The Nuclear Horns Continue to Grow (Daniel)

China, India, North Korea and Pakistan expanding their nuclear arsenals

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The global number of nuclear warheads dropped last year, but it seems China, India, North Korea and Pakistan are expanding the size of their atomic arsenals, a Swedish arms watchdog said Thursday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said developments in North Korea’s nuclear program “contributed to international political instability with potentially serious knock-on effects.”

SIPRI said that as of January 2017, nine countries — the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — together had about 14,935 nuclear weapons, down from 15,395 a year earlier.

SIPRI, in its latest yearbook, listed North Korea as not having any deployed warheads but with 10 to 20 “other warheads” which include “operational warheads held in storage and retired warheads awaiting dismantlement.” The watchdog said the North Korean figures were uncertain. “North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear program as a central element of its national security strategy,” it said.

It said Israel has 80 warheads — the same number as the previous year — and noted that “Israel has a policy of not commenting on its nuclear arsenal.”

“Recent steps in the nuclear disarmament field are encouraging,” said Shannon Kile, head of SIPRI’s Nuclear Weapons Project. “The groundwork laid in 2016 has been built on in 2017, with 122 states approving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the U.N. in July 2017.”

“The so-called ban treaty is potentially an important milestone on a long-term path toward nuclear disarmament,” he added.

More generally on global security issues, SIPRI noted positive developments such as the entry into force of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and a United Nations General Assembly resolution to start negotiations in 2017 on eliminating nuclear weapons.

However, one issue remains a major challenge to human security: forced displacement.

The institute said Africa and the Middle East “together currently host over two-thirds of the world’s displaced population,” adding the number of people displaced last year has “increased significantly” to more than 60 million.

Armed conflicts were the main reason for the displacement crises, SIPRI said in its 48th edition of its annual yearbook.

New Jersey #1 Disaster State: The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

States of danger

Kiplinger News

https://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/gettyimages-594752032_master.jpg?w=735&h=474

Disasters can happen anywhere and at any time. But some places experience more than their fair share of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather — so much so that certain locales earn frightening nicknames, such as Tornado Alley. No matter where you live, make sure you have the right kinds and necessary amounts of insurance coverage to protect your finances.

  • Estimated property damage (2006-2013): $26.4 billion
  • Most frequent disasters: damaging wind, winter storms, floods and flash floods
  • Weather-related fatalities (2006-2013): 87

New Jersey earns the top spot on this list, in large part due to damage wrought by Sandy — which had weakened from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone by the time it the Jersey Shore — in October 2012. The state was among the hardest hit by Sandy, which was the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, after Hurricane Katrina. Many homes and businesses were destroyed along the Jersey Shore, and a portion of the Atlantic City Boardwalk washed away. Shortly after Sandy hit, another storm brought wet snow that caused more power outages and damage.

Homeowners who live along the coast or in areas where there are frequent storms should take steps before hurricane season begins to protect their homes and finances from damage.

The Upcoming US-Iran Crisis

The United States is rapidly heading down the path of confrontation with a rogue-state adversary, a potential foe that has proved rational yet ruthless in pursuit of its interests, including the aggressive development of its nuclear programme and associated military capabilities. The rogue state this description best fits, however, may not be North Korea, but Iran.

Although the slow-motion crisis involving North Korea’s atomic and missile programmes is undoubtedly perilous, it still seems likely that the logic of nuclear deterrence will promote a degree of caution on all sides. In the Middle East, however, the Trump administration is barrelling towards a potential conflict with Iran, one that the White House has shown little capacity to handle thus far.

That looming confrontation is being driven by three powerful factors that are now converging. First is the rapidly approaching endgame of the struggle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The defeat of that terrorist army is removing a point of tacit cooperation between the US and Iran while sharpening the regional competition between them. Washington and Teheran are gearing up for an intense political struggle for influence with the government of Iraq. The potential for violence between any US troops that remain in Iraq and the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias that strenuously oppose such a presence will be omnipresent.

In Syria, US and Iranian-backed forces are also coming into closer proximity in and around the few areas ISIS still holds. The middle Euphrates River Valley has already seen clashes between the US military and Iranian-backed militias operating in support of the Assad regime. As the vice closes around the militant group, and its enemies strive to stake out their spheres of influence in a post-ISIS Syria, the potential for violence will intensify.

The second factor leading towards a new crisis is the Trump administration’s determination to push back against Iran’s pernicious influence throughout the Middle East. By the close of Mr Barack Obama’s presidency, there was a widespread sense in Washington – and much of the Middle East – that Iran was ascendant, and that it had exploited Mr Obama’s war-weariness and his desire to reach the nuclear deal with Teheran to push its influence from South Asia across the Middle East.

In reality, Iran’s interest is more intense, and its influence far more pervasive, in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq – which constitute something close to vital strategic interests – than it is in a secondary theatre such as Yemen. But the reality of expanded Iranian sway in the region – and the alarm this has provoked among US partners – is incontestable. Add to this the understandable resentment of Trump administration officials – some of whom served in Iraq a decade ago, and had friends and comrades killed by Iranian-backed militias and Iranian-provided improvised explosive devices – and the outcome has been an increasingly confrontational posture towards Teheran.

That posture has been manifested in new economic sanctions, increased support for and deference to Saudi Arabia and other of Iran’s Sunni rivals, and the willingness to make a small number of military strikes against Iranian-backed groups in Syria. And, according to recent reports, the Trump administration is considering a wide-ranging regional offensive against Iran, to include increased interdiction of Iranian arms shipments headed to client forces in Yemen and elsewhere, along with more permissive rules of engagement for US naval commanders whose vessels face Iranian harassment in the Persian Gulf.

The third and related factor is President Donald Trump’s intense hostility to the Iran nuclear deal. It was only over Mr Trump’s strenuous objections that the US certified that Iran was in compliance with the terms of that agreement in July; there are signs – not least Mr Trump’s own comments – that he plans either to decertify the deal, thereby laying the groundwork for the reimposition of nuclear-related economic sanctions, or otherwise undermine it come the next certification deadline next month.  The likely effect of doing so would be to empower Iranian hardliners, create another serious point of friction in the bilateral relationship, and potentially touch off a renewed proliferation crisis should Iran respond by resuming its nuclear programme.

Together, these three factors are fostering heightened tensions on a variety of issues, and they are creating a situation in which the potential for escalation – in the Gulf, in Syria, in Iraq – is significant indeed.

To be clear, this move towards confrontation is by no means entirely the administration’s fault. It is fundamentally rooted in Iran’s destabilising behaviour; it reflects a predictable return to rivalry as the shared threat from ISIS fades. And there is a reasonable argument for a stronger but calibrated approach to constraining Iranian expansionism – indeed, even former Obama administration officials have acknowledged that previous US efforts have been insufficient. The problem, however, is that Mr Trump has shown little indication that he can undertake such a programme responsibly, or even that he is sensitive to the dangers.

So far, the US President’s efforts to push back against Iran have been ill-considered and destabilising. In May, Mr Trump apparently decided to subcontract the confrontation with Iran to Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies, by green-lighting – whether tacitly or explicitly – their plan for a showdown with a Qatari government whose offences included being too friendly to Iran. The predicable result was a counterproductive confrontation between America’s partners in the region, which has actually pushed an isolated Qatar closer to Iran.  Similarly, even if the desire for a tougher policy is not necessarily misplaced, terminating or undermining the Iran nuclear deal is the wrong way to go about it. Leaving aside the fact that nearly all observers agree that Teheran is in technical compliance with the deal, taking such a step would likely have the effect of isolating the US diplomatically – particularly from its European partners, which would have to cooperate to make additional US economic sanctions effective – while reintroducing a nuclear dimension into the US-Iran conflict. This is presumably why so many of Mr Trump’s own advisers have reportedly argued against his desire to undermine the accord.

It also seems unlikely that Mr Trump understands just how risky the current trajectory of events is becoming. Although Iran has varying levels of interest in the different conflicts and countries in which it is involved in the Middle East, as a general rule these conflicts – purely for reasons of geography – matter more to Iran than they do to the US. For example, the question of who controls the area around Deir Ezzor in western Syria is of tertiary geopolitical importance for Washington; it is fundamental to Teheran, given the critical role that relationships with Syria and the Lebanese terrorist group Hizbollah play in Iranian foreign policy.  Accordingly, Teheran is undoubtedly willing to play dirtier and bloodier than Washington in the competition for influence in these areas. An intensified cold war – let alone a hot one -would be far more fraught for US interests than Mr Trump likely expects.

Indeed, the move towards confrontation with Iran has exposed a fundamental tension in Mr Trump’s statecraft towards the Middle East. As the President has made clear, he is not eager to invest large amounts of additional blood and treasure in a region that has proved so frustrating for America. Yet, ramping up tensions with Iran risks incurring precisely the costs and dangers that Mr Trump says he wants to avoid. An overriding theme of Mr Trump’s foreign policy so far has been the effort to act tough on the cheap. The US President should understand that when it comes to Iran, this approach may well prove costly.

BLOOMBERG VIEW

• Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Centre for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

No One Will Stop the Next Nuclear Threat (Revelation 8)

Sept. 18 (UPI) — A Russian military officer who some credit with making a cool, level-headed decision that averted possible nuclear war more than 30 years ago has died at the age of 77.

Lt. Col. Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov was at the controls of an early warning system in a Moscow bunker on the night of Sept. 26, 1983 — when the facility sounded two alarms that indicated the United States had fired nuclear missiles toward the Soviet Union.

The first alert indicated one missile had been fired, and the second showed four more were on the way. Petrov correctly deduced that the warnings were computer errors.

A couple of factors tipped Petrov off to the errors. For one, the Soviet military had been trained to expect a full-blown attack by the United States, not just a few missiles. The system was also new, and Petrov said he did not trust it yet.

The high tensions between the two countries created obvious pressure for Petrov. His ultimate decision to dismiss the warnings has been hailed as a move that potentially saved the world from what could have been an all-out nuclear war.

It was later learned that the warnings were set off by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds, which reflected into a Soviet satellite.

The incident remained a secret for 15 years until it was declassified in 1998.

Petrov initially received a reprimand for failing to sufficiently document the incident, but he was eventually awarded the Dresden Peace Prize in 2013 — and a documentary with Kevin Costner detailed the event the following year.

Petrov actually died May 19, but his went largely unrecognized until Monday.

When speaking about the story, Petrov didn’t consider himself a hero.

“I never thought of myself as one,” he said. “After all, I was literally just doing my job.”

The Fallacy of a Nuclear Treaty (Revelation 15)

 

With the North Korean nuclear crisis looming large, 51 countries on Wednesday lined up to sign a new treaty outlawing nuclear weapons that has been fiercely opposed by the United States and other nuclear powers.

The treaty was adopted by 122 countries at the United Nations in July following negotiations led by Austria, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and New Zealand.

None of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – took part in the negotiations.

NATO condemned the treaty, saying that it may in fact be counter-productive by creating divisions.

As leaders formally signed on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed as historic the first multilateral disarmament treaty in more than two decades.

But Guterres acknowledged that much work was needed to rid the world of its stockpile of 15,000 atomic warheads.

“Today we rightfully celebrate a milestone. Now we must continue along the hard road towards the elimination of nuclear arsenals,” said Guterres.

The treaty will enter into force when 50 countries have signed and ratified it, a process that could take months or years.

“At a time when the world needs to remain united in the face of growing threats, in particular the grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, the treaty fails to take into account these urgent security challenges,” the 29-nation Western alliance said.

It added: “Seeking to ban nuclear weapons through a treaty that will not engage any state actually possessing nuclear weapons will not be effective, will not reduce nuclear arsenals, and will neither enhance any country’s security, nor international peace and stability.

Rejecting need for nuclear weapons

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz of Austria, one of the few Western European nations that is not in NATO, rejected the idea that nuclear weapons were indispensable for security.

“If you look at the world’s current challenges, this narrative is not only false, it is dangerous,” he told AFP.

“The new treaty on the prohibition on nuclear weapons provides a real alternative for security: a world without any nuclear weapons, where everyone is safer, where no one needs to possess these weapons,” he said.

Brazilian President Michel Temer was the first to sign the treaty. Others included South African President Jacob Zuma and representatives from Indonesia, Ireland and Malaysia as well as the Palestinian Authority and the Vatican.

But even Japan, the only nation to have suffered atomic attack and a longstanding advocate of abolishing nuclear weapons, boycotted the treaty negotiations.

Japan is a top target of North Korea, which has triggered global alarm over its rapidly progressing drive to develop nuclear weapons, following its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and the firing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The signing ceremony came a day after President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies Japan and South Korea.

Nuclear powers argue their arsenals serve as a deterrent against a nuclear attack and say they remain committed to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

That decades-old treaty seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. It recognizes the right of five nations – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – to maintain them, while encouraging them to reduce their stockpiles.

The Ramapo Fault Of The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

Earthquake activity in the New York City area

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although the eastern United States is not as seismically active as regions near plate boundaries, large and damaging earthquakes do occur there. Furthermore, when these rare eastern U.S. earthquakes occur, the areas affected by them are much larger than for western U.S. earthquakes of the same magnitude.[1] Thus, earthquakes represent at least a moderate hazard to East Coast cities, including New York City and adjacent areas of very high population density.

As can be seen in the maps of earthquake activity in this region, seismicity is scattered throughout most of the New York City area, with some hint of a concentration of earthquakes in the area surrounding Manhattan Island. The largest known earthquake in this region occurred in 1884 and had a magnitude of approximately 5. For this earthquake, observations of fallen bricks and cracked plaster were reported from eastern Pennsylvania to central Connecticut, and the maximum intensity reported was at two sites in western Long Island (Jamaica, New York and Amityville, New York). Two other earthquakes of approximately magnitude 5 occurred in this region in 1737 and 1783.[2][3][4] The figure on the right shows maps of the distribution of earthquakes of magnitude 3 and greater that occurred in this region from 1924 to 2010, along with locations of the larger earthquakes that occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884.

Background

The NYC area is part of the geologically complex structure of the Northern Appalachian Mountains. This complex structure was formed during the past half billion years when the Earth’s crust underlying the Northern Appalachians was the site of two major geological episodes, each of which has left its imprint on the NYC area bedrock.[5][6] Between about 450 million years ago and about 250 million years ago, the Northern Appalachian region was affected by a continental collision, in which the ancient African continent collided with the ancient North American continent to form the supercontinent Pangaea. Beginning about 200 million years ago, the present-day Atlantic ocean began to form as plate tectonic forces began to rift apart the continent of Pangaea. The last major episode of geological activity to affect the bedrock in the New York area occurred about 100 million years ago, during the Mesozoic era, when continental rifting that led to the opening of the present-day Atlantic ocean formed the Hartford and Newark Mesozoic rift basins.

Earthquake rates in the northeastern United States are about 50 to 200 times lower than in California, but the earthquakes that do occur in the northeastern U.S. are typically felt over a much broader region than earthquakes of the same magnitude in the western U.S.[1] This means the area of damage from an earthquake in the northeastern U.S. could be larger than the area of damage caused by an earthquake of the same magnitude in the western U.S.[7] The cooler rocks in the northeastern U.S. contribute to the seismic energy propagating as much as ten times further than in the warmer rocks of California. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt as far as 100 km (60 mi) from its epicenter, but it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake, although uncommon, can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from its epicenter, and can cause damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi) from its epicenter. Earthquakes stronger than about magnitude 5.0 generate ground motions that are strong enough to be damaging in the epicentral area.

At well-studied plate boundaries like the San Andreas fault system in California, scientists can often make observations that allow them to identify the specific fault on which an earthquake took place. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case.[8] The NYC area is far from the boundaries of the North American plate, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean Sea, and along the west coast of North America. The seismicity of the northeastern U.S. is generally considered to be due to ancient zones of weakness that are being reactivated in the present-day stress field. In this model, pre-existing faults that were formed during ancient geological episodes persist in the intraplate crust, and the earthquakes occur when the present-day stress is released along these zones of weakness. The stress that causes the earthquakes is generally considered to be derived from present-day rifting at the Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Earthquakes and geologically mapped faults in the Northeastern U.S.

The northeastern U.S. has many known faults, but virtually all of the known faults have not been active for perhaps 90 million years or more. Also, the locations of the known faults are not well determined at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few (if any) earthquakes in the region can be unambiguously linked to known faults. Given the current geological and seismological data, it is difficult to determine if a known fault in this region is still active today and could produce a modern earthquake. As in most other areas east of the Rocky Mountains, the best guide to earthquake hazard in the northeastern U.S. is probably the locations of the past earthquakes themselves.[9]

The Ramapo fault and other New York City area faults

The Ramapo Fault, which marks the western boundary of the Newark rift basin, has been argued to be a major seismically active feature of this region,[10] but it is difficult to discern the extent to which the Ramapo fault (or any other specific mapped fault in the area) might be any more of a source of future earthquakes than any other parts of the region.[11] The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east.[12] This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.

There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.[13]

A 2008 study argued that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake might originate from the Ramapo fault zone,[3] which would almost definitely spawn hundreds or even thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage.[14] Studying around 400 earthquakes over the past 300 years, the study also argued that there was an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault zone into southwestern Connecticut. As can be seen in the above figure of seismicity, earthquakes are scattered throughout this region, with no particular concentration of activity along the Ramapo fault, or along the hypothesized fault zone extending into southwestern Connecticut.[2][11][15]

Just off the northern terminus of the Ramapo fault is the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, built between 1956 and 1960 by Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.[11]

Israel Will Trump the Iran Deal

Dangerous Words Of Escalation: Trump Threatens To Abandon Iran’s Nuclear Deal As Israeli Officials Call For Action Against Iran

Timothy Alexander Guzman

Once again, the annual United Nations General Assembly is taking place in New York City with U.S. President Donald Trump set to take center stage as he is expected to focus on the North Korean Crisis and the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

As the Western media’s attention has been focused on the North Korea crisis (which is also another very serious matter), another development has been taking place in Tel Aviv, as calls for action by Israeli officials against Iran’s Nuclear Program although it’s not a new development (it’s been going on for many years). Channel 2 on Israeli TV reported that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen is calling on the Israeli government to take action against the Iranian government. The Times of Israel reported that “Channel 2 on Sunday paraphrased Cohen as asserting that “Today’s Iran is the North Korea of yesterday, and so we need to act now so that we don’t wake up to [an Iranian] bomb.”

The report also mentioned that other security officials “are warning that Israel should not be pushing the US into another Middle Eastern adventure, given what happened when the US tackled Iraq and Saddam’s ostensible weapons of mass destruction over a decade ago.”

However, Netanyahu wants the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to be amended or canceled.

“Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it — or cancel it. This is Israel’s position,” said Netanyahu in Buenos Aires” the report said.

Netanyahu will meet with Trump and will hold a brief press conference before they go behind closed doors to talk about the Iran Nuclear Deal, Syria and Israel’s future conflict with Hezbollah. The Associated Press (AP) mentioned that the Trump administration has threatened to walk away from the nuclear deal:

U.S. President Donald Trump warned Monday that Washington will walk away from a nuclear deal it agreed to with Iran and five other nations if it deems that the International Atomic Energy Agency is not tough enough in monitoring it

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry quoted Trump at the U.N. agency’s annual meeting in Vienna according to the AP report and said that the deal could either “stand or fail on IAEA access to Iranian military sites, declaring “we will not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal.” Arutz Sheva 7 (www.israelnationalnews.com) also reported on what Amos Yadlin, the Executive Director at the Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies had said about Barack Obama who he claims was not an appropriate partner and that the Trump White House was supportive to Israel’s cause:

According to Amos, Netanyahu did not act before now because former US President Barack Obama was not an appropriate partner.

“In 2015, I suggested the Prime Minister sit with the US government and make a strategy for dealing with this problematic agreement,” he explained. “Back then, Netanyahu said we didn’t have a partner in the White House.”

“Thankfully, today we have a supportive government which understands the threat very well, especially in light of what is happening with North Korea. We can’t let this opportunity deteriorate into simple rhetoric, we need to make a general strategy. We need to fight Iran determinedly in every way, including those not included in the Iran deal, such as ballistic missiles, Iran’s support of terror, and their involvement in Syria. We also need to strengthen our supervision of them and collect better intelligence.

“There needs to be an Israeli-American agreement which supports our understanding that Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, and detailing when and how we will work together to ensure our success”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano confirmed that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitment’s. Amano said that the “the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under (the 2015 nuclear deal) are being implemented.” Amano continued “the verification regime in Iran is the most robust regime which currently exists. We have increased the inspection days in Iran, we have increased inspector numbers … and the number of images has increased,” he said, “From a verification point of view, it is a clear and significant gain.”

Will the Trump administration ignore the IAEA’s statement that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal? Haaretz also reported what Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Intelligence Affairs Minister had said about Iran’s Nuclear Deal:

Intelligence Affairs Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said:

“The first mission of the Israeli prime minister during his upcoming visit to the United States is to demand that the U.S. president suspend, amend or annul the nuclear agreement with Iran,” said Katz. “Iran is the new North Korea. Action should be taken against it now, lest we regret tomorrow what we did not do yesterday”

Israel wants Iran destabilized just like its neighbor, Iraq to weaken its political and economic standing in the Middle East. Iran’s allies are Hezbollah and Syria, enemies to both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iran is an economic and military power which can challenge the U.S. and Israel’s hegemonic power in the region. Netanyahu is trying to influence Trump’s decision to terminate the nuclear deal, which would put the U.S. on the fast track to war with Iran. Netanyahu would welcome an attack on Iran by U.S. forces which would free Israel’s military and allow it to focus on Hezbollah and possibly Syria in the next conflict with help from Saudi Arabia. It’s been a long-term goal of Washington’s political establishment and Netanyahu to realign the Middle East in Israel’s favor. With Trump in the White House, the Israeli’s see an opportunity while the rest of the world sees pure madness.

This article was originally published by Silent Crow News where the featured image was sourced.

The Danger of Iran’s Nuclear Program (Daniel 8)

Why Iran’s nuclear program is a greater threat than North Korea’s

by Shahriar Kia | Sep 19, 2017, 12:01 AM

North Korea’s most recent hydrogen bomb test is another reminder of the consequences of not making the right decision at the right time. The international community’s failure to stop and dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program has enabled the regime to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

A similar scene is developing in Iran, where the only thing standing between a fundamentalist regime and nuclear weapons is an agreement with too many loopholes and no safeguards against threats that run parallel to the atomic bomb.

Both Iran and North Korea are rogue regimes that defy universal values and international norms. In this regard, their shared knack for a nuclear deterrent should not be seen as an end in itself, but rather as a means to an end, a guarantee for survival.

North Korea’s survival is predicated on remaining secluded and preventing others from infiltrating its borders. Its regional and global forays are sporadic, the most serious cases being its alleged role in cyberattacks against Sony Entertainment in 2014 and the sinking of a South Korean ship in 2010.

On the other hand, the Iranian regime’s survival is fully dependent on exporting terrorism and extremism. The Iranian regime has a long history of plotting and conducting terrorist operations across the world and has accordingly been recognized as the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. It commands the widest network of Shiite militia forces across the Middle East, responsible for stoking sectarian violence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, among others.

Since its founding in 1979, the mullah-ruled Islamic Republic has used foreign enemies and wars as a pretext to suppress protests and dissent. Iranian officials have time and again confessed that had it not been for their meddling in neighboring countries, they would be fighting their battles within their own borders, against their real threat and nemesis, an 80-million-strong population that rejected them a long time ago.

Therefore, Iran’s main goal for a nuclear deterrent would be as a token of guarantee to be able to continue wreaking havoc across the region with wild abandon. In fact, according to former officials of the Obama administration, the Iranian regime obtained the green light to continue its slaughter of the Syrian people before ceding its nuclear program.

In this light, Iran’s nuclear ambitions can’t be perceived in isolation to its other threats, and that’s what makes Iran’s nuclear program different from that of North Korea. Regretfully, the P5+1, the countries that negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is formally known, decided to take a compartmentalized approach to dealing with Iran’s illicit nuclear activities. In the process, they lost hold of Tehran’s real weapon of mass destruction — its violent, extremist ideology.

This ideology has already accounted for far more deaths and misery than any single nuclear bomb could. In the past two years, thanks to the economic incentives that the international community has granted it under the nuclear accord, the Iranian regime has intensified its intervention in neighbouring countries. As a result, Iraq and Syria are all but broken states, and Yemen is not far behind.

The JCPOA was supposed to prevent Iran from taking the world hostage with a nuclear bomb. Instead, Iran is now using the JCPOA itself to blackmail the world to cede to its demands. Iranian officials are making hollow threats to walk away from the deal, knowing that the JCPOA has become too big to fail for its signatories. And as a result, most of the countries that were party to the deal are showing a lack of interest in dealing with Iran’s testing of the deal’s limits and activities that have not been explicitly addressed in its text.

The goal of the nuclear accord was to prevent war. While it prevented an immediate confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program, it effectively fanned the flames of several other conflicts. It’s time to recognize the Iranian regime for what it is and address the totality of its threats, instead of creating the false impression of success with a flawed deal that has been one step forward and two steps back.

Shahriar Kia is a member of the Iranian opposition. He graduated from North Texas University. @shahriarkia

The Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

U.S. should worry more about Pakistan than North Korea, says former senator

ANI | Washington D.C. [U.S.A.] Sep 18, 2017 09:28 PM IST

North Korea’s brazen and defiant nuclear tests last week have been keeping the leadership in United States up at night, but, a former senator, Larry Pressler, in an opinion piece for The Hill, has said that Pakistan’s unsecured nuclear weapons programme is even more dangerous and should keep all of us up at night.

A small group of terrorists buys a nuclear weapon from Pakistani generals with dark money and transports it to the port of Karachi in a pickup truck. From there, the weapon is hidden in a crate, cushioned amongst textiles and agricultural products, and loaded onto a container ship bound for the United States, where it could very easily destroy one of our cities. This operation could be carried out by a fairly small number of terrorists. This scenario is a disaster waiting to happen because Pakistan continues to harbor some of the most hardened Islamic militants and terrorists within its borders and because the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is suspect, even though Pakistani leaders insist their program is safeguarded. The dangers of their nuclear weapons program are many: they are routinely moved around the country over dangerous and treacherous roads in unmarked vehicles with few defenses,” Pressler writes.

The former senate then goes ahead to castigate Pakistan and says, “Pakistan’s leaders have essentially blackmailed us into providing aid for the War on Terror with threats to cease assistance in rooting out terrorists in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, we know full well that Pakistan allows terrorists to operate unfettered in large swaths of its southwestern province of Baluchistan and their potential access to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons should keep us all up at night.”

Larry Pressler has served three terms as U.S. senator from South Dakota and is the author of the newly published book – ‘Neighbours in Arms: An American Senator’s Quest for Disarmament in a Nuclear Subcontinent.’

He reiterates what he has written in his book, citing, “Pakistan should be treated like North Korea, like a rogue state. The only reason Pakistan is not a totally failed state is that countries like China and the United States continue to prop it up with massive amounts of foreign aid. Unless Pakistan changes its ways with respect to terrorism, it should be declared a terrorist state. Indeed, the first Bush administration seriously considered doing so in 1992.’

The former senate asserts that “Pakistan’s leaders have essentially blackmailed us into providing aid for the War on Terror with threats to cease assistance in rooting out terrorists in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, we know full well that Pakistan allows terrorists to operate unfettered in large swaths of its southwestern province of Baluchistan and their potential access to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons should keep us all up at night.”

Pressler further says that the “fundamental shift in foreign policy towards Pakistan that appears to be underway” is necessary because “Pakistan will only respond to punitive action that hits where it hurts: in their pocketbooks.”

“I agree with Trump, but I would press for an even closer relationship with India. We must not equivocate. We must decisively choose India as our nation’s most favored ally in the world, on a par with the special relationships we have with Israel and the United Kingdom. Oddly enough, the election of Trump as president might be the best thing for the relationship between the world’s two largest democracies,” he concludes.

New York Quake Overdue (The Sixth Seal) (Rev 6:12)

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Won-Young Kim, who runs the seismographic network for the Northeast at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the city is well overdue for a big earthquake.

The last big quake to hit New York City was a 5.3-magnitude tremor in 1884 that happened at sea in between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook. While no one was killed, buildings were damaged.

Kim said the city is likely to experience a big earthquake every 100 years or so.

“It can happen anytime soon,” Kim said. “We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

New York has never experienced a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake, which are the most dangerous. But magnitude 5 quakes could topple brick buildings and chimneys.

Seismologist John Armbruster said a magnitude 5 quake that happened now would be more devastating than the one that happened in 1884.