A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Israel Continues to Attack the Iranian Nuclear Horn

First responders gather at the scene of an explosion at the Sina At’har health center in the north of Iran’s capital Tehran on June 30, 2020.

Mysterious explosions keep happening in Iran. Israel is likely behind it.

Experts say the suspected sabotage is part of Israel’s long-term efforts to delay any and all of Iran’s nuclear development.

Alex WardJul 17, 2020, 8:20am EDT

For weeks, Iran has faced a deadly wave of explosions and fires at sensitive military and civilian sites, including one incident that caused immense damage to an important nuclear facility. No one officially knows why it’s happening or who is responsible — but many believe Israel, with the Trump administration’s tacit or even direct support, is behind it all.

On June 26, a massive explosion rocked the Khojir missile-production complex, a location considered vital to Iran’s missile capabilities. Four days later, another blast — this time at a medical clinic north of the capital, Tehran — killed 19 people.

On July 2, an explosion and fire occurred at the underground Natanz nuclear facility, a key component to the country’s uranium-enrichment efforts. What actually transpired is unclear, but a Middle Eastern official — believed to be the head of Israeli intelligence, Yossi Cohen — told the New York Times last week that Israel had detonated a bomb. Analysts differ on the extent of the damage, but assessments say centrifuge production may have been delayed a few months or even a few years as a result of the explosion and fire.

New images show the scale of the destruction from the explosion at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility on July 2. There may be further damage to the facility’s underground elements, which aren’t visible from above.

Image: @Maxar

9:00 AM · Jul 8, 2020

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And this week, fires broke out in an aluminum plant in Lamerd and a seaport in Bushehr, engulfing at least seven wooden ships in the process.

It’s possible all of this is a coincidence. With a reeling economy and a devastating coronavirus outbreak, perhaps the Islamic Republic has merely struggled to maintain sensitive facilities that require constant upkeep. Accidents do happen.

But current and former US and Israeli officials as well as experts I spoke to are pretty certain Israel is responsible for the incidents at the military and nuclear sites (but not the clinic or the port or plant), with or without Washington’s explicit approval.

“There is a pattern of escalation and a context that would suggest a motive on the Israeli side to target the Iranians,” said Dalia Dassa Kaye, the director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the RAND Corporation.

Their reasoning is straightforward: Since President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Iran has inched closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon, though the country fiercely denies it is seeking one. Now that Iran is in a weakened position due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic, Israel and the US can target the country’s nuclear and military programs without fear of a massive retaliation.

Such a move would send an unmistakable signal to Tehran. “The message is: ‘You can’t control your country. We can hit you whenever we want, wherever we want,’” said Eric Brewer, who worked on Iran issues as a member of Trump’s National Security Council.

The direct consequences of that signal, though, are unclear. Some suspect Tehran may activate its proxies in Iraq to attack Americans or launch a cyberattack against Israel. It’s also possible Iran will look the other way, as the lack of a known attacker both leaves the regime devoid of a clear target and provides it the political space not to retaliate.

But no one believes these moves will actually convince Iran to back down and suspend all nuclear activity. If anything, the country might start sprinting toward the bomb.

“Covert operations will only undermine long-term nonproliferation efforts,” Mahsa Rouhi, an expert on Iran’s nuclear program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, wrote Wednesday in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Hardline voices in Tehran will become more motivated to rapidly advance Iran’s nuclear program.”

Which means if Israel (maybe with the US) truly is behind these events in Iran, it’s taking quite the gamble.

Why it’s possible Israel was behind several of the recent explosions in Iran

Israel has long targeted nuclear programs in the Middle East in secret, open, and openly secret ways.

In 1981, Israeli jets bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. And in 2007, it struck a reactor in Syria that could have produced nuclear fuel. But Israel has saved its most audacious counter-nuclear efforts for Iran.

In the early 2000s, Israeli spy chiefs hatched a plan to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, a campaign Jerusalem has never formally acknowledged. In 2012, a top official at Natanz — Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan — was killed in a mysterious explosion. His death followed two other suspected killings over the previous two years.

But that wasn’t all: In 2009, Israel joined the US in using a cyber weapon, known as Stuxnet, to destroy about 1,000 of Iran’s 6,000 centrifuges.

Why would Israel resort to such bold methods? Simply put, officials in Jerusalem worry Iran could more credibly threaten Israel’s existence if it had a nuclear weapon. There’s real justification for that concern: Just last year, for example, a top Iranian general told local reporters, “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map.”

When it became clear two of the recent explosions in Iran happened at a missile site (Khojir) and a key uranium enrichment facility (Natanz), all eyes turned to Israel as the likely culprit.

“Israel as well as the US have a clear interest in stopping, or at least disrupting, Iran’s weapons production capability, and in particular nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles,” retired Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. Raphael Ofek, who served in Israeli military intelligence and in the prime minister’s office, told me.

The damage at Khojir doesn’t seem that extensive, but Natanz took quite a blow.

Amichai Stein

@AmichaiStein1

.@Maxar company releases tonight new image of the area that was his by an explosion near #Tehran this weekend: the explosion at Khojir missile base completely destroyed on builsing and a large burn area

Iran claims: Gas explosion

1:21 PM · Jun 28, 2020

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Nuclear experts at the Institute for Science and International Security on July 8 assessed that the facility had sustained “significant, extensive, and likely irreparable, damage to its main assembly hall section” which “was critical to the mass production of advanced centrifuges.” (Research and development of those centrifuges was permitted under the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, experts told me.)

“The building’s replacement would be expected to take at least a year, if not longer,” the nuclear analysts concluded.

And per Ofek, the explosion “won’t dramatically disrupt Iran’s advanced centrifuges program,” but “it may delay the deployment of the latest models of these machines for a year or two.”

Such assessments are important, former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro told me. Israeli officials believe that if those advanced centrifuges were ever installed and operated at full capacity, it “might allow Iran to break out not with just one bomb, but with an arsenal” of nuclear weapons, he said. Delaying that possibility, then, is certainly a clear and vital Israeli goal.

It’s therefore plausible that Israel was involved in the explosions at the missile and nuclear facilities — though there is no official confirmation that’s the case — and that the US may have given some kind of thumbs-up to such efforts. Tehran, importantly, surely suspects Jerusalem.

“Regardless of whether these are part of a Western sabotage effort … Iran is going to believe that they are,” Brewer, who now works on nuclear issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me. “Given that these are hitting all across Iran at military and civilian locations, that is going to cause Iran’s threat perceptions to spike.”

But those perceptions depend greatly on the kind of campaign Iran thinks Israel might be waging.

“War between the wars”

It’s worth keeping in mind that Israel and Iran have been engaged in a shadow war for decades, yet no major fight has erupted in years.

In 2006, Israel and Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, battled in a month-long war during which the militant group fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel and Israeli forces fired around 7,000 bombs and missiles into Lebanon.

About 160 Israeli troops and civilians died, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and about 1,100 Lebanese — most of them civilians — perished, per Human Rights Watch, a US-headquartered advocacy organization. HRW also reports about 4,400 Lebanese were injured, and around 1 million people were displaced.

Supporters of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah watch a video screening of a speech by the group’s head, Hassan Nasrallah, to mark the 11th anniversary of the end of the 2006 war with Israel, in the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon on August 13, 2017.

Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images

After that battle, Israel became more wary of Iran placing weaponry near its territory. It’s why Israeli warplanes have consistently bombed locations in Syria in recent years, for example, both to destroy weapons shipments and deter further movement of Iranian proxies and officials there.

Israeli officials see the persistent thwarting of Iranian intentions, especially after the 2006 conflict, as the “war between the wars.”

As Shapiro, the former American ambassador to Israel, explained it to me, the concept “reflects the Israeli philosophical approach to buy time and maybe indefinitely push off future wars — and if they occur, to make them as short as possible.” Following this strategy allows Israel to increase its own capabilities, gather intelligence, and gain a greater military advantage against Iran over time.

Degrading Iran’s nuclear and missile program via covert means fits within this framework. Jerusalem is able to keep Tehran from gaining power at minimal expense and without much public fuss, thereby lowering Iran’s confidence it could defeat Israel in a war, should one break out.

That plan seems to be working for the moment. “At end of the war in 2006, if you had told most Israeli officials that there wouldn’t be another war on that border [with Lebanon] after 14 years, they wouldn’t have believed you,” Shapiro said.

The question now is if Iran views the possible Israeli actions through that lens, or as something more sinister.

Iran likely won’t respond forcefully — for now

Since Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal two years ago, the US and Iran have been engaged in tit-for-tat escalations.

They’re based on a fundamental disagreement: Washington and Jerusalem want Tehran to give up its nuclear program entirely, as well as to curb its other activities such as missile development and support for violent groups in the region; Iran sees those activities as critical to its survival and as an important pillar of its power and reach, however, and wants sanctions lifted without having to give up those activities.

That disagreement has manifested violently. Iran and its proxies bombed oil tankers and Saudi oil fields, and downed an unmanned American surveillance drone and killed US troops stationed in Iraq — all while it loosened restrictions on its nuclear development.

The US responded by killing Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s paramilitary forces, in January. Undeterred, Iran continued its offensive actions, using a cyberweapon to attack Israel’s water supply in May, a strike that potentially could have sickened hundreds of people.

Officials in Iran might therefore see the Khojir and Natanz explosions as part of that fight, thereby compelling them to respond in a bigger way in the tit-for-tat. However, most experts believe Iran will see the incidents in the context of its long-running nuclear feud with Israel.

If that’s the case, it would be good news. What Israel may have done “is a slight escalation, but it’s not really that surprising and not really uncharacteristic of what you’ve seen in the recent history,” Ilan Goldenberg, the Defense Department’s Iran team chief from 2009 to 2012, told me. “All these activities are being done in a way that makes it hard for Iran to retaliate, and gives them space to not retaliate.”

Indeed, the Iranian regime is faltering under sustained economic pressure from the United States, one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, and political protests. It may not have the time or desire to engage in a massive fight with Israel right now.

Between the deniability of Israel and America’s involvement, and the fact that the possible attacks fit into a longstanding pattern, Tehran may not feel compelled to respond immediately and in a dramatically forceful way.

That’s not to say Iran will stand by idly forever. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi vowed this week that “if a regime or a government is involved in the Natanz incident, Iran will react decisively.”

And if Israel and the US continue to hit Iran while it’s down, it may have no choice but to get back up, including potentially launching more cyberattacks or even pushing to develop a nuclear weapon before Israel can do anything about it. Any of those moves would be very provocative — and perhaps make an already dangerous situation much worse.

“The Iranians don’t want this to spiral,” the RAND Corporation’s Kaye told me, “but the longer this persists, the harder it will be for Iran to pretend this isn’t happening.”

“It’s a humiliation at a certain point,” she said.

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The Risk of Attacking the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Risks grow after blast hits Iran’s nuclear program

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A mysterious explosion and fire at Iran’s main nuclear facility may have stopped Tehran from building advanced centrifuges, but it likely has not slowed the Islamic Republic in growing its ever-increasing stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

Limiting that stockpile represented one of the main tenets of the nuclear deal that world powers reached with Iran five years ago this week — an accord which now lies in tatters after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from it two years ago.

The larger that stockpile grows, the shorter the so-called “breakout time” becomes — time that Iran would need to build a nuclear weapon if it chooses to do so. And while Tehran insists its atomic program is for peaceful purposes, it has renewed threats to withdraw from a key nonproliferation treaty as the U.S. tries to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran due to expire in October.

All this raises the risk of further confrontation in the months ahead.

Iranian officials likely recognized that as they realized the scope of the July 2 blast at the Natanz compound in Iran’s central Isfahan province. They initially downplayed the fire, describing the site as a “shed” even as analysts immediately told The Associated Press that the blast struck Natanz’s new advanced centrifuge assembly facility.

Days later, Iran acknowledged the fire struck that facility and raised the possibility of sabotage at the site, which was earlier targeted by the Stuxnet computer virus. Still, it has been careful not to directly blame the U.S. or Israel, whose officials heavily hinted they had a hand in the fire. A claim of responsibility for the attack only raised suspicions of a foreign influence in the blast.

A direct accusation by Tehran would increase the pressure on Iran’s Shiite theocracy to respond, something it apparently does not want to do yet.

The explosion and fire, however, did not strike Natanz’s underground centrifuge halls. That’s where thousands of first-generation gas centrifuges still spin, enriching uranium up to 4.5% purity. Meanwhile, enrichment also has resumed at Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility, built deep inside a mountain to protect it from potential airstrikes. Iran continues to experiment with previously built advanced centrifuges as well.

The explosion “at Natanz was above all a blow to Iran’s plans to move on to more advanced stages in its nuclear project,” wrote Sima Shine, the head of the Iran program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel who once worked in the country’s Mossad intelligence service.

Shine cautioned: “However, it will not prevent Iran’s continued accumulation of enriched uranium, underway since Iran began its gradual violations of the nuclear agreement.”

As of June, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had over 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. The 2015 accord limited Iran to having only 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium enriched to only 3.67%, far below weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Now at 1,500 kilograms, Iran has enough material for a single nuclear weapon if it decides to pursue one. However, that stockpile still is far less than in the days before the 2015 deal, when Tehran had enough for over a dozen bombs and chose not to weaponize its stockpile.

Iran would also need to further enrich that uranium, which would draw the attention of international inspectors still able to access its atomic facilities,. And it would still need to build a bomb. But the “breakout time” Iran would require to assemble a weapon — estimated to be at least a year under the 2015 deal — has narrowed.

All this comes after a series of incidents last year culminated in a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad in January, followed by a retaliatory Iranian ballistic missile attack targeting American troops in Iraq. Those tensions remain even today as the coronavirus pandemic engulfs both the U.S. and Iran.

Iran has already signaled willingness to use its nuclear program as a lever as a longstanding United Nations arms embargo on Tehran is set to expire in October. That ban has barred Iran since 2010 from buying major foreign weapon systems such as fighter jets and tanks.

Iran has threatened to expel IAEA inspectors and withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty amid the U.S. pressure campaign. North Korea, which now has nuclear weapons, is the only country to ever withdraw from the treaty.

Expelling IAEA inspectors and potentially shutting down their cameras now watching Iranian nuclear facilities would blind them from being able to see if Iran pushes its uranium enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels. But that also could see Iran alienate China and Russia, which have both urged all parties to remain in the nuclear deal.

The U.S. hopes to extend the embargo, calling Iranian threats over it being renewed a “mafia tactic.” But Washington has issued its own threats, claiming it could invoke the “snapback” of all U.N. sanctions on Iran that were eased under nuclear deal unless the embargo is prolonged — despite having left the atomic accord.

As Trump campaigns ahead of a November election, he may be more willing to take those risks to highlight that he followed through on his 2016 campaign promise to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and take a harder line on Tehran.

The Islamic Republic in turn may be more willing to take risks as well.

“The U.S. diplomatic campaign, as well as suspected Israeli sabotage and continued attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, will raise overall tension with Iran and introduce new uncertainty into the calculations of the Iranian leadership,” the Eurasia Group warned in an analysis on Tuesday. “That could induce Iran to take more risky action in the nuclear realm, or retaliate for … snapback in Iraq or the region.”

Jon Gambrell, the news director for the Gulf and Iran for The Associated Press, has reported from each of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Iran and other locations across the world since joining the AP in 2006.

This Friday, July 3, 2020 satellite image from Planet Labs Inc. that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies shows a damaged building after a fire and explosion at Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. An online video and messages purportedly claiming responsibility for a fire that analysts say damaged a centrifuge assembly plant at Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear site deepened the mystery Friday around the incident — even as Tehran insisted it knew the cause but would not make it public due to “security reasons.” (Planet Labs Inc., James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP)

Making America the Great Feared Again (Revelation 18:10)

Making America Feared Again: The Trump Administration Considers Resuming Nuclear Weapons Testing

There is no military necessity for nuclear test resumption.

by Lawrence Wittner

The nuclear testing now being considered by the Trump administration is designed with the same purpose that weapons have traditionally had in world affairs:  to intimidate other nations. (Photo: Scott Howe/DVIDS)

Americans who grew up with nightmares of nuclear weapons explosions should get ready for some terrifying flashbacks, for the Trump administration appears to be preparing to resume U.S. nuclear weapons tests.

The U.S. government stopped its atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in 1962, shortly before signing the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. And it halted its underground nuclear tests in 1992, signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. Overall, it conducted 1,030 nuclear weapons test explosions, slightly more than half the global total.

Nuclear tests, of course, enabled the nine nuclear powers to develop bigger and more efficient nuclear weapons for the purpose of waging nuclear war.  Along the way, millions of people in the United States and other nations died or developed illnesses caused by the radioactive fallout from these tests.

The CTBT, which banned all nuclear weapons tests, has been signed by 184 nations, including the United States. This century, only North Korea has flouted the treaty, triggering an avalanche of condemnation from other nations.

But the Trump administration now seems to be preparing to ignore treaty constraints and world opinion by reviving nuclear weapons explosions. A Washington Post article reported that, in mid-May 2020, a meeting of senior U.S. officials from top national security agencies engaged in serious discussions about U.S. nuclear test resumption.  According to one official, the idea was that test renewal would help pressure Russia and China into making concessions during future negotiations over nuclear weapons.

In an apparent follow-up, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced an amendment to the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would give the Trump administration “no less than $10 million” to conduct a nuclear weapons test, “if necessary.” Taken up by the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 10, the amendment passed by a vote along strict party lines.  Currently, Congress is debating the NDAA.

Meanwhile, during a press briefing in Brussels, the administration’s special envoy for arms control stated that the U.S. government “will maintain the ability to conduct nuclear tests if we see reason to do so.”  Although he said he was “not aware of any reason to test at this stage,” he added that he would not “shut the door on it,” either.  “Why would we?”

Not only does the U.S. government possess nearly half the world’s nuclear weapons, which are quite sufficient to eradicate life on earth, but the occasionally-cited justification for testing―that it is necessary to make sure U.S. weapons actually work—is deeply flawed.

Actually, there are numerous reasons why the resumption of U.S. nuclear weapons explosions is a terrible idea.  If the U.S. government began atmospheric nuclear testing, it would violate the Partial Test Ban Treaty (which it ratified), as well as the CTBT (which it signed but, thanks to Republican Senate opposition, has not yet ratified).  Even if U.S. nuclear tests were conducted underground and, thus, violated only the CTBT, the result would be a dramatic loss of credibility for the United States and an escalation of the nuclear arms race.  As Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, has remarked:  “Other nuclear powers would undoubtedly seize the opportunity provided by a U.S. nuclear blast to engage in explosive tests of their own, which could help them perfect new and more dangerous types of warheads.”

In addition, a considerable numbers of non-nuclear nations might decide that, given the U.S. government’s failure to fulfill its treaty obligations, their adherence to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty no longer made sense.  Therefore, they would begin nuclear testing to facilitate developing their own nuclear weapons arsenals.

Furthermore, U.S. nuclear weapons explosions, whether in the atmosphere or underground, would have serious health and environmental consequences.  Even underground U.S. tests have released large quantities of radioactive fallout, and the U.S. government is still dealing with the devastation they caused to communities near the testing sites.  Furthermore, no method has been found for cleaning up the plutonium and other radionuclides that the tests have left underground.

Remarkably, there is no military necessity for nuclear test resumption. Not only does the U.S. government possess nearly half the world’s nuclear weapons, which are quite sufficient to eradicate life on earth, but the occasionally-cited justification for testing―that it is necessary to make sure U.S. weapons actually work—is deeply flawed.  The U.S. government has spent tens of billions of dollars on the Stockpile Stewardship Program, a wide range of diagnostic, non-explosive tests, to ensure that its nuclear weapons are reliable.  And every year the directors of the U.S. nuclear weapons labs report that they are.

In fact, the nuclear testing now being considered by the Trump administration is designed with the same purpose that weapons have traditionally had in world affairs:  to intimidate other nations. Within this framework, it makes perfect sense to use U.S. military might to bully the Russian and Chinese governments into compliance with U.S. government demands. The problem with that kind of thinking is that military intimidation is a very dangerous game, especially when it’s played with nuclear weapons.

Naturally, nuclear critics have assailed Trump’s new military gambit. John Tierney, the executive director of the Council for a Livable World, declared that the administration’s reported consideration of nuclear tests “was as reckless as it was stupid.  The United States does not need to conduct explosive nuclear tests and we don’t want anyone else to, either.”  Congressional Democrats have been particularly outspoken in opposition. In early June, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), a long-time Congressional leader on nuclear arms control and disarmament issues—joined by 13 other Democratic Senators, including Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer—introduced the Preserving Leadership Against Nuclear Explosives Testing (PLANET) Act, which would prohibit funding for U.S. nuclear tests.

On July 16, Markey joined distinguished scientists and other nuclear experts at a virtual press conference to announce the publication of an Open Letter in Science calling upon the nation’s scientific community to support the PLANET Act and oppose nuclear test resumption.

Who knows?  Under fire, Trump might suddenly declare that he never heard of the idea!

Trump’s Ignorance Will Destroy US (Revelation 18:10)

Mushroom cloud of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site, N.M., on July 16, 1945. (AP)

Trump ignores the history of nuclear weapons at our peril – The Washington Post

By William LambersWilliam Lambers is the author of “Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace, and Ending World Hunger.” His writings have been published by USA Today, History News Network, Baltimore Sun and Spectrum, the official magazine of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bomb, we may be headed into a new arms race with Russia and China following President Trump’s plans to resume nuclear testing. According to a Washington Post report, the Trump administration has been holding discussions on carrying out nuclear test explosions for the first time since 1992.

This news alarmed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who stated, “The possibility that the Trump administration may resume nuclear explosive weapons testing in Nevada is as reckless as it is dangerous.”

It’s vital that we remember our responsibility as the first nation to test a nuclear weapon to lead the world in controlling and ultimately eliminating them. In fact, this idea has been embedded in nuclear policy since the beginning.

There was a real fear that Nazi Germany would develop an atomic bomb first, and the Manhattan Project began a race during the war to make sure that did not happen. There was also increasing alarm about the potential of a postwar world with nuclear weapons in the hands of many, recognizing the inevitability of this dangerous technology eventually reaching the Soviet Union and others. Secretary of War Henry Stimson warned President Harry Truman about the danger of other nations and even rogue groups developing an atomic bomb. They knew they could not keep the knowledge of how to build the bomb a secret forever.

Thanks to the successful secret research efforts of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team of scientists at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, the Army detonated the first atomic bomb, code name Trinity, on July 16, 1945.

Just weeks later, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 to end World War II in the Pacific. Some cautioned against using the atomic bombs at all during the war, and following the war, these warnings again emerged to shape nuclear policy. In 1946, after studying the effect of the atomic bomb, the U.S. Strategic Bombing survey stated: “As the developer and exploiter of this ominous weapon, our nation has a responsibility, which no American should shirk, to lead in establishing and implementing the international guarantees and controls which will prevent its future use.”

And so, while the United States expanded its nuclear arsenal, it also crafted strategies for controlling and preventing its use. President Dwight Eisenhower made nuclear arms control a priority with his 1953 Atoms for Peace speech, which argued for diverting nuclear power to peaceful purposes. Eisenhower’s Open Skies proposal for mutual aerial inspection and a nuclear test ban treaty started diplomatic outreach with the Soviet Union.

Signifying its bipartisan nature, President John F. Kennedy picked up Eisenhower’s push for a test ban when he entered office in 1961.

The shock of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which brought the United States and the U.S.S.R. to the brink of nuclear war, further increased the urgency for diplomacy. A hotline between the United States and the Soviets was set up to improve communications to prevent nuclear war.

Kennedy, one year after the Cuban missile crisis, achieved a Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater and space. Underground nuclear tests continued. The landmark treaty was pivotal for reducing tensions and showing it was possible for the Cold War rivals to negotiate successfully. There was the realization that a continuing arms race posed both massive dangers and costs that could not be sustained.

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson achieved the Non-Proliferation Treaty which committed the United States and other nuclear powers to eventually disarm. While U.S. policy during the 1970s was primarily aimed at nuclear arms limitations and confidence-building measures to reduce the threat, under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, negotiators were able to turn toward actual arms reductions.

Beginning in 1985, Reagan held summit meetings with his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, and these led to breakthrough treaties including the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces pact eliminating short- and medium-range nuclear missiles. Reagan’s famous “trust but verify” line came about as verification was essential to make sure treaty commitments were being honored. Getting the Soviets to agree to inspections of their nuclear facilities was a huge diplomatic achievement.

When George H.W. Bush took office, he carried over Reagan’s momentum and secured the original START Treaty reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads. President Bill Clinton worked toward getting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed. His successor, George W. Bush, achieved a treaty with Russia reducing strategic nuclear warheads.

President Barack Obama, like Reagan, stated his desire for a nuclear weapons-free world and achieved the New START accord with Russia, further reducing both nations’ arsenals. Obama also achieved an agreement with Iran to prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon.

But while for over 60 years presidents in both parties worked to reduce nuclear weapons and the likelihood of their use, Trump has begun unraveling these efforts. Trump has withdrawn the United States from arms treaties including the landmark INF agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Additionally, he has failed to extend the New START accord, which expires early next year.

If it expires without renewal or a replacement, then we will have no treaty in place controlling the two largest nuclear arsenals. There will be no trust, no verification. Today, there are about 14,000 nuclear weapons worldwide according the Arms Control Association, most of them held by the United States and Russia. We constantly live with the fear of more nations, perhaps even terrorists, acquiring these weapons of mass destruction.

Yet Trump continues to reject nuclear diplomacy including the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear test explosions. Trump has also gone forward with expensive nuke modernization plans that will further drain America’s precious resources, forcing billions of dollars each year to go toward nuclear weapons.

All nations share the burden of nukes and every country would benefit from diverting resources from nukes toward feeding the hungry, fighting disease and climate change.

But this demands American leadership on the issue. As Eisenhower said about disarmament in 1955, “It would ease the fears of war in the anxious hearts of people everywhere. It would lighten the burdens upon the backs of the people. It would make it possible for every nation, great and small, developed and less developed, to advance the standards of living of its people, to attain better food, and clothing, and shelter, more of education and larger enjoyment of life.”

The first atomic bomb changed our world in July 1945. It was the ultimate weapon, a product of World War II and a trigger for the Cold War nuclear arms race to follow.

But as we remember this moment in history, we cannot lose sight of the dangerous consequences nuclear weapons continue to have on the world today. We must not become complacent about this threat after so many years and just casually accept their existence. Seventy-five years after Trinity, banning nuclear testing and working toward eliminating nukes is the only sensible path forward. Nuclear weapons must become part of our history only, not a threat to our future.

Hamas Courts Nations to Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Hamas Courts Iran, Terrorist Allies to Fight Israel

Over the past month, Hamas has ramped up its diplomatic efforts to secure additional financial and military support to deter Israel from annexing parts of the West Bank. Israel’s government is reportedly stalling its annexation plans given mixed signals from the White House, according to a Tuesday Times of Israel report. Annexation or not, Hamas will find any justification to pursue more resources and assistance in its bid to fight Israel as long as the Jewish state exists.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recently wrote to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei seeking further Iranian backing to fight Israel, according to a July 6 article in Iran’s Mehr News Agency as reported by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

In an official response letter, Khamenei pledged that the Islamic Republic will throw its full weight behind the Palestinian terrorist organization in its campaign against the “Zionist entity” — a derogatory term referencing Israel while denying the Jewish state’s right to exist. Haniyeh acknowledged receiving this message on July 6.

“Iran will spare no effort to support the Palestinian people to restore their right and hold off the evil schemes of the Zionist entity,” wrote Khamenei in the letter translated by Al Monitor on July 13.

“Iran decided to provide the Palestinian resistance with the greatest possible support to confront Israel’s annexation plan of the West Bank. This support will be greater than ever, with no restrictions and in any way the Palestinian resistance wishes,” a senior Hamas official told Al-Monitor.

Iran’s unconditional support, the Hamas official said, “will mainly be directed to the West Bank” and will “focus on mobilizing the Palestinian people to confront this scheme [Israel’s annexation proposal].”

Iran and Hezbollah have spent years actively recruiting Palestinians and Arab Israelis to plan terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Hamas engaged with Iran in several other high-level discussions this month. Iran’s parliamentary speaker had a phone call with Haniyeh and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) commander on July 1 in which both Palestinian leaders praised the Iranian regime for its continued sponsorship. A Hamas delegation also met with Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon, who reinforced the Islamic Republic’s backing for the Palestinians and their “resistance,” according to the Meir Amit report.

Haniyeh also sent letters to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and the Houthis, Iran’s militant ally in Yemen, seeking both organizations’ support against Israel, according to an article published by Hezbollah’s media relations wing and reported by Long War Journal on Monday.

In his letter to Hezbollah, the Hamas leader called for both terrorist organizations to “unite the ranks” and deter Israel’s proposed plan to extend its sovereignty in parts of the West Bank.

The Houthis, like Iran, have no territorial dispute with Israel but have nevertheless adopted the mantra: “God is great, death to the U.S., death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam.” The group’s anti-Semitic and Shi’a-oriented ideology overlaps with the Iranian regime’s worldview and geopolitical objectives. In a largely symbolic gesture, the Houthis responded to Haniyeh’s letter by proclaiming their support for the “resistance against the occupation.”

These recent high-level diplomatic interactions show how Hamas actively seeks outside support for resources to attack Israeli civilians, in an effort to spread fear and coerce government concessions. The Iranian regime is similarly looking to strengthen its presence in the Palestinian arena to better confront Israel amid rising regional tensions.

Hezbollah’s support for Hamas is far more robust than is commonly known. Hezbollah has previously sent Hamas advanced weaponry to attack Israel and allows the Palestinian terrorist group to cultivate a base of operations from Lebanon.

Hamas’s presence in Lebanon is overseen by Saleh Al-Arouri, Hamas’s deputy leader, who has also led Hamas delegations in previous visits to Iran to coordinate efforts against Israel.

Arouri admitted in 2017 that “the aid Iran provides to the resistance is not merely symbolic” and that “nobody but Iran gives us [Palestinian terrorist groups] any military support.” Arouri has directed numerous terrorist plots in the West Bank, including the 2014 murder of three Israeli teenagers. The State Department issued a $5 million bounty for his arrest in 2018.

Hamas’s chief in Gaza, Yehya al-Sinwar, also praised strong ties with Iran in 2017 and acknowledged that “Iran is the largest supporter of the [Hamas military wing] Izz Al-Din Qassam Brigades with money and arms.”

During one high-level Hamas visit to Tehran in 2018, a senior adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei “called on the Palestinians to continue resisting [Israel] until their final victory.” The “final victory” meant the destruction of the Jewish state.

Despite divergent ideologies and ultimate objectives, unwavering hatred for the Jewish state unites armed Sunni Islamists like Hamas with Iran, Shi’ite militant groups, and secular Palestinian organizations.

Earlier this month, Hamas and Fatah held a joint conference and agreed to cooperate against Israel’s proposed annexation plans in the West Bank. If the two Palestinian rivals unite, Israel could face a coordinated violent uprising like the Second Intifada, which included Fatah and PLO-affiliated organizations joining Hamas and the PIJ to carry out deadly terrorist attacks. However, it is unclear whether Fatah and Hamas can maintain a unified approach since similar recent efforts have failed.

Arouri represented Hamas during the event and said that the terrorist group would “use all forms of struggle and resistance against the annexation project.” Fatah leaders similarly threatened Israel with the possibility of a third Intifada and that “all the options are open,” including terrorism.

Hamas claims that Israel’s annexation plans have prompted the group to step up its efforts to secure more external support. But the terrorist group has been reaching out to Iran and its terrorist partners, like Hezbollah, for years before annexation was seriously discussed.

Hamas’s latest outreach campaign is part of its long-standing effort to strengthen its terrorist capabilities and strike Israel — whether annexation moves forward or not.

Steven Emerson is executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. He was a correspondent for CNN and a senior editor at U.S. News and World Report. Read Steven Emerson’s Reports — More Here.

The Russian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

The Russian missile and nuclear system

By Giancarlo Elia ValoriJuly 16, 2020

The new Russian nuclear threat/deterrence policy is defined in the Executive Order No. 355, called “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence”, which came into effect on June 2, 2020.

Firstly, Russian nuclear weapons are defined “only as means of deterrence”, while their use is always and anyway an “extreme and compulsory” measure.

Moreover, retaliation is “inevitable” especially in the case there is a direct nuclear attack against the Russian Federation, while Russia also wants to keep for itself the possibility of inflicting “a guaranteed and unacceptable damage” on any kind of opponent, i.e. its quasi-destruction as a society and as a productive system.

The military dangers that the Russian Federation could incur in the future could be the creation of a wide conventional force by a Russian opponent- which, however, also has a nuclear arsenal, especially on the borders of the Russian Federation – or the deployment of missile defence systems, but also of non-nuclear, hypersonic, UAV and direct energy weapons, by States that consider Russia a potential enemy.

Or also the development of a missile defence and attack system – even a non-nuclear one – in the space by a potential opponent.

There is also the mere possession – by other States, seen as “opponents” or as parts of enemy alliances – of nuclear weapon systems and/or other types of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) which can, however, also hypothetically be used against the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, in the mind of the Russian decision-makers, there is also the opponents’ uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons, of their launch or use instruments, as well as the evolution of their technology.

Finally, Russia’s military system carefully monitors the development of nuclear weapons and their presence in countries that have never previously had nuclear weapons on their territory. It deems it a severe threat.

How is the Russian nuclear or conventional military reaction to an adverse use of nuclear weapons against its own territory and resources triggered, according to the official mechanisms foreseen?

Firstly, with the initial collection of reliable data on a ballistic missile launch targeted against the territory and resources of the Russian Federation.

Secondly, with the obvious use of WMD or other advanced weapons against Russia and its allies. In this strategic calculation, the allies do not include China, but only Belarus and, probably, Kazakhstan to the South.

The triggering of a Russian nuclear reaction can also be caused by an attack launched by an opponent or an enemy alliance on the critical points of the Russian governmental, military, economic and, in this case, oil and gas organization.

In this case, if the Russian leadership or its primary economic resources were the target of a nuclear attack, the response would be a counter-attack by the Russian Federation against the opponent’s decision-making centres.

Moreover, a possible nuclear response from Russia should be calculated if the opponents launched a conventional attack capable of endangering the size, strength and control networks of the Russian Federation.

The supreme decision for the use of the nuclear weapon is in the hands of the Russian Federation’s President alone, who can inform the other States’ decision-makers or the international organisations – if he sees the need to do so – of the Russian willingness to launch a nuclear attack against an invader or attacker, at that moment and in that place.

Furthermore, also in this latest document, Russia sets the line of the “launch of the nuclear weapon together with the strategic warning”.

This makes also the threat selection difficult, considering the reduced time to assess it. Just think here of the hypersonic weapons, which have infinitesimal warning times, or of the U.S. networks which are currently equipped with ballistic missiles with conventional warheads for immediate attack, which makes it increasingly difficult to immediately differentiate between a nuclear and a conventional attack.

This is where the old, Soviet-era, Russian theory of the nuclear threat also applies to a conventional NATO force having, however, size and weapons capable of “endangering” the very nature and stability of the Russian State.

If Vladimir Putin were to consider also the NATO threat to the strong Russian minorities in the Baltic, in Eastern Europe and in South-Eastern Europe, the strategic calculation would be extremely difficult.

For the Russian Federation – as was the case for Tsar Peter I – a base in the Mediterranean is also of fundamental importance.

To this end, the war in Syria has materialized, the last phase of a chain of “coloured wars” or “Arab Spring” which, in the case of Syria, were certainly not successful for the West.

Meanwhile, as has already happened in the Maghreb region, in Latin America and in other regions of the world, Russia wants to maintain some essential strategic assets: its grip on the old “pro-Soviet” areas, from the Middle East to Venezuela and Cuba; the clear reaffirmation of its own role as a great power, and finally Russia’s creation of its own role as a reliable mediator and broker, a stable and credible State, as well as an influential power.

Moreover, all this happens in a phase in which the modernization of Russian weapons and doctrines of the nuclear war and of what we could call post-conventional warfare (hypersonic, high-energy weapons, etc.) is not yet over.

In 2019, Vladimir Putin said that the updated and modern tools were over 82% of the Nuclear Triad of the Russian Federation (earth, sea and sky). He also said: “our armament must be the best of the best so as to be able to win in such a clash”.

Apart from the acceptance of new and possible agreements for reducing strategic weapons, Putin also said: “We are building promising new missile and nuclear weapons systems” for deterrence.

Today, in mid-2020, the Russian Federation is supposed to have 4,310 nuclear warheads of various nature and size, which can be used by both long-range and short-range launchers, only by Strategic Missile Forces.

1,570 of these 4,310 warheads are already positioned: 810 are placed on ground-based strategic missiles; 560 are part of the submarine armament and 200 are placed on aircrafts and in their bases.

870 nuclear warheads are finally stored in a “warehouse”, together with 1,870 non-nuclear warheads.

In addition to this data, it can be said that at least 2,060 warheads, now being dismantled, are just waiting to be “scrapped”.

Hence the actual total number amounts to 6,370 warheads, considering missile, conventional and nuclear warheads.

On the date of February 5, 2019 -set by the START Treaty – the Russian Federation reduced the number of strategic warheads in action to 1,444 pursuant to the Treaty provisions.

Later Russia declared additional 1,420 warheads on 517 launchers and, in March 2019, it declared the existence of 524 launchers for 1,461 warheads, but today the data varies very quickly.

In October 2018 Vladimir Putin had stated: “Our strategic doctrine of nuclear weapons does not allow a preventive attack, but a mutual counter-attack”, i.e. “we are able to react quickly to a nuclear or anyway existential attack, only when we know with certainty that a potential aggressor is attacking Russia”.

The policy line is that of the doctrine of December 2014, which stated: “Russia will reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use that will be made – against Russia or its allies – of nuclear weapons or anyway of mass destruction, or even in the case of the use – against Russia – of conventional weapons if the very existence of the State is in danger”.

Moreover, some Russian decision-makers have stated that Russian nuclear weapons can be used if there are credible threats against Russian ballistic missile sites, but also in regional scenarios that do not imply an existential threat to the Russian State or anyway do not use WMD.

There is also here the problem of weapons defined as “anomalous”, such as the Poseidon -Kanyon, according to the U.S.jargon orStatus-6(NATO codename) – which is a nuclear torpedo capable of creating a vast area of marine contamination capable of blocking any military or economic operation for a long time.

The Russian Federation is supposed to currently have 302 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) in place and operational, with a possible cargo of 1,136 nuclear or non-nuclear warheads.

Russia, however, stated at various stages of the START negotiations that it had almost 400 ICBMs on the “line of fire” or that the ICBMs were already as many as 513 at the end of September 2019.

The Russian ICBMs are organized in the Strategic Missile Force, for three different sectors, with a total of 11 divisions each consisting of about 39 missile regiments.

However, the 40th Regiment of the 12th Division, stationed in Yurya, has no nuclear weapons.

Today, however, Russia still has SS-18, SS-19 and SS-25missiles among its ICBMs.

The SS-18 (RS-20V, or R36M2 Voivoda) is a missile placed in silos, but it can carry a maximum of 10 warheads. There are still 46 SS-18 missiles with 460 warheads, kept as quasi-operational, in the 13th Missile Division stationed in Dombarovsky and in the 62nd Missile Division in Uzhur.

The SS-18 missiles should be withdrawn at the end of 2020, replaced by Sarmat, the RS-28.

The SS-19 (RS-18, or UR100NUTTH) will soon be replaced by the SS-27, another silo missile, but even today two regiments of the Strategic Missile Force are still very operational with the SS-19 missiles.

Russia continues to withdraw its SS-25, the Topolself-propelled missiles,at a rate of one-two regiments per year, which will be replaced by the SS-27 Mod. 2.

The missile that is at the core of the Russian modification of theatre weapons, the aforementioned SS-27, is a missile called in Russia RS-24, or Yars, which can accommodate as many as four Multi Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs). It is assumed, however, that currently Russia already has 140 Yars operational, mobile or in silos, with distribution of these new missiles to the Missile Guards Division in Teykovo, but also to the 39th Missile Guard in Novosibirsk, to the 42ndone in Niznhny Tagil, to the 29thone in Irkutsk, and finally to the 14th Missile Division in Yoshkar-Ola.

Russia is also developing a new version of the SS-29 missile, the Sarmat RS-28 which, as already noted,is supposed to have already largely replaced the SS-18.

With specific reference to the missiles launched by submarines, Russia currently has 10 nuclear submarines of three classes: six Delta IV, one Delta I, and three Borei.

Each submarine can carry 16 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) and each SLBM can carry several MIRVs, for a total of over 720 warheads.

Until 2020, the axis of submarine and missile warfare will be the Delta IV, each equipped with 16 SLBMs.

All the Delta IV submarines are part of the Northern Fleet, based in Gazhyevo on the Kola Peninsula.

The Delta missiles will be entirely replaced by the Borei, each carrying 16 SS-N-32 missiles with six warheads each.

With specific reference to air nuclear warheads, Russia uses two types of bombers: the Tu-160 Blackjack and the Tu-95 M5 Bear.

The total number of these aircrafts is 70 and both of them can carry the A-15 Kent and the AS-23B missiles.

Each TU-160 can carry 40,000 kilos of weaponry, including the 12 AS-15B missiles, with a total of 700 nuclear bombs transported that can be dropped from the aircraft.

Hence Russia foresees – and Russian decision-makers always attach great importance also to non-nuclear weapons -a nuclear force which can quickly transfer as much damage as possible to any attacker, with a combination of Land, Sea and Sky forces capable of inflicting “unbearable damage” even to the current superpowers.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “