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

Trump Preparing to Dictate Babylon the Great

With secret police, Trump is practising fascism in the streets of US cities

In Portland and elsewhere, peaceful protesters are being kidnapped and held by sinister unidentified troops. JOHN WOJCIK reports

Tuesday 14th Jul 2020

WHAT started out as the use of dogwhistles to racists and fascists early in the administration and soon graduated to trumpets is now unfolding as the actual practice of fascism on the streets of United States’ cities.

There were clear signs of the direct use of fascist tactics last month as the nation and the world viewed the horrific actions of militarised police forces during the protests against the murder of George Floyd.

Then, first in Washington DC, there were reports of unidentified camouflaged troops showing up to instigate violent attacks on peaceful demonstrators.

At first some thought they could be right-wing militias doing the authorities’ dirty work, but it quickly became obvious that they were unidentified secret military-type police dispatched by the Trump administration.

Now the administration admits that it has sent into Portland nameless, unidentifiable troops from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to kidnap and jail Black Lives Matter and other peaceful demonstrators.

Furthermore, Trump threatened on Monday that his secret police could be on their way to Chicago, New York and other cities across the nation. “We’re not going to let anarchy take over our American cities,” he said on MSNBC.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon quickly responded that he wished “President Trump would be attacking the coronavirus the way he is attacking civil liberties.”

This latest turn to open fascism by the Trump administration is widely seen as the most dramatic turn in that direction since his election.

The Trump secret police have been driving around Portland in unmarked vans since at least July 14.

Personal accounts of people on the streets, news reporters and many videos posted online confirm that they have been driving up to people, kidnapping them off the streets and providing no information to them about why they are being detained.

The vans drive off with the victims, who often wake up in jail cells, the location of which they have no idea. The blindfolded victims are then often dumped back out on the street with no explanation of why they were detained.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley have condemned the actions of the secret police and demanded their removal from the city.

They say that peaceful demonstrations that had actually been dwindling in number, have now, in reaction to the fascist patrols, ramped up all over again. Merkley has called for a federal-level investigation.

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf has refused to “remove all federal officers from our streets,” which Brown has demanded, claiming falsely that Portland “has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob.”

Brown has declared that the Trump administration “is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes.

“He is putting both Oregonians and local law-enforcement officers in harm’s way.

“This, coming from the same president who used tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters in Washington DC, to engineer a photo opportunity.”

One of Trump’s secret policemen shot a Portland protester in the head, fracturing his skull. The protester had to be hospitalised with a tube inserted into his skull to drain the bleeding from his brain.

The shooting is what prompted both Merkley and his counterpart, Senator Wyden, to demand an investigation.

Another man, Mark Pettibone, was walking in downtown Portland when he saw the secret police, whom he could not identify as either police or right-wing militia because of their unmarked uniforms.

They kidnapped him off the street and detained him.

“I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland at the time. And that, apparently, is grounds for detaining me.”

Juniper Simonis, a volunteer medic, told Buzzfeed News that he was with a friend when the secret police grabbed them, forcing them into custody, separating them from their service dog.

The two were accused of using chalk on a sidewalk. After they were grabbed, they were “punished” by being sprayed at close range with OC gas (pepper spray).

“They jumped me and assaulted me without any legal or verbal communication to me about being under arrest or telling me to stop. They’re snatching people and asking questions later.”

The New York Times reported that it was told by a demonstrator: “One of the officers said: ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,’ and just grabbed me and threw me into the van. Another officer pulled my beanie down so I couldn’t see. I was terrified.

“It seemed like it was out of a horror-sci-fi like a Philip K Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.”

The paper further reported: “The tactical agents deployed by Homeland Security include officials from a group known as Bortac, the Border Patrol’s equivalent of a Swat team, a highly trained group that normally is tasked with investigating drug-smuggling organisations as opposed to protesters in cities.”

Bortac is also the same outfit tasked with supporting immigration & customs enforcement (ICE) agents in immigration sweeps.

Merkley said on Saturday that he will introduce an amendment prohibiting the Trump administration from deploying federal law enforcement in the streets of US cities.

In a related matter on Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon sued the DHS and the US Marshals Service on behalf of recently assaulted legal observers and journalists.

Interim legal director Kelly Simon stated in a press release: “This is a fight to save our democracy.

“Under the direction of the Trump administration, federal agents are terrorising the community, risking lives and brutally attacking protesters demonstrating against police brutality. This is police escalation on top of police escalation.”

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has followed suit, suing DHS, the US Marshals Service, Customs & Border Protection and the Federal Protection Service for illegally detaining citizens without probable cause.

Fascism is not something that takes hold overnight. Even in the days of Hitler’s ascension to power, the process was often gradual. In Germany, for example, the resistance in what Hitler called “Red Berlin” held on longer than in other parts of the country.

Racist dogwhistles, racist trumpets, militarised police, attacks on journalists and legal observers, new rounds of vote suppression and secret police on the streets are all progressive steps that gradually accustom US citizens to a push towards fascism in this country.

Some are asking whether the use of secret police in US cities by Trump could portend a declaration of martial law or worse if he loses the election in November. When we see how quickly Trump went from dogwhistles to secret-police patrols, it is not then an unreasonable question.

The fascist-like push by Republicans to crank up the stripping of voters from the rolls is under way at full steam now and parallel to the deployment of secret police.

Regardless of Trump’s ultimate plans, however, the forces in the US that would be happy with a police state are dangerously positioned to increase their influence.

A massive rejection of Trump and Trumpism on November 3 will be needed to put them in their place — far from any position they can use for their work of destroying democracy altogether.

This article appeared at Peoplesworld.org.

Preparing the South Korean Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

By ROBERT BURNS | July 21, 2020 at 10:35 AM EDT – Updated July 21 at 10:53 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is considering “adjustments” to its military presence in South Korea and around the globe as it shifts from years of countering insurgencies and militants in the greater Middle East to focusing on China, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday.

Esper said he has issued no order to withdraw from South Korea.

Without discussing specifics, Esper said he favors more emphasis on rotational deployments, as opposed to permanent stationing, of American troops “because it gives us, the United States, greater strategic flexibility in terms of responding to challenges around the globe.”

The U.S. has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as a bulwark against North Korea, but the U.S.-South Korea treaty alliance is under great strain, mainly because of the Trump administration’s demand that Seoul vastly increase the amount it pays for the U.S. presence. Negotiations led on the U.S. side by the State Department have been deadlocked for months.

The Pentagon said Esper spoke by phone Monday with his South Korean counterpart to discuss the payment issue and other matters, including the stalemated U.S. effort to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons. It gave no details.

President Donald Trump has questioned the value of stationing U.S. troops in South Korea and elsewhere in the world, saying Seoul and other host governments must pay more of the cost.

In his remarks in a webinar hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Esper said that since taking office a year ago he has sought to review the global U.S. military footprint with an eye to competing more effectively with China and Russia. That has included looking for ways to bring more U.S. troops home so that they can train more directly for missions related to potential conflict in the Asia-Pacific region.

Esper said he hopes to visit China this year to “enhance cooperation on areas of common interest,” improve crisis communications systems, and “reinforce our intentions to openly compete in the international system in which we all belong.”

Earlier this month Esper approved the withdrawal of 9,500 troops from Germany, although he has yet to publicly disclose how many of those will be brought home and how many will be shifted to other parts of Europe or elsewhere. He also has reviewed the U.S. presence in Africa.

“We will continue to look at adjustments in every command we have, in every theater, to make sure we are optimizing our forces,” Esper said in Tuesday’s webinar.

The U.S. military presence in South Korea dates to the 1950-53 Korean War in which American forces fought in support of the South after North Korean troops invaded and were later supported by Chinese troops.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved

The Rapidly Growing Indian Nuclear Horn (Revelation 8 )

India's Nuclear-Weapons Program: 5 Things You Need to Know | The ...

Which is the fastest-growing nuclear programme?

By: Anum A Khan

India, by expanding and modernizing its nuclear weapons, has made the region more volatile. These desires of New Delhi have tilted South Asia towards a nuclear arms race. Climbing up this ladder of chaos, the only priority of New Delhi is for India to be seen as a consensual leader in the region. Such moves by India to achieve its national goal of being a regional power, altogether altered the security dynamics of South Asia. As the world seeks to shrink global stockpiles of nuclear weapons, India continues to modernize its arsenal which increases Pakistan’s security dilemmas, compelling it to adopt an appropriate response.

The latest yearbook by SIPRI mentions, as of June 2020, India is estimated to have a growing arsenal of approximately 150 nuclear weapons and Pakistan of 160. The Western as well as Indian media immediately picked up the estimates of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and reported it as the fastest growing. However, realities on ground are quite the opposite. Among the Non-NPT states, India, not Pakistan, has the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal.

A study assessment published by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) gives conservative and optimal capacity to produce nuclear weapons from both its estimated unsafeguarded reactor-grade plutonium (RG Pu) and weapon grade plutonium (WG Pu) stocks. The conservative estimates in the book suggest that India can produce at least 356 nuclear weapons. On the other hand, apart from attaining its fuel needs of its 500 MW Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR), India can still produce at least 493 nuclear weapons. By 2039, India will have six FBRs. The study estimated that each of the 500MW FBR, once operational, will assist in making 28 nuclear weapons yearly. These estimates were made in 2016, do this capacity has increased.

Another study by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard, states that according to Indian fissile material weapon equivalent potential, India can produce 2261 to 2686 nuclear weapons. The author breaks it down with 148—198 weapons from WG Pu, 688 from separated RG Pu, 1375—1759 unseparated RG Pu and finally, 50 from High Enriched Uranium

This oscillatory approach in guarding its vested nuclear interests is something the international community must watch. Shaking hands with India through nuclear diplomacy, intentionally looking away from everything India has done to protect its obsessive nuclear secrecy, shows state-centric interests of Western powers overruling a rule-based global nuclear order

According to a report, India is also building a secret nuclear city in Chakkakere. This report mentions that it will provide extra enriched uranium fuel for thermonuclear weapons. In this nuclear city, India could keep up to 1050 enrichment machines in Separative Work Units (SWUs) coupled with 700 older centrifuges. With this, Indian officials could complete 42,000 SWUs per year. These would be enough to produce about 403 pounds WG uranium annually. Even after providing 143 pounds for INS Arihant, India will have the capacity to fuel 22 thermonuclear weapons. However, Independent analysts estimated that India has a total enrichment capacity of 42,300 SWU/yr from RMP and BARC facilities. Furthermore, India only requires 5,835 SWUs to 10,375 SWUS for 4-5 of its planned nuclear submarines which is just 24 percent of total capacity. The remaining 31925 SWUs will be enough to produce nuclear weapons. The new nuclear city enrichment facility once fully operational will take Indian capacity of enriching uranium to 100,000 SWU/yr. Hence, these facilities will provide India with nuclear weapons consisting of a larger yield. This is the major rationale due to which India has kept most of its facilities, including this nuclear city, out of IAEA safeguards.

Indian ambitions are apparent the from statement by Indian Atomic Energy Chairman R.K. Sinha, “India will continue its nuclear programme without any interruption, irrespective of decisions taken by other countries and there is no reason to follow Germany, Japan which are cutting down on nuclear energy.”

Over the past decade, a nuclear struggle to achieve the maximum is underway by India. South Asia has been alarmed by India’s increase in nuclear weapons and its ability to wage conventional war. India’s massive military expenditure has taken an asymmetric approach in building up its nuclear arsenal. Additionally, India’s multiple nuclear deals with Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) member states, resulting in an increase in its fissile material stockpiles, can increase regional tensions.

In the Fullerton lecture in 2015, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said, “India looks to transforming itself from a balancing power to a leading power”. After keeping a low profile in the international system for long, India now wants to shape global outcomes as there are now growing demands that it make more contributions to the maintenance of the global order. Thus India is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal.

India’s existing and future nuclear capability fuels regional insecurity. The Indian civilian nuclear programme is significantly expanding, thanks in part to the 2004 civil nuclear agreement with the USA. Such exceptionalism helped it to sign 13-plus nuclear cooperation agreements with other states over the past decade. Under these deals, India imported around 20000 metric tons of Uranium. It is important to note here that every ton of imported uranium liberates a ton of Indian indigenous uranium for weapon use. This expansion is creating new pathways for India to acquire weapons fissile material faster.

The Indo-US civil nuclear agreement and the 2008 exceptional NSG waiver, has heled India to stockpile more fissile material that can be utilized for weapons production. This commercial deal has made it more easier for nuclear technology to spread in South Asia, because, as of today, India has the largest unsafeguarded civil and military nuclear programmes regionally and globally. The ensuing support helped India to not only acquire nuclear weapons, but also maintain and increase its weapon stockpile. Because of this exceptional treatment India has refused to sign the CTBT, FMCT and also does not abide by NPT guidelines. India is developing a triad which includes nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, ICBMs, SLBMs, dual-use cruise and ballistic missiles and a very large naval expansion designed to project power beyond the region. India is also opting for MIRVing as well as canisterization of missiles. Moreover, many official quarters in India also indicate India is moving away from its No First Use policy.

This oscillatory approach in guarding its vested nuclear interests is something the international community must watch. Shaking hands with India through nuclear diplomacy, intentionally looking away from everything India has done to protect its obsessive nuclear secrecy, shows state-centric interests of Western powers overruling a rule-based global nuclear order. International reports create misperceptions regarding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme as the fastest, while India has already grown its nuclear weapons, as SIPRI estimates that India has HEU (4.4 tons) and Pu (6.5 tons—if, 0.4 tons is not included as it is under safeguards) enough for an average of 1876 nuclear weapons which is about six times Pakistan’s capability. Closing eyes to this cannot change ground realities. Nevertheless, Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapon state which will guard its security interests by giving a restrained and rational response to the full spectrum of threats emerging from India.

Blair Won’t See His Prediction Come True (Revelation 16)

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Bruce G. Blair, acclaimed expert on the risks of nuclear war, dies at 72

July 21, 2020 2:31 p.m.

Bruce Blair, an internationally renowned scholar and expert on the risks of accidental nuclear war, died on July 19 in hospital in Philadelphia following a severe stroke. He was 72.

Blair, who was based at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security (SGS), spent his professional career exploring and explaining the largely unforeseen risks of accidental nuclear war. Blair revealed how these much-greater-than-expected risks were not an accident, but an inevitable outcome of prevailing nuclear postures and policies, and systems of nuclear command and control.

“One would be hard pressed to find anyone else in our community who has had a greater impact on reducing the risks from nuclear weapons,” said Alexander Glaser, co-director of SGS and associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and international affairs. “Bruce was always one or two steps ahead of everyone else, and always focused on ‘moving the needle’ — as he used to say — in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. We learned so much from him, and I consider it a great privilege to have been part of the same team with Bruce.”

Along with his scholarship, Blair forcefully and persistently advocated to policymakers and the public for shifting to safer nuclear postures, for a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, for deep cuts in arsenals, and for the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons. To this end, Blair created and led Global Zero, an international organization including almost 300 former high-level national security officials from dozens of countries, to devise practical steps toward nuclear disarmament.

In 2013, Blair joined the research staff at SGS, which is based at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, where he continued to lead Global Zero, developing and promoting ideas for crisis management between nuclear-armed states and nuclear reductions and measures to reduce the risks of accidental, mistaken, and unauthorized launch of nuclear weapons.

His work included creating the Nuclear Crisis Group of about 20 former officials monitoring potential nuclear flashpoints, prepared to propose de-escalatory moves. Former Commander in Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command Gen. James E. Cartwright became a close partner to Blair in these efforts after Cartwright stepped down as Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2011. “Bruce understood the existential threat of nuclear weapons. His loss will be felt throughout the national security community,” Cartwright said.

Blair was born in Creston, Iowa, on Nov. 16, 1947. His father, Donald Blair, and mother, Betty Anne Bruce, were also born in Iowa. Donald Blair served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, flying 17 missions in a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress over Germany.

Blair graduated from the University of Illinois in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1972 to 1974. This included serving as a launch-control officer in an underground bunker for a group of 10 Minuteman-II nuclear missiles with backup responsibility for 40 more missiles. These were stored in underground “silos” around Malmstrom Air Force Base. Each Minuteman-II carried a single warhead with 100 times the power of the Hiroshima warhead.

Later in his service, Blair served as a support officer for the Operation Looking Glass command posts based out of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. During the Cold War, one of these aircraft were in the air at all times and could launch the Minuteman-II missiles if one of the launch-control facilities were destroyed by a Soviet-first strike or failed.

The 24-hour shifts underground gave Blair ample time to wonder about the possible circumstances under which he might be ordered to launch missiles that could kill millions of Russians, Chinese or East Europeans, and whether that order might be issued by mistake. His missiles were put on higher alert by the Nixon Administration during the October 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel, Egypt and Syria as a signal to the Soviet Union not to intervene on Egypt’s side.

After leaving the Air Force, Blair enrolled in Yale’s Ph.D. program in operations research. His graduate studies were interrupted for five years while he took leave to work at the Brookings Institution with John Steinbruner, a leading international security affairs and arms control scholar and educator who shared Blair’s concerns about accidental nuclear war.

From 1982 to 1985, Blair was project director of a review of U.S. nuclear command and control for U.S. Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment. After doing a classification review of Blair’s draft, the U.S. Department of Defense decided that this assessment of the vulnerabilities of U.S. nuclear command and control was too sensitive for Congressional consideration. They seized and shredded all copies of the manuscript.

In 1985, Blair published his Ph.D. thesis as the book “Strategic Command and Control: Redefining the Nuclear Threat.” This was the first of a series of studies, including “The Logic of Accidental Nuclear War” (1993) and “Global Zero Alert for Nuclear Forces” (1995).

In 1999, Blair received a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as a “Genius Grant,” for his work demonstrating the dangers of Cold War and post-Cold War nuclear command and control, which highlighted the role of human and technical error. Blair also received the award for his work on devising credible policy alternatives, including “de-alerting” nuclear weapons and changing nuclear decision-making processes to allow for careful and collective deliberation before any decision to launch could be made.

Blair used the funds from his MacArthur grant to create the World Security Institute, which he used as an umbrella for a number of organizations, including Global Zero and a news services publishing on security issues in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and Russian. As part of this effort, Blair worked on and served as executive producer of the highly regarded documentary film “Countdown to Zero.” In 2011, Blair was appointed to the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board, a small group of experts providing advice on nuclear arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation and international security.

More recently, Blair focused his attention on the need to strengthen checks and balances on the president’s unilateral power to order the use of nuclear weapons. His 2018 report “The End of Nuclear Warfighting: Moving to a Deterrence-Only Posture — An Alternative U.S. Nuclear Posture Review,” was a major study, laying the basis for revising the current U.S. nuclear posture and force structure, as well as reducing the risk of the use of nuclear weapons.

“Bruce was so persistent and creative in his efforts to reform U.S. nuclear weapons polices that it drove parts of the nuclear priesthood so crazy that at times they felt besieged by this one-man army. Had they listened instead, we would all be safer,” said Sharon Weiner, a visiting research scholar at SGS, who has worked in both houses of Congress, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, and the White House Office of Management and Budget with nuclear weapon responsibilities.

Blair also extensively engaged former senior officials and military officers from Russia and China, as well as other nuclear-armed states, to renounce the first use of nuclear weapons and modify nuclear postures in ways that make such commitments credible. In his final years, Blair worked to avert a new nuclear arms competition at a time when the nuclear arms control regime has been collapsing.

Blair is survived by his wife, Sally Onesti Blair, and children Carrie Blair Shives, Erica Blair Lockney, Celia Paoro Yin-Blair, and Thomas Blair, as well as his mother, Betty Ann Blair, and sisters Kathy Donzis, Jill Firszt, and Jann Jarvis.

View or share comments on a blog intended to honor Blair’s life and legacy.

Future Nuclear Instability (Revelation 16)

Russian President Vladimir Putin oversees the test of a Russian hypersonic missile system in Moscow, Russia in 2018.
Sputnik Photo Agency

For decades, American policymakers and military planners have focused on preserving what is known in the nuclear lexicon as “strategic stability.” During the Cold War, especially as mutual assured destruction became accepted logic between the United States and the Soviet Union, the pursuit of strategic stability provided a framework for managing the existential risks associated with massive nuclear arsenals. Under conditions of strategic stability, each superpower recognized that its adversary could massively retaliate against a nuclear first strike—which created a disincentive to resorting to nuclear weapons. Preserving confidence that each side had a “second-strike capability” thus became essential. And even with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, strategic stability has continued to structure thinking among policymakers and planners about how to create predictability in the nuclear relationship and reduce incentives to escalation.

Yet as the quest for strategic stability has continued to guide defense planning and arms control, it has become increasingly untethered from technological and geopolitical realities. Since 2011, tensions have been mounting in the U.S.-Russian relationship, giving rise to the very real possibility that some combination of deliberate actions, misunderstandings, miscalculations, and accidents could lead to nuclear escalation and catastrophe. After several decades of rules, agreements, norms, and human relationships fostering prudent behavior and shrinking nuclear arsenals—from the Cold War peak of more than 70,000 warheads, each side now retains between 6,000 and 6,500—arms control is being undermined and abandoned. Last August, U.S. officials withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, in reaction to evidence of Russia’s noncompliance. In May, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty (which has allowed unarmed observation flights, in order to enhance transparency). The sole remaining U.S.-Russian agreement is New START, which limits the aggregate number of strategic offensive arms in each arsenal—and if that is not renewed in early 2021, it too will collapse. Meanwhile, new technologies are presenting their own challenges to long-standing thinking about escalation.

Accordingly, the traditional focus on strategic stability may no longer be sufficient to manage today’s risks. Even with the resurrection of arms control agreements now being abrogated or dismantled, there is reason to doubt that strategic stability, at least as understood in the old paradigm, could be reestablished or preserved.

UPENDING THE PRECARIOUS BALANCE

To fathom the unprecedented nature of the challenges ahead, it is important to understand the logic that governed classic strategic stability—a logic driven by the imperative of discouraging escalation between two nuclear-armed superpowers. In this construct, both the United States and Russia (or, until 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union) believed that the other side lacked the capacity to threaten the “survivability” of its nuclear forces: each knew that after a nuclear attack, it would still have sufficient nuclear warheads and delivery systems (and the command-and-control network necessary to launch them) to retaliate. As a result, each side retained confidence that its second-strike capability would be preserved. This mutual recognition created a disincentive to strike first, since both Moscow and Washington knew that any nuclear attack would be met with a nuclear response—thereby maintaining a perilous but thus far real equilibrium.

That long-standing logic has been upended by new technologies and the spread of competition to new domains. For nuclear strategists of an earlier era, whatever the exigencies of calculating throw-weight, first- and second-strike capabilities, and missile ranges, the basic considerations were relatively simple: there was a fairly linear escalation ladder from conventional to nuclear weapons, with just two players involved. Policymakers and defense planners today have to contend with a system of complex interactions that are far less predictable and therefore harder to manage or control. Preserving stability and avoiding escalation become exponentially more difficult in this environment.

The United States can play a major leadership role in both reducing tensions and building new norms.

There is now a broader array of capabilities that can be considered “strategic”—meaning that their use can have consequences significant enough to potentially impair or disable the target’s ability to respond effectively and thereby to deter aggression. Once, this was the unique purview of nuclear weapons. Now, advances both in nuclear weapons and their means of delivery and in other technologies and capabilities create new uncertainties that undermine deterrence and potentially create incentives for escalatory behavior.

On the classic nuclear front, Russia is working to achieve prompt, penetrating, and precise strikes on distant targets. This effort involves work on heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles, multiple hypersonic delivery systems, and novel weapons delivery capabilities, such as a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed underwater drone. The Chinese nuclear arsenal is considerably smaller but also expanding and will benefit from China’s investments in advanced technologies with military applications.

Beyond nuclear, cyberspace is the realm that has garnered the most widespread public attention thus far. Cyberspace is both a warfighting domain and a capability that can be deployed in other domains. With respect to strategic stability, cyber gives adversaries the ability to disable a country’s way of life by stealthily attacking its “soft underbelly” rather than by using classic, observable military capabilities. U.S. policymakers and strategists have begun discussing whether the United States should threaten a nuclear response to a debilitating wide-scale attack on energy infrastructure, with the goal of deterring any such attack. Adding this to the list of casus belli for nuclear response could serve as a deterrent, but it would also open up a new escalatory pathway without clear firebreaks.

Space has also become a contested domain, with similarly worrying implications for strategic stability. Space capabilities are integral to enabling or disabling critical capabilities in other domains; satellites, for example, are essential to both military and civilian communications, and adversaries have targeted them in order to challenge U.S. dominance. American defense planners are wrestling with the implications for deterrence and stability: what if, for example, U.S. satellites that provide early warning of missile launches were damaged or disabled?

Biotechnology is another area with potentially strategic implications. Innovation has spawned new capabilities that have enormous positive potential, especially in advancing health science and generating new therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of a wide range of diseases. However, these developments also have a darker side and could be weaponized with potentially strategic effects. At the end of 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology offered a warning: “While the ongoing growth of biotechnology is a great boon for society, it also holds serious potential for destructive use by both states and technically-competent individuals with access to modern laboratory facilities.” For example, if a deadly virus was discovered to have been engineered and conveyed to a specific country, would that be interpreted as a strategic attack that would warrant a strategic response? There is no established logic to a reality in which new technologies can have the kind of existential impact that was once unique to nuclear weapons.

THE INSTABILITY OF COMPLEXITY

The development and interplay of these new capabilities present significant challenges to policymakers and defense planners whose training and experience have been based in linear nuclear strategizing. At the moment, some of the most forward-looking thinking is taking place in U.S. military organizations charged with ensuring the nuclear deterrent and facing the practical, operational challenges presented by emerging adversarial capabilities. General John Hyten, then commander of U.S. Strategic Command and current vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed in 2017, “It’s now a multipolar problem with many nations that have nuclear weapons, . . . and it’s also multidomain. . . . We have adversaries that are looking at integrating nuclear, conventional, space and cyber, all as part of a strategic deterrent. . . . We can’t [assume] that having 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons under the New START Treaty somehow deters all our adversaries. It doesn’t.”

A useful framework for taking stock of this new reality comes from work on understanding the behavior of complex adaptive systems (CAS). A complex adaptive system is a system that is inherently anarchic, lacking in central control or coherent governance. Yet its elements interact and impact one another and the entire system. Originally developed to model systems that defied computer-based simulation, CAS evolved to anticipate heterogeneous and often multidimensional system dynamics in a broad range of contexts.

Some key characteristics of complex adaptive systems are especially relevant to a warfighting environment. They involve interactions between or among asymmetric capabilities, and what happens at the level of the entire system cannot necessarily be predicted by the nature of the components of that system. This means that understanding the dynamics of nuclear escalation will not necessarily allow a decision-maker to understand what happens when nuclear, cyber, and biological threats interact. In addition, the response of a system to a specific input may be disproportionate to that input, which makes outcomes unpredictable. In a conflict, what one side perceives to be a limited, measured action might have an outsize effect, leading to misinterpretation and escalation.

Altogether, it has become far more difficult to predict behaviors, interactions, and outcomes. With more and new players, domains, and capabilities, and no rules of the road governing usage, classical notions of strategic stability offer scant guidance. Deterrence now has to work across a much broader and more complex landscape. And less predictability can lead to preemptive behavior, with catastrophic consequences, and more hedging, which can accelerate arms races, as nations seek confidence that their own interests are protected when adversaries field new weapons.

BEYOND ARMS CONTROL

Accordingly, simply returning to traditional arms control will be far from adequate to address the dangers of today’s and tomorrow’s realities. Arms control among the major nuclear powers should remain a goal, but policymakers will also have to enlarge the problem set in order to effectively address the interplay of existing and new capabilities.

The United States can play a major leadership role in both reducing tensions and building new norms. U.S. strategists and planners need to undertake a broad and integrated effort to develop a framework for synchronizing deterrence across multiple platforms—and for developing a related framework that addresses the implications for strategic stability. This will require working through a wide range of scenarios and exploring multiple escalation pathways, and doing so in coordination with allies in order to build confidence and predictability and avert preemptive escalatory behavior in a far more dynamic environment.

Washington should also try to start a new high-level dialogue with Moscow about strategic stability, despite the current state of the U.S.-Russian relationship. During other tense moments in the past, nuclear talks have helped reestablish predictability, created a check on arms racing, and ultimately enabled each to be confident that it had adequate capabilities to hold the other at risk, which discouraged escalatory behavior and preemptive first strikes. At times, such conversations have even succeeded in persuading both sides to reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons. If government-to-government relations are too fraught to begin these discussions, Track II dialogues could be used to generate initial options.

China poses a very different challenge. While the United States and Russia retain the world’s largest nuclear stockpiles and have decades of experience in managing their strategic competition, China has an estimated arsenal in the low couple of hundreds. Given the substantial asymmetry in the nuclear domain, the focus with China must be on the growing competition for the technology edge in many of the new strategic domains identified here, including cyber, space, and bio, and in the enabling technologies of future warfare such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing. In order to avoid future arms racing that mimics the madness of the height of the Cold War, the United States and China should begin a serious exchange about establishing guardrails and potential constraints on the most destabilizing capabilities.

The United States and other countries with substantial strategic arsenals bear a unique responsibility for managing these new geostrategic and technological realities. Over time, dialogues among leading powers about the range of new capabilities could produce a comprehensive and integrated view of the battle space that enables thorough consideration of interactions that are possible across multiple domains. If sustained by determined leadership and informed by science, these processes could eventually lead to the creation of a more stable overall balance.

As anyone who has taken part in U.S. strategic exercises knows, the timeline for making decisions about launching nuclear weapons in an actual crisis would likely be very short,with inadequate information and immense pressure to act. Given the proliferation of new warfighting tools with strategic effects, American leaders now have to consider even more complex conditions—and yet still find ways to manage uncertainty, reduce the risks of miscalculation, and strengthen incentives for rational behavior and restraint. Only by doing so, and working to develop common understandings with allies and adversaries alike, can they reestablish confidence that they can avert escalation that may otherwise engulf the world.

Fatah and Hamas to hold ‘historic’ joint rally outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Fatah and Hamas to hold ‘historic’ joint rally in Gaza against annexation

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas terror group chief Ismail Haniyeh to speak at the event, according to senior officials in the two rival Palestinian factions

By Aaron Boxerman20 Jul 2020, 4:24 pm

Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub announced on Monday that rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas will hold a joint rally in the Gaza Strip against Israeli annexation “in the coming days,” according to a statement published by the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA news agency.

“The rally will be a historic point in consolidating the united Palestinian position in the face of the annexation project,” Rajoub said, referring to Israel’s declared plan to annex parts of the West Bank in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s controversial peace plan — a plan that in recent weeks appear to have been put on the back burner amid a resurgent coronavirus and a hesitant White House.

According to Rajoub, both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other “national leaders” will speak at the event. It was unclear from the statement whether Abbas would participate by video, though that was highly likely.

The head of the Hamas terror organization, Ismail Haniyeh, will also speak at the event, Hamas political bureau member Khalil al-Hayya said in a statement.

“This is a message to all sides. We are stressing the unified position of our people in all its factions and forces, wherever they are located, against the annexation plan,’” al-Hayya said.

Fatah and Gaza-based terror group Hamas have been bitterly divided since 2007,when a bloody civil war between the two rival Palestinian movements ended with Hamas expelling Fatah from the Gaza Strip. Several attempts have been made since to mend the rift in Palestinian politics, but so far none of has been successful.

Rajoub said that the joint rally would send a message of Palestinian unity to the world,while emphasizing that the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Liberation Organization would remain in charge.

“We must raise the voices of the united Palestinian people, who adhere to the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, based on the 1967 borders and the return of refugees in accordance with international law, under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization,” Rajoub said.

In what they called a step towards “national unity,” Rajoub and Hamas deputy Salih al-Arouri held a press conference on July 2, in which they announced that the two movements would coordinate on anti-annexation activities.

Arouri has directed numerous terrorist attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, including the 2014 murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. In 2018, the US State Department issued a $5 million bounty for his capture.

“All the controversial issues on which we differ, we will set those aside… We and Fatah and all the Palestinian factions are facing an existential threat, and we must work together,” said Arouri.

Arouri said that coordination between the two organizations would begin “a new phase that will be a strategic service to our people,” emphasizing that Hamas would use “all forms of struggle and resistance against the annexation project.”

The announcement was received with broad skepticism among Palestinians, who have seen numerous reconciliation attempts — and even unity governments on paper — come and go without tangible results. While the two leaders sought to downplay differences between the two organizations, many seemed doubtful that this time was any different.

“Our people have an enormous amount of skepticism with regard to the potential for national unity. Previous attempts did not end up having an impact on the ground,” Hamas deputy Hussam Badran acknowledged at a subsequent press conference with Fatah Central Committee member Ahmad Hilles.

A joint rally with a speech by Abbas, who has little love for the terror group which expelled his movement for the Gaza Strip, could allay some of the cynicism among Palestinians about the potential for reconciliation.

Deep divisions between the two groups still remain, however. While Fatah officials have made declarations in recent weeks about cooperation with Hamas, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority does not seem to have permitted the terror group a freer hand in the West Bank.

On the same day that Rajoub and al-Arouri held their press conference, PA security forces broke up a rally in Jenin at which Hamas flags were raised. Hamas condemned the action, calling on the PA to “preserve the spirit of unity,” according to the Hamas-linked Safa News Agency.