The Growing Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Expert Uncovers New Chinese Nuclear Missile Sites

Alfredo Cuadros Posted On March 2, 2021

(AP)

China appears to be moving faster toward a capability to launch its newer nuclear missiles from underground silos, possibly to improve its ability to respond promptly to a nuclear attack, according to an American expert who analyzed satellite images of recent construction at a missile training area.

He said the imagery suggests that China is seeking to counter what it may view as a growing threat from the United States. The U.S. in recent years has pointed to China’s nuclear modernization as a key justification for investing hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming two decades to build an all-new U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Hans Kristensen is the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, and is a longtime watcher of U.S., Russian and Chinese nuclear forces.

“Suddenly we see a lot of new silos going up in this training area,” Kristensen said. “So far, I’ve been able to count 16, so we’re talking about a significant investment.”

China’s nuclear arsenal, estimated by the U.S. government to number in the low 200s, is dwarfed by those of the United States and Russia, which have thousands. The Pentagon predicts that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Forces will at least double the size of its nuclear arsenal over the next 10 years, still leaving it with far fewer than the United States.

There’s no indication the United States and China are headed toward armed conflict, let alone a nuclear one. But the Kristensen report comes at a time of heightened U.S.-China tensions across a broad spectrum, from trade to national security. A stronger Chinese nuclear force could factor into U.S. calculations for a military response to aggressive Chinese actions, such as in Taiwan or the South China Sea.

China does not publicly discuss the size or preparedness of its nuclear force beyond saying it would be used only in response to an attack. The United States, by contrast, does not rule out striking first, although President Joe Biden in the past has embraced removing that ambiguity by adopting a “no first use” policy.

“All nuclear weapons states say they only have nuclear weapons for defensive purposes, no matter what their role is,” Kristensen said. “(China is) trying to make sure that this force can function and survive against really capable forces that the United States and Russia have… They’ve decided that their current ICBMs are not survivable enough. They wouldn’t be able to survive an early attack, a first strike. And so they’re trying to expand the number and types of silos they will have in the future.”

Nearly all of the new silos detected by Kristensen appear designed to accommodate China’s newer-generation DF-41 ICBM, which is built with a solid-fuel component that allows the operator to more quickly prepare the missile for launch, compared to the DF-5′s more time-consuming liquid-fuel system. The DF-41 can target Alaska and much of the continental United States.

China already has a rail- and road-mobile version of the DF-41 missile.

“Nuclear weapons are a threat to everyone, no matter who has them. And the international community has been fighting for decades to try to limit the numbers and reduce the role. Now, unfortunately, we’re an up tick where where things are becoming a little more dire again. Countries with nuclear weapons are rattling their swords at each other again, increasing their investments and their their arsenals,” Kristensen said. “So the bottom line is for people who are concerned about this is to become more active in trying to influence their politicians about where we should go. What kind of sane policy we should have in the future.”

US Bases Hit by Rockets Again

Air base hosting US troops in Iraq targeted in rocket attack, coalition says

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

Updated 8:13 AM EST, Wed March 03, 2021

(CNN) An air base hosting US, Iraqi and coalition forces in Iraq was targeted on Wednesday by at least 10 rockets, US coalition officials said.

The Al-Asad air base was struck by grad missiles, Iraqi officials said earlier Wednesday. There are no reports of casualties or damage, and no group immediately claimed responsibility.

The rocket launcher was found in the al-Bayader agricultural area near the town of al-Baghdadi, about 180 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, military sources told CNN. Sabereen news, a pro-Shia militia group, published images on its Telegram page claiming to show the launcher that attacked the base. CNN cannot independently verify the images.

The attack came just less than a week after the US military struck a site in Syria used by two Iranian-backed militia groups in response to rocket attacks on American forces in the region in recent weeks, which was the US military’s first known action under President Joe Biden.

The air base was last attacked in January 2020 by Iranian missiles avenging Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful military figure who was killed by a US airstrike ordered by then-President Donald Trump at Baghdad International Airport in 2020.

Wednesday’s rocket attack comes just two days ahead of a scheduled trip to Iraq by Pope Francis, the first time a Pope has visited the country. The Pope will be staying at the Vatican Embassy throughout his trip, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

Palestinian Hamas calls for all-out confrontation outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Palestinian Hamas calls for all-out confrontation to curb Israeli regime aggression

News Code : 1119859

The Hamas Movement has affirmed that an all-out confrontation with the Israeli occupation state is the only way to curb its ongoing aggression.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Hamas Movement has affirmed that an all-out confrontation with the Israeli occupation state is the only way to curb its ongoing aggression.

Commenting on Israel’s attack on Syria last night, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem described it as part of its crimes and its aggressive behavior in the region.  

“The Zionist entity’s persistence in practicing such terrorism reflects the logic of bullying, expansion and aggression that has accompanied this entity since its emergence and will not stop unless the entire nation engages in an all-out confrontation with it,” spokesman Qasem underscored.

The Syrian army said Israel conducted a rocket attack Sunday evening on targets in the vicinity of Damascus.

Its statement said the attack came from the Golan Heights and that it downed most of the missiles.

The Iran Deal is Dying

Iran Refuses U.S. Nuclear Talks As Tensions Rise in Persian Gulf, Syria and Iraq

By David Brennan On 3/1/21 at 5:51 AM EST

Fresh violence in the Persian Gulf and Syria is ratcheting up regional tensions as the U.S. and Iran remain locked in a stalemate over the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.

This weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for last week’s explosion aboard an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. His accusation came just after Syria reported an Israeli missile attack launched from the annexed Golan Heights at targets around the capital Damascus on Sunday night.

The incidents follow tit-for-tat actions by Iran-backed Iraqi militia groups and U.S. forces in the region over the past month, which threatened to hamstring the multilateral efforts to revive the JCPOA.

The spike in violence comes as Tehran continues to refuse talks with the U.S. over the JCPOA, demanding instead that all sanctions are lifted before any further negotiations.

Netanyahu said on Monday that Thursday night’s attack on the MV Helios Ray vehicle-carrier “was indeed an operation by Iran. That is clear.” Asked whether Israel would retaliate, he replied: “You know my policy. Iran is Israel’s biggest enemy. I am determined to fend it off. We are striking at it all over the region.”

Iran denied the claim, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh telling reporters Monday: “The security of the Persian Gulf is extremely important for Iran.” But Tehran has been implicated in similar attacks in recent years, and international shipping in the strategic waterways off its coast offer Iran easy and high-profile targets for limited escalation and retaliation.

Israel is already staunchly opposed to the revival of the JCPOA, claiming the deal is deeply flawed and will only embolden the regime in Tehran to expand its weapons research programs and use of regional proxy militias. Netanyahu said last week: “With or without an agreement we will do everything so [Iran is not] armed with nuclear weapons.”

But the Biden administration is pushing ahead with its plans to return to the deal despite opposition from regional allies and conservatives in the U.S. The White House and Tehran have both said they want the deal to succeed, but the two sides are stuck in a stalemate over who will take the first step.

Iran has expanded its nuclear program beyond what is allowed under the JCPOA since Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and began applying ever-harsher sanctions on the country.

Iran wants Biden to lift these Trump-era sanctions before it scales back its nuclear activity. But the Biden administration says it will not lift any sanctions until Iran returns to compliance with the JCPOA.

The Biden administration has said it is now willing to meet with JCPOA signatories to find a way to resurrect the deal. The White House hopes the JCPOA can become the basis for a “longer and stronger” agreement placing limits on Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional militia network; two key concerns among JCPOA critics.

The European Union has also suggested unofficial talks between the parties as a prelude to full negotiations. The EU and the three European signatories of the deal—Germany, France and the U.K.—could serve as referees for a phased return to the deal for both the U.S. and Iran.

But Khatibzadeh said Sunday that it is too early for talks. “In view of the recent stances and measures taken by the United States and the three European countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran believes this is not a good time for holding an unofficial meeting on the accord,” he said in a statement.

“There has been no change in the United States’ stances and behavior, and the Biden administration has not only failed to abandon Trump’s failed policy of maximum pressure, but has also failed to declare its commitment to the implementation of all its obligations under the JCPOA,” the spokesperson added.

“The path forward is quite clear: the U.S. must end its unlawful and unilateral sanctions and return to its JCPOA commitments,” Khatibzadeh said.

This picture taken on February 28, 2021 shows a view of the Israeli-owned Bahamian-flagged MV Helios Ray cargo ship docked in Dubai’s Mina Rashid cruise terminal. GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

Iran Upgrades It’s Nuclear Horn: Revelation 8:4

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses in a televised speech marking the annual Quds, or Jerusalem Day, in Tehran, Iran

Iran to install new gen centrifuges at Fordow, Natanz nuclear facilities

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) will install new generations of IR2M and IR6 centrifuges at the Fordow and Natanz nuclear facilities, official media reported.

Within the time limit specified in the law passed by the Iranian Parliament, the installation of these centrifuges will be completed and gas will be injected, Abolfazl Amoui, the spokesman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian parliament, was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Amoui said that, based on the law, the AEOI should also produce 120 kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium within a year.

In December 2020, Parliament passed the law of “Iran’s Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions” which obliges the government to further reduce the obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), unless the US lifts sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

As a result of the US’ unilateral 2018 exit from the nuclear agreement, Iran has surpassed JCPOA-stipulated limits on its uranium enrichment level and on its stockpiles of heavy water and low-enriched uranium.

The Islamic Republic has also lifted JCPOA limitations on its nuclear research and development activities.

–IANS

Israel Keeps the Fight outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Robo-Snipers, Suicide Drones and Robattle – The Story of Israel’s Defense Industry

With its considerable line-up of ‘robo-snipers’, ‘suicide drones’ and ‘robattle’ battlefield robots, Israel’s defence industry is pushing the envelop of autonomous machines with only token human involvement.

In recent years, the use of autonomous weapons has seen a dramatic increase on modern battlefields – and the proliferation has increased international concern over the ethics governing their use.

Israel has established itself as a pioneer of autonomous weapons, specifically with the Harop ‘Suicide Drone’, Robattle wheeled battlefield robot, and Sentry-Tech automated border control machine gun.

The increasing demand for automated weapons comes amid a global revolution in military affairs (RMA), as nations seek to exploit the advantages of offensive firepower manned by tireless machines without the loss of human life.

Suicide drones, or ‘loitering munitiions as they are technically known, are a hybrid between drones and guided missiles. They are defined by being able to ‘loiter’ in the air for a long period of time, before striking a target entering a pre-defined zone, or waiting for human guidance.

— Long Haired Hippie Rebel 🕉 (@lbox327)

Euphemistically described as a ‘fire-and-forget’ weapon, the Israeli Aerospace Industries’ Harop autonomously attacks any target meeting previously identified criteria, but includes a ‘man-in-the-loop’ feature that allows a human to technically prevent an attack from taking place.

Given the cutting-edge nature of autonomous weapon platforms, there is little in the way of international law regulating their production or sale.

Demand for autonomous ‘suicide drones’ is at an all-time high after the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict of 2020, which established a benchmark for the effective use of kamikaze drones against conventional military forces. Throughout the conflict, Azerbaijan made prodigious use of Israeli ‘loitering munitions’ and manned Turkish drones.

With demand, comes opportunity. On February 11, more than Israelis including several former defence officials came under investigation for illegaIly designing, producing and selling ‘suicide drones’ to an unnamed Asian nation.

The Israelis are suspected of national security offenses, breaching arms exports laws, money laundering and other financial offenses,” the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

But for Israeli authorities, the crime wasn’t due to a lack of regulation.

Instead, it was for making personal profit from s technology owned by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). In the same week, Israel made three official sales to anonymous Asian nations.

Is the concern real?

Researchers from the Institute for Strategic, Political, Economic and Security Consultancy argue that development on automation is moving so fast its outpacing the laws that could even hope to regulate it.

To this end, they describe a slippery slope where the role of human beings in decision loops is quickly fading away, with the lack of a clearly defined line over what is acceptable and what is immoral.

— 3rdcenturytakis (@3rdcenturytakis)

Take the Israeli Border Control Sentry-Tech turret currently deployed along Gaza’s border. They were designed to prevent Palestinians from leaving the Gaza strip and entering Israeli territory.

Automated ‘Robo-Snipers’ set up along the Gaza border, designed to create “automated kill-zones” at least 1.5 km deep. But they aren’t merely robotic guns. The turrets feature heavy duty 7.62 calibre machine guns tied into a network spanning the entire border. If any turret detects human movement, the entire chain of guns can train their sights and concentrate firepower on the interloper. Some turrets are also able to fire explosive rockets.

With such overlapping fields of fire, even heavily armored vehicles would be quickly eliminated. The effect on a human body would be overwhelming, disproportionately violent, and would leave little in the way of human remains.

To increase its effectiveness, its automation consumes information provided by a larger network of drones and ground sensors spanning a 60 kilometer border.

Rafael, Sentry-Tech’s manufacturer emphasises that a human operator in a hardened bunker still has to make the ultimate decision.

Barbara Opall-Rome, former Defence News bureau chief, reports that the turret was designed as an automated closed-loop system, without the need for human input, speaking to Wired Magazine.

She notes, “until the top brass is completely satisfied with the fidelity of their overlapping sensor network – and until the 19- and 20-year-old soldiers deployed behind computer screens are thoroughly trained in operating the system — approval by a commanding officer will be required before pushing the kill button.”

The chilling testimony suggests a move towards a slow decrease in oversight over lethal autonomous weapons, made possible by a lack of state-enforced regulation, and international norms that have yet to adapt to the risks and possibilities of modern technology.

Moral challenge

Concern over the development of autonomous weapons is not limited to ethicists. In 2015, more than a thousand artificial intelligence researchers and notable public figures such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk co-signed an open letter to the United Nations, calling for the ban of autonomous weapons.

Their concerns are many. Vocal critics of automation believe that defence companies are building fully autonomous weapon platforms, with only token add-on human involvement pathways, that can be easily removed.

More critically, it’s nearly impossible to externally distinguish between a kill made with human oversight or machine autonomy, blurring the lines of accountability on the battlefield.

The rapid rise of automated weaponry has far reaching legal, ethical and security implications.

Can automated weapons distinguish between soldiers or civilians, and will military conceptions of acceptable risk and collateral damage be coded into their parameters? Who can be held responsible in the event an autonomous weapon makes a mistake? How do automated machines that seek to optimise kill/death ratios and accuracy account for morality, human rights law, and just cause?

Most importantly, is it ethical to allow a machine to harvest a human life without a conscious human decision to do so? For many, a machine making decisions of life violates the concepts of human dignity, while absolving human decision-makers for the burdens of morality and responsibility.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

The India-Pakistan ceasefire is smoking mirrors

Approach the India-Pakistan ceasefire with cautious optimism

For ceasefire violations to sustain in the long run, it means that the Pakistan army has to turn away from its decadal dependence on terror. That seems unlikely

BSF

The surprise ceasefire between India and Pakistan has been the focus of media attention, with breathless speculation on the role of the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, and the ‘secret’ talks with a ‘third country’ involved.

Interest peaked when Moeed Yusuf — a Washington-based academic turned into special adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on national security — claimed such feelers in October 2019, which was denied by the Ministry of External Affairs, only to then deny it just after the ceasefire was announced.

Yusuf chose to portray this as a success of established channels between the director generals of military operations on both sides. That’s rather strange. Most people would like to take credit for major developments. It seems Yusuf would rather distance himself from it.

Ceasefire Violations

The whole saga begins with the 1949 agreement under the United Nations’ auspices, by which a Ceasefire Line was delineated. With some changes this became the Line of Control after the 1971 war. Surprisingly, both agreements held for a long while, with a raft of agreements signed through the 1960s into the 1980s, including the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 and a 1988 Agreement on non-attack against each other’s nuclear facilities, among others.

It was after Pakistan began to sponsor terrorism behind the confidence of its nuclear weapons test of 1998 that the LoC literally caught fire, with terrorists slipping in under covering fire by the Pakistani army. India has since fenced the international border and the LoC with a mix of sensors. But a fence still needs to be guarded, and patrolling along a ‘live border’.

Reasons for violations are as diverse as they are bizarre. Sometimes firings would rise when India’s Prime Minister visited the Kashmir valley, or a foreign head of state was in Delhi; sometimes on religious festivals or Independence Day; or to ‘test’ a new unit. Terrain also matters, and more ceasefire violations occur south of the Pir Panjal where posts are easier to target.

Pakistan also wants to keep the Kashmir issue alive. A peaceful LoC doesn’t deliver that. Sometimes, ceasefire violations have flared to include the international border, when even mortars have been used. That means political complicity, since local commanders have to take clearance.

It’s a complicated situation, but the underlying commonality is that unlike a conventional war — where heroes on both sides are honoured, decades of terrorism (which is the dirtiest of wars) has led a deep hatred and suspicion. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Indian forces tend to view the Pakistan army chief’s “hand of peace” offer with deep suspicion. That in turn will reflect on the hand on the trigger at the LoC.

Border Management

To achieve lasting peace at the LoC that closed loop has to be broken. Consider the joint statement which says “in the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the border, the two DG’s MO agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity and lead to violence”. As seen, there are a lot to address, which can be broadly divided into reasons related to the ground, and the politics of the problem.

Step one, therefore, is to evolve a clear and relatively transparent, clear border management strategy between the two sides. The Karachi Agreement specifies some of these, such as minimum distance between two opposing posts, no new construction or increase of forces etc., while others have evolved over time. There are the ‘hotlines’ at the DGMO level, to the commanders level informally or through flag meetings. Each post has its own standard operating procedures adapted to conditions there. None of these are institutionalised, making it prone to breaking under stress. Putting in place an institutionalised structure should be the first priority. At any rate expect the ‘third country’ — clearly the US — to push both in this direction.

That is the easy part. The difficulty is political will.

Political Will

Past offers from Pakistan to cast the 2003 ceasefire in stone has been linked to a role for the UN in monitoring it — which is totally unacceptable to India. It also raises a withdrawal from Siachin, which is a different kettle of fish altogether, mired as it is now with the Chinese actions in Depsang.

The main glitch which is ‘resolution of Kashmir’ may well be done with, once Islamabad turns Gilgit Baltistan into a full province, thus virtually ending the ‘Kashmir problem’.

As can be seen what is needed is the building up of trust, and what better way than to start an Asian highway across Pakistan into Afghanistan and Central Asia, maybe even China. Islamabad’s mind seems to be running along the same lines. It now says it has shifted from geopolitics to geoeconomics. If that’s true, then the LoC can to be turned into an international border and highway connections opened up.

Nothing builds trust like money. It’s possible. But all that means the Pakistan army has to turn away from its decadal dependence on terror. That seems unlikely, in which case a ceasefire is about as likely to sustain as a bridge built with straw. Certainly, Moeed Yusuf seems to think so, and he should know.