Twenty years after 9/11, terrorists will l go nuclear: Revelation 16

Twenty years after 9/11, terrorists could still go nuclear

By Matthew Bunn | September 16, 2021

As Americans reeled after the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago, one question was at the front of many minds: Could even worse be coming? If the terrorists who attacked on September 11 had a crude nuclear bomb on the plane, it wouldn’t have been just the twin towers—the whole lower half of Manhattan could have been turned to rubble and ash, with hundreds of thousands dead and injured.

Unfortunately, that possibility was all too real. Investigations after the attacks uncovered focused al Qaeda efforts to get nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. The nuclear program reported directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri, now the leader of the group, and got as far as carrying out crude but sensible conventional explosive tests for the bomb program in the Afghan desert. Weeks before 9/11, Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri met with two senior Pakistani nuclear scientists and discussed how al Qaeda could get nuclear weapons.

But that was then. Today, both al Qaeda and another major jihadist terror group, the Islamic State, have suffered tremendous blows, with their charismatic leaders dead and many others killed or captured. A US-led counterterrorism coalition destroyed the Islamic State’s geographic caliphate in Iraq and Syria. In recent years, many terrorist attacks have not been much more sophisticated than driving a van into a crowd. Al Qaeda has not managed to carry out a single successful attack in the United States since 9/11. Is a terrorist nuclear attack still something to worry about?

The short answer, unfortunately, is “yes.” The probability of terrorists getting and using a nuclear bomb appears to be low—but the consequences if they did would be so devastating that it is worth beefing up efforts to make sure terrorists never get their hands on a nuclear bomb’s essential ingredients. To see the possibilities, we need to look at motive, capability, and opportunity.

Motive. Violent Islamic extremists desperately want to strike back at the “crusader forces” who have inflicted such punishing blows on their organizations. And both the Islamic State and al Qaeda would like a spectacular action to put them firmly back at the forefront of the violent Islamic extremist movement. Years ago, al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith argued that because Western actions had killed so many Muslims, al Qaeda had “the right to kill four million Americans, one million of them children.” That kind of hatred still festers. (Abu Ghaith is serving a life sentence in a US prison.)RELATED: The US government’s comic approach to information warfareNuclear explosives are only one of the paths to mass slaughter that terrorists have pursued. Nuclear efforts must compete for terrorists’ attention with tried-and-true conventional weapons, biological weapons—whose dangers the pandemic has highlighted—chemical weapons, and more. Many of these other types of weapons would be easier for terrorists to acquire, and so their use may be more likely. But the history-changing power of a mushroom cloud rising over a major city has proved attractive to terrorists in the past and may again.Capability. Government studies make clear that if a sophisticated, well-funded terrorist group got hold of the needed plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU), they might well be able to put together a crude nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, it does not take a Manhattan Project to build a bomb, when you have weapons-usable fissile material. Indeed, the group needed to make a crude bomb might not have a footprint much bigger than the 9/11 attackers had. Despite the enormous destruction that has been rained on al Qaeda and the Islamic State over the last 20 years, a cell of terrorists could be working on a nuclear project even now, somewhere far from US attention and drone strikes.The intense counterterrorism campaigns of the last two decades have surely reduced terrorists’ ability to plan and carry out such a complex effort. But we simply do not know what capability might remain. The Taliban’s rapid return to power in Afghanistan could add to that capability, making that country a terrorist haven again—but there are many other largely ungoverned or terrorist-controlled places where such a project could be undertaken.And the capability side of the equation can change at remarkable speed. In January 2014, the US intelligence community did not mention the Islamic State in its annual assessment of threats to US security. By summer, the group had seized much of Iraq and Syria and declared a global caliphate.Opportunity. Fortunately, around the world, security for plutonium and HEU is far better than it once was, making it far harder for terrorists to get their hands on the needed ingredients for a bomb. More than half of all the countries that once had such material on their soil have gotten rid of it. While stolen HEU or plutonium was once showing up in parked cars and airplane luggage racks in Europe, there hasn’t been a major seizure of potential nuclear bomb material for a decade now.RELATED: Climate conversations neglect an essential component of a healthy planet: the oceanNevertheless, with the Obama-era nuclear security summits now far in the rearview mirror, the momentum of nuclear security improvement has slowed. There is still a need to ensure that nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities are protected against the full range of plausible threats—especially from insiders, who appear to pose the biggest nuclear security problem. The rise of domestic violent extremists in the United States and other advanced democracies makes the insider threat even more challenging. There is still a need for realistic tests and assessments of nuclear security systems’ real capabilities against intelligent adversaries looking for ways to beat them. And there’s still a need to strengthen nuclear security culture—to make sure the staff and guards at nuclear facilities are giving security the priority it needs, day-in and day-out.If terrorists ever did manage to turn the heart of a modern city into a smoldering radioactive ruin, they would change history. The economic, political, and social consequences would reverberate far and wide. Fears that it could happen again—possibly stoked by terrorist claims that they had more bombs already hidden in cities and would detonate them unless their demands were met—could lead people to flee major cities. The reactions after 9/11—a more aggressive US foreign policy, racist animosity, expanded government powers, cutbacks in civil liberties—would be expanded manyfold, particularly once people realized that the material for such a bomb could be hidden in any suitcase.President Biden has warned of these dangers. Now is the time for him to act. Despite the many other priorities on his desk, it is time for him to launch a new, expanded nuclear security initiative, working to ensure that nuclear stockpiles worldwide are secure and accounted for to the highest standards, that major obstacles are placed in the path of nuclear smugglers, that states are deterred from helping terrorists with nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, and that terrorist nuclear plots are found and stopped. The risk of a nuclear 9/11 will persist as long as high-capability terrorists and the materials needed to make a nuclear bomb both exist in the world.

How the Beast of the Sea Failed: Revelation 13:1

The roots of America’s defeat

The foundations of failure were laid in the days, weeks and months that followed the Sept. 11 attacks, when the guiding assumptions of the “War on Terror” were put together.

Caroline Glick(August 29, 2021 / JNS)

Afghanis crowd the airport in Kabul after U.S. troops get ready to withdraw and the Taliban wait to take over the country, Aug 18, 2021. Credit: John Smith 2021/Shutterstock.

Even before the suicide bombings outside the Kabul airport on Thursday evening, the U.S. media was acting with rare unanimity. For the first time in memory, U.S. media organs across the ideological and political spectrum have been united in the view that U.S. President Joe Biden fomented a strategic disaster for the United States and its allies with his incompetent leadership of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Some compare it to the 1961 Bay of Pigs; others to Saigon in 1975; others to the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. Whatever the analogy, the bottom line is the same: Biden’s surrender to the Taliban has already entered the pantheon of American post-war defeats.

Biden is personally responsible for the humanitarian and strategic disaster unfolding before our eyes. He is the only American leader in history who has willfully abandoned Americans and American allies to their fate behind enemy lines. But while Biden is solely responsible for the decision to leave Afghanistan in its current condition, it isn’t Biden’s fault that after 20 years of war, the Taliban was still around, stronger than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, and fully capable of seizing control of the country. The foundations of that failure were laid in the days, weeks and months that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, then-President George W. Bush and his national security team put together the guiding assumptions for what came to be known as the global war on terror. In the years since, some of the assumptions were updated, adapted or replaced as conditions on the ground evolved. But three of the assumptions that stood at the foundation of America’s military, intelligence and diplomatic planning and operations since then were not revisited, save for the final two years of the Trump administration. All three contributed significantly to America’s defeat in Afghanistan and its failure to win the war against global terror as a whole. The first assumption related to Pakistan, the second to Iran and the third to Israel.

By rights, Pakistan should have been the first domino to fall after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Taliban were the brainchild of Pakistan’s jihad-addled ISI intelligence agency. Al-Qaeda operatives also received ISI support. But aside from a few threats and temporary sanctions around the time of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the United States took no significant actions against Pakistan. The reason for America’s inaction is easy to understand.

In 1998 Pakistan tested nuclear weapons. By Sept. 11, 2001, Pakistan fielded a significant nuclear arsenal. Following the attacks, Pakistan made clear its view of nuclear war, and the connection between its position and its sponsorship of terror.

In October and December 2001, Kashmiri terrorists sponsored by Pakistan attacked the Jammu and Kashmir parliament and the Indian parliament. When India accused Pakistan of responsibility and threatened reprisals, then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf placed the Pakistani military on alert. India began deploying troops to the border and Pakistan followed suit.

Rather than side with India, the United States pressured Delhi to stand down, which it did in April 2002. In June 2002, Pakistani-backed terrorists carried out suicide bombings against the wives and children of Indian soldiers. The countdown to war began again. In June 2002, again bowing to U.S. pressure, India pledged it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the conflict. Musharraf refused to follow suit.

Rather than rally behind India, the Bush administration wrested an empty promise from Musharraf that he would stop sponsoring terrorism and then pressured India to stand down again. The U.S. message was clear. By credibly threatening to use its nuclear weapons, Pakistan deterred the Americans. Less than six months later, North Korea expelled United Nations inspectors from its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran escalated its covert nuclear activities at Isfahan and Natanz.

The U.S. decision to dodge a confrontation with Pakistan following the Sept. 11 attacks empowered the ISI to rebuild the Taliban and Al-Qaeda after the United States decimated both in its initial offensive. Taliban leaders decamped to Pakistan, where they rebuilt their forces and waged a war of attrition against U.S. and NATO forces and the Afghan army and government they built. Osama bin Laden was living in what amounted to a Pakistani military base when he was killed by U.S. commandos. That war ended with Biden’s surrender and the Taliban’s recapture of Kabul this month.

This brings us to Iran. In their post-Sept. 11 deliberations, Bush and his advisers decided not to confront Iran, but instead seek to reach an accommodation with the mullahcracy. This wasn’t a new policy. Since the Reagan administration, the dominant view in Washington has been that it is possible to reach an accord with the Iranian regime that would restore the strategic alliance between Washington and Tehran that existed prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Bush and his advisers were not moved to reassess that view when they learned that Iran provided material support to the September 11 hijackers. They didn’t reconsider their assumption after Al-Qaeda’s leadership decamped to Tehran when the Taliban was routed in Afghanistan. They didn’t reconsider it when Iran served as the headquarters and the arms depot for Al-Qaeda in Iraq or the Shi’ite militias in their war against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

Barack Obama embraced Bush’s assumption on Iran. Instead of confronting Tehran, he tried to realign the U.S. Middle East alliance system toward Iran and away from America’s Arab allies and Israel. He effectively handed Iran control over Iraq when he withdrew U.S. forces. He paved Iran’s path to nuclear arsenal with the 2015 nuclear deal.

After a prolonged fight with the Washington establishment and its representatives in his cabinet who embraced Bush’s assumptions, in his last two years in office, Donald Trump partially abandoned the strategic assumption that Iran could and should be appeased. Biden, for his part, is committed to reinstating and escalating Obama’s policies towards Iran.

As for Israel, in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, then secretary of state Colin Powell convinced Bush to adopt two related assumptions on Israel. First, he determined that terrorism against Israel was different—and more acceptable—than terrorism against everyone else. And second, Bush determined that the war against terror would be directed at terror groups, but not at governments that sponsored terrorism (except Iraq). As former Bush administration official David Wurmser, who was involved in the post-Sept. 11 deliberations, recalled recently, Powell argued that terrorism threatened the Arabs no less than it threatened America. This being the case, the trick to winning them over to the U.S. side was to give them a payoff that would make it worth their while.

Israel was the payoff. The United States would be able to bring Syria on board by getting Israel to give the Golan Heights to the Assad regime. Washington would bring in the Saudis and the rest of the Sunnis by forcing Israel to give Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem to the PLO.

Ahead of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tried to unravel Washington’s guiding assumption about Iran. He told Bush and his advisers that Iraq hadn’t posed a strategic threat to Israel or anyone else in the region since the 1991 Gulf War. If the United States wanted to defeat global terror, Sharon explained, it should act against Iran. The administration ignored him.

As for the administration’s assumptions about Israel, a week after the attacks, Bush deliberately left the terrorism against Israel out of the war on terror when he told the joint houses of Congress that the war would be directed against terror groups “with global reach.”

Recognizing where the Americans were headed, in October 2001, Sharon gave what became known as his “Czechoslovakia speech.”

Following a deadly terror attack in Gaza, Sharon said, “I call on the Western democracies, and primarily the leader of the free world, the United States: Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938, when enlightened European democracies decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for ‘a convenient temporary solution.’

“Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense—this is unacceptable to us. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism. There is no ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism,’ as there is no ‘good murder’ and ‘bad murder.’”

The administration’s response to Sharon’s statement was swift and furious. Sharon was harshly rebuked by Powell and the White House and he beat a swift retreat.
A month later, Powell became the first senior U.S. official to officially endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Sharon’s failure to convince the Americans to rethink their false assumptions owed to his incomprehension and fear of Washington. Benjamin Netanyahu, in contrast, had an intimate familiarity with the ways of Washington. As a result, his efforts to convince the Americans to reconsider their assumptions about Iran and Israel met with significant success. Netanyahu’s first success in relation to Iran came through the Arabs.

Netanyahu recognized that the Arab Gulf states were as threatened by Iran—and by Obama’s efforts to appease Iran—as Israel was. So he reached out to them. Convinced by Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia led the Arab Gulf states and Egypt in embracing Israel as their ally in their existential struggle against Iran. Confronting Iran, the Saudis explained, was far more important to the Arabs than helping the Palestinians.

Israeli-Arab unity on Iran stymied Obama’s efforts to win congressional approval for his nuclear deal. It also stood at the foundation of Trumps’ decision to abandon Obama’s deal.

Netanyahu used his operational alliance with the Arabs as well in his effort to undo the U.S.’s false assumptions about Israel, particularly in regard to the Palestinians. He also used public diplomacy geared towards influencing Israel’s congressional supporters and public opinion. Netanyahu’s efforts derailed Obama’s plan to dictate the terms of a “peace” settlement to Israel. Under Trump, Netanyahu’s efforts influenced Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and convinced Trump to support Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.

Distressingly, Netanyahu’s successes are being swiftly undone by the Biden administration and the Bennett-Lapid government.

There is a growing sense that Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan is setting the world back 20 years. But the truth is even more dire. In 2001, the United States was far more powerful relative to its enemies than it is today. And as has been the case for the past 20 years, the situation will only start moving in the right direction if and when America finally abandons the false assumptions it adopted 20 years ago.

Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The Canadian and American nuclear horns join forces: Daniel 7

The statement from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin would appear to represent a deepening of Canada-U.S. collaboration in protecting North America from missile threats.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Canada, U.S. vow stronger protection against ‘greater and more complex’ missile threat

Published 1 day ago

The Canadian and U.S. governments say they intend to proceed with “co-ordinated investments” that bolster their ability to protect North America from “a greater and more complex conventional missile threat” including gear that watches for incoming threats from “the sea floor to outer space.”

The joint announcement from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his American counterpart U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin was published Saturday night, on the eve of Sunday’s federal election call in Canada. There were no spending commitments.

The risk that Canada and the U.S. have in mind is missile technology advancements in Russia and China that can send non-nuclear warheads far greater distances with far more accuracy, said Dave Perry, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. These include hypersonic missiles, which travel extremely fast and can dodge and weave during flight to avoid interception, as well as next-generation cruise missiles. This evolution in conventional missiles’ power have made them an increasingly important tool to deter threats or project power without resorting to nuclear weapons.

“It’s the Chinese and Russians that are building really cutting-edge new stuff with three characteristics: very accurate, long range and maneuverable,” Mr. Perry said.

The Sajjan-Lloyd statement would appear to represent a deepening of Canada-U.S. collaboration in protecting North America from missile threats. Titled “Joint Statement on NORAD modernization,” it sets out priorities for the future of North American Aerospace Defense Command, the heart of the Canada-U.S. continental defence pact, saying the two countries must be able to “detect, identify [airborne] threats earlier and respond to them faster and more decisively.”

However the Liberal government insisted Sunday this does not represent a deviation from its policy to avoid participation in U.S. ballistic missile defence, announced in 2005. “[The] joint statement does not reflect any change in the Government of Canada’s position,” Daniel Minden, press secretary for Mr. Sajjan, said. “The statement will help guide our collaborative approach to security and NORAD renewal with our closest neighbour in the coming years.”

One of the most imminent spending decisions for Canada is rebuilding the soon-to-be obsolete North Warning System, a joint United States and Canadian radar system that includes dozens of radar sites from Yukon to Labrador. Its job is to detect airborne threats. The price tag has been estimated at more than $11-billion.

The statement said the North Warning System will be replaced with technology including “next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems,” which have the ability to detect targets at very long ranges. It’s technology that is being developed by Canada’s Department of National Defence. It also talks of building a network of American and Canadian sensors installed everywhere from the seabed to satellites in space.

Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, said modernization of NORAD will comprise far more than North Warning System renewal and the statement helps prioritize where Canada can focus its efforts while the United States engages in a “wider rethink of homeland defence.”

“Certainly what you can read into this is the United States needs Canada to make certain commitments – and sooner than later – and so ‘Here we are prioritizing them for you’,” she said.

Prof. Charron said in her opinion the statement also underlines the need for Canada to proceed with buying new fighter jets. In 2010 Canada announced its intent to buy Lockheed Martin F-35s in 2010 but backed off amid controversy over the lack of a competitive bidding process. The government is now expected to announce later this year which fighter jet will replace Canada’s aging CF-18 aircraft.

She speculated one reason for the timing of this joint NORAD announcement with the United States, hours before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triggered a federal election campaign, could have been political. “I am guessing but the Liberals are always accused, especially by the Conservatives, as being soft on defence, so here is something that they can point to and say ‘Look at what we are doing with the U.S. Here are the priorities,’” Prof. Charron said.

She also said the United States has been very eager to move forward on NORAD modernization.

Mr. Perry said that it’s considered likely now that if Russia were to launch conventional-warhead missiles at North America they would come straight over the North Pole through the Canadian Arctic or from the North Atlantic. Thirty years ago, the range of conventional missiles was so much shorter that the Russians would have had to fly relatively close to the U.S. mainland to strike a target there. “So there’s more pressure from the United States for us to make a big contribution here, as well a much more direct Canadian defence concern, given the geography is ours.”

While 9/11 Came Closer, the Beast from the Sea Focused on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs: Revelation 13

The Road to 9/11 Header

While 9/11 Came Closer, George W. Bush’s Team Focused on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs

By William M. Arkin On 8/7/21 at 5:00 AM EDT

In this series, Newsweek maps the road to 9/11 as it happened 20 years ago, day by day.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published a secret report on “Iraq’s Reemerging Nuclear Weapon Program,” part of a raging debate within U.S. intelligences community agencies as to the state of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program. United Nation’s inspectors had been banned from inside the country since November 1998, leaving U.S. intelligence to largely speculate as to what was going on.

Intelligence thereafter poured in from the intense American monitoring of Iraq, from regional allies (particularly Israel and Jordan) as well as the Iraqi expatriate community, suggesting that Iraq was pursuing nuclear and biological weapons as well as long-range missile—a phantom that would build in intensity after 9/11. The high priority intelligence collection supported the basic American policy—and the U.N. requirement—to eliminate all of Iraq’s WMD. Before the events that forced Saddam to eject U.N. inspectors—a combination of increasing aggressiveness on the part of the singularly focused U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), the discovery of U.S. spying under the guise of the inspection effort—Iraq had been about to receive a clean bill.

We now know that U.S. intelligence not only misread the situation but that much of the reason that Washington (under the Bush and Clinton administrations) believed Saddam was secretly pursuing WMD was that he was lying to his own generals and diplomats, telling them that Iraq indeed had such a capability, hoping the lie would deter major attack and keep him in power.

The main issue on the table on August 7 was the purpose of aluminum tubes that Iraq attempted to import from China, the 3,000 tubs intercepted in Jordan in July. Though the tubes were intended to manufacture multiple rocket launchers, at the time, the DIA, CIA and Department of Energy intelligence component concluded that the thickness and strength of the tubes made them more suitable to be rotors in a gas centrifuge, to be used to enrich uranium. The DIA stated in the August 7 report that “alternative uses” for the tubes were “possible,” but that such alternatives are “less likely because the specifications [of the tubes] are consistent with late 1980’s Iraqi gas centrifuge rotor designs.”

saddam hussein intelligence  9/11 bush clinton iraq
While the U.S. intelligence community failed to see the 9/11 plot, it overestimated the threat of Iraqi WMDs. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Jacques Pavlovsky/Sygma via Getty Images

Though many government analysts would change their view regarding the tubes—and Iraq would argue vociferously, and accurately, that the tubes were indeed intended to build multiple rocket launchers—the debate would continue up until the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. It is now clear in hindsight that Iraq was front and center in Washington and a focus of the Bush administration long before 9/11. The outgoing Clinton administration not only left the status of Iraq’s WMD unclear, and a priority for intelligence collection, but had instituted a policy (adopted by the new Bush team) that there could be no certification of Iraq being free of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, nor normalization of relations, until there was regime change. The approach left little room for a negotiated settlement, paving the way to eventual war.

Follow the Newsweek live tweet of September 11, 2001 (based upon the new book On That Day) starting at 4:45 a.m. EST @Roadto911.

Saudi Arabia justifies going nuclear: Daniel 7

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan attends the first plenary session of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Nagoya, in a file picture. Image Credit: AFP

Minister: Saudi Arabia says sees an emboldened Iran around Middle East

ReutersPublished:  August 04, 2021 13:39

‘It’s endangering shipping, arming Houthis contributing to Lebanon political deadlock’ 

Washington: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Tuesday he sees an emboldened Iran acting in a negative manner around the Middle East, endangering shipping, arming Yemen’s Al Houthis and contributing to political deadlock in Lebanon.

“All around the region, Iran continues to be emboldened,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told a US think tank in an online appearance, alluding to reports that Iranian-backed forces were believed to have seized an oil tanker off near Iran.

“Iran is extremely active in the region with its negative activity, whether it’s continuing to supply the [Al] Houthis with weapons or endangering shipping in the Arabian Gulf, which we have got reports coming in today that may indicate additional activity there,” he said. Iran, he added, had abetted the political impasse that has undermined Lebanon’s economy.

Addressing a virtual gathering of the Aspen Security Forum, he also repeated Riyadh’s stance that it could live with a “longer and stronger” version of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers if it ensured Tehran never obtained nuclear arms know-how.

“We certainly support a deal with Iran as long as that deal ensures that Iran will not now or ever gain access to nuclear weapons technology,” he said, saying Riyadh would welcome an Iran that contributed to regional stability and prosperity.

“But that would require [Iran] engaging in the region as a state actor in a normal way…, not supporting militias, not sending weapons to armed groups, and most importantly, giving up a nuclear program which might be used…to develop nuclear weapons.”

The Iranian Nuclear Horn Rejects Saudi Arabia: Daniel

Iran Rejects Saudi Calls To Discuss Tehran’s Missiles And Regional Role


Iran’s Parliament Speaker Says He Hopes Israel Will Disappear ‘As A Virus’

Monday, 24 May 2021 17:31

Speaker of Iran’s parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf) has told the visiting Syrian deputy speaker of parliament that he hopes Palestinians will achieve victory and the “Zionist parasite and virus will be eradicated” from the region.

Ghalibaf met Mohammad Akram al-Ajlani on the sidelines of the Fourth Extraordinary Meeting of Permanent Committee on Palestine at the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Member States (PUIC) in Tehran on Monday.

Ghalibaf also told al-Ajlani that Syria is the “front line” of the “resistance”, a term used by Iran to denote its allies and proxies in the region. He expressed hope for stronger ties and cooperation with Syria that could serve “the defense and protection of Palestine,” Fars news close to the Revolutionary Guard reported.

Ghalibaf also stated: The latest victory of the Palestinian nation in fact is a big victory for the resistance front, Palestinians residing in the occupied lands, in Gaza and also for Islamic world.

Iranian officials have often called for Israel’s annihilation using different language and tone. Not only Iran does not recognize the Jewish state but it never uses the word Israel. Instead, Iranian officials and the state-controlled media use “Zionist entity” for Israel and Zionists for its Jewish population.

The Syrian deputy speaker expressed hope for a productive inter-parliamentary meeting and said his country “extends its hand in good faith” for cooperation to solve the region’s problems, especially in regard with the Palestinian people.

Iran Closes In On A Nuclear Bomb: Daniel 8

Without a Nuclear Deal, How Close Is Iran to a Bomb?


Jonathan Tirone
May 20, 2021, 10:00 PM MDT
Three years after former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, Tehran’s government is closer to having the material needed for a nuclear weapon than if the deal had remained in place. Iranians have enriched more uranium to higher levels using more sophisticated technologies than they would otherwise have had access to under a strict monitoring regime. Those developments have led President Joe Biden’s administration to join diplomats from Europe, China and Russia in seeking to revive the 2015 agreement, which reined in Tehran’s atomic program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

  1. How close is Iran to making a bomb?

Iran has accumulated enough enriched uranium (meaning it has an increased concentration of the isotope uranium-235) to construct several bombs should its leaders choose to purify the heavy metal to the 90% level typically used in weapons. For the first time, the nation is producing small quantities of highly enriched uranium, purified to levels of 60%, demonstrating that its engineers could quickly move to weapons-grade. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors report the country has stockpiled more than 3,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, which typically has 3%-5% concentration of U-235. That’s 10 times the volume allowed under the 2015 agreement.

Iran’s 5% Enriched Uranium Stockpile

Iran’s low-enriched inventory up 10 fold since Trump broke deal
Source: IAEA data compiled by Bloomberg

  1. Why is enrichment so important?

Obtaining the material necessary to induce atomic fission is the most difficult step in the process of making nuclear power or bombs. Countries need to develop an industrial infrastructure to produce uranium-235 isotopes, which comprise less than 1% of matter in uranium ore but are key to sustaining a fission chain reaction. Thousands of centrifuges spinning at supersonic speeds are used to separate the material. The IAEA keeps track of gram-level changes in uranium inventories worldwide to ensure the material isn’t being diverted for weapons. Whether or not Iran retains the right to enrich uranium has been at the heart of its nuclear conflict with the U.S. for two decades.

Iran’s History of War and Weapons

  1. Did the 2015 deal slow Iran’s progress?

The latest in global politicsGet insight from reporters around the world in the Balance of Power newsletter.
Yes. The deal was written to ensure that even if it was someday broken, Iran would need at least a year to restore weaponization capacity. Iran forfeited some 97% of its enriched uranium and mothballed three-quarters of the industrial capacity needed to refine the heavy metal. Before the accord, Iran had enough to potentially build more than a dozen bombs. Iran always maintained it was pursuing nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons, but world powers doubted that claim.

  1. Why did Iran break its part of the agreement?

President Hassan Rouhani waited a year after the Trump administration reimposed sanctions before giving the orders to break the nuclear covenants set out by the accord. Over the last 18 months, Iran has shown it could steadily lift its atomic capacity despite the best efforts of saboteurs and assassins to derail the program.

  1. Can the deal be revived?

Biden promised during his presidential campaign that if Iran returned to compliance with its obligations under the 2015 deal, the U.S. would also return to the deal and lift sanctions. Diplomats bunkered down in Vienna have conducted intensive talks over two months to revive the accord. As of mid-May, they’d made substantial progress and were close to reinstituting the safeguards needed to ensure Iran can’t construct a weapon. Envoys are under pressure to seal a return to the accord before Iran’s presidential election in June, when the outcome is expected to favor political hardliners.

  1. What happens if the agreement is revived?

To return to compliance with the deal’s limits, Iran would have to dramatically reduce uranium stockpiles and sideline much of its enrichment technology. International inspectors would again have full access to places where nuclear material is produced, an important consideration as monitors continue parsing information about the country’s alleged historical weapons-related activities. Iran would win reprieve from sanctions that hamstrung its exports of oil and other economic activities. While some of the nuclear limitations in the deal begin to expire in 2025, diplomats expect follow-on talks to take place that would focus on regional security and Iran’s production of ballistic missiles.

  1. What happens if there’s no deal?

After entering the original deal in 2015, then-President Barack Obama said the alternative might have been a military conflict with major disruptions to the global economy. Over the last three years, the dispute between Washington and Tehran has roiled the wider Middle East, fueling conflicts where Iran and American allies are on opposing sides, with Iran blamed for attacks on shipping in key waterways.

The Beast of the Sea Adds His Insight on Iran: Revelation 13

George W. Bush: ‘Iranian influence’ is behind Hamas attacks on Israel


By Steven Nelson
Former President George W. Bush said in a new interview that Iran helped spur the Hamas terrorist group to attack Israel.

Bush told Fox News that what “you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel.”

“I think the best approach with regard to Iran is to understand that their influence is dangerous for world peace,” he said.

The Republican former commander in chief said “they are very much involved with extremist movements in Lebanon and Syria and Yemen, and they are aiming to spread their influence.”

Hamas is a Palestinian offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist movement that seeks to infuse religious fundamentalism into government. The US has condemned the group — which has controlled Gaza since 2007 — as a terrorist organization.

Although Iran opposed Sunni extremists in civil wars in Syria and Yemen, it allegedly supports the Palestinian group in fighting common enemy Israel.

The Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which is closely linked to Iran, joined the current fighting by firing its own missiles at Israel this week.

Other Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have speculated that Iran arms Hamas, which launched about 3,750 rockets over nine days from poverty-stricken Gaza toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

McConnell said Iran backs Hamas and “keeps their rocket arsenals full.”

Hamas launched a barrage of missiles into Israel beginning last week after clashes in Jerusalem sparked by an Israeli court decision that ordered the eviction of Palestinian tenants who stopped paying rent in East Jerusalem.

Although Iran’s precise involvement in regional conflicts often is murky, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Hossein Salami, said Wednesday that “Tehran backs the Palestinians’ fight against the Zionist regime.”

Salami boasted, “The Palestinians have emerged as a missile-equipped nation.”

Bush, who was president from 2001 to 2009, led the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 after 9/11 and ordered the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, making claims about weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be bogus.

Rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza City heading towards Israel on May 18, 20219.
Rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza City heading toward Israel on May 18, 2021.
Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images
US military involvement in the Middle East later divided Republicans, with former President Donald Trump calling the invasion of Iraq one of the worst decisions in US history, in part because it allowed Iran’s influence to expand during a long-running insurgency against US troops.

Bush has rarely commented on political issues since leaving office, but told Foxnews.com that he’s concerned about efforts by the Biden administration to resurrect a nuclear deal with Iran that was brokered under former President Barack Obama. He said a new deal should be “comprehensive.”

“Any deal that is done has got to not only focus on its nuclear capabilities, but also its influence in the Middle East,” Bush said. “And you know, any deal, you’ve got to keep in mind the dangers of an aggressive Iran to our allies, and to stability, so it has to be a comprehensive look.”

Bush also offered support for the Abraham Accords negotiated by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The accords resulted in the recognition of Israel by four Arab countries.

“Once the sit-in settles down, and if those Abraham Accords hold, it will make it easier to establish peace,” Bush said. “But right now, those who don’t want peace are provoking and attacking Israel, and Israel is, of course, responding for national security reasons.”

Babylon the Great Prepares for Nuclear War

STRATCOM commander calls on Congress to update US triad as China’s nuclear program advances weekly

Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testifies at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 20, 2021.

FROM A SASC VIDEO

The Chinese military’s nuclear capabilities are increasing rapidly and, for the first time, might be primed for use, the U.S. military officer in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal warned Tuesday as he urged Congress to upgrade America’s aging nuclear infrastructure.

In an effort to describe how quickly the Chinese nuclear program is advancing, Adm. Charles Richard, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had just ordered all briefs on Beijing’s nuclear weapons contain no intelligence information vetted more than one month earlier “because it’s probably out of date” that quickly.

Richard testified Tuesday that China is capable of accurately deploying nuclear weapons anywhere within its region, and it “will soon be able to do so at intercontinental range.”

“I can’t get through a week right now, without finding out something we didn’t know about China,” Richard told senators in a hearing alongside Army Gen. James Dickinson, who leads U.S. Space Command. Dickinson also fingered China as among his top military concerns, as it rapidly advances its space-based military capabilities.

In a stark warning, Richard told lawmakers that he had seen indications China had moved at least some of its nuclear forces from a peace-time status to a so-called “launch-on-warning” and “high-alert” posture, in which weapons are armed for launch as soon as an incoming enemy missile is detected.

Yet, even as China’s nuclear weapons arsenal has grown dramatically, Russia remains the primary nuclear threat for the United States, Richard said. While the U.S. has yet to field any recent updates to its nuclear forces, Russia is about 80% complete in modernizing its nuclear capabilities, the admiral said.

“While we are at 0% [modernization], it is easier to describe what they’re [Russia] not modernizing — nothing,” he said. “What they are [upgrading] is pretty much everything, including several never-before-seen capabilities.”

Those increases among the primary U.S. adversaries come as Congress debates funding for long-planned upgrades to America’s nuclear triad — its system of intercontinental ballistic missiles and its fleets of nuclear-capable bomber aircraft and ballistic missile submarines — and as President Joe Biden’s administration reviews the nation’s nuclear strategies, as incoming administrations typically have done.

Richard said he supported the ongoing review, but he cautioned against some lawmakers’ recent targeting of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, the planned $95 billion replacement for the military’s 1970s-era Minuteman III ICBMs, as a potential cut to save money. Several Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday, have questioned the need for upgraded intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Minuteman III missiles must either be replaced by the GBSD or retired, Richard said, calling them “leftovers of the Cold War” that have become too obsolete to be life-extended with temporary fixes.

Without ICBMs, the United States would be forced to change drastically its approach to nuclear operations, Richard said. It could leave America entirely reliant on its submarine force to deter enemy nuclear activity because the United States since the end of the Cold War has not maintained bomber aircraft on nuclear alert.

“I’ve already told the secretary of defense that under those conditions, I would request to re-alert the bombers,” he told senators Tuesday, which would place some of the Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress and/or B-2 Spirit bombers armed with nuclear weapons and prepared to fly at all times.

Richard urged senators to watch the actions of the Chinese and Russians to modernize their nuclear forces as they debate the future of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

“It’s the only weapon system you don’t have to pull the trigger on for it to work,” he said of the nuclear weapons that he oversees.

dickstein.corey@stripes.com
Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

The Russian Nuclear Horn Prepares for War

A Threat From the Russian State’: Ukrainians Alarmed as Troops Mass on Their Doorstep

Few analysts believe that Moscow intends to invade. But as Russia’s military buildup proceeds, the tension is rising in war-weary Eastern Ukraine.

April 20, 2021Updated 8:13 a.m. ET

Ukrainian soldiers north of Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, on Friday. Moscow has used the pretext of a separatist conflict to pressure the country after its Westward-looking revolution.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — There are the booms that echo again, and parents know to tell their children they are only fireworks. There are the drones the separatists started flying behind the lines at night, dropping land mines. There are the fresh trenches the Ukrainians can see their enemy digging, the increase in sniper fire pinning them inside their own.

But perhaps the starkest evidence that the seven-year-old war in Ukraine may be entering a new phase is what Capt. Mykola Levytskyi’s coast guard unit saw cruising in the Azov Sea just outside the port city of Mariupol last week: a flotilla of Russian amphibious assault ships.

Since the start of the war in 2014, Russia has used the pretext of a separatist conflict to pressure Ukraine after its Westward-looking revolution, supplying arms and men to Kremlin-backed rebels in the country’s east while denying that it was a party to the fight.

Ukrainian border guards patrolling the Sea of Azov on Sunday, with a Russian ship visible in the distance.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Buildings in Avdiivka, a frontline industrial town in eastern Ukraine. The residential area is exposed to shelling.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Few Western analysts believe the Kremlin is planning an invasion of eastern Ukraine, given the likely backlash at home and abroad. But with a large-scale Russian troop buildup on land and sea on Ukraine’s doorstep, the view is spreading among officials and wide swathes of the Ukrainian public that Moscow is signaling more bluntly than ever before that it is prepared to openly enter the conflict.

“These ships are, concretely, a threat from the Russian state,” Captain Levytskyi said over the whir of his speedboat’s engines as it plied the Azov Sea, after pointing out a Russian patrol boat stationed six miles offshore. “It is a much more serious threat.”

Many Ukrainian military officials and volunteer fighters say that they still find it unlikely that Russia will openly invade Ukraine, and that they do not see evidence of an imminent offensive among the gathered Russian forces. But they speculate over other possibilities, including Russia’s possible recognition or annexation of the separatist-held territories in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainians are awaiting President Vladimir V. Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation address to Russia on Wednesday, an affair often rife with geopolitical signaling, for clues about what comes next.

“I feel confused, I feel tension,” Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s culture and information policy minister, said in an interview.

Mr. Tkachenko listed some invasion scenarios: a three-pronged Russian attack from north, south and east; an assault from separatist-held territory; and an attempt to capture a Dnieper River water supply for Crimea.

A member of the Right Sector, an ultranationalist Ukrainian militia, at the group’s base on Saturday.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Dmytro Kotsyubaylo, a Right Sector commander. Asked what he expects to happen next, Mr. Kotsyubaylo responded: “full-scale war.”Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Russia, for its part, has done little to hide its buildup, insisting that it has been massing troops in response to heightened military activity in the region by NATO and Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials deny any plans to escalate the war, but there is no question that President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken a harder line against Russia in recent months.

Mr. Zelensky has closed pro-Russian television channels and imposed sanctions against Mr. Putin’s closest ally in Ukraine. He has also declared more openly than before his desire to have Ukraine join NATO, a remote possibility that the Kremlin nevertheless regards as a dire threat to Russia’s security.

Interviews with frontline units across a 150-mile swath of eastern Ukraine in recent days underscored the fast-rising tensions in Europe’s only active armed conflict. Officials and volunteers acknowledge apprehension over Russia’s troop movements, and civilians feel numb and hopeless after seven years of war. At least 28 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in fighting this year, the military says.

“We live in sadness,” said Anna Dikareva, a 48-year-old postal service worker in the frontline industrial town of Avdiivka, where people scarcely flinch when shells explode in the distance. “I don’t want war, but we won’t solve this in a peaceful way, either.”

For much of last year, a cease-fire held.

Mr. Zelensky, a television comedian elected in 2019 on a promise to end the war, negotiated with the Kremlin for step-by-step compromises to ease the hardships of frontline residents and look for ways out of a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people. But Russia’s insistence on policies that would essentially give it a say in eastern Ukraine’s future was unacceptable to Kyiv.

“The hope that Zelensky had to solve this issue, it didn’t happen,” said Mr. Tkachenko, the information minister and a longtime associate of the president.

Instead, the fighting has picked up again.

A Ukrainian soldier, nicknamed “the professor,” returning from a frontline position near Avdiivka on Saturday.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Wounded Ukrainian soldiers at a military hospital in Severodonetsk, a city in the Luhansk region.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

The Ukrainians’ labyrinths of trenches and fortifications along the roughly 250-mile front is by now so well established that in one tunnel near Avdiivka, the soldiers put up multicolored Christmas lights to spruce up the darkness. The town lies just a few miles north of the city of Donetsk, the separatists’ main stronghold.

At their hillside battle position, overlooking a separatist position in a T-shaped growth of trees, the soldiers described the sound of separatist drones that they said carried land mines dropped about a mile behind the line. Since December and January, they said, sniper fire from the other side increased, and they could see the separatists digging new trenches.

The lettering above the skull on their shoulder patches read: “Ukraine or death.”

“The enemy has activated lately,” said one 58-year-old soldier, nicknamed “the professor,” who said he would not give his full name for security reasons.

In Avdiivka, a volunteer unit of Ukraine’s ultranationalist Right Sector keeps a pet wolf in a cage outside the commander’s office. The commander, Dmytro Kotsyubaylo — his nom de guerre is Da Vinci — jokes that the fighters feed it the bones of Russian-speaking children, a reference to Russian state media tropes about the evils of Ukrainian nationalists.

Residents in Mariupol and other areas said that they were so exhausted from the war that they did not even want to consider the possibility that the fighting would flare up again.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Students at a military school in Kreminna, in eastern Ukraine, on Friday.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Both sides have accused each other of increasing numbers of cease-fire violations, but Mr. Kotsyubaylo said that — to his regret — his fighters were allowed to fire only in response to attacks from the separatist side.

On the video screen above his desk, Mr. Kotsyubaylo showed high-definition drone footage depicting the quotidian violence taking place just 400 miles from the European Union’s borders. In one sequence, two of his unit’s mortar rounds explode around separatist trenches; a naked man emerges, sprinting. In another, an explosion is seen at what he said was a separatist sniper position; the clearing smoke reveals a body coated with yellow dust.

Asked what he expects to happen next, Mr. Kotsyubaylo responded: “full-scale war.”

Mr. Kotsyubaylo said he believed Russia’s troop movements north and south of separatist-held territory were a ruse meant to draw Ukrainian forces away from the front line. He said he expected Russia instead to launch an offensive using its separatist proxies in the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics,” allowing Mr. Putin to continue to claim that the war is an internal Ukrainian affair.

“If Russia wanted to do it in secret, they would do it in secret,” Mr. Kotsyubaylo said of the massing troops. “They’re doing everything they can for us to see them, and to show us how cool Putin is.”

Under the peace plan negotiated in Minsk, Belarus, in 2015, both sides’ heavy weaponry is required to be positioned well behind the front line.

Ukrainian tanks and other heavy weaponry at a railway depot on Monday.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Under the peace plan negotiated in Minsk, Belarus, in 2015, both sides’ heavy weaponry is required to be positioned well behind the front line.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Ukraine’s artillery is now stationed in places like a Soviet-era tractor yard in an out-of-the-way village reached by treacherous dirt roads an hour’s drive from Mariupol. Col. Andrii Shubin, the base commander, said he was ready to send his artillery guns and his American-provided weapon-locating radar trucks to the front as soon as the order came.

Ukrainian officials say that they are not repositioning troops in response to the Russian buildup, and that any current troop movements are normal rotations.

On Monday, dozens of tanks and armored vehicles could be seen on the move in the southwest of the government-controlled area of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region. Soldiers relaxed on cots at a village train station under graffiti that used an obscenity to refer to Mr. Putin.

Around the region, from Mariupol’s fashionable waterfront to the shrapnel-scarred streets of Avdiivka, many residents said that they were so exhausted from the war that they did not even want to consider the possibility that the fighting would flare up again.

Lena Pisarenko, a 45-year-old Russian teacher in Avdiivka, said she had never stopped keeping an emergency supply of water on hand in pots and bottles all over her apartment and her balcony. During the shelling at the height of the war, she created a ritual to keep her children calm: They would play board games and drink tea while three candles burn down three times. Then it was time for bed.

Another woman passing by, Olga Volvach, 41, said she was paying little mind to the recent escalation in shelling.

“Our balcony door isolates sound well,” she said.

The Mariupol waterfront, in southeastern Ukraine, on Sunday.Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Maria Varenikova contributed reporting from Mariupol, Ukraine.