The New Age of Nuclear Terrorism

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

The Antichrist Remembers the Large Horn (Daniel 8:3)

Muqtada Sadr: Iraq never stands against Iran, its interests



(AhlulBayt News Agency) – Leader of a political party, the Sadrist Movement and the leader of Saraya al-Salam Muqtada al-Sadr pointed to historic and stable ties between two countries.
Muqtada al-Sadr made the remarks in an interview recently.Iraq never stands against Iran and its interests, he said.He also denied the fact that his recent regional trips aimed at joining international lobbies. He referred to his trips as aiming at creating full understanding and coordination with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, reinforcing relations with regional countries and putting an end to tensions between Iraq and its neighbors

No, Kissinger’s View of the Shia Crescent is Correct

Sunni-Shia-Map-PEWKissinger’s Dangerously Flawed Views on Iran
by Eldar Mamedov
There are few people in the universe of US foreign policy with the standing and prestige of Henry Kissinger. He is still actively giving his opinions and recommendations on critical diplomatic issues. All the more concerning, then, that on some of them his analysis is increasingly out of touch with reality. The danger is that the Kissinger’s imprimatur confers on some seriously flawed ideas an intellectual respectability that would otherwise have been lacking. Relations with Iran are a case in point.
In a recent article Kissinger warned that the defeat of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS or IS) would lead to a consolidation of an “Iranian radical empire” if the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their “Shiite allies” in Iraq and Syria inherit the territory currently occupied by IS.
Whatever the reasons prompting someone with the reputation of preeminent realist to parrot this neoconservative mantra, the talk of a “radical Iranian empire” is utter nonsense, with dangerous implications if followed by the policymakers.
The reality that escapes Kissinger is that Iran’s regional policy is of a fundamentally defensive nature. Unlike other states in the region, Iran has no external security provider. While Turkey is a member of NATO and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Israel enjoy an extensive security relationship with the US, Iran can only rely on itself. The war with Iraq, when almost the entire world rallied behind Baghdad against Tehran, has made Iranians painfully aware of this reality, and to this day deeply permeates their security thinking.
To neutralize or mitigate threats, Iran has cultivated a network of allies and proxies in the Middle East, which could be deployed as a forward defense in order to keep threats away from Iran’s borders. Contrary to the myth of the Shiite character of the new empire Iran is supposedly building, these forces are neither ideologically nor religiously homogenous: the spectrum spans from conventional Shiite Islamists like Lebanese Hezbollah to secular dictators like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to Sunni fundamentalists like Hamas and even to a flirtation with Wahhabi Qatar when the opportunity presented itself.
On the other hand, as the recent visit of politically prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to Saudi Arabia has shown, Iran is very far from controlling the political life of what are supposed to be the integral parts of its “empire.” The government of Iraq, even if Shia-dominated, has never been Tehran’s puppet. Even if the majority of Iraqis are Shias, they are also Arabs, and it would be foolish to dismiss the potency of Arab nationalism.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the majority of Shias in Iraq—or other Arab countries where their presence is significant like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia—see themselves as part of a Persian-led “empire,” subscribe to the unorthodox velayat-e fakih (the rule of the religious jurist) import from Iran, or recognize the Ayatollah Khamenei, rather than, for example, Ayatollah Sistani, as their supreme spiritual and political authority. Any sympathy for Iran to be found in those countries is largely a product of severe domestic repression of the local Shias by the Sunni monarchies rather than an imperial Iranian design—a point that Kissinger conveniently neglects to mention.
Further to the west, Syria’s secular dictatorship has relied heavily on Iran for its survival. But Iran is not the only actor in the country. Assad’s regime also has close ties with Russia, who is on the same side as Iran in that country’s war but not with identical interests. And in Lebanon, although Hezbollah undoubtedly has close ideological and operational links with Iran, it is first and foremost a grassroots Lebanese organization: an ally, not a client, of Iran.
If Kissinger were right, then Iran would have been well on its way to imposing on the region the kind of top-down relationship enjoyed by the Soviet Union vis-à-vis its satellites in Central Europe after the defeat of the Nazi Germany. Yet, as the examples above suggest, Iran is simply not powerful enough to accomplish that even if it sincerely wanted to. As a result, Iran, like other regional players, has to adapt to a set of constantly shifting regional dynamics at least as much as it contributes to shaping them. Iran is an opportunist rather than an imperial power.
For the sake of argument, however, let’s imagine for a moment that Kissinger is right, that a “radical Iranian empire” is indeed in the cards, and that such a nefarious development must be prevented at all cost. Although he doesn’t say so directly, Kissinger is implying that the US has to ensure the survival of IS to balance the “Iranian empire.” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a close ally of President Trump, already muttered an idea along these lines in the wake of the IS-perpetrated terrorist attacks in Tehran in June this year. Although not even Iran uber-hawks support Rohrabacher’s loathsome views, this idea, when endorsed by someone of Kissinger’s stature, could become much more influential, especially in the current climate of demonization of Iran in Washington.
Although Iran is certainly not sinless, there is no reason to single it out as a uniquely malign influence in the region. And under no circumstances should the US even consider supporting or tolerating in any way a vicious terrorist organization like IS. To the contrary, its imminent defeat should be used by all responsible actors in the region and beyond as an opportunity to start talks on a truly inclusive, multilateral regional security arrangement, with the legitimate interests of all states on board. Nothing is to be gained by the perpetuation of zero-sum games of the sort advocated by Henry Kissinger in his latest, misguided essay.
This article reflects the personal views of the author and not necessarily the opinions of the European Parliament.
*This article was modified on August 11, 2017 to reflect Dana Rohrabacher’s party affiliation.

Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Editor’s note: As chairman of the US Senate’s Arms Control Subcommittee, Larry Pressler advocated the now-famous Pressler Amendment, enforced in 1990 when President George HW Bush could not certify that Pakistan was not developing a nuclear weapon. Aid and military sales to Pakistan were blocked, including a consignment of F-16 fighter aircraft, changing forever the tenor of the United States’ relationships with Pakistan and India, and making Pressler “a temporary hero throughout India and a devil in Pakistan”. In a new book, Neighbours in Arms, Senator Larry Pressler reveals what went on behind the scenes in the years when the Pressler Amendment was in force, through a cast of characters that includes presidents, prime ministers, senators and generals in the US, India and Pakistan. The following excerpt is from a chapter titled ‘The Enforcement of the Pressler Amendment’, reproduced here with permission from Penguin Random House.
‘It was the most dangerous nuclear situation we have ever faced since I’ve been in the US government. It may be as close as we’ve come to a nuclear exchange. It was far more frightening than the Cuban missile crisis.’
— Richard J Kerr, former deputy director of the CIA, in an interview with reporter Seymour Hersh, describing the 1990 nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan.
In June 1989, Pakistan’s new prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, addressed a joint session of Congress in the US, where she said, ‘Speaking for Pakistan, I can declare that we do not possess, nor do we intend to make, a nuclear device.’ I was present when she made that public testimony. It was an outright lie to Congress. But she just did not know it. When she was accused of lying, I came to her defence. She did not know about the nuclear weapons because the ISI never told her. They had developed a bomb without the approval or the knowledge of the prime minister and Parliament. Incredible!
The incident testifies to the power that the ISI wields in the Pakistani political system. When I spoke privately with her at a prayer breakfast during that same visit, she told me how hopeless she felt trying to govern when the ISI, with American generals coaxing them on, controlled everything in Pakistan. Consequently, I was disappointed when President Bush followed Reagan’s lead and, once again, issued a certification that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear weapon, in October 1989. An exasperated Senator Glenn took to the floor of the Senate in November of that year to protest this certification, asserting that:
I must conclude that the President had to make the most narrow possible interpretation of law to conclude that Pakistan does not possess the bomb — a statement I find very difficult to accept and really believe. To me, the President’s action represents both bad policy and a disservice to a good law.’
Almost a year after the Soviet Army had withdrawn from Afghanistan, why did we feel the need to continue to funnel aid to Pakistan? I could not understand it. In October 1990, five years after the Pressler Amendment became law, President Bush finally invoked it. Why did President Bush enforce the law when President Reagan did not? Maybe it had something to do with the nuclear face-off between India and Pakistan in May 1990, a nuclear catastrophe narrowly avoided but kept largely under wraps by the US government until journalist Seymour Hersh revealed the details in an article in the New Yorker magazine on 29 March 1993.

Hersh was a controversial journalist, but on matters of Pakistan and the South Asia region, he was dead on. In this article, Hersh described how the American intelligence community witnessed in horror the fast-rising tensions between India and Pakistan in the spring of 1990, originating where it always seemed to, in Kashmir. Protests, rioting and an Indian police crackdown resulted in hundreds of Kashmiri civilian deaths. The Pakistanis’ reaction was frightening: intelligence analysts believed that Pakistan was training Muslim Kashmiri ‘freedom fighters’ on the border and outfitting a nuclear bomb that could be placed under the wing of an F-16.

The National Security Agency (NSA) had intercepted an order from the Pakistan Army’s chief of staff, General Mirza Aslam Baig, to actually assemble a nuclear weapon. The situation quickly escalated as India prepared an offensive ground strike into Pakistan and Pakistan planned to preempt this ground invasion with a nuclear hit on New Delhi. A quick intervention by American diplomats, including Robert Gates (who later served as President George W Bush’s and President Obama’s secretary of defense), was planned. Gates and his team were dispatched to the region to meet with the leaders of both India and Pakistan. They convinced both countries to stand down and move their troops away from the border. India agreed to improve the human rights conditions in Kashmir, and Pakistan agreed to shut down insurgent training camps in Kashmir. All sides agreed and war was averted, but many involved in the event consider it to be the closest the world has come to a nuclear exchange since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Everyone in Washington who was involved in non-proliferation knew about this crisis before Hersh’s article was published a few years later, but no one talked about it publicly. After this crisis, making the certification required under the Pressler Amendment was going to be very difficult and the State Department knew it. In August 1990, the department sent a ‘Top Secret’ memorandum to Brent Scowcroft, the President’s national security adviser. In it were recommendations that President Bush send letters to both Pakistan’s Prime Minister Bhutto and President Ghulam Ishaque Khan. The memo and draft letters, recently declassified and released, outlined a proposed diplomatic strategy that would allow President Bush to rationalise the Pressler Amendment annual certification. ‘We believe that non-certification would spark an accelerated Indo-Pak nuclear race, putting the pronuclear elements in both governments under highly public and emotional pressure to move ahead full tilt.’ Weren’t they already moving ahead ‘full tilt’ — with American taxpayers’ support?
The memo went on to recommend asking Pakistan,
to demonstrate tangibly that it is complying with the three steps we had earlier told them are essential for certification (cease production of highly enriched uranium, refrain from production of highly enriched uranium metal, ensure that Pakistan does not possess any highly enriched uranium metal in the form of nuclear device components).
The State Department made it clear they believed that Pakistan would never allow US officials to inspect its nuclear facilities:
Demanding inspection of all Pakistan’s HEU [highly enriched uranium] has almost no chance of acceptance. In these circumstances, if we believe the Pressler standard can be met with less than [an] inspection of HEU, we should not limit the President’s ability to certify by setting our standards at an unrealistically high level.
Essentially, the State Department was arguing that President Bush should be satisfied with Pakistan’s stated intentions. I could not understand how we could ever be satisfied by Pakistan’s promises. They were empty. President Bush obviously agreed. Two months later, he finally invoked the Pressler Amendment and refused to certify to Congress that Pakistan did not have a nuclear weapon. He bucked the State Department. How could he ever have made any other choice? Bush’s action stunned the world — and particularly the Octopus*. I was so happy and proud that Bush took this bold action. It was risky, because he might have incurred the wrath of all those who stood to gain from arms sales to Pakistan, including the delivery of numerous fighter jets with a nuclear delivery capability.
*By the Octopus, what is being referred to, is Washington, or the Military Industrial State. Andrew J Bacevich Sr, a professor at Boston University, and respected American military historian, wrote about the ‘Octopus’ in his book titled ‘American Rules’: 
As used here, Washington (the Military Industrial State) is less geographic expression than a set of interlocking institutions headed by people, who, whether acting officially or unofficially, are able to put a thumb on the helm of state. Washington (the Military Industrial State), in this sense, includes the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. It encompasses the principal components of the national security state — the Departments of Defense, State, and more recently, Homeland Security, along with various agencies comprising the intelligence and law enforcement communities. Its rank extends to select think tanks and interest groups. Lawyers, lobbyists, fixers, former officials, and retired military officers who still enjoy access are members in good standing. Yet Washington (the Military Industrial State) also reaches beyond the Washington ‘Beltway’ to include big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors, and major corporations, and television networks . . . With rare exceptions, acceptance of the Washington (the Military Industrial State) rules forms a prerequisite for entry into this world.

Published Date: Aug 05, 2017 03:33 pm | Updated Date: Aug 05, 2017 03:37 pm

The Shia Crescent Forms (Daniel 8:8)

shiacrescentBaghdad and Tehran sign a deal to boost military cooperation

Mina Aldroubi
Iraq and Iran signed an agreement on Sunday to boost military cooperation days after the US imposed new sanctions against Tehran for its “malign” activity in the region.
The agreement to help “combat terrorism” was signed a day after the Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi said Shiite militias backed by Iran would remain an integral part of the state.
Iranian military advisers have played a key role in the campaign to drive ISIL from territory seized by the extremist group in 2014 and the militias, known as Hashed Al Shaabi, have also fought against the extremists along with Iraq’s regular military and police.
But the militias have been accused of abuses against Sunni populations in areas recaptured by government forces and there are fears over their future role in the country.
The agreement between Iran and Iraq, which extends “cooperation and exchanging experiences in fighting terrorism” was signed in Tehran by the Iranian defence minister Hossein Dehghan and his Iraqi counterpart, Erfan Al Hiyali.
The agreement also covered border security, logistics and training, the Iranian official news agency IRNA reported.
Since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, Iran’s influence in the country has increased, empowering Shiite leaders and leaving Sunni populations neglected and resentful of the central government, which contributed to the rise of ISIL.
With the extremists defeated in Mosul, the last major city under its control, many Sunnis are fearful of a sectarian backlash as the country tries to rebuild.
The role of the Hashed Al Shaabi in Iraq has been an issue of widespread contention and will be a key issue in elections next year.
The government passed a bill in November that made the Hashed a legitimate entity of Iraq’s security forces and on Saturday Mr Al Abadi declared after meeting militias commanders that “the forces are an essential and neutral security entity and will remain within the structure of the Iraqi state”.
While maintaining that “the state is the main leader” of the security structure in the country, he said the Hashed “is a neutral security establishment, and it is here to stay”.
“It is our duty to protect it, because we are one,” Mr Al Abadi added.
The announcement is the clearest sign of support from the prime minister for the Hashed’s continued role in Iraq after ISIL’s defeat. While his predecessor, Nouri Al Malaki, was widely condemned for his sectarian policies, Mr Al Abadi has been more conciliatory.
He has condemned sectarian violence carried out by the militias and tried to build ties with Sunni countries in the region. Last month, he travelled to Jeddah and met King Salman after the Saudi foreign minister visited Baghdad in February.
But the Hashed endorsement will raise concerns among Sunni leaders in Iraq.
Sarah Allawi, advisor to Iraqi vice president Ayad Allawi, said: “We thank the security forces for their efforts in liberating Mosul from ISIL – however we now are entering a new phase rebuilding Iraq post ISIL, which is aiming to achieve national reconciliation between political forces.”
The Hashed are an amalgamation of various subgroups with allegiances to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iraq’s top Shiite clerics Ali Al Sistani and Muqtada Al Sadr, according to a report on the militias by the Carnegie Middle East Center.
“Some subgroups have assumed political roles and will seek to leverage their roles in combatting ISIL to win votes in Iraq’s 2018 elections,” said the report.
For militia members, the legitimacy of their struggle against ISIL is a direct result of a fatwa issued by Ali Al Sistani in response to the fall of Mosul in 2014 in which he called the fight a “sacred defence”.
“As of November 2016 and the passing of the Hashed Al Shaabi law, the Hashed has become a formally institutionalised part of Iraq’s security apparatus tied to the office of the commander-in-chief,” said Fanar Haddad, senior research fellow in the National University of Singapore.
“However, unlike other security units, disbanding the Hashed would not be a straightforward administrative procedure given their immense popularity and legitimacy amongst many Iraqis and given the Hashed’s powerful backers in Iraq and Iran”.
The Hashed’s role in defeating ISIL has also given them support from other sections of Iraq and not just Shiites.
“The fact is that the Hashed will be a permanent feature of Iraq’s social, political and military landscapes for the foreseeable future,” Mr Haddad added.

A Third of Mankind Will Die (Ezekiel 13)


Billions Could Die If India and Pakistan Start a Nuclear War
Zachary Keck
With the world’s attention firmly fixated on North Korea, the greatest possibility of nuclear war is in fact on the other side of Asia.
That place is what could be called the nuclear triangle of Pakistan, India and China. Although Chinese and Indian forces are currently engaged in a standoff, traditionally the most dangerous flashpoint along the triangle has been the Indo-Pakistani border. The two countries fought three major wars before acquiring nuclear weapons, and one minor one afterwards. And this doesn’t even include the countless other armed skirmishes and other incidents that are a regular occurrence.
At the heart of this conflict, of course, is the territorial dispute over the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the latter part of which Pakistan lays claim to. Also key to the nuclear dimension of the conflict is the fact that India’s conventional capabilities are vastly superior to Pakistan’s. Consequently, Islamabad has adopted a nuclear doctrine of using tactical nuclear weapons against Indian forces to offset the latter’s conventional superiority.
If this situation sounds similar, that is because this is the same strategy the U.S.-led NATO forces adopted against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In the face of a numerically superior Soviet military, the United States, starting with the Eisenhower administration, turned to nuclear weapons to defend Western Europe from a Soviet attack. Although nearly every U.S. president, as well as countless European leaders, were uncomfortable with this escalatory strategy, they were unable to escape the military realities undergirding it until at least the Reagan administration.
At an event at the Stimson Center in Washington this week, Feroz Khan, a former brigadier in the Pakistan Army and author of one of the best books on the country’s nuclear program, said that Pakistani military leaders explicitly based their nuclear doctrine on NATO’s Cold War strategy. But as Vipin Narang, a newly tenured MIT professor who was on the same panel, pointed out, an important difference between NATO and Pakistan’s strategies is that the latter has used its nuclear shield as a cover to support countless terrorist attacks inside India. Among the most audacious were the 2001 attacks on India’s parliament and the 2008 siege of Mumbai, which killed over 150 people. Had such an attack occurred in the United States, Narang said, America would have ended a nation-state.
The reason why India didn’t respond to force, according to Narang, is that—despite its alleged Cold Start doctrine—Indian leaders were unsure exactly where Pakistan’s nuclear threshold stood. That is, even if Indian leaders believed they were launching a limited attack, they couldn’t be sure that Pakistani leaders wouldn’t view it as expansive enough to justify using nuclear weapons. This is no accident: as Khan said, Pakistani leaders intentionally leave their nuclear threshold ambiguous. Nonetheless, there is no guarantee that India’s restraint will continue in the future. Indeed, as Michael Krepon quipped, “Miscalculation is South Asia’s middle name.”
Much of the panel’s discussion was focused on technological changes that might exacerbate this already-combustible situation. Narang took the lead in describing how India was acquiring the capabilities to pursue counterforce strikes (i.e., take out Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in a preventive or more likely preemptive strike). These included advances in information, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to track and target Islamabad’s strategic forces, as well as a missile-defense system that could take care of any missiles the first strike didn’t destroy. He also noted that India is pursuing a number of missile capabilities highly suited for counterforce missions, such as Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Maneuverable Reentry Vehicles (MARVs) and the highly accurate BrahMos missiles that Dehli developed jointly with Russia. “BrahMos is one hell of a counterforce weapon,” even without nuclear warheads, Narang contended.
As Narang himself admitted, there’s little reason to believe that India is abandoning its no-first-use nuclear doctrine in favor of a first-strike one. Still, keeping in mind Krepon’s point about miscalculation, that doesn’t mean that these technological changes don’t increase the potential for a nuclear war. It is not hard to imagine a scenario where the two sides stumble into a nuclear war that neither side wants. Perhaps the most plausible scenario would start with a Mumbai-style attack that Indian leaders decide they must respond to. In hopes of keeping the conflict limited to conventional weapons, Delhi might authorize limited punitive raids inside Pakistan, perhaps targeting some of the terrorist camps near the border. These attacks might be misinterpreted by Pakistani leaders, or else unintentionally cross Islamabad’s nuclear thresholds. In an attempt to deescalate by escalating, or else to halt what they believe is an Indian invasion, Pakistani leaders could use tactical nuclear weapons against the Indian troops inside Pakistan.

The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)


‘Limited’ Nuclear Strikes Could Still Wreak Climate Havoc
Image: National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office Photo Library/Wikimedia Commons
George Dvorsky
With the Cold War a fading memory, some nuclear powers have adopted strategies allowing for limited nuclear strikes. But a disturbing new study shows that even small batches of nukes can have disastrous environmental consequences on a global scale.
In the 1980s, experts warned of a nuclear winter—a severe and protracted global cooling event triggered by an all-out nuclear war. A new study published in Environment Magazine warns that a scaled down version of a nuclear winter is still possible through the application of limited nuclear strikes, and that these so-called “nuclear autumns” could be caused by as few as five conventional nuclear bombs—and possibly even just one. The paper is a grim wakeup call for military planners who think small batches of nukes won’t result in severe environmental consequences.
Back during the Cold War, with the globe basically divided into two hostile camps, our civilization faced the threat of an all-out, Armageddon-inducing nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The prospect of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), it can be argued, prevented such a horrendous conflagration from transpiring.
But we no longer live in a bipolar world, and some nuclear powers are starting to adopt tactical doctrines that allow for limited nuclear strikes and the first use of nuclear weapons. The Russians, for example, have said they’d use limited nukes to deter or end conventional wars. The US, perhaps bound by its NATO obligations, might decide to use limited nukes when defending an ally. Alternately, it could drop a bomb or two on a country following a biological or chemical attack, or as a way to bring a“rogue” state under control.
A weird sort of complacency appears to have settled in as regards the limited use of nukes, but Adam Liska and his colleagues from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are hoping to crush any illusions we might have about these horrific weapons.
With the help of Robert Oglesby, a professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences, and Eric Holley, an expert in use of natural resources, Liska analyzed publically available data on 19 types of weapons held by five major nuclear powers: the USA, Russia, China, the UK, and France. With this information, the researchers then calculated how many bombs in each category of strength would be sufficient to trigger a nuclear autumn, also known as a “nuclear drought.”
As previous work has pointed out, the nuking of a sufficiently large city would be enough to generate a global-scale nuclear autumn. Take Los Angeles, for example, a city that extends for 500 square miles. The explosion and resulting fires would send an estimated 5.5 million tons of ash and soot into the stratosphere, causing sunlight, temperatures, and rainfall to temporarily decrease around the world. Globally, this would result in diminished growing seasons for the next half-decade, and temperatures would be the lowest in a thousand years. In some parts of the world, rainfall would be down by as much as 80 percent.
But unlike this earlier work, which focused on relatively small, 15-kiloton nukes exploding over cities, the new study looked at whether today’s more powerful weapons could trigger nuclear autumn all on their own. They can. Liska and his colleagues found that the US, Russia, and China all have weapons that could trigger a nuclear autumn through the detonation of fewer than five bombs. This includes nuclear warheads placed atop air-dropped bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and land-based missiles. Frighteningly, China—with its five megaton bombs—could cause a nuclear autumn with the launch of a single missile.
“As long as conventional nuclear weapons are prevalent, the breadth of existing research indicates that the question is not whether a nuclear drought can occur, but what factors increase its probability of occurring and what actions can be taken to mitigate the potentially devastating global impacts,” conclude the authors in the study.
This may be more than a depressing thought-exercise. With North Korea now apparently in the possession of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and with international relations steadily degrading among the various nation states of the world, the prospect of a country opting to use its nukes is only increasing.
On a positive note, a global treaty was signed last week that could eventually lead to the decommissioning of all nuclear weapons and forever prohibit their use. Called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, it provides a path for nuclear powers to join in. But will they?

Nuclear Horns Continue to Grow (Daniel 7)


Nuclear Powers Cut Weapons Numbers But Increase Modernization: Study
July 03, 2017 00:02 GMT
RFE/RL
The number of nuclear weapons in the world is continuing to decline, but nations possessing such arsenals are modernizing their stockpile and are not likely to give them up for the foreseeable future, a new study says.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on July 3 said nine countries possessed about 4,150 operationally deployed nuclear weapons.
If all nuclear weapons are counted, the figure comes to 14,935, down from 15,395 a year earlier, it said.
It listed the countries with nuclear weapons as the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.
At the top of the list is Russia, with 1,950 deployed warheads and 5,050 other warheads. At the bottom was North Korea, which SIPRI listed as having 10-20 other warheads.
The United States has 1,800 deployed warheads and 5,000 other warheads.
The other countries were listed with total warheads of below 300 each.
The report said “deployed warheads” refers to those placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces.
“Other warheads” are those held in reserve or out of service and awaiting dismantlement.
“The decrease in the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world is due mainly to Russia and the USA — which together still account for nearly 93 per cent of all nuclear weapons—further reducing their inventories of strategic nuclear weapons,” the report said.
It said, though, that both countries have “expensive nuclear modernization programs under way.”
For example, it said, the United States “plans to spend $400 billion in 2017–26 on maintaining and comprehensively updating its nuclear forces.”
‘Despite the recent progress in international talks on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, long-term modernization programs are under way in all nine states,’ SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile said.
“This suggests that none of these states will be prepared to give up their nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future,” he added.

The Increaseing Risk Of Nuclear War


What factors make nuclear war more likely?

BY DAVID KRIEGER, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
We know that the risk of nuclear war is not zero. Humans are not capable of creating foolproof systems. Nuclear weapons systems are particularly problematic since the possession of nuclear weapons carries an implicit threat of use under certain circumstances. In accord with nuclear deterrence theory, a country threatens to use nuclear weapons, believing that it will prevent the use of nuclear weapons against it.
Nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons are currently under the control of nine countries. Each has a complex system of command and control with many possibilities for error, accident or intentional use.
Error could be the result of human or technological factors, or some combination of human and technological interaction. During the more than seven decades of the Nuclear Age, there have been many accidents and close calls that could have resulted in nuclear disaster. The world narrowly escaped a nuclear war between the United States and Soviet Union during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Human factors include miscommunications, misinterpretations and psychological issues. Some leaders believe that threatening behavior makes nuclear deterrence more effective, but it could also result in a preventive first-strike launch by the side being threatened. Psychological pathologies among those in control of nuclear weapons could also play a role. Hubris, or extreme arrogance, is another factor of concern.
Technological factors include computer errors that wrongfully show a country is under nuclear attack. Such false warnings have occurred on numerous occasions but, fortunately, human interactions (often against policy and/or orders) have so far kept a false warning from resulting in a mistaken “retaliatory” attack. In times of severe tensions, a technological error could compound the risks, and human actors might decide to initiate a first strike.
There are many other factors that affect the risk of nuclear war. These include an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons and a greater number of nuclear weapons in each country’s nuclear arsenal. Both of these factors increase complexity and make the risk greater. Additionally, the higher the alert status of a country’s nuclear arsenal, the shorter the decision time to launch and the greater the risk of nuclear war. The risks are compounded when tension levels increase between nuclear-armed countries, increasing the likelihood of false assumptions and precipitous action.
Nuclear policies of the nuclear-armed countries can also raise the risk level of nuclear war. Policies of first use of nuclear weapons may make an opponent more likely to initiate a first strike and thus make a nuclear war more likely. First use is generally a default policy, if a country does not specifically pledge a policy of no first use, as have China and India. Policies of launch-on-warning cut into decision time for leaders to decide whether or not to launch a “retaliatory” strike to what may be a false warning The deployment of land-based missiles also raises the risk level due to the “use them or lose them” nature of these stationary targets.
In addition to identifiable risks of nuclear war, there are also unknown risks — those that cannot be identified in advance. Unknown risks include little-understood possibilities for cyber-attacks on nuclear weapons systems, attacks that could potentially either activate or deactivate nuclear-armed missile launches.
Given the catastrophic consequences of nuclear war, including destruction of civilization and human extinction, identifying and eliminating the factors making nuclear war likely or even possible is imperative. There are simply too many possibilities for failure in such a complex system of interactions.
This leads to the conclusion that the risks are untenable, and all nations should move rapidly to negotiate the elimination of all nuclear arms. While doing so, nations would be well served to adopt and declare policies of no first use and no launch-on-warning, and to eliminate vulnerable land-based missiles from their arsenals.
David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the author of Zero: The Case for Nuclear Weapons Abolition.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Falling on Trump’s Deaf Ears

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, met Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s top foreign policy official, and also met army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“Our relationship is more important perhaps than ever before,” McCain told Pakistan TV as he left the meeting.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is exploring hardening its approach toward Islamabad over Pakistan-based militants launching attacks in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials told Reuters last month.
“We will not have peace in the region without Pakistan,” McCain, who was accompanied by senators Lindsey Graham, Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse and David Perdue, said later.
Aziz, who is Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs because PM Nawaz Sharif holds the Foreign Ministry portfolio himself, said that the strategic partnership between Pakistan and the United States was “was critical to achieve peace and stability in the region and beyond”.
U.S. officials say they seek greater cooperation with Pakistan, not a rupture in ties, after the review the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, due in mid-July, where some 8,800 U.S. troops remain to support the Western-backed government.
Experts on America’s longest war say militant safe havens in Pakistan have allowed Taliban-linked insurgents a place to plot attacks in Afghanistan and regroup after ground offensives. Critics say Islamabad is not doing enough to crack down on militants such as the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network.
Pakistan argues that it has done a great deal to help the U.S. in tracking down terrorists and points out that it has suffered hundreds of deaths in Islamist militants attacks in response to its crackdowns.
Pakistan last week also reacted sharply when the U.S. State Department on June 26 designated as a terrorist Syed Salahuddin, leader of the largest Kashmiri militant group fighting against Indian rule, accusing the U.S. of acquiescing to the wishes of visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.