Obama’s Great Error in Judgment (2 Kings 24)

pic_giant_022615_SM_Obama-Iran-DealObama will rue the day he made the Iran nuclear deal

September 1, 2017 4:22 PM

Antichrist Protects Iraq’s Borders

The Iraqi Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. File photo.

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Shia cleric and militancy leader Muqtada al-Sadr has urged the Iraqi government to ensure protection for its borders with Syria after a controversial deal between Islamic State militants and Lebanese militia Hezbollah helped the group redeploy there.
“The Iraqi government is required to secure the borders with Syrian al-Boukamal region,” Sadr tweeted on Thursday. “We are fully prepared to cooperate with it (the government)”.
A deal between Hezbollah and Islamic State fighters, approved by the Syrian government, has gone into force, granting IS militants a safe exit from the Syrian-Lebanese borders towards the Syrian Al-Boukamal city, near the borders with Iraq’s Anbar.
Baghdad has lambasted the agreement, saying it endangers its security. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for an investigation by Damascus into the controversial deal.
Speaking to Alsumaria News, Naeem al-Kaoud, chairman of the Anbar province’s security committee, said IS had already deployed members coming from Syria at the province’s western areas. “Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist group has deployed a large number of their fighters coming from Syria at the towns of Annah, Rawa and Qaim”. He deemed the situation “violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”.
IS has held the three towns since 2014, and the government marks them as future targets of its military action seeking to end the group’s existence.

Preparing for War with Iran (Daniel)

Image result for iran deal
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton has a plan to pull out of the Iran deal. It’s bad.
Updated by Zeeshan Aleem@ZeeshanAleemzeeshan.aleem@vox.com Aug 29, 2017, 2:40pm EDT
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations and uber-hawk John Bolton says that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon asked him to draw up a plan for how to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in July. But after the White House ejected Bannon in August, Bolton lost access to the administration and his plan never made it to Trump’s desk.
Now he’s decided to publish his plan publicly, and it’s … not very good.
The five-page memo is basically a strategic public relations campaign to convince the world that the US has a case for pulling out of the deal. That case hinges on one central claim: that Iran is clearly violating the deal and has thus rendered it a meaningless agreement.
But experts say that this claim isn’t grounded in evidence, and that Iran is meeting international standards in complying with the deal’s requirements for inspections and monitoring.
Bolton’s argument, they say, simply assumes that Iran has nefarious intentions to build nuclear weapons despite the absence of any proof. And some analysts warn that his argument suffers from the same kind of war-hungry reasoning that led the US to invade Iraq on questionable evidence in 2003.
“There’s a lot of talk of Iran’s noncompliance with the deal, but there isn’t a lot of evidence of Iran’s noncompliance,” Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told me. “That’s sort of how Iraq happened, where the Bush administration said, ‘Let’s go find the evidence of weapons of mass destruction,’ rather than asking, ‘Does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction or not?’”
There’s no compelling evidence that Iran is violating the deal
In 2015, the Obama administration and its allies struck the nuclear deal with Iran, which called for lifting punishing Western economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.
The accord helped cool rising tensions between the US and Iran, which could possibly have led to yet another US military intervention in the Middle East. Tehran has already received tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for shipping out a large chunk of its enriched uranium and taking thousands of centrifuges offline.
In his memo, Bolton asserts that Iran’s “outright violations” of the terms of the deal give the US license to scrap the deal and reimpose crippling economic sanctions on the country unilaterally.
But experts say there is no evidence of Iran refusing to comply with the deal in substantial ways.
“Washington’s partners in the deal and the European Union have all clearly stated that Iran is complying with the deal, and more importantly, the US intelligence community is pointing to Iran’s compliance with the agreement,” Kelsey Davenport, the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, told me.
“Based on the evidence that’s been presented to the intelligence community, it appears that Iran is in compliance with the rules that were laid out in the JCPOA,” Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress in July.
In the runup to the invasion of Iraq, Bolton served as the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Bush administration. Both Davenport and Lewis point out that he was a key player in pushing for the war based on cherry-picked intelligence suggesting that Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
“Bolton was pretty central to that and he’s replicating that experience,” Lewis said.
In addition to his concerns about compliance, Bolton also points out that Iran’s international behavior is strategically at odds with the US’s. Iran backs militant groups like Hezbollah and others that threaten US allies in the Middle East.
But that conduct is not prohibited by the agreement, and it’s unclear how pulling out of the Iran deal would allow the US to rein in Tehran.
Davenport points out that there are “clear signals that Washington’s partners are not interested in going along with Trump’s plan to exit the deal.”
Why does that matter? If the US is the only one one to scrap the deal and decides to reimpose sanctions, then its penalties won’t have much bite. It was the combined force of the international community’s isolation of Iran that suffocated its economy and made it inclined to curb its program and negotiate for relief.
Parties to the deal, like France and China, have already begun to do business with Iran again. They’re not eager to reverse that without good cause.
So if the US pulls out of the Iran deal when Iran is in fact complying with it, the other parties to the deal have little reason to join the US in dropping it as well and restarting sanctions. Iran would then be in a better position to pursue nuclear weapons than it was before the deal was struck.

The Nuclear Bombs of Babylon the Great (Daniel 8)

America just tested ‘the most dangerous nuclear bomb ever made’
Rob WaughRob Waugh for Metro.co.uk
Wednesday 30 Aug 2017 11:17 am
As nuclear tensions rise on the Korean peninsula, America is busy at home – testing the B61-12 nuclear weapon, described as ‘the most dangerous ever’.
No ‘decisive progress’ has been made in recent Brexit talks, says EU official
The gravity bomb has been described as uniquely dangerous not because of its payload – which is equivalent to 50,000 kilotons of TNT – but because it’s accurate to around 90 feet.
The accuracy means it’s far more lethal, according to military experts – despite the relatively small yield.
The bomb tested this week was not armed, of course (that would violate nuclear treaties) – but non-nuclear test assemblies were dropped from an F-15E based at Nellis Air Force Base.
The test evaluated the weapon’s non-nuclear functions and the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon.
Donald Trump has previously spoken out about his desire to modernise America’s nuclear arsenal.
‘The B61-12 life extension program is progressing on schedule to meet national security requirements,’ said Phil Calbos, acting NNSA deputy administrator for Defense Programs.
The B61-12 consolidates and replaces four B61 bomb variants in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.

Preparing for World War 3 (Revelation 15)

Could World War 3 actually happen? How nuclear weapons and escalating tensions could spark the next global conflict

By Neal Baker, Tom Gillespie and Mark Hodge

GLOBAL tensions between many of the world’s nuclear powers have continued to escalate in recent months — sending fears of a fresh major conflict skyrocketing.

With Kim Jong-un continuing his and North Korea’s sabre-rattling with a series of missile launches and ever-escalating threats to the US – are these indications of a looming World War?

 Donald Trump's relations with Russia and North Korea have become increasingly strained

Getty Images
Donald Trump’s relations with Russia and North Korea have become increasingly strained

Donald Trump launched supersonic B-1B bombers from Guam airbase and warned “America WILL be defended” as North Korea threatened to attack the US naval outpost.
In a blatant show of strength two US Air Force B-1B fighter jets took off from the US base alongside bombers from Japan and South Korea.
The military drills came before the secretive state announced it is “carefully examining” a plan to target the West Pacific outpost.
The rogue state had made the terrifying revelation just hours after US President Donald Trump vowed to meet any threats against America with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen”.
Later it was announced the trigger happy tyrant was planning on simultaneously firing FOUR Hwasong-12 intermediate range missiles at the US territory of Guam by next week.
Thankfully, North Korea backed down from the brink of triggering a nuclear war, announcing it would wait to see what the “foolish yankees” would do first.
Donald Trump praised it as a “very wise and well reasoned decision”.
Hostility between the two nations has been building for months.
Kim Jong-un laughed as he fired North Korea’s first ICBM declaring it was a special “gift for American b******s” on July 4 – America’s Independence Day.
It launched the Hwasong-14 – said to be capable of hitting the US – as Donald Trump warned of “severe consequences” for North Korea’s “bad behaviour”.
The nuke-obsessed North Korean leader further escalated his war of words by claiming the US is ‘inviting its ultimate doom’ and could be ‘annihilated in a single blow’ amid the proposal of new sanctions.

 Kim Jong-un has vowed to take on the US in a series of ever-escalating threats

Kim Jong-un has vowed to take on the US in a series of ever-escalating threats

Prior to that, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests in 2016 alone, defying six UN Security Council resolutions banning any testing.
And this year, one of the nation’s additional missile tests failed when it blew up soon after launching.
It has even warned that it would be a “piece of cake” to nuke Japan – and that anyone supporting their detractors would also be in the firing line.
The hermit state has threatened that “nuclear war could break out at any moment”, but most experts believe it would not launch an attack as it would not survive a revenge strike by the US.
Paranoid Kim Jong-un has even dubbed America’s leaders a bunch of “rats sneaking around in the dark” amid claims the CIA plotted to wipe him out.
The tyrannical country has threatened the US with a “full-scale” nuclear war and claims the superpower is running scared of Kim Jong-un’s missiles.
There was a time when it seemed like the prospect of war with the likes of Russia and China had disappeared with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR.
But tense relationships between the world’s major military players means the outbreak of another global conflict has been raised higher than ever before.
On July 30, the US Air Force deployed its supersonic bombers in what was dubbed a ‘North Korea nuke drill’ with reports Trump was considering a military strike against North Korea.
On August 29, South Korea bombed the North’s border in a show of “overwhelming force” after Kim-Jong Un fired a ballistic missile over Japan.
F-15K fighter jets dropped eight MK-84 bombs on targets at a military field near the border after North Korea’s missile test forced Japanese residents to shelter underground.

How else could World War 3 start?

Russia and America’s involvement in the war in Syria has created a situation where the two nations’ planes are reportedly flying dangerously close to each other on bombing runs.
Putin threatened in June to shoot down all RAF and US jets in western Syria in retaliation for a US Navy fighter downing a Syrian plane.
If World War Three does kick off it seems the Russians could have something to do with it.
But it is more likely that if it ever did happen, it would be sparked hundreds of miles away from Syria.
One expert claimed Latvia will be Ground Zero — the country where the next global conflict will begin.
Professor Paul D Miller of the National Defence University in Washington DC — who predicted the invasion of Crimea and the Ukraine conflict — said the Baltic state is next on Russia’s hit list.
But it is doubtful that Putin would use conventional troops. It is more likely that he would recreate what happened in Ukraine and stir up the patriotism of ethnic Russians in the country.
“Putin will instigate an ambiguous militarised crisis using deniable proxies, probably in the next two years”, he said.
A Russian jet came within just five feet of a US reconnaissance plane in the Baltic in June, reports claimed, with one official quoted as saying the SU-27 was “provocative”, “unsafe” and flying “erratically”.

 A missile is driven past Kim Jong-un during a military parade in Pyongyang

A missile is driven past Kim Jong-un during a military parade in Pyongyang

Who would win the war?

It is impossible to say who would win with any certainty, but the US spends far more on its military than any other nation.
The US is the only country in possession of fifth-gen fighter jets – 187 F-22s and an F-35 that is not yet out of the testing phase.
Russia is developing one stealth fighter and China is working on four.
In terms of submarines the US Navy has 14 ballistic missile submarines with a combined 280 nuclear missiles.
They also possess four guided missile submarines with 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles each and 54 nuclear attack submarines.
Russia has only 60 submarines but they are said to have outstanding stealth capabilities.
They are also developing a 100-megaton nuclear torpedo.
China has five nuclear attack submarines, 53 diesel attack submarines, and four nuclear ballistic missile submarines to date.
But the emerging superpower is developing more.

North Korea say U.S. bombers push tension ‘to the brink of nuclear war’
On the brink

The Iranian Shia Empire (Daniel 8)

Iran is building an Empire-How Dangerous? (part 1)

Josef Olmert
PM Netanyahu of Israel is intensifying his campaign of threats against the Iranian’s increasing role in Syria, and after his last failed meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, the rhetoric assumes a sense of urgency. Some Netanyahu watchers will dismiss this campaign as a diversionary tactic at a time of huge domestic political pressure in Israel, due to the criminal investigations that he and his family are embroiled in. Some will refer to the deja vu element, as a lot of the rhetoric now sounding so similar to the one used in 2012-15 in an effort to prevent the Iran nuclear deal, which lead to a huge volume of hot air but no action. Some will take it at face value and start the count down to another Middle East war. This time between Israel and Iran , to be fought in Lebanon and Syria, possibly elsewhere, maybe in Israel and Iran themselves. No kidding so far as Israel is concerned, and Iran is taken to be now the enemy. In this first of two pieces, I will analyze the realistic state of affairs with regard to Iran, basically reality versus impressions, perhaps myths.. The second piece will deal directly with the Syrian-Lebanese situation and the Israeli response.
Iran is now involved either directly or indirectly, in actual fighting and in subversive activities in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, making use primarily of the Shi’ite population in these countries, or religious sects close to the Shi’a , such as the Alawites in Syria. Here is a point of strength for Iran-This is the only Shi’ite state in the Middle East, while the Sunni world is split, with various claimants to power and dominance such as Saudi Arabia, and recently also Turkey under President Erdohan. Here is also a point of weakness, as the near total reliance on Shi’ites emphasizes the sectarian nature of the Iranian regime. Speaking about an Islamic revival, meaning a Shi’ite revival. Shi’ite revival in the 21st Century is an historic aberration, as it will the first after many centuries of Sunni domination of the world of Islam in the Middle East. Shi’ism flourished in the region in the 10-11 th Centuries, when even Egypt under the Fatimids was Shi’ite, but then it is the exception, and Sunni Muslims cannot and will not accept a Shi’ite revival now . Yes, this is to emphasize both history and sectarianism, and most Westerners, especially in the Liberal/Left Wing do not like these reminders and terminology, but in the Middle East this is the political discourse and this is what matters . The Iranian regime refers to Israel as the enemy, predicting its annihilation, claiming its collapse within the next 25 years, and here again there is a point of strength and one of weakness. There are still many in the Middle East, surely among the Palestinians, who view Israel as the ultimate ,inevitable nemesis. There are however many Arabs, in the Gulf and elsewhere who view Shi’ite Iran as the bigger problem. and behind close doors, sometimes even in public, view Israel as the solution to the Iran problem. This is a new emerging phenomenon, not one which is irreversible, but one with a potential to move from talked-about to an actual alliance of interests. Then the Iranians have oil, a lot of it, but much to their chagrin, their oil is enough to give a Per Capita income of few thousand dollars only, and Iran is still a poor country, and it is becoming poorer as it invests so much in its expansionist plans. Saudi Arabia can still afford its own military build up and the gigantic arms orders from the US, but Iran cannot. Iran is also stretching its influence in a wide range of areas which are different from each other, and using the Shi’ite card will not prove enough of a unifying force for too many years to come. It is also an ethnic/national problem for the Iranians, as they are extending their influence in Arab territories. An interesting situation is developing in Iraq, one which may signal a future and significant resistance to their plans.The blistering Shi’ite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr, an hitherto Iranian ally is starting to play his own game. Yes, he wants a Shi’ite Iraq, but should it be Iranian-dominated? He just completed a visit in Saudi Arabia after which the Saudis asked the Iraqi -Shi’ite government to establish a Consulate in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf. Somewhat surprising and even strange development. Stay tuned to the fall out, but may be an indication of more to come which will not please the Iranians. Ethnic problems can still plague Iran itself, where the Iranian-Farsi population is a little more than half of the entire population. It is ‘’only ‘’ 90% Shi’ite, with 5-6 million Sunni Kurds, 2-3 Million Sunni Baluchis and others, but with a quarter of the population who are Azeris and Shi’ites. When sectarianism and ethnic divisions exist among their neighbors, the Ayatollahs in Tehran need to keep a very watchful eye over their own house. So, Iran is looking as a key player these days, with a growing and seeming unstoppable influence, but in this case , what catches the eye may be the wrong impression. The modern history of the Middle East provides us with examples of an attempt by one actor to become a regional dominant power. Nasser of Egypt comes to mind, and he was a Sunni Arab, representing the force of Arab nationalism. It failed miserably, and the failure started with the Iraqi revolution of 1958 becoming hostile to Nasser, Syria breaking away from the United Arab Republic in 1961 and the Egyptian intervention in the Yemeni civil war. Iran is heavily invested in all these countries right now. The shape of things to come? Time will tell, but coming back to where we started-PM Netanyahu seems to be impatient, and he does not favor waiting for history to repeat itself.

Stopping the Inevitable (Revelation 15)

How to keep Trump’s thumb off the nuclear button
By David A. Andelman
Updated 11:01 AM E
(CNN)Regardless of who may be in the Oval Office, the stakes are too high, the potential outcome too horrific to leave the arsenal of the nuclear football entirely in the hands of any one president — especially President Donald Trump, who, according to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, asked during the campaign, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”
As former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN, “I worry about (his) access to nuclear codes, in a fit of pique, (if he) decides to do something about Kim Jong Un, there is actually very little to stop him.” And concern regarding Trump’s temperament seems to be shared quite widely among the American people. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 68% of those polled thought the President is not level-headed, compared with 29% who thought he is.
With Trump’s plan to streamline America’s nuclear arsenal, removing his sole thumb from the nuclear button is all the more urgent.
Yes, it’s OK to question Trump’s mental health
In short, it’s terrifying if this President does have full and solitary control of the nuclear football. The aluminum briefcase contained in a leather satchel, the entire 45-pound package carried by a rotating selection of military officers, follows the President everywhere. It holds the nuclear targets that he alone can activate using the biscuit, a small card that he carries on his person that bears the actual codes to launch all or part of the entire American strategic arsenal from anywhere on the globe where the commander in chief might find himself.
When he’s in the White House, the football is effectively non-operational, as the President orders the nuclear launch codes activated from the Situation Room in the basement where there is always full command authority — at least six staffers on duty 24/7 in five shifts. Still, if the President were to order a strike, while there may be more voices here that could be raised in opposition, his word is still the final authority.
The football was a product of the Kennedy administration when, in the wake of the Bay of Pigs disaster, the President thought it would be useful to have a means to retaliate quickly and efficiently if the United States were ever attacked by a nuclear power. In those days, that meant the Soviet Union. Today, Vladimir Putin is within range of his own football, the “Cheget,” wherever he travels.
At his command and fully accessible through the football, President Trump has more than 900 nuclear warheads with the force equivalent of some 17,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. As Franklin C. Miller, a nuclear specialist who worked for in the Department of Defense for 22 years, told The New York Times last year, “There’s no veto once the President has ordered a strike. The President and only the President has the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.”
The solution to having one person with this amount of power, however, is potentially quite near at hand. As Politico reported, White House chief of staff “John Kelly is instituting a system used by previous administrations to limit internal competition — and to make himself the last word on the material that crosses the President’s desk.”
Specifically, White House staff secretary Rob Porter “will review all documents that cross the Resolute Desk,” Politico added. Well, why just documents? What about every time the President even looks cross-eyed at the football, or heaven forbid, orders it opened?
It is unquestionably a court-martial-worthy offense to refuse the President access to the football. The individuals chosen for this job are impeccably vetted for loyalty and sanity up to a special security level called Yankee White. But what if the military officer who carries it insists on telling John Kelly before allowing the President to access its contents? And the President refuses?
Clearly, any sentient individual should tuck it under his arm and flee immediately. What court would ever convict him? Still, there is a solution.
Congress should, quite simply, write this procedure into law: The bearer of the White House football, or anyone staffing the Situation Room in the White House, must communicate immediately with Kelly, national security adviser H.R. McMaster or Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at any moment Trump might order the football be opened.
There is already a bipartisan stamp on a legislative curb to one potentially volatile international action the President might be inclined to take — lifting, at his own discretion, sanctions on Russia. That measure passed both houses by overwhelming, veto-proof majorities, effectively compelling the President to sign it. A football bill should have equally overwhelming support.
A decade ago, Vice President Dick Cheney warned ABC News that the President (at the time George W. Bush) “could launch the kind of devastating attack the world has never seen. He doesn’t have to check with anybody. He doesn’t have to call the Congress; he doesn’t have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in. It’s unfortunate, but I think we’re perfectly appropriate to take the steps we have.”
What we really need, a decade and a far different administration later, is to take new steps to assure the American people, and the world, that they will not be held hostage by an individual in the grip of some personal or self-generated emotional crisis.

The New Age of Nuclear Terrorism

https://defenceindepth.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/blog-post-rob-and-chris-nuclear-terrorism.jpg?w=532&h=299Banking Against the New Age of Nuclear Terror BloombergView
Tobin Harshaw
(Bloomberg View) — Arguably, nuclear weapons are now a greater threat to the U.S. and the world than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Actually, it’s not even arguable: North Korea is showering the Pacific with nuclear-capable missiles; South Korea and Japan may in turn pursue their own programs; President Donald Trump is again talking of ripping up the Iran nuclear pact; the Tehran regime is illegally testing its own ballistic arsenal; nuclear-armed Pakistan’s increasingly volatile politics raise a threat to India and beyond; Russia’s Vladimir Putin is eyeing a Soviet-style buildup; China is building nuclear-capable submarines; and there is always the worry that terrorist groups might get their hands on enough radiological material to craft a “dirty bomb.”
QuickTake Nuclear Power
Yet here’s some good news: On Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency will officially open the world’s first “bank” for enriched nuclear fuel in Kazakhstan. The LEU facility is an important option for countries that want the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy, without the significant costs of uranium enrichment and without the risks of proliferation. Low-enriched uranium is needed for peaceful reactors, and the bank says it will provide an assured international supply of nuclear fuel on a nondiscriminatory, nonpolitical basis in the event of a supply disruption.
While many nations and groups — including the European Union, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Kuwait — deserve credit for the bank’s creation, special mention goes to two great Americans: former senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, and a fellow from Nebraska more familiar to Bloomberg readers for his success in other fields: Warren Buffett.
Buffett put up an initial $50 million for the bank, which other donors matched two-for-one. Nunn, who for decades was Congress’s leading light on military issues, is the founder, along with Ted Turner, of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit group that has done much of the legwork on efforts to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. (Take a moment to check out its Nuclear Security Index, an interactive graphic on global risks of theft and sabotage involving fissile materials.)
Another great American, Ernest Moniz, a longtime nuclear scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who most recently served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of energy, is now the chief executive officer of NTI. (He has also won the coveted “Best Hair at the State of the Union” award from USA Today.) Before Moniz headed off to Central Asia for the big event, we had a wide-ranging chat about the most pressing global threats related to nuclear threats. Here is an edited version of the interview:
Tobin Harshaw: We are going to talk primarily about your new project, the LEU bank, and its role in global nonproliferation. But I think it might help first if we give readers a quick briefing on the role of the Energy Department in the U.S. nuclear weapons program. In a nutshell: When did that start, what does it encompass, and why doesn’t the Pentagon have the entire program under its control?
Ernest Moniz: The history of Department of Energy has two threads, one of which goes back to the Manhattan Project during World War II and then the now-defunct Atomic Energy Commission and eventually the DOE. The challenges in nuclear security evolved, and as the Cold War ended, there was a new focus on the security and safety of weapons and nuclear material globally. The DOE’s role involved reducing threats as well as maintaining the U.S. military deterrent. Sustaining the stockpile is not in the Pentagon because its stewardship is a science and technology job suited to DOE National Laboratories.
The second major thread came in 1970s with the oil embargoes and other energy crises. That led to the official creation of the department in 1977, which took in offices from elsewhere such as the Interior Department while new regulatory structures were established.
TH: So what is the full extent of the department’s role in terms of the nuclear deterrent?
EM: Today about 62 percent of the DOE’s annual spending is considered part of the national security budget. Including clean-up costs, this is about $18.5 billion, of which nuclear security is over $12 billion. This involves maintaining the stockpile — making sure the deterrent is safe, secure and reliable without having to do any testing, which is very important — and securing and eliminating nuclear weapons-usable materials across the world. The department also has a shared responsibility with the Navy to provide the propulsion for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines.
TH: I want to bring up a paradox: Even as the U.S. hopes to tamp down on the spread of nukes around the world, the Pentagon has started a $1 trillion modernization of its arsenal. This was initiated under President Obama, who famously won a Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. As a former member of his administration, can you explain why the modernization is necessary?
EM: They are quite different issues. I don’t like to call it a “modernization program,” because it implies in some minds that this is a whole brand new arsenal. For the DOE, this is really about upgrading the facilities and doing life-extension programs for the weapons without having to do any tests. For the military, it’s about improving the delivery systems, not new nuclear bombs.
It is expensive, and the Energy Department cost is expected to be about $80 billion over decades. But as secretary of energy, I had a hard time accepting our workers going into 50- to 60-year-old buildings doing high-hazard work. There are tremendous safety issues. Even now, we won’t be able to adequately replace the uranium facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, until 2025.
We fully support and endorse working toward the vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and we want to continue the lowering of their profile in our national security posture. But no serious person feels we can reach that goal in less than decades. As long as they are our fundamental deterrent, we have to make sure they are safe and reliable and that the workforce is in a safe environment.
TH: OK, let’s move on to the new project. Give us a brief explanation of the LEU bank, and how it can help in trying to keep a lid on global proliferation and keep nuclear material from getting in the wrong hands.
EM: The issue, particularly as nuclear power emerges in different countries that have not had it, is the security of the fuel supply. And that is where the bank comes in. The IAEA owns the bank, and any country in good standing on its nonproliferation agreements is eligible to use the material in the bank for its energy program if there is a breakdown in the commercial supply chain. This gives nations no reason to pursue a concerning — and economically nonsensical — development of indigenous enrichment capacity.
TH: Where will it come from?
EM: The IAEA is going out for proposals, and countries will make bids. Under the schedule, we hope to have all the material in hand by the end of year. It will come from commercial fuel suppliers or consortia. Kazakhstan is hosting the bank and has been an enormously positive influence on nonproliferation efforts worldwide since its independence from the Soviet Union.
TH: So the big worry is that, otherwise, nations would start enriching on their own?
EM: It’s that there could be a lot of claims from these countries that they need their own enrichment programs because of insecure supplies. With the availability of the bank, and the clearly bad economics of developing an enrichment program for a small nuclear program, it would be an obvious concern now if a country went ahead anyway. The question they will face is: Why are you doing this?
TH: What are some of the nations with nascent energy programs the bank is geared to?
EM: For example, Mexico has a very small program. The U.A.E. is now building South Korean reactors. The Russians are selling to Eastern Europe and elsewhere. And now in the Middle East, there are at least nominal agreements with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for building Russian reactors. The Russians would prefer to be the sole fuel suppliers for those plants going forward, but a country could be concerned if it’s tied to just one supplier, which is where the fuel bank comes in — as a backup should there be any cutoff in supply.
TH: Congratulations, then, on the bank, and on NTI’s other efforts to lower future threats. Now let’s talk about current concerns. First, how much does the idea of terrorists getting their hands on a weapon or a so-called “dirty bomb” worry you?
EM: There is a special risk of terrorists and dirty bombs. Indeed it’s another area where NTI focuses, because it’s not only a question of power and weapons: There is also a very large use of radioisotopes in medicine, industrial work, oil and gas. These radioisotopes could be very dangerous in the wrong hands.
One of the areas NTI has been working on with success is to encourage governments — especially mayors and governors — to work toward the replacement of cesium-137, which is used for blood irradiation and other treatments, with X-rays, which do not provide this sort of risk. The costs of replacing the cesium sources with X-rays are reasonable once you consider you don’t need the type of security you need to ensure the radioisotopes stay where they are. You may have seen the stories about when ISIS had control of Mosul, which had a substantial cobalt-60 source that could have been used for a dirty bomb. Perhaps they didn’t know how to handle it. Some counties in Europe have moved to eliminate these materials, and we should do so as well.
TH: You were a big supporter of the Iran nuclear deal. At its second anniversary, have things turned out as you hoped?
EM: They have, in the sense that the IAEA continues to provide the data that indicate full compliance. That is where I hoped we would be and are. But we are not there in terms of a lot of the political discussion, particularly in terms of the possibility of Trump withdrawing, which would be a very bad decision. It would ironically isolate the United States. Because as long as Iran complies, the Europeans and others will continue to deal with Iran, but it will have justification for wriggling out of one or more of the stipulations.
TH: Last, before you rush to the holiday hotspot of Astana, Kazakhstan, let’s briefly talk North Korea. The consensus among experts seems to be that we will just have to live in a world where Kim Jong Un has nukes. Do you agree?
EM: Well I think certainly a lot of the language being used today is not helpful. But I think we cannot let go of the vision of a denuclearized peninsula, just as we cannot give up on the vision of a denuclearized world.
Going back to 1990s, I do not believe we have addressed the North Korea situation in a broad enough way — that is, I don’t think we can have security and stability there unless we address in a serious way the legitimate security concerns of North and South Korea, China and Japan. And also the Russian and U.S. postures. At its core, we need to broaden discussion beyond nukes to the full security discussion of those four neighbors. Until there is stability and a feeling of full trust there of all the regional parties, progress on denuclearization will be difficult at best.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Tobin Harshaw writes editorials on national security, education and food for Bloomberg View. He was an editor with the op-ed page of the New York Times and the paper’s letters editor.
For more columns from Bloomberg View, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/view.

Trump Prepares to Upgrade Babylon the Great (Daniel 8:8)

© Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency An unarmed Minuteman missile at a launch facility near Wall, S.D. The Air Force has announced new contracts to begin replacing the aging Minuteman fleet.

During his speech last week about Afghanistan, President Trump slipped in a line that had little to do with fighting the Taliban: “Vast amounts” are being spent on “our nuclear arsenal and missile defense,” he said, as the administration builds up the military.
The president is doing exactly that. Last week, the Air Force announced major new contracts for an overhaul of the American nuclear force: $1.8 billion for initial development of a highly stealthy nuclear cruise missile, and nearly $700 million to begin replacing the 40-year-old Minuteman missiles in silos across the United States.
While both programs were developed during the Obama years, the Trump administration has seized on them, with only passing nods to the debate about whether either is necessary or wise. They are the first steps in a broader remaking of the nuclear arsenal — and the bombers, submarines and missiles that deliver the weapons — that the government estimated during Mr. Obama’s tenure would ultimately cost $1 trillion or more.
Even as his administration nurtured the programs, Mr. Obama argued that by making nuclear weapons safer and more reliable, their numbers could be reduced, setting the world on a path to one day eliminating them. Some of Mr. Obama’s national security aides, believing that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election, expected deep cutbacks in the $1 trillion plan.
Mr. Trump has not spoken of any such reduction, in the number of weapons or the scope of the overhaul, and his warning to North Korea a few weeks ago that he would meet any challenge with “fire and fury” suggested that he may not subscribe to the view of most past presidents that the United States would never use such weapons in a first strike.
“We’re at a dead end for arms control,” said Gary Samore, who was a top nuclear adviser to Mr. Obama.
While Mr. Trump is moving full speed ahead on the nuclear overhaul — even before a review of American nuclear strategy, due at the end of the year, is completed — critics are warning of the risk of a new arms race and billions of dollars squandered.
The critics of the cruise missile, led by a former defense secretary, William J. Perry, have argued that the new weapon will be so accurate and so stealthy that it will be destabilizing, forcing the Russians and the Chinese to accelerate their own programs. And the rebuilding of the ground-based missile fleet essentially commits the United States to keeping the most vulnerable leg of its “nuclear triad” — a mix of submarine-launched, bomber-launched and ground-launched weapons. Some arms control experts have argued that the ground force should be eliminated.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress in June that he was open to reconsidering the need for both systems. But in remarks to sailors in Washington State almost three weeks ago, he hinted at where a nuclear review was going to come out.
A new nuclear cruise missile would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-2 bombers.
© Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A new nuclear cruise missile would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-2 bombers. “I think we’re going to keep all three legs of the deterrent,” he told the sailors.
The contracts, and Mr. Mattis’s hints about the ultimate nuclear strategy, suggest that Mr. Obama’s agreement in 2010 to spend $80 billion to “modernize” the nuclear arsenal — the price he paid for getting the Senate to ratify the New Start arms control agreement with Russia — will have paved the way for expansions of the nuclear arsenal under Mr. Trump.
“It’s been clear for years now that the Russians are only willing to reduce numbers if we put limits on missile defense, and with the North Korean threat, we can’t do that,” said Mr. Samore, who is now at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “I think we are pretty much doomed to modernize the triad.”
At issue in the debate over the cruise missile and the rebuilding of the land-based fleet is an argument over nuclear deterrence — the kind of debate that gripped American national security experts in the 1950s and ’60s, and again during the Reagan era.
Cruise missiles are low-flying weapons with stubby wings. Dropped from a bomber, they hug the ground to avoid enemy radars and air defenses. Their computerized brains compare internal maps of the terrain with what their sensors report.
The Air Force’s issuing last week of the contract for the advanced nuclear-tipped missile — to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Missile Systems — starts a 12-year effort to replace an older model. The updated weapon is to eventually fly on a yet-undeveloped new nuclear bomber.
The plan is to produce 1,000 of the new missiles, which are stealthier and more precise than the ones they will replace, and to place revitalized nuclear warheads on half of them. The other half would be kept for flight tests and for spares. The total cost of the program is estimated to be $25 billion.
“This weapon will modernize the air-based leg of the nuclear triad,” the Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson, said in a statement. “Deterrence works if our adversaries know that we can hold at risk things they value. This weapon will enhance our ability to do so.”
The most vivid argument in favor of the new weapon came in testimony to the Senate from Franklin C. Miller, a longtime Pentagon official who helped design President George W. Bush’s nuclear strategy and is a consultant at the Pentagon under Mr. Mattis. The new weapon, he said last summer, would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-52 and B-2 bombers, as Russian and Chinese “air defenses evolve to a point where” the planes are “are unable to penetrate to their targets.”
Critics argue that the cruise missile’s high precision and reduced impact on nearby civilians could tempt a future president to contemplate “limited nuclear war.” Worse, they say, is that adversaries might overreact to the launching of the cruise missiles because they come in nuclear as well as nonnuclear varieties.
Mr. Miller dismisses that fear, saying the new weapon is no more destabilizing than the one it replaces.
Some former members of the Obama administration are among the most prominent critics of the weapon, even though Mr. Obama’s Pentagon pressed for it. Andrew C. Weber, who was an assistant defense secretary and the director of the Nuclear Weapons Council, an interagency body that oversees the nation’s arsenal, argued that the weapon was unneeded, unaffordable and provocative.
He said it was “shocking” that the Trump administration was signing contracts to build these weapons before it completed its own strategic review on nuclear arms. And he called the new cruise missile “a destabilizing system designed for nuclear war fighting,” rather than for deterrence.
The other contracts the Pentagon announced last week are for replacements for the 400 aging Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles housed in underground silos. The winners of $677 million in contracts — Boeing and Northrop Grumman — will develop plans for a replacement force.
During Mr. Obama’s second term, the ground-based force came under withering criticism over the training of its crews — who work long, boring hours underground — and the decrepit state of the silos and weapons. Some of the systems still used eight-inch floppy disks. Internal Pentagon reports expressed worries about the vulnerability of the ground-based systems to cyberattack.
Mr. Perry, who was defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, has argued that the United States can safely phase out its land-based force, calling the missiles a costly relic of the Cold War.
But the Trump administration appears determined to hold on to the ground-based system, and to invest heavily in it. The cost of replacing the Minuteman missiles and remaking the command-and-control system is estimated at roughly $100 billion.

Obama’s Great Betrayal (2 Kings 25)

Obama chose dishonor, and Israel will have war

Iran is taking over Syria. The distant enemy is coming closer. The US is out of the picture. Those who put their trust in the new world sheriff, Donald Trump, have to admit he appears to be far more concerned with the American media than the Iranian imperialism. That is who he is.
The world’s sheriff is not whoever has more power—the United States has a lot more—but whoever uses the power he has.
Netanyahu had to go to Vladimir Putin this week again for another round of talks with the Russian leader during his vacation in Sochi. It’s not clear whether Putin is going to stop the Iranian threat. It is clear, however, that he’s the only one there is any point in talking to.
ISIS has been defeated on the ground. Over the last year, its fighters have been pushed out of Mosul in Iraq, and in the coming year, probably, they’ll also be pushed out of Syria’s Raqqa, the caliphate’s capital. The problem is that the alternative for ISIS on the ground—Iran and Hezbollah—is just as bad.
The strengthening and spreading of Iran’s influence were made possible, inter alia, because of the nuclear deal. European nations were quick to court the country that got Barack Obama and John Kerry’s stamp of approval. Most of the sanctions were lifted. Europe rushed to renew the massive deals and oil purchases. In the five months that followed the sanctions’ removal, Iranian exports—excluding oil—grew by $19 billion. The oil production soared from an average of 2.5 million barrels a day during the sanctions to close to 4 million barrels a day in recent months. The billions increased accordingly.
Many of the heads of Israel’s defense establishment, unlike Netanyahu, determined the nuclear deal was the lesser of evils. Its advantages, they claimed, outweigh its shortcomings.
I’m afraid they were wrong. The Iranian threat was twofold: Both the development of nuclear weapons and regional subversion. It is possible there is a temporary waning of the first threat. The second threat, meanwhile, continues growing. Iran is stirring the pot: it has militant affiliates in Yemen; it is fighting in Iraq and turning it into a protected state; Syria is also becoming a protected state; and Lebanon, for a long time now, has been under the control of Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah.
Between Iran and Israel there is a growing, ever expanding territorial corridor under Iranian control, and the Shiite nation is planning on building a sea port in Syria, perhaps an airport as well. This didn’t happen because of the nuclear agreement, but there is no doubt the nuclear agreement served to bolster Iran and its expansionist aspirations.
Obama and Kerry managed to mislead the international community in general—and the American public in particular—by claiming the alternative to the agreement was war. That’s not true. The alternative was continuing and the sanctions and imposing additional, harsher sanctions. Only then, it might have been possible to deal with both threats. Now, it is too late.
Most of the time, Netanyahu’s conduct was appropriate. He was among those who pushed for the sanctions on Iran. He spurred the international community into action. But at some point, something went wrong. Netanyahu became a nuisance. Instead of showing a little more flexibility on the Palestinian issue, in order to get more on the Iranian issue, he made himself the American administration’s enemy on both matters. The result was a complete failure. Iran’s nuclear capabilities were not curbed, and Tehran is now turning into a regional power. Chamberlain, said Winston Churchill, was “given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” As time goes on, it becomes all the more apparent Obama has chosen dishonor. Iran is becoming a world power, and Israel might pay with another war.