Indian Point is NOT radiologically ready for the Sixth Seal


With Indian Point, are you radiologically ready?

By Thomas Slater Emergency Preparedness Coordinator

August 23rd, 2018 | NewsNews and Features

Just as there are plans in place for dealing with natural emergencies such as tropical and winter storms, readiness plans are developed for man-made emergencies, which includes radiological hazards.

Nuclear power plants operate in most states in the country and produce about 20 percent of the nation’s power.

Nearly three million people live within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of an operating nuclear power plant, including West Point, which is situated between 7-to-9 miles from the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) in Buchanan of Westchester County.

Although the construction and operation of nuclear power plants are closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, incidents at these plants are possible—and planned for.

If an accident at IPEC were to result in the potential or actual release of radiation, warning sirens in the area would be activated. Commercial and West Point media sources would broadcast Emergency Alert System  messages to advise you on protective measures.

Depending upon the scope and scale of the emergency, protective actions may include “shelter-in-place” or “evacuation” advisories. As radioactive materials rapidly decay and dissipate with distance, the most likely scenario for West Point personnel would be to take shelter rather than trying to evacuate.

If you are instructed to shelter-in-place, the following steps will keep you and your family safe during the emergency.

• Shelter. Go inside your home or the nearest building; choose an inside room with as few windows or doors as possible.

• Shut. Shut and lock all windows and doors to create a better seal; turn off heating or cooling ventilation systems. If at home, make sure the fireplace damper and all ventilation fans are closed.

• Listen. Local officials are your best source of information. If in an office, monitor your computer, television and phones; if at home, listen to your radio or television until you are told it is safe to leave the shelter or to evacuate.

For more details, consult the Orange County Indian Point Emergency Guide, available at, or call the West Point Emergency Manager at 845-938-7092.

Readiness, through education and preparation, is the best defense. Are you radiological ready?

Nuclear Autumn and One Third of Mankind Dead (Revelation 8 )

Scientists say only 100 ballistic missiles would start a Nuclear Autumn and leave two billion dead

By Ralph R. Ortega For 02:16 EST 05 Dec 2019 , updated 07:36 EST 05 Dec 2019

It only would take 100 of the almost 14,000 nuclear warheads in the world to trigger a Nuclear Autumn and an unimaginable death toll, scientists have found.

There are specifically 13,865 war heads to be precise.

But the detonation of only 100 is all that it would take to set off a Nuclear Autumn. That would result in a 10 to 20  per cent cut in agricultural production, and a disruption of industrial supply chains.

There are 13,865 nuclear warheads, but only 100 can trigger a Nuclear Autumn, scientists have found

The number of people dead in such nuclear holocaust would be as high as two billion, scientists Joshua M. Pearce and David C. Denkenberger, write in a paper published in the journal Safety

The number of people dead in such nuclear holocaust would be as high as two billion, scientists Joshua M. Pearce and David C. Denkenberger, respectively from Michigan Tech University and Tennessee State University, wrote last year in a paper published in the journal Safety, reports.

‘Stated simply: no country should have more nuclear weapons than the number necessary for unacceptable levels of environmental blow-back on the nuclear power’s own country if they were used,’ they wrote.

The two scientists found that nine of the six nuclear powers, launching one hundred weapons would essentially destroy their own societies in the process, repors RealClearScience.

India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, North Korea, Israel, and China would all likely lose half their populations from starvation in a Nuclear Autumn, which is not as devastating as the ‘Nuclear Winter’ scenario depicted during the Cold War, which was at the time said to have brought on a prolonged period of global cooling.

The starvation in the autumn scenario would result from detonating the 100 IBCMs in dense urban areas. People living in France, Russia and the US would be spared because of the sizable land masses for growing crops.

The theoretical global effects of nuclear war wouldn’t necessarily result from the explosions of multiple war heads, but more from the resulting fires. Firestorms would rise from dropping war heads on dense urban areas, sending 7 trillion grams of soot into the atmosphere.

Gradually setting into the stratosphere, the particles could linger for years while blocking the sun’s rays and lowering temperatures around the globe. Scientists already have seen this on a smaller level from observing the impacts of localized, wildfires.

“This would be more than sufficient to produce the lowest temperatures Earth has experienced in the past 1,000 years — lower than during the post-medieval Little Ice Age or in 1816, the so-called ‘Year Without a Summer’, write Pearce and Denkenberger.

It would result in a 20% drop in sunlight and lead to a 19% drop in global precipitation‘.

An exchange say of 1,000 war heads remains more devastating, leaving as many as 140,000 Americans dead from global food shortages, in addition to direct deaths from nuclear strikes.

Billions more around the world would also starve to death.

Pearce and Denkenberger only examined the affects a Nuclear Autumn would have on food production. They say there also would be damaging effects on economic systems, a ‘reduction in medical supplies and personnel, high levels of pollution, psychological stress, increased diseases and epidemics, as well as enhanced UV radiation causing increased rates of skin cancer’.

Unnerving footage of the first bomb tests in Nevada

An exchange say of 1,000 war heads remains more devastating, leaving as many as 140,000 Americans dead from global food shortages, in addition to direct deaths from nuclear strikes (file image)

Babylon the Great Sending Several Thousand More Troops to Mideast

In this photo released by the official website of the Office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Rouhani says Tehran hasn’t closed the window on talks with the U.S. but reiterated his government’s standing condition that the…  (Associated Press)

US considers sending several thousand more troops to Mideast

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is considering sending several thousand additional troops to the Middle East to help deter Iranian aggression, amid reports of escalating violence in Iran and continued meddling by Tehran in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the region.

John Rood, defense undersecretary for policy, told senators Thursday that Defense Secretary Mark Esper “intends to make changes” to the number of troops deployed in the region. Other officials said options under consideration could send between 5,000 and 7,000 troops to the Middle East, but they all stressed that there have been no final decisions yet. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The troop deliberations follow several decisions since spring to beef up the U.S. presence in the Middle East because of a series of maritime attacks and bombings in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. and others have blamed on Iran.

President Donald Trump has approved those increases, even though he also routinely insists that he is pulling U.S. troops out of the Middle East and withdrawing from what he calls “endless wars” against extremists. In October, Trump told his supporters that despite the sacrificing of U.S. lives in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, the region is less safe and stable today. “The single greatest mistake our country made in its history,” he said, “was going into the quicksand of the Middle East.”

Asked about a possible troop increase, Trump told reporters Thursday that, ”We’ll announce whether we will or not. Certainly there might be a threat. And if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly. But we will be announcing what we may be doing — may or may not be doing.”

Military leaders have argued that the U.S. needs to increase its presence in the region in order to deter Iran from conducting more and broader attacks. Rood provided no details to back up why the additional troops are needed, but said the U.S. is concerned about recent intelligence indications suggesting an increased threat from Iran.

Rood was asked several times about reports that 14,000 more troops could be sent to the region. He repeatedly said Esper hasn’t made a decision yet, but didn’t specifically confirm or deny the number, so his answers appeared only to confuse senators. Shortly after the hearing, Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah sent out a statement flatly denying the 14,000 number, saying Esper told the Senate committee chairman Thursday morning that “we are not considering sending 14,000 additional troops” to the region.

The troop discussions came as the Trump administration on Thursday accused Iranian security forces of killing more than 1,000 people in crackdowns against recent protests that have swept the country.

The estimated death toll is significantly higher than previously estimates from human rights groups and others, and the administration did not present documentary evidence to back up the claim. But Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, told reporters the tally was based on a variety of reports coming out of Iran as well as intelligence analyses.

Speaking at the State Department, Hook said the U.S. had received and reviewed video of one specific incident of repression in the city of Mahshahr in which the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps had mowed down at least 100 protesters with machine-gun fire.

He said the video was one of tens of thousands of submissions the U.S. has gotten since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appealed last month for Iranians to submit evidence of atrocities by the authorities in putting down the protests. In it, he said IRGC forces can be seen opening fire on protesters blocking a road and then surrounding those who fled to nearby marshlands where they were sprayed with bullets.

“In this one incident alone the regime murdered as many as 100 Iranians and possibly more,” Hook told reporters at the State Department. He did not display the video but said the actions it depicted corresponded to accounts of a brutal nationwide crackdown on the demonstrations, which started in response to gasoline price increases and rationing.

“We have seen reports of many hundreds more killed in and around Tehran,” he said. “And, as the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over 1,000 Iranian citizens since the protests began.” The dead include 13- and 14-year-old children, he said.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said Iran had “killed hundreds and hundreds of people in a very short period of time” and called for international pressure to be applied. “They are killing protesters. They turned off their internet system. People aren’t hearing what’s going on,” he told reporters while hosting a lunch for the ambassadors of U.N. Security Council members.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and there was no immediate comment on state media in Iran.

There was no known public video that supported Hooks’ allegation of a massacre in Mahshahr, although he said the State Department had gotten more than 32,000 responses to Pompeo’s appeal for videos and other evidence using the encrypted messaging app Telegram, which is popular in Iran.

Nor has there been any widely accepted claim matching Hook’s death toll of more than 1,000. Amnesty International believes at least 208 people have been killed and that the number could be higher. Iran has disputed that figure, but has refused to offer any nationwide statistics of the number of injuries, arrests or deaths from the unrest.

However, Hook’s numbers appear to match a figure put out late Wednesday by the Iranian exile group called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which has paid Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for speeches at its events in the past.

The MeK alleged late Wednesday that more than 1,000 people had been killed. It published a list of 320 people it said it had identified so far as having been killed but did not provide proof.

Iran has alleged MeK supporters and those backing exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the country’s late shah, of being behind the unrest alongside foreign powers. It has not offered evidence to support those allegations.

In addition to the deaths, Hook said more than 7,000 protesters had been detained, with many sent to two prisons. Hook said that Pompeo had notified Congress on Thursday that both prisons would be hit with U.S. sanctions for gross human rights abuses. It was not immediately clear when those designations would occur.

Hook’s comments come as the U.S. steps up its “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran that it began after withdrawing from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal last year. That campaign has been highlighted by the imposition of increasingly tough sanctions and an increase in rhetoric critical of Tehran and its leadership.

As part of the pressure campaign, Hook announced that the U.S. is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the whereabouts of a top IRGC commander now believed to be supporting rebels in Yemen. He said Abdul Reza Shahalai was responsible for numerous attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and had been behind a foiled plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States in a Washington restaurant.


Lolita C. Baldor, Robert Burns and Deb Riechmann in Washington and Jon Gambrell in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

The END Happens When Everyone’s Trying to Get Nukes (Revelation 16)

What Happens When Everyone’s Trying to Get Nukes?

Israel’s ‘Begin Doctrine,’ a commitment to prevent rival regional powers from acquiring nuclear weapons, risks becoming unenforceable—but it’s not clear what comes next

For more than 50 years, Israel’s national security has been guided by the Begin Doctrine, named after the country’s sixth prime minister. It holds that no regional enemy committed to destroying the Jewish state can be allowed to obtain weapons of mass destruction. To that end, Israel’s air force destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 and Syria’s al Kibar plutonium-producing facility in 2007.

Today’s cascade of nuclear technologies across the Middle East, however, is raising serious questions about Israel’s ability to enforce this mandate going forward. The debate over the Begin Doctrine’s viability will not only have a profound impact on Israel, but also on security in the broader Middle East. Israel has proven more than once to be the only regional player willing to curtail by force the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states, despite the international opprobrium the Jewish state has reaped for its actions. But current concerns inside Israel reflect just how much the threat of nuclear proliferation has increased in recent years as the countries of the Middle East have changed and transformed the region.

Israel views Iran as by far the most likely regional power to acquire nuclear weapons in the near term and has openly vowed to use military force to stop it. But a slew of other Mideast countries, some nominally Israel’s allies or strategic partners, have also made significant advances in their nuclear programs. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly warned in September that Ankara could seek to develop atomic weapons in response to its changing relationship with the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, has said his country would match any nuclear technologies that Iran, Riyadh’s arch rival, acquires.

Israeli officials and analysts say that, as a result of these evolving threats, the tools required to enforce the Begin Doctrine will need to change. Israel deployed cyber weapons, in collaboration with the U.S., to attack Iran’s uranium-enrichment facilities in the late 2000s. The operation destroyed thousands of centrifuge machines, but Tehran’s overall nuclear-fuel production quickly returned to pace. Israel also signed on to the U.S. sanctions campaign that has used financial warfare to pressure Iran into giving up or constraining its nuclear activities. The strategy helped birth the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the Obama-helmed Iran nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers, which President Donald Trump pulled out of last year with the backing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both leaders believed the deal offered, at best, only a short-term solution to the Iranian nuclear threat while forfeiting the sources of economic leverage that may have forced Iran to accept more permanent restraints.

But the standard tools of economic and military coercion, even including the high tech instruments of cyberwar, might not be enough any longer to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East as countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia—both official U.S. strategic allies—grow their own nuclear programs. Israel has diplomatic relations with Turkey, which remains an active member of NATO and houses 50 American nuclear weapons at the U.S. military base in Incirlik. But the Israeli-Turkish relationship has been strained under Erdogan’s Islamist government and by conflicting approaches to the Syrian civil war on their respective borders. Israel has also developed a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, with the on-and-off foes, united by a common enemy, now sharing intelligence and technology to try and constrain Iran’s regional activities.

The Trump administration is currently negotiating a nuclear-cooperation agreement with Mohammed bin Salman’s government that could allow the Saudis to develop sensitive nuclear technologies, such as uranium-enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, in exchange for Riyadh accepting expansive international oversight of its program to prevent the nuclear program from being weaponized. But whatever the technical terms are in a prospective agreement, there’s still no guarantee Saudi Arabia won’t seek to develop weapons at some stage or that the ruling Saud family will remain in power.

“The Begin Doctrine has to be somewhat rephrased: ‘Israel will do its utmost to prevent, or at least delay, any hostile Middle East country from obtaining a military nuclear capability,’” says Ephraim Asculai, a 40-year veteran of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. “The means of prevention would vary from diplomatic and treaty diplomacy to covert, low-key sabotage, to open overt military action, if possible, depending on the regional politics at the time. Success cannot be really assured, but the effort should be made.”


Iran’s announcement in November that it’s resuming uranium enrichment at its Fordow underground nuclear facility has alarmed the Israeli security establishment. The Netanyahu government vehemently opposed the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, stressing that it was only a temporary obstacle to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. But some Israeli officials had hoped the accord could keep the Iranian nuclear program in check long enough for U.S. and European diplomats to strengthen the deal’s core elements through a renegotiation with Iran.

One of the JCPOA’s core tenets was that Iran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel would be kept below the levels required for the country to build a single atomic bomb within a year. But with the resumption of enrichment at Fordow, Israeli and American nuclear analysts believe this timeline has already shrunk to between six and 10 months. Meanwhile, Iran has also begun enriching uranium at levels closer to weapons grade.

This heightened nuclear threat comes after Iran has spent years developing Syria as a base of operations to launch drone and missile strikes against Israel. Israeli officials believe Tehran is consolidating a “ring of fire” around the Jewish state’s borders by arming and funding militias in Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Iraq, and Yemen. In response, Israel has repeatedly bombed Iranian proxies in recent months in Syria and as far away as Iraq, and is hoping the Trump administration’s financial campaign of “maximum pressure” will force more far-reaching nuclear concessions from Tehran down the road. There’s some hope as well that Iran is weakening from within after weeks of nationwide protests driven by the government’s slashing of energy subsidies.These are happening at the same time that political uprisings have erupted in Iraq and Lebanon driven, in part, by opposition to Iran’s overweening political and military influence in those Arab countries.

Still, current and former Israeli officials are skeptical Iran can be brought back to the negotiating table. And they voice concern that Tehran is sequencing the renewed growth of its nuclear program with the extension of its proxy network to Israel’s borders. This in turn is prompting warnings from Israel’s national security establishment that it’s prepared to strike Iran directly to enforce the Begin Doctrine. “If we have to do it again, we’ll do it again,” Yaakov Amidror, a retired general and Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, said at a recent security conference in Tel Aviv, referring to Israel’s earlier attacks on Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear installations.


Nuclear threats from Turkey’s President Erdogan have also caught Israel’s attention in recent months. Speaking to members of the ruling AK Party in September, he warned that it was unacceptable that Turkey couldn’t develop nuclear weapons when so many of the world’s great powers had them or possessed the technologies to build them. Israel is believed to have a large atomic weapons arsenal, but has never confirmed or denied its existence. “Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads, not one or two. But [they tell us] we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept,” Erdogan told a conference in eastern Turkey, Reuters reported. He added: “We have Israel nearby, as almost neighbors. They scare [other nations] by possessing these. No one can touch them.”

Turkey has been pursuing civilian nuclear power for decades, and broke ground on its first reactor, which is being built by Russian companies, last year. Israel hasn’t publicly voiced alarm about Turkey’s nuclear ambitions to date, because the country has historically been an ally and has pledged its adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, the United Nations covenant that bans the development of atomic bombs by countries others than the five original nuclear weapons states. Ankara, as a NATO member, also is protected by the nuclear umbrella provided by the U.S.

But Turkey’s future NATO membership, and its alliance with the U.S., has grown increasingly unstable in recent years as Erdogan has shown a greater willingness to challenge, if not break, from the West’s foreign policy objectives. Erdogan’s decision in September to invade northern Syria, and assault the Kurdish forces there, was staunchly opposed by the U.S. Defense Department and ran the risk of sparking a direct confrontation between Turkish and American troops. Some members of Congress are now calling for economic sanctions on Ankara and the removal of the American nuclear weapons deployed at Incirlik. Relations between Israel and Turkey have also sharply deteriorated in recent years, as Erdogan has positioned himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and an ally of Iran.

In this environment, Israeli officials and analysts are concerned that Erdogan might make good on his rumblings to develop nuclear bombs as he continues to lead his country away from the West. Even before his September nuclear pronouncements, Turkey had repeatedly rebuffed Western calls for it to rule out developing the capability to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium, the key technologies for weapons development. Ankara’s nuclear cooperation with Moscow also limits the West’s ability to use diplomatic or economic pressure to constrain Turkey’s nuclear ambitions. Military threats or sabotage to enforce the Begin Doctrine, Israeli analysts acknowledge, are less effective against a country as developed as Turkey and as integrated into the global economy. Turkey’s not isolated, or viewed as a rogue state, like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the Assad family’s Syria, or the Islamic Republic of Iran. Which leaves the question, if the old policy no longer works, what exactly can be done?


Saudi Arabia’s nuclear advancements pose perhaps the most delicate proliferation challenge for Israel and the Begin Doctrine. For most of the Jewish state’s history, Riyadh was viewed as a foe due to its support for the Palestinian cause and exporting of its fundamentalist brand of Islam, known as Wahhabism. Saudi Arabia sent troops to fight Israeli forces during the 1973 Yom Kippur war and used oil as a weapon against those countries that supported the Jewish state during the conflict.

But relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia have improved dramatically over the past five years, driven, in large part, by their shared focus on the Iranian threat. The two countries have yet to formally normalize diplomatic relations. But they’re sharing intelligence and technology to try and constrain Tehran, according to Israeli and Arab officials, including by tracking Iranian activities in Yemen and the Red Sea. Israeli diplomats are now openly visiting Saudi Arabia’s allies in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, in what’s widely viewed as a precursor for more overt Israeli-Saudi contacts.

Saudi Arabia, with an eye on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, has been developing its own program. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year bluntly proclaimed his country was committed to acquiring whatever nuclear technologies Tehran does. The Saudi government has embarked on an ambitious effort to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years, and is currently finishing the construction of a research reactor with Argentine help. “Saudi does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran develops a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” Crown Prince Mohammed told CBS News last year.

Despite the improving relations between the two countries, Israeli officials are still worried about Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear capabilities—as they are with all of the regional powers. But as in the case with Turkey, the tools to deter the House of Saud are seen as limited. Few in Israel believe military action or sabotage can be used against Riyadh. And Israel hasn’t sought to rally congressional opposition in Washington against the Saudi program, mindful of the close U.S. alliance and its own improving relations with the kingdom.

The Netanyahu government, instead, has been backing a Trump administration proposal to overtly share nuclear technology with Riyadh in exchange for Saudi Arabia backing away from plans to acquire uranium-enrichment and plutonium-separation technologies. Outgoing U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been holding negotiations with Saudi officials to forge a formal nuclear-cooperation agreement based on this “gold standard.” But it’s unclear if the Saudis will accept the terms, and Riyadh has concurrently been discussing purchasing reactors from Russia, China, and South Korea as a way to work around American pressure.

U.S. and Israeli officials are also concerned that Saudi Arabia could simply buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan should the conflict with Iran intensify. Riyadh is believed to be the primary financier of Islamabad’s so-called Sunni Bomb and also provides substantial energy support to the South Asian country. Pakistani troops, in turn, have been deployed to Saudi Arabia to help enforce security. “In a scenario of an Iranian breakout to a nuclear weapon, the Pakistani commitment to maintain the Kingdom’s security could be expressed through the transfer of nuclear warheads…or the stationing of nuclear weapons,” writes Israeli security analyst Yoel Guzansky of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Israel’s national security establishment, though, views Iran as the fulcrum through which to try and stanch the cascading spread of nuclear weapons across the Mideast. Permanently constraining Tehran’s capability, they argue, will drastically reduce the desire of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and even Egypt, to militarize their nuclear power programs. If Iran, however, becomes a threshold weapons state, which it was on track to do even under the JPCOA, Israel and the West will have diminishing tools to reverse this course. A campaign of cyber warfare, supply-chain sabotage and economic sanctions may be in the works. But there’s no guarantee they’ll work, and the Begin Doctrine could be rolled back.

What’s At Stake? Damaging the Wine (Revelation 6:6)

An Iraqi demonstrator chants as she takes part in an anti-government march in the center of the southern city of Basra on December 2, 2019. Iraq’s rival parties were negotiating the contours of a new government today, after the previous cabinet was brought down by a two-month protest movement demanding more deep-rooted change. (AFP)

The US accuses Iran of secretly sending missiles to Iraq. What’s at stake?

Iran is accused of using its paramilitary proxy group to move missiles in turmoil-hit Iraq, which is caught in a tug of war between Iran and the US.

Tehran has discreetly built an arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq, taking advantage of the ongoing political turmoil in the country, the New York Times reported on Thursday, quoting the US intelligence and military officials.

It’s been over two months since Iraqis in Baghdad and the Shia-majority south have been protesting against a lack of basic services, jobs and years-long corruption that they blame on the government as well as holding Iran responsible for undermining the country’s progress.

Widening Iranian influence in Iraq

The news comes as the latest of Tehran’s efforts to assert power in Iraq — a potential sign that Tehran has no intention of stepping back even after 400 Iraqis were gunned down in protests. The protesters hold the Iraqi security forces and Iran-backed militias responsible for the bloodbath.

According to the New York Times report, Iran-backed Hashd al Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was used by Tehran to move and hide missiles in Iraq. The armed group has played a key role in helping Iran increase its influence in Iraq.

The Iranian influence in the military grew especially with the PMF playing a key role in defeating Daesh in Iraq. The militia was gradually integrated with Iraq’s paramilitary forces, a move widely seen as a boost to Tehran’s control over Baghdad.

The PMF also made a political foray with its commander Hadi al Ameri running as a candidate as the leader of Fatah alliance. In what was dubbed ‘a compromise’ it took two major political fronts, Islah and Bina, five months to form a government.

Many Iraqis think Iran’s involvement in the country’s inner workings went too far. Adel Abdul Mahdi, who has sworn in as prime minister only a year ago, resigned after the protesters entered the Iranian consulate and burnt down the entire building.

Iraqis celebrated the PM’s exit as a step towards an independent parliament, but the process of choosing a new PM is a difficult one. The Iran-backed Fatah alliance claims the right to choose the new PM, while Sairoon, headed by the populist cleric Muqtada al Sadr, says his party has the right to do so. 

Iraqis say they wouldn’t welcome a new PM close to the country’s political elite. But reports say Qasim Sulaimani, Major General of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has attended meetings over the next PM, pushing his own favourite.

The US slammed Sulaimani for interfering in the process.

A further US-Iran strain in relations over Iraq may follow

Iraq has become a centre of a tug of war between Baghdad’s two allies, Washington and Tehran. While the two sides, known archrivals, are pursuing their own interests, the Iraqi government is struggling to find its feet and reconstruct the post-war country.

When the US restored its sanctions against Iran last year in May, and asked Iraq to abide by them, Iraq found itself between a rock and a hard place.

Iraqi President Barham Salih stated his discomfort from the escalation, saying the sanctions were hurting the entire region, not only Iran. He urged the US to de-escalate.

“We cannot afford our country to be dragged into a conflict,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US has sent 14,000 additional troops to the region since May, the month when the US sanctions on Iran made a brutal comeback. For the US, the aim was to counter threats such as attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf which Washington previously blamed on Iran.

A report from the Wall Street Journal claimed the US was considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East as a countermeasure to Iran. The Pentagon strongly denied the claim, however.

The Rising of the Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

See This Strange Picture? This Is How China Is Stepping Up Its Nuclear Weapons Game

Key point: China’s nuclear weapons arsenal is small, but growing larger.

Welcome to the newest U.S.-China arms race: giant machines that test nuclear weapons.

China is building a device that’s equivalent to America’s Z Machine, a device that reproduces the conditions of a nuclear bomb – but in the controlled safety of the laboratory. Except that China says that it’s machine will be bigger than America’s.

The Z Pulsed Power Facility “is the world’s most powerful and efficient laboratory radiation source,” according to the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “It uses high magnetic fields associated with high electrical currents to produce high temperatures, high pressures, and powerful X-rays for research in high energy density science.”

“The Z machine creates conditions found nowhere else on Earth,” Sandia claims.

But those conditions may soon be found in the city of Mianyang, in southwest China, where the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics develops nuclear weapons.

China’s Z machine is “designed to produce about 60 million joules of energy in an instant – roughly 22 times the 2.7 million joules generated at the Sandia facility,” according to the South China Morning Post. “It does this by firing powerful electrical pulses at a target about the size of a spool of thread consisting of hundreds of tungsten wires, each thinner than a human hair. When the pulses pass through the wires, the tungsten explodes, evaporates and creates a plasma with a magnetic field so strong that the exploded particles are forced inward. The particles collide, producing intense radiation – mostly X-rays – and creating conditions that more accurately reflect a real nuclear explosion.”

“With so much energy, we can heat a target to more than 100 million degrees Celsius,” boasted one Chinese nuclear physicist. “It will dwarf the machine in Sandia.”

The National Interest contacted the Sandia laboratory; a spokesman replied that while U.S. researchers were aware of the Chinese project, they could not comment on it.

Building facilities to develop better nuclear bombs comes as tensions are rising between the U.S. and China. President Trump has threatened to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty between the U.S. and Soviet Union. The treaty banned most medium- and short-range nuclear missiles. Trump accuses Russia of violating the treaty by deploying new missiles: Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to retaliate by building more nuclear weapons.

These developments haven’t been lost on Beijing. “China Youth Daily reported in May that the academy [of Engineering Physics] aimed to beat the US in nuclear weapon development,” noted the South China Morning Post. “’Must surpass the US’ has become a motto for scientists and engineers working in the top-secret research facilities, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League said.

Even if China’s machine is bigger than America’s, as with so much of the nuclear arms race, it is not clear how much advantage Beijing would derive. The U.S. has almost 7,000 nuclear warheads to destroy China and Russia as functioning societies: Russia has a similar number to return the favor to America. With an estimated 300 nuclear warheads, China’s arsenal is distinctly smaller, but not small enough that it couldn’t severely damage the U.S.

More efficient nuclear bombs may kill more people, but they won’t change the underlying equation of mutually assured destruction.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This article first appeared in 2018.

Image: Sandia Labs.

We will all be awoken by the first nuclear war (Revelation 8 )

Don’t Sleep On Pakistan and India’s Nuclear Standoff

December 3, 2019, 4:33 AM MST

Key Point: Both countries, and world powers, have an interest in keeping the peace in Asia.

While the United States is preoccupied by the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of potential adversaries such as Russia, China or North Korea, the danger of nuclear conflict may actually be greatest between two of its allies, Pakistan and India. The two nations have engaged in four wars starting since their partition along religious lines in 1947. A fifth could be drastically more costly, as their nuclear capabilities continue to grow and diversify.

Several years ago I made the acquaintance of a Pakistani nuclear science student in China. Curious about the thinking behind his country’s nuclear program, I asked if he really believed there was a possibility that India would invade Pakistan. “There’s still a lot of old-school thinkers in the Congress Party that believe India and Pakistan should be united,” he told me.

I doubt there are many observers outside of Pakistan who believe India is plotting to invade and occupy the Muslim state, but a feeling of existential enmity persists. The third conflict between the two countries in 1971 established India’s superiority in conventional warfare—not unexpectedly, as India has several times Pakistan’s population.

The bone of contention has always been the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. At the time of partition, the predominantly Muslim state was politically divided over which nation to join. When Pakistani-allied tribesmen attempted to force the issue, the Hindu maharaja of the region chose to accede to India, leading to the first war between India and Pakistan. Ever since, the line of control between the Indian and Pakistan side has remained bitterly contested, with artillery and sniper fire routinely exchanged. Pakistan intelligence services have infiltrated insurgents and plotted attacks across the border for decades, and Indian security troops have been implicated in human-rights violations and killings of the locals as a result of their counterinsurgency operations.

Pakistan does have to fear the potential of an Indian counterstrike intended to retaliate for a terrorist attack by Pakistani-aligned groups, such as the killing of 166 in Mumbai by Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2008 or the attack on Indian parliament in 2001 by Jaish-e-Muhammad. In both cases, the attackers had ties with Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, and Islamabad has shown limited willingness or ability to crack down on these groups. Complicating matters, civilian control of the military is far from consolidated in Pakistan, and it would be quite possible for ISI or some other agency to carry out such activities on its own initiative without the knowledge or support of the head of state.

India’s military has formulated a “Cold Start” doctrine to enable its forward-deployed land forces to launch an armored assault into Pakistani territory on short notice in response to a perceived provocation from Islamabad. This new strategy was devised after the Indian Army’s armored strike corps took three weeks to deploy to the border after the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, by which time Pakistan had already mobilized its own troops.

Islamabad sees nuclear weapons as its deterrent against a conventional attack, and Cold Start in particular. This is demonstrated by its refusal to adhere to a “No First Use” policy. Pakistan has an extensive plutonium production capacity, and is estimated to possess 130 to 140 warheads, a total that may easily increase to 220 to 250 in a decade, according to a report by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Many of the new weapons are smaller, short-range tactical weapons intended for targeting frontline troops. To enable a second-strike capability, Pakistan has also empowered local commanders to launch retaliatory nuclear strikes in case the chain of command is disrupted.

While battlefield nuclear weapons are less likely to cause the mass civilian casualties that a strike against a densely populated city would produce, they are deeply worrying in their own way: a state may be more tempted to employ tactical nuclear weapons, and perceive doing so as being intrinsically less risky. However, many simulations of nuclear war suggest that tactical-nuclear-weapon usage rapidly escalates to strategic weapons.

Furthermore, tactical nuclear weapons are necessarily more dispersed, and thus less secure than those stationed in permanent facilities. These issues led the U.S. Army to at first reorganize its tactical nuclear forces in the 1960s, and largely abandon them after the end of the Cold War.

Pakistan fields nearly a dozen different types of missiles to facilitate this strategy, developed with Chinese and North Korean assistance. Ground based tactical systems include the Hatf I, an unguided ground-based rocket with a range of one hundred kilometers, and the Nasr Hatf IX, which can be mounted on mobile quad-launchers. Longer reach is provided by Ghauri II and Shaheen II medium-range ballistic missiles, which can strike targets up to around 1,600 and 2,500 kilometers, respectively.

The Pakistani Air Force’s American-made F-16 fighters are also believed to have been modified to deploy nuclear weapons. The older F-16As and Bs of the Thirty-Eighth Fighter Wing and the newer Cs and Ds of the Thirty-Ninth are both believed to be based near nuclear-weapon storage facilities. The PAF’s five squadrons of Mirage IIIs, based in Karachi and Shorkot, meanwhile, have been modified to launch the domestically-produced Ra’ad nuclear Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), with a range of 350 kilometers. New JF-17 fighters jointly produced with China are also thought to be capable of carrying the Ra’ad ALCM.

The Pakistani Navy lacks a nuclear strike capability, but appears interested in acquiring one. In January of this year, it released a video claiming to show a test launch of a Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missile. The domestically produced Babur is similar to the Tomahawk, and designed to approach its target at low altitude to avoid detection. Pakistan already possesses land-based TEL vehicles to deploy the nuclear-capable weapon.

Reflecting its superior conventional abilities, India does adhere to a “No First Use” nuclear weapons policy. Its security posture is also complicated by long lasting tensions with China, dating back to a border war in 1962 in which Beijing seized territory in the Himalayas. Today, China is closely allied economically and militarily with Pakistan, and even has a naval base in Gwadar as part of a strategy to envelop India. India, by contrast, continues to receive much of its weaponry from Russia, but does not enjoy the same kind of military alliance. It has instead dramatically expanded civilian nuclear cooperation with the United States and other nations in the last decades.

India possesses a smaller number of nuclear weapons, estimated in 2015 to range between ninety and 120. However, New Delhi recently acquired a full nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based nuclear platforms when it deployed its first home-produced nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant. The Arihant is capable of launching a dozen K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missiles. However, these are limited to a range of 750 kilometers, and are thus incapable of reaching the major inland cities of Pakistan or China, a shortcoming India is attempting to address with new K-4 missiles, derived form the land-based Agni-III. New Delhi intends to produce three more nuclear submarines over the years, while Pakistan is considering building one of their own.

India’s chief nuclear arm is thought to lay in its Mirage 2000H and Jaguar fighter-bombers, which can carry nuclear gravity bombs. In 2016, India signed a contract for thirty-six nuclear-capable fourth-generation Rafale fighters from France, further enhancing its aerial striking power. India has also modified its Su-30 fighter-bombers to carry the BrahMos cruise missiles with a range of five hundred kilometers. These could theoretically carry nuclear warheads, though none are believed to have been so equipped so far.

India also has its own array of ground-based nuclear ballistic missiles. The most numerous are slow-firing Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles. Twenty mobile Agni-1 ballistic missiles with a range of seven hundred kilometers are also deployed along the border with Pakistan, while ten heavier Agni-II systems with a range of two thousand kilometers are situated in the northwest for potential strikes on China. India also possesses a small number of rapid-deploying Agni III missiles with a range of 3,500 kilometers, and is developing an Agni IV MRBM and Agni VI ICBM with sufficient range to hit Chinese cities on the Pacific coast.

If there is any silver lining to this steady escalation in nuclear firepower, it’s that neither India nor Pakistan appears to possess chemical or biological weapons. (India completed the destruction of its stock of mustard gas in 2009.) However, the potential for catastrophic loss of human life if nuclear warheads rain down on the cities of the Indian subcontinent is self-evident.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif showed goodwill in a surprise meeting in 2015. Unfortunately, neither state appears capable of shaking out of its intractable pattern of conflict, driven by domestic political forces, which makes diplomatic accommodation difficult. The struggle for Kashmir occupies an important part of Pakistani national identity, and there has yet to be a civilian head of state in Islamabad with the will and authority to bring an end to cross-border infiltration and support for terrorist or insurgent fighters. For its part, the Indian Army has failed to respect local Kashmiri leaders and significantly improve its human-rights record.

In 2016 the killing of Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani led to an outbreak of domestic civil unrest in Kashmir that resulted in dozens of civilian deaths. After attackers killed seventeen Indian Army troops in Uri on September 18, the Indian army launched a cross-border raid under murky circumstances ten days later, followed by heavy exchanges of artillery and sniper fire in October and November that killed or injured dozens of civilians and soldiers on both sides of the Line of Control.

The United States sits awkwardly astride the two states. During the Cold War, the United States tilted in favor of Pakistan due to India’s good relations with the Soviet Union. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, against the advice of the State Department, even dispatched a carrier task force in a futile attempt to dissuade India from its support of Bengali independence fighters. However, in recent decades, U.S. diplomacy has moved gradually in favor of democratic India, both due to its potential as a future superpower and its role as a counterbalance to Chinese influence. The role played by President Clinton in helping negotiate the end of the Kargil conflict in 1999 stood as a key turning point in the region—and marked one of the most dangerous confrontations in recent history, as it two nuclear-armed states were at risk of entering into full-scale conflict.

U.S. relations with Pakistan, meanwhile, have worsened despite a continuing flow of American arms for the Pakistani military. This mutual distrust is due to the presence of Islamic militant groups on Pakistani soil and U.S. drone strikes targeting them. Washington and Islamabad have genuinely diverging interests in regards to Afghanistan, the latter desiring to control Afghanistan out of fear that it might otherwise fall under Indian influence. Pakistan, however, can fall back on its relations with China if the U.S. alliance collapses, leading to a complicated diplomatic balancing act.

Despite diverging political agendas on the Indian subcontinent, there should be a common interest in limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the likelihood of nuclear war. Growing arsenals in India and Pakistan serve to increase the catastrophic human cost of a potential conflict between the too, without evidently decreasing the frequency of inflammatory episodes of violence that spike tensions between the nuclear-armed states.

India and Pakistan will of course retain their nuclear arms, and continue to see them as vital deterrents to attack. However, for such policies to remain tenable in the long run, the longtime adversaries must seek to bring an end to a pattern of recurring conflict that is entering its seventh decade this year.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This piece was originally featured in March 2017 and is being republished due to reader’s interest.

Image: Reuters