Iran About to Shut Down the Oil (Revelation 6)


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday repeated his threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea, if the U.S. shuts off Iran’s oil exports.

State TV quoted Rouhani as saying that “if someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”

The strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf is crucial to global energy supplies.

Rouhani also pledged that the United States would not be able to prevent Iran from exporting its crude.

Rouhani has made similar threats in the months since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal and began restoring sanctions. Trump has vowed to eventually cut off all Iranian oil exports, but the administration has given waivers to several countries.

The tough talk from Rouhani, a relative moderate, has meanwhile been warmly received by his domestic hard-line rivals.

Brian Hook, the U.S. representative for Iran policy, dismissed Rouhani’s threat, noting that Iran does not control the Strait of Hormuz.

The strait is an international waterway. The United States will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in international waterways.”

Later on Tuesday, Rouhani said he had rejected multiple U.S. requests for direct negotiations.

“In the past year, the current U.S. administration sent eight direct messages to negotiate,” he was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim new agency. “I refused.”

He said he had also rejected an American request for indirect negotiations mediated by three European countries, without providing further details.

Trump has said he is willing to meet with Iran’s leaders. But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all major policy decisions, has said Iran is forbidden from negotiating with the U.S.

Khamenei had cautiously approved the months of direct negotiations that led to the 2015 nuclear accord, in which Iran curbed its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

But he has said that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement, despite Iran’s continued compliance, proves the U.S. cannot be trusted.

Iran: Save the Oil and the Wine (Revelation 6:3)

“America should know… it is not capable of preventing the export of Iran’s oil,” Rouhani said at a televised rally in Semnan province.

“If it ever tries to do so… no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf,” he added.

since the 1980s, Iran has said repeatedly it would blockade the Gulf in response to international pressure but has never carried out the threat.

Washington has reimposed sanctions, including an oil embargo, since withdrawing from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers in May.

It has vowed to reduce Iran’s oil sales to zero, but has granted temporary waivers to eight countries.

Rouhani last threatened to close the Gulf in July when he warned the US “should not play with the lion’s tail.”

The president downplayed the economic impact of sanctions, accusing the media of exaggerating the country’s problems.

“No hyperinflation, no massive unemployment will threaten us. People should stop saying such things in the papers,” he told the crowd.

The latest inflation report from Iran’s central bank says food prices rose 56 percent year-on-year in October.

Rouhani acknowledged there were “some problems”, but said these would be addressed in the new budget plan to be presented on December 16.

He said the government would maintain subsidies on essential goods and increase public sector wages and pensions by 20 percent.

US Ready to Break Russian Nuclear Deal

Pompeo says US suspending landmark nuclear deal because of Russian violations

By Conor Finnegan

Dec 4, 2018, 1:48 PM

One of the key treaties that helped to end the Cold War and reduce nuclear tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and now Russia could be dead within a matter of months.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at NATO Headquarters Tuesday that the U.S. will suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty in 60 days because of Russia’s continued violations of the treaty, shortly after NATO’s foreign ministers affirmed its support for that conclusion in a new joint statement.

“We had a party– a treaty that had two parties, only one of which is compliant!” Pompeo said Tuesday in Brussels, Belgium. “That’s not an agreement, that’s just self-restraint, and it strategically no longer made sense to remain in that position.”

President Trump and National Security Adviser John Bolton had previously suggested the U.S. would withdraw from the treaty, but Pompeo’s announcement Tuesday officially starts the clock.

The decision comes as the U.S. seeks to counter a “larger pattern of Russian lawlessness on the world stage,” according to Pompeo, but also to take on China’s growing military power, with the top U.S. diplomat warning the treaty gives China a military advantage. But to some arms control experts and Democrats in Congress, the decision was a hasty one that will make the world less safe.

The U.S. will remain in compliance for the next 60 days and then begin the six-month notice period before withdrawal, he said, adding that if Russia comes back into compliance before then, the U.S. could remain in the agreement.

“We would welcome a Russian change of heart, a change in direction, the destruction of their program, and their followed-on continuance of the terms of the treaty, and so over the next 60 days they have every chance to do so,” he said. “But there’s been no indication to date that they have any intention of doing so.”

Pompeo said there is “complete unity” among NATO members on this decision, and it comes after the Foreign Ministers of NATO released a joint statement that says Russia’s development and deployment specifically of the 9M729 missile system “poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security” and “is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty,” paving the way for U.S. withdrawal.

The U.S. has remained in compliance of the treaty, the group added, despite claims by Russia to the contrary.

Russia has denied violating the INF treaty, at first denying the existence of the weapons system and then later admitting it existed but arguing it was in compliance.

President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting at Finland’s Presidential Palace on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki.

Russia’s violations of the landmark nuclear treaty are also part of a “larger pattern of Russian lawlessness on the world stage,” Pompeo added, citing its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, its intervention in Syria in support of the Assad regime, its election interference in the U.S. and other countries, its use of a nerve agent against an ex-spy in the U.K., and most recently its seizure of Ukrainian ships and sailors in international waters.

But Pompeo did give other reasons for U.S. withdrawal, including the fact that China is not a party to the treaty and is beefing up its military capabilities.

China, North Korea, and Iran are not obligated by the treaty’s limitations, and, “This leaves them free to build all the intermediate range missiles they would like,” he said. “There is no reason the United States should continue to cede this crucial military advantage to revisionist powers like China, in particular when these weapons are being used to threaten and coerce the United States and its allies in Asia.”

There was no immediate response in Moscow to Pompeo’s announcement, but Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said earlier on Tuesday that he and President Vladimir Putin had discussed how to take measures to increase Russian troops’ “military capabilities” in response to a potential new “arms race.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National security adviser John Bolton shake hands during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Oct. 23, 2018.

“Measures were looked at for increasing the military capabilities of troops and forces in the conditions of an arms race, connected with the plans of the U.S. to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty,” Shoigu said, according to Russian-state media.

President Trump lamented this possible arms race in a tweet Monday, calling on Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet to “start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race.”

I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018

It’s that concern that upset Congressional Democrats, blasting the administration’s decision as a dangerous move that “play[s] directly into President Putin’s plans,” according to Rep. Adam Smith, the incoming Democratic chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

“The Trump administration should instead work with our allies to take meaningful actions to hold Russia accountable for its violation of the treaty, press Russia back into compliance, and avoid a new arms race,” said Smith, D-Washington, in a statement.

ABC News’s Patrick Reevell contributed to this report from Moscow.

Iran’s Continued Meddling in Iraq (Daniel 8:3)


Iraq is finally on its way to getting a new government more than half a year after elections were held. Those elections resulted in a political earthquake when Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s list the Sairoon bloc beat its opponents.

At the beginning of October Adel Abdul Mahdi, a 76-year-old economist and veteran Shiite politician, who lived in exile in France for an extended period, was appointed prime minister by the newly elected President Barham Saleh who is a Kurd.

Mahdi had been a member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an exiled opposition party and militia that was formed by Iran in Tehran in 1982 and consisted of Iraqi exiles. He is, however, not considered an Islamist.

In 2005, Mahdi became vice-president of Iraq, a position he held until 2011 when he resigned after surviving an assassination attempt in 2007.

His appointment was the result of a compromise between 6 Shiite factions, some backed by Iran, who after his appointment jockeyed for control of key ministries such as the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry, while Mahdi wanted a cabinet of technocrats.

The pro-Iranian factions in Iraq wanted to appoi andrewtheprophet.com

nt Falih al-Fayadh, who headed the Iranian- controlled Hash al-Shaabi umbrella organization of Shiite militias, as Interior Minister. This was unacceptable to al-Sadr who decided not to take the position of President or Prime Minister after the elections.

“I will not accept a minister of defense or interior who is affiliated [with a political party],” Sadr said in a statement on his Twitter account, last Tuesday.

Al-Sadr is reportedly using his political power to stop Iran from meddling in the forming of the new government and is now reportedly facing death threats from the Iranians.

Misal Alusi, the leader of Iraq’s Umma Party, last week said al-Sadr could be assassinated by Iran or Qatar over his opposition to the nomination of a pro-Iranian politician to the post of Interior Minister and Defense Minister.

Iran is currently using “teams of hit squads” in Iraq to eliminate critics who are against the country’s meddling in the process to form a new Iraqi government, according to British security officials.

The hit squads have already assassinated a number of Iraqi opponents and were deployed on orders of Qassem Soleimani, the shrewd commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Soleimani has been labeled a ‘living martyr’ by his admirers in both Iraq and Iran and also interfered in the process that led to the forming of the new Iraqi government.

Iran is intensifying its campaign of intimidation against the Iraqi government by using assassination squads to silence critics of Tehran, a senior British security official told The Daily Telegraph” according to the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

“This is a blatant attempt to thwart efforts by the new Iraqi government to end Iran’s meddling in Iraq,” the unnamed British official added before revealing that Soleimani’s Quds Force continues to smuggle weapons to Hashd al-Shaabi militias such as Kataib Hezbollah.

Brian Hook, The American Special Representative for Iran, addressed the Iranian belligerent activities in Iraq during a briefing to foreign reporters in Washington last week.

Hook emphasized it was necessary to halt Iranian expansion in Iraq and said there were “credible reports” indicating “Iran is transferring ballistic missiles to Shia militia groups in Iraq.”

These militias (Hashd al-Shaabi) are in control of large areas in northern Iraq, including parts of Iraqi Kurdistan and Mount Sinjar from where Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles at Israel during the First Gulf War.

Experts fear the Iranian proxies in Iraq might do the same in a future conflict.

“The control of such strategic territory increases the lethality and range” of any missiles that might be fired from that area,” Paul Davis, a former Pentagon analyst and now a Senior Fellow at Soran University said during an interview with Kurdistan 24.

Liberal Iraqi lawmakers have urged the US government and American envoys in the region to stand up against Soleimani, but Douglas Silliman, the US ambassador in Baghdad instead pressured the new Iraqi government to take decisive measures against the Shiite militias.

Chances that this will indeed happen are very slim.

President Saleh said during the Mediterranean Dialogues Conference in Rome on November 22 that Iraq is “adamant to protect its independence and sovereignty,” but also heaped praise on Hashd al-Shaabi which fought as an integral force of the Iraqi army against Islamic State.

The Iraqi President seemed to be aware of the daunting task of getting rid of the “old order” in Iraq which has seen wars for almost 40 years now and asked for international help to stabilize and improve the overall situation in the country, which is suffering from a myriad of problems.

The Iranians and their Iraqi proxies, however, have no intention of changing the “old order” in Iraq and want the US army out of the country.

Ali Aboud, a Kataib Hezbollah leader, said last week that the Shiite militias will not “allow even one US soldier on Iraqi territories and holy sites,” while he claimed that the Americans were working to resurrect Islamic State in Iraq.

Iran is also planning to use Iraqi soil to connect Tehran with Damascus via a new railway that opponents say will entrench Iranian influence in both Iraq and Syria, allowing the Islamic Republic to realize the logistics infrastructure needed for a prolonged presence in both countries.

The new Iraqi government is very careful not to criticize Iran for its meddling in Iraqi affairs and last week backtracked on its earlier decision to abide by the new US sanction-regime against the Islamic Republic and established a free trade zone along the 1400 kilometer long border with Iran.

In Rome, President Saleh said for Iraq to stabilize it needs a “regional order that can embrace and nurtures its stability” and emphasized that good relations with Iran are “very important.”

It was a new indication that the United States is losing the battle over Iraq with Iran.

Babylon the Great Withdraws from Nuclear Treaty

US makes case for withdrawal from missile treaty with Russia

Maria Danilova, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Russia has for years been developing, testing and deploying a missile that violates a landmark nuclear weapons treaty, a senior White House official said Tuesday, making a case for the administration’s planned withdrawal from the accord ahead of a scheduled meeting between the leaders of the two nations.

The nuclear-capable missile, the official said, can reach over 300 miles (500 kilometers), in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed amid Cold War hostilities in 1987 and which the Trump administration is now seeking to exit.

Russia developed the weapon between 2000 to 2010 and completed testing by 2015, the official said. But when questioned about it in recent years, Moscow officials have denied violating the treaty and demanded to know how the U.S. detected the apparent violation, the official said.

The official said the Trump administration believes it was Russia’s intention to keep the U.S. constrained by the treaty while they developed and deployed the illegal missiles that threaten Europe. The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive foreign policy issue.

The future of the treaty is likely to come up this week when President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 Summit in Argentina. Administration officials have said it is time to withdraw from an accord that is outdated, has prevented the U.S. from developing new weapons and has already been violated with this Russian missile, the 9M729.

It comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries. Trump suggested Tuesday in an interview with The Washington Post that he may cancel the sit-down with Putin over Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian naval ships last weekend.

Russia has denied that it has violated the treaty, saying the 9M729 has not been tested for the range that would make it prohibited. Moscow has also alleged the United States has also breached the accord.

Putin has warned that a U.S. decision to withdraw from the treaty would destabilize Europe and prompt Russia to “respond in kind.” On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reiterated that position.

“We won’t be able to turn a blind eye to the potential deployment of new U.S. missiles on the territories where they may threaten Russia,” Ryabkov said.

The senior U.S. official said the administration, which is seeking support for withdrawal from NATO allies, can still reverse its plan to pull out if Russia acknowledges its violations and takes corrective steps.

Democrats Try to Take Away Trump’s Nuclear Option

Democrats going nuclear to rein in Trump’s arms buildup

Control of the House will give them ‘the power of no — the ability to block programs, cut funding, withhold agreement.’

By BRYAN BENDER 11/24/2018 07:15 AM EST

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) who is set to become the first progressive in decades to run the House Armed Services Committee. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrats preparing to take over the House are aiming to roll back what they see as President Donald Trump’s overly aggressive nuclear strategy.

Their goals include eliminating money for Trump’s planned expansion of the U.S. atomic arsenal, including a new long-range ballistic missile and development of a smaller, battlefield nuclear bomb that critics say is more likely to be used in combat than a traditional nuke.

They also want to stymie the administration’s efforts to unravel arms control pacts with Russia. And they even aim to dilute Trump’s sole authority to order the use of nuclear arms, following the president’s threats to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea and other loose talk about doomsday weapons.

The incoming House majority will have lots of leverage, even with control of only one chamber in the Capitol, veterans of nuclear policy say. They point to precedents in which a Democratic-controlled House cut funding for Ronald Reagan’s MX nuclear missile and a Democratic-led Congress canceled the development of a new atomic warhead under George W. Bush.

They can block funding for weapon systems,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington. “The Democrats’ ascendancy will prove a much-needed check on the Trump administration’s nuclear weapons policy and approaches.”

Leading the charge is Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, who is set to become the first progressive in decades to run the House Armed Services Committee, which is responsible for setting defense policy through the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

Smith has long criticized both President Barack Obama and Trump’s $1.2 trillion, 30-year plan to upgrade all three legs of the nuclear triad — land-based missiles, submarines and bombers — as both unaffordable and dangerous overkill.

He’s made it clear in recent days that revamping the nation’s nuclear strategy will be one of his top priorities come January, when he is widely expected to take the gavel of the largest committee in Congress.

“The rationale for the triad I don’t think exists anymore. The rationale for the numbers of nuclear weapons doesn’t exist anymore,” Smith told the Ploughshares Fund, a disarmament group, at a recent gathering of the Democratic Party’s nuclear policy establishment.

The daylong conference included leading lawmakers, former National Security Council aides, peace activists and an ex-secretary of Defense, William Perry, who was once an architect of many of the nation’s nuclear weapons but is now a leading proponent for a major downsizing.

Arms control and disarmament groups see Smith’s emergence as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to craft a much more sensible approach to nuclear weapons and reduce the danger of a global conflict.

The mere appearance of a would-be Armed Services chairman at the recent gathering demonstrated how much circumstances have changed.

“I have never seen a chairman give nuclear policy such a high priority, have such personal expertise in the area, and be so committed to dramatic change,” said Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund.

Cirincione served as a staffer to then-Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), who chaired the panel during the fierce debates over nuclear weapons policies in the 1980s, which he sees as an instructive period for today.

“I know that a Democratic House can have a major impact on nuclear policy,” he said. “It is the power of no — the ability to block programs, cut funding, withhold agreement to dangerous new policies. Democrats may not be able to enact new policies, but they can force compromises.”

High on the priority list is halting or delaying the development of a planned new nuclear bomb that would have less explosive power than a more traditional atomic bomb. The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review called for the so-called low-yield weapon last year.

Advocates assert that the weapon, to be launched from a submarine, will provide military commanders with more options and better deter nations such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran that are building up their own nuclear arsenals. Such a modest nuke would not destroy a city but would devastate a foreign army — and adversaries would have reason to fear that the U.S. might use it in a first strike.

But Smith, who will also influence the House Appropriations Committee’s recommendations for Pentagon funding, insists such a new weapon “brings us no advantage and it is dangerously escalating.”

“It just begins a new nuclear arms race with people just building nuclear weapons all across the board in a way that I think places us at greater danger,” he told Ploughshares Fund.

Democrats are expected to revive legislation proposed earlier this fall in both the House and Senate to try to roll back the program.

There’s no such thing as a low-yield nuclear war,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), one of the co-sponsors, who also gave his pitch at the Ploughshares Fund gathering this month. “Use of any nuclear weapon, regardless of its killing power, could be catastrophically destabilizing.”

Leading Democrats also have their sights on a new intercontinental ballistic missile that is under development as the future land-based leg of the nuclear triad. The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent is set to replace current ICBMs that are deployed in underground silos in Western states such as Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota.

“The ICBM is where the debate will focus,” predicted Mieke Eoyang, vice president of national security at Third Way, a centrist think tank, and a former aide on the House Intelligence Committee.

One key argument will be cost, she added.

“People make the case for all three legs of the triad, but when you look at the budget situation, the Pentagon is going to have to make some tough choices,” Eoyang said in an interview. “The modernization of the triad is a big-ticket item that comes over and above what current Defense Department needs are — at a time when budget pressures are coming the other way.”

Critics also argue that the ICBM has outlived its usefulness.

Perry, who served as Pentagon chief for President Bill Clinton, has argued that the land-based ICBM is the leg of the triad that is most prone to miscalculation and an accidental nuclear war. He said submarine- and aircraft-launched nuclear weapons would provide a sufficient deterrent on their own.

But not everyone thinks cutting one leg of the triad will be easy. They cite the political clout of defense contractors and their political supporters in both parties, including the so-called ICBM Caucus — especially in the Senate, which will remain under Republican control.

“They won’t be able to take on the triad,” warned former Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, who chaired the national security and foreign affairs panel of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

But Tierney and others said the House can pursue other areas for reshaping nuclear policy — and force the Senate to take up their proposals.

One way is to revive legislation adopting a “no first use” policy for nuclear weapons, declaring that a president could not order the use of nuclear weapons without a declaration of war from Congress.

“We want to avoid the miscalculation of stumbling into a nuclear war,” Smith said. “And this is where I think the No First Use Bill is incredibly important: to send that message that we do not view nuclear weapons as a tool in warfare.”

The unfolding strategy will also rely on inserting new reporting requirements in defense legislation as a delaying tactic on some nuclear efforts or to compel the administration to reconsider its opposition to some arms control treaties.

While the president negotiates treaties and the Senate is vested with the constitutional authority to ratify them, the House also has some power to force the administration’s hand.

Trump, citing Russian violations, has threatened to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that Reagan signed with the then-Soviet Union in 1987. He recently sent national security adviser John Bolton to Moscow to relay the message.

But critics say the landmark treaty, which banned land-based missiles with ranges from 50 to 5,500 kilometers, is still worth trying to salvage with the Russians. And Democrats can try to force the Trump administration to curtail plans for a new cruise missile that would match the Russians.

The Democrats can put the cruise missile “back on its heels,” Tierney said. “Sometimes they can delay, sometimes defeat.”

Democrats also worry that the Trump administration will opt to not renew the New START Treaty with Russia, which expires in early 2021. That pact, reached in 2010, mandates that each side can have no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons and requires regular inspections to ensure each side is complying.

Trump and his advisers “are opposed to multilateralism just based on principle,” Smith told the crowd of arms control advocates. “That is John Bolton’s approach, that he doesn’t want to negotiate with the rest of the world, almost regardless of what it is that we negotiate.”

But Kimball, who met recently with Smith, said Democrats have options on that front, too.

“If the Trump administration threatens to allow New START to expire in 2021, the Democrats are not under any obligation to fund the administration’s request for nuclear weapons,” Kimball said.

He pointed out that Obama secured bipartisan Senate support for ratifying the New START treaty in return for a pledge to increase spending on upgrading the nuclear arsenal and new missile defense systems. “That linkage works the other way, too,” Kimball said.

What is clear is that the nuclear arms control crowd sees Smith as the best hope for change in many years.

“I don’t think it is going to be easy, but we see a chance that we haven’t seen in a long time to have a different path forward on nuclear weapons,” said Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, an antiwar group. “There isn’t enough money available for the wild plans we had before, let alone Trump’s new objectives.”

The Danger of the Merchant of Merchants (Revelation 16)

America’s greatest danger: Nuclear war decision-making by Donald Trump

GREG NASH

BY LOUIS RENÉ BERES, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

An inappropriate or irrational nuclear command decision by President Donald Trump is plainly conceivable. Nothing accurate can ever be said about the true probability of such a scenario, but it is not an unfounded worry.

Might this American president become subject to various forms of psychological debility? On 14 March 1976, in response to my specific query, I received a letter from General (USA/ret.) Maxwell Taylor, a former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, concerning nuclear risks of U.S. presidential decisional irrationality. Most noteworthy, in this handwritten response, is the straightforward warning contained in the closing paragraph. Ideally, cautioned Taylor, presidential irrationality is a problem that should be dealt with during an election, and not later on: “As to dangers arising from an irrational American president, the best protection is not to elect one.”

There are assorted structural protections built into any presidential order to use nuclear weapons, including substantial redundancy. Nonetheless, virtually all of these reassuring and mutually reinforcing safeguards could become operative only at the lower or sub-presidential nuclear command levels.

The safeguards do not apply to the Commander-in-Chief.

This means there likely exist no permissible legal grounds to disobey any presidential order to use nuclear weapons. In principle, certain very senior individuals in the designated military chain of command could sometime choose to invoke applicable “Nuremberg Obligations,” but any such last-minute invocation would almost surely need to yield to considerations of U.S. domestic law.

Should an American president operating within a bewildering chaos of his own making issue an irrational or seemingly irrational nuclear command, the only way for the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the National Security Adviser, and several possible others to effectively obstruct this order would be illegal “on its face.” Under the very best of circumstances, such informal safeguards might somehow manage to work for a time, but accepting the unrealistic assumption of “best case scenario” is hardly a rational or sensible path to nuclear security.

It follows that we Americans ought to ask for more predictable and promising institutional impediments to any debilitated president.

The United States is already navigating in uncharted waters.

While President Kennedy did engage in personal nuclear brinkmanship with the Soviet Union back in October 1962, he had calculated his own odds of a consequent nuclear war as “between one out of three and even.” This seemingly precise calculation, corroborated both by JFK biographer Theodore Sorensen, and by my own later private conversations with former JCS Chair Admiral Arleigh Burke (my colleague and roommate at the Naval Academy’s Foreign Affairs Conference of 1977) suggests that President Kennedy was either irrational in imposing his Cuban “quarantine” or that he was wittingly acting out certain untested principles of “pretended irrationality.”

JFK operated with serious and manifestly capable strategic advisors.

The most urgent threat of a mistaken or irrational presidential order to use nuclear weapons flows not from any “bolt-from-the-blue” nuclear attack – whether Russian, North Korean, or American – but from an uncontrollable escalatory process. Back in 1962, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev “blinked” early on in the “game,” thereby preventing mutual and irrecoverable nuclear harms. Now, however, any escalatory initiatives undertaken by President Trump could express very unstable decision-making processes.

Donald Trump should understand the unprecedented risks of being locked into an escalatory dynamic. Although this president might be well advised to seek escalation dominance in selected crisis negotiations with determined adversaries, he would also need to avoid catastrophic miscalculations.

Whether we like it or not, and at one time or another, nuclear strategy is a bewildering game that President Donald Trump will have to play. To best ensure that this easily-distracted president’s strategic moves will be rational, thoughtful, and cumulatively cost-effective, it will first be necessary to enhance the formal decisional authority of his most senior military and defense subordinates.

At a minimum, the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Advisor, and one or two others in appropriate nuclear command positions should immediately prepare to assume more broadly collaborative and secure judgments in extremis atomicum.

The only time for clarifying such indispensable preparations is now.

Louis René Beres, Ph.D. Princeton, is emeritus professor of international law at Purdue University. He is the author of 12 books and several hundred articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war. His newest book is “Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; 2nd ed. 2018)

Hamas Threatens From Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Hamas Threatens Tel Aviv

By Jim Fletcher November 26, 2018 , 7:00 am

 (This week marks my 12th year having the privilege of writing in this space. I love Todd and Terry, my brothers, and thank them for the opportunity! I consider my readers to be family, truly. I believe we are living in the last days, so let’s go through this period together, looking forward with joy to our Great Hope! Thank you all!)

We live in a time in which a U.S. congressman has now threatened to use nukes on American citizens who do not turn in their guns.

A Michigan college has cancelled a presentation of the infamous “Vagina Monologues,” because, it is said, not all women have vaginas.

Think that through.

New Testament prophecies are coming so sharply into focus, one tends to reflexively flinch or duck.

But as usual, watch Israel for the clearest signs that we are in the last of the last days. The international community’s increasing pressure on Israel is the sign.

Last week, almost 500 Hamas rockets hit southern Israel; one person was killed and significant property damage occurred. The Iron Dome intercepted 100 of the rockets. A “ceasefire” brokered by Egypt in effect handed a PR and “moral” victory to the terrorists. From a Times of Israel report:

“Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar on Friday warned Israel ‘not to test us again,’ saying the next rocket barrage from the territory would target Tel Aviv and other central cities with a potency that would “surprise” Israel.

“Yahya Sinwa brandishes handgun with silencer he says was taken from Israeli special forces; warns next time IDF troops enter Strip, they’ll return only for ‘thousands of prisoners.’”

Israel’s decision to stand-down caused some political turmoil, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigning (it’s almost shocking to realize that Bibi Netanyahu has been PM for almost a decade, this go-around!).

A particularly odious Hamas leader made the following comment:

“Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh cheered Liberman’s resignation Wednesday, saying it marked an ‘admission of defeat’ by Israel. Haniyeh also boasted that Hamas ‘achieved a military victory against this odious occupier in less than a week.’”

One wonders if this vermin is making a thinly veiled reference to Israel’s epic Six-Day War victory 50 years ago. As usual, the Palestinians envy is showing.

My friend Ruthie Blum, a terrific writer and analyst, this week posted her thoughts on the Hamas dustup. She offers a clue as to Netanyahu’s thinking in backing-off of destroying Hamas:

“He is clearly far more concerned with the looming, existential threat along Israel’s northern border. It is a threat owed largely to the U.N.-brokered ceasefire agreement that sealed the 2006 Second Lebanon War, leaving the field wide open for Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, to amass enormous quantities of weapons with which to destroy the Jewish state at a later date.”

(I encourage you to follow Ruthie’s writing. Her book, To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring’ is sensational, and explains so much.)

 And if one takes both a macro and micro view of terrorism, we see that Israel is under existential threat in the north, and the international community—insulated from reality—does not see its own impending doom at the hands of jihadists. Consider this report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center:

 “Syrian army soldiers and Iranian Revolutionary Guards operatives (probably operatives of the Shiite militias) reportedly started to plant mines along the west bank of the Euphrates River, for fear of SIS operatives infiltrating into the west bank of the river. The mines were planted about 20 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor (Furat Post Facebook page, November 9,2018).”

Then this:

“The spread of ISIS and Al-Qaeda to new countries: According to the head of the FSB, ISIS is sending its branches around the world, including to countries that used to be protected from terrorism. ‘At the moment most of the militants have been driven out of their bases in populated areas. They have been dealt a hard blow in terms of resources, they have been forced to change their methods of operation, and therefore they are searching for new opportunities, [new] ways and methods, to continue their terrorist activity.’ Bortnikov added: ‘After abandoning the strategy of military invasion and taking over territory, the Islamic State, the Al-Nusra Front, and other terrorist organizations decided on an operating method of expansion to countries that were once safe from terrorism.’”

I guess my point is, none of us have any real idea what a head-of-state deals with in these dangerous times. It’s easy to criticize Netanyahu, but he’s looking at threats to Tel Aviv from the south, from Hezbollah and actual Iranian operatives in the north. All the while, the UN threatens Israel politically.

Last week, the UN voted on nine resolutions critical of Israel, including the Jewish state’s control of the Golan Heights (a must-have for defense).

“’The UN’s planned assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,’ said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the UN Watch monitor group.”

So, Hamas is just one part of the puzzle.

Personally, I believe in God. The God who spoke to the Jewish nation at Sinai, and the same One that went ahead of their Six-Day War victory. He alone decides outcomes. It is our job and our privilege to pray for our Jewish friends the world over, and the do what we can to protect them physically.

It is our sacred duty.

Hamas does not know what awaits.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Rapture Ready

Imam Khamenei Calls For Union of the Four Horns (Daniel 8:8)

Imam Khamenei: We advise rulers of Islamic countries to return to rule of Islam

On the auspicious birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad and Imam Sadiq (peace be upon them), the heads of power branches, government officials, ambassadors of Islamic countries as well as invitees to the International Conference on Islamic Unity held in Tehran met with Ayatollah Khamenei—the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution—on Sunday, November 25, 2018.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): On the auspicious birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad and Imam Sadiq (peace be upon them), the heads of power branches, government officials, ambassadors of Islamic countries as well as invitees to the International Conference on Islamic Unity held in Tehran met with Ayatollah Khamenei—the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution—on Sunday, November 25, 2018.

In this meeting Ayatollah Khamenei stressed the significance of uniting around the light of Prophet Muhammad to overcome challenges in the world and among Muslim, saying: At a time when the world was immersed in the darkness of ignorance and deceit, God bestowed upon the entire mankind the light of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Today too, if we follow this light, it will lead us to prosperity and salvation. If humanity achieves the maturity to accept the prophet’s invitation, all of its calamity will be resolved. Today, as a result of the oppression practiced by the domineering powers, the world is in darkness like that day. Today, humanity is encountered with afflictions; this is not only the case in the Muslim World; rather countries that are apparently developed, are also suffering from afflictions. Islam can fulfill all these needs.

The Leader of the Revolution pointed out to the obsession of the government of the United States with the South West Asian region and its concern regarding the rise of Islam and held: The U.S. is obsessed about our region because the nations of our region incline to Islam. Wherever Islam has come to power, Arrogant Powers have been slapped in the face.

Ayatollah Khamenei praised the resistance that exists in the region against the domineering, imperialist powers and stated: There is a movement of resistance against oppression in the world, and this resistance relies on the name of God and Islam.

Ayatollah Khamenei assured Muslims that with the power of Islamic awakening, the enemies will be defeated in the region. He added: Wherever Islam has conquered the hearts of the people, the Front of Arrogance has been repelled. I strongly hold that the Arrogance will be slapped in the face, once again, by the Islamic awakening in our region. I advise Muslim nations to strengthen the movement of Islamic awakening as much as possible; for by strengthening the Islamic awakening, the region will be saved.

Ayatollah Khamenei invited heads of the Islamic countries to follow the rule of Islam rather than the arrogant powers and held: I recommend the rulers of the Islamic countries to turn their attention to the rule of Islam; the rule of the U.S. and the tyrannical system will not serve them. Today, some of the countries of our region follow the U.S., rather than the rule of Allah. The U.S.— acting as the arrogant power it is, on its Arrogance-derived instinct—humiliates them.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution slammed Saudi regime for giving into U.S. President Trump’s humiliating blusters about them, asserting that: You have heard the ranting U.S. president analogized the Saudi rulers to ‘milking cows’. If the Al-Saud is not offended by these insults, we do not care. However, this humiliation targets the people of that country and other Muslim nations as well.

Ayatollah Khamenei criticized Muslim states that ally with the United States in matters concerning Palestine or Yemen, and states: Why should Muslim rulers side with the U.S. in its criminal acts against Palestine and Yemen? These rulers must know that in the two fronts, victory will be for the people of Palestine and Yemen, and the U.S. and its allies will be defeated.

His Eminence referred to declining power of the U.S. regime and the abating of the Zionist regime, adding that: Today, the U.S. is clearly much weaker in our region, compared to ten years ago. The Zionist regime is evidently weaker. A few years ago, the Zionist regime fought against Lebanon’s Hezbollah for 33 days and was defeated. A couple of years later, it fought Palestinians for 22 days and was defeated. A while after that, it fought against the oppressed people of Gaza for 8 days and was finally defeated. In the confrontation erupting last week, the Zionist regime was once again defeated in just two days. This reveals the increased declining of the Zionist Regime.

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution praised the strong resistance by the Yemeni people in the face of atrocities by the Saudi regime, backed by the United States and held: The people of Yemen are undergoing the most severe tortures on the part of the Saudi regime, supported by the U.S. Nevertheless, the people of Yemen and Ansar-Allah will be victorious. Those nations that rely on God and resist, will be assisted by God: this is a divine tradition.

Ayatollah Khamenei described resistance as the only way forward to victory over enemies, adding that: The only solution is resistance, and what has frightened the U.S. and its allies today is the resistance of the Muslim nations—which will soon bear fruit.

His Eminence glorified Iranian people’s resistance in the face of animosities by the US and other major powers as an example of resistance being the only way to defeat the enemies and attain prosperity. He went on to say: The Iranian nation has been resisting for forty years. We were a fragile and small sapling at first, and we resisted thanks to blessings of the name of the prophet (PBUH) and the leadership of Imam Khomeini. We endured many hardships on this path and have had many martyrs. But, today the Iranian nation is a strong tree. Today the U.S. and the Zionist Regime won’t dare to threaten the Iranian nation. Their threats and animosity have been defeated so far, and will be defeated in the future; the sanctions will also be defeated thanks to the resistance.

24,000 Gaza protesters injured outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israel has injured 24,000 Gaza protesters

Maureen Clare Murphy Rights and Accountability 25 November 2018

Paramedics evacuate a critically injured protester during Great March of Return demonstrations on 5 October.

Mohammed Zaanoun ActiveStills

Palestinians have paid a great price for their call for life with dignity during mass protests held along Gaza’s boundary with Israel over the past eight months.

Some 180 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli occupation forces and nearly 6,000 others injured by live fire during the Great March of Return.

“The vast majority of casualties were unarmed, and were fatally shot from a distance while in the Gaza Strip itself,” according to a new report by the Israeli group B’Tselem, confirming previous findings by other rights organizations.

“As a general rule, the protectively clad troops sniping at them from other side of the fence were not in any real danger,” B’Tselem added.

In addition to injuries by live fire, 2,000 cases of injury by tear gas inhalation have been recorded, along with hundreds of injuries by rubber-coated metal bullets.

Injuries to 90 protesters – 17 of them children – have resulted in amputation, nearly all of the lower limbs.

Altogether, a staggering 24,000 Palestinians have been injured during the Great March of Return protests – more than one percent of the territory’s population.

Around half of those injured were treated at field clinics at protest sites. The rest were transferred to hospital for treatment.

“The mass influx of casualties has disrupted an already fragile health system,” according to the World Health Organization. “In the hospitals, trauma patients are prematurely discharged to make room for new patients.”

Hundreds of Palestinians require long-term limb reconstruction involving multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, according to the organization.

Shot in lower limbs

B’Tselem surveyed more than 400 protesters who were wounded by live fire, including 63 children.

The vast majority – 85 percent – were shot in their lower limbs.

Some 40 percent were hit while they were in the immediate vicinity of the Gaza-Israel boundary fence. Around a third were up to 150 meters away from the fence. Just over 20 percent were more than 150 meters away when they were shot.

Forty-one of the children surveyed said they were “injured while they were watching the protest, waving a flag, photographing or filming the protest, moving away from the protest, or treating the wounded,” B’Tselem stated.

Nearly all of the protesters wounded by live fire surveyed by B’Tselem require prolonged, medical treatment. More than half require rehabilitation and physical therapy. Ten percent are permanently injured.

Being shot by occupation forces is only “the first chapter in a prolonged ordeal,” according to B’Tselem.

“Even a superbly functioning healthcare system would be sorely tried when faced with such a large number of casualties,” the group states.

“Yet in Gaza, even before the protests began, the healthcare system was already on the brink of collapse.”

The dire state of Gaza’s healthcare system is a result of the 11-year Israeli blockade at the center of the protests that have met with brutal violence.

Medicines depleted

At the beginning of the month, Gaza’s central pharmacy “was completely out of 226 essential drugs, and had only a one-month supply left of another 241,” B’Tselem states.

Stocks of more than 250 types of medical disposables had been depleted.

“The blockade places restrictions on replacing worn-out, broken medical equipment, on importing advanced medical equipment and drugs, and on travel by physicians for professional training outside Gaza,” according to B’Tselem.

“In addition, Gaza’s intermittent power supply, again largely Israel’s doing, also disrupts hospital functions.”

Israel meanwhile denies or delays permission to medical patients to travel outside Gaza via Erez checkpoint for treatment unavailable in the besieged territory.

Others have been referred to hospitals in Egypt but cannot afford the treatment.

Gaza’s sole prosthetic limbs workshop “can provide only the most basic prosthetic legs with limited range of motion,” according to a recent media report.

The cost of going abroad for prosthetic limbs is prohibitive in impoverished Gaza where the blockade has pushed unemployment rates to over 50 percent.

In addition to physical harm, Israel’s crackdown on the protests has increased symptoms of post-traumatic stress in children who find themselves reliving trauma from previous military assaults on Gaza.

“Deliberate policy”

“The high number of casualties at the protests is not an unavoidable fact of life,” B’Tselem states.

“It is the result of a deliberate policy by the Israeli security establishment.”

“Manifestly unlawful” open fire orders “permit the use of live fire against unarmed protestors who pose no danger to anyone and are on the other side of the fence, inside the Gaza Strip.”

Israeli forces have shot bystanders standing hundreds of meters away while “doing nothing to jeopardize the troops,” as stated by B’Tselem.

These open fire orders – kept secret by the state – have been rubber-stamped by Israel’s high court.

A lower court recently ruled that Palestinians in Gaza are not entitled to seek compensation for damages from Israel because the state has declared the territory an “enemy entity.”

“Banned from redress”

That was the argument made by the court as it rejected a case filed on behalf of a boy in Gaza who was left quadriplegic after Israeli forces opened fire on him in November 2014.

With the court upholding a 2012 law barring residents of an “enemy entity” from receiving compensation, all Palestinians in Gaza “are now banned from redress and remedy in Israel, regardless of the circumstances and the severity of the injury or damages claimed,” according to the rights groups Al Mezan and Adalah.

The new law “introduced criteria that are nearly impossible to meet for victims from Gaza,” leaving Palestinians in Gaza who suffered injury or damage during military operations ineligible to seek compensation. A narrow window of time in which Gaza residents initiate claims in Israel – at significant financial cost – and other restraints effectively bar anyone there from seeking justice.

But even in the case of the child represented by Adalah and Al Mezan, “who was shot in the absence of military activity and his family complied with all of the … stringent criteria,” the state argued that the boy was ineligible for compensation with “the simple justification that he is a resident of Gaza.”

According to the rights groups, “With this message, Israel declared that it absolves itself from the responsibilities, as a state, to investigate, deter, and take responsibility for violations by its armed and security forces.”

The ruling “grants comprehensive immunity to the Israeli military and the state for illegal, reprehensible, and even criminal actions” in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

With no way to fulfill their right to effective legal remedy from Israel, the occupying power, “the only legal options currently available to Palestinians in Gaza are limited to international judicial mechanisms,” Adalah and Al Mezan state.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor has warned Israeli leaders that the shooting of unarmed Palestinians along the Gaza boundary could be considered a crime under international law within the court’s jurisdiction.

Palestinian and international nongovernmental organizations have called on the International Criminal Court to “urgently” open an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes.

The situation in Palestine has been under preliminary examination by the prosecutor’s office since 2015.