East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness

By By BEN NUCKOLS

Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT

WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.

The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.

Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.

“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”

The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.

A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.

“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.

Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.

It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.

“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”

___

Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Why Pakistan Risked Everything To Become A Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Why Pakistan Risked Everything To Build Nuclear Weapons

June 7, 2020, 8:00 AM MDT

Here’s What You Need To Remember: Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal.

Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.

Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.

Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.

Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.

The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.

Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.

Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs. The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service. Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.

The sea component of Pakistan’s nuclear force consists of the Babur class of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the U.S. government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology. Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems.

Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This article first appeared two years ago and is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Reuters. 

Iran Horn violating all restrictions of nuclear deal (Daniel 8:4)

IAEA: Iran violating all restrictions of nuclear deal

The International Atomic Energy Agency says in a confidential document that as of May 20, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1.73 tons, up from 1.1 tons on Feb. 19.

Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium and remains in violation of its deal with world powers, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog said Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the finding in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press.

The agency said that as of May 20, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons), up from 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons) on Feb. 19.

Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).

The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the JCPOA. It is also above the pact’s limitations on heavy water.

The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program. US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal unilaterally in 2018, saying it needed to be renegotiated due to Iranian belligerence in the region and because the deal comes with an expiration date. Iran has since slowly violated the restrictions to try and pressure the remaining nations to increase the incentives to offset new, economy-crippling US sanctions.

The ultimate goal of the JCPOA is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. Since the US withdrawal, Iran has stockpiled enough uranium to produce a weapon, although the government in Tehran insists it has no such goal and that its atomic program is only for producing energy.

According to the Washington-based Arms Control Association, Iran would need roughly 1050 kilograms (1.16 tons) of low-enriched uranium – less than 5% purity – and would then need to enrich it further to weapons-grade, or more than 90% purity, to make a nuclear weapon.

With the nuclear deal in place, Iran’s so-called breakout time – the period Tehran would need to build a bomb if it chose to – stood at around a year. As Iran has stepped away from the limits of the 2015 deal, it slowly has narrowed that window.

However, that doesn’t mean Iran would immediately rush toward building a bomb if all the materials were in place.

Before agreeing to the nuclear deal, Iran enriched its uranium up to 20% purity, which is just a short technical step away from the weapons-grade level of 90%. In 2013, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was already more than 7,000 kilograms (7.72 tons) with higher enrichment.

It remains in violation of all the main restrictions outlined by the JCPOA, which Tehran says it hopes will pressure the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for hard-hitting sanctions imposed by Washington.

Though Iran has been hard hit by the new coronavirus pandemic, the IAEA said it has maintained its verification and monitoring activities in the country, primarily by chartering aircraft to fly inspectors to and from Iran.

The agency raised concerns, however, about access to two of three locations it identified in March as places where Iran possibly stored and/or used undeclared nuclear material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring them to international observers.

Activities at all three sites are thought to have been from the early 2000s. The IAEA said in its current report that it had determined that one site had undergone “extensive sanitization and leveling” in 2003 and 2004 and there would be no verification value in inspecting it.

It said Iran has, for more than four months, blocked access to the other two locations, one of which was partially demolished in 2004 and the other at which the agency observed activities “consistent with efforts to sanitize” the facility from July 2019 onward.

The watchdog agency added that Iran has also “not engaged in any substantive discussions” with the IAEA to answer its question about possible undeclared nuclear material and activities for almost a year.

The One World System is Against Trump

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, in October. He will not support President Trump’s re-election.Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Vote for Trump? These Republican Leaders Aren’t on the Bandwagon

Former President George W. Bush and Senator Mitt Romney won’t support Mr. Trump’s re-election. Colin Powell will vote for Joe Biden, and other G.O.P. officials may do the same.

By Jonathan Martin

Published June 6, 2020

WASHINGTON — It was one thing in 2016 for top Republicans to take a stand against Donald J. Trump for president: He wasn’t likely to win anyway, the thinking went, and there was no ongoing conservative governing agenda that would be endangered.

The 2020 campaign is different: Opposing the sitting president of your own party means putting policy priorities at risk, in this case appointing conservative judges, sustaining business-friendly regulations and cutting taxes — as well as incurring the volcanic wrath of Mr. Trump.

But, far sooner than they expected, growing numbers of prominent Republicans are debating how far to go in revealing that they won’t back his re-election — or might even vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee. They’re feeling a fresh urgency because of Mr. Trump’s incendiary response to the protests of police brutality, atop his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions.

Former President George W. Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr. Trump, and Jeb Bush isn’t sure how he’ll vote, say people familiar with their thinking. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah won’t back Mr. Trump and is deliberating whether to again write in his wife, Ann, or cast another ballot this November. Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is almost certain to support Mr. Biden but is unsure how public to be about it because one of her sons is eying a run for office.

And former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced on Sunday that he will vote for Mr. Biden, telling CNN that Mr. Trump “lies about things” and Republicans in Congress won’t hold him accountable. Mr. Powell, who voted for former President Barack Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, said he was close to Mr. Biden politically and socially and had worked with him for more than 35 years. “I’ll be voting for him,” he said.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he would vote for Joe Biden, telling CNN that President Trump “lies about things.”Drew Angerer/Getty Images

None of these Republicans voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, but the reproach of big Republican names carries a different weight when an incumbent president and his shared agenda with Senate leaders are on the line.

Former Republican leaders like the former Speakers Paul D. Ryan and John A. Boehner won’t say how they will vote, and some Republicans who are already disinclined to support Mr. Trump are weighing whether to go beyond backing a third-party contender to openly endorse Mr. Biden. Retired military leaders, who have guarded their private political views, are increasingly voicing their unease about the president’s leadership but are unsure whether to embrace his opponent.

Mr. Biden himself, while eager to win support across party lines, intends to roll out his “Republicans for Biden” coalition later in the campaign, after fully consolidating his own party, according to Democrats familiar with the campaign’s planning.

The public expressions of opposition to Mr. Trump from parts of the Republican and military establishment have accelerated in recent days over his repeated calls for protesters to be physically constrained, “dominated,” as he put it, and his administration’s order to forcefully clear the streets outside the White House so he could walk out for a photo opportunity. His conduct has convinced some leaders that they can no longer remain silent.

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s blistering criticism of Mr. Trump and the admission this week by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska that she is “struggling” with whether to vote for the sitting president of her own party have intensified the soul-searching taking place, forcing a number of officials to reckon with an act that they have long avoided: stating out loud that Mr. Trump is unfit for office.

“This fall, it’s time for new leadership in this country — Republican, Democrat or independent,” said William H. McRaven, the retired Navy admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “President Trump has shown he doesn’t have the qualities necessary to be a good commander in chief.”

Admiral McRaven, in an interview on the 76th anniversary of D-Day, noted that those wartime leaders inspired Americans with “their words, their actions and their humanity.”

In contrast, he said, Mr. Trump has failed his leadership test. “As we have struggled with the Covid pandemic and horrible acts of racism and injustice, this president has shown none of those qualities,” Admiral McRaven said. “The country needs to move forward without him at the helm.”

Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is likely to support former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November.Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune, via Associated Press

Mr. Trump won election in 2016, of course, in spite of a parade of Republicans and retired military officers who refused to support him. Far more current G.O.P. elected officials are publicly backing Mr. Trump than did four years ago. Among his unwavering supporters are Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and past foes like Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. And polls today indicate that rank-and-file Republicans are squarely behind the president, although that is in part because some Republicans who can’t abide Mr. Trump now align with independents.

Yet it would be a sharp rebuke for former Trump administration officials and well-known Republicans to buck their own standard-bearer. Individually, they may not sway many votes — particularly at a time of deep polarization. But their collective opposition, or even resounding silence, could offer something of a permission structure for Trump-skeptical Republicans to put party loyalty aside.

John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff and a retired Marine general, would not say whom he would vote for, though he did allow that he wished “we had some additional choices.”

Dan Coats, the former Republican senator who was Mr. Trump’s director of national intelligence, “has been concerned about the negative effect on the intelligence community by the turmoil of turnover at D.N.I.,” said Kevin Kellems, a longtime adviser to Mr. Coats, adding that the former spy chief is “encouraged by the confirmation of a new D.N.I. and career intelligence deputy.”

As for whom Mr. Coats will vote for, “ultimately he remains a loyal Republican but he believes the American people will decide on Nov. 3,” said Mr. Kellems.

Joseph Maguire, a retired three-star admiral who served as Mr. Trump’s acting intelligence chief, invoked the comments of Mr. Mattis and two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who also criticized the president this week.

“Jim Mattis, Mike Mullen and Marty Dempsey are all good friends, and I respect them tremendously,” Admiral Maguire said in an interview. “I am in alignment with their views.”

Asked who Mr. Boehner and Mr. Ryan will vote for in November, representatives to both former House speakers declined to say.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asked if she would support Mr. Trump for re-election, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that she didn’t want to discuss politics right now, adding that her focus was on addressing divisions in the country. She did not support Mr. Trump in 2016.

A number of current G.O.P. lawmakers and governors are also wrestling with what to do — and what to say — as they balance conscience, ideology and the risk to themselves and their constituents that comes from confronting Mr. Trump.

Representative Francis Rooney of Florida has donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates over the years, served as President Bush’s ambassador to the Vatican and hasn’t voted for a Democrat in decades.

But Mr. Rooney said he is considering supporting Mr. Biden in part because Mr. Trump is “driving us all crazy” and his handling of the virus led to a death toll that “didn’t have to happen.”

Mr. Rooney is not seeking re-election, so he is not worried about future electoral prospects. He said his hesitation with Mr. Biden owes to uncertainty about whether left-wing Democrats would pull the former vice president out of the political mainstream.

“What he’s always been is not scary,” said Mr. Rooney. “A lot of people that voted for President Trump did so because they did not like Hillary Clinton. I don’t see that happening with Joe Biden — how can you not like Joe Biden?”

Mr. Rooney has been gently lobbied by one of Mr. Biden’s closest allies in Congress: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who has effectively become the former vice president’s emissary to current and recent Republican lawmakers.

Mr. Coons said a number of G.O.P. senators, regardless of their public comments, would ultimately not pull the lever for Mr. Trump in the privacy of the ballot booth.

“I’ve had five conversations with senators who tell me they are really struggling with supporting Trump,” said Mr. Coons, who declined to give names.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said she is “struggling” with the decision of whether to vote for Mr. Trump.Al Drago for The New York Times

Indeed, one Republican senator, who is publicly supporting the president, said in an interview that he might prefer a Biden victory if the G.O.P. managed to preserve its Senate majority. This lawmaker, like a number of Republicans, is uneasy with Mr. Trump’s behavior and weary from the near-weekly barrage of questions from reporters about the latest presidential eruption.

As former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a moderate Democrat who was friends with a number of her former Republican colleagues, put it: “It’s easier to count the ones who are definitely voting for Trump.”

Among the anti-Trump Republicans now out of office, recent events have only vindicated their sense of alarm — and nudged them toward embracing Mr. Biden.

“For people who were long waiting for that pivot, the last week has shown, if anything, he’s dug in and not even making an attempt to appeal to anybody outside his hard base,” said former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is close to Mr. Coons and in conversation with him about how and when to formalize his support for Mr. Biden.

Former Representative Mark Sanford, who briefly challenged the president in the Republican primary, said last year that he’d support the president if he won the nomination.

But now Mr. Sanford believes Mr. Trump is threatening the stability of the country. “He’s treading on very thin ice,” said Mr. Sanford, also a former South Carolina governor, who is engaged in frequent conversations with other Republicans about how to proceed.

There are already a number of Republican groups dedicated to defeating Mr. Trump, and former lawmakers, strategists and policymakers who are plotting what and when to say about the election.

“There is an organized effort about how to make our voices useful in 2020,” said Kori Schake, who worked at the National Security Council and State Department under President George W. Bush and was an editor with Mr. Mattis of the book “Warriors and Citizens,” about the civil-military divide.

She said a number of officials who worked for both Presidents Bush and Reagan, many of whom signed a 2016 letter opposing Mr. Trump, were on Zoom chats and group emails trying to determine how to express their opposition and whether it should come with an endorsement for Mr. Biden. The effort to gather more anti-Trump Republicans to speak out is being spearheaded by John B. Bellinger III, who also worked in George W. Bush’s N.S.C. and State Department.

Some Republicans believe Mr. Mattis made their task easier.

“It laid the cornerstone of fighting back against Trump,” said former Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who noted that as Navy secretary he once served as “boss” to Mr. Mattis, then a youthful Marine officer. “He said: ‘I can judge the man.’”

Yet neither Mr. Mattis, nor any other former Trump official, is likely to be able to prod Mr. Bush to publicly state his opposition. Freddy Ford, a spokesman for Mr. Bush, said the former president would stay out of the election and speak only on policy issues, as he did this week in stating that the country must “examine our tragic failures” on race.

Notably, though, while the former president, whom Mr. Trump has never reached out to while in office, may be withdrawn from presidential politics, he is not totally disengaged from campaigns: he has raised money for a handful of Republican senators, including John Cornyn of Texas, Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado.

Mr. Romney this week lavished praise on Mr. Mattis but stayed mum about who he would actually support for president.

As for Mrs. McCain, she has sought to stay out of partisan politics. “Picking a fight with Trump is no fun,” said Rick Davis, a longtime McCain adviser who’s close to the family.

But, Mr. Davis, alluding to Mr. Biden, said: “You know where her heart is. Whether she articulates that or not is still an open question.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

Jonathan Martin is a national political correspondent. He has reported on a range of topics, including the 2016 presidential election and several state and congressional races, while also writing for Sports, Food and the Book Review. He is also a CNN political analyst. @jmartnyt

Russia Preparing for the Last Nuclear War (Revelation 16)

Russia Preparing To Potentially Use Atomic Weapons In Response To Future Conventional Attacks

June 7, 2020  in Current Events by Taylor Linzinmeir (updated on June 7, 2020)

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a document last week that would allow him to use atomic weapons in response to non-nuclear attacks on critical government and military infrastructure.

The document outlined Russian policy on its nuclear deterrent policy and was published online. It describes the situations that could justify a response with nuclear weapons. According to the document, these situations include the use of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies,  as well as attacks with the use of conventional weapons that “threaten the very existence of the state”. 

Additionally, the document states that Russia could use its nuclear arsenals if it simply gets “reliable information” that suggest the launch of ballistic missiles targeting Russia or its allies. It also named the creation and deployment of anti-missile and strike weapons in space as a main military threat to Russia, according to the RIA news agency.

It appears that Russia is trying to send a message to Washington, fearing that they could take down key military assets and government infrastructure without even having to use atomic weapons. This comes amid arms control tensions between Russia and the United States. Tensions have risen over a variety of different reasons, including the Ukrainian crisis, controversy over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as over the future of New START – the last major arms pact regulating Russia’s nuclear arsenals. It limits the U.S. and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each.

In May, United States President Donald Trump disclosed he was planning to leave the Open Skies Treaty, which was negotiated 30 years ago by President George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Open Skies Treaty  allowed for nations to fly over other nations’ territories with the help of sensory equipment that assured the aircraft were not preparing for military action. This move is cited by some as evidence that Trump plans to withdraw from the New START treaty unless China joins. The New START treaty expires in February.

Despite the fact that the U.S. government disclosed Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Open Skies agreement, Trump is leaving open the possibility for negotiations with Russia that could keep the U.S. as a participant in the agreement. “There’s a chance we may make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,” Trump said outside the White House. “I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to pull out and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal.”

Trump’s aides said that this seems unlikely even though the U.S.  arms negotiator Marshall Billingslea told the New York Times that the U.S. plans to have an in depth discussion with Russia over the future of New START. The Chinese did not appear to be involved in the first meeting, but Billingslea said he was “confident” they would ultimately join.

This is the third time that Trump has renounced a major arms control treaty during his presidency. He abandoned the Iran nuclear accord two years ago, and he also left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year.  When he left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he was convinced Russia would try to seek a new deal. They did not. 

Israel Tries to Coerce Babylon the Great

Netanyahu calls for Iran sanctions over nuclear ‘violations’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world powers on Sunday to reimpose tough sanctions against Iran, vowing to curb Tehran’s regional “aggression” hours after another deadly strike on pro-Iranian fighters in Syria.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency has determined that Iran refused to give the agency’s inspectors access to secret sites where Iran conducted secret nuclear military activity,” Netanyahu told his cabinet.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Friday that Iran had accumulated enriched uranium at nearly eight times the limit under a landmark 2015 deal, and has for months blocked inspections at sites where nuclear activity may have taken place.

Mr Netanyahu accused Iran of “systematically violating its commitments by hiding sites, enriching fissile material and in other ways.”

“In light of these discoveries, the international community must join the US and reimpose crippling sanctions on Iran,” he said.

Iran has been progressively rolling back on its commitments under the 2015 agreement in response to US President Donald Trump’s unilateral 2018 withdrawal from the accord and re-imposition of sanctions.

Last week the US said it was ending waivers in its sanctions for nations that remain in the Iran nuclear accord, bringing the deal further to the verge of collapse.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated after Trump abandoned the deal and the long-standing enemies have appeared to come to the brink of a direct conflict twice in the past year.

The most recent was in January when Iran fired a barrage of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation for a US drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday brushed aside Trump’s hopes of diplomatic progress after the two countries carried out a prisoner swap.

“We achieved humanitarian swap *despite* your subordinates’ efforts,” Mr Zarif tweeted, emphasising that it was the US that had walked away from the 2015 deal.

The deal to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief was signed with the United States – under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama – along with Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Tehran has accused the remaining signatories of failing to sufficiently support it in the wake of Washington’s withdrawal.

In his Sunday remarks, Mr Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s longstanding vow to “act against Iran’s aggression” and “not let Iran obtain nuclear weapons”.

Israel “will continue to act systematically against Iran’s attempts to establish a military presence on our borders,” he said.

Late on Saturday evening, at least 12 Iraqi and Afghan fighters in a pro-Iran base in eastern Syria’s rural Deir Ezzor province died in eight strikes by unidentified aircraft.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not identify the aircraft, but said Israel was likely behind the attack.

The country has carried out hundreds of strikes targeting regime and Iranian-backed forces.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army refused to comment on the Saturday evening strikes.

Updated: June 7, 2020 04:46 PM

Iranian Nuclear Horn is 8 times larger

Iran stockpiled enriched uranium at nearly 8 times the limit

The UN nuclear watchdog has said the finding violates the terms of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has also reportedly continued to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed.

Iran has accumulated enriched uranium at nearly eight times the limit set out in the 2015 nuclear deal, the United Nations nuclear watchdog announced on Friday.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that as of May 20, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons), up from 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons) on February 19.

The IAEA noted “with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied access to the Agency… to two locations.”

According to the report, the IAEA has questions as to the possible “use or storage of nuclear material” at the two sites and that one of them “may have been used for the processing and conversion of uranium ore including fluorination in 2003.”

Denuclearization agreement

The IAEA noted that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the nuclear deal. In addition, Iran is also only allowed to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).

Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in July 2015 with the US, Germany, France, Russia, China and the European Union in return for economic incentives.

Iran agreed that “under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” Tehran also authorized a monitoring regime, allowing international inspectors to gain access to sites suspected of nuclear weapons-related activities.

Under the deal, however, Iran may have a commercial nuclear program “for exclusively peaceful purposes.”

Trump slams agreement

Having called it “the worst deal ever,” President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal unilaterally in 2018 and imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, further crippling Iran’s economy.

Since the US withdrawal, Iran has reportedly stockpiled enough uranium to produce a weapon. Tehran maintains it has no such intentions and that its atomic program is only for producing energy.