The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan

By Brooklyn Eagle

New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale.Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.

But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.

Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.

“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.

While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.

“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”

Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”

While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

75 years of nuclear terror are coming to an end (Revelation 16)

75 years of nuclear terror | TheHill

By Peter Pry, opinion contributor

August 02, 2020 – 09:00 AM EDT

On Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed more than 100,000 people and began what might be called the “Age of Nuclear Terror.”  Ever since the horror of the bombing of these two Japanese cities, the nightmarish possibility of nuclear annihilation has hung suspended, like a permanent mushroom cloud, haunting the imaginations of every generation of humanity.

People have argued about whether the atomic bombings were justified, and with time, more Americans have begun to consider the invention and use of nuclear weapons as a curse.

Are the incinerated bodies, atomic shadows of what once were people burned into concrete walls and stoops, and the irradiated walking dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the ultimate “Mark of Cain” to be inflicted someday upon all of us, or upon our children?

The obliteration of two Japanese cities unquestionably was horrific and inhumane for the victims. But war is horrific and inhumane.

The 1945 bombing of Tokyo, using incendiary bombs designed to ignite titanic firestorms, killed as many, and perhaps more, people than Hiroshima or Nagasaki and was equally horrific and inhumane.

The atomic bombings ended World War II, which claimed the lives of at least 60 million people worldwide. Had Japan not surrendered to the A-bomb, millions more casualties likely would have resulted from invasion of their home islands. In 1945, Americans celebrated Japan’s surrender, knowing our troops would finally come home and not be destined to die overseas.

The 75 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki might also be called the “Age of Nuclear Peace.” There have been many wars – but no world wars – since the use of nuclear weapons.

Many scholars credit nuclear weapons with breaking the cycle of increasingly destructive great wars that plagued Europe every century, culminating in the 20th century in World War I and World War II – the most destructive wars in history. Nuclear weapons preserved peace throughout the Cold War, deterring a thermonuclear World War III.

Nuclear deterrence made possible the seemingly miraculous, comparatively bloodless victory of the United States over the Soviet Union. Never before in history have two diametrically opposed and hostile superpowers ended confrontation peacefully, without a great war.

Yet, is the Age of Nuclear Peace and the long-term efficacy of nuclear deterrence an illusion? Deterring nuclear war for 75 years, since 1945, is not very long in the span of history.

Every war ever fought, before and after the invention of nuclear weapons, is an example of deterrence failure. Perhaps we will not know if nuclear deterrence has really broken the cycle of great wars every century until 2045 or after, at least 25 years into the future. Who has high confidence there will be no world war, and no nuclear war, over the next 25 years? Nuclear weapons may or may not have recalibrated the likelihood of world war, but they have changed the nature of “peace” since everyone now lives under the sword of Damocles.

Cold War examples of risky nuclear moments include the Berlin Blockade (1948), Berlin Crisis (1961), Korean War (1950-53), Suez Crisis (1956), Hungarian Revolution (1956), Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), Czechoslovakian Crisis (1968), Sino-Soviet Crisis (1969), Yom Kippur War (1973), Able Archer-83 (1983), and the Soviet Coup Crisis (1991).

There have been more nuclear close calls since the end of the Cold War, involving actors other than the now-defunct USSR.

Nuclear-armed actors include the U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Britain, France, Israel, and soon (if not already) Iran. Nuclear proliferation specialists used to worry about the strategic stability of a world with 20 to 30 nuclear-armed states, as theoretically this greatly increases possible pathways to nuclear war. However, nuclearization of North Korea and Iran, two of the most dangerous actors in history, is a worse nightmare by far than 20 or 30 nuclear-armed “Swedens.”

Can the U.S. muster enough political will to maintain nuclear parity with potential adversaries – the proven formula for deterring nuclear conflict and winning the Cold War? It’s doubtful.

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has not been able to muster the political will to maintain nuclear parity with Russia. It soon may be eclipsed by China, and is regularly threatened by North Korea.

Nuclear weapons are antithetical to democracies, whose legitimacy derives from protecting the people, and to the values of Judeo-Christian civilization that abhors mass killing of peoples, instead of defending life.

In contrast, totalitarian states love nuclear weapons, parading their missiles in public squares, because they are the highest technological embodiment of “might makes right” and the most effective means for erasing democracies.

Can we “ban the bomb” worldwide? No. And nuclear weapons cannot be uninvented. Our adversaries understand their nuclear weapons confer disproportional strategic, political and psychological advantages. They would cheat on any treaty meant to ban the bomb.

Our best hope is to invent a better military technology – space-based missile defenses – to make nuclear weapons obsolete and the world much safer, as envisioned by President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Just one of SDI’s innovative proposals, “Brilliant Pebbles,” or small orbiting anti-missiles, could be deployed for $20 billion in five years.

That would be a bargain, if it kept the world free of another cataclysm, nuclear or otherwise, for another century or more.

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry was chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission and served on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee and at the CIA. He is the author of several books on weapons and warfare.

The Countermeasures of the Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

China can launch nuclear counterattacks within minutes: ex-soldier

KYODO NEWS

China can detect nuclear missiles launched from an enemy and counterattack using nuclear weapons within minutes before they land in the country, according to a paper written by a Chinese former military officer.

His remarks indicated China may have completed a missile attack early warning system while bolstering its nuclear programs, which could threaten the United States in security terms, foreign affairs experts said.

Photo taken Oct. 1, 2019, shows China’s JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles on display during a military parade in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the communist People’s Republic of China. (Kyodo)

Development of the system requires advanced missile defense technologies integrating artificial satellites to detect missile launches with sea-based radar, they said.

China has apparently increased its missile defense capabilities in recent years, as the leadership of President Xi Jinping has stepped up efforts to give the nation’s military “world-class” status by the mid-21st century.

The paper was written by Yang Chengjun, a Chinese specialist on nuclear missiles, who had long worked for the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, which has a nuclear missile unit.

In the paper, Yang also emphasized that China’s nuclear capacity has become comprehensively comparable to those of the United States and Russia.

China has so far pledged to pursue the policy of “no first use of nuclear weapons” under any circumstances.

The basic principle of its nuclear strategy is that the country would counterattack with the nuclear weapons remaining without being destroyed after being hit by the enemy’s nuclear weapons.

Aug 2, 2020 | KYODO NEWS

The Power of the Bowls of Wrath (Revelation 16)

Atomic weapons more powerful 75 years after Hiroshima: Official – World News

GENEVA-Anadolu Agency

The explosive yield – the amount of energy released when a nuclear weapon detonates – has grown exponentially since 1945 when bombs flattened the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Densely-populated megacities of the 21st century mean a nuclear attack could wreak even more horrific damage than inflicted on Japan, as signs point to the development of more sophisticated weaponry.

The first atomic bomb dropped 75 years ago leveled Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and killed an estimated 70,000 people instantly with many more dying in the following years from the effects of radiation.

Three days later, the U.S. dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, ending World War II, with threats posed by war weaponry forever changing the world.

“They have increased exponentially since 1945,” Shannon Kile, program director on the Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control, and Non-proliferation program of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), said in an

online interview with Anadolu Agency.

“In the current U.S. nuclear arsenal, for example, the W88 warheads deployed on Trident II submarine-launched missiles have an estimated yield of 475 kilotons, compared to the estimated 12-13 kiloton yield of the ‘Little Boy’ bomb dropped on Hiroshima.”

“The horror of a nuclear detonation may feel like distant history. Treaties to reduce nuclear arsenals and risks of proliferation are being abandoned, new types of nuclear weapons are being produced, and serious threats are being made,” said Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“We must push all states to ban nuclear weapons and push nuclear weapons states to negotiate, in good faith, steps towards their elimination.”

When the bombs were unleashed in 1945, the U.S. was the only nation known to have fully developed the A-bomb.

Nine nuclear weapons’ states

At the start of 2020, nine countries – the U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – possessed approximately 13,400 nuclear weapons, of which 3,720 were deployed with operational forces, SIPRI said in its 2020 yearbook. South Africa is the only country to have ceded its atomic weaponry.

Some 1,800 of those weapons are held in high operational alert, it said.

The nuclear threat stays in the global public consciousness due to recent tensions around U.N. non-security council nuclear states such as North Korea, Iran, Israel, India and Pakistan over Kashmir, as well as those between the big powers.

Kile said reliable information on the status of nuclear arsenals and nuclear-armed states’ capabilities varies considerably.

“The U.S. has disclosed important information about its stockpile and nuclear capabilities, but the Trump administration in 2019 stopped the practice of disclosing the size of its stockpile. The U.K. and France have also declared some information,” he said.

“Russia refuses to publicly disclose the detailed breakdown of its forces counted under the New START Treaty, even though it shares the information with the U.S..”

China publicly displays its nuclear forces more frequently than in the past, but it releases little information about force numbers or future development plans.

“The governments of India and Pakistan make statements about some of their missile tests but provide no information about their arsenals’ status or size,” he said.

“North Korea has acknowledged conducting nuclear weapon and missile tests but provides no information about its nuclear weapon capabilities. Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting on its nuclear arsenal.”

Overall, inventories of nuclear warheads, however, continue to decline, primarily due to the U.S. and Russia dismantling retired warheads.

At the same time, the U.S. and Russia have extensive and expensive programs to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems and nuclear weapon production facilities, according to the institute.

China’s modernizing arsenal

China is in the middle of a significant modernization and expansion of its nuclear arsenal, and India and Pakistan are also thought to be increasing the size of their arsenals,” the institute said.

North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear program as a central element of its national security strategy. However, in 2019 it adhered to its self-declared moratoria on nuclear weapons testing and long-range ballistic missile delivery systems.

The most powerful nuclear weapon in the current US arsenal is the B83 aircraft bomb, which has a maximum yield of 1.2 megatons (1,200 kilotons), said Kile.

“The destructive impact of modern thermonuclear weapons is difficult to calculate. This is because the explosive yield of the weapons may vary depending on the military role and mission,” he said.

“However, there is no doubt that nuclear weapons currently deployed could have an incomparably greater destructive impact on cities than the two bombs were used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945,” he said.

Organizations monitoring or regulating information about nuclear weaponry engage in a constant battle with states to disclose fully, and in some cases, at all, as to what weapons they possess.

There is the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, among these organizations.

“The IAEA does not have a role in monitoring nuclear weapons and arsenals. Its inspection activities are limited to verifying declared holdings of civil fissile materials and production facilities,” said Kile.

Coronavirus slows negotiations

He even felt that the coronavirus pandemic had stalled engagement and negotiations in diplomatic forums such as the CD.

“The five-yearly Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, scheduled for April-May 2020, has been delayed until early 2021 because of the pandemic,” he said.

Kile said the CD has no role in monitoring global nuclear arsenals, although some member-states do this independently.

The head of the Weapons of Mass Destruction program for the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDR), John Borrie, made a similar observation about the strength of modern nuclear weapons and believes the CD’s 65 members have hampered its ability to negotiate.

“Overall, nuclear weapons today are much more sophisticated and flexible than those in 1945. But an important variable not to be forgotten is that of the vulnerability of the target,” Borrie told Anadolu Agency.

“There is some evidence that in today’s much more interconnected world, the use of a single nuclear weapon in a highly-populated area could cause global disruption far beyond the direct death and injury it causes,” he said.

CD states have been unable to agree on a schedule for a working formula by consensus since 1998 and for negotiations to resume fissile material curbs or begin other core topics such as nuclear disarmament, prevent an arms race in outer space or negative security assurances.

“The CD is currently the only dedicated forum to negotiate and establish agreements regulating weapons. It is not working. But if it collapses, it is difficult to see an alternative body being established to perform this function,” Borrie said.

Mayors will lose their fight against Trump over martial law

Mayors face off with Trump over use of federal law enforcement

Kim Hart, author of Cities

The escalating war of words between President Trump and Democratic big-city mayors — brought it to a head by confrontations in Portland and Seattle — is a preview of what’s to come in the months leading up to November.

The big picture: Trump is using Democratic mayors as the foils for his law-and-order reelection message, while they’ve called his deployment of federal agents in their cities “a step short of martial law” and heightened their criticism of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s the latest clash between Trump and liberal mayors, who’ve been convenient contrasts on a host of issues including immigration, homelessness and public health.

What they’re saying: Mayors have called for the removal of federal officers, investigations into their tactics, and congressional legislation to restrict their authority to operate in cities.

• “We’ve been forced to take these extreme actions in the face of unwarranted, and we believe unconstitutional, abuse of federal power,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said earlier this week while speaking with other members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on a press call.

• He added that the “federal occupation of our streets” only heightened tensions with protesters. “Escalation has been met with escalation.”

• Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called the deployment of federal law enforcement for political purposes “a step short of martial law.”

The latest: The administration has since agreed to a “phased withdrawal” of federal troops from Portland, and Washington State officials said on Tuesday that the federal agents who arrived in Seattle last week would be departing.

• As the President and Secretary Wolf have both made clear, federal law enforcement officers will not leave until the seat of justice in Portland is secure,” said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews in a statement.

Yes, but: Despite the federal pullback from Portland and Seattle, mayors are warning of “unprecedented” and “dangerous” use of federal law enforcement as tensions rise across the country.

• The Justice Department has expanded its “Operation Legend” program aimed at combating violent crime into Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee.

What we’re watching: Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the city will collaborate with federal law enforcement as long as there’s a clear understanding of the mission and parameters of those efforts, which are usually laid out in an official agreement beforehand.

• That did not happen with Operation Legend, he said.

• Contrary to all our other interactions with federal law enforcement, we were given no notice at all,” he said.

Iran Stops Terrorists in Babylon the Great

Iran says it has arrested head of US-based ‘terrorist group’

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a live TV speech on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, Tehran, Iran, July 31, 2020. (AFP Photo)

by French Press Agency – AFP

Aug 01, 2020 2:09 pm

Iran said Saturday it has arrested the head of a U.S.-based “terrorist group” accused of being behind a deadly 2008 bombing in the southern city of Shiraz and of other, abortive attacks.

The Tondar group’s “Jamshid Sharmahd, who was leading armed and sabotage operations inside Iran, is now in the powerful hands” of Iran’s security forces, state television said in a report citing a statement from the intelligence ministry.

On Friday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country will not open talks with the U.S. as it will only benefit President Donald Trump, insisting America’s sanctions had failed.

Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington have soared in the past year or so, with the sworn enemies twice appearing to come to the brink of war.

The tensions have been building since 2018 when Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear accord and unilaterally reimposed crippling sanctions.

“There is no doubt that sanctions are a crime,” Khamenei said in a televised speech.

The Sixth Seal: The Big Apple Shake (Revelation 6:12)

Image result for new york earthquake

Big Apple shake? Potential for earthquake in New York City exists

NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) – For the last 43 years John Armbruster has been a seismologist with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.  A veteran of what he describes as “a couple of dozen” quakes, he is interested in the seismic activity throughout the Pacific region in recent weeks.

However, does the amount of plate movements around the world in recent weeks as well as years to translate to New York City being more vulnerable, “These earthquakes are not communicating with each other, they are too far apart,” said Armbruster in an interview with PIX 11 News on Wednesday.

What would a magnitude 6.0 earthquake inflict upon the city?

“We know that its unlikely because it hasn’t happened in the last 300 years but the earthquake that struck Fukushima Japan was the 1000 year earthquake and they weren’t ready for the that.

China Joins the Space Wars (Daniel 7)

SPACE WAR: China Joins The US & Russia To Conquer The Final Frontier – Space

By EurAsian Times DeskJuly 30, 2020

Three global superpowers – Russia, China and the US, are now battling to conquer the final frontier – Space. Space has become the ultimate battlefield and the only place left to militarise after land, air and the sea.

Last week, Russia and the US held talks in Vienna to discuss issues concerning space security for the first time in seven years. “I remember not a single instance over the past 10 years when the Russian-US consultations had been so lengthy, and with such an intensive and substantive agenda,” said Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Vienna. “It is not just talking, but such specific matters,” he added.

However, according to reports, the meeting didn’t end on a good note. The US and Russia couldn’t agree on how much both sides can militarize space and protect satellites and other orbital assets.

Russia raised opposition to the deployment of space-based antimissile defence systems. The US, resisting such limits, instead wants both parties to work out some sort of code of conduct in orbit.

“Space has been a part of military conflicts since the late 1990s. But the difference is, in the future, a great power conflict may involve more direct attacks on satellites,” said Brian Weeden, an expert once involved in policy planning for the American military’s space operations.

Meanwhile, the US and UK have accused Russia of testing weapon-like projectile in space that could be used to target satellites in orbit. The US State Department described the recent use of “what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry” as concerning. Christopher Ford, the US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-proliferation, accused Russia of hypocrisy after it said that it wanted arms control to be extended to space.

“Moscow aims to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting its own counter-space programme,” he said.

China also destroyed its own satellite using a missile in 2007. India also shot down a satellite as part of an experiment last year making it the fourth country to carry out such a test successfully after the U.S., Russia and China.

Amid fear over weaponisation of space, such experiments are conducted to counter the adversary and shoot down hostile satellites in case of a war. Such acts are bound to receive criticism for the fear of orbital debris from the operation risk damaging satellites launched by other countries. There is no treaty to arbitrate such disputes.

There are only five international treaties and agreements that govern activities in space and only the member states are legally bound by such treaties.

One of such treaties is the Outer Space Treaty signed by 103 members including the US, Russia and the United Kingdom. Parties to the treaty agree to keep space a peaceful, non-militaristic zone. They also agree not to send nuclear weapons into orbit around the Earth or on celestial bodies.

And the treaty expressly prohibits the use of the moon and other celestial bodies for the “establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres.”

China who is currently trailing behind Russia and the US is set to become a space power by 2030. China has been expanding its network of military intelligence satellites. Last year, China conducted 32 successful rocket launches as per the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank. This puts China on top for the second year in a row, exceeding the 21 launches in the US in 2019.

Pentagon has raised the possibility of space-based sensors that can detect and track missile launches from nearly every location on the planet, as well as a missile interception system from space. Experts believe that it will be difficult to forge international norms as long as Washington engages in military expansionism in space. China trails the Americans and Russians in the space arena, so Beijing is likely to follow if the U.S. continues on its current path.

Babylon the Great wants to stop Iran’s arms build-up by hook or by crook

The US wants to stop Iran’s arms build-up by hook or by crook

The prospect of Iran being able to buy weapons on the open market has prompted the Trump administration to launch a diplomatic offensive aimed at pressuring the United Nations to extend its arms embargo against Tehran when it comes up for renewal later this year.

The embargo was implemented under UN Security Council resolution 2231, passed in 2015 in support of the controversial nuclear deal negotiated under the aegis of former US president Barack Obama.

The embargo is due to expire on October 18, but attempts by Washington to persuade the UN to agree to an extension have foundered in the face of strong opposition from China and Russia, which have the power to veto any extension.

Both Beijing and Moscow have lent their support to Tehran during the latter’s recent upsurge in tensions with Washington following US President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal in 2018. The Russians and Chinese argue that the American withdrawal from the agreement means that Iran should no longer be subjected to an arms embargo when the terms of the resolution expire in the autumn.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is hoping to acquire weapons after the arms embargo expires. EPA

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already indicated that his regime intends to take full advantage of any relaxation in the terms of the arms embargo to rebuild his country’s depleted weapons arsenal. State-run Iranian television reported at the end of last year that Mr Rouhani had commented: “When the embargo is lifted next year, we can easily buy and sell weapons. This is one of those important impacts of this [nuclear] agreement.”

Washington has expressed particular concern that ending the arms embargo will enable Iran to buy sophisticated weaponry from Russia and China. Tehran is currently in the process of negotiating a wide-ranging trade deal with Beijing said to be worth around $400 billion over a 25-year period. Under the terms of the agreement, Tehran and Beijing are said to be working on a project to develop a military base in the Indian Ocean that will enable them to challenge America’s long-standing military dominance in the region.

The agreement, which a senior aide to Mr Rouhani says should be signed by next March, encompasses closer military co-operation between the two countries, including weapons development, combined training and intelligence sharing. Washington has expressed concern that this will allow China and Iran to monitor more closely the activities of the US Fifth Fleet in the Gulf, as well as the joint US-UK military base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.

A series of explosions during the last day of Iranian military exercises near sensitive Gulf waters in the Strait of Hormuz. AFP

Despite the arms embargo, Iran has continued work on developing its military strength, in particular by upgrading the numerous ballistic missile systems that have been linked with its nuclear programme.

The growing sophistication of Iran’s missile capabilities was demonstrated earlier this week when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched underground ballistic missiles at a mock-up American aircraft carrier that had been deployed in the Strait of Hormuz. The missiles, appeared to have been launched from Iran’s desert plateau, suggest that the regime has developed a network of subterranean bases that can be used to threaten the US and its allies in the Gulf. Commenting on the exercise, Gen Amir Hajizadeh, the commander of the IRGC’s aerospace division, told state TV: “We have carried out the launch of the ballistic missiles from the depths of the earth for the first time.”

Moreover, the prospect of Iran having the freedom to rebuild its weapons arsenal comes at a time when there has been an upsurge in provocative activity by Tehran in the Middle East. Iran has been accused of increasing tensions with Israel after a team of Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon were reported to have attempted an attack on Israeli positions in their country’s north earlier this month.

In this Wednesday, April 15, 2020, photo made available by the US Navy, Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels sail close to US ships in the Arabian Gulf near Kuwait. All Photos supplied by US Navy

In an attempt to curb Iran’s military ambitions, which believes constitute a direct threat to the security of the Gulf region, Washington has launched a diplomatic offensive aimed at putting pressure on the UN to extend the arms embargo.

In a recent address to the Security Council, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a blunt warning, arguing that the council was faced with a stark choice. It could “stand for international peace and security, as the United Nations’ founders intended, or let the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran expire, betraying the UN’s mission and its finest deals, which we have all pledged to uphold”.

Mr Pompeo explicitly warned that a failure to renew the embargo would enable Iran to buy sophisticated weaponry from Russia, such as warplanes “that can strike up to a 3,000-kilometre radius”.

Tehran would also be able to upgrade and expand its fleet of submarines, thereby enabling it to threaten international shipping and freedom of navigation in the Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea. Allowing Iran access to new arms supplies would also enable it to continue supplying weapons to proxies, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as maintain its support for the Assad regime in Syria.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned about Iran’s military adventures on the floor of the UN. Reuters

Given that China and Russia are unlikely to alter their position on ending the arms embargo when the issue comes before the Security Council in October, the Trump administration is looking at a range of options to maintain the embargo. One option under consideration in Washington is for the US to point out that – despite the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the deal – it remains a participant in the nuclear agreement, and can therefore exercise a Security Council provision to veto the embargo’s expiration.

Whether or not this dubious tactic succeeds, what is beyond doubt is that any attempt by Iran to rebuild its weapons arsenal will, at the very least, encounter stiff resistance from Washington.

Con Coughlin is the Telegraph’s defence and foreign affairs editor

Updated: July 30, 2020 06:14 PM

Israel Prepares to Attack the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Countdown to Israeli Action on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot (L) give a press conference in Tel Aviv, on December 4, 2018. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP

Recent mysterious explosions at Iran’s nuclear facilities, which some have attributed to Israel, return to prominence a calculation not seriously considered since 2015: Iran’s dwindling “breakout” clock.

The ensuing damage might successfully turn back time on that clock. But if not, Israel might have to consider military action; a decision lent urgency by the looming American election.

The disastrous 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) emboldened Iran’s aggression and enabled its eventual nuclear capability. President Donald Trump rightfully withdrew from the agreement and replaced it with a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign, but Iran responded by attacking US and allied assets, and evidently has been accelerating its nuclear program.

The Trump administration ultimately responded to Iran’s aggression with an airstrike in January that killed Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force and the mastermind behind Tehran’s regional aggression.

However, the United States has had no answer to Iranian nuclear expansion. Having now reportedly produced enough low-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, with further enrichment, Iran could reach nuclear weapons capability in 3 to 4 months. This “breakout” window would shrink further if Iran installs advanced centrifuges.

Slowing Iran’s Nuclear Advance

Sanctions haven’t slowed this nuclear advance. Neither will extending Iran’s arms embargo, expiring this October under the JCPOA, which the Trump administration should pursue regardless.

Only credible military threats have convinced Iran to postpone its nuclear ambitions, such as in 2003, after America’s toppled the Taliban and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s literal red-line drawing at the United Nations in 2012, which Iran was careful not to cross.

Sabotage has proven effective at slowing Iran’s nuclear clock, too. Israel has reportedly pursued this strategy repeatedly, with the 2009 Stuxnet cyberattack, the 2010-12 killing of Iranian nuclear scientists, and now perhaps the explosions targeting Iran’s centrifuge construction facility. Covert disruption has the significant benefit of deniability and minimizing the risk of major retaliation.

With Iran’s nuclear clock once again ticking loudly, the question is whether sabotage will continue to buy time. Early reports suggest the explosions at Iran’s Natanz Centrifuge Assembly Center set back Iran’s longer-term plans for an industrial nuclear program (to produce multiple nuclear bombs in short order), but it remains unclear if it also delayed Iran’s breakout time.

While the former is important, it is the latter that more likely determines if some time has been bought. If not, then Israel might not only consider further sabotage but another approach that could more significantly delay a nuclear Iran: overt military action.

Historically, Israel has conducted major military action when time leaves it no other alternative, such as its strikes on nuclear reactors in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007. Israel might be inclined to reserve this option until sabotage has proven no longer materially effective or an Iranian breakout seems imminent.

Looming US Elections

But there is another clock that might push Israel to act overtly sooner: the US political calendar.

American backing could be critical to mitigating the scope and intensity of Iran’s retaliation to an overt Israeli strike and subsequently pressing Iran not to renew its nuclear pursuit. Trump could well do just that; he reportedly instructed former National Security Advisor John Bolton to “tell Bibi [Netanyahu] that if he uses force, I will back him.”

If Trump wins a second term, Israel might feel it has more time – or it might worry that he will pursue a new deal with Iran.

US President Donald Trump salutes at the grave site of former president Andrew Jackson, March 15, 2017. Image: Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs Office

If Joe Biden becomes president, he likely will reengage President Barack Obama’s JCPOA and strongly oppose Israeli action, effectively taking the military option off the table until at least 2025.

Meanwhile, more JCPOA restrictions, including on advanced R&D and ballistic missiles, will lapse by the end of the next president’s term, bringing Iran too close to nuclear capability. Israel might find this risk unacceptable.

Thus, Israel might determine the next four months are its best opportunity to cripple Iran’s nuclear program – a choice Trump might welcome as it would scramble the electoral picture. Alternatively, Israel could wait to see who wins the American election and decide what to do.

Israeli Action

Some American analysts contend that Israel lacks the capability or will to attack Iranian nuclear facilities overtly, or it would have done so already. Yet, we should heed the repeated assertations by senior Israeli military and political leaders of intent to strike militarily when necessary. History suggests that such action – and Israel’s national security, if not very existence – necessitates it.

An overt Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would continue its growing role of rolling back the Iranian threat and advancing US interests. To support its partner, Washington should accelerate weapons deliveries that Israel needs for a military campaign and to blunt Iranian retaliation.

It is possible that if military action is required, the United States will act first. American presidents since Bill Clinton have pledged, in Obama’s 2009 words, “to use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

If the United States, with its immense capabilities, does conduct military action, it is likely to inflict greater damage to Iran’s nuclear program and set it back further than Israel could, while reducing Tehran’s will or capability to retaliate.

Yet, absent American action, or regime collapse in Tehran, Israel can be expected to conduct whatever covert or overt action is necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran.

Michael Makovsky is President and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Defense Post.

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