Errors at Indian Point Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Posted: Feb 29, 2020 7:29 PM MST Updated: Feb 29, 2020 7:29 PM MST

Kelly Ingraham-Friedman is among the residents worried about living so close to the pipeline, which was built in 2015.

“It’s definitely, definitely concerning,” Ingraham-Friedman said. “We worry about our kids who are in the school district.”

The Inspector General report showed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to properly analyze safety concerns before the pipeline’s approval and installation. Many are calling on the commission to address the findings and to create a plan to keep residents safe.

According to Westchester County Executive George Latimer, the long-term environmental and health impacts are unknown.

“I think right now the burden is on the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] to defend the decisions they made and how they implemented it and to do that in a public fashion,” Latimer said.

The Village of Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker is also requesting that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission immediately hold a public meeting to address the findings.

The Shi’a Horn Strikes Babylon the Great

Iraq: 2 bombs strike US supply convoy

People gather at the scene of a bomb attack in Tayaran Square in Baghdad, Iraq on 15 January 2018 [Haydar Hadi/Anadolu Agency]

August 14, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Two bombs have hit convoys supplying US-led coalition forces in Iraq’s southern governorate of Dhi Qar, security sources reported on Wednesday.

“A bomb has targeted a convoy carrying logistical support equipment for the US army on the highway at Al-Batha intersection in the western city of Nasiriyah,” Dhi Qar police commander, Hazem Al-Waeli, was quoted in a statement as saying.

The explosions, which caused no casualties but did some material damage, are the latest in a string of such incidents in recent weeks. On Sunday, another convoy carrying supplies to coalition forces was attacked in southern Iraq.

The attacks have escalated following the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander, Qassem Soleimani, and the leader of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, in a US drone strike in Baghdad at the start of the year.

Several thousand US forces are still based in Iraq, leading a coalition whose mission is said to be “to fight Daesh”. But following the recent attacks, the troops have withdrawn from seven sites across the country.

On Wednesday, a senior US army official said the number of American troops in Syria and Iraq would be reduced over the coming period, he did not stipulate how many would be withdrawn.

Since October 2019, Iraq has witnessed more than 30 attacks targeting US military and diplomatic bases, but missile attacks have become more rare in recent months.

The Pakistani and Saudi Horns Separate (Daniel 7)

Pakistan’s ‘Brotherly’ Ties With Saudi Arabia Hit ‘Rock-Bottom’

August 13, 2020 09:10 GMT

By Frud Bezhan
Daud Khattak

The Muslim-majority Himalayan region is divided between Pakistan and archrival India but claimed by both in its entirety. The two countries have fought three wars over the region.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was unusually blunt. (file photo)

Qureshi said on August 5 that Islamabad expected the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) — a group of 57 Muslim countries from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia that is based in Saudi Arabia — to convene a meeting on Kashmir.

Otherwise, he said, Pakistan would be “compelled” to “call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir,” which has been viewed as a threat to create a new bloc that would rival the Saudi-dominated OIC.

The foreign minister mentioned Iran, Turkey, and Qatar, Riyadh’s regional rivals with which Pakistan has bolstered ties in recent years.

Qureshi said Pakistan last year pulled out of an international summit for leaders of Muslim countries in Malaysia because of Riyadh’s concerns that the meeting could undermine the OIC.

But now, he said, Pakistan was demanding Riyadh “show leadership on the issue” of Kashmir. “We have our own sensitivities,” he said. “Gulf countries should understand this. I’m taking a position despite our good ties with Saudi Arabia. We cannot stay silent anymore on the sufferings of the Kashmiris.”

Qureshi’s comments came on the first anniversary of India’s decision to revoke the special status of territory under its administration in Kashmir, a move that outraged Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office on August 6 defended Qureshi’s rare public criticism of Riyadh, saying the minister’s remarks reflected the “people’s aspirations and expectations.”

Game Of Loans

The same day, media reports in Pakistan said the government was forced to repay $1 billion of a $3 billion loan it had secured from Saudi Arabia.

Those loans were part of a $6.2 billion package announced by Saudi Arabia in October 2018, which included a total of $3 billion in loans and a further $3.2 billion loan for oil imports.

Media reports also said Pakistan had not received any oil under the deal since May.

In February, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman signed investment deals with Pakistan worth $20 billion, including for a $10 billion refinery and petrochemicals complex in the port city of Gwadar.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was criticized and even mocked on social media for chauffeuring for the crown prince upon his arrival in Islamabad, a move intended to portray the kingdom’s importance to Pakistan.

On August 10 — just days after Qureshi’s outburst, the Saudi ambassador in Islamabad met with Pakistan’s chief of army staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The military holds an oversized role in the country’s domestic and foreign affairs.

A Pakistani government statement said that “matters of mutual interest, the regional security situation, and bilateral defense relations between the two brotherly countries were discussed during the meeting.”


“The Saudis have stood by Pakistan in times of need,” says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States and a director at the Washington-based Hudson Institute. “But Riyadh feels Pakistan is less forthcoming in supporting Saudi Arabia on its security concerns while demanding both economic assistance and political support.”

Pakistan failed to send troops to help a Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Huthi rebels in Yemen since 2015.

Meanwhile, Islamabad is wary of the burgeoning economic ties between Riyadh and New Delhi. Saudi Arabia has become India’s fourth-largest trading partner and the main source of its oil imports, with bilateral trade at $27 billion annually.

In comparison, Pakistan’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia stands at just $3.6 billion.

“The Saudis look at Pakistan as an ungrateful recipient of their assistance, including direct budget support, oil supplied on a deferred-payment basis, and several hundred thousand jobs for unskilled workers,” Haqqani says. “But for the Saudis, India is a major trading partner and they are refusing to play Islamabad’s zero-sum game on India.”

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has expelled thousands of Pakistanis for not possessing valid legal documents, although some observers say the expulsions are the consequences of worsening diplomatic relations.

Saudi Arabia remains the main source of Pakistan’s remittances. Overseas Pakistani workers sent nearly $19 billion home between July 2019 and April 2020, with $4.4 billion remitted from Saudi Arabia alone, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Mosharraf Zaidi, a Pakistani columnist and former diplomat, says the diplomatic row will have “implications” for Islamabad, adding that the government has made “a habit of making bombastic statements about the closest strategic partners of the country.”

“Saudi Arabia is not a casual partner of the country,” Zaidi says.

Najam Sethi, a prominent Pakistani journalist, wrote in a column that Pakistani-Saudi ties had “hit rock-bottom already” and Qureshi’s “outburst is a consequence of this fact rather than a cause of it.”

Imtiaz Gul, head of the independent Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, says the spat with Riyadh is an “expression of frustration with the lack of Saudi support on Kashmir and its close economic relations with India.”

But he says it does not signal a strategic realignment by Islamabad, which has forged warmer ties recently with Iran. “Pakistan will largely remain aligned with Saudi Arabia and the other OIC countries, including Turkey,” Gul says. “The relationship with Iran has been tricky and very wobbly from the very beginning. And I don’t expect it to reach to the level of our relationship with Turkey or Saudi Arabia.”


Pakistani opposition parties and political commentators have slammed the government for its public criticism of Riyadh, arguing that Islamabad cannot afford to alienate its Saudi benefactors.

Khurram Dastagir, a former defense minister and central leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said Qureshi’s remarks were “most unfortunate and ill-advised” because “we have a long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

Dastagir said that “if there are differences, they should not be expressed in the unfortunate manner as said by the foreign minister.”

Farhatullah Babar, a former senator and central leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), told RFE/RL that Qureshi’s statement was “irresponsible, thoughtless, and undiplomatic.”

The Russian and Chinese Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7)

Russia and China Playing Musical Chairs in Zero Gravity

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth article in a series on Sino-Russian defense cooperation organized by the Center for a New American Security. Be sure to read to the first, second, third, and fourth articles in the series.

As SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket hurled the Dragon capsule and its two astronauts into orbit, marking the first human spaceflight from U.S. soil since 2011 and the first ever for a commercial company, Russia saw its monopoly on putting humans in space fade rapidly into the background. Coupled with the return of human spaceflight to the United States, China continues its march toward its own sustained human spaceflight with its Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket and new spacecraft initiative. Russia, who is unique in having close ties to both U.S. and Chinese space programs, stands at a crossroads. Russia can seek greater cooperation in space with China and risk losing technology, or risk losing any benefit it could gain from greater cooperation and still watch China pull ahead. Regardless of the trajectory the Sino-Russian relationship takes, there are significant implications for U.S. national security.

Russia and China currently cooperate in space for material benefit, broader strategic foreign policy goals, and potential military benefits. However, their space cooperation, just like defense cooperation, is constrained by a level of mistrust, the need to protect defense-related technologies, and disparities in economic strength and priorities.

That being said, both countries are united in their efforts to counter what they view as America’s growing military capabilities in space. Both countries are especially worried over U.S. space-based capabilities that enhance ballistic missile defense. This perceived shared threat could lead to greater cooperation in counter-space capability. American defense planners need to not overinflate the threat of Russian-Chinese cooperation, but still understand and plan for those areas where their combined efforts might lead to new capabilities.

Material and Programmatic Benefits

Russia has historically valued cooperation in space in part to offset financial and other material requirements, and cooperation with China is no exception. For context, the Russian space program writ large has suffered from the economic downturn following the combination of a drop in crude oil prices in 2014, and the implementation of sanctions by the West in response to the seizure of Crimea and the subsequent invasion of Ukraine. Additionally, quality control issues led to a significant number of launch failures from 2010 to 2017. While many of the challenges Russia is facing in space can only be addressed through internal changes, Russia can benefit from cooperation with China through program cost sharing. Russia and China renewed their pledge to cooperate in space at the August 2017 meeting of the Russian-Chinese Subcommittee on Space Cooperation with the signing of a five-year agreement from 2018 to 2022. The most recent meeting of the subcommittee in 2019 reaffirmed their support for mutual initiatives for lunar and deep-space exploration, remote sensing, rocket engines and launch vehicles, and low-orbit satellite communications systems.

The space initiatives mentioned above could directly benefit either or both sides’ defense-related capabilities both on the ground and in space. Russian cooperation with China that leads to improvements in microelectronics could directly impact Russian military-related technology. For example, the recently announced initiative to create a multi-part interferometer — used in this case to obtain data on astrophysical phenomena, such as gravitational waves — could potentially provide secondary and tertiary advances in technology that could have military implications. Any military benefits, however, are subject to both sides’ reticence to share defense-related technologies and, for Russia, a concern over Chinese technology theft.

An interesting case study in potential material gain from Russian-Chinese space cooperation is the sharing of Russian rocket technology in exchange for Chinese advances in microelectronics. The Russian Federation has suffered in the field of microelectronics since the imposition of numerous Western sanctions targeting Russian dual-use technologies, forcing it to look to sources other than the West for high-tech items that are suitable for use in space, both in weight and shielding.

China has struggled to develop its own heavy-lift rockets, exhibited most recently by the March 16 failure of its new Long March 7A rocket. Given the inherent challenge of developing these systems, along with the possible impacts of sanctions related to U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Beijing has signaled its willingness to exchange technology with Russia to gain access to Russian rocket technology, and while Russian space officials have suggested there was interest on the Kremlin’s part, the deal has yet to happen. This is in part due to Moscow’s longstanding concerns over Chinese reverse engineering of Russian rocket technology and the implications it could have for the military balance between the two countries. Another constraint is China’s own advancements in heavy-lift rocket design. Despite the recent rocket failure, there is little reason to believe that China will not eventually be successful with the Long March 7A, negating one of the motivations for the rocket-microelectronics exchange.

Strategic Foreign Policy Initiatives

In addition to any material benefits Russia and China may derive from space cooperation, a significant driver of their space programs, and defense cooperation in general, is to further their foreign policy goals as great powers. For Russia, space is intricately tied to a perception of great-power status that extends back to the Soviet Union. The Kremlin sees the current international system as antagonistic to the very idea of a strong Russia. Insofar as Russia’s prominent position among space-faring nations gives it a seat at that table, it will use this position to check what it perceives to be overreaching and hubris on the part of the United States.

Space also plays a role in the growing strategic ties between Russia and China. This burgeoning relationship is arguably driven by their mutual contempt for the United States as well as little opportunity for either country to cooperate with the United States in space. As two of the more developed space-faring nations, Russia and China find themselves in a position of an overlapping space policy that seeks to mitigate and compete with the United States. In an international system perceived to be led by one antagonistic power — the United States — competition in space by the two other competing powers has become mutually beneficial in reinforcing a narrative that offers an alternative to American dominance.

Reactions to U.S. Space Activities

Perhaps most concerning to U.S. policymakers is the potential for direct Russian-Chinese cooperation in the field of space-related military capabilities. Russian and Chinese strategists and policymakers see U.S. policies toward space largely as an attempt to achieve space dominance. In response, Russia and China have both developed programs for attacking and mitigating U.S. space-based capabilities and have sponsored joint Russian-Chinese maneuvers in international fora, such as the United Nations, to limit what they perceive to be Washington’s intent to weaponize space. In particular, both Russian and Chinese policymakers see U.S. space doctrine and space-based defense activities as enhancing U.S. conventional strike and, in particular, missile defense capabilities.

Ever since the U.S. abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001, Russian policymakers have been apoplectic in their view that the United States is undermining strategic stability by gradually undermining the Russian nuclear deterrent via advances in long-range strike and missile defense. And Beijing seems to fear the same. During the Moscow Conference on International Security in 2017, the Chinese delegation delivered a nearly identical presentation on the destabilizing effect of U.S. missile defense capabilities as the presentation by the Russian Ministry of Defense. The logic is as follows: If current trends continue, American long-range missiles and missile defense could combine to make Russia’s nuclear arsenal so vulnerable that Washington might not be deterred in a future crisis.

U.S. space-based capabilities — those in use as well as potential future capabilities — enhance both long-range strike and missile defense. Space-based assets provide positioning, navigation, and timing information especially critical for targeting moving, fleeting targets at long ranges, such as Russia’s road-mobile nuclear force. With regards to missile defense, space-based assets make it possible to detect launches earlier in the process, which makes intercept of the missile — to include Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons — more achievable.

From both the Russian and Chinese perspectives, the enhancement of these capabilities and the possibility of the scenario described earlier are highly destabilizing and threatening, and is identified as an area of overlapping national security concern. One need not look much further than Russian President Putin’s March 2018 speech in which he showcased novel nuclear weapons, whose creation was specifically to curtail U.S. missile defense capabilities, and understand the fundamental and visceral role this fear plays in the Russian security psyche.

Defense planners need to look for indications that suggest Russia and China are moving toward cooperation in the counter-space field out of a growing fear of U.S. dominance in space, and what that could mean for both countries’ nuclear deterrent. It is difficult to say what that cooperation might look like, perhaps sharing an understanding of the U.S. space infrastructure and how it supports long-range strike and missile defense, for example.

The possibility of joint Russian-Chinese counter-space exercises should also not be discounted. Although both Russia and China highlight joint exercises and military cooperation, these exercises are generally for show and lack little interoperability. The same would likely be true of space-based defense cooperation. That being said, if both countries perceive the United States to be surging ahead in space-based military capabilities that threaten their core security interests, it is possible that cooperation could eventually be capability-enhancing.

An interesting recent development was Putin’s October 2018 announcement that Russia agreed to assist China with its early warning system. This cooperation, however, is arguably different than other types of cooperation and could lead to enhanced military capabilities and warrant concern from U.S. policymakers. Both Russian and U.S. nuclear security experts and policymakers have long viewed early warning capabilities, and nuclear weapon-related situational awareness in general, as a key to avoiding unintended escalation, crisis instability, and accidental war. The fact that the United States, Russia, and China value clarity in a crisis is especially important in a time of continued and growing tension.


The Russian and Chinese governments have initiated a number of joint space-related ventures ranging from remote sensing of the earth’s surface to human exploration in space. Yet, there is little direct defense-related space cooperation, although activities such as sharing rocket and microelectronic technology could certainly benefit each country’s military capabilities. The constraints on Russian-Chinese cooperation in space stem from an inherent distrust and skepticism over the ultimate trajectory of the relationship and other matters, such as Chinese technology theft. Should Russia increase cooperation with China, perhaps through sharing rocket and other technology, it could see Chinese space capabilities eventually eclipse Russia’s own programs and contribute to unwanted, expanded Chinese military capabilities. However, should Russia continue to be reticent, it may watch China move ahead without any of the benefits of greater cooperation. Regardless of which direction Russia takes, Sino-Russian cooperation in space should remain a significant concern for defense planners.

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Jeffrey Edmonds is a research scientist with the Center for Naval Analyses. He previously served as Director for Russia on the National Security Council during the Obama Administration, detailed there from the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Saudi Nuclear Horn Continues to Grow (Daniel 7:7)

Why Oil-Rich Saudi Arabia Is Turning to Nuclear Power - Bloomberg

Another Step Forward In The Saudi Nuclear Program

Thursday, 13 August 2020, 7:07 am

Article: INSS Insight

Photo: Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters

By Yoel Guzansky, Ephraim Asculai, Eyal Propper

A facility for the extraction of yellowcake from uranium ore has been detected in Saudi Arabia. The facility, which has been in place for some time, was constructed in cooperation with two Chinese companies. The report comes on top of a number of discoveries indicative of an effort by Saudi Arabia, apparently in the early stages, to test elements of the nuclear fuel cycle, as well as closer cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China. The nuclear agreement with Iran (JCPOA) did not lessen Saudi Arabia’s motivation to acquire nuclear capability, although it made it less urgent. Iran’s waning commitment to the agreement and the less time needed for an Iranian breakout to a nuclear weapon are liable to increase the anxiety in Riyadh, and accelerate its efforts to obtain nuclear capability, including through the use of shortcuts.

Over the past decade, Saudi Arabia has turned to the development of a nuclear program for the production of electricity and desalination, and has issued tenders for construction of the first two nuclear reactors. Announcement of the winners of the tender has been delayed, while Riyadh attempts to convince Washington to waive the stipulation that Saudi Arabia refrain from uranium enrichment in its territory as a condition for obtaining US civilian nuclear assistance. Until now, Saudi Arabia has refused to accept these restrictions as well as to sign the IAEA Additional Protocol. Concern that Saudi Arabia will develop a military nuclear program in certain circumstances and conditions grew after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated in 2018 that the kingdom would act without delay to acquire nuclear capability if Iran does so. Bin Salman’s brother Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Energy, expressed Saudi Arabia’s desire in 2019 to master all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle.

On August 4, 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that a facility for the extraction of yellowcake from uranium ore was detected in Saudi Arabia. This facility was constructed in cooperation with China. Yellowcake is the first stage in production of uranium for any purpose whatsoever: for civilian ends, toward production of electricity or research, and for military uses following enrichment to a high level. This report follows a series of revelations in recent years that indicate an effort by Saudi Arabia, apparently in early stages, to test elements of the nuclear fuel cycle, as well as closer cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China, including in strategic matters. The New York Times reported on August 5 that American intelligence recently issued a classified report containing details of the Saudi effort and pointing to secret cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China in the matter. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson responded that “the US allegation is groundless. China and Saudi Arabia maintain normal energy cooperation.”

China possesses several hundred nuclear warheads, and nuclear energy accounts for 4.2 percent of its energy resources. China currently has 45 nuclear reactors producing electricity, and 12 more are under construction. Furthermore, the Chinese nuclear industry is developing rapidly, and hopes to cooperate with other countries on development of energy resources, plants, and accompanying facilities, even if these countries are hostile to each other, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, and even if some of these facilities are not constructed transparently and do not meet strict international standards. Although China’s cooperation in nuclear matters has strategic aspects liable to endanger other countries, including Israel, the Chinese regard it as an internal matter primarily for the purpose of improving its future energy reserves (including rights to uranium at a low price for the nuclear reactors constructed in China) and expanding the activity of Chinese companies outside China.

Relations on nuclear matters between Saudi Arabia and China have gradually grown closer since 2012, when the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) opened a branch in Riyadh, and the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a legal foundation for future cooperation in civilian nuclear technologies. During the Chinese President’s visit to Saudi Arabia in January 2016, a memorandum of understanding was signed on conducting a feasibility survey for construction of a high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) in Saudi Arabia. In 2017, personnel from King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) visited China for study and training in HTGRs. CNNC also signed a memorandum of understanding in 2017 with the Saudi Geological Survey for possible cooperation on uranium and thorium deposits in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the China Nuclear Engineering Group Corporation and Saudi company Taqnia signed a memorandum of understanding for possible use of HTGRs in water desalination. In the ballistic field, it was reported in 2018 that Saudi Arabia was attempting to develop independent launching capabilities with Chinese assistance (solid fuel, mobile launchers).

Open questions at this stage are whether the detected facility in the Saudi northwest desert is active, what its ultimate purpose is, and whether it is part of a nuclear fuel cycle system containing additional components, including uranium conversion and enrichment, or whether it stands on its own. Another question is why Riyadh, until now, did not publicly reveal the facility, as it failed to do with other facilities “detected” in recent years if, as Saudi Arabia asserts, it meets the international supervisory conditions. Saudi Arabia does not meet the conditions set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for countries that previously declared that they have no nuclear program and that the quantities of nuclear materials in their possession are very small. There is no doubt that if the newly-reported facility has begun to operate, or does so in the future, Saudi Arabia will have to declare its activity and the quantities of natural uranium in its possession very quickly, even if these do not meet the “nuclear” standard.

At the same time, intelligence agencies should take note of possible inter-Arab nuclear cooperation. For example, the United Arab Emirates, which in August 2020 began operating the first nuclear power reactor in the Arab world, has relatively easy access to international nuclear markets. Egypt, which has launched a program for the construction of four nuclear power reactors with Russian assistance and financing, has a sizable cadre of nuclear scientists, while Jordan has substantial uranium deposits (Jordan has signed an agreement to cooperate with Saudi Arabia in this sphere).

Saudi Arabia itself has ample resources and substantial uranium deposits. It is believed, however, that the country will encounter great difficulty in completing a sustainable nuclear project, whether civilian, military, or both, within a reasonable time without large-scale external assistance. Even if it manages to obtain external technical support for its own military nuclear project, it will take many years to complete. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia has connections with various countries that are liable to share necessary nuclear knowledge and expertise with it, chief among them North Korea and Pakistan.

Indeed, Pakistan whose nuclear program was apparently built with Chinese assistance and financed by Saudi Arabia, serves as a strategic buttress for the kingdom, despite differences of opinion between the two countries in recent years. Under certain circumstances in which Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity is under threat, for example, Pakistan is liable to provide it with nuclear assistance, such as providing a nuclear umbrella, transferring and maintaining technical information, training and drilling of Saudi teams in Pakistan, financing and/or cooperating on uranium enrichment in Pakistan, and stationing Pakistani nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia under a Pakistani chain of command and control.

In any case, Saudi Arabia has previously concealed, and is likely concealing now, parts of its nuclear and surface-to-surface missile activity. The ability of the international community, including the IAEA, to detect forbidden activity on a small scale is doubtful, especially given the kingdom’s special geographic and political conditions. Furthermore, there is almost no doubt that the facility’s discovery, which was not initiated by Saudi Arabia, will not be regarded favorably in the Middle East, even if the facility in itself does not appear to jeopardize the countries in the region in any way. Some will view the construction and operation of the facility as a declaration of intent and furtherance of the potential military use of the uranium that Saudi Arabia is producing – and in turn, accelerate their own nuclear research.

A singular feature of the Saudi program is that it lacks no resources and, with Iran’s nuclear program in the background, is moving simultaneously in different directions – commercial, research, and possibly also military – in order to hedge its bets. There is much missing information in most of the relevant spheres, including as a result of the absence of transparency and deliberate Saudi efforts at concealment. Presumably, however, Saudi Arabia has sufficient motivation for acquiring its own nuclear capability. Its motive for relying on the Chinese and others is rooted, inter alia, in its doubts about the reliability of American support. The nuclear agreement with Iran did not lessen Saudi Arabia’s motivation to acquire a nuclear capability, although it made it less urgent, at least temporarily. Iran’s waning commitment to the agreement and the shortening of the time needed for an Iranian breakout to a nuclear weapon are liable to increase concern among the Saudi leadership, and to expedite its activity toward the acquisition of nuclear capability, including by way of shortcuts.

Israel cannot remain indifferent to accelerated nuclear developments in Saudi Arabia. It must improve the intelligence tools at its disposal to facilitate better knowledge about the kingdom’s nuclear-related activities. Despite its considerable shared interests with Saudi Arabia, Israel should also establish a professional dialogue in the matter with its partners in the United States and Europe and raise its concerns with China. In recent years, Israel has to a large extent turned a blind eye to the military buildup by a number of Gulf states – a buildup that erodes Israel’s qualitative military edge. Especially in the nuclear sphere, Israel should now make this matter a priority in order to prevent strategic surprises, including by its regional partners.

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Israel strike targets outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel strike targets in Gaza

A ball of fire rises following Israeli airstrikes on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 13 August 2020. [SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images]

August 13, 2020 at 8:12 am

The Israeli army bombed positions of the Palestinian group Hamas early Thursday in the blockaded Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground reported.

Israeli warplanes struck positions belonging to the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.

No information was reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry on casualties.

Israeli officials claimed the attack was carried out in response to the launching of multiple incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel.

The Sunni and Shi’a Horns Divide (Daniel)

President Trump says UAE to open diplomatic ties with Israel | Newser

President Donald Trump, accompanied by F=from left, U.S. special envoy for Iran Brian Hook, Avraham Berkowitz, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s White House senior adviser Jared Kushner,…   (Associated Press)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties as part of a deal to halt the annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel.

Trump tweeted a statement from the countries, acknowledging the deal. He then told reporters in the Oval Office that it was “a truly historic moment.”

“Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

The recognition grants a rare diplomatic win to Trump ahead of the November election as his efforts to see an end to the war in Afghanistan have yet to come to fruition while efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians have made no headway. Israel and the UAE also have been among Trump’s closest foreign allies.

For Israel, the announcement comes after years of boasting by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government enjoys closer ties to Arab nations than publicly acknowledged. Netanyahu has sought to build settlements on lands sought by the Palestinians and embraced a Trump proposal that would allow him to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank while granting Palestinians limited autonomy in other areas.

For the UAE, home to skyscraper-studded Dubai and the rolling, oil-rich sand dunes of Abu Dhabi, it further burnishes its international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in the Middle East despite being governed by autocratic rulers. It also puts the UAE out first in a regional recognition race among neighboring Gulf Arab states.

And for the Palestinians, who long have relied on Arab backing in their struggle for independence, the announcement marked both a win and setback. While Thursday’s deal halts Israeli annexation plans, the Palestinians have repeatedly urged Arab governments not to normalize relations with Israel until a peace agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state is reached.

“Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter. She also said the UAE has come forward with its “secret dealings/normalization with Israel.”

“Please don’t do us a favor. We are nobody’s fig leaf!” she wrote.

The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, called the deal by the Emiratis “a stabbing in the back of our people.”

The joint statement from the U.S., the UAE and Israel said delegations would meet in the coming weeks to sign deals on direct flights, security, telecommunications, energy, tourism and health care. The two countries also will partner on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economics will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation and forging closer people-to-people relations,” said the statement by Trump, Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the day-to-day ruler of the UAE. It said the leaders had a three-way call discussing the deal.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the deal.

“This is a remarkable achievement for two of the world’s most forward leaning, technologically advanced states, and reflects their shared regional vision of an economically integrated region,” he said in a statement. “It also illustrates their commitment to confronting common threats, as small — but strong — nations.”

He added: “Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov.”

Netanyahu tweeted an Israeli flag with a short message in Hebrew: “Historic Day.”

Among Arab nations, only Egypt and Jordan have active diplomatic ties with Israel. Egypt made a peace deal with Israel in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994. Mauritania recognized Israel in 1999, but later ended relations in 2009 over the Israel’s war in Gaza at the time.

In addition to Trump, the main U.S. mediators for agreement were the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, special Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz and David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

The UAE is a U.S.-allied federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula. Formed in 1971, the country like other Arab nations at the time did not recognize Israel over its occupation of land home to the Palestinians.

“Arab oil is not dearer than Arab blood,” the UAE’s founding ruler, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, once pronounced when agreeing to an oil boycott over U.S. military support to Israel in the 1973 Mideast war.

The UAE relied on white-collar Palestinians in creating its nation. Over time, it maintained its stance that Israel allow the creation of a Palestinian state on land it seized in the 1967 war.

But in recent years, ties between Gulf Arab nations and Israel have quietly grown, in part over their shared enmity of Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Prince Mohammed also shares Israel’s distrust of Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the militant group Hamas that holds the Gaza Strip.

The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency acknowledged the deal, framing it as not just a move that helps the UAE and Israel, but one that also carries benefits for the Palestinians. Top Emirati official Anwar Gargash said the move dealt a “death blow” to moves by Israel to annex Palestinian lands.

It remains unclear what prompted Israel and the UAE to make the announcement now. In June, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the U.S. warned in an Israeli newspaper op-ed that Israel’s planned annexing the Jordan Valley and other parts of the occupied West Bank would “upend” Israel’s efforts to improve ties with Arab nations.

The agreement gives Netanyahu a domestic boost at a time when Israel’s shaky coalition government is plagued by infighting and facing the possibility of early elections in the coming months. Netanyahu has seen his popularity plummet as the country grapples with a renewed coronavirus outbreak and skyrocketing unemployment as the result of earlier lockdown measures.

Netanyahu also delivered a valuable diplomatic achievement to his good friend, Trump, ahead of U.S. elections.

Still, by dropping the annexation plan Netanyahu may be hedging his bets ahead of a possible change in the White House. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has made clear that he would oppose any moves by Israel to unilaterally redraw the Mideast map and annex lands sought by the Palestinians.

Netanyahu also risked criticism inside his own hard-line Likud Party, whose members strongly supported annexation. Netanyahu appears to be betting that Likud members — and the small, but influential settler movement — will agree the peace agreement delivers more benefits than unilateral annexation. Opinion polls have shown that annexation is not a high priority for the vast majority of the Israeli public.

Abandoning its annexation plan changes little on the ground. Israel already holds overall control of the West Bank and continues to expand its settlements there, while granting the Palestinians autonomy in a series of disconnected enclaves. Some 500,000 Israelis now live in the rapidly expanding West Bank settlements.

Next year, Israel will take part in the UAE’s delayed Expo 2020, the world’s fair being hosted by Dubai. A secret synagogue also draws practicing Jews in Dubai. The UAE also has announced plans to build the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, which will house a mosque, a church and a synagogue.

Israelis traveling with Western passports routinely enter the UAE without a problem, though one still can’t make a phone call between the two countries. Israelis also work in Dubai’s gold and diamond trade as well.

Emirati officials also have allowed Israeli officials to visit and the Israeli national anthem was played after an athlete won gold in an Abu Dhabi judo tournament. Israel also has a small mission representing its interests at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi.


Lee reported from Bled, Slovenia, and Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Washington and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.