Ex-Russian Leader Anticipates Nuclear War (Revelation 15)

Gorbachev, who was head of the socialist state when it dissolved in 1991, wrote the comments in an opinion piece for Time magazine.
“More troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers are being brought to Europe,” the 85-year-old wrote. “NATO and Russian forces and weapons that used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each other, as if to shoot point-blank.
The 1990 Nobel Peace Prize-winner added: “Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war.”
Thousands of U.S. troops have been sent to eastern Europe in recent weeks, the largest deployment of its kind since the Cold War.
Gorbachev oversaw an agreement with the U.S. to reduce their nuclear arsenals. President Donald Trump, however, has suggested he could bolster the number of such weapons at his disposal, something that would reverse decades of American policy.
Trump has said he would like to expand America’s nuclear weapons, telling MSNBC’s Morning Joe in December: “Let it be an arms race.”
This proposed reversal of decades of U.S. policy was in part what moved a group of scientists Thursday to move the metaphorical Doomsday Clock to two minutes and 30 seconds before midnight — the time that represents when a catastrophic nuclear event can annihilate the earth.
Trump has signaled he may seek a rapprochement with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, including lifting sanctions imposed by Barack Obama over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Trump has also called NATO “obsolete”, and Russian media said he and Putin were expected to speak on the phone Saturday.
Some expects fear that if Trump undermines NATO and cozies up to Russia, Putin may be emboldened to interfere in other former Soviet countries.
“While state budgets are struggling to fund people’s essential social needs, military spending is growing,” Gorbachev wrote. “Money is easily found for sophisticated weapons whose destructive power is comparable to that of the weapons of mass destruction; for submarines whose single salvo is capable of devastating half a continent; for missile defense systems that undermine strategic stability.”
Gorbachev urged the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution stating that “nuclear war is unacceptable and must never be fought,” and said the initiative to sign it should come from Trump and Putin.

Russia Has No Intention Of Decreasing Their Nukes (Daniel 7)

Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) – Suggestions by President-elect Donald Trump that sanctions against Russia could be lifted in exchange for a nuclear arms cut attracted a frosty reception in Moscow on Monday.In an interview with the Times of London published on Sunday, Trump indicated that he could end sanctions imposed on Russia in the aftermath of the 2014 annexation of Crimea in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal.
Russia isn’t so anxious to get the sanctions lifted that it is prepared to “sacrifice something, especially in what concerns security,” said Konstantin Kosachev, the Kremlin-connected chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of parliament.
Kosachev also told the RIA Novosti news agency that Trump’s comments to the Times should be treated with caution because it wasn’t an official statement, since Trump hasn’t assumed office yet.
Washington, along with the European Union, has imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia and travel bans for individuals following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and interference in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The latest round of U.S. sanctions came at the end of December.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, sounded similarly cautious with reporters in Moscow later in the day.
“Let’s wait until he assumes office before we give assessment to any initiatives,” Peskov said. He added that Russia never raises the issue of sanctions in talks with its foreign counterparts and doesn’t intend to do so because it’s not up to Moscow to scrap them.
Another influential Russian lawmaker, Alexei Pushkov, in a tweet late Sunday laughed off warnings of the CIA director about challenges that will follow lifting the sanctions.
Speaking on Fox News, CIA Director John Brennan said on Sunday that in his opinion Trump doesn’t have “a full understanding of Russian capabilities and the actions they are taking on the world.”
Pushkov replied on Twitter: “There aren’t going to be any consequences.
“Except for their proponents getting a heart attack.”

The Ludricous Idea Of Nuclear Reduction

Loren Thompson , CONTRIBUTOR
President-elect Trump has not made up his mind how to deal with the threat of nuclear war, but give him credit for at least acknowledging the problem. Most politicians choose to ignore the 800-megaton gorilla in the room, even though it’s the one manmade threat that could wipe out American democracy before inauguration day.
Trump began his candidacy speaking out about the need to modernize the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, a topic on which he was 100% correct. He later suggested that allies like Japan and South Korea might need to develop their own nuclear arsenals, which was unsettling but a logical conclusion if the U.S. ceased extending a nuclear “umbrella” over allies. (Why would the U.S. be willing to risk its own destruction to protect some other country?)
More recently, Trump said the U.S. should “expand” its nuclear capabilities, and then on January 15 he proposed perhaps trading away economic sanctions against Russia in return for reductions in Moscow’s own nuclear arsenal.
President-elect Trump has been talking about America’s nuclear capabilities since his candidacy began. Nothing he has said so far sounds as outlandish as what President Obama said during his early months in office. (U.S. Department of Energy/Wikimedia)
President-elect Trump has been talking about America’s nuclear capabilities since his candidacy began. Nothing he has said so far sounds as outlandish as what President Obama said during his early months in office. (U.S. Department of Energy/Wikimedia)
Clearly, the president-elect hasn’t settled on how he wants to contain the greatest threat to U.S. security. But he would have to get a good deal more outlandish to match the position President Obama espoused during the early months of his first term. Obama actually advocated total nuclear disarmament, which would have been a huge windfall for any foreign dictator capable of hiding a few weapons while everyone else went to zero. Obama’s position also would have deprived NATO of its most potent deterrent against conventional attack.
So let’s not get too worked up about a few Trump sound-bites concerning nuclear weapons. So far, he hasn’t said anything as crazy as the newly elected President Obama did. But let’s also hope President Trump takes an early brief on why the U.S. has the kind of nuclear arsenal it does, because nuclear arms reductions aren’t like getting illegal guns off the street in Manhattan — if you do it the wrong way, you can make yourself much less safe.
A coherent nuclear strategy must acknowledge two fundamental facts: (1) Russia has enough nuclear weapons to wipe out our country, and (2) we have no real defense against that danger other than retaliation. The threat of retaliation is what we call “deterrence” — Russia restrains itself from attacking because it knows that would be an act of suicide. No kidding, if ordered to do so America’s military could destroy pretty much everything of value in Russia by sundown today.
Obviously, avoiding such a fate is the top priority of leaders in both countries. However, what matters in this kind of “mutual hostage” relationship is not how many weapons a country has before it suffers a surprise attack, but how many remain after. It’s the weapons that can survive and retaliate that deter a surprise attack in the first place.
Which is why leaders have to be really careful about how they cut their arsenals. If the U.S. were to trade away its land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles as former defense secretary William Perry recently suggested, and then the Russians figured out how to track our missile-launching submarines at sea, it would only take two dozen Russian warheads to disarm America in a surprise attack. The Russians have over a thousand warheads capable of doing the job.
Any such operation would be extremely risky, but with only 14 ballistic-missile submarines and a handful of bomber bases in the strategic force, it could be a tempting move in a crisis. Having hundreds of ICBMs in hardened silos that would each require multiple warheads to take out thus is crucial to deterring nuclear Armageddon in an imaginary scenario where the oceans become transparent and Moscow can target our subs.
Nobody seriously expects the Russians will be able to target our undersea deterrent in the foreseeable future. In fact, the next-generation Columbia class of ballistic-missile subs will probably be the most secure part of our nuclear force through the end of the century. But as Trump himself has learned in the business world, it doesn’t make sense to put all your eggs in one basket. You need to have options if your enemy scores a major breakthrough in the targeting department.
The bottom line here is that America needs a diverse array of nuclear forces to assure the Russians are deterred from launching a surprise attack, because if they figure out how to disarm us in a first strike, heaven knows we’ve given them a good reason for doing so.
So let’s not confuse cutting weapons stockpiles with becoming safer. What makes us safe from nuclear attack is the certainty our enemies have that any act of aggression would be suicidal. We need all three legs of the nuclear triad — missiles on land, missiles at sea, and long-range bombers — to make sure Moscow has no illusions. Modernizing this force over the next several decades will require about 1% of the federal budget. If Washington tries to save money by skipping a few steps on nuclear modernization, we could lose everything.

Trump makes a 180 degree turn

In an interview with The Times of London, Trump said he wanted nuclear weapons arsenals of the world’s two biggest nuclear powers — the United States and Russia — to be “reduced very substantially”.
“They have sanctions on Russia – let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it,” Trump was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Trump also criticised Russia for its intervention in the Syrian civil war, describing it as “a very bad thing” that had led to a “terrible humanitarian situation,” The Times said.
Trump said that he would appoint Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, to broker a Middle East peace deal, urged Britain to veto any new UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel and repeated his criticism of President Obama’s handling of the Iran nuclear deal.
He praised Queen Elizabeth and said he was eager to get a trade deal done with the United Kingdom.
“We’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides,” Trump said. “I will be meeting with [British Prime Minister Theresa May]. She’s requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House and it’ll be, I think we’re gonna get something done very quickly.”
Trump said he thought that “Brexit is going to end up being a great thing” and welcomed the fall in the value of the pound for having helped to boost the attractiveness of British products abroad, The Times said. (Reporting by William James, editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Obama Sanctions The Wrong Country (Ezekiel 17)

By Robbie Gramer and Dan De LuceForeign Policy
In what’s likely to mark its final bout of nuclear diplomacy, the Obama administration secured unanimous passage Wednesday of a U.N. Security Council resolution meant to further choke North Korea’s earnings in retaliation for developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
The resolution targets coal, North Korea’s most lucrative export, slashing the amount it can sell by 60 percent from last year’s levels. This is a big deal for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; he will now face a $700 million shortfall in revenue compared to last year. The sanctions target other sources of income for Kim Jong Un’s pariah state, including exports of silver, copper, and nickel — together worth about $100 million a year to the regime — and restrict Pyongyang’s ability to ship workers abroad to raise profits from their labor. The resolution also bars the import of luxury items, like rugs and bone china sets, that cost respectively more than $500 or $1,000.
“The United States is realistic about what this resolution will achieve. No resolution in New York will likely, tomorrow, persuade Pyongyang to cease its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said. But the resolution “imposes unprecedented costs on the DPRK regime for defying this Council’s demands,” she added. The sanctions, if fully implemented, would erase about one-quarter of North Korea’s export earnings.
Eight years of U.S. and U.N. diplomatic maneuvering during President Barack Obama’s tenure has left North Korea increasingly isolated. But it has still utterly failed to achieve the primary goal of curbing the country’s nuclear weapons and missile program. North Korea has detonated five nuclear weapons in underground tests since 2006 — four while Obama was in office — and conducted a flurry of missile launches for its growing missile arsenal. U.S. intelligence officers believe it is only a matter of time before the regime builds a nuclear-tipped intercontinental missile capable of striking the United States.
The resolution on Wednesday was designed to address a gaping loophole in a previous set of sanctions adopted in March that allowed coal exports from the North for “livelihood” reasons. China, with its large appetite for commodities, cited the exception to increase imports of coal from its neighbor since the spring.
The new measures are the product of U.S. lobbying of China over the issue, including a veiled threat that the United States would take unilateral action against Chinese companies doing illegal business with the North. In a move seen as a warning to Beijing, the Treasury Department in September issued criminal charges against Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co. and its owner, alleging that the Chinese firm had links to a notorious North Korean bank, Kwangson Banking.
The U.N. resolution also reflects China’s frustration with the North, as the regime’s provocative actions have irritated Beijing and prompted South Korea to acquire a sophisticated missile defense system that China views a threat to its own military.
But the sanctions fall short of what the United States and European powers had urged, as China wants to increase pressure on Pyongyang while avoiding a collapse of the regime and an influx of penniless North Korean refugees, diplomats and experts said.
“This is carefully calibrated by the Chinese. They want to tighten the screws but not to the point where the regime is brought to its knees,” a congressional staffer told Foreign Policy.
China holds all the leverage when it comes to the North Korean regime’s access to cash. Roughly 70 percent of the North’s trade runs through China, including most of its food supplies. High-quality coal exported to China for use in industry makes up about one-third of North Korea’s total export earnings.
North Korea took center stage in the U.S. presidential elections after its latest nuclear test at the height of campaign season in September. But President-elect Donald Trump’s erratic comments have made it hard to predict the incoming administration’s North Korea policy — much less its wider plans for diplomacy.
In February, the president-elect appeared to suggest the United States should assassinate Kim Jong Un, saying “I would get China to make that guy disappear in one form or another very quickly.” And in March, Trump rattled U.S. allies Japan and South Korea by suggesting they acquire their own nuclear weapons to defend themselves against North Korea — a dramatic shift in America’s long-established nuclear policy of nonproliferation.
But in May, the former reality television star took a decidedly softer stance toward the North Korean strongman, saying he would talk to him. To add another complicated layer to the mix, Trump’s incoming national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, wrote a book arguing China — who helped the United States secure the latest U.N. sanctions — and North Korea have ties to jihadists in the Middle East.
The previous round of sanctions imposed earlier this year against Pyongyang failed to make a dent in commerce between the North and China, or in the regime’s coal exports. The two countries traded goods worth $525.24 million in October, up 21.1 percent from a year ago. It was the third month in a row that trade went up, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs.
North Korea has successfully circumvented and worked around the vast array of sanctions that have been imposed over the past decade, paying big fees to Chinese middlemen to handle the logistics of transactions with regime banks and companies.
The sanctions unveiled Wednesday target coal exports to China in particular, which have generated more than $1 billion in income for the regime annually.
“That’s money that’s directly going to come out of the regime’s pocket that will then be unavailable for them to use on their nuclear program,” British U.N. ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.
But experts say North Korea pocketed large sums of cash when coal and other commodity prices spiked between 2007 and 2010, and is likely still drawing on those reserves.
Foreign Policy senior staff writer Colum Lynch contributed to this report.

Obama Prepares To Take The Fall (Eze 17)

Blame It On Obama: US President Wants To Be Held Responsible If Iran Poses Nuclear Threat In Future

By Sounak Mukhopadhyay
on May 21 2015 2:06 PM EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama dismissed media reports that Saudi Arabia would opt for nuclear power if Iran did so. He said that there was no indication that other Persian Gulf nations wanted to pursue their own nuclear programs.
Obama said that a probable reason behind Gulf nations not opting for nuclear power is that U.S. protection was a “far greater deterrent” than their own nuclear capacity. The U.S. president added that Saudi Arabia among other Gulf nations appeared satisfied. The Saudis seem convinced that a deal between the U.S. and Iran would prevent Iran from posing a nuclear threat to the region, he added.
Obama said that he had a personal interest in finalizing a nuclear agreement with Iran. “Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing,” Obama told the Atlantic. “ a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this.
Obama also talked about the loss of Ramadi, Iraq, to fighters from the Islamic State group. He dismissed the notion that the U.S. military was losing against Islamic State group forces. He admitted, however, that the U.S.-led coalition had suffered a “tactical setback” in Ramadi.
The president said Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time. He blamed the situation there on a lack of U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. He added that improvements in training were not happening fast enough in the Sunni parts of Iraq.
Obama said there was an important lesson to learn from U.S. involvement in Iraq. According to Obama, Iraqi people are either not capable or not willing to reach the “political accommodations” needed for governing the country. Obama added that Americans would not be able to fight for Iraq’s security if Iraqis were not willing to do it for themselves. The Atlantic interview conducted Tuesday was released Thursday.
Some U.S. officials have tried to portray that the defeat in Ramadi as not very important because the city has been partially held by the Islamic State group for the past 18 months. However, Financial Times reported that Ramadi had left “a hole” in the confidence of the United States. Amman, Jordan, publisher Kirk Sowell wondered what difference 300 U.S. trainers could make to a “hollow” Iraqi division.

Sanction Easing Leaves Ayatollah In Control (Daniel 8:3)

Middle East Countries Wary Of Iran Sanctions Easing, Not Possible Nuclear Weapons
Khamenei's Iron Fist

Khamenei’s Iron Fist
  @ErinBanco e.banco@ibtimes.com on February 26 2015 3:56 PM EST
ISTANBUL — While the U.S. and Israel focus on the implications of Iran developing its nuclear program, some of Iran’s regional adversaries are concerned about something else: the power that Iran’s economy, unshackled from sanctions by a nuclear deal with the international community, would exert in the Middle East. As negotiations in Geneva inch toward a possible deal in which Iran would freeze its nuclear energy program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions, Iran’s neighbors look worriedly at a huge nation that’s been isolated from world trade for decades and whose re-entry in it may tip the balance of economic power in the Middle East. 
With a population of more than 78 million, Iran is the Mideast’s second-largest nation after Egypt and already the second-biggest economy after Saudi Arabia. With almost two Iranians out of three under the age of 30, many of them with higher degrees, the young, well-educated nation could soon turn into an economic powerhouse.
And for countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, an Iran released from its current economic restrictions and able to trade freely is a threat, in sectors from mining to the automotive industry. For the governments of those Sunni-dominated nations, those economic concerns also compound ongoing concerns over the growing political influence of Shiite Iran in places such as Iraq and Syria. 
Iran has grown into its current size as an economy even under an international isolation that began in 1979, when an Islamist revolution overthrew the pro-Western regime of the Shah and the occupation of the U.S. embassy in Tehran led to the end of relationships with the U.S. Washington and the European Union took an even harsher stance in 2012, when increased sanctions imposed as Iran went forward with its nuclear program helped cause a two-year recession.
U.S. companies are prohibited from trading with Iran, and doing so remains nearly impossible  for non-U.S. companies. Any foreign company not owned by a U.S. individual that trades with Iran runs the risk of being blacklisted by the U.S. and excluded from its market.
But that could change if the U.S. and Iran reach an agreement. Recent reports have indicated that U.S. officials are considering putting forward a plan that would restrict Tehran’s nuclear capabilities for 10 years in exchange for the easing of some economic sanctions. Analysts and lawyers specializing in sanctions said one of the first parts of the sanction structure to be lifted or eased would be the extraterritorial factor, which allows the U.S. government to punish third-party entities that deal with Iran.
If Iran comes back in full onto the world oil market, an immediate effect is that Saudi Arabia’s industrial ambitions may suffer. Mohamad Aly Ramady, an economist based in Riyadh, said Saudi Arabia is using its revenue from oil and minerals extraction to help jump-start an emerging auto sector. Over the past two years, Saudi Arabia has worked with Indian-owned companies to begin car production in the city of Yanbu, but if Iran were able to export cars, it would hinder potential future sales of Saudi vehicles in the Middle East.
Iran has ranked for years in the top 15 largest car-producing nations, making 1.6 million vehicles in 2011, more than Great Britain and more than double Italy. Renewed sanctions then hit the nation over its nuclear energy program, and the ensuing economic slump slowed car production to just 740,000 in 2013. But Iran has shown it has the ability to make more cars than established industrial powerhouses, and if sanctions were eased it could sell them throughout the Middle East. That could help sink Saudi Arabia’s attempt to diversify away from a largely oil-based economy, after the kingdom has invested more than $50 billion in turning Yanbu into an industrial center.
For Jordan, the fear lies more in how a resurgent Iranian economy could translate into more regional clout.
Iran has for years intervened in volatile situations throughout the Middle East, giving cash and weapons to Shiite groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. In the latter, Iran initially propped up President Bashar al-Assad, but its intervention has turned into a fight to stop Sunni militias, including the Islamic State group, or ISIS. The humanitarian crisis created by the regime’s crackdown with Iranian support has pushed  hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee to Jordan, which is burdening the fragile Jordanian economy.
Like Jordan, Turkey also has a major stake in the wars in Iraq and Syria, and has taken in millions of Syrian refugees since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. But the government is more worried about the possibility of Iran being able again to conduct financial transactions directly, which would cut Turkish banks out of the profitable role of intermediary.
Before the U.S. and EU implemented the latest round of sanctions, Turkey’s Halkbank, 75 percent owned by the government, was one of the main hubs for handling Iranian transactions. The few countries that still imported Iranian oil, unable to pay Iran directly, turned to Halkbank to make payments. The Turkish bank is holding on to the cash until it can pay Iranian oil sellers, and lawyers said it is profiting handsomely from millions of dollars in  interest. (The central bank’s main interest rate in Turkey is now at a relatively very high 10.75 percent.)
A deal with Iran that could end that bonanza for Turkey. But sanctions could remain in place, depending on the outcome of the nuclear talks.
The opposers of any agreement with Iran include many Republicans in Washington and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will hold a speech before the U.S. Congress next week — at the Republicans’ invitation, not approved by the White House — in which he is expected to publicly criticize the White House’s efforts to broker a deal. Netanyahu has said before that a deal is going to result in Iran developing a nuclear weapon, which Israel would never allow.

Obama Can’t Stop Prophecy: The Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

Obama’s Wrong: The Iran Nuclear Program Is Full-Steam Ahead

Contrary to the president’s State of the Union assurances, Iran has exploited loopholes to keep progress on its nuclear program very much un-halted.

By John Tabin
January 22, 2015

“Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran,” President Obama said in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, “where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.

This was, in fact, false. For the last year, even as negotiations have continued, the Iranians have exploited loopholes in the interim agreement to keep progress on their nuclear program very much un-halted. Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has expanded; the interim deal limits enrichment by purity—they can only get about 60 percent of the way to weapons-grade purity without violating the deal—but it doesn’t limit by volume. Construction has continued on the heavy water plant in Arak, which could function as a factory for plutonium bombs; the interim agreement only prohibits firing the reactor itself. And work continues on Iran’s ballistic missile program, which the interim agreement doesn’t even attempt to curb.

Sanctions on Iran Impending? Not Yet

But leave that aside. The president was merely indulging his habit of touting accomplishments that aren’t actually accomplishments. What he said a few sentences later was even more problematic:
But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails—alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.

A casual listener might assume that Congress is considering sanctions that would kick in as soon as they’re passed. But that’s simply not the case: The bill advocated by Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez triggers sanctions only if negotiators miss the June 30 deadline the administration set for securing an agreement.

The notion that the Iranians would be pushed to walk away from the negotiating table by the threat of sanctions that would bite if the Iranians walked away from the negotiating table is incoherent. So why is Obama so adamantly opposed to sanctions legislation that has fairly broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill?

There is an intelligible reason that Obama might oppose Kirk-Menendez, although it wouldn’t make for a good line in a speech: Obama may want to let talks drag on further, or to sign a deal with Iran that Congress wouldn’t like.

Kirk-Menendez establishes a series of criteria (significantly watered down from the version of the bill that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid killed in the last Congress) that Iran must meet in a nuclear agreement to avoid sanctions. It makes sense to oppose Kirk-Menendez if the Obama administration wants to either extend the interim agreement again or sign a deal that wouldn’t necessarily check Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Or Perhaps Obama Fantasizes He Can Reset the Middle East

It may be, his protestations that he “keep[s] all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran” notwithstanding, that Obama sees diplomacy with Iran as inherently desirable not simply as a means toward nonproliferation but as a path toward a broader rapprochement with Tehran.

Punishing sanctions are what induced Iran to negotiate in the first place, and the threat that they’ll return is the best hope for a deal that might end the Iranian nuclear weapons program without war.

This would explain why Bashar al-Assad, Tehran’s proxy in Damascus, wasn’t mentioned in last night’s speech, and why U.S. planes operating in Syrian territory have left the dictator’s forces alone. And it would explain the letter President Obama sent to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei last year (at least the fourth such letter he’s sent) touting the shared interest Washington and Tehran have in fighting the Islamic State. Obama may imagine that he is the president who is going to break through the Islamic Republic’s anti-Americanism and realign the Middle East.

This is, of course, an insane fantasy (and to be fair, systematic thinking about where Obama’s instincts lead him may give him too much credit). The government in Yemen, Washington’s partner in fighting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was just overrun by rebels backed by Iran. A closer Middle Eastern ally faces constant threats from Iranian proxies in the Levant—though unlike the Yemenis, the Israelis are pretty good about taking care of themselves.

And Tehran’s use of violence as an instrument of statecraft isn’t limited to the region; the Islamic Republic’s special brand of power-projection has extended to Europe and South America (where investigating Iranian terrorism can be dangerous), and has come close to touching the United States.

This regime isn’t ever going to fit comfortably into an international order that serves American interests. It certainly shouldn’t be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. Punishing sanctions are what induced Iran to negotiate in the first place, and the threat that they’ll return is the best hope for a deal that might end the Iranian nuclear weapons program without war.

There’s a good chance that the House and Senate both have the votes to not only pass the Kirk-Menendez sanctions bill but to override Obama’s veto. They should do so immediately.

John Tabin is a writer in Washington, DC. Follow him on Twitter.

The Writing On The Wall (Daniel 5:25)

Obama asks Congress to hold off Iraq sanctions
AFP Jan. 17, 2015 at 09:05pm

US President Barack Obama on Friday urged Congress not to impose new sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear program, threatening to veto any such legislation that lands on his desk.

Obama told a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron that Iran was already chafing under existing sanctions and had not accelerated its program, and that he would strongly urge Congress not to torpedo the ongoing talks with Tehran.

 “Congress needs to show patience,” Obama said.

“We’ll see how persuasive I am. But if I’m not persuading Congress, I promise you, I’m going to be taking my case to the American people on this,” he warned.

Obama has faced mounting calls from Republican critics for tougher new sanctions on Iran, with lawmakers saying a debate on more stringent measures could take place in the US Senate within weeks.

But new sanctions would “jeopardize the possibility of… providing a diplomatic solution to one of the most difficult and long-lasting national security problems that we’ve faced in a very long time,” Obama said.

“I will veto a bill that comes to my desk.”

Cameron also spoke out against calls for further sanctions on Iran, saying negotiations needed “space” to succeed.

“We remain absolutely committed to ensuring that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon,” Cameron said.

“The best way to achieve that now is to create the space for negotiations to succeed. We should not impose further sanctions now.”

Iran and major world powers have given themselves until late June to reach a comprehensive agreement that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, a goal it denies having, in return for an easing of punishing economic sanctions.

A flurry of talks have been held this week, including meetings in Paris on Friday between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his French and US counterparts.

Both sides have remained relatively tight-lipped about whether any progress is being made, but France said Friday that “significant” questions must be answered before a deal can be struck.

Sunday will see fresh talks in Geneva between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group—the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—seeking to break a stalemate that has seen two earlier deadlines pass without an accord.

However, Republicans in the United States are seeking to shape US policy on Iran by two paths being crafted in Congress.

One tactic envisages adoption of a bill requiring Obama to submit any nuclear accord reached with Iran to Congress for approval.

Babylon The Great: The American Nuclear Horn (Revelation 17)

US Threatens Russia with New Nuclear Missiles, Prepares New Sanctions for Putin

By Precious Silva | December 13, 2014 4:12 PM EST
REUTERS/Larry Downing

The rift between United States and Russia continues as the Pentagon threatens Russia with releasing nuclear missiles in lieu of the Moscow’s violation. According to the US, the country is prepared to redeploy nuclear weapons as a means to keep Russia at bay following its breach of two arms control treaties. Meanwhile, the US Congress has been working on new sanctions for Vladimir Putin following decisions over Ukraine tension.

Putin and his administration have been in hot water since its move against Ukraine and other activities in the Baltic region. The US government appears unforgiving of the region’s moves as it threatens Russia with nuclear missiles and new sanctions. 
PressTV quote principal deputy undersecretary for policy at the Department of Defense Brian McKeon: “We don’t have ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe now obviously because they’re prohibited by the treaty.”

However, the official did note: “But that would obviously be one option to explore.” According to Washington, Moscow breached the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Russia denied the accusation and clarified that its ground-launched cruise missile last July followed the INF treaty.

President Barrack Obama has raised the violation issue with Russian president Vladimir Putin according to Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller. The Arms Control official also said that the US was thinking of pushing through with “military countermeasures” to emphasize the treaty breaches. Russia has been warned not to continue any cycle of action to prevent provoking other military counter measures.

On the other side of Washington, Yahoo reported US lawmakers working on another sanction concerning weapons companies in Russia. If the sanction will push through then it may also include measures on high-tech oil investments in the region. Just this Thursday, the Senate and House of Representatives agreed and passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act. The bill was sent back to the Senate following house panel changes. There should be a vote soon though President Obama has been opposed to this. The president clarified that he does not agree with additional sanctions unless Europe also agrees on them.

If the US president will agree on the sanction then companies like Rosoboronexport (arms exporter) will be affected. The bill pushes that these providers contribute to the rising tensions in Syria, Georgia and Ukraine.

McKeon further stated: “This violation will not go unanswered, because there is too much at stake.”

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