Problems with Indian Point at the Sixth Seal

Looking Past Indian Point,   Riverkeeper Takes a Pass on Gas  – River Journal Online – News for Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington, Ossining, & Briarcliff Manor

TROUBLING ISSUES 

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget that Indian Point is neither safe, clean, nor green. The plant has had troubling issues with the degradation of the bolts that hold the inner walls of the reactors together; numerous emergency shutdowns and close calls in recent years; and no viable evacuation plan.  

 The pools that house spent nuclear fuel have leaked toxic, radioactive water into the ground, contaminating the local groundwater and the Hudson River. Finally, Indian Point’s antiquated once-through water cooling system kills over one billion fish and fish larvae each year as it withdraws more than 2 billion gallons per day from the Hudson. 

Richard Webster 

Legal Program Director 

Riverkeeper 

Ossining

 

Iran Merely Steps From Nuclear Weapons (Daniel 8:4)

Iran edging closer to nuclear bomb, Israeli defense officials assess – report

Officials said to tell Gantz Tehran hasn’t increased uranium enrichment during pandemic, but is still just 2 years away from bomb

By TOI staff

Israeli defense officials believe Iran hasn’t increased the pace of its nuclear enrichment in recent months, but nevertheless could be just two years from producing an atomic weapon, a report said Sunday.

The Walla news site quoted the unnamed senior officials as saying Jerusalem estimates the Islamic Republic continues to enrich uranium at a four percent level, the same as when the coronavirus crisis hit earlier this year.

However, the report said Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been presented with an assessment that Tehran is just six months away from producing all the components of an atomic bomb, and two years away from assembling such a bomb.

The sources were quoted as saying that if Iran decides to hasten its enrichment, Israel would have to “reconsider” its reaction to the development and to the crumbling of the 2015 nuclear deal, with “all options” put on the table.

They said that full attention was not being currently paid to the subject by US President Donald Trump’s administration, which is preoccupied with his reelection campaign.

Still, the officials added that Trump’s term was very positive toward Israel and included security cooperation at levels not seen for decades. Some officials were said to fear that a change of power in Washington would set back Israel in its struggle against Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report earlier this month that Iran was breaching the landmark pact and has for months blocked inspections at two sites where nuclear activity may have occurred in the past.

The Vienna-based agency noted “with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied access to the agency… to two locations.”

Iran insisted Thursday that it was ready to resolve any issues with the UN nuclear watchdog, expressing “disappointment” over the IAEA’s report.

The Bushehr nuclear power plant outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran. (AP Photo/Mehr News Agency, Majid Asgaripour)

Iran argues that the requests for access are based on “fabricated information,” accusing the United States and Israel of trying to “exert pressure on the agency.”

Israel has claimed that its intelligence services have new information on Iran’s alleged previous nuclear weapons program.

The IAEA has said that its access requests were based on “concrete information” that had been validated. The report is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the agency’s board of governors starting Monday.

In a separate report, also to be discussed during the board meeting, the IAEA warned that Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile is now almost eight times the limit set in the nuclear deal the country signed with world powers in 2015.

Iran has been progressively breaking restrictions laid down in the 2015 deal in retaliation for US withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and its subsequent re-imposition of sanctions.

AFP contributed to this report.

The Fruitless Debate on Nuclear Deterrence (Revelation 8 )

File photo of India’s launch of Agni V missile. Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Wikipedia Commons.

Debating Current Dynamics Of Nuclear Deterrence Equilibrium And Strategic Stability In South Asia – OpEd

Haris Bilal Malik*June 14, 2020

The debate around the existence of nuclear deterrence equilibrium and its relevance vis-à-vis strategic stability in the South Asian region has been a dominant regional and global concern over the last few years.  Several factors, such as conventional asymmetry, burgeoning arms race, and India’s gradual shift in its nuclear doctrine, all have collectively created a dangerous atmosphere of instability throughout the region.

Pakistan has faced significant challenges in recent years as a result of Indian conventional and unconventional military preparedness and its preemptive war strategies. Specifically, this has been characterized in the absence of a non-proliferation regime and crisis stability mechanism in South Asia.

Moreover, India’s military modernization drive and provocative strategies have served as the destabilizing factors that adversely affect the contemporary dynamics of credible nuclear deterrence in South Asia. These factors have contributed to the creation of an action-reaction spiral between India and Pakistan. All this would likely have long-lasting implications for regional security, stability, and strategic equilibrium.

In addition to its conventional force posture enhancement, India’s military modernization is also aspired to maintain a provocative and offensive counterforce posture at the unconventional level. In this regard, it would be quite significant to consider the recent technological advancements carried out by India at the unconventional level aimed at enhancing the preemption capabilities. Capabilities such as the development of supersonic and hypersonic missiles, acquisition of missile defence systems with enhanced range, nuclear submarines to ensure second-strike capability, and to achieve presence in space for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) purpose.

Furthermore, the anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test, which India conducted in March 2019, is also evidence of enhancing such capabilities. With these advancements, it seems that India is deliberately trying to undermine the nuclear deterrence framework in the region. 

The notion of splendid first strike based on preemption, under the nuclear scenario, is proclaimed as a ‘new normal’ by Indian strategic circles. Evidence comes from how India’s political and military leadership has recurrently threatened Pakistan with such preemptive strikes rhetoric on different occasions. Coming to the doctrinal level, India’s much-hyped Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) of 2004 and the recent Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) released in 2017 and the Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD) released in 2018 provide documented evidence of India’s provocative war strategies and notions of preemption against Pakistan.

India also believes that such provocations would likely remain below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. These doctrinal notions are immensely important to be considered when the situation in the disputed territory of the Kashmir is to be analyzed. In this regard, the Pulwama-Balakot crisis and the resultant military escalation between Indian Pakistan in February 2019 have already highlighted the complexity of the situation.

The current state of strategic stability in South Asia, which is primarily based on nuclear deterrence equilibrium, faces considerable challenges arising from India’s offensive proactive strategies. In such circumstances, Pakistan would likely continue to face a major threat coming from its eastern border. An equation of conventional asymmetry in South Asia has encouraged India to embark upon a limited conventional war against Pakistan.

This equation, as per Indian estimates would not challenge the threshold of Pakistan’s nuclear capability. Consequently, Pakistan has continued to rely on nuclear weapons to overcome this asymmetry in case of any limited war or breach of its sovereignty. In this regard, Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has effectively been able to cover various spectrums of threats. The doctrinal evolution witnessed ‘full spectrum deterrence’ FSD in line with the ‘credible minimum deterrence’. This deterrence approach is aimed at deterring India from all types of conventional or unconventional aggression against Pakistan. 

Pakistan, being a relatively smaller state with limited resources and conventionally at a disadvantageous position considers its nuclear capability as an economically viable option to deter India. Pakistan’s nuclear capability has no doubt created stable deterrence equilibrium in the region to serve the purpose of desired strategic stability. Moreover, based on India centric threat perception, Pakistan’s ‘full spectrum deterrence’ was ensured with the operationalization of the tactical nuclear weapons.

At present, nuclear deterrence equilibrium in South Asia, guaranteed by Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities would likely dissuade India to indulge in a low-intensity conflict with Pakistan. Having taken such effective measures, Pakistan has proven its resolve to restore the long-desired peace and prosperity in the region. However, Pakistan would preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty at any cost even if it is in disparity with India’s hegemonic strategic objectives. 

The South Asian contemporary security environment is continuously in a state of flux due to India’s provocative strategies and hegemonic aspirations. Likewise, the conventional asymmetry in South Asia has compelled Pakistan to maintain a reliable nuclear deterrence posture based on the principle of credible deterrence. The fact remains that, Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is only India specific and is not aspired to be an offensive or provocative doctrinal posture. Therefore, it is critically important for Pakistan to maintain a stable and credible nuclear deterrence posture.

Moreover, Pakistan needs to remain compliant with its assertive principled stance that its nuclear capability is purely a response to India’s nuclear weapons program as well as its provocative conventional strategies. For this purpose, an apparent manifestation of Pakistan’s nuclear doctrinal posture coupled with technological sophistication seems to be a plausible policy. This would likely ensure a credible nuclear deterrence equilibrium and stability of the region.

*The writer is a Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) Islamabad, Pakistan. 

Horns Modernize Their Nukes ((Daniel)

Nuclear powers decreasing but modernizing their arsenals – The Jerusalem Post

Despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads, all states possessing have continued to modernize their nuclear arsenals, a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has found.According to the report, at the start of 2020 there were approximately 13,400 nuclear weapons in the hands of nine states – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, a decrease from 13,865 in 2019.There were 3720 (down from 3750 the previous year) that were deployed with operational forces and another estimated 1800 (down from 2000) of them kept in a state of high operational alert.The report stated that the decrease in the number of nuclear weapons was due to the dismantlement of retired nuclear weapons by the United States and Russia, which together possess over 90% all of global nuclear weapons – with Moscow having 6,375 (down from 6,500) and Washington in possession of 5,800 (down from 6,185)The UK was reported to have 215 (an increase from 200), France 290 (down from 300), Israel 90, Pakistan 160, India 150 (up from 130-140), China 320 (an increase from 290) and North Korea between 30-40 (up from 20-30) nuclear weapons.But, in a significant reversal of the post-Cold War trend of marginalizing nuclear weapons, both Russia and the United States have extensive programs to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems and nuclear weapon production facilities.The two have also given new importance to the role of nuclear weapons in their military plans and doctrines, the report said.With the withdrawal of the United States last year from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the deadlock over the New START treaty, the report suggests that “the era of bilateral nuclear arms control agreements between Russia and the USA might be coming to an end” and could potentially lead to a new nuclear arms race.“The loss of key channels of communication between Russia and the USA that were intended to promote transparency and prevent misperceptions about their respective nuclear force postures and capabilities could potentially lead to a new nuclear arms race,” said Shannon Kile, Director of SIPRI’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Program.

Other countries with smaller arsenals are also modernizing their nuclear arsenals, such as China which for the first time is developing a “nuclear triad” made up of new land and sea-based missiles and nuclear-capable aircraft, while North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear program as a central element of its national security strategy.

Rivals India and Pakistan, which had several clashes over the past year over the contested area of Kashmir, are both slowly increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear forces

According to the SIPRI report, there are low levels of transparency in reporting on nuclear weapon capabilities, which according to Kile, is a “particularly worrying development.”

“In these times of ever-increasing geopolitical tensions, the absence of adequate measures to monitor nuclear arsenals and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials is a particularly worrying development,” she said.

Along with nuclear powers modernizing their arsenals, the past year included dangerous clashes across the world, including several occasions where tensions between Iran and the United States threatened to escalate into a full-blown military conflict.

According to the report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has “continued to facilitate inspection and monitoring activities by the agency pursuant to the JCPOA” (the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), despite having announced that it would be scaling back its compliance with the limits set out by the agreement in response to the re-imposition of US sanctions.

Nevertheless, Israel believes that Iran is continuing to develop the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapons arsenal, as well as ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, despite new US sanctions placed on Iran meant to pressure Tehran over its military activity in the Middle East.

Israel considers Iran’s nuclear program its number one concern, and according to intelligence assessments presented to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Islamic Republic is six months away from manufacturing all components of a nuclear bomb and two years from actually producing one.

Who is the Antichrist? (Revelation 13)

who is muqtada al-sadr karadsheh jsten orig_00004724Who is Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

(CNN)Muqtada al-Sadr isn’t an ayatollah.

He’s not a general and he’s not a politician, at least in the conventional sense. But with a single speech he can spark a protest that ends up in with hundreds of Iraqi Shiites storming their parliament. He’s commanded a militia of thousands, some who fought and killed U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. And he’s been on TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people on the planet.

Iraqi protesters overrun green zone
This is how he’s managed to gain such prominence — and retain it.

The Sadr family

Sadr was born in 1973 in the Shiite holy city of Najaf to a prominent family.
The city, which is about 100 miles south of Baghdad, is home to the Imam Ali shrine, where the eponymous cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad is buried. Shiites believe that Ali was the rightful successor to Muhammad.
Sadr’s father, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was an important Shiite figure in Iraq who openly spoke out against Saddam Hussein and his ruling Baath party.
The elder Sadr and two of his sons were assassinated in 1999 in Najaf, and many believe that he was killed either by the dictator’s forces or Sunnis loyal to him.
Despite the cult of personality Muqtada al-Sadr has developed in recent years, he is still a relatively private man. He does not appear in public often and his exact age was not known until recently.

The Mehdi Army

Sadr is best known to Western audiences for his role leading the Mehdi Army, which he formed in 2003 during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The militia is considered the armed wing of the Sadrist movement, which followed the teachings of Sadr’s father. Its power base was in Najaf and the massive Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, which is home to more than 2 million Shias.
Sadr himself opposed the presence of outside forces in Iraq — be they al Qaeda’s Sunni fighters or U.S. forces — and hoped to establish Islamic rule within the country, clashing with the Iraqi Army, U.S. forces and fellow Shias.
By 2004, forces loyal to Sadr battled the U.S. for control of Najaf. President George W. Bush labeled him an enemy and ordered the U.S. military to take him out.
“We can’t allow one man to change the course of the country,” he said, according to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.
Within a week, Bush changed course and decided not to go after him.
“That reversal was the turning point in al-Sadr’s rise to power,” Sanchez, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said. “It gave him legitimacy and enhanced his stature within the broader Iraqi community.”
Later that year, Sadr made peace with the most powerful Shia religious figure in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who brokered a truce between U.S. forces and the Mehdi Army. The deal brought together the unquestioned spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shia population and the man who could mobilize the Shia “street.”
As part of the agreement, the Iraqi government agreed not to press charges after a judge issued an arrest warrant for Sadr in connection with the killing of another prominent Shia leader, Ayatollah Abdul Majid al-Khoei.
But the Mehdi Army became even more deadly as the war dragged on.
The militia was linked to much of the sectarian violence that reached fever pitch in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. It was accused of running death squads, killing Sunni Arabs and fighting with rival Shiite factions, though Sadr would denounce the violence from time to time.
After more than 200 people were killed in an attack on Sadr City in 2006 — one of the deadliest periods in the Iraq war — Shiite militants responded by burning people to death and attacking Sunni mosques.
By the end of the year, Pentagon leaders assessed that the Mehdi army had replaced al Qaeda as “the most dangerous accelerant” of sectarian violence in Iraq.
But the Mehdi Army also clashed with other Shiite militias. The group often clashed with Badr Brigades for control of parts of Iraq’s Shiite-dominate south. At one point the Badr Brigades partnered with Iraqi security forces to fight the Mehdi Army.
However, the Mehdi Army’s power and influence began to subside by the end of 2007, in part due to the U.S. troop surge.

Kingmaker

Sadr’s capacity to reinvent his role in Iraqi politics, and to tap into a strong vein of Shia protest, has helped him survive and outmaneuver many rivals over the past 13 years. His latest initiative reinforces his place as one of the most influential figures in Iraq.
He and the Iraqi government signed a ceasefire in 2008, and later that year he formally disbanded the Mehdi Army.
The organization is now called Saraya al-Salam, which means the Peace Brigades.
His plan was to transition it into a socio-political populist movement to help Iraq’s poor Shiites through a combination of political and grassroots activities — following a similar model to the structure of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Sadr would move to Iran later that year for religious study. Some believed that he hoped to achieve a higher religious standing, like Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, in order to strengthen his leadership position.
He returned to Iraq permanently in 2011 — more than three years later — without a new title, but with ambitions to become an Iraqi nationalist leader who could make a difference by growing his movement and pushing his followers to the ballot box.
“We have not forgotten the occupier. We remain a resistance,” he said in one of his first speeches back. Sadr did strike a conciliatory tone with fellow Iraqis: “Whatever struggle happened between brothers, let us forget about it and turn the page forever and live united,” he said. “We do not kill an Iraqi.”
Though Sadr rarely makes public appearances, his plan seems to have worked so far.
During Iraq’s 2010 elections, his supporters were key to helping then-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki secure a second term; today they make up the second-largest bloc in Iraq’s Parliament.
But Sadr and Maliki have since had a nasty falling out, and now are considered rivals in Baghdad.
After the 2010 election, Sadr referred to Maliki as a “dictator.”
He often called for the government to better include moderate Sunni elements, a faction that most say was marginalized by the Maliki government, which led to his ouster (and in part contributed to the rise of ISIS).
Long-time U.S. enemy threatens ISIS leader
His support for Iraq’s current Prime Minster, Haider al-Abadi, is lukewarm at best.
Sadr is now focusing his efforts on reshaping Iraq’s government — he wants more technocrats appointed and to go after corrupt politicians.
Sadr’s supporters held massive protests earlier this year to push Abadi to form a new government and enact reforms. The demonstrations were called off after Abadi trimmed the size of his Cabinet and submitted a new list of nonpolitical ministers for approval by parliament.
And it was Sadr’s impassioned speech late April that spurred protesters to occupy the Iraqi Parliament and Baghdad’s Green Zone, a normally off-limits area housing government buildings and foreign embassies.

Hamas said threatening to resume trampling outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Hamas said threatening to resume Gaza protests unless Qatari funds arrive

Gulf state’s envoy to the Gaza Strip had previously been expected to arrive this week; Palestinian sources tell Kan news terror group’s units could attack border fence

By TOI staff

If Israel does not allow Qatari aid money to reach the Gaza Strip, Hamas could soon act to end the calm which has prevailed in recent months and renew nightly operations as soon as next Friday, Palestinian sources told Kan news on Saturday.

The source further told Kan that if the condition was not met in two weeks, Hamas would start sending units to “penetrate” the Gaza border fence and potentially enter Israeli territory.

Hamas has not yet officially commented on the story, nor has the terrorist movement issued a public ultimatum to Israel.

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It was not immediately clear why Hamas was blaming Israel for the delay in the funds’ arrival.

Mohammed al-Emadi, the head of the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee, had been anticipated in the Gaza Strip this week to distribute $150 million in financial aid, Ynet reported last week. Al-Emadi had not traveled to the Strip since late February, citing health concerns linked to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Kan subsequently reported this week that al-Emadi was not expected to come this month either. Qatar’s Emadi, who has frequently visited Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, maintains contacts with the Palestinian Authority, the Strip’s Hamas rulers and the Israeli government.

The Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, speaks during an interview in his office with AFP in Gaza City, in 2019. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Some of the funding, however, may arrive in the Strip soon even without al-Emadi visiting in person. Hamas announced earlier this week that government salaries for April would finally be dispensed to public sector workers on Sunday, following several delays.

It would not be the first time that al-Emadi sent along funds in absentia. When the first Qatari grants arrived at the end of March, the transfer of funds coincided with a small private plane traveling from Israel to Doha via Cyprus, returning the same way, according to Flightradar. There was speculation that Israel had thus facilitated transfer of the funds.

No Qatari officials visited the Strip, Ynet reported at the time.

Other factors threaten to increase tensions along the Israel-Gaza border as well, with some political factions in Gaza pushing for the return of weekly border marches held in 2018-2019. Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the committee behind the border protests, told Emirates-based newspaper al-Ain News that the committee was examining the possibility of bringing back demonstrations despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The weekly Great March of Return protests demanded Israel lift its restrictions on Gazans’ freedom of movement and called for the return of Palestinian refugees to areas that are now a part of Israel.The protests were frequently violent, including the hurling of explosives, rocks and firebombs at IDF soldiers, as well as attempts to storm and sabotage the border fence. More than 200 Palestinians were killed by IDF fire at the demonstrations and thousands were injured.

Fifty-three percent of Palestinians in Gaza live in poverty, a June 2018 United Nations report said. Eighty percent depend on international aid, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency, the main international organization that provides health, education and other services to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

While there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus inside the Gaza Strip, 72 cases have been recorded in Hamas-run quarantine centers.