The increasing risk of nuclear war (Revelation 15)

OCTOBER 1, 2016
Norman Byrd
The United States announced this week that it would begin refurbishing its nuclear missile systems, an overhaul that is estimated to take roughly 20 years to complete, in a direct response to the upgrades made to the nuclear capabilities of Russia, China, and North Korea. And it did not push aside fears of a looming World War 3 when Defense Secretary Ash Carter made a speech at a nuclear missile silo this week where he called upon NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) members to “refresh their nuclear playbook.” In what looks to be nothing short of a re-establishment of the Cold War, events appear to signal a return to the days of nuclear weapons deterrence policies and the constant fear of some state player triggering World War 3.
As Agence France Presse (AFP) reported earlier in the week, the U.S. has plans to switch out over 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles in the next two decades, completely replacing the Minuteman III nuclear-tipped missiles now in secret silos across the U.S. with an as yet unnamed modern missile system. It is part of a refurbishing program of the military’s “nuclear triad (missiles, submarines, and bombs),” and its estimated cost is around $1 trillion, spent over the next 30 years.
“The Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans are upgrading all of their systems,” an Air Force official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP. He went on to say that since the other powers were “upgrading all of their legs of the triad,” he did not believe that “in that environment, I am not sure it makes sense” to do nothing.
The Minuteman III missile system has been in place since the 1960s (some of the missiles and silos since the 1950s). As another Air Force official noted, a number of the vendors who constructed and equipped the nuclear weapons silos have gone out of business over the years. Finding replacement parts have become extremely difficult, so some type of refurbishing operation was in order.
But the modernization of the nuclear weapons of the U.S. would not in itself prompt fears of World War 3 and a multinational war that could lead to a potential nuclear exchange. Proper maintenance of war ordnance is as much a nod to safety as it is to preparedness. The political rhetoric that followed did.
Speaking to a group of “missileers” — Air Force airmen who handle the operations of land-based nuclear weapons — at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stated, according to the Daily Star, that Russia was as much a “loose cannon” threat to global security as North Korea with regard to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s emphasis on a resurgent Russia.
Carter said that NATO should not only “refresh their nuclear playbook” but also “plan and train like we would fight to deter Russia from thinking it can benefit from nuclear use in a conflict with NATO.”
Talk of a limited nuclear exchange in a constrained or localized war setting has become a point of acceptability of late, a tone that sparks fears in the hearts of those who would avoid World War 3 scenarios at all costs. With think tanks like the Atlantic Council, as reported by the Inquisitr, warning that Russia could invade and take over the Baltic States in a matter of days “with no warning,” fears that Russian military officials might resort to such nuclear tactics have proliferated. And then there was recently retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Breedlove, who warned the NATO nations, according to a separate Inquisitr report, that they were woefully unprepared for a concentrated Russian attack, that a sustained military offensive, coupled with Russia’s air and naval superiority, could potentially see Russia in control of helpless Europe with the Atlantic Ocean as a patrolled buffer zone to keep the U.S. and Canada from providing assistance.
Carter told the missileers, “It is a sobering fact that the most likely use of nuclear weapons today is not the massive ‘nuclear exchange’ of the classic Cold War-type, but rather the unwise resorting to smaller but still unprecedentedly terrible attacks, for example by Russia or North Korea. We cannot allow that to happen, which is why we’re working with our allies in both regions to innovate and operate in new ways that sustain deterrence and continue to preserve strategic stability.”
World War 3 sabre-rattling is nothing new between Russia and the United States, of course. The two superpowers have played the game of nuclear brinkmanship since shortly after 1949, when Russia detonated its first atomic bomb. Although the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Russia-dominated Union of Soviet Socialist Republics saw a lessening of tensions between the world’s two foremost nuclear superpowers, the rise of the Russian Federation under the leadership of Vladimir Putin has brought all the militarization and political posturing back into play.
The United States has apparently decided that continued Russian military aggression in various parts of Europe and the Middle East over the past few years has reached a point where nuclear weapons deterrence rhetoric must now become part of dealing with Russia — again. And so, too, must a commitment be made to the modernization of its nuclear defense capabilities. But a nuclear stand-off, at least to a great many, is a far better alternative to limited nuclear exchanges, or worse, the nearly assured destruction of the planet should World War 3 be waged with nuclear weapons.

The End Draws Near (Revelation 9)

nuclear-explosionRisk of nuclear attack rises
Sep 25, 2016 7:59 PM EDT
The following is a script from “The New Cold War” which aired on Sept. 25, 2016. David Martin is the correspondent. Mary Walsh and Tadd Lascari, producers.
President Obama’s nuclear strategy states that while the threat of all-out nuclear war is remote the risk of a nuclear attack somewhere in the world has actually increased. When that was written three years ago the risk came from a rogue nation like North Korea. Back then the U.S. and Russia were said to be partners but that was before Russia invaded Crimea, using military force to change the borders of Europe. And before its president, Vladimir Putin, and his generals began talking about nuclear weapons. For generations nuclear weapons have been seen as a last resort to be used only in extreme circumstances. But in this new Cold War the use of a nuclear weapon is not as unlikely to occur as you might think.
Air-launched cruise missiles being loaded onto a long range B-52 bomber at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
David Martin: When you see it close up, it’s, it’s even bigger than you think it is.
Richard Clark: It is an impressive machine. About 185,000 pounds empty. But it’s built to carry weapons and gas.
Major General Richard Clark commands all of this country’s nuclear bombers.
David Martin: And these are the weapons?
Richard Clark: Yes sir. These are air-launch cruise missiles. It is the nuclear primary weapon for the B-52.
Clark told us these are training missiles so they are not armed with nuclear warheads.
A B-52 can carry 20 cruise missiles, six under each wing and eight in the bomb bay.
Richard Clark: So this is the rotary launcher. And it holds eight air-launched cruise missiles within the internal bomb bay of the B-52. It’s a tight fit but the way it works is the launcher rotates, allows the weapon to release and send it on its way.
David Martin: It looks like the chamber of a revolver.
Richard Clark: Same idea. Just much bigger bullets.
As the most visible arm of the American nuclear arsenal these bombers are meant to send a message to an international audience.
Richard Clark: We can put this aircraft anywhere we want, anytime we want and both our allies and our adversaries take note.
David Martin: This is basically a nuclear show-and-tell?
Richard Clark: It’s not just a show-and-tell because it will deliver.
Within the last two years B-52s have begun sending that message directly to Russia, flying missions not seen since the Cold War. It started after Vladimir Putin changed history by invading an independent country, Ukraine, and seizing its Republic of Crimea.
Phillip Breedlove: The fact that military force would be used to change an internationally recognized border in the central part of Europe that was new.
Now retired, General Phillip Breedlove was the supreme Allied commander in Europe when Russia took over Crimea. The invasion was carried out by so-called little green men – Russian soliders wearing uniforms without insignia – but looming in the background were nuclear weapons.
David Martin: Was there ever any indication that Vladimir Putin was prepared to use his nuclear weapons in any way?
Phillip Breedlove: Vladimir Putin said himself that he would considered raising the alert status of his nuclear force.
David Martin: He had considered it?
Phillip Breedlove: He said it himself.
Putin said he had given an order to his military to be prepared to increase the readiness of his nuclear forces if the U.S. and NATO tried to block his takeover of Crimea. “We were not looking for a fight,” Putin said in this interview. But “we were ready for the worst-case scenario.”
Phillip Breedlove: They see nuclear weapons as a normal extension of a conventional conflict.
David Martin: So to them nuclear war is not unthinkable?
Phillip Breedlove: I think to them the use of nuclear weapons is not unthinkable.
It says so in their military doctrine, signed by Putin in 2014, Russia “…shall reserve the right to use nuclear weapons . . . In the event of aggression . . . When the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”
Putin has personally directed nuclear exercises which have increased in both size and frequency, according to Breedlove.
David Martin: More threatening?
Phillip Breedlove: Certainly they get your attention.
David Martin: More aggressive?
Phillip Breedlove: Clearly.
And the U.S. responded with more aggressive exercises of its own. One year after Crimea four B-52s flew up over the North Pole and North Sea on an exercise called polar growl the B-52s were unarmed but that little fin on the side of the fuselage identified them as capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Hans Kristensen: What I plotted here are the two routes for these planes.
Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the federation of American scientists, used Google Earth to show us the message that sent Russia.
Hans Kristensen: Each bomber can carry 20 cruise missiles a maximum of them so we’re talking about potentially 80 cruise missiles that could have been launched against targets inside Russia at this particular time.
Using the cruise missiles range of 1500 miles, Kristensen plotted his own hypothetical lines showing how far they could potentially reach into Russia.
David Martin: And the end points of those red lines?
Hans Kristensen: Yes, each of them go to a facility in Russia that could be a potential target for nuclear weapons.
David Martin: The Russians would look at that and see it as a dry run for an attack on targets inside Russia.
Richard Clark: I guess they can draw the conclusions that they need to draw.
David Martin: Eighty cruise missiles in your face.
Richard Clark: It’s a lot of fire power.
David Martin: Was that the message?
Richard Clark: That’s a message for sure.
The last time American nuclear bombers flew a mission like that was during the Cold War.
Richard Clark: This was a significant exercise for us. We’re training the way we might have to fight.
It was an unmistakable warning — but Rear Admiral Steve Parode says there’s no indication the Russian military has changed its thinking about nuclear weapons.
Steve Parode: Disturbingly, in recent years there have been specific doctrinal and public statements made by other Russian leaders that indicate an evolved willingness to employ nuclear weapons in the course of conflict.
As director of intelligence for the U.S. Strategic Command, Parode spent the last two years gauging Russia’s nuclear intentions.
Steve Parode: I think that they feel that fundamentally the West is sociologically weaker and if they were to use a nuclear weapon in the course of a conflict between say NATO and Russia they might be able to shock the Western powers into de-escalating, freezing the conflict, into calling a cease fire.
David Martin: So they have a belief that they’re just tougher than us?
Steve Parode: Oh, that’s definitely true.
David Martin: And if they have to use nuclear weapons, we can’t, we can’t take it?
Steve Parode: I think that some people might think that.
Parode is not talking about the Armageddon of an all-out nuclear war which neither side could win. But the limited use of a few nuclear weapons which could convince the U.S. to back down.
David Martin: So, how would they shock us into surrender?
Steve Parode: They could strike a European target with a nuclear weapon, maybe an airfield they thought was vital to conflict between NATO and Russia.
David Shlapak: We’re looking at H-Hour. We’re looking at the, the moment before the conflict starts.
David Shlapak of the RAND Corporation directed a series of war games commissioned by the Pentagon in which Russia invaded the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia — two of the newer members of NATO and because of their location on the Russian border two of the most vulnerable.
David Shlapak: When the fight starts, the Russians have about 400 to 500 tanks on the battlefield. NATO has none.
The red chips represent Russian forces. The blue and white are NATO.
David Martin: The relative size of the stacks kind of says it all.
David Shlapak: It does, it does. This is not a happy picture for NATO.
As the scenario unfolds, Russian forces in red are storming the capitals of Estonia and Latvia.
David Shlapak: They can get there between a day and a half and two and a half days – 36 to 60 hours.
To retake Estonia and Latvia the U.S. and NATO would have to conduct a major build-up of military forces to drive the Russians out.
David Shlapak: One of the things you would expect Russia to do would be to begin rattling the nuclear sabre very aggressively, to say, “We’re here. This is our territory now. And if you come and try to take it away from us, we will escalate.”
David Martin: Escalate. Use nuclear weapons?
David Shlapak: Use nuclear weapons.
Russia has more than 1,000 short range nuclear weapons while the U.S. has less than 200 at air bases in Europe.
Hans Kristensen: There’s one in Germany…
The locations of American nuclear weapons are officially secret. But here’s what they look like. Hans Kristensen says he discovered this photo on a U.S. Air Force website showing the inside of a shelter where nuclear bombs would be loaded aboard American and NATO jet fighters.
Hans Kristensen: Each vault can have up to four nuclear bombs. They hang right next to each other.
Hans Kristensen: It can – it sinks into the ground with the weapons, levels completely with the surface.
David Martin: And just out of a doomsday movie the nuclear weapon rises out of the floor.
Hans Kristensen: Right.
The bomb is called the B-61 and it’s being upgraded by adding a new set of tail fins that give it greater accuracy. That would allow the B-61 to destroy its target using a lower-yield nuclear weapon which would decrease the number of civilian casualties.
The air-launched cruise missile, says Major General Clark, can also be turned into a low-yield nuclear weapon.
Richard Clark: There is a variable yield option on this weapon, so we can change that yield within the weapon.
David Martin: You can dial in a yield?
Richard Clark: That’s what we call it, actually. Dial a yield.
David Martin: Does that make a nuclear weapon easier to use?
Phillip Breedlove: We do not plan to go there. We do not want to go there.
David Martin: But if you have this option which allows you to keep civilian casualties to a minimum and you’re really up against it, isn’t it easier?
Phillip Breedlove: I don’t think that any decision to ever use a nuclear weapon could be categorized as easy.
David Martin: Less difficult?
Phillip Breedlove: Less difficult. We could say that.
Russia is also developing low-yield weapons which this declassified CIA document says could “…lower the threshold for first use of nuclear weapons…” “the development of low yield warheads that could be used on high-precision weapon systems would be consistent with Russia’s increasing reliance on nuclear weapons…”
But “increasing reliance on nuclear weapons,” says Rear Admiral Parode, doesn’t mean Russia is eager to use them.
Steve Parode: I don’t perceive that they are, have become madmen with their fingers on the button. But I do believe they are more interested in considering how nuclear weapons could be used in conflict to either close a gap or to sustain the opportunity for victory.
David Martin: So what’s the scenario? What situation would get them to seriously consider the use of nuclear weapons?
Steve Parode: That is probably the greatest question I’m trying to answer today for Admiral Haney.
CBS News
That’s Admiral Cecil Haney, head of the U.S. Strategic Command, the man who would carry out a presidential order to launch a nuclear weapon.
Cecil Haney: Thank you. I appreciate the update.
Low key and cerebral, Haney commands not only this country’s nuclear forces but its cyber weapons and space satellites as well.
David Martin: Is it riskier today?
Cecil Haney: Well I think today we’re at a time and place that I don’t think we’ve been to before.
It is Haney’s job to convince Vladimir Putin that resorting to nuclear weapons would be the worst mistake he could possibly make.
David Martin: When you look at what would work to deter Russia, do you have to get inside Putin’s head?
Cecil Haney: You have to have a deep, deep, deep understanding of any adversary you want to deter, including Mr. Putin.
David Martin: So how would you describe him psychologically?
Cecil Haney: Well, one I would say I’m not a psychologist. But I would just say he is clearly an individual that is an opportunist.
David Martin: Does it concern you that an opportunist has a nuclear arsenal?

Skidding Towards Prophecy (Revelation 15)

Head of PPP Media Cell
Pakistan is bound to respond in equal measure and according to Stephen Cohen as reported in New York Times recently, ‘the conflict could skid into a nuclear conflict,’ adding it would be devastating for both the countries. War hysteria in India this time is fuming with vengeance enough to cross the red-lines. Its probable eventuality gets credence in the wake of recent Uri attack in IHK, earlier Pathankot terrorist attack and Mumbai carnage, and Pakistan government’s inordinate delay to bring the culprits to justice.
It is hoped that better sense will prevail on Indian government led by Prime Minister Modi that has been desperately trying to build up its leadership mettles by bringing in economic prosperity in the country. They must not be carried away under the pressure of hawks who have increasingly taken the central stage in the corridors of power of India and in the country’s media alike.
Surprisingly, Indian prime minister’s last week’s Saturday public address opting for isolating Pakistan globally rather than crossing the swords, was a positive development to stem the tide of the possibility of the armed conflict between the two countries.
Overwhelming majority of people in Pakistan and India as well took the sigh of relief over the resultant shattering of war clouds as the unleashing of the of war instruments could have inevitably left the two countries crying mutual havoc afterwards exemplifying all pains no gains.
In this backdrop generated by India, Pakistan prime minister should immediately give heed to the sane proposal of ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali suggesting him to summon the joint session of Parliament to discuss the state of deteriorating relations, to the lowest ebb, between two neighbours for the formulation of a national response to ward off imminent threat that may lead to armed conflict.
Its indispensability cannot be overemphasised at a time when possibility of Indian retaliatory military action inside Pakistan is flying thick and fast.
The joint session of the Parliament will send a powerful and detrimental message to the bellicosity of India, and to the world community of Pakistan’s endeavours of averting the conflict in the face of India’s jingoism. Such message emanating from the Pakistan Parliament is bound to have desirable impact qualitatively both on India and the world at large.
The proposed session of the Parliament will also suggest to the government the road map of de-escalation of prevailing tension between the two countries leading to renewed efforts for normalisation. For this, an all parties’ parliamentary delegation may be constituted to activate diplomatic efforts assuring India of Pakistan’s commitment to bring terrorists of all hues to justice as a shared priority.
The Indian government should welcome such initiative. Its reluctance will be construed as having aggressive designs against Pakistan. The delegation should also urge the Indian government to resolve the outstanding issue of Kashmir as per commitment of India and Pakistan made before the UN Security Council. The security establishment must take the back seat because ‘it is too serious business.’
Pakistan’s crying horse as victim of terrorism has been increasingly losing its appeal in the world. Its incredible successes against terrorism are also subjected to the diminishing return because of the widely held perception that Pakistan’s ubiquitous security establishment has been playing on the both sides of the street so far as good and bad terrorists are concerned. It is no more plausible because the international community’s patience is brimming out with frustration as Haqqani network’s presence on Pakistani soil glaringly runs counter to the stated policy of Pakistan. This contradiction had invited all out opprobrium. Its fight to defeat terrorism in its all forms and manifestations is deemed as flawed. It is hard to find any taker of this covert policy of Pakistan notwithstanding colossal losses, both in blood and treasure, in the war of terror. It is ironical because the world is skeptical.
Two big and prominent proscribed outfits, also on the UN terrorist list, are big source of embarrassment for Pakistan as they take out processions in major cities in the full glare of media. The government’s inaction under NAP speaks volumes of its either double speak or lying in spine before them intimidated and terrified having no audacity to control them.
This display of outlawed organisations is under the scrutiny of the international organisations and the media. The state of affairs also explicitly points to the civil-military disparate because civilians consider them as delinquent liability and the military as its Trojan horse. It also purportedly implies that elected government cannot take them on in favour of paradigm shift fearing reprisal from their patron leading to destabilisation enough to endanger the longevity of the government of the day. The credibility of the government and its institution will not be restored till the bull is not taken by horns in front of the full gaze of the world.
Ironically, the establishment not presumably jettisoned, overt and covert, proclivity of controlling the security/foreign policy to the much exclusion of the civilians and their representatives, Parliament, notwithstanding the history of devastating denouements of this type of pursuit in the form of secession of the federation, sprawling of extremism and terrorism, Kargil debacle, Indian clandestine occupation of Siachin, privatisation of the security/foreign policy through proxies etc. Senator Farhatullha Babar has dwelled upon this self-defeating tendency at various public and parliamentary forums at number of times but no avail.
A combined article written by three former distinguished foreign secretaries and the security adviser, published on the front page in the local English daily, have blown the whistle urging the government to take immediate and bold initiatives to defuse the situation by improving relations with Afghanistan as its top priority followed by with other neighbours. Thanks for the immensely valuable and timely advice to the mandarins that should sink well with them. The opinion of such distinguished personalities should be taken with matching seriousness preceded by tangible steps in the direction as suggested by them.
Government in Kabul must be assured in absolute terms of not allowing Afghan Taliban in Pakistan to use its soil to perpetrate terrorism in the country. The drive against the Afghan Taliban network should not only be carried out by Pakistan but also be seen to be carried out. Pakistan has no choice but to abandon Taliban of all hues if it wants the world to believe in its commitment to defeat terrorism indiscriminately. The echoes of betrayal and duplicity, US Congress, are too loud now in the world capitals enough to shrill nation’s ears. The chances of getting benefit of doubt are almost nil, be aware.
Even man of ordinary prudence will conclude the grotesque aftermaths of proxy wars. The presence of Afghan Taliban on Pakistan soil gives credibility to the Indian allegations of the currency of cross-border terrorism. Afghanistan leadership blames Pakistan for all its predicaments attributed to this policy of good and bad terrorists.
Tragically, activities of the proscribed organisations under the open sky of Pakistan had also hurt the struggle of the Kashmiri people for independence as they flaunt their role in the uprising against the Indian occupation of the Valley. They were helping India who projected it as a terrorist movement rather than legitimate struggle focused to the right of self-determination. The Uri terrorist attack recently gave India much fodder to divert the attention of the international community at the expense of the freedom movement. It was enough to confuse the international community, and the Indian diplomacy was on the overdrive to put blame of cross-border terrorism on Pakistan. The incident overshadowed the Indian atrocities in held Kashmir at a time when UN General Assembly was in session.
No country can afford to endorse the presence of Afghan terrorists on Pakistani soil. The rest of the world is increasingly coming closer to tell Pakistan on its face ‘enough is enough.’ In the US, the Congressmen are raising their voice against Pakistan alleging the country has proved as unworthy ally and US money cannot be spent to reward ‘betrayal and duplicity’. President Obama had also candidly urged Pakistan, ‘to move pro-actively and sincerely to delegitimise and dismantle the Haqqani network.’ The US Security Adviser Susan Rice during her visit to Pakistan also made it quite clear that Haqqani network had to be dismantled if Pakistan wanted the US economic and military assistance. The rejection of US aid to Pakistan clearly suggested that there were no free lunches.
In the recent meeting of prime minister of Pakistan in New York with John Kerry, cross-border terrorism figured quite prominently. Pakistan stands no chance of standing on its feet in the diplomatic and economic fronts if US’ annoyance culminating into choking reprisal in myriad fronts. As such, the wheels of diplomacy should move swiftly based on paradigm shift and unflinching sincerity to turn the tide of looming disaster. The parliamentarians should display guts and take the charge of the foreign/a security domain which is their legitimate right conferred on them by the people of Pakistan. Their ambivalence in this regard will cast shadow of pusillanimous explicitly implying not worthy of representing the people. The imposition of institutional pontification in this regard should be relic of the past that is known for inflicting curdling nightmares.

The Hypocrisy Of Obama’s Speech

Nuclear-free aspirations of Obama, Abe conflict with reality
Originally published May 25, 2016 at 11:31 pm Updated May 26, 2016 at 7:26 am
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, talks with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the Ujibashi bridge as they visit the Ise Jingu shrine in Ise, Mie prefecture, Japan Thursday, May 26, 2016 , ahead of the first session of the G-7 summit meetings. (Toru Hanai/Pool Photo via AP)
The Associated Press
TOBA, Japan (AP) — There is the soaring rhetoric. And then there’s the messy reality.
When U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe make a historic visit to Hiroshima on Friday — the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited the site of the first atomic bomb attack — their words advocating nuclear disarmament will clash with real-world security necessities.
Far from backing up the vision of a world without nuclear bombs that Obama laid out in a 2009 speech that helped secure a Nobel Peace Prize, his near-finished presidency has seen a multibillion-dollar modernization of the U.S. nuclear force.
Japan’s long postwar commitment to disarmament, meanwhile, is only possible because of its reliance on the so-called American “nuclear umbrella” that protects it from antagonistic North Korea and China. Tokyo, should it choose, could probably easily convert its advanced civilian nuclear program into a weapons program, and some conservatives in Abe’s ruling party have argued that the country’s pacifist constitution technically allows nuclear weapons.
In advance of flying to Hiroshima, Obama said Thursday that the dropping of the atomic bomb was an inflection point in modern history and something everybody must deal with.
“I do think that part of the reason I’m going is because I want to once again underscore the very real risks that are out there, and the sense of urgency that we all should have,” Obama told reporters in Shima, Japan, after meeting with leaders of major advanced economies. “It’s not only a reminder of the terrible toll of World War II and the death of innocents across continents, but it’s also to remind ourselves that the job’s not done.”
Despite his own mixed record on nukes, Obama likely sees his Hiroshima visit as a worthwhile expenditure of political capital in order to shore up a global nonproliferation effort that seems at times to be crumbling.
Before the most recent of a series of nuclear security summits meant to reduce and protect nuclear material, Obama wrote in March that eliminating all nuclear weapons may not happen in his lifetime. “But we have begun. As the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them. Still, no one nation can realize this vision alone. It must be the work of the world.”
Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons was challenged almost immediately.
His April 2009 speech in Prague happened within hours of North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket that outsiders, including the United Nations, called a cover for a test of banned missile technology. Pyongyang is still barreling ahead in its push for nuclear-armed missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland.
Obama secured a deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, if it can be implemented amid mistrust on both sides. But Pakistan and India are still locked in a nuclear standoff. The United States and Russia, which have most of the world’s nuclear weapons, often see their geopolitical jockeying for position interfere with disarmament efforts. And there are growing worries about the security of nuclear fuel sites around the world.
Obama’s trip to Hiroshima also comes amid anxiety that North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities could lead to the top U.S. allies in Asia, Japan and South Korea, starting their own nuclear weapons programs.
It is highly unlikely either country will go nuclear. It could cause huge political and economic damage — crippling sanctions, global condemnation — and jeopardize their alliances with the United States.
But a small group in South Korea, including some conservative members of the ruling party, and some in Japan see the North Korean danger as too grave to rely only on the protection of another country. They also question whether, despite rhetoric from U.S. officials about an “ironclad” alliance, Washington would really use nuclear weapons and risk the lives of thousands of American troops should a belligerent North Korea attack.
The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s top newspaper by circulation, said in an editorial weeks after North Korea’s nuclear test in January that discussions in Seoul on acquiring nuclear weapons were inevitable.
Judging by the level of American involvement in crises in Ukraine and Syria, for example, the newspaper said any U.S. help would come only after Seoul is turned into a “pile of ashes” by a North Korean nuclear attack.
This fear has been highlighted by Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican party in the United States. He has questioned the amount of money the U.S. military is forced to spend to protect its allies, and has suggested that Japan and South Korea should be allowed to develop their own nuclear weapons.
Japan prides itself on its pacifism and disarmament, but it is only through U.S. nuclear deterrence that the country can live alongside nuclear-armed North Korea, China and Russia, without going nuclear itself.
“Some say this is hypocritical,” said Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank, “but I think it is just common sense and good national security policy. The Japanese would certainly be happier if no one had nuclear weapons, but as long as several of its neighbors have them, they welcome being under America’s nuclear umbrella.”
Yukio Okamoto, a former Japanese diplomat, said Tokyo “is in the most difficult position” because it is a nuclear bomb victim, surrounded by potentially hostile nuclear-armed states and dependent for its survival on U.S. nuclear deterrence.
“We have to walk through a very narrow passage of trying our sincere efforts toward total elimination in the long term, but at the same time trying to preserve the alliance with the United States and not to tarnish the security relationship, especially the nuclear deterrence,” Okamoto said.
Obama finds himself divided between his anti-nuclear vision and the realities of leading a global power.
Worries about Japan and South Korea producing nuclear weapons mean the United States must offer them nuclear protection, thereby “going against Obama’s own call for global denuclearization,” Charles Armstrong, an Asia expert at Columbia University, said. “At the same time, the U.S. is modernizing its own nuclear arsenal. Thus, U.S. actions and goals are not entirely consistent.”
Obama’s trip to Hiroshima will be filled with images of the horrors of nuclear war, and lofty statements about the need to eliminate those weapons. But some argue that for the visit to be successful, it must highlight Asia’s real nuclear dangers.
Michael Auslin, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, told The Japan Times: “Asia is concerned about how Washington will deal with a more assertive China and a nuclear North Korea, not with an unrealistic aspiration to rid the world of nuclear weapons.”
Obama may not be able to escape criticism from all sides.
Many conservatives in the United States believe a Hiroshima visit will be a failure because it will be seen as an apology. Nonproliferation activists believe he has not gone far enough in efforts to “earn” his Nobel Prize.
“I did think Obama was serious about his nuclear-free world, but that was six or seven years ago. We are no closer today than we were when he took office to achieving that end,” said Bruce Cumings, an Asia expert at the University of Chicago. “I’m sure he will bring up getting rid of nukes in his speech, but he’s in a much weaker position today, because of the ongoing upgrading of American nuclear weapons.”
AP writer Ken Moritsugu contributed to this report from Tokyo.

The U.S. Visits The Site Of The Crime

Hiroshima: We Are Death

Hiroshima: We Are Death

Why Obama’s Trip to Hiroshima Matters more than You Might Think

William Lambers is the author of Nuclear Weapons and The Road to Peace. His writings have been published by History News Network, Huffington Post and Spectrum, the official magazine of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.

History is being made this week with President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima. He is the only sitting U.S. president to make the trip to the site of the first atomic bombing on Japan during World War II.
Mary Popeo, of the nuclear disarmament group Global Zero, exclaims, “Having spent three summers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki working with the Japanese bomb victims and the Japanese peace movement, I can tell you that Obama’s trip is a huge deal!”

The President should use this historic opportunity to build support for the global treaty ending nuclear weapons testing. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the key to unlocking the door to a future without the crushing burden and fear of nuclear weapons. 

But the United States, Israel, China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea have yet to ratify the treaty. So it has not taken effect worldwide. It just sits waiting for leadership to act. Most notably is the absence of the United States, the leading nuclear power.

Now Japan has acted. They have ratified the treaty and been outspoken in its support. Japan is taking a leadership role with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, trying to get every nation to join. We should listen to them. 

The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended World War II, a conflict which caused so much suffering for Americans, Japanese and many other peoples. Ever since we have lived with the risk that these weapons could be used again. Only they would be even more powerful. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, quotes a Hiroshima survivor: “the threat of nuclear weapons, created by the wisdom of mankind, is a serious issue of human survival that cannot be ignored even for a day.”

In 1946, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey studied the effects of the atomic bomb. Their report concluded: “No more forceful arguments for peace and for the international machinery of peace than the sight of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have ever been devised. As the developer and exploiter of this ominous weapon, our nation has a responsibility, which no American should shirk, to lead in establishing and implementing the international guarantees and controls which will prevent its future use.”
During the Cold War nuclear weapons testing by both the United States and the Soviet Union proliferated, causing major international tension. President Dwight Eisenhower, in his second term, was influenced greatly by his science advisors that a ban on nuclear testing was possible and essential for national security. 

Eisenhower, in a 1961 interview with Walter Cronkite, said that not achieving a ban on nuclear testing would “have to be classed as the greatest disappointment of any administration — of any decade — of any time and of any party.” He thought it was vital to take the expensive burden of nukes off the backs of mankind. 

Ike’s efforts helped lead to a limited treaty signed by President Kennedy in 1963 banning nuke explosions in the atmosphere, underwater and outer space. It had the support of both Republicans and Democrats. In fact, Eisenhower administration members worked to help Kennedy achieve passage of the treaty in the Senate. 

But with underground tests allowed to continue the treaty was only a stepping stone. We have not yet taken that crucial next step.
The United States had a chance to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1999 when Bill Clinton was president. They could have slammed the door on nuclear testing for good. Former Eisenhower aide and leading national security advisor, General Andrew Goodpaster, wrote to the Senate urging them to vote in favor of the treaty. The CTBT was rejected by the Senate in late 1999 much to disappointment of the world.

The Republican Party, which had done so much to advance the cause of ending nuke testing, turned against it in that Senate vote. This was a major blow for nuclear arms control, disarmament and peace efforts. 

Today, the United States and Russia still have thousands of nukes each. And China, India, Pakistan and other nations are well armed with nukes. With no treaty in effect, nations could resume testing nukes at any time. This would cause a major arms race. 

The risk of nuclear terrorism or accidental launch make nuclear disarmament a very crucial goal for all nations.

Then there is the cost. Global Zero estimates that nations will spend a trillion dollars on nuclear weapons over the next decade. 

How can we justify pouring money into these weapons when there is so much hunger, disease, and poverty? These issues threaten stability more than anything. Look at the massive number of refugees around the world. We can’t ignore their plight. 

So all nations share a common interest in getting the burden of nukes off their backs. But reducing nuclear weapons is not something you achieve overnight. You have to build confidence in the process. 

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is a step that the United States can take now. The Republican led Senate could show leadership for peace and ratify the treaty. President Obama would sign it.

We have no need to test nuclear weapons because computer technology under the Stockpile Stewardship program monitors their safety and reliability. Vice President Joe Biden says “our labs know more about our arsenal today than when we used to explode our weapons on a regular basis.”

The International Monitoring system of the treaty has detected all of North Korea’s nuclear tests. There are stations all over the globe, so it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a nation to cheat.

Japan wants to work with the United States on ending nuclear testing and building a world with no nukes. The visit by President Obama to Hiroshima this week is a fantastic opportunity to invigorate this peace movement. Japan and the United States, once at war, can now walk together in peace. What more fitting than for the two nations to lead a global movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. The right place to start would be to end nuclear testing by ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

A Sign of the End: Visiting The Crime Scene (Ezekiel 17)

Obama to make first Presidential visit to US atomic bomb attack site in Hiroshima

WASHINGTON (Web Desk) – Barack Obama will become the first sitting American president to visit the site of the US atomic bomb attack in Hiroshima, Japan, later this month, the White House said Tuesday.The visit fulfills a wish Obama expressed early in his presidency to visit the charged location where tens of thousands of Japanese civilians were killed in a nuclear blast at the end of World War II.
Weighing the visit, the White House officials faced a careful balance of whether Obama’s presence would amount to an apology for using nuclear weapons, a move many historians consider essential to ending the war, the CNN reported. 
Today Hiroshima is the site of a park and museum dedicated to memorializing the victims of the attack and promoting peace and nuclear disarmament. The president’s visit will “highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” the White House said in a statement.

According to the White House, the United States does not owe Japan a formal apology for using the atomic bomb in August 1945. But officials say the visit will serve as a reminder the terrible destruction that nuclear weapons can inflict.

“He will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, wrote on Medium Tuesday. “Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future.”

Rhodes said Obama would deliver remarks on nuclear non-proliferation – a central tenet of the President’s foreign policy – during the stop in Hiroshima, which is scheduled for May 27.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would accompany Obama on the stop, which comes after a meeting of the Group of 7 in Ise-Shima.

Earlier this year, Secretary of State John Kerry became the highest-ranking US official to pay respects at the site, and hinted that Obama would soon make his own visit.

Obama and his aides have long debated making a presidential stop in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki, where the US dropped a second atomic bomb three days after the Hiroshima attack.

On his first visit to Japan in 2009, Obama expressed a desire to stop in one of the cities before leaving office. “The memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are etched in the minds of the world, and I would be honored to have the opportunity to visit those cities at some point during my presidency,” he said.

Hiroshi Harada, a 75-year-old atomic bomb survivor and former head of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan.–File photo

Hiroshi Harada, a 75-year-old atomic bomb survivor and former head of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan.–File photo

But even in Tokyo, a visit by a US president to the site of the nuclear destruction hasn’t always been welcome. Ahead of Obama’s first trip to Japan in 2009, a Japanese government official said “it would be premature to include a visit to Hiroshima,” recommending instead that Obama remain near the capital.

But as the United States and Japan have worked through other World War II-era grievances, a visit to the location became more tenable.

Why Hiroshima Never Should Have Happened

Kerry says Hiroshima ‘gut-wrenching’ reminder world should abandon nuclear weapons

Kerry says Hiroshima ‘gut-wrenching’ reminder world should abandon nuclear weapons
HIROSHIMA: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday called his visit to a memorial to victims of the 1945 US nuclear attack on Hiroshima “gut-wrenching” and said it was a reminder of the need to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons.

The first US secretary of state to visit Hiroshima, Kerry said President Barack Obama also wanted to travel to the city in southern Japan but he did not know whether the leader’s complex schedule would allow him to do so when he visits the country for a Group of Seven (G7) summit in May.

Kerry toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum, whose haunting displays include photographs of badly burned victims, the tattered and stained clothes they wore and statues depicting them with flesh melting from their limbs.

“It is a stunning display. It is a gut-wrenching display,” he said. “It is a reminder of the depth of the obligation everyone of us in public life carries…to create and pursue a world free from nuclear weapons,” he told a news conference.

After the tour by Kerry and his fellow G7 foreign ministers, the group issued a statement reaffirming their commitment to building a world without nuclear arms but said the push had been made more complex by North Korea’s repeated “provocations” and by worsening security in Syria and Ukraine.
The ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States laid white wreaths at a cenotaph to the victims of the August 6, 1945, bombing, which reduced the city to ashes and killed some 140,000 people by the end of that year.

While he is not the highest-ranking US official to have toured the museum and memorial park, a distinction that belongs to then-US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in 2008, Kerry is the most senior executive branch official to visit.

“Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial. It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself,” the chief US diplomat wrote in a guest book.

Asked later if this meant Obama should come, Kerry said: “Everyone means everyone. So I hope one day the president of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here. Whether or not he can come as president, I don’t know.”

‘First step’

At Kerry’s suggestion, the ministers also made an impromptu visit to the Atomic Bomb Dome, the skeletal remains of the only structure left standing near the hypocentre of the bomb explosion and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Three days after a US warplane dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, on August 9, 1945. Japan surrendered six days later.

A visit by Obama could be controversial in America if it were viewed as an apology.

A majority of Americans view the bombings as justified to end the war and save US lives, while the vast majority of Japanese believe it was not justified.

Hopes for Obama’s visit to Hiroshima were raised after an April 2009 speech in Prague when he called for a world without nuclear weapons.

He later said that he would be honoured to visit the two nuclear-attacked cities.

The G7 foreign ministers’ trip to the museum and memorial is part of Japan’s effort to send a strong nuclear disarmament message from Hiroshima, the world’s first city to suffer atomic bombing.
“I think this first-ever visit by G7 foreign ministers to the peace memorial park is a historic first step towards reviving momentum toward a world without nuclear weapons,” Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement.

He later told a news conference that it was “inconceivable” that Japan would ever decide to have nuclear weapons.

Last month, US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Japan and South Korea should build such weapons to deter enemies.

In a separate, detailed statement, the G7 ministers singled out North Korea for sharp criticism, condemning its recent nuclear test and launches using ballistic missile technology.

And in a statement on maritime security, they voiced their strong opposition to provocative attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas, an apparent reference to China, which is locked in territorial disputes with other nations including the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan.

Babylon the Great Will Pay For Hiroshima (Revelation 17)

Kerry plans no apology for wartime atomic bomb on Hiroshima visit

By Arshad Mohammed and Kiyoshi Takenaka

HIROSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – John Kerry will not offer an apology for the United States’ use of the atomic bomb against Japan when he becomes the first U.S. secretary of state to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on Monday, a senior U.S. official said.

Kerry is visiting the city, which was obliterated by a U.S. atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, to attend gathering of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies that Japan opened on Sunday with a call to end nuclear weapons.

The U.S. diplomat is to join his counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan on Monday to tour the city’s atomic bomb museum and to lay flowers at a cenotaph for its victims, becoming the first in his post to do so.

“If you are asking whether the secretary of state came to Hiroshima to apologise, the answer is no,” a senior U.S. official told reporters late on Sunday.

“If you are asking whether the secretary and I think all Americans and all Japanese are filled with sorrow at the tragedies that befell so many of our countrymen, the answer is yes,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

Kerry’s trip could pave the way for an unprecedented visit to Hiroshima by a sitting U.S. president when Barack Obama attends the annual G7 summit to be held in Japan next month.

While saying the White House has yet to make a decision, the senior U.S. official said Obama has shown he is willing to do controversial things such as visiting Havana last month.

The official suggested there was no “great or insurmountable angst about the optics or the politics of a visit to Hiroshima.”

He also said there was no Japanese effort to seek a U.S. apology, “nor is there any interest in reopening the question of blame for the sequence of events that culminated in the use of the atomic bomb.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who presides over the two-day meeting, on Sunday said ministers will discuss anti-terrorism steps, maritime security and issues related to North Korea, Ukraine and the Middle East.

The Catastrophic Bowls Of Wrath (Revelation 15)

Peace Prize Winner Talks Catastrophic Effects of Nuclear War

The physician is also the co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Many young people are “profoundly” uneducated about nuclear weapons, according to Helfand. The physician showed a video, that won first prize in the student category for the Nukebusters 2015 Short Film Contest, which demonstrated how disturbed students are when they hear about nuclear weapon capacity for damage.
Helfand argued that this lack of education is dangerous because it translates to complacency among the next generation of potential anti-nuclear proliferation advocates.
Helfand urged the young people in the audience to take stock of the staet of nuclear weapons today, saying that although they had not been involved in “creating the problem,” that this could not be complete because “this problem is not going to go away.”
This mass destruction could also result from the degradation of food production throughout the world, according to Helfand. Large drops in temperature, due to a nuclear fallout, could wreck havoc on food staples like corn in the United States and rice i China.
The consequences of nuclear conflict would be global, Helfand said. If a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan occurred, China’s Guangdong province, thousands of miles away, would see its rice crops fail completely within a year, and its 37 million residents would starve, according to Helfand.
“We are not in the position on this planet today to absorb this kind of decline in food production,” he said. “Grain reserves, as of last month, amount to only about 80 days of consumption worldwide if production stops. This reserve will not provide an adequate buffer in the event of a significant decline of food production.”
The scarcity of food could also lead to global hoarding by countries who export food, placing other countries, who already struggle feeding their people at greater risk of famine, according to Helfand.  He said these inflated food prices could last for decades. By recent estimates, there are almost 795 million malnourished people in the world, he said.
Shocks would also harm the 300 million people who live in countries that import food as well as many others who are not rich enough to pay inflated food prices. Additionally, nuclear radiation would cause dire health problems and there would be little available treatment, according to Helfand.
This has lead us to conclude that 2 billion people worldwide could face death by starvation in the event of a limited nuclear war confined to one section of the globe,” he said. “This is an event unprecedented in human history, we have never seen anything like the death of a third of the human population in a single decade.”
With impacts this great, Helfand stressed that stopping the escalation of nuclear weapon must be made a political priority.
“While this is the future that will be if we do not act, it is not the future it needs to be,” he said. “Nuclear weapons are not a force of nature. They are implements which we have built with our own hands and we know how to take them apart. What has been lacking is the political will.”
Several steps, such as taking U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert, eliminating tactical nuclear weapons and ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would have immense significance in creating a nuclear weapon free world, accoring to Helfand.
Helfand ended the discussion by urging public engagement in ending the reliance on nuclear weapons.
“I challenge everyone who is not already involved in this issue to figure out how on this campus you build a movement that helps to educate the general public and our decision makers about the dangers we face, the possibility we have for eliminating that danger, and the urgency in doing so to avoid this catastrophe,” he said.
Helfand’s lecture was co-sponsored by the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflicts Studies, the Center for Transformative Action and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and organized by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

The Bowls of Wrath “Anytime Now” (Revelation 15)

In his new memoir My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, former U.S. defence secretary William J. Perry says threats of an attack are ‘dimly perceived’ by public.
Published on Dec 29 2015
Robert Burns
Atop William J. Perry’s list: a nuclear terror attack in a major U.S. city or a shooting war with Russia that, through miscalculation, turns nuclear. A terrorist attack using a nuclear bomb or improvised nuclear device could happen “any time now — next year or the year after,” he said in an interview with reporters this month.
Perry, 88, chooses his words with the precision of a mathematician, which he was before entering the defence world in the mid-1950s. He played a central role in developing and modernizing nuclear forces throughout the Cold War — first as a technology whiz-kid and later a three-time senior Pentagon executive. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis Perry was secretly summoned to Washington to analyze intelligence on Soviet weapons in Cuba.
“Every day that I went to the analysis centre I thought would be my last day on earth,” he writes in a newly published memoir, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink. He says he believed then and still believes that the world avoided a nuclear holocaust as much by good luck as by good management.
In the interview, he recounted a harrowing incident in November 1979 when, as a senior Pentagon official, he was awakened by a 3 a.m. phone call from the underground command centre responsible for warning of a missile attack. The watch officer told Perry his computers were showing 200 nuclear-armed missiles on their way from the Soviet Union to the United States.
“It was, of course, a false alarm,” Perry said, but it was one of many experiences throughout the Cold War and beyond that he says have given him a “unique and chilling vantage point from which to conclude that nuclear weapons no longer provide for our security — they now endanger it.
Perry looks at Russia’s nuclear modernization and U.S. plans to spend hundreds of billions to update its nuclear arsenal and sees irrational nuclear competition.
“I see an imperative to stop this damn nuclear race before it gets underway again, not just for the cost but for the danger it puts all of us in,” he said.
When the Cold War ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Perry thought the world had dodged a nuclear bullet. In his first book, co-authored in 1999 with the man now running the Pentagon, Ash Carter, Perry argued that the demise of the Soviet system meant nuclear disaster was no longer an “A List” threat.
By 2014, his optimism had faded, in no small part because of the collapse of co-operative relations between Washington and Moscow, which has ended any realistic prospect of new arms control agreements and, in Perry’s view, has put the two countries on a dangerous path toward confrontation.
We are facing nuclear dangers today that are in fact more likely to erupt into a nuclear conflict than during the Cold War,” Perry said in a recent speech.
In his book’s preface Perry outlines a nuclear terror scenario, which he calls “my nuclear nightmare, born of long and deep experience.”
In his scenario, a small group gets its hands on enough uranium to fashion a crude nuclear bomb, flies it undetected to Washington’s Dulles International Airport and slips the bomb into a warehouse in the District of Columbia. From there it is loaded onto a delivery truck and a suicide bomber drives it onto Pennsylvania Avenue midway between the Capitol and the White House. When detonated, it kills 80,000 people instantly, including the president. The news media report a message claiming that five more bombs are hidden in five different U.S. cities, and one will be set off each week.
The danger of a nuclear bomb being detonated in one of our cities is all too real,” Perry writes. “And yet, while this catastrophe would result in a hundred times the casualties of 9/11, it is only dimly perceived by the public and not well understood.”