Preparing for World War 3 (Revelation 17)

Biggest Mistake Trump Can Make? Invade Iran.

Key Point: The only military action that can truly prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is for the United States to invade and occupy the country, potentially turning it over to a U.S.-friendly regime that would uphold Iran’s non-nuclear status. Despite the widespread support in the United States for preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon, this option is almost never proposed by any serious observer.

Part of this undoubtedly reflects America’s fatigue following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it goes much deeper than that—namely, while Iran’s military is greatly inferior to the U.S. armed forces, the U.S. military would not be able to conquer Iran swiftly and cheaply like it did in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Tehran would be able to impose prohibitive costs against the U.S. military, even before the difficult occupation began.

Iran’s ability to defend itself against a U.S. invasion begins with its formidable geography. As Stratfor, a private intelligence firm, has explained, “Iran is a fortress. Surrounded on three sides by mountains and on the fourth by the ocean, with a wasteland at its center, Iran is extremely difficult to conquer.”

While the “stopping power of water” has always made land invasions far more preferable for the invading party, the age of precision-guided munitions has made amphibious invasions particularly challenging. As such, the United States would strongly prefer to invade Iran through one of its land borders, just as it did when it invading Iraq in 2003.

Unfortunately, there are few options in this regard. On first glance, commencing an invasion from western Afghanistan would seem the most plausible route, given that the U.S. military already has troops stationed in that country. Alas, that would not be much of an option at all.

To begin with, from a logistical standpoint, building up a large invasion force in western Afghanistan would be a nightmare, especially now that America’s relationship with Russia has deteriorated so greatly.

More importantly, however, is the geography of the border region. First, there are some fairly small mountain ranges along the border region. More formidable, going from the Afghan border to most of Iran’s major cities would require traversing two large desert regions: Dasht-e Lut and Dasht-e Kavir.

Dasht-e Kavir is particularly fearsome, as its kavirs are similar to quicksand. As Stratfor notes, “The Dasht-e Kavir consists of a layer of salt covering thick mud, and it is easy to break through the salt layer and drown in the mud. It is one of the most miserable places on earth.” This would severely constrain America’s ability to use any mechanized and possibly motorized infantry in mounting the invasion.

Iran’s western borders are not any more inviting. While northwestern Iran borders Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, Ankara refused the United States permission to use its territory for the invasion of Iraq. Regardless, the Zagros Mountains that define Iran’s borders with Turkey, and most of Iraq, would make a large invasion through this route extremely difficult.

The one exception on Iran’s western borders is in the very south, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers collide to form the Shatt al-Arab waterway. This was the invasion route Saddam Hussein used in the 1980s. Unfortunately, as Saddam discovered, this territory is swampy and easy to defend. Furthermore, not long after crossing into Iranian territory, any invading force would run into the Zagros Mountains. Still, this area has long been a vulnerability of Iran’s, which is one of the reasons why Tehran has put so much effort into dominating Shia Iraq and the Iraqi government. Unfortunately for any U.S. president looking to invade Iran, Tehran has largely succeeded in this effort, closing it off as a potential base from which America could attack Iran.

Thus, the United States would have to invade Iran from its southern coastline, which stretches roughly 800 miles and is divided between waterfront adjoining the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Iran has been preparing for just such a contingency for the better part of a quarter of a century. Specifically, it has focused on acquiring the capabilities to execute an antiaccess/area denial strategy against the United States, utilizing a vast number of precision-guided and nonsmart missiles, swarm boats, drones, submarines and mines.

As always, Iran benefits in any A2/AD campaign from the geography of the Iranian coastline; in The Revenge of Geography, Robert Kaplan observed of Iran’s coastline, “its bays, inlets, coves, and islands [make] excellent places for hiding suicide, tanker-ramming speed-boats.” He might have added hiding ground-launched missile systems.

Michael Connell, director of the Iranian Studies Program at CNA, further reflected: “Geography is a key element in Iranian naval planning. The Gulf’s confined space, which is less than 100 nautical miles wide in many places, limits the maneuverability of large surface assets, such as aircraft carriers. But it plays to the strengths of Iran’s naval forces, especially the IRGCN. The Gulf’s northern coast is dotted with rocky coves ideally suited for terrain masking and small boat operations. The Iranians have also fortified numerous islands in the Gulf that sit astride major shipping lanes.”

All of this plays into an Iranian A2/AD strategy. Back in 2012, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) studied how Iran would use A2/AD against the United States, stating:

Iran… is developing an asymmetric strategy to counter U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf. This strategy may blend irregular tactics and improvised weapons with technologically advanced capabilities to deny or limit the U.S. military’s access to close-in bases and restrict its freedom of maneuver through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s ‘hybrid’ A2/AD strategy could exploit the geographic and political features of the Persian Gulf region to reduce the effectiveness of U.S. military operations. Such an approach may not, in itself, be a war-winning strategy for Iran. Significantly raising the costs or extending the timelines of a U.S. military intervention may, however, create a window of opportunity for Iran to conduct acts of aggression or coercion.”

As this implies, the United States would sustain significant damage and casualties trying to establish a beachhead in southern Iran. America’s challenges would not end with establishing this beachhead, however, as it would still have to conquer the rest of Iran.

Once again, geography would work to Iran’s advantage, as almost all of Iran’s major cities are located in the north of the country, and reaching them would be a herculean challenge under the best of circumstances. For starters, the terrain—as always—would be challenging to transverse with a large invading force. More importantly, Iran is enormous. As Stratfor notes, “Iran is the 17th largest country in world. It measures 1,684,000 square kilometers. That means that its territory is larger than the combined territories of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal—Western Europe.”

Of course, U.S. forces would not be operating under the best of circumstances. In fact, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has long planned on mounting an insurgent and guerrilla campaign against an invading force trying to reach Iran’s northern cities from its coastlines. Referred to by the IRGC as a “mosaic defense,” the plan would incorporate the joint efforts of the IRGC, Basij and regular armed forces. Connell describes it as follows:

The mosaic defense plan allows Iran to take advantage of its strategic depth and formidable geography to mount an insurgency against invading forces…. As enemy supply lines stretched into Iran’s interior, they would be vulnerable to interdiction by special stay-behind cells, which the IRGC has formed to harass enemy rear operations.

The Artesh, a mix of armored, infantry and mechanized units, would constitute Iran’s initial line of defense against invading forces. IRGC troops would support this effort, but they would also form the core of popular resistance, the bulk of which would be supplied by the Basij, the IRGC’s paramilitary volunteer force. The IRGC has developed a wartime mobilization plan for the Basij, called the Mo’in Plan, according to which Basij personnel would augment regular IRGC units in an invasion scenario.

IRGC and Basij exercises have featured simulated ambushes on enemy armored columns and helicopters. Much of this training has been conducted in an urban environment, suggesting that Iran intends to lure enemy forces into cities where they would be deprived of mobility and close air support. Iran has emphasized passive defense measures—techniques used to enhance the battlefield survivability —including camouflage, concealment and deception.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States found that conquering a country is the easy part. It’s the occupation that proves costly. While occupying Iran would be at least as difficult as the Iraqi and Afghan occupations, even invading Iran would prove enormously challenging. Consequently, while conquering Iran is the most sustainable way to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon, Washington is unlikely to attempt to do so anytime soon.

This first appeared in 2015 and is being reposted due to breaking news.

The Destruction of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17)

Russia’s New Nuclear Weapon Could Make America Uninhabitable

Key point: This is a weapon of last resort. Total overkill.

On May 22, 2018, the Russian submarine Yuri Dolgoruky slipped beneath the waves of the Arctic White Sea. Hatches along the submerged boat’s spine opened, flooding the capacious tubes beneath. Moments later, an undersea volcano seemingly erupted from the depths.

Amidst roiling smoke, four stubby-looking missiles measuring twelve-meters in length emerged one by one. Momentarily, they seemed on the verge of faltering backward into the sea before their solid-fuel rockets ignited, propelling them high into the stratosphere. The four missiles soared across Russia to land in a missile test range on the Kamchatka peninsula, roughly 3,500 miles away.

Like the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) operated by United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, and India, the primary purpose of Borei-class submarines is almost unimaginably grim: to bring ruin to an adversary’s cities, even should other nuclear forces be wiped out in a first strike. 

Each of the submarine’s sixteen R-30 Bulava (“Mace”) missiles typically carries six 150-kiloton nuclear warheads designed to split apart to hit separate targets. This means one Borei can rain seventy-two nuclear warheads ten times more destructive than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on cities and military bases over 5,800 miles away.

The Borei is the most advanced SSBN in the Russian Navy, and is designed to replace its seven Soviet-era Delta-class SSBNs. Throughout most of the Cold War, Soviets submarines were noisier than their Western counterparts, and thus vulnerable to detection and attack by Western attack submarines.

This problem was finally appreciated by the 1980s, when the Soviets managed to import technologies from Japan and Norway to create the Akula-class attack submarine, which finally matched the U.S. Navy’s workhorse Los Angeles-class attack submarines in acoustic stealth.

Concept work on the Project 955 Borei began during the 1980s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1996 cash-strapped Russia decided to lower costs by taking three incomplete Akula hulls and convert them into a revised Borei design.

Construction proceeded at Severodvinsk, and lead ship Yury Dolgoruky (named after the Russian prince who founded the city of Moscow) launched in 2008 and was commissioned five years later in January 2013.

An SSBN’s primary purpose is to remain undetected long enough to unleash its terrifying firepower—a strategy made easier thanks to their nuclear reactors allowing them remain submerged for months at a time. Towards that end, the Borei is designed to higher standards of acoustic stealth than Soviet-era designs, and is more capable of evading enemies that do get an inkling of its position.

The Borei’s sleek 170-meter-long hull is considered more typical of Western-style submarine engineering, than the boxier Delta-class. Both the hull and the machinery inside the gargantuan 24,000-ton (submerged) submarine are coated in sound-dampening rubber.

The Borei’s OKF-650B 190-megawatt reactor powers a pump-jet propulsion system that allows it to remain unusually quiet while cruising near its maximum underwater speed of thirty knots. This probably makes the Borei quieter, and able to remain discrete at higher speeds, than the propeller-driven Ohio-class submarine. Russian media claims its acoustic signature is one-fifth that of the Typhoon and Delta-IV class SSBN and that the Borei was also uniquely suited to perform nuclear deterrence patrols in the southern hemisphere, though Russian SSBNs have historically remained close to friendly waters for protection.

For defense against enemy ships and submarines, the Borei also has eight 533-millimeter torpedo tubes and six countermeasure launchers atop its bow. Should things go terribly wrong for the relatively small crew of 107, the Russian SSBN has a pop-out escape pod on its back.

Troubled Missiles

The Borei was originally intended to carry twelve larger and more advanced R-39 “Bark” submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). But the R-39 was canceled in 1998 after failing in three test launches.

Thus, the Borei had to be redesigned to carry sixteen smaller Bulava missiles derived from the land-based Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile. The Bulava also proved very troubled, however, failing in ten out of twenty-seven test launches due to manufacturing defects. Two failures occurred after the Bulava was operationally deployed on the Borei in 2013.

The Bulava has an unusually shallow flight trajectory, making it harder to intercept, and can be fired while the Borei is moving. The 40-ton missiles can deploy up to forty decoys to try to divert defensive missiles fire by anti-ballistic missiles systems like the Alaska-based Ground-based Midcourse Defense system.

However, publicized specifications imply the R-30 may be nearly four times less accurate than the Trident D5 SLBMs on U.S. and British submarines, with only half of shots landing within 350 meters of a target. This implies the R-30 is a purely strategic weapon lacking the precision to reliably take out hardened military targets like nuclear silos in a first-strike scenario.

The New Generation Borei-A

Of the three active Boreis, the Yuri Dologoruky is based at Ghadzhievo (near Murmansk) assigned to the Northern Fleet, while the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh are part of the Pacific Fleet, based at Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Between 2012 and 2016, the Severomash shipyard laid down five new generation Project 955A Borei-II/Borei-A submarines. Lead boat Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir) launched in 2017 and is due to be commissioned in 2019.

While retaining the same basic tear-drop profile, Knyaz Vladimir appears to be six meters longer based on satellite photos. The 955’s distinctive forward-slanted sail (conning tower) has been replaced with a more conventional tapered design in the 955A. As you can see in this diagram, 955A’s tail has a larger pump jet, an all-moving rudder and new end plates to its horizontal fins for improved maneuverability. A new long blister on the lower hull may house an improved flank-array sonar, or serve as a stowage hangar. You can see detailed imagery, deck plans and analysis of the Borei-A at the website Covert Shores.

Other upgrades include modernized combat, sensor and communications systems, improved acoustic stealth and crew habitability. One Russian source claims the new model is optimized “to decrease launch time to the minimum.”

All five Boreis-A are due to be commissioned by 2021, though Russian shipbuilding frequently falls behind schedule. Nonetheless, given the Russian Navy has had to cancel, downsize or downgrade numerous projects in the last few years, the money invested in completing the subs testifies to the importance Moscow places on submarine nuclear deterrence. The boats cost slightly less than half the cost of their American Ohio-class counterparts at $890 million, but Moscow’s defense budget is only one-twelfth that of the United States.

The eight Boreis would maintain, but not expand, on a standing force of eight Russian SSBNs evenly split between the Pacific and Northern fleets—enough for multiple submarines to perform deterrence patrols at the same time.

Russian media has variously indicated two or six more Boreis could be built in the mid to late 2020s, for a total of ten to fourteen Boreis of both types. Two of these could potentially be a cruise-missile-carrying Borei-K variant that would parallel the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class SSGN cruise missile submarines.

However, the Borei represents only half of the Russian Navy’s future sea-based nuclear deterrence force. The other half will come from a unique fleet of four Khaborovsk-class submarines each carrying six nuclear-powered Poseidon drone-torpedoes designed to swim across oceanic distances to blast coastal cities and naval bases with megaton-yield warheads. Moscow, it seems, would like a little more redundancy in its ability to end civilization as we know it in the event of a nuclear conflict.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This first appeared in June 2019 and is being republished due to reader interest..

More Israeli Attacks on Iran

“Unidentified warplanes” strike Shiite militia targets in the Al Bukamal region of eastern Syria early Tuesday morning, Arab media outlets report. The airstrikes were allegedly carried out near the Iraqi border and targeted the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units. One Iraqi news channel says Israel behind the attacks.

“Unidentified warplanes” struck Shiite militia targets in the Al Bukamal region of eastern Syria early Tuesday morning, Arab media outlets reported.

According to the reports, the airstrikes were carried out near the Iraqi border and targeted the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units.

One Iraqi news channel pointed to Israel as the perpetrator of one of the attacks.

The purported strikes are the latest in a mysterious spate of attacks attributed to Israel against Iran-backed bases in Syria and Iraq.

Earlier this month, 18 pro-Iran fighters were said to have been killed in an overnight airstrike on the Syrian side of the border.

Most of the explosions have targeted installations belonging to the Popular Mobilization Units.

The attacks come amid rising tensions in the Middle East and especially amid the crisis between Iran and the US in the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, as well as a recent airstrike on Saudi oil plants that the US has blamed on Iran.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Iran has no immunity anywhere and that the Israeli military forces “will act – and currently are acting – against them.”

This article was originally published by i24NEWS.

 

The Destruction of the Human Race (Revelation 16)

More than 90 million people would be killed or injured in a nuclear war between the US and Russia if a conventional conflict went too far, according to a new simulation created by researchers.

Such a scenario has become “dramatically” more plausible in the last two years because the two countries have dropped support for arms-control measures, according to a team from Princeton University.

The simulation, the result of a study at Princeton‘s Science and Global Security programme (SGS), suggests 34 million people would be killed and 57 million injured in the first hours of an all-out nuclear conflagration – not counting those left ill by fallout and other long-term problems.

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In the animation, electronic trails of ballistic missiles arc across the screen, before blossoming into a carpet of white discs.

Worldwide destruction would include the nuclear incineration of Europe, which the Princeton scientists claimed could be brought about by the escalation of a conventional war between Russia and Nato.

 

They say: “In hopes of halting a US-Nato advance, Russia launches a nuclear warning shot from a base near the city of Kaliningrad. Nato retaliates with a single tactical nuclear air strike.

“As the nuclear threshold is crossed, fighting escalates to a tactical nuclear war in Europe. Russia sends 300 nuclear warheads via aircraft and short-range missiles to hit Nato bases and advancing troops. Nato responds with approximately 180 nuclear warheads via aircraft.”

After that, hundreds of further strikes are made on both sides against military nuclear forces. In the video, Russia’s red streaks lift away from the ground moments before America’s rain of blue obliterates swathes of the country; then, Moscow’s bombs crash into the US from coast to coast.

Later, Washington and Moscow would both target population centres, with up to 10 missiles per city from their remaining submarine arsenals.

SGS claims the video is “based on real force postures, targets and fatality estimates”. The first simulated nuclear blast appears to occur just inside Poland, near Wroclaw and the borders with Germany and the Czech Republic.

The Independent asked Princeton if there were any other scenarios modelled, such as one in which Nato launches the first nuclear weapon, and what if anything the researchers suggest may trigger the conventional war in the first place.

Zia Mian, a physicist from the SGS programme, said: “This scenario was developed on the basis of a conventional US/Nato-Russia conflict, with Russia launching a ‘de-escalatory’ nuclear weapon strike in accordance with its current policy.

“It was mapped out before the Trump administration announced as part of the Nuclear Posture Review US plans for development of a low-yield nuclear weapon and expanded the conditions under which the US might use nuclear weapons.”

Both the US Department of Defence and Russia’s UK embassy have been contacted for comment.

Sam Dudin, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told The Independent that the mutually-assured destruction scenario envisaged by SGS would be unlikely to take place because US policy since 1950 has been to avoid direct conventional war with Russia. Moscow also does not want a war with Nato, he said.

Mr Dudin added: “From an operational perspective, it also seems that integrated air defence systems have disappeared from Europe. These systems would have a major impact on nuclear strikes launched from aircraft. The casualty estimates also seem to be low.

“Furthermore, several likely targets seem to have been missed out. Considering that France is a nuclear power, and British nuclear-armed submarines operate out of Faslane in Scotland, this seems like an oversight which demonstrates the American tendency to ignore allies.

“The terminology is quite typical of how the US thinks about Nato. Whereas the UK would talk about a Nato operation, as opposed to a UK-Nato operation, the US typically views Nato as something separate from them.”

Secret locations of US nuclear weapons in Europe accidentally leaked

SGS’ simulation comes as Princeton physicists launch a project to persuade fellow scientists of the need to reduce the threat posed by nuclear armaments.

Earlier this year Vladimir Putin signed a bill suspending Russia’s role in a key nuclear pact with the US, after Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the treaty.

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty banned the production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 310 to 3,410 miles.

Bolton was the Right Choice for the Prophecy

Bolton was a wrong choice by the impulsive president

TEHRAN – Donald Trump trumped his national security advisor John Bolton on Tuesday via a Twitter, saying he had “strongly disagreed” with many of Bolton’s positions.  

Naming Bolton as national security advisor was in sharp contrast to Trump’s campaign promises including his criticism of “unending wars” that Republican President George W. Bush and his close team, Bolton included, had started in Afghanistan and Iraq.

After firing him, Trump admitted Bolton made a number of “big mistakes”, including pushing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Trump has turned his administration into a trial and error system. Analysts say Trump’s decisions are based on his impulses and that he has no strategy.

It was quite clear that Bolton was a wrong choice for the important post of national security advisor. Even moderate Republican politicians did not approve of Bolton’s ultra-hawkish tendencies.

He is a hard-hearted person. He has shown no remorse for the disastrous Iraq war.

Not being affected by the tragedy of the Iraq war, he advocated for war against North Korea, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. 

Bolton’s thirst for war against Iran was so high that he favored Mojahdin Khalq Organization (MKO/MEK) – a cult group that some analysts have likened to Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge – as a replacement for the Islamic Republic system.

Trump’s administration is fraught with repeated mistakes. Trump knew beforehand that Bolton had pushed for the Iraq war and that he was paid by the MEK, which was on the State Department terrorist list until 2012.

Also, in March 2015, while Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) were busy negotiating a deal over Iran’s nuclear program, he wrote an editorial in the New York Times suggesting strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Trump himself was a fierce critic of the 2015 nuclear deal. But, he ditched the deal in May 2018, just one month after naming Bolton for the senior post.

Though Bolton is not the only culprit for all the chaos haunting the Trump administration, he added new problems to the old ones. To the detriment of Europe, he triggered a new arms race with Russia by encouraging the Trump administration to abandon the Cold War-era INF Treaty, sabotaged dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang, and disgraced the U.S. for his unsuccessful push for the ouster of the Venezuelan government.

Writing in the National Interest on September 10, Paul Pillar, author of Why America Misunderstands the World, says, “Bolton’s wrecking career began as an undersecretary in the George W. Bush administration, when Bolton boasted of his role in killing the earlier Agreed Framework dealing with the North Korean nuclear program.”

Pillar also says, “In each of his positions in government, Bolton has made the world a more conflictual place and the United States a more isolated and despised country.”

Now, Bolton has been sacked or forced to resign but the U.S. is left with a number of emerging problems: Iran is reducing its commitments under the nuclear deal, or the JCPOA, to an extent that may lead to its demise, Washington’s allies in Europe and Asia have largely lost their trust America and now see Washington as a part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

PA/PA

America’s Subs Prepare for Conventional Nuclear War

America’s Nuclear Missile Submarines May Get Smaller Tactical Nukes

Key point: Low-yield nukes would give Washington more ways to deter its rivals, but also might raise the chance of a nuclear device being used.

Just last month, in light of the upcoming House-Senate debate on U.S. nuclear modernization, Sen. Elizabeth Warren along with seventeen Democratic Senators wrote to the Senate Armed Services Committee urging support for three nuclear initiatives that were adopted in the House defense bill.  Specifically, the initiatives (1) express the sense of Congress that the United States seeks to extend the New START Treaty with Russia, (2) deny funding for new INF-type missiles “until diplomatic and strategic planning steps are taken”, and (3) prohibit deployment of a lower-yield warhead for the Trident D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

We too disagree on the first initiative, and we find the second vague.  Neither of us, however, can support the third. A lower-yield warhead for Trident is one of two modest changes to longstanding U.S. nuclear posture reflected in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.  By lower-yield is meant explosive force in the range of a few kilotons, not insignificant by any means but a factor of twenty and more below that of today’s SLBM warheads. This warhead could be fielded relatively quickly, with a small, very low-cost modification to an existing warhead (i.e., the current W76 SLBM warhead) and do so without requiring underground nuclear tests or adding to the size of our stockpile.

The Warren letter argues that the launch of a single, low-yield warhead, presumably in response to Russia’s limited first use in regional conflict, would enable Russia to locate and destroy the submarine and its remaining missiles, which are a critical part of assured, survivable, forces able to retaliate against a much more massive attack.  This argument ignores the facts. For decades, the U.S. has had pre-planned limited strike options including the possibility of a so-called split launch, that is, a few now with the threat of more later from a single submarine. The U.S. Navy practices this tactic—shoot-evade-shoot again—as a matter of course. We can safely assume that it has evaluated this risk and deemed it manageable in light of the demanding capabilities required for Russia to achieve a prompt destruct capability against U.S. submarines.

The Warren letter also argues that a low-yield Trident warhead is dangerous in that it will lower the U.S. nuclear use threshold making nuclear war somehow less terrible, and hence nuclear war more likely.  This assertion has no empirical basis. Since the 1950s, the U.S. stockpile has had thousands more of the so-called tactical warheads than we have today, many with much lower yields. Such warheads were deployed at the height of the Cold War but never used in any conflict.  There is no evidence that the simple possession of these weapons made nuclear use by the United States more likely. As former Secretary of Defense Mattis has stated:

“Let me be clear; any decision to employ nuclear weapons would be the most difficult decision a President has to make.  This Administration, like the ones before it, has said that nuclear weapons would be employed only in extreme circumstances to protect our vital interests and those of our allies and partners.”

The U.S. nuclear use threshold thus remains high.

Why do we support the decision to field a lower-yield Trident warhead?  Most significantly, it results from substantial changes in Russia’s behavior since the 2010 nuclear review carried out by President Obama and his team.  These changes include, most notably, Russia’s open contempt for the post-Cold War security order, its illegal occupation of Crimea and ongoing war with Ukraine, its nuclear threats to U.S. allies, its deployment of a land-based cruise missile in abject violation of the INF Treaty, the surging role of nuclear weapons in Russia’s security posture, their increased prominence in military operations, and the concern that a limited-first use, “escalate to win” nuclear employment strategy has gained prominence in Russia’s nuclear doctrine.

On this last point, consider the following scenario.  Mr. Putin launches a conventional strike against NATO to occupy the Baltic States and return them to Russian rule.  Because of an initial conventional mismatch, Russian forces establish a significant Baltic presence in the first week.  Meanwhile, NATO is mobilizing to reverse this “fait accompli” with U.S. conventional air, sea and ground forces on their way to reinforce the continent.  Putin orders use of one or two low yield weapons in Europe to coerce allies (and allied publics) to cease mobilization and thus preserve the status quo. In taking this step, Putin may well believe that the United States would not respond with strategic warheads that could cause significant collateral damage

If, as reflected in recent doctrine, military exercises, and aggressive modernization programs for tactical nuclear weapons, Russia’s leaders believe that Moscow could conceivably engage in limited nuclear first-use without undue risk, then the U.S. must work to dispel such dangerous and destabilizing notions.  Yes, the U.S. has low-yield warheads that could be delivered by aircraft, but not with the assured level of penetration to defenses provided by ballistic missiles. We believe that an SLBM-delivered low-yield warhead option should be available to national leadership specifically to bolster deterrence of Russian limited first-use.

The rationale for a lower-yield Trident option is to raise Russia’s nuclear use threshold, not lower ours.  It is not to more readily fight a nuclear war but to deter one. It does so by helping to convey a credible message that no security benefit at all, only complete and unacceptable downside consequences, would result from any use of nuclear weapons.  That is the essence of deterrence.

John R. Harvey and Franklin C. Miller have among them decades of experience serving in senior posts in the U.S. government overseeing nuclear weapons policies and programs, Harvey in the Departments of Defense and Energy and Miller in the Department of Defense and the National Security Council Staff.

This article by John R. Harvey and Franklin C. Miller originally appeared at Real Clear Defense. This article first appeared in 2019.

Image: Reuters

The Expanding Shi’a Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Iran proxies join forces in shady arrangements

Shadowy ties between Tehran-backed militias in Iraq and Hezbollah have emerged

al Editorial

September 14, 2019

From Lebanon to South America, Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, the worldwide reach of Hezbollah has been extensively covered in these pages. For decades, the terror-listed group has woven a global web of dedicated supporters and financiers, proving that it will stop at nothing to raise money, whether this means establishing business links with South American drug cartels or profiting from fundraisers in war-torn Yemen, where a Houthi radio station claimed to have collected Dh1.1 million for Hezbollah since last year, at a time when eight out of 10 Yemenis are reliant on humanitarian assistance, most of which has been pledged by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

And this week, The National has uncovered Hezbollah’s intricate ties with Iranian proxies that have wreaked havoc in Iraq. Samir Berro, a Lebanese man wanted by the US for allegedly supplying drones to Hezbollah, was also found to be linked to Iraqi politicians and militia leaders. Berro created an aviation company called Gulf Bird in 2007, in partnership with Shibl Al Zaydi, an Iraqi militant sanctioned by the US for supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Gulf Bird also holds Sami Al Askari, a former Iraqi MP, within its ranks. The shadowy company never applied for the certification needed to operate aircraft, and its board of directors has not made any filings since its creation. But with at least three of its co-founders linked to Tehran-backed proxies, including Al Zaydi, who owns 49 per cent of Gulf Bird’s shares and has allegedly conducted illicit activities in Lebanon, these revelations have shed light on Hezbollah’s murky dealings with Iraqi militants, chief of them Al Zaydi.

He was affiliated to Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, which he was expelled from in 2008 only to create his own militia six years later, the Tehran-funded Kataib Al Imam Ali. The armed group is one of many that form the Popular Mobilisation Forces, a powerful coalition of mostly Iran-backed militant militias that partook in the fight against ISIS in Iraq.

It is no surprise that Hezbollah and the PMF would co-operate. Both are backed by Tehran and active in Syria’s civil war alongside Bashar Al Assad’s regime.

Both Hezbollah and the PNF are militant groups that at one point, helped to rid their countries of malevolent forces only to use these past achievements as an excuse to bear arms and push for Iran’s agenda

They are also both militant groups which, at one point, helped to rid their countries of malevolent forces – Israel in Lebanon and ISIS in Iraq – only to use these past achievements as an excuse to keep bearing arms and push for Iran’s agenda in their home countries, even as the threat they initially fought against has subsided. And by doing so, they have considerably damaged their own countries’ economies.

As part of President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure policy against Iran, the US has taken action to curb Iran’s influence with increased economic sanctions on its institutions and proxies. Just last month, the Lebanese Jammal Trust Bank was targeted by the US Treasury for transferring money to Hezbollah. The banking sector is vital to Lebanon’s ailing economy and Hezbollah’s financiers are putting it in jeopardy. Meanwhile, in Iraq, PMF arms depots have been allegedly attacked by Israel, adding additional risks to Iraq’s security.

Tehran-backed groups in Iraq and Lebanon have embedded themselves so deeply in the nations’ political and financial lives that it is difficult to impose sanctions on these groups without affecting the whole country’s economy. A more sophisticated approach is needed to regulate their shady financial dealings and this can only be achieved if the Iraqi and Lebanese states are in turn empowered to reclaim a national sovereignty challenged by foreign-backed groups.

Bolton’s Damage is Already Done

Despite John Bolton exit, don’t expect thaw in US-Iran relations

President Donald Trump is not likely to be dragged into a war, but robust policy towards Tehran is expected to continue

Raghida Dergham

September 14, 2019

With US national security adviser John Bolton having recently departed the White House, the question being asked is whether president Donald Trump will decide to soften the hardline approach taken by his administration in dealing with an uncertain world or if he will stay the course.

It is hard to determine whether Mr Bolton resigned or was dismissed. Either way, the vacuum left by his exit might give the mercurial president a free hand to intervene in matters regarding foreign policy that could have profound consequences. Regardless of their differences or Mr Bolton’s quirks, he did manage to protect his boss from making mistakes while guaranteeing consistency in US foreign policy. But with him gone, will there be shifts in American behaviour towards Iran, Afghanistan, Venezuela and North Korea?

The two men had been divided on how to deal with the world at large. Mr Trump places great emphasis on the art of deal-making for he views himself as a good negotiator but his brand of deal-making applies more to the business world than it does to foreign affairs. Brokering deals requires flexibility and Mr Bolton proved an obstacle in this regard because he valued consistency and toughness even more.

That said, one country towards which Mr Trump is unlikely to change his robust policy is Iran.

Thus far, he has avoided military strikes against the regime, despite concerns Tehran has been accumulating ballistic missiles, which prompted Mr Trump to shred the 2015 nuclear deal struck by his predecessor. While maintaining effective sanctions against the Iranian regime, as well as against militia groups it sponsors in the Middle East – including Hezbollah in Lebanon – Mr Trump has now signalled an openness to talk to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the hope of reaching a more comprehensive deal than the one Barack Obama secured.

How will Bolton’s departure affect US foreign policy?

Given that he is up for re-election next year, Mr Trump will be determined not to be dragged into a war with the Iranians. But securing a grand bargain with the regime will be a daunting challenge for his administration.

In response to the recent US pull-out, the Iranian regime has threatened to withdraw from the 2015 deal altogether and resume its nuclear activities. This is seen as a way to push the European parties to the deal to come up with ways to circumvent US sanctions while at the same time applying pressure on Mr Trump to soften his stance. This tactic has worked to the extent that the US president has expressed a willingness to talk.

France, meanwhile, offered Iran access to $15 billion in credit to stave off economic collapse, if Tehran returns to the terms of the deal and negotiates over security issues, including its regional policies. However, according to a source in Washington, the US has made it clear to French President Emmanuel Macron that his plan is unacceptable. The US reportedly told Mr Macron that it does not need him “to build a bridge” between Washington and Tehran, just for the sake of having a sit-down with the Iranian leadership.

There have been suggestions that a US-Iran meeting is possible on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting later this month in New York. The US sees this as an opportunity for dialogue but will not lift sanctions just to entertain the notion of having talks. That puts the US at odds with the position expressed by Mr Rouhani, who has insisted on the lifting of sanctions as a prelude to any talks. The question therefore is how this gap can be bridged, particularly with the French initiative dead in the water.

Meanwhile next week, even as the name of Mr Bolton’s successor is expected to be announced, meetings are being scheduled to review US policy on Iran, following which new sanctions could be unveiled.

As Donald Trump’s NSA, John Bolton protected his boss from making mistakes while ensuring consistency in US foreign policy. AP

Sources have said even if a meeting were to be held between Mr Trump and Mr Rouhani, it would not be a significant nor substantial one, given that the US president will present a list of demands that Tehran is unlikely to accept. The broad outlines of these demands are already known: to renegotiate the parameters of the nuclear deal, halt the development and testing of ballistic missiles, and end support for groups Washington designates as terror organisations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, in addition to Iran-backed paramilitaries such as the PMF in Iraq.

These militia groups have recently restated their loyalty to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as to the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In a speech this week marking the Shia Muslim celebration of Ashura, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his party would accept being killed 1,000 times by the “Americans and Zionists” rather than abandon Mr Khamenei, whom he called the heir of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Mr Nasrallah said his “axis of resistance” was prepared to take part in any war on behalf of Iran.

That Mr Nasrallah declared loyalty to Iran rather than his native Lebanon was telling, even more so at a time when David Schenker, the US assistant secretary for near eastern affairs, was making his first visit to Beirut. It was met with a robust response, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly calling for a “gloves-off approach” against Hezbollah and its backers. Mr Schenker himself told Lebanese officials: “The window of opportunity is still open but it has started to close. All those concerned must know we are very serious.”

This could mean more sanctions. What is troubling, however, is whether it would translate to more than that.

Mr Schenker’s Lebanon visit was purportedly to highlight the danger of Hezbollah’s actions across the region, said to include manufacturing precision rockets in Lebanon. Lebanese leaders have been warned that unless they take action to rein in the group, their country could experience an outbreak of war. Confrontation remains a possibility.

Updated: September 14, 2019 05:39 PM

A ’Tactical’ Simulation of the Tribulation and Fire

A terrifying new animation shows how 1 ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon could trigger a US-Russia war that kills 34 million people in 5 hours

Ellen Ioanes Dave Mosher Sep 14, 2019, 9:00 AM

“Plan A” is an audio-visual simulation that shows how so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons could lead to a highly fatal global conflict between the Russia, the US, and allies.Princeton University/Nuclear Futures Lab

• A new simulation called “Plan A,” by researchers at Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, shows how the use of one so-called tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon could lead to a terrifying worldwide conflict.

• In the roughly four-minute video, a Russian “nuclear warning shot” at a US-NATO coalition leads to a global nuclear war that leads to 91.5 million deaths and injuries.

• Under President Trump, the US is ramping up production of tactical nuclear weapons, ostensibly to target troops and munitions supplies. While advocates say these weapons would keep wars from escalating, the simulation finds the opposite outcome.

• The dissolution of the INF treaty in August raised the stakes for nuclear war, as both the US and Russia were free to develop weapons previously banned under the treaty.

• “The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years,” the project states. Nuclear strikes are an extremely remote possibility, but their chances are rising experts warn.

More than 91 million people in Russia, the US, and NATO-allied countries might be killed or injured within three hours following a single “nuclear warning shot,” according to a terrifying new simulation.

The simulation is called “Plan A,” and it’s an audio-visual piece that was first posted to to YouTube on September 6. (You can watch the full video at the end of this story.) Researchers at the Science and Global Security lab at Princeton University created the animation, which shows how a battle between Russia and NATO allies that uses so-called low-yield or “tactical” nuclear weapons – which can pack a blast equivalent to those the US used to destroy Hiroshima or Nagasaki in World War II – might feasibly and quickly snowball into a global nuclear war.

“This project is motivated by the need to highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of current US and Russian nuclear war plans. The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years,” the project states on its website.

The video has an ominous, droning soundtrack and a digital map design straight out of the 1983 movie “WarGames.” The Cold War-era movie, in which a young Matthew Broderick accidentally triggers a nuclear war, “was exactly the reference point,” simulation designer Alex Wellerstein told Insider.

But while simulations can be frightening, they can also be incredibly helpful: governments can use them to develop contingency plans to respond to nuclear disasters and attacks in the least escalatory way, and they can also help ordinary citizens learn how to survive a nuclear attack.

“Plan A” comes as tensions between Russia and NATO allies ratchet up. Both Russia and the US are testing weapons previously banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, often called INF. Russian bombers have also cruised into US airspace repeatedly, and the US recently sent its B-2 Spirit stealth bomber on a mission in the Arctic – right in Russia’s backyard.

This is how a NATO-Russian confrontation could quickly escalate into nuclear war.

The simulation starts with a conventional war between NATO and Russian troops.

Science and Global Security, Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy

Conventional warfare – namely all conflict short of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons – escalates into nuclear warfare when Russia launches a nuclear “warning shot” from a base near Kaliningrad to stop NATO advancement. Russia doesn’t have a “no first use” policy – it dropped it in 1993. NATO forces respond by launching a tactical nuclear strike.

The US already has tactical nuclear weapons, such as B61-12 gravity bombs, and more planned under US President Donald Trump’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Included in the plan is a low-yield warhead intended for use in a submarine-launched ballistic missile, as well as a sea-launched cruise missile.

These kinds of weapons are designed for targets on the battlefield, like troops or munitions supplies, as opposed to long- or intermediate-range nuclear missiles that are fired from one country to another, for example, targeting an enemy’s bombers and ICBM silos – or even cities.

Tactical nuclear strikes up the ante.

Princeton Science and Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

If the nuclear threshold is crossed, the simulation finds, then both the US and Russia would respond with tactical nuclear weapons. Russia would send 300 warheads to NATO targets, including advancing troops, in both aircraft and short-range missiles – overwhelming force that would obliterate tanks, fortified positions and soldiers unlike anything ever seen in battle before. Supporting forces and civilians not immediately killed would be susceptible to painful and even fatal radiation exposure.

NATO would respond by sending about 180 tactical nuclear weapons to Russia via aircraft in equally devastating retaliation.

The simulation was constructed using independent analysis of nuclear force postures in NATO countries and Russia, including the availability of nuclear weapons, their yields, and possible targets, according to the Science and Global Security lab.

The tactical phase of the simulation shows about 2.6 million casualties over three hours.

Instead of the tactical weapons de-escalating the conflict, as proponents claim they would, the simulation shows conflict spiraling out of control after the use of tactical weapons.

Princeton Science and Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs

Russia’s tactical weapons would destroy much of Europe, the simulation posits. In response, NATO would launch submarine- and US-based strategic nuclear weapons toward Russia’s nuclear arsenals – 600 warheads in total.

Strategic nuclear weapons have a longer range, so Russia, knowing that NATO nukes are headed for its weapons cache, would throw all its weight behind missiles launched from silos, mobile launchers, and submarines.

The casualties during this phase would be 3.4 million in 45 minutes.

This leads to 85.3 million additional casualties in the final phase of the nuclear war simulation.

Princeton University Science and Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

In the wake of previous attacks, both Russia and NATO would launch warheads toward each other’s 30 most populous cities in the final stage of of the scenario, using five to 10 warheads for each city depending on its size.

This phase would cause 85.3 million casualties – both deaths and injuries. But the total casualty count from the entire battle (of less than 5 hours) would be 34.1 million deaths and 57.4 million injuries, or a combined 91.3 million casualties overall.

But that’s just the immediate conflict: The entire world would be affected by nuclear disaster in the months, years, and decades to come.

The radioactive fallout from the nuclear disaster would cause additional deaths and injuries. Studies also suggest that, even with a limited nuclear engagement, Earth’s atmosphere would cool dramatically, driving famine, refugee crises, additional conflicts, and more deaths.

 

Babylon the Great Prepares the Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

U.S. energy secretary to discuss nuclear power with Saudi on Monday

WASHINGTON, Sept 13 (Reuters) – U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Friday he will meet the new Saudi energy minister on Monday and likely discuss plans the kingdom has to build nuclear reactors.

Rick Perry said he would meet energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who took over from Khalid al-Falih on Sunday. Perry did not say where he would meet the minister, but Perry is due to attend the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna next week. He also said the Trump administration wants the kingdom to agree to so-called 123 nonproliferation standards before coming to any agreement. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)