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

The Iranian Korean Nuclear Axis


The North Korean Axis of Middle East Proliferation
by Matthew RJ Brodsky
August 31, 2017 12:26 P
Last week, Reuters revealed the existence of a confidential U.N. report claiming that two North Korean shipments bound for the government agency in charge of Syria’s chemical weapons were intercepted in the past six months.
Put in its proper context, the news of the shipments, both of which violated existing international sanctions, is further evidence of North Korea’s nefarious role in spreading weapons of mass destruction and missile technology to other rogue regimes across the globe. The U.N. report highlights the extent to which North Korea has been a principal strategic partner to Iran and Syria for decades. Understood correctly, it should have major implications not only for how the U.S. handles the saber-rattling regime of Kim Jong-un but for how the Trump administration chooses to approach Iran today.
Pulling a single thread reveals the tangled web of relations between Pyongyang, Tehran, and Damascus. Take, for instance, the 2007 Israeli raid that destroyed Syria’s covert nuclear reactor. North Korean scientists provided the technology and material for that reactor, which, according to former CIA director Michael Hayden, was “an exact copy” of a North Korean reactor. “The Koreans were the only ones to build these reactors since they purloined the designs from the British in the 1960s,” Hayden recalled. Ten North Koreans who “had been helping with the construction” of the Syrian reactor were killed in the Israeli strike, according to media reports at the time.
In 1991, then-Syrian president Hafez al-Assad made a military-acquisition alliance with North Korea, which allowed him to purchase missiles from the North, and gave him access to the expertise needed to produce more-advanced weapons domestically. North Korea also helped the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center construct a missile complex in Aleppo used for fitting chemical weapons on Scud missiles in the early 1990s. A quarter century later, it turns out the two recently intercepted North Korean shipments were headed for the same Syrian agency.
The timing is suspect as well. The U.N. report specifically addressed shipments intercepted in the last six months. The Assad regime only retook Aleppo from the rebels in December 2016. It doesn’t take an expert, then, to guess at the likely contents of the shipments.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the two states signed a “scientific cooperation” agreement. The year was 2002 — the same year that the existence of Iran’s own plutonium reactor in Arak was publically exposed. Tehran appeared to understand the benefits of redundancy; it was an insurance policy if something should befall its own burgeoning nuclear program. That helps to explain why Iran financed the North Korean nuclear venture in Syria to the tune of $1 billion. It was only then, in 2002, that the construction of Assad’s al-Kibar plutonium reactor began in earnest.
Although Israel destroyed the site five years later, denying Iran the dividends from their investment, they were impressed by the cooperative agreement reached between the Kim and Assad regimes in 2002. The result was a duplicated and expanded science-and-technology deal inked between Iran and North Korea a decade later.
The North Korean Nexus with Iran
Of course, the bilateral collaboration between Pyongyang and Tehran predates that 2012 agreement. For example, WikiLeaks exposed a February 2010 diplomatic cable from confirming Iran’s purchase of 19 advanced ballistic missiles from North Korea — missiles that put Western European capitals within Tehran’s reach.
The watershed year between the two states came in 2012, as President Obama was concluding his disastrous nuclear deal with Tehran.
Just as Iran’s Shahab-2 missile is modeled on North Korea’s Hwasoong-6, Iran’s Shahab-3 missile also matches North Korea’s Nodong. That shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that Iranian scientists and military officers frequently attend North Korean test launches of long-range ballistic missiles and have maintained a presence at North Korean nuclear-test sites for at least the last decade. It’s only natural that such curiosity would run both ways, too: From the 1990s onward, dozens of North Korean scientists and technicians are also known to have worked inside Iran.
The watershed year between the two states came in 2012, as President Obama was concluding his disastrous nuclear deal with Tehran. According to detailed analysis published in February by Israel’s BESA Center, since reaching their cooperation agreement, North Korea and Iran have been working on “miniaturizing a nuclear implosion device in order to fit its dimensions and weight to the specifications of the Shahab-3 re-entry vehicle.” The authors of that analysis went on to conclude that, “the nuclear and ballistic interfaces between the two countries” are “long-lasting, unique, and intriguing,” and that North Korea is ready and able to clandestinely assist Iran in circumventing the nuclear deal, while Iran is likely helping North Korea upgrade its own strategic capacities.
The Parchin Connection
It should set off alarm bells that North Korea and Iran have been working together to overcome some of the remaining challenges that prevent Pyongyang from targeting the U.S. homeland with nuclear warheads — namely, the warhead-miniaturization process and the perfection of its long-range ballistic missiles. But it should set off sirens that some of that work has been carried out at Parchin, the Iranian facility that Tehran insists is a military site and keeps off limits to international inspections.
Parchin should be familiar. When Obama administration officials were cooking up their nuclear deal with Iran, they repeatedly promised that critically important “anytime, anywhere” inspections would have to be part of the agreement. What happened instead was that they folded like a tablecloth, as they did on every declared red-line issue crucial to verifying Iran’s past nuclear-related military activity.
In 2015, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei personally and repeatedly rejected any access to what he called military sites, including Parchin. So Team Obama came up with a secret side agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which would allow Iran to inspect its own site and provide its own soil samples.
Anyone could have guessed what would happen next.
In 2015, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei personally and repeatedly rejected any access to what he called military sites, including Parchin.
“Despite years of Iran sanitizing the site and the Iranians taking their own environmental samples, the IAEA nonetheless detected the presence of anthropogenically-processed (‘man-made’) particles of natural uranium,” reads a new report released by the Institute for Science and International Security.
After years of Iranian denials and attempts to block access to the site, it turns out “substantial evidence exists that Iran conducted secret nuclear weapons development activities at Parchin,” including “the presence of uranium particles” and “a variety of other evidence of work related to nuclear weapons,” the report claims. It goes on to note the many suspicious site alterations that Iran made after the IAEA requested access in 2012 — which, again, is when Iran and North Korea signed their science-and-technology cooperation agreement.
It is also worth mentioning that in November 2012, the IAEA reported that Iran completed the installation of some 2,800 centrifuges at its Fordow uranium-enrichment facility, which was built and buried deep inside a mountain near the city of Qom. That report also noted that Iran installed more centrifuges at its fortified, underground fuel-enrichment plant in Natanz. Both facilities were producing uranium enriched up to 20 percent — a level useful only in the production of nuclear weapons.
Add it all up, and it becomes clear that because of Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal, the U.S. and the IAEA don’t know the scope of Iran’s past nuclear activities at precisely the moment when that knowledge is critical. The same lack of access afforded by the deal also prevents the U.S. from grasping the range of North Korea’s nuclear efforts, specifically experiments relevant to the detonation of a warhead that took place at Parchin. And the kicker is that a growing chorus of analysts today is calling for the Trump administration to negotiate a similar agreement with Kim Jong-un. Let that sink in for a moment.
An Evolving Axis
Fifteen years ago, many scratched their heads at President George W. Bush’s inclusion of North Korea alongside Iraq and Iran in what he described as “an axis of evil.” Few recall that North Korea was actually the first of the three countries he listed in his 2002 State of the Union address, followed by Iran. It’s quite clear now that the third state on that list should have been Syria rather than Iraq. After all, according to Hayden, by 2001 the CIA was gathering “scattered, unverified and ambiguous information” regarding nuclear ties between Syria and North Korea. Even if the literal picture presented by Israel didn’t become clear until a few years later, by 2002 the two had signed their scientific-cooperation agreement and Iran’s plutonium reactor had become public. The writing was on the wall.
The recent sanctions-busting North Korean shipments to Iran highlight how dangerous it is to seal a structurally defective nuclear deal with a rogue state while leaving other distressing aspects of that state’s behavior untouched. They should make it abundantly clear that we must seriously address this blooming axis of proliferation, because any bilateral agreement with one of its members can be easily undone by another.

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

Reuters
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

Reuters
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

Stopping the Inevitable (Revelation 15)

https://i1.wp.com/www.thedailymash.co.uk/images/stories/redbutton425.jpg
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=1200Banking 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.

Korea is not a Shia Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Tillerson Suggests North Korea May Soon Be Ready for Talks

Gardiner Harris and Eileen Sullivan

A military parade celebrating the 105th birthday of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung, in Pyongyang in April. Wong Maye-E/Associated Press
WASHINGTON — In some of the most conciliatory remarks to North Korea made by the Trump administration, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson complimented the government in Pyongyang for going more than two weeks without shooting any missiles or blowing up any nuclear bombs.
“I’m pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint,” Mr. Tillerson said, suggesting that the brief pause in testing may be enough to meet the administration’s preconditions for talks.
“We hope that this is the beginning of the signal we’ve been looking for,” he said, adding that “perhaps we’re seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future of having some dialogue. We need to see more on their part. But I want to acknowledge the steps they’ve taken so far.”
That was the carrot. As for the stick, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against China and Russia on Tuesday as part of its campaign to pressure North Korea to stop its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
The two moves are part of the Trump administration’s dual-track strategy for taming the nuclear threat from North Korea — ratcheting up economic pressure on the government through sanctions while simultaneously offering a diplomatic pathway to peace.
That second approach has gradually softened in recent months. In his first trip to Seoul, South Korea, in March, Mr. Tillerson appeared to make North Korea’s surrender of nuclear weapons a prerequisite for talks. At that time, he said that negotiations could “only be achieved by denuclearizing, giving up their weapons of mass destruction,” and that “only then will we be prepared to engage them in talks.”
In recent months, he has suggested that Pyongyang only had to demonstrate that it was serious about a new path before talks could begin, suggesting that a significant pause in the country’s provocative activities would be enough. And three weeks ago, he went out of his way to assure the North’s leaders “the security they seek.”
Then, a little more than two weeks ago, the United Nations Security Council passed its toughest sanctions yet against North Korea. And the next day, Mr. Tillerson met with his counterparts in South Korea and China in an effort to increase pressure on Pyongyang.
The United Nations sanctions were already starting to have an impact curtailing trade in China and infuriating Chinese seafood importers, who had to return goods to North Korea.
Mr. Tillerson’s remarks Tuesday were particularly noteworthy because they were made in a news conference that was otherwise devoted to discussing the Trump administration’s new approach to the war in Afghanistan.

Graphic

Can North Korea Actually Hit the United States With a Nuclear Weapon?

Six systems that North Korea needs to master to achieve a long-sought goal: being able to reliably hit the United States.
OPEN Graphic
There is fierce debate in the administration over what course to take with North Korea — and whether a combination of diplomatic outreach and military threats would change North Korea’s current direction. Tension between the United States and North Korea has escalated over North Korea’s recent missile tests. Most intelligence assessments have concluded that the North has no incentive to begin negotiations until it demonstrates, even more conclusively than it has in recent weeks, that its nuclear weapon could reach the United States mainland.
But Mr. Tillerson’s diplomatic outreach has been repeatedly undercut by President Trump’s bellicose rhetoric, including a threat to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it endangered the United States.
The new sanctions issued by the Treasury Department affect six individuals and 10 organizations with financial ties to Pyongyang’s weapons program. They represent a gradual increase in pressure on China, which has long frustrated the United States for economically supporting the regime in Pyongyang. Some 90 percent of North Korea’s trade is with China.
“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region,” Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said in a statement on Tuesday.
In June, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank, a Chinese company and two Chinese citizens to crack down on the financing of North Korea’s weapons program, the first set of secondary sanctions against North Korea that directly targeted Chinese intermediaries.
“I think it’s a significant action by the Trump administration,” Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit group in Washington, said of the new round of sanctions.
Tuesday’s actions appeared to be part of a larger campaign to pressure individuals, businesses and countries with financial ties to North Korea, said Mr. Ruggiero, a former official in the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the Treasury. “It looks like the beginnings of a broad pressure campaign,” Mr. Ruggiero said.
Among the Chinese companies sanctioned on Tuesday is Mingzheng International Trading Limited, considered by the Treasury Department to be a “front company” for North Korea’s state-run Foreign Trade Bank, which has been subject to American sanctions since 2013.
In June, United States prosecutors accused Mingzheng of laundering money for North Korea and announced that the Justice Department would seek $1.9 million in civil penalties.
The new United States sanctions address how other nations tolerate North Korea’s behavior, particularly China, said Elizabeth Rosenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.
“These sanctions expand the U.S. blacklist for companies tied to North Korea’s economic activity and are designed to curb the hard currency available to Pyongyang,” Ms. Rosenberg said in an email. “I think we should expect more sanctions of this nature, including more designations to highlight the role of China to enable North Korea’s illicit aims.”

The US is Responsible for the Iran-Korea Alliance

Iran Lobby Blames US for North Korea / Iran Collaboration

editor-m

By INU Staff
INU – While the regime in Tehran tried to divide the Arab world, the Iran lobby sought to shift blame, no matter what U.S. administration was in office or which political party controlled Congress.
Whether the transgression was its human rights violations, wars in neighboring countries, or the arrest of dual-national Iranians, U.S. policy was blamed. The opium trade was attributed to Afghanistan. U.S. sanctions were blamed for the miserable economic conditions.
Recently, an editorial by Reza Marashi of the NIAC appeared in Haaretz, which warned the U.S. from using the North Korean threat as a tie-in to Iran. “First, conflating Pyongyang and Tehran is troublesome for an obvious reason: One has the bomb, and the other does not,” wrote Marashi.
President Hassan Rouhani told Iranian lawmakers this week that Iran could walk away from the nuclear deal and restart its nuclear program in a “matter of hours” and bring a weapon to fruition in short order, although, according to the Iran lobby, the gap between North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear capabilities was supposedly to be years apart. Marashi claims that American policies in confronting other regimes with nuclear ambitions, such as Libya and Iraq, have motivated the Iranian regime to work harder to build their nuclear program.
Marashi also ties the Trump administration’s decision to kill the Transpacific trade deal and pull out of the Paris climate change agreements to Iran’s mistrust of the U.S. on the nuclear deal, and says that the North Korea deal was doomed to failure, because the U.S. had no intention of allowing North Korea to develop a nuclear capability. He claims that this makes Iran believe the U.S. is similarly disingenuous with its deal. Marashi wrote, “If Trump corrects course and fully implements Washington’s JCPOA obligations, the risk of Tehran pursuing Pyongyang’s path is slim to none. The longer he continues violating the terms of the deal, the more likely it becomes that Iran resumes systemically advancing the technical aspects of its nuclear program – without the unprecedented, state-of-the-art monitoring and verification regime currently in place.”
The “state-of-the-art monitoring” Marashi cites is not actually meaningful monitoring. The nuclear deal’s agreement prohibits international inspectors from accessing many of Iran’s military bases and allows collection of soil samples only after extensive scrubbing and removal of topsoil, which is then handed over to inspectors by Iranians.
Still, most importantly, the connection between Iran and North Korea is the missiles. North Korea escalated Iran’s ballistic missile program by licensing its technology and providing upgrades, improvements and technical advice.
North Korea now has powerful missiles that are capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
Iran and North Korean exchange technical data, and news reports of the potential for Iranian scientists working in North Korea to learn its manufacturing processes for building nuclear warheads for its missiles are increasing.

North Korea Is Not Our Real Enemy


North Korea’s leader holds fire on Guam missile launch
Al Jazeera
North Korea’s leader received a report from his army on plans to fire missiles towards Guam and said he will watch the actions of the US before making a decision to fire, North Korea’s official news agency said on Tuesday.
Kim Jong-un ordered the army to be ready to launch should he make the decision for military action.
North Korea said last week it was finalising plans to launch four missiles into the waters near the US Pacific territory of Guam, and its army would report the attack plan to Kim and wait for his order.
Kim, who inspected the command of North Korea’s army on Monday, examined the plan for a long time and discussed it with army officers, the official KCNA agency said.
“He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared,” it said.
The DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korea’s threat to attack near Guam prompted a surge in tensions in the region last week, with US President Donald Trump warning he would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it did so.
Christopher Hill: US and North Korea in a ‘propaganda spat’
Kim said the US should make the right choice “in order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean Peninsula”.
The visit to the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force marks Kim’s first public appearance in about two weeks.
Trump spoke to Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, late on Monday to discuss North Korea.
“President Trump reaffirmed that the United States stands ready to defend and respond to any threat or actions taken by North Korea against the United States or its allies, South Korea and Japan,” a White House statement said early Tuesday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday there would be no military action without Seoul’s consent and his government would prevent war by all means.
“Military action on the Korean Peninsula can only be decided by South Korea and no one else can decide to take military action without the consent of South Korea,” Moon said in a speech to commemorate the anniversary of the nation’s liberation from Japanese military rule in 1945.
“The government, putting everything on the line, will block war by all means,” Moon said.
North Korea is angry about new UN sanctions over its expanding nuclear weapons and missile programme and annual military drills between the US and South Korea beginning later this month that North Korea condemns as invasion rehearsals.
Guam braces for planned North Korea missile strike
A Guam official said he was “ecstatic” as North Korea appeared to back away from its threat.
“There doesn’t appear to be any indication, based on what we’re hearing, that there will be any missiles attacking in the near future or in the distant future,” Lieutenant-Governor Ray Tonorio said.
Jim Mattis, US defence secretary, warned on Monday the US military would be prepared to intercept a missile fired by North Korea if it was headed to Guam.
Mattis said that the US military would know the trajectory of a missile fired by North Korea within moments and would “take it out” if it looked like it would hit the US Pacific territory.
“The bottom line is, we will defend the country from an attack. For us that is war,” Mattis said.
Richard Broinowski, former Australian ambassador to Seoul, told Al Jazeera from Sydney on Tuesday that there was no real threat of war.
“Kim Jong-un is not stupid. He’s led his country for a number of years now, and he’s done well. There’s a lot of bluster and hyperbole,” he said. “On the part of the US, we have a president who is unschooled and unskilled in diplomacy. But he’s surrounded by people who are.”
He also said that the solution was direct talks without conditions between the US and North Korea.
“It’s been tried before and it needs to be tried again,” said Broinowski.