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

Pence Prepares for the Presidency

Vice President Pence (center right) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (center in wheel chair) help move debris during a visit to an area hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Tex., on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017.

Pence careful not to outshine Trump in Harvey role

The Washington Post Ashley Parker 2 hrs ago
© Eric Gay/AP Vice President Pence (center right) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (center in wheel chair) help move debris during a visit to an area hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Tex., on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. He hugged victims of Hurricane Harvey and comforted those with tears in their eyes. He prayed and posed for photos, at one point blaring his message of support into a bullhorn. And he donned durable blue gloves and cleared brush, working up a sweat as he dragged debris away from a damaged white mobile home.
Put another way, he did what many other presidents have done in the face of disaster. But the blue jeans-clad man who spent Thursday communing with victims of the 1-in-1,000-year flood event in Southeast Texas was Vice President Pence — not President Trump.The images of Pence’s trip to Texas on Thursday offered a striking contrast between Trump — who came under bipartisan criticism for initially failing to seem to empathize with those affected by the devastating storm — and his No. 2, who spent the week performing relief duties. White House officials said the president and the vice president were merely working in tandem to coordinate the federal government’s response to Harvey, magnifying their efforts through complementary skill sets. Trump, after all, visited Texas on Tuesday — though he steered clear of flood areas or victims — and plans another trip to the Gulf Coast on Saturday. Trump also took several moments Wednesday to address “the deeply tragic situation in Texas and Louisiana” before a scheduled speech on taxes in Missouri.
But Harvey put an uncomfortable spotlight yet again on Pence, underscoring the delicate balance the vice president must manage in supporting and complementing the president — while never overshadowing him.
In many ways, Pence’s handling of Harvey — from his visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Monday to the slew of local radio interviews he did — would be routine but for the president he serves, a man whose own instinct for public displays of compassion are often unconventional. During Trump’s visit to southeastern Texas on Tuesday, he managed to place himself squarely in the eye of the storm, at one point convening an impromptu if brief political rally. (“What a crowd! What a turnout!” he enthused).
Pence, said Ron Klain, a chief of staff to both former vice presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, “is doing normal stuff in an abnormal situation.”
“A lot of this other stuff is kind of de rigueur for a vice president, but when you have the president behaving oddly, as he did the other day in Texas, there is an interesting role for the vice president,” Klain said. “If both the president and the vice president console victims, if both are busy speaking out about the loss, if both are busy doing the things that are normal in this situation, then what the vice president is doing is just additive to the situation. What’s striking here is that what the vice president is doing is in some ways substituting for what the president is doing, and that’s what makes it more in the spotlight.”
White House officials said ­every relief action Pence took this week was part of a methodical, coordinated effort between his and Trump’s teams, with a particular emphasis on communication — one of the most important roles they think the administration can perform during a natural disaster. Trump’s initial Texas trip was intentionally focused on coordinating federal, state and local response, while Pence’s visit two days later offered more latitude to focus on the survivors who are just beginning to rebuild their lives, officials said.
“It is important to over-communicate in a natural disaster to get your message out, and the president deployed the vice president and his whole team to communicate directly to the people in the path of the storm throughout the week,” said Jarrod Agen, Pence’s deputy chief of staff. “That’s leadership and smart management, and that’s what the president provided and directed.”
The president, one senior White House official said, was eager to head to Texas on Tuesday to clearly convey his support for those suffering but was conscious of not wanting to interfere with search-and-rescue efforts or divert resources. His trip on Saturday, the official added, will allow him to personally connect with those affected by the storm.
The two men have been speaking “multiple times” a day, aides to both said, and their teams have been working in lockstep to coordinate the administration’s response. Pence’s speechwriter, for example, checked in with the president’s aides before Pence delivered a speech Wednesday in West Virginia, to better amplify Trump’s message.
“As someone who works closely with both of them, and has witnessed their round-the-clock attention to this crisis, you cannot put a piece of tissue paper between the president and the vice president on their leadership, their management and their messaging of the White House and federal government’s response to Harvey,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. “Their messages are repetitive, not competitive.”
Scrutiny of his role has left Pence’s allies and aides exasperated at times, believing that the media hypes — and over­analyzes — just about everything he does. Early in the administration, Pence weathered a spate of articles about how he seemed to be in the dark on several issues, including a high-profile incident in which former national security adviser Michael Flynn misled the vice president about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Later, news reports said Pence was operating as more of a shadow president with Oval Office aspirations of his own.
Pence can’t, his aides argue, be simultaneously out of the loop and angling for the top job.
“I think the media is looking for a way to drive a wedge between the president and the vice president, and suggest that there are different approaches and different strategies that show division,” said Marc Short, the White House’s director of legislative affairs who previously was a longtime Pence aide. “Whereas I think the White House looks at it and says, ‘There are very complementary and different skill sets that each bring, and therefore it is better to utilize both.’ So the strategies are actually intentional and, in my mind, complementary and harmonious.”
Some of the images of Pence dealing with Harvey, however, raised eyebrows, including photos of him over the weekend in the Situation Room flanked by Cabinet officials while Trump video-conferenced into the meeting from Camp David.
Pence’s Twitter account also sent out — and then deleted — a photo of him seated behind a desk making calls to senators whose states were hardest hit. An aide said Pence was uncomfortable with the tweet because he preferred the focus to be on first responders and heroic Texans, not himself.
In Texas on Thursday, Pence — a loyal-almost-to-the-point-of-obsequious soldier — was careful to repeatedly invoke Trump, including during a news conference at the end of his visit. He made clear he was simply bringing tidings of support and gratitude from the president.
Arriving in Rockport, Tex., Pence told the gathered crowd he had called Trump from Air Force Two.
“Just tell them we love Texas,” Pence said Trump told him to convey.
At that, a woman in the crowd returned attention back to where Pence is most comfortable — away from himself and squarely on his boss: “We love Trump!” she cried.

Even Russia Fears Trump’s Sanity

The majority of U.S. citizens do not trust President Donald Trump to make wise decisions about nuclear weapons, according to the latest poll by a leading research center.
The Pew Research Center released Tuesday the results of a nationwide survey of people’s views toward Trump’s conduct and handling of his role as president, finding that 58 percent of respondents “don’t like” the way the Republican leader has carried himself in office. The same percentage lack confidence in his ability to wield the world’s second largest nuclear weapons arsenal, especially as Trump garners controversy over his responses to nuclear-armed North Korea’s continued defiance of U.S. attempts to disarm the reclusive, Communist state.
“Majorities say they are not too confident or not at all confident in him on each of these issues (58 percent on nuclear weapons, 59 percent on immigration), including more than four-in-10 who say they are not at all confident in him on these issues,” a report accompanying the survey results read.
In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer nuclear-capable bomber (left) drops a bomb during a South Korea–U.S. joint live-fire drill in South Korea, on July 8. President Donald Trump’s “fire and fury” threats to use military force to disarm nuclear-armed North Korea have added to anxieties in the U.S. that the Republican leader’s unpredictable demeanor could lead to disaster. South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images
After initially boosting U.S. military presence to pressure North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April, Trump has adopted an increasingly hardline stance against the ninth nuclear weapons power. Evading Trump’s red line on a sixth North Korean nuclear weapons test, Kim instead opted to test his country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in July, and a second one later that month. Arguably even more significant than another nuclear test, the successful ICBM launch put the U.S. within range of North Korea for the first time ever.
In response, Trump threatened “fire and fury” against North Korea and has made deeply disputed claims about the U.S. military’s capabilities. He said he had improved the country’s nuclear arsenal since taking office in January and later that U.S. missiles were “locked and loaded” in preparation to attack North Korea.
Earlier this month, nuclear experts shared pictures of themselves chugging wine in concern over the president’s heated words and the consequences they might have. Trump has previously called for an increase in nuclear arms, reversing a decades-long trend of reducing weapons of mass destruction among the world’s leading powers.
Faith in Trump’s ability to handle decisions in regard to nuclear weapons was divided by ideology. Some 77 percent of Republicans expressed trust in the president, compared to only 11 percent of Democrats. Republicans were less confident in Trump’s nuclear weapons policy than they were in his ability to negotiate favorable trade agreements with other countries (86 percent), make good appointments to the federal courts (83 percent) and make wise decisions about immigration policy (80 percent).
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President Donald Trump said in a February 23 Reuters interview that he wants to ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack,” saying the U.S. has fallen behind in its weapons capacity. Federation of American Scientists/Stockholm International Peace Research Institute/U.S. Department of Energy/U.S. Government Accountability Office/U.S. Department of Defense/U.S. Air Force/Congressional Research Service/Reuters
Trump’s willingness to flex his nuclear muscles and recent testing of the B61-12 high-precision nuclear bombs have also got the world’s foremost nuclear weapons power concerned. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S.’s latest, most accurate nuclear bombs could make Trump more likely to use them.
“The advantage of the new modification of the B61-12, according to U.S. military experts themselves lies in the fact that it will be, as they put it, ‘more ethical’ and ‘more usable,’” Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Nonproliferation and Weapons Control Department, told the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.
“From this we can conclude that the clearing of such bombs for service could objectively lead to lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear arms,” he added. “This, we can imagine, is the main negative impact of the ongoing modernization.”
Most Americans have little or no confidence in Trump in dealing with nuclear weapons, immigration

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.

North Korea preparing for sixth nuclear test


North Korea may be preparing for sixth nuclear weapon test, South Korea says
Melissa Quinn
South Korean officials are warning that North Korea may be preparing for a sixth nuclear weapon test, according to a report.
During a parliamentary session, Seoul’s National Intelligence Service told South Korean lawmakers it picked up signs that North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test at its Punggye-ri underground test site, CNN reported Monday.
Pyongyang last held a nuclear test in September, when the rogue regime detonated what it said was a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could fit on a missile. Analysts, though, said it is almost impossible to verify North Korea’s claim.
Kim Byung-kee, a member of South Korea’s Democratic Party, said the South Korean intelligence agency reported that North Korea “has completed its preparation to carry out a nuclear test at Tunnel 2 and Tunnel 3 of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.”
The lawmaker added that the National Intelligence Service also detected activity indicating Tunnel 4 was being prepared for additional construction work. Work on the tunnel was stopped last year.
North Korean officials told CNN the U.S. could be punished for going forward with its U.S.-South Korea military exercises, which are taking place on the Korean Peninsula.
Pyongyang said the exercises, which are conducted annually and began Aug. 21, come at the “worst possible moment.”
The North Korean officials said “the Americans would be wholly responsible” if there was an escalation with “catastrophic consequences.”
While North Korea prepares for its sixth nuclear weapons test, the rogue regime has continued to test missiles, with the most recent test occurring Saturday.

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.