How America Let The Sixth Seal Happen (Revelation 6:12)

Letter: Indian Point Pipeline

Every step of the fossil-fuel process, from extraction, transportation to its end use, burning it, and releasing carbon is destroying our planet and putting our health and lives at risk.

A report released by the Office of the Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Feb. 26 showed how agency staff misled the public and others about the safety of building a massive, 42-inch, high-pressure gas pipeline under the property of Indian Point to carry fracked gas to Canada for export. It’s yet another gross example in a long list of fossil-fuel companies putting their profit before our lives — 20 million lives to be precise — and our government failing to protect us.

In the words of NRC Commissioner Jeff Baran, the inspector general “found multiple significant problems with how the NRC staff analyzed the safety of siting a new natural gas pipeline underground near the Indian Point nuclear power plant. That’s totally unacceptable. The staff needs to explain how they are going to make this right.”

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey each opposed construction of the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Pipeline expansion in 2015, none took decisive action to stop it. Now, what elected officials, safety experts and grassroots environmental organizations have been saying for years has been proven true.

Enbridge Energy Partners, the company that operated the pipeline, cannot be allowed to put our safety in jeopardy for its profits. The pipeline must be shut down immediately until public safety can be ensured. Enough is enough.

Gov. Cuomo should direct the relevant agencies to exert their powers to protect the people of New York state by seeking an injunction to halt the flow of gas under Indian Point.

Krystal Ford, Garrison

In a statement, Sandy Galef, whose state Assembly district includes Philipstown, called for the pipeline to be shut down and the NRC to hold public hearings. “Such reckless behavior demands accountability,” she said.

Trump Confirms the Iran Snapback

Trump: US demands restoration of UN sanctions against Iran | Newser

FILE – In this July 20, 2015, file photo, members of the Security Council vote at United Nations headquarters on the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. The United States is planning a new diplomatic line of attack on Iran after a resounding defeat in the U.N. Security Council….   (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will demand Thursday that all United Nations sanctions be reimposed against Iran, President Donald Trump said Wednesday, a move that follows America’s embarrassing defeat to extend an arms embargo against Tehran.

The administration’s insistence on snapping back international sanctions against Iran sets the stage for a contentious dispute. It’s possible that the U.S. call will be ignored by other U.N. members — an outcome that could call into question the U.N. Security Council’s ability to enforce its own legally binding decisions.

“It’s a snap back,” Trump said Wednesday.

Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to New York on Thursday to present the U.S. demand to reimpose the sanctions, accusing Iran of significant non-compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The Trump administration wants to reimpose all international sanctions that had been eased under that deal. Other nations claim the U.S. has no standing to make the demand because the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal two years ago.

“Iran will never have a nuclear weapon,” Trump said.

Why Will South Korea Be a Nuclear Horn? Because It Can’t Rely On America

A tourist walks past a model display of South [+]

Why Does South Korea Want Ballistic Missiles? Because It Can’t Rely On America

Aug 11, 2020,

Aerospace & Defense

I cover defense issues and military technology.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

For years, South Korea has refrained from developing long-range ballistic missiles. In return, it sheltered under America’s military umbrella against North Korean attack.

But South Korea may now opt to build more powerful missiles that would boost the nation’s own military and space capabilities – and render it less reliant on the U.S. for protection.

“At the end of the day, South Korea has to face the possibility of defending itself without totally relying on the U.S.,” Chung Min Lee, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tells me.

Last month, South Korean officials announced that they had reached an agreement with the Trump administration to loosen restrictions that have limited the power of South Korean rockets. The new agreement, which changes guidelines established in 1979, is ostensibly meant to allow Seoul to develop more powerful rockets to launch spy satellites.

“I cannot go into classified military details but I can tell you that we will soon have many low-orbit military satellites with excellent surveillance capabilities monitoring the Korean Peninsula from the sky 24 hours a day,” Kim Hyun-jong, a senior national security aide to President Moon Jae-in, told reporters.

Seoul plans to deploy five reconnaissance satellites by 2023, according to South Korean media. South Korea already has a space program that has developed several civilian Earth observation, weather and communications satellites, though not a military surveillance craft. Given South Korea’s volatile neighbor to the north, it’s understandable that Seoul would want its own orbital surveillance capabilities rather than rely on Washington to supply satellite imagery and early warning of North Korean actions.

But the problem is that a rocket capable of boosting a military satellite into orbit can also loft a warhead – conventional or even potentially nuclear – on to distant targets. Solid-fuel rockets can also be launched much more quickly and safely than liquid-fueled models.

While North Korea has developed ICBMs that can potentially hit California, South Korea’s arsenal comprises several short-range ballistic missiles. In 2012, Washington agreed to allow South Korea to build solid-fuel rockets with a longer range of up to 497 miles, and a payload of 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds). In 2017, that payload cap was lifted. In March 2020, South Korea test-fired the new Hyunmoo-4, with a range of 497 miles and a two-ton warhead.

For now, South Korean missiles will still have limited range. “Seoul remained obliged not to build ballistic missiles with a range of more than 800 kilometers, or 497 miles, Mr. Kim said, but hoped to start launching low-orbit military surveillance satellites using its own solid-fuel rockets within the next several years,” according to the New York Times.

Nonetheless, the change does enable South Korea to prepare for development of longer-range missiles with bigger warheads. South Korea does not have nuclear weapons, but a 2017 poll found 60 percent of Koreans want a nuclear capability.

Not coincidentally, the new missile accord comes as the Trump administration considers bringing home some of the 29,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea. Though South Korea has sharply increased defense spending since 2017 – its $42 billion defense budget is the tenth largest on the planet – President Trump has accused Seoul of insufficient military spending.

Chung believes that South Korea needs to create its own deterrent against North Korean nuclear weapons. “South Korea defense against North Korea’s nuclear weapons is premised on tailored U.S. extended deterrence, or the promise of U.S. nuclear retaliation against North Korea should it use nuclear weapons,” Chung tells me. “This means that in the end, it’s the U.S. president who decides if South Korea will be protected from a North Korean nuclear strike or threat of a strike.”

“So long as South Korea pursues a non-nuclear posture, it has to have aggressive conventional assets. One can’t deter nuclear weapons with conventional weapons. Hence, South Korea’s reliance on U.S. extended deterrence. But this also means that South Korea is outsourcing its national defense strategy.”

Interestingly, Chung also suggests that South Korean ballistic missiles may also serve as a deterrent against China. “In the event of a second Korean War or another major crisis such as North Korean implosion or regime collapse, the notion that China will watch from the sidelines is very unrealistic. Clearly, South Korea can’t deter China by itself and the U.S. will do the heavy lifting, but South Korea has no choice but to consider China’s looming military shadow as a growing security threat.”

Iran and the Arabian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

The Iranian Nuclear Program as a Catalyst for the Israel-UAE Peace Agreement

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek

August 19, 2020

Map of Iranian nuclear program (2012), image via Wikimedia Commons

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,700, August 19, 2020

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Many factors contributed to the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, but it appears that the primary contributor was Israel’s steadfast stand against Iran’s nuclear program and its military expansion in the region.

Following the Khomeini revolution in 1979, nuclear weapons development became Iran’s flagship project. This effort was initially intended to create a balance of terror vis-à-vis the Iraqi nuclear weapons project, but even after Iraq’s defeat in the 1991 Gulf War and the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime (2003), Tehran continued to develop nuclear weapons as a means to realize its imperialist ambitions in the Middle East and beyond.

Since its inception, the ayatollahs’ regime has dubbed the US and Israel—both of which had close ties to the regime of the deposed Shah—as “Great Satan” and “Little Satan.” With the exception of the Obama administration, Washington and Jerusalem have long cooperated in the effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions and imperialist designs on the region.

The Arab Gulf states, for their part, are anxious about the Islamist regime in Tehran, which has tried repeatedly to undermine their regimes and which covets their vast oil and gas fields. On May 12, 2019, for example, four merchant ships were sabotaged when they docked in the territorial waters of the UAE. Though Iran refrained from taking responsibility, the incident received widespread coverage in the Iranian media, which made the claim that seven to 10 tankers, including Saudi-owned ships, were severely damaged in the attack. About a month later, two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.

Then, on September 14, Saudi oilfields were attacked by UAVs and cruise missiles, an assault that Riyadh says caused a 50% drop in its oil production and that rattled the global energy market. Though Tehran’s proxy Houthi militia claimed responsibility for the attack, Western sources believe it was carried out from Iranian territory. Another source of concern is Iran’s attempts to seize control of the Persian Gulf, which bring it into direct conflict with the US.

These events are somewhat reminiscent of the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in August 1990 after it accused the emirate of stealing oil from fields in southern Iraq. And while the Iraqi army was expelled from Kuwait in early 1991 by a US-led international coalition, there is little doubt that had Iraq’s nuclear weapons program come to fruition by that time, history would have been quite different. Similarly, there is no doubt that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the Islamist regime in Tehran would have far-reaching consequences in the Middle East and beyond.

Yet it was not just the Iranian nuclear threat that led the UAE to a peace agreement with Israel. Though the emirate’s army is considered the fourth most powerful force in the region, both in terms of its warfare doctrine—which it acquired in the US, Britain, and France—and the weaponry at its disposal, the UAE (and the rest of the Gulf monarchies) consider Israel a military and technological regional power whose help and support should be sought.

For Israel, the agreement is a breakthrough of great strategic importance that also contains enormous economic potential. It may also lead quite soon to open peace with Oman and Bahrain as well. For the Trump administration, which brokered the agreement, it counts as a historic foreign policy achievement, which is of particular value in an election year. It also fits Washington’s policy of positioning Israel as a stabilizing strategic factor in the Middle East.

There is no question that the agreement is a serious blow to the regime in Tehran. It is the latest in a series of setbacks—from economic collapse due to US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic through the mysterious explosions at strategic facilities in Iranian territory to the massive explosion at Beirut Port, which might entail far-reaching adverse consequences for its Hezbollah proxy.

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek, a BESA Center Research Associate, is an expert in the field of nuclear physics and technology who served as a senior analyst in the Israeli intelligence community.

US tells Russia the obvious about the China nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

US tells Russia that China has secret and rapidly expanding nuclear warhead arsenal

US demands China participate in any future arms control treaties

Graig Graziosi

Arms control discussions between the US and Russia concluded Tuesday in Vienna, with both countries walking away from the table with concerns unaddressed.

The most contentious element of the discussions involved China, and whether or not the country should be included in any future arms treaties.

US negotiator Marshall Billingslea suggested Beijing had an “obligation” to participate in the talks. 

“It is incumbent on the Chinese upon themselves to recognise that they have an obligation to negotiate with us and the Russians in good faith,” he said. “And we intend to hold them to that obligation.”

The Washington Post reported that the US wants any future deals involving nuclear arms limitation to cover all types of warheads, to include better methods for verifying compliance, and to include China. 

China has treated the US’s demands as an attempt for the US to avoid entering into any new arms reduction treaties, but said it would gladly agree to participate in discussions if the US was willing to commit to nuclear parity among all nations; that is, no one gets nuclear weapons, or everyone does. 

Russia was less enthusiastic about forcing China to join in on future treaties, and demanded that if China were expected to join, then so too should Britain and France. 

The Trump administration claims China has been testing nuclear weapons and expanding its warhead arsenal in secret. 

Mr Billingslea characterised China’s arsenal expansion as a “rapid buildup” and said the country sought to achieve “nuclear parity” with the US and Russia. 

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In April, the US accused China of carrying out underground nuclear weapons tests. 

The US and China both entered into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996, but neither country actually ratified the agreement. China claims it’s adhering to the measures, and the US has had a moratorium on nuclear testing since entering the treaty.

Hawkish US lawmakers, like Senator Tom Cotton – who argued that US troops be deployed against protesters – have used the accusations of Chinese secret nuclear testing to lay the groundwork for the nation rejecting future arms reduction treaties. 

“Beijing is modernising its nuclear arsenal while the United States handcuffs itself with one-sided arms-control,” Mr Cotton said on Twitter. “China has proven it can’t work with us honestly.” 

The Guardian reported that Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, doubted the veracity of the US’s accusations. 

“It is worth noting how thin the evidence is for these claims,” Mr Lewis wrote. “US, Russia and China all conduct subcritical tests … From satellites and seismic stations, subcritical tests are indistinguishable from low yield nuclear tests.”

In May, the Trump administration responded to China’s alleged low-yield tests by suggesting the US would renew nuclear testing in Nevada. 

The idea was criticised widely by arms control and nuclear disarmament watchdogs, likening it to a “starting gun” that would trigger every nation that possesses nuclear weapons to begin testing in order to maintain readiness. 

During the Vienna discussions, the US told Russia it had no plans to continue testing at this time, but Mr Billingslea was sure to add that the US could restart at any time if it so chooses. 

“We made very clear, as we have from the moment we adopted a testing moratorium in 1992, that we maintain and will maintain the ability to conduct nuclear tests if we see any reason to do so, whatever that reason may be,” he said during a June press conference. “But that said, I am unaware of any particular reason to test at this stage,” 

There is added pressure on the Trump administration to force China into a deal because the New START nuclear reduction treaty between Russia and the US is ending next year. If the US wants China involved, it will have to convince Beijing soon. 

On the other hand, if US officials don’t want to enter into or renew arms control measures, China provides a convenient excuse for them to reject proposals without appearing overtly hawkish. 

Mr Billingslea said the US is only interested in extending the New START treaty – and then, only for less than the five-year maximum – if China participated.

How Kerry and Obama Betrayed US

John Kerry’s foreign policy wonderland

Addressing the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, former Secretary of State John Kerry offered a rather rose-tinted history of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

His speech had a simple theme: Where all the world was bright under President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, all is now brutal and dark under President Trump. But this wasn’t an address fit for reality. Take Kerry’s rather astonishing claim that the Obama administration had “eliminated” the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

This will be news to Israel and the Sunni Arab monarchies of the Middle East. After all, the 2015 Iran nuclear accord did nothing to end Iran’s research of ballistic missiles, the key delivery platform for nuclear weapons. Nor did the deal have an open-ended timetable necessary to temper Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s nihilistic ambitions for the long term. Instead, it offered security only for 15 years into the future. And we now know that the Iranians used the time and investment rewards of Obama’s nuclear accord to advance their nuclear weaponization program. As the Biden campaign moves to return the United States to the nuclear accord, we should contemplate for a moment what that return would mean. Because it would mean salvation for Khamenei’s imploding economy and budget-stretched Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran would once again find sanctions relief and billions of dollars to reinvest in its malevolent theological agenda. And its nemesis, Saudi Arabia, as was recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, would find new impetus to develop its own nuclear weapons program. Not exactly a recipe for stability and peace.

Of course, Kerry couldn’t resist but regurgitate the predictable rhetoric that Trump writes “love letters” to dictators while betraying American friends. This silliness misses the nuance in foreign policy. While it’s true that Trump has some rather odd instincts toward certain foreign leaders, it’s also true that America’s allies should be judged on what they do for our alliance rather than what they say. The striking dichotomy between the vacuous rhetoric of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the fastidious friendship of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stands out as an example here. As does the contrast between what various NATO allies contribute to our common defense.

Nor, as he attacked Trump for his Putin affections, did Kerry show any humility over the Obama administration’s record of appeasement toward China and Russia. This bears noting, in that while it’s true American allies sometimes view Trump as a president to be “laughed at,” China and Russia most certainly laughed at the relentless appeasement they earned from team Obama-Biden. On that point, it was always likely that China would prefer a Biden victory over a Trump reelection, and the National Counterintelligence Center confirmed as much earlier this month.

Foreign policy and national security are exigent issues that demand far more attention than they currently receive. Still, the former secretary of state did no service for reality with his trip through the historical looking glass on Tuesday.

Power Fails and Tensions Rise Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Gaza’s power plant shuts down amid Israel-Hamas standoff

Gaza’s sole power plant has shut down after Israel cut off fuel supplies in response to incendiary balloons launched by Palestinian militants

ABC News

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s sole power plant shut down Tuesday, leaving the territory’s 2 million residents with only around four hours of electricity a day after Israel cut off fuel supplies in response to incendiary balloons launched by Palestinian militants.

Tensions have risen in recent weeks between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007. The balloons, launched across the frontier by Hamas-affiliated groups, have set farmland ablaze, prompting retaliatory strikes by Israel.

On Tuesday evening, Palestinian militants launched a rocket from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory, the Israeli military said. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

In response, the army said it bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including “a military compound belonging to one of the special arrays” belonging to the militant group.

Hamas is demanding, through Egyptian and Qatari mediators, that Israel take steps to further ease a crippling blockade it imposed when the militants seized control from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

Instead, Israel has tightened the blockade in response to the attacks, closing the main commercial crossing into the coastal territory and barring fishermen from taking to the sea.

The closure of the power plant further reduces the supply of electricity in the territory, which was already experiencing frequent, widespread blackouts at the height of the scorching summer. Power lines running from Israel provide three to four hours of electricity a day for most households.

“Many services are threatened with collapse if this crisis continues,” said Mohammed Thabet, a spokesman for Gaza’s power distribution company. He called on Israel to allow to allow the resumption of fuel deliveries paid for by Qatar.

The Health Ministry meanwhile warned of “dangerous consequences” for patients in the territory’s intensive care units.

Hamas says Israel is not honoring previous understandings reached with the help of Egypt and Qatar, in which Israel would ease the blockade and allow for large-scale projects to help rescue the collapsing economy.

On Monday, Egyptian mediators were in Gaza in an effort to reduce tensions and prevent another large-scale conflict between Israel and Hamas, which have fought three wars and several smaller battles since 2007. They departed without announcing any agreement.