Nuclear arms control in crisis: Revelation 16

Nuclear arms control in crisis while US exerts pressure on treaty signatories – The Manila Times

November 4, 2020

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS: Responding to a question, Albert Einstein, the German-born physicist who won the 1921 Nobel Prize for physics, predicted rather ominously: “I do not know with what weapons World War 3will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Einstein, who regretted the marginal role he played in the creation of the atomic bomb, was implicit in his warning of a world going back to a prehistoric stone age — in case it is annihilated by nuclear weapons in a third world war.

With the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons (TPNW) receiving its 50th ratification last week, and scheduled to go into force in 90 days, there is a lingering fear as to the effectiveness of these treaties, particularly when the world’s nine nuclear powers stand defiant or are openly violating these treaties.

The slew of anti-nuclear treaties has, undoubtedly, acted as a deterrent against a nuclear war since the devastation caused by the United States bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, respectively, back in 1945.

‘No first use’

Paradoxically, there is also an often-quoted near-truism that “nuclear weapons have done more for world peace than any peace treaty” — as most nuclear powers have affirmed “no first use of nuclear weapons.”

Still, it did not prevent the emergence of four new nuclear powers since the 1970s — India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel (which has officially refused to admit its nuclear status) — even as four countries denuclearized, including South Africa which disassembled its arsenal while Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine repatriated their weapons to Russia.

And despite these treaties, the world’s major nuclear powers, particularly the US, the United Kingdom, China, France and Russia, who are also veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, have continued to modernize their weapons.

According to the London Economist, the US alone has spent over $348 billion in a decade-long modernization program followed by the UK, France, Russia and China.

“In short, there has been no attempt to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the military and security doctrines of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council despite their commitments under the NPT,” said the Economist back in 2015.

There are also reports that some of the Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are harboring intentions of developing weapons perhaps in a distant future.

So, how far are we from the longstanding struggle for a nuclear-weapons-free world? Is this an achievable goal or a political fantasy?

According to an Associated Press story last week, the Trump administration has sent a letter to governments that have either signed or ratified the treaty, telling them: “Although we recognize your sovereign right to ratify or accede to the TPNW, we believe that you have made a strategic error.”

This has been interpreted as an attempt by the US to exert pressure on signatories to withdraw from some of the anti-nuclear treaties.

Asked whether it was possible for member states to withdraw their ratification from the TPNW, if they were under pressure to do so from other member states, Brenden Varma, the spokesperson for the president of the UN General Assembly referred journalists to the Secretariat and its legal affairs officers.

From the president’s side, he said, the TPNW represented a significant step, and in general, he supported the objective of a nuclear weapon-free world.

According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), the total inventory of nuclear weapons worldwide as of 2019 stood at 13,865, of which 3,750 were deployed with operational forces. And, more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons were owned by Russia and the US.

Upgrading arsenals

Dan Smith, director at Sipri said all nuclear weapon states were upgrading their arsenals.

“And arms control is in crisis,” he warned.

“The strategic arms agreement between Russia and the United States — the last bilateral arms control treaty still standing — must be extended by February next year. It is not surprising that a radical change of direction is gaining this degree of support worldwide,” he added.

Professor MV Ramana, Simons head in disarmament, global and human security and director, Liu Institute for Global Issues, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, told IPS the quest for a nuclear weapons-free- world has been longstanding, since the beginning of the nuclear age to be precise.

“The goal is definitely difficult to achieve and we are not close to it, but I don’t think it is a fantasy,” he said.

Other weapons of mass destruction, he pointed out, have been banned and there is no essential reason why nuclear weapons cannot be too, although this would require far-reaching changes in how countries interact with each other.

“The entry into force of the ban treaty is definitely a step toward the goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons because it allows non-nuclear countries to increase pressure on the nuclear weapon states to get rid of their means of mass destruction,” declared Dr Ramana, 2020 Wall scholar, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies University of British Columbia.

Since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been violated by all the nuclear powers, one reporter asked at the UN press briefing last week, “what actually is accomplished by this?”

In his response, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “ I think the treaty itself is a very important message on the need for total elimination of nuclear weapons, and I think that’s reflected in what the Secretary General said its most immediate effect is that, when it comes into force, which it has [on Jan. 22, 2021; is that the treaty will become binding international law for those States who have ratified it.”

Those States will also have to submit an initial declaration regarding any past or present nuclear weapons under their control within 30 days of the entry into force, he explained.

He also pointed out that the Secretary General is very well aware of the general climate, and he’s consistently called for dialogue among member states so that they may return to a common vision and a path leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

“Despite the differences over the treaty itself, the frustrations and concerns that underlie it must be acknowledged and addressed. In that spirit.” The secretary-general, he said, supports the continued engagement between supporters and critics of the treaty.

No guarantee

Dr. Joseph Gerson, president of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, told IPS if there is hope for creating a nuclear weapons-free world, and thus for human survival, despite the reality of new arms races and possible proliferation, the obvious answer is “yes.”

There is hope, but no guarantee, he added. Humans inherently have free will and the possibility of taking action.

During the darkest days of the Vietnam War, with its massive daily death toll, he said, it was difficult to imagine a day when the murderous bombs would stop falling. But they did.

Generations of African-Americans suffered and courageously resisted brutal slavery and Jim Crow racism, said Gerson.

“It took centuries, but legalized US apartheid was overcome. And I had the unique privilege of knowing and working with courageous men and women who survived Nazi death camps and who resisted – nonviolently and otherwise – the Nazi occupations of their countries.

Their actions, small and ambitious, saved lives and helped to build post-war democratic societies.”

“As long as there is life, there is hope,” declared Gerson, author of With Hiroshima Eyes, and Empire and the Bomb.

Thalif Deen is a former director, foreign military markets at Defense Marketing Services; senior defense analyst at Forecast International; and military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group. He is also the co-author of How to Survive a Nuclear Disaster (New Century, 1981).

The Winds of God’s Wrath to Pound Florida: Jeremiah 23

Eta Forecast to Approach South Florida This Weekend; Catastrophic Flood Threat Continues in Central America

At a Glance

Eta is weakening as it tracks over Central America.

The system may approach Florida with rain, wind and high surf this weekend.

Until then, life-threatening inland flooding will persist for days in Central America.

Eta is expected to have a second wind over the Caribbean Sea, and could approach South Florida this weekend after bringing flooding rainfall to Central America over the next few days.

Eta will continue to weaken as it moves over the mountainous terrain of Central America into Thursday. Catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding could occur in some parts of Central America, according to the NHC. Landslides are possible in areas with mountainous terrain.

Current Information

(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. It’s important to note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding, winds) with any tropical cyclone usually spread beyond its forecast path.)

Eta could eventually dissipate for a time as it tracks farther inland through Central America, but that doesn’t mean the forecast for this system comes to an end.

The remnant spin and energy from Eta are expected to emerge over the northwest Caribbean Sea on Friday. That’s when Eta could reorganize into a depression or storm, as depicted in the latest forecast above from the National Hurricane Center.

Eta will be steered northeastward initially once it moves back over the northwest Caribbean beginning late this week. That’s because Eta will be pushed in that direction by the interaction with the counterclockwise flow around an upper-level low-pressure system located in the Gulf of Mexico, as seen in the graphic below.

That takes us to what we don’t know yet about Eta’s long-term future, and that could hinge on how Eta interacts with the upper-level low.

Eta is expected to interact or even combine with the upper low by this weekend. That could allow Eta to be pulled northward to just south of or even over the southern Florida Peninsula as a tropical or subtropical storm as soon as this weekend.

Eta could then be pulled westward into the eastern Gulf of Mexico by both that same upper low diving southward in the Gulf and an upper-level high-pressure system over the eastern states.

Assuming Eta does get pulled back over the eastern Gulf, instead of simply crawling north across the Florida Peninsula, it would then have to make a final landfall somewhere along Florida’s Gulf Coast later next week, as it finally accelerates ahead of an approaching frontal system.

No matter what eventually happens, parts of the Florida Peninsula could at least see some bands of heavy rain associated with Eta’s moisture as soon as this weekend that could lead to local flash flooding.

Furthermore, the gradient between high pressure near the eastern U.S. and Eta’s lower pressure will generate gusty winds blowing onshore along Florida’s East Coast into next week.

That will allow high surf and dangerous rip currents to increase from Florida’s East Coast to possibly as far north as South Carolina, topping out by early next week. Coastal flooding is likely in some of these areas, particularly at high tide.

The bottom line is that interests in the northwest Caribbean, Florida, and even parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, should monitor the progress of Eta and its forecast.

Central America Rainfall Flood Threat

As mentioned earlier, Eta remains a dangerous flood threat for Central America over the next few days. Here’s the latest rainfall forecast, as predicted by the National Hurricane Center.

Here are where the heaviest rainfall totals are predicted by NHC in Central America:

-15 to 30 inches of additional rainfall in portions of Honduras, Guatemala and Belize, with locally up to 40 inches in eastern Honduras

-15 to 20 inches of additional rainfall in portions of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica, with locally up to 40 inches in eastern Nicaragua

-10 to 25 inches, with locally up to 30 inches in the Cayman Islands and western Cuba

-5 to 15 inches, with locally up to 20 inches in southeast Mexico

-3 to 5 inches of additional rainfall, with locally up to 15 inches in Jamaica

Eta’s Storm History

Eta is the 28th storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which ties the 2005 season for the most storms on record. It’s also the 12th hurricane of the season, which ties for the second-most on record for a year in the Atlantic.

Maximum sustained winds in Eta increased from 70 mph to 150 mph in just 18 hours ending 7 p.m. EST Monday. That’s more than double the criteria for the rapid intensification of a tropical cyclone, which is a wind speed increase of 35 mph or more in 24 hours or less.

At its peak late Monday and early Tuesday, Eta was the third strongest November hurricane on record in the Atlantic by wind speed and just the fifth Atlantic Category 4 or higher hurricane to occur in the month. Paloma in 2008 was the last November Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic.

Eta was the ninth storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season to undergo rapid intensification.

Eta’s central pressure plunged 82 millibars in 48 hours ending 1 a.m. ET Nov. 3, one of the largest 48-hour pressure drops on record in the Atlantic Basin, according to Sam Lillo, a NOAA researcher based in Boulder. Only hurricanes Andrew, Rita and Wilma had as large or larger pressure drops in a 48-hour period than Eta, Lillo found.

The small hurricane produced prolific lightning flashes in its eyewall Monday afternoon, one sign of its intensity.

Eta’s eye arrived along the coast of Nicaragua about 15 miles south-southwest of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua around 4 p.m. EST Tuesday. At that time, maximum sustained winds were estimated at 140 mph, a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Eta was only the fifth Category 4 or stronger hurricane on record to landfall in Nicaragua, the first since Category 5 Hurricane Felix in 2007.

Winds had gusted up to 136 mph near Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, Tuesday afternoon.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasted a destructive storm surge inundation of 14 to 21 feet above normal tide levels near where Eta made landfall. This is roughly the magnitude of storm surge experienced during Category 5 Hurricane Felix in 2007.

Nicaragua and Honduras have seen roofs ripped off of homes, trees uprooted, bridges washed out, landslides and flooded roads.

A man standing on a bridge looks out at the Ulua River in Progreso Yoro, Honduras, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Eta weakened from the Category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm after lashing the Caribbean coast for much of Tuesday, its floodwaters isolating already remote communities and setting off deadly landslides. (AP Photo/Delmer Martinez)

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Iran’s Khamenei condemns Fred Speech

Iran’s Khamenei condemns French ‘support’ of Prophet caricatures

Khamenei says France’s history shows its claims of championing human rights and freedom of expression are false.

Maziar Motamedi3 Nov 2020

Khamenei said the French government should have expressed condolences over the murder of teacher Samuel Paty, but allowing caricatures to be published was wrong [File:AP]

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has condemned France and other European governments for supporting the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and has rejected their claims of defending freedom of expression.

In a televised speech on Tuesday to mark the Prophet’s birthday, Khamenei denounced the “bitter and ugly” official support behind caricatures published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“This is not just a downfall of French art, this is the politics of a government that is supporting this wrong act. This is a political figure who explicitly supports this,” Khamenei said, in an apparent reference to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Citing freedom of expression, French and European leaders have backed the right to publish caricatures of the Prophet, who is deeply revered by Muslims and whose visual depiction is forbidden in Islam.

The caricatures were cited as the reason behind a deadly attack launched on the magazine’s offices in early 2015 by al-Qaeda-linked fighters.

Last month, French teacher Samuel Paty was murdered in broad daylight near his school in a Paris suburb after he showed the caricatures to his students as part of a discussion on freedom of expression.

Khamenei on Tuesday said the French government should have expressed support and condolences for the murder victim, but allowing the caricatures to be published was wrong.

“They say a person has been killed. Well, express condolences and kindness for him. Why do you explicitly support that vile caricature?”

The supreme leader also supported Muslim anger and protests over the row, saying it shows they are “alive”.

Muslims around the world have also shown their indignation over Macron’s recent comments in which he said Islam is a “religion in crisis“.

Muslim leaders have criticised the remarks, people have protested and a campaign to boycott French goods has been launched in several countries.

In Iran, a public protest was held in front of the French embassy in Tehran’s Neauphle-le-Chateau street on October 28.

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera last week, Macron said he understands and respects the feelings of Muslims, but added that he is trying to fight a “radical Islam” that is a threat to all, especially Muslims.

He also said the caricatures “are not a governmental project” and have “emerged from free and independent newspapers that are not affiliated with the government”.

‘Two sides of the same coin’

In his Tuesday speech, Khamenei rejected claims by French and European leaders that they are defending freedom of expression and human rights.

“The French government’s politics are the same that provides refuge to some of the most savage and violent terrorists in the world,” he said in an apparent reference to the members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK).

The MEK, which is deemed a “terrorist” organisation by Iran, has headquarters in Paris and in other European countries. The organisation, which advocates regime change in Iran, was on the United States’s terror list from 1997 to 2012.

Moreover, Khamenei said, France was one of the Western nations that provided the most financial and material support to “blood-thirsty wolf” Saddam Hussein.

Hussein, the former leader of Iraq, invaded Iran in 1980, shortly after the revolution of 1979 in a bid to depose the newly-formed Islamic republic. The ensuing Iran-Iraq War lasted for eight years and led to hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides.

“These are the two sides of the same coin. Supporting cultural savagery and the criminal act of a caricaturist is the other side of the coin of defending [MEK] and Saddam,” Khamenei said.

He said this revealed the “dark nature of Western culture” and a “savage civilisation” that masks itself using modern appearances and science and technological advances.

Khamenei’s comments come after all the top officials and organisations in Iran condemned French and European support of the caricatures and Macron’s comments.

Last week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani denounced France’s treatment of Islam, saying Western support for the cartoons was unethical and insulting to Muslims.

“Insulting the prophet is insulting all Muslims. Insulting the prophet is insulting all prophets, human values, and amounts to undermining ethics,” he said.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said France is “fuelling extremism” with such acts, with his ministry summoning the French chargé d’affaires to formally protest against Macron’s remarks.

Fighter: Violent Escalation Outside the Temple Walls Inevitable: Revelation 11

Fighter: Violent Escalation With Israel Inevitable

November 3, 2020

[Gaza — The Media Line] There is growing tension and concern of a new escalation of violence between Hamas in Gaza and Israel after the deadline given by Hamas two months ago requiring Israel to fulfill Palestinian demands as part of a truce passed on Sunday.

In late August, Egyptian and Qatari negotiators succeeded in reaching a conditional truce agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, ending a round of violence that began in early August in protest of harsh conditions on Gaza.

As part of the understandings, Hamas agreed to suspend its border attacks in exchange for Israel allowing an increase in financial support to the Strip provided by Qatar in the form of humanitarian aid, in addition to implementing projects aimed at reducing the unemployment rate and solving the problem of frequent power cuts.

Hamas has accused Israel of neglecting most of the Palestinian demands and has threatened to robustly respond if it continues.

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said in a statement on Wednesday that “the occupation insists on maintaining the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, isolating Palestinian people in the West Bank, continuing the Judaization of Jerusalem, and building settlements.”

Al-Hayya confirmed that his movement “will no longer endure the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” signaling the possibility of a further escalation in violence.

A similar concern has been reported in Israeli media, including a report in the daily Haaretz, which quoted defense officials as being concerned about a “possible escalation in tensions with the Gaza Strip in the near future, perhaps even as early as the US presidential election on Tuesday.”

The Haaretz report noted that “Hamas is also frustrated at the slow pace of Israel’s implementation of steps it had agreed to in understandings achieved through Egyptian mediation. According to these understandings, Israel was to have lifted restrictions holding up Gaza infrastructure projects.”

“So far, Israel has not eased these restrictions,” Haaretz reported.

“Again, the Israeli occupation is trying to retract from all commitments aiming at mitigating the catastrophic conditions of the Strip especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic and with the huge numbers of infected cases and the collapse of the [Gaza] health system.”

Nael Abuowdeh, Gaza-based head of the political bureau of the Almujahideen Palestinian movement, told The Media Line that “again, the Israeli occupation is trying to retract from all commitments aiming at mitigating the catastrophic conditions of the Strip especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic and with the huge numbers of infected cases and the collapse of the [Gaza] health system.”

Abuowdeh continued: “Given such procrastination, the public resistance sent several messages, 20 days ago, by launching waves of incendiary balloons toward the border areas to tell the occupation that we will not accept further prevarication nor imposing a new equation.”

“We are waiting for the green light from the higher leadership that if Israel continues to ignore our demands, violent escalation will be inevitable. All units will be on full alert and we will start firing incendiary balloons toward the border areas of the enclave.”

Abu Malek, the spokesperson of Ahfad Al-Nasser, the incendiary balloons unit in Gaza, told The Media Line that “we are in the process of preparing for the next stage.”

He added: “We are waiting for the green light from the higher leadership that if Israel continues to ignore our demands, violent escalation will be inevitable. All units will be on full alert and we will start firing incendiary balloons toward the border areas of the enclave.”

With the challenge of the coming winter’s rainy weather, Abu Malek said that the unit will use new firing methods, such as an explosive charge that has the effect of a rocket.

Abuowdeh suggested that there will be a dramatic and gradual escalation of public resistance activities beginning with launching balloons and up to a “military confrontation with the Israeli occupation.”

Most of the current indications support that theory; however, some observers are more optimistic.

“Everyone, including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, is waiting for the results of the US presidential election.”

Mkhaimar Abusada, associate professor of political sciences at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, believes that none of the parties is concerned about an escalation, for several reasons.

“First of all, everyone, including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, is waiting for the results of the US presidential election … and none is concerned with provoking tension until things get sorted out,” Abusada told The Media Line.

He continued: “Israel has fulfilled some of the demands regarding providing facilitation over the past two months. It allowed fishermen to work within 15 nautical miles, and the Kerem Shalom crossing border remained open, allowing the entrance of more goods.”

For Abusada, lifting the Israeli blockade and fulfilling Palestinian demands is closely tied to achieving progress in a prisoner swap deal between the two sides, which is unlikely to happen now.

Hamas has held two Israeli civilians in Gaza for five years, and is also believed to be holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza war.

“There is a strong pressure by the right and by the soldiers’ families on [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu to halt any facilitation for Hamas in order to reach a swap deal. However, the process is taking place at a very slow pace,” Abusada said.

The Asian Nuclear Threat: Daniel

The

COLUMNBEGIN-SADAT CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES

DANY SHOHAM

The quadruple threat: North Korea, China, Pakistan and Iran

The vast, uninterrupted territory containing the four countries has greater geostrategic importance today than ever before

November 2, 2020 / BESA Center)

A meeting took place on Sept. 8 between Mojtaba Zolnouri, the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, and North Korean Ambassador to Iran Han Sung-joo. The meeting was held to discuss the launch of financial and barter networks between the two countries. U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams responded by saying, “We are very concerned about Iran’s cooperation with North Korea. …We will be watching the cooperation with North Korea very carefully and doing what we can to prevent it.”

A senior U.S. administration official who preferred to remain anonymous recently said that “Iran and North Korea have resumed cooperation in the framework of a project on long-range missiles that includes the transfer of core components,” a venture that is subject to interpretation. A “transfer of core components” might well extend beyond items related to solely conventional-warhead-carrying missiles. No matter what it will in fact entail, the transfer will likely be insufficiently monitored due to the parties’ ability to make untraceable transfers on land across their contiguous territories. Non-commercial transportation flights along the same uninterrupted corridor are also not easily monitored.

The other two countries in the contiguous nexus, China and Pakistan, are not likely to interfere. On the contrary: they are essential parts of the complex.

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North Korea

The Pyongyang regime is an unpredictable and often indecipherable tyranny, and a proliferator of WMDs plus ballistics expertise and components. It is a threatening element for the following reasons:

• It managed to avoid any agreement with the United States regarding its development of ballistic and nuclear capabilities.

• It possesses nuclear, biological and chemical weapon arsenals.

• It may be actively assisting the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

• There is a concealed terrestrial interface between North Korea and Pakistan via China. Intelligence satellites have detected that the Karakoram Highway has been used to supply illicit nuclear material and dual-use items for missiles.

• North Korea has been increasingly close to China since 2018, especially after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang in June 2019.

• In August 2019, Kim Su-gil, director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, visited Beijing to meet with Zhang Youxia, the second-ranked vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. Zhang told Kim that the delegation’s visit was of “crucial significance in bilateral exchange.”

North Korea shares an 880-mile land border with China.

A new long-range missile was recently displayed by North Korea during its 75th-anniversary military parade. This missile, together with its heavily modified TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher), appear to represent a quantum leap beyond Pyongyang’s Hwasong-15 ballistic missile. It is unlikely that North Korea attained these upgraded capacities without assistance.

China

China is a matter of serious concern for these reasons:

• It possesses nuclear, biological and chemical weapon arsenals. Its biological weapons arsenal is the most advanced in the world.

• It strives to match and eventually surpass the West, both scientifically and technologically.

• It is a “great pretender” that is inclined to overshadow competitors, including friendly competitors, in all fields,

• Globally, it seeks to attain a geostrategic position through which it can exercise definitive, if largely unseen, influence upon international bodies. One example is its current interface with the World Health Organization.

• It has boundless ambition: It is pursuing hegemony in Asia (and beyond) through economic and military predominance. Two outcomes are the remarkable support lent by China to North Korea and Iran (essentially against the United States) and to Pakistan (essentially against India).

China shares a 368-mile land border with Pakistan.

Pakistan

Pakistan is:

• In possession of nuclear, biological and chemical weapon arsenals.

• The only Muslim country to possess a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

• Reportedly collaborating with and being assisted by China in the development and field testing of biological-warfare agents.

China is an important source of Pakistan’s missile technology.

Islamabad’s tight military cooperation with Beijing consists mainly of purchasing attack submarines and developing fighter jets, with the addition of other faculties under so-called “scientific” frameworks. Military-to-military cooperation between the countries has strengthened in recent years, with Pakistani military personnel being trained in Chinese military institutions. The two countries often conduct joint military exercises.

Pakistan has a 596-mile land border with Iran, a link that remains useful despite the fact that existing Pakistani interfaces are complex and in some cases substandard. The Pakistani-Iranian border represents the final western terrestrial passage to and from Iran along the uninterrupted quadruple territory under discussion (irrespective of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project and the overland Silk Road Economic Belt project).

The German report

In June 2020, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution for the German state of Baden-Württemberg issued a report for the year 2019 that provided an explication of the illicit North Korea-Pakistan-China relationship. With reference to the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs of North Korea and Pakistan, the report states:

“They aim to complete existing arsenals, perfect the range, deployability and effectiveness of their weapons and develop new weapons systems. They are trying to obtain the necessary products and relevant knowhow through illegal procurement efforts in Germany. In order to circumvent existing export restrictions and embargoes, risk states must constantly develop and optimize their procurement methods. To conceal the actual end user, they can procure goods in Germany and Europe with the help of specially established cover companies and, in particular, transport dual-use goods to risk states. Typical bypass countries include Turkey and China.”

Additionally, of course, single-use “goods” related to WMDs are clandestinely transported internally along the North Korea-China-Pakistan axis.

Iran

Iran can certainly be added to the extensively Chinese-supported duo of North Korea and Pakistan, with one key difference: Iran is the only one of the four to still be without nuclear weapons, though it is in active pursuit of them. On Oct. 16, the Iranian opposition group The National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed the existence of a secret facility in Sorkheh Hessar, east of Tehran, for producing nuclear weapons.

Iran possesses biological and chemical weapons arsenals, is upgrading its ballistic capabilities, fosters relations with North Korea and China and keeps its land border with Pakistan safe and exploitable for transportation. Moreover, to the west, Iran is endeavoring to construct a sound terrestrial bridge to Syria (and Lebanon) through Iraq, which would significantly lengthen the transportation axis of the uninterrupted quadruple territory.

Finally, on the military level, Iran and China recently tentatively agreed to extend their joint research and development of weapons, intelligence sharing and joint training plus exercises. This is in parallel to their intention to form a broad and long-term logistical and economic cooperation. China stands to attain a great many footholds in Iran.

The Islamic regime in Iran has always been a radically oriented disguised tyranny, the deeds of which were often marked by elegance and sophistication. The disguise has at last begun to disintegrate, even in the eyes of inexplicably sympathetic European countries. Iran’s bonding with China could prove disastrous, particularly within the context of the uninterrupted quadruple territory.

The geostrategic importance of the belt comprising the four contiguous countries is increasing. This meaningful trend is basically independent of the new overland Silk Road and maritime Silk Road. The quadruple belt should be monitored closely to avoid the coalescing of the four countries into a formidable bloc.

While the territory comprising North Korea, China, Pakistan and Iran might form a cardinal unified factor within the geostrategic system of the eastern hemisphere (and beyond), the interactions of China and Iran with Israel are meaningful in the region. Two remarkable examples—if not directly connected to the above—are the recent Iranian cyberattack on Israel’s water infrastructure, which aimed to destabilize the chlorine level and poison the country’s citizens; and the approaching operational management of the port of Haifa’s New Bay Terminal—not far from Haifa Naval Base, which houses Israeli submarines, missile boats and other vessels—by the Shanghai government-owned SIPG, from 2021 to 2046.

If China finds that it needs to prioritize between Iran and Israel—an entirely conceivable scenario—it will favor Iran, no matter what the context.

IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham, a microbiologist and an expert on chemical and biological warfare in the Middle East, is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He is a former senior intelligence analyst in the IDF and the Israeli Defense Ministry.

This article was first published by the Begin-Sadat Center for strategic Studies