel must shut down its nuclear reactor

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi had barely enough time to unpack his suitcase after his trip to China last month when he took off for Jeddah to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The urgency of the September 25 visit, 10 days after the attack on Saudi oil facilities, was apparently linked to reports that the missiles and drones were fired from a base of the Revolutionary Guards or a Shi’ite militia in Iraq.

Iraqi media outlets, citing reports from Abdul-Mahdi’s office, said the Iraqi prime minister feared the outbreak of a new war in which Iraq could be a target, so he quickly considered mediating between Iran and Saudi Arabia and possibly arranging a meeting in Baghdad between the Saudi crown prince and Iranian President Hassan Rohani.

On the face of it, this initiative seemed unrealistic because only two months earlier, Iraqi President Barham Salih proposed a similar foray that was rebuffed by the Saudis.

But circumstances have changed. A war against or in Iraq against pro-Iranian forces is the last thing the Iraqi prime minister needs given that Iraq is deep in a violent clash with thousands of protesters demanding his removal because of the country’s economic crisis. The protesters aren’t content with shouting slogans against the corrupt regime and its colossal waste of money, they’re also demanding that Iraq be rid of the Iranian presence, with a dismantling of the Shi’ite militias operating under the Iranians while enjoying Iraqi funding.

From Riyadh’s perspective, the civil revolt in Iraq looks like an opportunity to strengthen its influence over its southern neighbor. The Saudis’ relationship with Baghdad took an important turn this year when Prince Mohammed opened the border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia for the first time and committed to invest in Iraq’s power grid.

Saudi Arabia has no illusions that Iraq can or would agree to disengage from Iran and force Tehran to withdraw its forces. Iraq and Iran do $12 billion in trade annually; Iraq is dependent on Iranian gas and electricity and there is the Shi’ite religious connection between the two countries.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. Yuri Kadobnov / Pool via Reuters

But it looks that Saudi Arabia realizes that in the struggle for regional hegemony it doesn’t have the upper hand, so it’s adopting a new strategy of trying to win influence and access to balance the Iranians. As part of this strategy, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview with CBS, said for the first time that the problems with Iran and the question of safe passage in the Persian Gulf can’t be resolved militarily.

The Saudis’ Pakistani pilots

These remarks, which were applauded in Iran, aren’t the result of some celestial enlightenment that descended on the crown prince. The attack on the oil installations embarrassingly proved Saudi Arabia’s military weakness and vulnerability.

Three weeks after the attack, there still is no clear evidence on who shot the drones and missiles and from where. Saudi missile defense systems costing hundreds of millions of dollars didn’t work, and Saudi personnel aren’t up to addressing these types of attacks. The Saudi air force must rely partly on Pakistani pilots, including in the war in Yemen.

Unlike the U.S. government, which quickly blamed Iran, Riyadh suggested waiting until the results of the investigation were in; later it blamed Iran for overall responsibility for the attack but not for carrying it out. If Saudi Arabia had any doubts about America’s readiness to take action against Iran, they were shed when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Prince Mohammed that the decision on responding against Iran was Riyadh’s, and that the United States could assist but not fight in its stead. President Donald Trump added that if Saudi Arabia needed help he could lend a hand, but the Saudis would have to pay.

Diplomacy has now become the only viable option for drawing up the map of the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia seems to be looking for possible mediators for negotiations with Iran. Shortly after the annual UN General Assembly, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had been requested by Prince Mohammed and Trump to try to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran. Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei reported that Iran had received letters from the crown prince through a third country, but he did not name it.

While Khan talked about his brokerage mission, Abbas al-Hasnawi, an official in the Iraqi prime minister’s office, told Middle East Eye that the Saudis had given the green light to Iraqi mediation with Iran, and that the Iraqi prime minister had already given each party the other’s terms for talks. Hasnawi added that Iraq’s national security adviser, Falih Alfayyadh, was in Washington to coordinate the negotiation time line with the U.S. administration and that Iraq was told: “If there will be a potential deal in the region that includes Yemen, Syria and Iraq, the Americans have no problem with that.”

The day after the interview was published, and against the backdrop of the positive Iranian reactions, Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani declared that “direct dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia may solve many political and military problems in the region.” This isn’t a new position, as several times in the past year Iran has mulled negotiations with Saudi Arabia through Oman and Pakistan, and also through European officials.

President Hassan Rohani chairing a cabinet meeting in Tehran, October 2, 2019. Iranian Presidency / AFP

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir quickly responded to the reports with a non-denial denial; he said that “sister states” – meaning Iraq – “have tried to achieve calm, and we’ve informed them that Saudi Arabia always seeks security and stability in the region.” And don’t forget the Saudi billionaires who were forced to pay billions after Prince Mohammed detained them at a hotel; they’re yearning for revenge.

Handy list of foul-ups

Jubeir set six conditions for Saudi Arabia’s willingness to negotiate, among them “ending Iran’s involvement in the affairs of other countries; stopping support for terrorist organizations; abandoning the policy of destruction and sowing conflict; and freezing the plan to develop nuclear weapons and the ballistic-missile program.”

Jubeir refuses to say whether these are prerequisites that Iran must meet before negotiations can be discussed or whether they’re principles that Saudi Arabia will stand on if negotiations begin. But the Saudi conditions seem vague enough to leave plenty of room for interpretation and general agreements. They don’t totally negate talks and don’t threaten any military action. In fact, the foreign minister took care not to directly accuse Iran of attacking the oil facilities and “merely” blamed Tehran for arming its loyalists with missiles that harm Yemeni civilians and the kingdom’s security.

The prospect of negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran may lie in the portfolio of Prince Mohammed’s diplomatic and military failures: the boycott and blockade of Qatar initiated by Saudi Arabia; the fiasco in Lebanon where he tried to oust the prime minister; the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which dumped Saudi Arabia in the pit of pariah nations in the West; the military failure in Yemen and the way Riyadh’s partner, the United Arab Emirates, abandoned the arena; and now the attack on the oil facilities. They all label Prince Mohammed a failed leader unable to protect his country’s interests.

Around him is a bevy of princes removed from power, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was the crown prince until he was ousted, and Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, the National Guard commander for years.

The killing (or murder) of Abdulaziz al-Fagham, King Salman’s personal bodyguard, was portrayed as a crime in which a friend of Fagham’s acted out of “personal” disagreements. But the Saudis prefer the version being circulated by the anonymous blogger Mujtahid, who wrote that Fagham was murdered in the palace and not in his friend’s home.

According to Mujtahid, who provides controversial reports on what goes on in the royal court, Prince Mohammed considered Fagham disloyal and sought to replace him with an associate. Indeed, Fagham was replaced Gen. Saad al-Qahtani, the cousin of Saud al-Qahtani, the former adviser to Prince Mohammed who is suspected of planning Khashoggi’s murder.

The need to manage two fronts, the domestic one against his rivals and the external one in the region and further afield with hesitant U.S. backing, may push Prince Mohammed onto a new diplomatic path with Iran to reduce the threat to the kingdom and the number of explosive things he needs to address. As the United States continues to push for direct negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue, Mohammed will probably have to toe the line so he can be part of the process and not leave Saudi Arabia out of the circle of influence.

America’s War With Iran in Iraq

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Rev…

Khamenei’s Representative in IRGC: US Seeking to Destroy PMF

Monday, 7 October, 2019 – 05:45 –

London – Asharq Al-Awsat

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Abdullah Haji Sadeghi has described recent developments in Iraq as a “real war” with the United States.

Sadeghi said Sunday that Washington was seeking to eliminate Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

During a ceremony held by the IRGC in the city of Qom, he called on drafting plans to “foil the plots of the enemies” in Iraq.

His comments came following Iranian calls to invade the US embassy in Baghdad.

There is a real war with America in Iraq. They want to prevent the Iraqi people from being similar to the Iranian revolutionists and to stop the PMF from defending its country,” Sadeghi said.

Last week, during a meeting with IRGC commanders, Khamenei demanded the expansion of the Guards’ international operations.

“We must not be content with our region alone and (we shouldn’t) choose to stay behind our walls and ignore the threats behind the borders,” he said.

Unlike Sadeghi, Mahmoud Sadeqi, an outspoken lawmaker in Iran, warned on Sunday against considering the Iraqi events as a conspiracy theory.

Such analysis “would stop us from understanding the truth,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

He added that corruption and the incompetence of Iraqi officials have led to a popular dismay. This situation constituted the backbone of the ongoing protests and demonstrations in Iraq.

For his part, Secretary of the Expediency Council and former IRGC chief Mohsen Rezaee wrote a tweet in which he accused the US and Saudi Arabia of standing behind the Iraqi protests.

Jihad Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Gaza’s Palestinian Islamic Jihad vows to fight Donald Trump’s peace plan

Group’s leader says the strip has become a key cornerstone of resistance to Israeli occupation

The National

October 6, 2019

The leader of Gaza’s Palestinian Islamic Jihad said on Saturday that the group would fight the United States’ Middle East peace plan with “all the power at [our] disposal”

Ziad Al Nakhalah told thousands of followers at a conference in the Gaza Strip to mark the group’s 32nd anniversary that “we are reiterating here — no to the cursed Oslo Accords and no to everything that has stemmed from them”, including President Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century’, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

The group is the second-largest armed faction in Gaza.

Mr Trump announced his administration’s controversial plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict earlier this year but the details have yet to be revealed.

Israel blames Islamic Jihad for rockets fired last month that interrupted a campaign speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Nakhalah also congratulated members of the group for making Gaza difficult ground for Israel.

“The Gaza Strip, which was a no-man’s land in which Israel did as it pleased, has become a key cornerstone of resistance to the occupation. They take it into account and build strategic plans for it,” he said.

UN rejects Palestinian Authority request to join the Universal Postal Union

The Palestinian Authority security forces reportedly seized evidence that proved that the group is trying to build rockets in the West Bank to attack Israel. Three people were arrested.

Among the items were a prototype of a handmade rocket and a missile built from a hollow tube and potassium nitrate.

Local media reported that the instructions for building the rockets came from Lebanon.

Islamic Jihad has been designated as a terrorist group by the US and the European Union.

It opposes the peace agreements signed by Israel and the internationally recognised Palestinian leadership.

Updated: October 6, 2019 06:13 PM

Trump’s Gift: An Iran with Nuclear Weapons

Trump’s Parting Gift: An Iran with Nuclear Weapons?

Rarely are one’s predictions as quickly tested as those I made in August. I suggested that the United States’ lame response to Iran’s aggressive actions would lead to escalation. It was not hard to predict. It seemed obvious to me that, unable to get the European Union to help meaningfully circumvent U.S. sanctions, Iran concluded that it ought to cause pain to those who imposed them. It carefully probed how far it could go without facing a forceful response. First, its forces planted mines on oil tankers, but above their waterline, so the tankers did not sink and there was no loss of life. Iran denies any involvement in this initial act. It then admitted that it shot down a U.S. drone, but tried to argue that it was flying over Iranian territory when it happened. These aggressions led to a very weak Western response (mainly the application of meaningless sanctions on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei). As a result, Iran escalated further by capturing an oil tanker and openly acknowledging that it had begun enriching its uranium. 

When all these actions elicited declarations that the United States does not want war and that the United States is seeking to de-escalate—and the Pentagon warned against overreaction– Iran became more audacious and struck oil facilities in Saudi Arabia (though denying that it was involved). Since then, the thesis that the lame reaction by the United States and the rest of the world community will embolden Iran has become the conventional wisdom. As Dennis Ross noted on September 24 in Foreign Affairs, “Iran has chosen to act very brazenly with these strikes [in Saudi Arabia]. If there is no consequence for that choice, the Islamic Republic will be even more emboldened.” A New York Times news article noted on September 19 that “seeking to exact a price from the United States for its sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Tehran may also now be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war in the region. The attack on Saudi Arabia was just the latest in a string of recent attacks carried out by Iran or a proxy—including attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone—with little or no cost to Iran.”

Trump has been coming up with one excuse after another to explain his reluctance to respond forcefully to Iran’s aggressive tactics. He suddenly became interested in meticulous intelligence, claiming he needed to be 100 percent certain that the missiles came from Iran (though who else in the Middle East has these kinds of missiles and would hit Saudi Arabia?). He said that he was waiting for Saudi Arabia to tell him what it wanted and waiting to learn if they were willing to pay for the intervention. He sought approval from the UN—the institution he often maligns and despises and where Russia is sure to veto any meaningful action. The president produced smokescreen headlines by announcing his plan to send troops and assets to the Middle East, but that number is minuscule and hardly makes up for those he recently removed from the region. He also declared the imposition of more sanctions, even though it is difficult to come up with activities that have not yet been sanctioned.

Iran cannot read all these U.S. actions (or lack thereof) without concluding that it can continue to impose costs on those who sanction it. Actually, Trump did better—from Iran’s viewpoint—than responding very lamely to it provocations. He showed that the pressure is beginning to work. It is hard to believe, but prior to the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facility Trump had discussed offering to lift some of the sanctions—merely in the hope that the offer would encourage Khamenei to meet with him. I assume he hoped for a photo opportunity and declaration that the problem has been solved, as he did with North Korea.

He fired National Security Advisor John Bolton, most specifically, because Bolton called for a strong response to Iran’s provocation; whether firing Bolton was a good or bad idea, the timing reinforced to Iran that it has nothing to be unduly concerned with. Indeed, the end of Bolton’s tenure in the White House delighted Iran to no end. On September 10, the spokesperson for the government of Iran, Ali Rabiei, tweeted: “Months ago #JohnBolton had promised that #Iran would not be there in 3 months; we are still standing & he is gone. With the ousting of its biggest proponent of war & economic terrorism, the White House will have fewer obstacles to understanding the realities of Iran.”

Trump repeated his opposition to another war in the Middle East. Iran notes that the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, are muting their criticism of Iran. They realize that they cannot rely on U.S. backing and cannot take on Iran alone. In effect, they are moving to find ways to cope with the new dominant force in the region.

During a normal presidency, the head of the world superpower would not consider announcing that he is keen to meet with another powerful leader—unless his staff first ensured that the invitation would be well-received or if both leaders jointly announced the meeting. For the president of the United States to announce that he is anxious to meet the head of a small power like Iran, and for the leader of the smaller state to flatly refuse, would be considered a major diplomatic failure and read by the other side as a sign that the American leader is rather desperate to avoid acting forcefully.

How can Iran not come to view all these moves as assurance that it can continue to lash out against the sanctions, in a variety of ways, while making some speeches about peace in the region?

To proceed, we need to realize that we have come to false conclusions. This belief that we lost the war in Afghanistan and are doing poorly in Iraq is based on a basic misconception. We have conflated the wars—which we won easily, in a few weeks, with few casualties on both fronts—with the eighteen years of nation-building, which is a failing effort. It is this vain attempt to turn these nations into democracies and U.S. allies that costs a great number of lives and half a trillion dollars. The United States would have little trouble taking on Iran militarily (though it is more powerful than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which, by the way, Iran was unable to defeat). Indeed, there is good reason to believe that threatening military action is the only way to bring Iran to the negotiating table. The United States should avoid making the same mistakes it made in Afghanistan and Iraq by seeking only to change the regime by use of force, without engaging in nation-building, leaving it to the people of Iran to fight for the kind of government they want.

If Iran faces no forceful reactions to its provocations, then sooner or later it will either openly or clandestinely seek to expand its nuclear armament program. Iran has long-observed how well North Korea is treated compared to Libya, which gave up its program of building weapons of mass destruction. It has good reason to believe that nukes are the best guarantees to its national security and proactive shield, under which it can continue to dominate the region.

It is not hard to imagine that a nuclear-armed Iran is going to be one of Trump’s going-away presents to the international community.

Amitai Etzioni is a university professor and professor of international affairs at The George Washington University. His latest book, Reclaiming Patriotism, was just published by the University of Virginia Press.

Image: Reuters

Author update: Following the submission of this story, international inspectors announced that Iran had started more centrifuges and further enriched uranium.

The first nuclear war may kill up to 125 million people

India-Pakistan nuclear war may kill up to 125 million people: Study

Today, India and Pakistan each have about 150 nuclear warheads at their disposal, and that number is expected to climb to more than 200 by 2025, the researchers said amid recent tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours over Kashmir after India revoked J&K’s special status.

“An India-Pakistan war could double the normal death rate in the world,” said Brian Toon, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.(HT File)

A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could, in less than a week, kill 50-125 million people — more than the death toll during all six years of World War II, and lead to global climate catastrophe, according to researchers in the US.

A study by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Rutgers University examined how such a hypothetical future conflict would have consequences that could ripple across the globe.

Today, India and Pakistan each have about 150 nuclear warheads at their disposal, and that number is expected to climb to more than 200 by 2025, the researchers said amid recent tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours over Kashmir after India revoked J&K’s special status.

“An India-Pakistan war could double the normal death rate in the world,” said Brian Toon, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.

“This is a war that would have no precedent in human experience,” Toon said.

“Such a war would threaten not only the locations where bombs might be targeted but the entire world,” said co-author Alan Robock of Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looked at a war scenario that may occur between India and Pakistan in 2025.

While both the neighbouring countries have waged several wars over Kashmir, they could come to possess a combined count of 400 to 500 nuclear weapons by 2025, the study noted.

“They’re rapidly building up their arsenals. They have huge populations, so lots of people are threatened by these arsenals, and then there’s the unresolved conflict over Kashmir,” Toon said.

The researchers found that the exploding nuclear weapons could release 16 to 36 million tonnes of soot — tiny black carbon particles in smoke — that could rise to the upper atmosphere and spread around the world within weeks.

The soot, the researchers said, would absorb solar radiation, and heat up the air, boosting the smoke’s swift rise.

In the process, the study noted that the sunlight reaching the Earth would decline by 20 to 35 per cent, causing our planet’s surface to cool by 2 to 5 degrees Celsius.

Rainfall across the world may also reduce by 15 to 30 per cent, both of which could have larger regional impacts, the study noted.

The researchers added that vegetation growth would decline globally by 15 to 30 per cent on land, and the oceans could see a productivity decline by 5 to 15 per cent.

Overall, the study noted that recovery from all these impacts would take more than 10 years since the smoke would linger in the upper atmosphere.

“Nine countries have nuclear weapons, but Pakistan and India are the only ones rapidly increasing their arsenals,” Robock said.

He added that the continuing unrest between the two nuclear-armed countries, particularly over Kashmir, made it important to understand the consequences of a nuclear war.

According to the researchers, the nuclear weapons in the year 2025 could range from 15 kilotonnes in explosive power — the same size as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the US in 1945 — to a few hundred kilotonnes.

In the scenario, the researchers estimated that 50 to 125 million people could die from the direct effects, with additional deaths from mass starvation also possible worldwide.

“Nuclear weapons cannot be used in any rational scenario but could be used by accident or as a result of hacking, panic or deranged world leaders,” Robock said.

According to Robock, the only way to prevent accidental usage of nuclear weapons was to eliminate them.

First Published: Oct 03, 2019 18:15 IST

Iran Urges Iraqis to Seize the US Embassy

Demonstrators protest in Baghdad, Iraq, October 2019

Demonstrators protest in Baghdad, Iraq, October 2019. (photo credit: THAIER AL-SUDANI/REUTERS)


 

An Iranian newspaper linked to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Iraqis to seize the US embassy in Baghdad, in a move similar to the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran during the Iranian revolution of 1979, according to Radio Farda.

“Historical evidence has shown that US embassies in all countries, even in friendly and allied countries, are the focus of conspiracy. The US Embassy in Iran is a clear and exemplary example of this bitter reality,” wrote Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the Kayhan newspaper, in reference to the former US embassy that was taken over and held hostage during the revolution in 1979.

Documents found in the embassy in 1979 “revealed the betrayal of some Iranian political figures and exposed the countless US crimes in Iran and some other countries in the region,” according to Kayhan.

The author of the Kayhan article asked “young Iraqi revolutionary believers” why they don’t “end the presence of the US Embassy in Baghdad, the same espionage and conspiracy center against the oppressed Iraqi people.”

Shariatmadari claimed that “There are many documents about the presence of U.S., Israeli and Saudi Wahabi agents, as well as Ba’thist elements behind the Iraqi protests.”

Iranian media has blamed the United States and Saudi Arabia for inciting anti-Iranian protests in Iraq.

Protests broke out throughout Iraq against the deterioration of living conditions and health services, government corruption, unemployment and Iranian interference in the country.

Some protestors have spoken out against Iran’s influence in the country and the presence of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in the there. Some of the protesters have called on the government to resign.

In the past week, security forces have used live fire on crowds of protestors. Over 100 people have died in the protests.

Some protesters have claimed that Iranian forces were the ones firing on protesters, not Iraqi forces.

“There is no work, you come to protest, they fire at you. Live gunfire,” said one unnamed protester to Reuters.”They are all Iranian-speaking in Farsi. You want to speak to them; they answer in Farsi. The Iraqis would not fire at you.”

The Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia in Iraq is backed by Iran. Witnesses at the protests in Baghdad said that pro-Iranian security forces opened fire on protesters.

Videos from the protests show security forces firing into large crowds. Steven Nabil, a correspondent for Al Hurra TV news, posted a video of the protests on Twitter, adding that protesters were claiming that men dressed in black who were firing on protesters were really Iranian.

#baghdad protesters are accusing the black fask mask forces of being Iranian pic.twitter.com/nnCCQONhos

— Steven nabil (@thestevennabil) October 3, 2019

A video being circulated on social media appears to show the Iraqi flag being raised over the Iranian embassy in Iraq during the protests. Additional videos showed protesters burning Iranian flags.

#العراق_ينتفض انزال العلم الايراني واستبداله ب العلم العراقي في السفارة الايرانية في بغداد pic.twitter.com/oRpJAKRmWy

— Laieth Alrawi (@alrawi_laieth) October 4, 2019

Last week, a top commander from Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service was decommissioned, in a move that may have been pushed for by the PMF.

Ghaleb al-Shabandar, a political commentator, described the move as “the beginning of the Iraqi army’s dismantling and handover to the Hashed and other armed groups.”

Staff Lt.-Gen. Abdulwahab al-Saadi helped recapture Mosul from ISIS in 2017, served in the CTS, which was created and trained by the United States.

Saadi said he considered the shift to a position at the Defense Ministry as an “insult” and a “punishment” on Friday.

The hashtag “We are all Abdulwahab al-Saadi” began trending on Twitter, with pictures of the commander aiding civilians in Mosul and other cities, as Iraqis across the country responded with shock.

“He won the people’s friendship but the [politicians’] hatred,” said one supporter, while another said that there was “no more space for patriots in this country.”

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this story.