The Sixth Seal Will Cause a Nuclear Emergency (Revelation 6:12)

Photo by L. Gil/IAEA

January 25, 2020 Homeland Security Today

The International Atomic Energy Agency has held its first course to train participants on preparedness and response to a nuclear emergency.

Imagine a nuclear emergency triggered by another emergency, such as a natural disaster like an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or tsunami. Or, imagine a tropical cyclone, hurricane or civil disturbance leading to a radiological emergency. Preparing to respond in complex emergency scenarios is what participants learned to do at a recent course on the topic, the first-ever such course by the IAEA, offered in cooperation with Austria’s Civil Protection School in Traiskirchen, near Vienna.

“It is unlikely that a radiological event will be affected by an extreme natural disaster, but it is a possibility we need to be aware of and ready to respond to,” said Emiliano Mingorance Sánchez, Head of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Technical Unit at the Spanish Guardia Civil, who participated in the course.

Participants — mainly nuclear power plant operators, regulators and first responders — learned about the specific requirements different response professionals need to meet to effectively respond to combined emergencies and their associated challenges. Combined emergencies amplify the challenges emergency responders must manage. During the week-long course, they analyzed real case studies. One such case was the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — a nuclear emergency combined with a natural emergency caused by a severe earthquake and tsunami.

Participants were asked to come up with a response plan for a simulated emergency with a missing radioactive source, combined with a flood. The challenge? To reach a consensus on the response plan and to think of all stakeholders and institutions required.

“Ensuring effective preparedness and response to a combined emergency requires the development and maintenance of an all-hazards emergency management system,” said Phillip Vilar Welter, IAEA Emergency Preparedness Officer in charge of the training course. “A necessary element for such an all-hazards emergency management system is the establishment of a unified command and control system, which provides a means for effective communications, coordination, cooperation and integration of operating, local, regional and national emergency response organizations.”

The topic of combined emergencies, Vilar Welter said, became especially relevant and was prioritized by the international community after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. The IAEA then developed specific guidance that reflects the lessons learned from the accident.

Following this pilot course, the IAEA plans to publish an Emergency Preparedness and Response series publication on nuclear or radiological emergencies combined with other incidents or emergencies.

“After this course, I can reassess some of the procedures back home and try to influence or raise awareness of the need to adapt our norms and intervention protocols in the face of such emergencies,” Mingorance Sánchez said.

More than 50 experts from 15 countries attended the course at Austria’s Civil Protection School, a national education and training facility for radiation protection where police officers and first responders such as the fire brigade and ambulance services are regularly trained.

“Collaborating internationally in the face of transregional and international disasters is key to responding effectively in crisis situations, which is why we look forward to our continued cooperation with the IAEA,” said Almira Geosev, course host and member of the Civil Protection Training Unit of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Read more at IAEA

Modi IS Taking the Risk of Nuclear War

By Sajjad Shaukat

July 9, 2020

After World War 11, nuclear weapons were never used and were only employed as a strategic threat. During the heightened days of the Cold War, many crises arose in Suez Canal, Korea, Cuba and Vietnam when the United States and the former Soviet Union were willing to use atomic weapons, but they stopped because of the fear of atomic conflict which could eliminate both the superpowers. Therefore, they preferred to resolve their differences through diplomacy by following the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, popularly known as the balance of terror.

But, the case of South Asia is quite different where India has been ignoring the doctrine of nuclear deterrence.

In this connection, Indian ex-Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor had stated on December 29, 2010 that the Indian army “is now revising its five-year-old doctrine” and is preparing for a “possible two-front war with China and Pakistan.”

While tensions escalated between India and China and India and Pakistan in the past, yet this time, the situation is very serious, as since Narendra Modi, the leader of the ruling party BJP, became Indian prime minister, he has been following fanatic policies internally and externally.

In this regard, on May 5, this year, drastic tensions arose between New Delhi and Beijing when in response to India’s construction of roads and airstrips adjacent to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which will improve connectivity and enable easier mobility for Indian troops in the area, thousands of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops moved into the regions along the eastern Ladakh border, setting up tents and stationing vehicles and heavy machinery.

The Indian army moved several battalions from an infantry division usually based in the Ladakh city of Leh to “operational alert areas” along the border.

And acting upon the August 5 announcement of 2019, the Indian central government had issued a map on October 31, 2019. In accordance with it, Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and identifies the Pakistani side of Azad Kashmir as well as certain areas of Gilgit-Baltistan as Indian territory.

Both Islamabad and Beijing had rejected the political map regarding the disputed territories.

Meanwhile, a storm sparked in India by the contradictory statement, issued by the Prime Minister’s office on June 19, 2020 that nobody had intruded across the Indian frontier in eastern Ladakh—continued for a clarification, leading to more questions by the Opposition.

The Congress said that the government has failed in clarifying if Chinese troops were present on Indian territories. Even, some leaders of the BJP have criticized PM Modi in this regard.

India and China on July 6, this year seemed to be moving towards de-escalating tensions after a violent hand-to-hand clash between the two militaries at the Galwan Valley on June 15, 2020, which left 20 Indian soldiers dead. Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on July 5, 2020. Both leaders agreed on the need to ensure the earliest complete disengagement at LAC, working towards a stepwise de-escalation for the restoration of peace. They agreed to continue talks to reduce tensions which have been simmering for two months. Afterward, Commander level talks held between New Delhi and Beijing.

Regarding the Sino-India accord, both sides issued separate statements that indicate differences in viewpoints.

In this connection, quoting Indian Army sources, Indian news agency ANI reported that the Chinese Army has moved back tents, vehicles and troops by 1-2 km from locations where disengagement was agreed upon at Corps Commander level talks. But, Chinese heavy armoured vehicles are still present in-depth areas in Galwan river area.

The Indian statement said that “the two sides reaffirmed that both sides should strictly observe the line of actual control and should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace in border areas.”

On the other side, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated that “both sides had made positive progress…to disengage frontline troops and ease the border situation…China will continue firmly safeguarding its territorial sovereignty as well as peace and tranquillity in the border areas”—that the areas currently under Chinese control are non-negotiable.[as these are disputed territories].

India and China also held military-level talks on June 6, 2020 to resolve the current border issue in eastern Ladakh peacefully. But, a Colonel-rank officer and 20 soldiers of the Indian Army were killed and almost 76 injured in a hand to hand physical scuffle with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley area of Ladakh on June 8. More than 90 Indian soldiers are missing. India also concealed this news and afterward admitted when Beijing disclosed the incident.

Nevertheless, Indian opposition parties criticised the false statements of the Indian government, which concealed truth regarding the Sino-India agreement. In this context, Congress insisted on restoring the status that existed on the borders before May 5. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who earlier called the Modi as “surrender Modi” said on July 7, this year, “why India has not insisted on restoring status quo ante and why it did not mention territorial sovereignty over the Galwan Valley.”

However, despite the agreement and to continue talks to reduce tensions that have been simmering for two months, diplomatic and military talks will continue between New Delhi and Beijing.

Besides, India had escalated tensions with Islamabad particularly in the aftermath of the false-flag terror attack at Pulwama in the Occupied Kashmir (IOK). In this respect, on February 27, last year, in response to the Indian so-called pre-emptive airstrike near the town of Balakot, close to the border with Pakistan’s sector of Kashmir, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets and launched aerial strikes at six targets in the IOK.

In fact, PM Modi, BJP-led, RSS and VHP are implementing the ideology of Hindutva ((Hindu Nationalism). Their various moves such as abrogation of the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir to turn Muslim majority into a minority in the IOK, continued lockdown in the IOK, the martyrdom of thousands of the Kashmiris there, the introduction of new domicile law against the majority of Kashmiris, issuance of domicile certificates to 25000 non-Kashmiris, persecution of religious minorities especially Muslims, anti-Muslim laws-CAA/NRC, etc., and intermittent shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir in relation to the Line of Control (LoC) might be noted as instances.

As regards the India-Nepal confrontation, a new road opened by New Delhi which passes through the disputed territory has roused territorial disputes between the two countries. The link road connects Dharchula in the Indian state of Uttarakhand to the Lipu Lekh pass near the LAC–India’s border with China.

India and China have 3,500 kilometers long un-demarcated border which runs along the Himalayas. There are three pressure points: the China-Sikkim border, Nepal-India border and the Ladakh region where there is a lake and river.

In the meantime, recently, India’s Home Minister Shri Amit Shah threatened of conducting air and surgical strikes inside Pakistani territory.

Reacting to his statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated: “Let me make it clear to Amit Shah that if India made the mistake, we will give a befitting response…Amit Shah should tell…Why does India not launch a surgical strike on Laddakh?… India has reached the extreme in committing atrocities in Kashmir…New Delhi is threatening Pakistan to divert attention from its internal situation”.

Earlier, the DG of ISPR Maj-Gen. Babar Iftikhar said: “Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa warned India…[saying] We will respond to any aggression with full might…Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army have said that India was planning false flag operation…Pulwama-II…India faced great humiliation in the recent military standoff with China…faced embarrassment in map issues with Nepal as well…India is facing many internal challenges especially after the emergence of coronavirus…many issues have emerged in India after the August 5, 2019 move, which revoked the special status of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir…There is an emergence of Islamophobia in India. Now they [India] think the best way is to divert the attention towards Pakistan…The situation on the LoC…1229 ceasefire violations by India has been committed since the start of this year…while their quadcopters have also violated airspace [Of Pakistan] on different occasions”.

Nonetheless, border tensions in Ladakh also occurred between New Delhi and Beijing in 2014 and in 2017 when they were engaged in a similar stand-off in Doklam plateau. The situation was later defused through diplomatic channels.

Notably, unless, Indian PM Modi restored articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution, tensions between India and China would remain, taking both countries to the edge of war.

The two countries also fought a brief war in 1962, which China won. If the Sino-India border dispute is not resolved through negotiations, it could result into an all-out conventional war that may culminate in a nuclear war. The same is true in the case of Pakistan, as extremist PM Modi is not willing to have a dialogue with Islamabad to settle the Kashmir issue. So, Modi’s risky strategy against China and Pakistan could ultimately, culminate in nuclear war either with China or Pakistan or with both the countries, enveloping the entire region.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

The Situation Escalates Between Israel and Iran

Iran's Natanz nuclear facility fire raises questions - CNN

\Israel’s attacks on Iran’s nuclear sites signal a new phase of conflict

An ongoing, medium-intensity conflict between Israel and Iran strengthens Netanyahu’s argument that he is best-positioned to protect his country’s interests

Over the past week, mysterious explosions and fires have wracked key infrastructure connected to Iran’s nuclear programme at Natanz and Parchin, key facilities engaged in uranium enrichment and the production of rocket fuel for ballistic missiles.

The US and Israel have accused Iran of violating UN resolutions and the nuclear deal in testing new ballistic-missile technology. Although Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly denied any intent to create nuclear weapons, even going so far as to issue a fatwa against it, Iran’s enemies are convinced it plans to “go nuclear”. 

The recent attacks appear to be an attempt by a hostile state to degrade that programme and delay Iran’s ability to potentially send such weapons to targets outside of Iran. Tehran has said that a cyberattack could be behind the explosion at Natanz, which destroyed a building that allegedly housed an advanced centrifuge system that could increase the speed of enrichment by up to 50 times. 

Risky undertaking

According to the New York Times, a “Middle Eastern intelligence official with knowledge of the episode” said that Israel was responsible for the Natanz attack. “The blast was caused by an explosive device planted inside the facility,” the Times reported, citing information from an intelligence source. The explosion “destroyed much of the aboveground parts of the facility where new centrifuges – delicate devices that spin at supersonic speeds – are balanced before they are put into operation”.

Avigdor Lieberman, a rival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has accused Mossad chief Yossi Cohen of being the source. In a radio interview, he said the leak was a deliberate attempt to embellish Cohen’s resume at the expense of Israeli national security, as he prepared to transition from the Mossad to a political career as Netanyahu’s possible successor as Likud leader.

The latest attacks against Iran could be, at least in part, Israeli retaliation and a warning of the price Iran will pay for such mischief

According to the Times, “while investigators have considered the possibility that Natanz was hit … by a cruise missile or a drone, they view it as more likely that someone carried a bomb into the building”. An unidentified Revolutionary Guard member told the Times that while it was unclear how the explosives were snuck in, “the attack clearly demonstrated a hole in the facility’s security”.

This, together with the fact that a hitherto unknown anti-regime group, the Homeland Cheetahs, contacted BBC Persian hours before the bombing was made public to claim responsibility, points to the possible involvement of the anti-regime Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK). Israel is known to have executed joint assassination operations with MEK killers on the ground in the past.

According to the Kuwaiti media outlet al-Jarida, an Israeli F-35 stealth jet was used to bomb the Parchin complex. While this is possible, flying an aircraft from Israel to Iran for such an attack would be a technically complex and risky undertaking. Al-Jarida further reported that the fire at Natanz was the result of a cyberattack aimed at gas compression controls.

Stuxnet attack

A decade ago, joint US-Israeli efforts resulted in the development of the Stuxnet worm, which infected Natanz and was inadvertently sent around the world. Stuxnet was reportedly delivered via a USB stick. It’s unclear what method might have been used this time, but presumably the attackers would have been looking to exploit any similar lapses of Iranian cybersecurity.

A possible motivator could have been a thwarted cyberattack on six Israeli water plants in April, intended to cause systems to malfunction. According to a report in the Times of Israel, which cited Channel 13 news, the attack “was viewed as a significant escalation by Iran and a crossing of a red line because it targeted civilian infrastructure”.

Damage to Iran’s Natanz facility is pictured on 2 July (Iran Atomic Organization(aeoinews)/AFP)

As such, the latest attacks against Iran could be, at least in part, Israeli retaliation and a warning of the price Iran will pay for such mischief. Yet, the sheer scale of the attacks indicates a massive escalation in hostilities. Iran would also assume, likely correctly, that Israel informed its closest military ally of its mission, and therefore view these acts as joint US-Israeli operations. 

That could explain the latest missile attack on US diplomatic and military installations in Iraq. In an unprecedented move, Iraqi troops last month arrested a group of Iran-backed fighters allegedly plotting a new attack against the Green Zone in Baghdad. Washington has blamed pro-Iranian militias for rocket attacks targeting US troops across Iraq in recent months.

Israel and Iran have played out their rivalry in Iraq before. Iran will undoubtedly seek to exact revenge on Israeli or US assets wherever it can find them. This is no longer a game of cat-and-mouse; it is only a matter of time before one or more of the parties accidentally or intentionally tips the situation into an outbreak of massive, unrestrained conflict. 

Netanyahu’s corruption trial

The timing of these developments could prove extremely useful for Netanyahu, coming in the midst of his corruption trial. If convicted, Netanyahu could be forced to resign, possibly ending his political career. One of the wiliest of Israeli politicians, Netanyahu would not be above mounting attacks to buttress the notion that he is an indispensable leader protecting Israel’s security by eliminating grave threats, such as those posed by Iran.

Furthermore, Netanyahu’s grand plan to annex 30 percent of the occupied West Bank has incited a firestorm of opposition around the globe. Denunciations and warnings have come from political leaders, international diplomats and human rights groups. The Trump administration, thought to have offered full support for the plan, seems now at cross-purposes, with hardliners such as Ambassador David Friedman backing annexation and adviser Jared Kushner urging caution. 

Iran and Israel: A tale of conflicting PR strategies

Former Israeli Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg even told an Italian newspaper that the US was responsible for halting annexation (for now). If he is correct, then the explosions in Iran would be just the ticket to distract public attention from yet another failure by Netanyahu to implement policies favoured by his ultra-nationalist constituency.

These attacks are also characteristic of Israel’s strategy to avoid comprehensive solutions to intractable issues and instead engage in half-measures, aptly known in Israeli idiom as “mowing the grass”.

Iran analysts and nuclear experts say these attacks do not fundamentally alter Iran’s trajectory if it is seeking nuclear capabilities; at best, they delay progress by a few months or a year. There is no way, short of regime change or armed invasion, that countries can deter rivals determined to obtain nuclear weapons. 

Informed Israeli sources have repeatedly said Netanyahu never intended to attack Iran on the scale necessary to deal a massive blow to its nuclear programme. At best, these operations only delay the inevitable – and this may be exactly what Netanyahu wants. An ongoing, medium-intensity conflict between Israel and Iran strengthens his argument that he is the only figure who can protect Israeli interests.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Antichrist’s Men Accused of Killing Key Iraqi Researcher

Map of Iraq

Iran-linked Militia Accused of Killing Key Iraqi Researcher

By Namo Abdulla
July 08, 2020 09:46 PM

WASHINGTON – Weeks before he was fatally shot in Baghdad, Husham al-Hashimi, a prominent Iraqi writer and leading expert on extremist groups, sought advice from a friend after allegedly receiving a chilling message from Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah (KH).

His friends are now questioning whether theShiite militia is responsible for the killing. His death has been widely mourned in Iraq, prompting many to speculate on the future of the country amid Iran’s network of influence.

“I told him to leave Iraq immediately,” said Ghaith al-Tamimi, an Iraqi researcher and a close friend of Hashimi.

“Husham told me that he had received information from an important and well-informed source, whom he described as honest, that Kataib Hezbollah had intended to physically eliminate him,” al-Tamimi told VOA.

In addition to al-Tamimi, other colleagues of Hashimi have accused KH of the killing.

KH is an Iraqi militia and Iran proxy designated as a terrorist organization by the United States for its involvement in attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq.

Hashimi was a nonresident scholar at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Global Policy (CGP) and a member of the Baghdad-based Iraq Advisory Council (IAC). While his analytical essays largely focused on jihadist groups such as Islamic State, he often condemned Iran-linked armed groups flouting the Iraqi law and killing anti-corruption protesters.

A day before his death, he tweeted a picture of a small child wounded in a rocket attack targeting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. KH is believed to have fired the rocket, which reportedly landed in a civilian area nearby.

Both Iran and the Popular Mobilization Forces, which include KH, denounced the killing.

In a statement issued Tuesday, KH denied involvement in Hashimi’s killing, calling the accusations U.S. propaganda.

“The continuous targeting of those who resist the U.S. presence through defamatory accusations became clear in the way the media outlets hostile to the Iraqi people [reported the killing],” read the statement.

The U.S. said Hashimi had received multiple threats from pro-Iran militants in recent days.

“In the days leading up to his arrest, he was threatened by Iran-backed armed groups,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a news conference Thursday, adding that “Hashimi had devoted his life to a free and sovereign Iraq.”

Iraqi response

Hashimi’s death came just days after the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, in a rare raid on the headquarters of KH in Baghdad, arrested 14 members of KH before their release hours later. The government said the raid was based on intelligence reports that the group had planned an imminent attack on the U.S. Embassy.

Al-Kadhimi has vowed to not let Hashimi’s death be in vain.

“Iraq will not sleep until the killers have faced justice for the crimes they have committed,” he said during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, according to excerpts posted by his office’s Twitter account. “We will not allow anyone to turn Iraq into a mafia state.”

Political support

In the meeting Tuesday, al-Kadhimi mentioned that he did not have a loyal political party of his own in parliament, a fact that many analysts see as a weakness of his government.

An independent statesman, he was head of Iraq’s intelligence services before he was picked as a compromise candidate in May after months of internal political gridlock.

Despite that, he appeared to enjoy support across the political spectrum in seeking justice for Hashimi’s death.

Iraq’s Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani called the killing an act of “terror.”

Muqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand Shia cleric who leads a strong parliamentary bloc, called Hashimi a “martyr” whose death should not pass with impunity.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the killing was an attempt to undermine the Iraqi state.

“Whose interest does the weakening of state, the intimidation and terrorizing of the people serve?” he asked on Twitter.

According to al-Tamimi, the death of the popular Iraqi analyst may have well enhanced al-Kadhimi’s ability to rein in armed groups operating outside state security forces.

“There is large popular support for the government to announce a comprehensive plan to confront the militias and enforce the rule of law,” he said.

Echoing similar views, Michael Knights, a senior Iraq analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told VOA, “The Iraqi people have a thirst for a strong prime minister who will act against militias.”

Knights described Hashimi as “a casualty and a martyr in the war to give the Iraqi people a state.”

Regardless of Iraqi officials’ vow to seek justice for Hashimi’s killing, some experts on the region say it is unlikely the perpetrators could be brought to justice. They say that even if the widespread accusations against KH are true, it would be a major challenge for al-Kadhimi’s Cabinet to hold the group accountable.

“Justice and accountability are rare in these cases,” tweeted Karim Sadjadpour, a senior Iran scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, “because team Iran is usually experienced enough not to leave clear fingerprints.”

Trump and Babylon the Great Show China Their Nuclear Might

Trump sends B-52 NUCLEAR BOMBER to South China Sea in show of force to Beijing

SOUTH CHINA SEA tensions have hit a crisis point after the US sent a nuclear bomber to the region in a sign of force against Beijing.

By BILL MCLOUGHLIN

PUBLISHED: 00:04, Thu, Jul 9, 2020

UPDATED: 13:09, Thu, Jul 9, 2020

The US conducted drills near the Paracel Islands on Saturday as forces attempt to illustrate Washington’s growing force in the South China Sea. China has laid claim to the islands along with several other contentious areas in the region drawing Donald Trump to increase the US’ presence. In a sign of tensions reaching a tipping point, the American Enterprise Institute’s Oriana Skylar Mastro warned the US may now be ready to take on China.

He said: “We sailed them near the Paracels, which is even more risky.

“China said they could have responded with force, but if what we said to China was, ‘we’re willing to take that risk,’ that does demonstrate our willingness to absorb costs, our willingness to fight it would be effective.”

Pentagon officials used a long-range B-52 Stratofortress bomber which can carry convention and nuclear weapons to accompany two aircraft carriers in drills on Saturday.

This is just the latest in an attempt to stop China growing its presence in the region.

South China Sea: The bomber can carry nuclear weapons (Image: PA)

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As well as showcasing Washington’s strength to Beijing, the show of force was also intended to show allies the US was still the leading power.

A source told the Washington Examiner: “They might think if they fail to construct good relationship with the US, who wants to protect allies in the region from China, it would not good for their national interest.

“But it does not seem to be simple question of whether allies will be reassured that the US will protect them or not.”

Florida’s Congressman, Ted Yoho claimed China still could not match America’s military power.

He said: “They can’t compete with us on that, and they know that.

“It is a very strong warning about how rapidly we can deploy.”

The US sent the two aircraft carrier to the region for the first time since 2014.

The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan both conducted drills as the Chinese army also conducted five-day drills in the Paracel Islands.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines protested against the move.

China, however, continued with exercises while in recent months the navy has harassed several fishing vessels.

The Pentagon had also claimed the moves risk inflaming tensions and could destabilise the South China Sea.

The high-profile drills by the two is one of the most blatant signs of the two states vying for power.

Captain Chang Ching, a research fellow at the Strategic Studies Society ROC and former commander in Taiwan’s navy, warned the move from Beijing was an incredible risk.

He said: “This is a very risky manoeuvre.

“They were sending the US a message: We know where you are!”

Indeed, with tensions escalating, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo warned Beijing will not be allowed to turn the region into its empire.

He tweeted: “China cannot be allowed to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.”

Russia Begins to Abandon Nuclear Negotiations (Daniel 7)

140819_vladimir_putin_getty_629.jpg

Russia will not pressure China into joining disarmament process — ambassador to US

Russian Politics & Diplomacy July 09, 3:13

Moscow gives priority to involving the UK and France into the dialogue, the diplomat said

WASHINGTON, July 9. /TASS/. Russia has no plans to pressure China into joining the nuclear disarmament process, because it views UK and France’s participation in them as its priority, Russia’s US Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday.

“Russia, as you know, gives priority to involving the UK and France into the dialogue. Why? Because they are nuclear weapons’ states and members of NATO, and, of course, we are very much concerned by what NATO is doing very close to Russia’s territory,” he said during a video conference, organized by the Washington-based Center for the National Interest.

“Russia will not press on China to join our bilateral [Russian-US] talks [on further reduction of nuclear weapons],” Antonov added.

Trump’s Misguided Nuclear Plan

Trump Plan to Build Nuclear Bombs Divides a Scarred Factory Town – Financial Post

By Bloomberg News

Originally Published: Jul 9, 2020

(Bloomberg) — A factory along South Carolina’s Savannah River produced tritium and plutonium for U.S. nuclear weapons during the Cold War, employing thousands of workers but leaving behind a toxic legacy of radioactive waste.

Now the Trump administration has proposed spending $9 billion over 10 years to restart production of bomb parts there and at another site. The plan has raised the welcome prospect of new jobs though also rekindled environmental fears. And it’s set off alarms about a new nuclear arms race just as key treaties with Russia lapse.

“It’s a waste of money and dangerous,” said Stephen Young, an expert on arms control and international security issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

President Donald Trump’s plan, announced by the departments of Energy and Defense in 2018, calls for restarting production of nuclear bomb ‘pits’ at the South Carolina site and another one in New Mexico. The bowling-ball sized spheres of plutonium act as the trigger in a nuclear warhead, setting off the explosive chain reaction.

The U.S. hasn’t produced them on an industrial scale for nearly three decades. The National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department arm responsible for manufacturing nuclear warheads for the Defense Department, says the existing ones need to be replaced because they are getting old and the technology has advanced to make them safer, an idea endorsed by Congress and Barack Obama when he was president.

“The United States cannot postpone re-establishing this critical capability,” the NNSA says on its website. “Delaying the restoration of this capability could result in significant cost increases and risks to national security.”

While restarting production of nuclear weapons triggers was backed by Obama, the Trump administration has proposed increasing funding for the effort by 72% over existing levels and repurposing a facility at the Energy Department’s Savannah River Site, in Aiken County, South Carolina.

The plan calls for producing at least 80 pits a year: 50 at Savannah River and 30 at an existing site in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Legislation that would authorize the first $1.4 billion of the Trump administration’s request is expected to be approved by the Senate when it returns later this month. The House is working on its own version for the same amount that could be subject to amendment from Democrats who have expressed reservations about the plan.

A decision by the NNSA on the Savannah River plan could come this fall.

The community around the Savannah River Site is split between those who are concerned about contamination and those eager for the jobs as the region’s economy suffers along with the rest of the country during the pandemic. The site is still one of the state’s largest employers having produced nuclear materials for non-defense purposes since 1988, including the space program, and medical and research efforts. Moving forward with pit production at the site would create more than 1,000 jobs.

But the 200,000-acre facility was named an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund priority clean up site in 1989 partly due to 37 million gallons of highly radioactive liquid waste stored in tanks on the premises.

Nevertheless, the Aiken County Council twice unanimously passed resolutions supporting the return of plutonium pit production. “It makes sense from the environmental, economic and technical perspectives,” Gary Bunker, chairman of the Aiken County Council, testified during an April hearing on the proposal held by the NNSA.

Others aren’t convinced.

“To me, they haven’t proven that this is going to be safe,” said Pete LaBerge, a 70-year-old retiree who lives about three miles away from the Savannah River Site in nearby Windsor, which has 150 residents. He worries about a release of radiation. “Part of my theory is it’s sort of a make-work program for the Energy Department.”

‘Preferred Alternative’

Opponents of the project say they fear it could suffer the same fate as the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the site, which was canceled because of cost overruns and delays after some $8 billion of taxpayer money was spent on the project. Several metric tons of weapons grade plutonium, transferred from Russia to be converted into nuclear reactor fuel, remains on the property with nowhere to go.

“This isn’t like, I don’t know, remodeling a bowling alley into a restaurant,” Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who chairs the Armed Services Committee said during a committee vote. He said he was “worried that we are going to spend billions of dollars, just like we did on the MOX facility, to get nothing.”

The Institute for Defense Analyses examined the proposal to manufacture pits in both Los Alamos and the South Carolina site and concluded the projects wouldn’t be possible on the proposed schedules and budgets. The Alexandria, Virginia-based non-profit said success was “far from certain.”

Plutonium Fears

“We don’t want more plutonium in here to be stranded,” said Tom Clements, director of Savannah River Site Watch, a non-profit watchdog group. “How are they going to build new pits at a site that has no experience? They can’t even make any now. They should try to demonstrate it at Los Alamos before trying to at Savannah River.”

Plutonium pit production has a checkered past. The nation’s previous home for nuclear pit production, the Energy Department’s Rocky Flats site 16 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, at its peak produced 2,000 bomb pits a year. But it was shutdown after a raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and EPA in 1989. An Energy Department contractor, Rockwell International Corp., signed a plea agreement in 1992 for violating environmental laws and paid an $18.5 million fine. The area, also a Superfund site, has been closed for 28 years

And the work can be fraught with risk. Lethal accidents can occur when too much plutonium is gathered together creating an uncontrolled chain reaction.”There would be a flash of neutrons that can be lethal,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a watchdog group. “It’s localized to the room you are in, but it would literally fry people.”

Politics at Play?

Other concerns include the increases in nuclear waste, accidents and fires that could spread fallout throughout surrounding communities.

The Trump administration’s plan, which over 50 years would result in enough plutonium pits to replace those in each of the nation’s roughly 4,000 nuclear weapons, comes as experts are divided on whether the current pits, nearly all of which were produced between 1978 and 1989, need to be replaced, and how soon. A 2007 report by JASON, the interdependent group of scientists who advise the government, concluded that most pits have lifetimes in excess of 100 years.

“I think the old ones work just fine,” said Sharon Weiner, a nuclear weapons expert who is a professor at American University. “I think we are safe to make the assessment that the pits in the nuclear weapons are good enough that we can postpone this decision for a significant period of time and maybe during that time we we have new arms control agreements.”

Trump, who has promised to strengthen America’s nuclear arsenal, has bowed out of arms control agreements, particularly with Russia. He argues that Moscow was in violation of them. The Obama-era New START pact is set to expire in February and talks between the U.S. and Russia resumed last month.

Supporters of the project counter that being unable to produce plutonium pits for new nuclear warheads puts the nation’s security at risk.

“It’s alarming,” said John Harvey, who previously held senior positions overseeing U.S. nuclear weapons policy for both the Departments of Defense and Energy. “Eventually we are going to have to replace these things, they don’t live forever.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.