China’s Next Nuclear Weapon (Daniel 8:8)

SCIENCE

Operation Z machine: China’s next big weapon in the nuclear ‘arms race’ could create clean fuel – or deadly bombs

• The Chinese military is building a test facility to simulate thermonuclear explosions on a much greater scale than comparable US centres

• Information from the experiments could give scientists a much clearer picture of how weapons perform under extreme conditions

Stephen Chen

UPDATED : Thursday, 13 Dec 2018, 2:03PM

Deep in the heart of southwest China’s mountainous Sichuan province, the military is building a machine to simulate thermonuclear explosions on an unprecedented scale.

It’s been described as a Chinese version of America’s “Z machine” – formally known as the Z Pulsed Power Facility – a giant wheel-like device developed by the United States to see how particles react under extreme radiation and magnetic pressure.

Z machines have been used in the development of nuclear weapons, from conventional warheads to the pure fusion bomb – a hydrogen bomb that can in theory be made in any size, cost a fraction of today’s nuclear stockpile and burn “cleanly” without producing radioactive fallout.

And for decades, the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has led the way in the field.

But now Chinese researchers are trying to build a machine that will produce much more electricity to create much more extreme environments for testing weapons, allowing scientists to delve deeper into the nuclear unknown.

More Children Killed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Palestinian toddler dies from wounds in Gaza as premature Israeli baby killed after West Bank shooting | The Independent

1 day ago

Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza attended the funeral of a four-year-old boy who died after being injured by Israeli gunfire during a protest at the border, health officials have said.

On the same day 70 miles away a baby, who was delivered prematurely to an Israeli woman wounded in a Palestinian drive-by shooting in the West Bank, also died.

Israeli pregnant mother Shira Ish-Ran, her husband and five others were injured in an attack at a bus stop outside the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra in the West Bank on Sunday.

Doctors said she was shot in the abdomen and that her son was born in critical condition. The Palestinian gunman apparently fled the scene.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Wednesday evening that the baby, who was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, had died in hospital.

“My heart, our hearts, are with Shira and Avihai at the death of a four-day-old baby who does not even have a name,” Mr Netanyahu told foreign media and diplomats in a speech. “The security forces are in pursuit of the murderer.”

Meanwhile in Gaza, Palestinian health officials reported that Ahmed Abu Abed, 4, had succumbed to his injuries apparently sustained by Israeli fire. He was buried in Khan Younis, at the southern end of the strip on Wednesday afternoon.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said he “was hit by shrapnel from Israeli gunfire” during protests near to the border fence with Israel on Friday.

Reuters footage from the protest showed the boy being carried by a medic into a field hospital not far from the border after being injured.

“There was one piece of bullet shrapnel in the eye that settled at the bottom of the brain, that was the most serious of all, and that what most likely killed him,” said Mohammad Abu Hilal, director of emergency department at Khan Younis hospital.

The boy’s father, Yasser Abu Abed, who suffered a leg injury, said they were among a hundred other protesters nearly 300 metres from the fence when Israeli forces opened fire. “We did not expect anything bad would happen as things were calm,” he said.

Israel’s military said it did “everything possible to avoid harming children” and accused Hamas, the militant group that runs the strip, of “cynically” using Gaza’s residents as human shields.

“[It] places them at the forefront of the violent riots, terrorist attacks and the terror of arson, demonstrating their contempt for human life,” the statement added.

Hamas denies the allegations and together with rights groups has accused Israel of using excessive force against protesters

More than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops since March according to health ministry in Gaza.

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Palestinians have been marching regularly on the border since March, protesting against an 11-year-old Israeli siege of Gaza and for the right to return to the ancestral land they fled or were forced from during the 1948 conflict that surrounded the creation of Israel.

After Mr Netanyahu spoke about the West Bank incident, Israel’s Shin Bet security service said troops shot and wounded a suspected militant who tried to evade arrest near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. It said he was in custody, but did not immediately confirm or deny Israeli media reports that he was sought in connection with the Ofra attack.

Iran Defies Babylon the Great

Iran confirms missile test in defiance of U.S.

A senior Iranian military commander has confirmed that Tehran recently carried out a ballistic missile test, to the anger of the United States, the Fars news agency said on Tuesday.

The Revolutionary Guards official’s comment came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s assertion earlier this month that Iran had test-fired a missile capable of carrying multiple warheads and reaching the Middle East and Europe.

“We will continue our missile tests and this recent action was an important test,” Guards aerospace division head Amirali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

“The reaction of the Americans shows that this test was very important for them and that’s why they were shouting,” he added, without specifying what type of missile had been tested.

The U.N. Security Council met last week to discuss the test, which the United States, Britain and France said flouted U.N. restrictions on Tehran’s military program.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

Iran has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly the missile program run by the Guards. It says the program is purely defensive and denies missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads.

Hajizadeh said Iran holds up to 50 missile tests a year.

“The issue of missiles has never been subject to negotiations and nothing has been approved or ratified about its prohibition for the Islamic Republic of Iran in (U.N.) resolution 2231,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

“Our defense doctrine is basically founded upon deterrence.”

Under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran is “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

Some states argue the language does not make it obligatory.

Last month, Hajizadeh said U.S. bases in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf were within range of Iranian missiles.

The head of the Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said on Tuesday the United States was becoming weaker.

“American power is declining,” Jafari said, according to Fars. “The enemies don’t dare bring up the issue of overthrowing the Islamic Republic and they will take this wish to the grave.”

In October, the Revolutionary Guards fired missiles at Islamic State militants in Syria after the Islamist group said it was responsible for an attack at a military parade in Iran that killed 25 people, nearly half of them Guards members.

More Children Killed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

The sister of Palestinian boy Ahmed Abed is comforted as she mourns during his funeral in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip December 12, 2018.

Gaza boy, 4, dies from Israeli fire: Palestinian medics

Nidal al-Mughrabi

REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA

Relatives of Palestinian boy Ahmed Abed mourn during his funeral in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip December 12, 2018.

REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA

GAZA (Reuters) – Hundreds of Gazans on Wednesday attended the funeral of a four-year-old boy who died after being hit by Israeli shrapnel at a border protest last week, according to Palestinian medical officials.

Wrapped in a Palestinian flag, the body of Ahmed Abu Abed was carried on people’s shoulders as mourners threw flowers into the procession in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.

Reuters footage from the protest last Friday showed the boy being carried by a medic into a field hospital not far from the border after being injured.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said he “was hit by shrapnel from Israeli gunfire”.

“There was one piece of bullet shrapnel in the eye that settled at the bottom of the brain, that was the most serious of all, and that what most likely killed him,” Mohammad Abu Hilal, director of emergency department at Khan Younis hospital, told Reuters.

Gaza’s health ministry, run by the Islamist militant group Hamas, said more than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops since March at border protests demanding an end to an Israeli-led blockade of the coastal strip.

Israel’s military said it did “everything possible to avoid harming children,” and accused Hamas of endangering the lives of civilians by orchestrating the protests.

“The Hamas terrorist organization cynically uses Gaza residents, especially women and children, as human shields and places them at the forefront of the violent riots, terrorist attacks and the terror of arson, demonstrating their contempt for human life,” the military statement said.

Hamas denies the allegation and Palestinians accuse Israel of using excessive force against protesters.

The boy’s father, Yasser Abu Abed, who suffered a leg injury, said they were among a hundred other protesters nearly 300 metres (1,000 feet) from the fence when Israeli forces opened fire. “We did not expect anything bad would happen as things were calm,” he said.

(Writing by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Babylon the Great Asks for Iran to Stop Ballistic Missiles

FILE PHOTO: People walk near an Iranian-made missile during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran Feb

U.S. wants U.N. to ban nuclear ballistic missile work by Iran

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 1:12 p.m. CST

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States will push the U.N. Security Council to toughen its stance to prevent Iran from working on ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and carrying out test launches, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.

Pompeo also told the Security Council an arms embargo on Iran should not be lifted in 2020 and called on the council to establish “inspection and interdiction measures, in ports and on the high seas, to thwart Iran’s continuing efforts to circumvent arms restrictions.”

“Iran is harboring al Qaeda, supporting Taliban militants in Afghanistan, arming terrorists in Lebanon, facilitating illicit trade in Somali charcoal benefiting al-Shabaab, and training and equipping Shia militias in Iraq,” Pompeo said during the meeting on the implementation of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Russia and China – which are council veto powers along with the United States, France and Britain – are unlikely to support the measures proposed by Pompeo. In February Russia vetoed an attempt by the West to have the Security Council call out Tehran in a resolution on Yemen.

Without naming countries, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused some council members of using Wednesday’s meeting “to discuss the so-called regional behavior of Iran, which they depict as though it were the only source of all the woes in the Middle East.”

“What they do not voice is any kind of a substantive proposal on this topic and sometimes we’re left with the impression that the only goal is to further escalate anti-Iran hysteria and to demonize Iran,” Nebenzia told the council.

A 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Some states argue that the language does not make it obligatory.

The United States wants the council to toughen that measure, Pompeo said, to reflect language in a 2010 resolution that left no room for interpretation by banning Iran from “activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”

“This Security Council has a responsibility to protect citizens of the Middle East, Americans traveling through the Middle East, Europeans who are now at risk from Iranian missiles,” Pompeo told reporters after the meeting.

The United States, Britain and France have accused Tehran of flouting the current U.N. restrictions on Tehran’s missile program by carrying out ballistic missile launches. Iran says the missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.

Tehran’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Eshagh al-Habib accused Washington of an “addiction to sanctions and warmongering,” saying Iran was in compliance with its commitments under a 2015 international nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in May.

“What we heard today was another series of lies, fabrications, disinformation and deceptive statements by the U.S. It is not unprecedented,” al-Habib told the council.

Most U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted in January 2016 when the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran fulfilled commitments under the nuclear deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. But Iran is still subject to a U.N. arms embargo and other restrictions.

The U.N. sanctions and restrictions on Iran are contained in the 2015 resolution, which also enshrines the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the deal.

(Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)

Even Kushner Recognizes the Battle Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)


 

President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner stated during his interview with Sean Hannity on Monday night that the living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza are not acceptable.

“We are focused on the broader region, which is figuring out how to hopefully bring a deal together between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That conflict has gone on for way too long. The president has been very focused on trying to bring all of the different parties together,” Kushner began.

“We are hopeful in the next couple of months we will put out our plan which, again, not every side is [going to] love, but there is enough in it and enough reasons why people should take it and move forward. This plan will keep the Israeli people safe, give them a good future, but also give a real opportunity and hope for the Palestinian people so that they can live much better lives,” he continued. “I’ve been saying a lot that there … you should not be hijacking your children’s future because of your grandparents’ conflict.”

Last week, a U.S.-sponsored resolution to condemn the Gaza-based terror organization Hamas failed to receive the necessary votes.

“This is a conflict that has been going on for way too long. And the way the people are living in Gaza and West Bank right now is not acceptable,” Kushner added. “There is a lot that we could be doing to improve the quality of life, but it comes with resolving some of these core issues. And it is not just the Israelis that want it, it’s not just the Palestinian people who want it, it is all of the people I speak to throughout the entire Middle East who would like to see the issue resolved so they can start focusing on a brighter future.”

Why Iran WILL Go Nuclear (Daniel 8:4)

Why Iran May Go Nuclear

Abhishek Chapanerkar12.10.18

World News /10 Dec 2018

The Iranian nuclear saga and its repercussions are once again taking center stage. Is there anything left that President Trump might do to the Iranian people after his complete withdrawal from the Iran deal, renewed sanctions, and hawkish foreign policy towards Iran?

Of course, it goes without saying that if the financial gains that were promised to Iran in the aftermath of the nuclear deal are no longer there why would Iran wait to see any tangible results to come to its doorstep?

Rather, it is obvious Iran may go nuclear. At least the logic says so.

The U.S. and Iranian nuclear cooperation during the Shah’s reign didn’t materialize as the advent of 1979’s Islamic Revolution was rapidly approaching. However, historical archives show that the Shah clearly envisioned a nuclear Iran, as did his successors although the initial pace was slow.

Now, as there is no U.S. involvement to preserve the Iran deal, why would Iran have to abide by the terms? American absence imperils the regime which only a nuclear Iran can possibly change. Iran’s nuclear quest is more urgent than it was earlier.

Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran’s nuclear aspirations for its energy security are more viable unlike other non-NPT members such as Israel, Pakistan and North Korea whose nuclear arsenals were developed for military use against adversaries in the region.

It was clear from the beginning that no nuclear deal would totally satisfy any parties involved in the deal. For President Obama achieving a comprehensive accord became impossible given the exigencies of the international episodes. During his tenure, Israel and Saudi Arabia were already wary of his foreign policy; the threat of the Islamic State was already on the rise, and the Israel-Palestine crisis had escalated. Nevertheless, the Obama administration saved the expedient deal in the hope that his diplomatic overtures would lead to re-engagement with Iran.

As the deal was never comprehensive, it was predictable that one of the members would withdraw from the deal. If it was not President Trump, Tehran itself could have walked out of the agreement.

Prolonged regional conflicts and debilitating effects of the past and ongoing chaos in the region have already cost Iran. Whether it was Iraq’s invasion or the post-September 11th events, during the rise of the Islamic State Iran was also vulnerable to terrorism.

As a consequence, no matter what the White House hawks argue against, Iran has an increasing role in the region, that should be quelled by an offensive military. No nation would like to see its national security compromised.

Iran’s isolation in the region will continue if a pragmatic nuclear option is not explored.

First, for both conservatives and reformists forming an anti-U.S. nexus with Russia and China is next to impossible. The pressure of economic sanctions that the Rouhani government is hoping to release with the help of France-Britain-Germany is likely to result in unfruitful outcomes. Although nothing has changed so far in regards to Moscow’s and Beijing’s opportunistic foreign policy in the region, economic relations with Iran remain important.

Second, compared to the Israeli national security goals, Iranian needs relate to its economy and security rather than its existence. In other words, Iran’s confrontation with Israel is military in nature. By keeping an ambiguous nuclear strategy, Israel still gained intangible benefits out of its nuclear deterrence although it has no strategic-depth to strike nuclear warheads on its immediate neighbors. By contrast, Tehran’s tumultuous relationship with Riyadh is both ideological and is motivated by gaining regional hegemony in the region.

Third, at the expense of America’s purchase of oil in return for money and weapons, Saudi Arabia poses a direct threat to Iran’s national security. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) heinous act in the Khashoggi murder case is an open secret demonstrating tacit support under the guise of American leadership. His recent inauguration of a nuclear research reactor and rhetorical remarks on the Iranian nuclear threat should be taken seriously.

From the Iranian perspective, therefore, a nuclear Saudi Arabia is of much more concern than Israel.

Finally, since the exposure of Tehran’s clandestine atomic pursuit in 2002, Israel-Sunni-Arab states have formed a superior alliance forming an anti-Iran nexus against the nuclear program. For regional stability, a nuclear Iran means a counter to Saudi arrogance. Also, Saudi Arabia’s malignant role in Yemen and Syria, its ideology and alignment with Israel are clearly indicative of the fact that to install an everlasting peace in the region is not unfeasible.

Even a weak comprehensive deal couldn’t guarantee any reconciliation among Iran and the Sunni-Arab States.

So, Tehran has now learned that Iran’s nuclear restraint means strengthening America’s stranglehold in the region. Strong nuclear deterrence alone would resolve its isolation on the international stage. As a consequence, Iran’s nuclear program will now have a clear military dimension. Uranium enrichment is one way for Iran to attain latent nuclear capability and could lead to their developing nuclear weapons in the near future.

As a result, the U.S. will watch the rise of nuclear Iran.

Palestinians Trampled Under Foot Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Scores of amputations in Gaza as Israeli troops aim at legs

Gaza’s Health Ministry has carried out 94 amputations since protests began in March, 82 of those involving lower limbs.

Raed Abu Khader, right, holds a wet cloth on the forehead of his 12-year-old son Mohammed in Gaza City; Mohammed was shot in the leg at one of the demonstrations in Gaza by the perimeter fence with Israel [Associated Press]

Israeli forces deployed along the fence that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip have fired live rounds at rock-throwing Palestinian protesters ever since demonstrations demanding the right to return began in March.

And for eight months, Israeli snipers have targeted one part of the body more than any other – the legs.

The Israeli army says it is responding to weekly assaults on its frontier by Palestinians armed with stones, grenades and firebombs. It says it opens fire only as a last resort and considers firing at the lower limbs an act of restraint.

Still, 175 Palestinians have been shot dead, according to a count by the Associated Press news agency. And the number of wounded has reached colossal proportions.

Of the 10,511 protesters treated at hospitals and field clinics in Gaza so far, at least 6,392, or roughly 60 percent, have been struck in the lower limbs, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. At least 5,884 of those casualties were hit by live ammunition; others have been hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters.

Mahmoud Abu Assi, who was shot in the leg during a demonstration, has his bandage changed in a clinic run by MSF in Gaza City [Associated Press]

The upsurge in violence has left a visible mark on Gaza that will likely remain for decades to come. It is now common to see young men walking through dilapidated streets on crutches. Most have legs bandaged or fitted with a metal frame called a fixator, which uses pins or screws that are inserted into fractured bones to help stabilize them.

The wounded can often be seen gathering at a treatment clinic run by the Paris-based medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Gaza City, where Associated Press photographer Felipe Dana took portraits of some of them.

Some of those he photographed acknowledged throwing stones towards Israeli troops during the demonstrations. One said he had hurled a firebomb. But others said they were unarmed bystanders; one paramedic said he was helping rescue the wounded, while another man said he was waving a Palestinian flag and another said he was selling coffee and tea.

Patients with leg injuries they attained during demonstrations, gather outside a clinic run by MSF  in Gaza City in September 2018 [Associated Press]

International human rights groups have said the military’s open-fire rules are unlawful because they allow the use of potentially lethal force in situations where soldiers’ lives are not in immediate danger.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, rejected international criticism that Israel’s response has been excessive. Instead, he said that firing at people’s legs was a sign of restraint.

Hamas is responsible for orchestrating violent riots where thousands of Palestinians assault our borders with the goal of breaching our defensive lines and attacking Israeli forces and civilian communities,” he said.

“Israeli soldiers use live fire only as a last resort, after written and verbal warnings, as well as extensive use of tear gas and other non-lethal means have been exhausted. It is our duty to defend our civilians and sovereignty, and we do it with the minimal use of force possible,” he said.

Raed Abu Khader, right, carries his 12-year-old son Mohammed as they return from the hospital in Gaza City [Associated Press]

MSF said this month that the huge number of patients was overwhelming Gaza’s healthcare system, which has already been severely weakened by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt that has fueled economic stagnation and rampant unemployment, and devastated water and electricity supplies.

The aid group said the majority of the 3,117 patients it has treated have been shot in the legs, and many will need follow-up surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

“These are complex and serious injuries that do not quickly heal,” the group said. “Their severity and the lack of appropriate treatment in Gaza’s crippled health system means that infection is a high risk, especially for patients with open fractures.”

“The consequences of these wounds … will be lifelong disability for many,” the aid group said. “And if infections are not tackled, then the results could be amputation or even death.”

Gaza’s Health Ministry says it has carried out 94 amputations since the protests began, 82 of them involving lower limbs.

Meet the Antichrist: Moqtada al-Sadr

Iraqi Shiite cleric and leader Moqtada al-Sadr (C-L) shows his ink-stained index finger and holds a national flag while surrounded by people outside a polling station in the central holy city of Najaf on May 12, 2018 as the country votes in the first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State (IS) group.Cleric who fought US troops is winning Iraq’s election: Meet Moqtada al Sadr

HAIDAR HAMDANI | AFP | Getty Images

Iraqi Shiite cleric and leader Moqtada al-Sadr (C-L) shows his ink-stained index finger and holds a national flag while surrounded by people outside a polling station in the central holy city of Najaf on May 12, 2018 as the country votes in the first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State (IS) group.

More than 91 percent of Iraq’s votes have been tallied after polls closed over the weekend in Iraq’s first election since defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) late last year.

And they reveal a shock win for firebrand Iraqi cleric Moqtada al Sadr, who wasn’t even running for prime minister, along with his coalition allies, the Iraqi Communist Party.

He was followed by Iran-backed Shia militia leader Hadi Al Amiri, while incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, initially predicted to win re-election, trailed in third. Voter turnout was a low 44.5 percent, indicating widespread voter apathy and pessimism, observers said.

Reports show that Sadr’s “Sairoon” alliance won more than 1.3 million votes, translating to 54 seats in the country’s 329-seat parliament, taking the greatest share among a broad and fractured array of parties.

Who is Moqtada al Sadr?

A win for Sadr, the populist Shia leader known for his anti-American campaigns and his populist appeal to Iraq’s young and poor, could dramatically change Iraq’s political landscape and its relationship with external powers like the U.S. and Iran.

In addition to pushing for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Sadr is avidly opposed to Iranian influence in his country. That influence has grown significantly thanks to the pivotal role played by Iran-backed militias in driving out ISIS.

The influential cleric, who has millions of religious followers, cannot become prime minister as he did not run for the position himself — but his electoral success means he will likely have a key role in deciding who does.

Powerful charisma

Sadr has spearheaded a number of political movements in Iraq, gaining infamy for directing attacks on U.S. troops in the wake of the 2003 Iraq invasion. His charismatic sermons have drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets over a range of causes. More recently, he’s led campaigns and protests against corruption within the Shia-led government as well as against Iranian influence, and pledged to overcome sectarianism by leading a secular coalition that includes Iraq’s communists.

Sadr in 2003 created the Mahdi Army, which executed the first major armed confrontation against U.S. forces in Iraq led by the Shia community — and it posed such a threat that U.S. forces were instructed to kill or capture him. The group, which numbered up to 10,000, was also accused of carrying out atrocities against Iraq’s Sunnis. It was disbanded in 2008, but re-mobilized in 2014 to fight ISIS.

The cleric owes much of his religious following to the legacy of his father, an influential Iraqi ayatollah murdered in the 1990s for opposing former President Saddam Hussein, and has spent much of his career championing Shia causes.

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE | AFP | Getty Images

But in the last year, he’s undergone something of a reinvention: he has reached out to Sunni Gulf neighbors, most notably in 2017 visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) powers typically shunned Iraq’s Shia, but are now making headway in the country through investment and economic aid, seen partially as an attempt to counter arch-rival Iran’s entrenched influence in the country.

Ahead of the election, Sadr pledged a commitment to abandon sectarianism by forming a coalition with secular Sunnis and Iraq’s Communist Party, who have as a result seen their best election performance ever.

Sadr‘s strong showing suggests that he maintains a relatively loyal following and that his nationalist, cross-sectarian platform was effective at mobilizing voters in challenging conditions,” said Ryan Turner, a senior risk analyst at London-based PGI Group.

He has also stopped advocating violence, said Renad Mansour, an Iraq researcher and fellow at U.K. policy institute Chatham House. “He passed the use of violence for his political agenda,” Mansour said. “But say if the U.S. come back and occupy Iraq, I imagine that this would change.”

Possible kingmaker

Because of the fractured nature of Iraqi politics, no candidate or bloc has won an outright majority. The winners of the most seats must negotiate a coalition government within 90 days, during which a long complex process of compromise will have to unfold. Winning the greatest share of votes does not directly translate to leading the government.

“Depending on the final tallies and political jockeying, Sadr may find himself in a position to play kingmaker, which could see Abadi reappointed prime minister,” Turner said, referring to the current prime minister, who was widely praised for leading the fight against ISIS and for balancing relationships across sects and external powers.

But to do so, Sadr would likely have to outmaneuver Iran, which would prefer to see Amiri — the candidate who finished second place — assume the premiership. Tehran wields much of its influence by pushing its preferred policies through Iranian-backed candidates and political players like Amiri. A major objective of Iran’s is to push the U.S. out of Iraq, where some 5,000 troops still remain.

U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to Bravo Troop, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, maneuver through a hallway as part of squad level training at Camp Taji, Iraq.

Department of Defense photo

U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to Bravo Troop, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, maneuver through a hallway as part of squad level training at Camp Taji, Iraq.

The extent to which the reforms Sadr has championed can take place will be determined by these fractured politics, said Mansour. “So far Sadr has been a very vocal voice demanding change — the question becomes whether he’ll actually be able to maneuver around the system that Iraq is, which is one where power is so diffuse among different entities that it’s hard for one group to have complete control. But I think he certainly will try and be more dramatic about it.”

Labeled one of the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International, Iraq is still mired in poverty and dysfunction following its bloody, three-year battle against ISIS.

Officials estimate they’ll need at least $100 billion to rebuild the country’s destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure, and improvised explosive devices and landmines remain scattered throughout the country. The composition of the new government will be crucial in determining how Iraq moves forward.

“It’s not clear that Sadr‘s rising political influence will undermine Iraq’s recent progress,” Turner said, noting that despite the cleric’s past, he has cooperated with Abadi and backed changes intended to reduce corruption. “Much will depend on what happens next, and whether Sadr is able to quickly form a governing coalition or Iraq enters a period of prolonged deadlock as after the 2010 election.”

Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Winter (Revelation 16)

Nuclear Weapons and Climate Change Threaten Human Survival

Ramesh Jaura09 December 2018

Photo credit: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Shigeo Hayashi – RA119-RA134

John Avery interviews David Krieger

COPENHAGEN | SANTA BARBARA, CA (IDN) – One of the five “M’s” can trigger a nuclear war any time: malice, madness, mistake, miscalculation and manipulation. “Of these five, only malice is subject to possibly being prevented by nuclear deterrence and of this there is no certainty. But nuclear deterrence (threat of nuclear retaliation) will not be at all effective against madness, mistake, miscalculation or manipulation (hacking),” David Krieger tells John Scales Avery in an exceptional interview.

Krieger is the Founder and President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) that has been committed to a world free of nuclear weapons since 1982. He has been working steadily and unwaveringly for peace and the total abolition of nuclear weapons. Avery is an eminent academician and scientist, and an impassioned peace activist.

As reflected in this Q&A, Avery and Krieger have great admiration for each other, which has not been filtered out. Nor have the style and content been confined in an editorial straitjacket.

The following is the full text of the interview:

John Avery (JA): Dear David, I have long admired your dedicated and heroic life-long work for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. You did me the great honor of making me an advisor to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF). Could you tell us a little about your family, and your early life and education? What are the steps that led you to become one of the world’s most famous advocates of the complete abolition of nuclear weapons?

David Krieger (DK): John, you have honored us by being an advisor to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. You are one of the most knowledgeable people I know on the dangers of nuclear and other technologies to the future of life on our planet, and you have written brilliantly about these threats.

Regarding my family, early life and education, I was born three years before the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by nuclear weapons. My father was a pediatrician, and my mother a housewife and hospital volunteer. Both were very peace oriented, and both rejected militarism unreservedly.

I would describe my early years as largely uneventful. I attended Occidental College, where I received a good liberal arts education. After graduating from Occidental, I visited Japan, and was awakened by seeing the devastation suffered by Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I realized that in the U.S., we viewed these bombings from above the mushroom cloud as technological achievements, while in Japan the bombings were viewed from beneath the mushroom cloud as tragic events of indiscriminate mass annihilation.

After returning from Japan, I went to the graduate school at the University of Hawaii and earned a Ph.D. in political science. I was also drafted into the military, but was able to join the reserves as an alternate way of fulfilling my military obligation. Unfortunately, I was later called to active duty.

In the military, I refused orders for Vietnam and filed for conscientious objector status. I believed that the Vietnam War was an illegal and immoral war, and I was unwilling as a matter of conscience to serve there. I took my case to federal court and eventually was honorably discharged from the military. My experiences in Japan and in the U.S. Army helped shape my views toward peace and nuclear weapons. I came to believe that peace was an imperative of the Nuclear Age and that nuclear weapons must be abolished.

JA: Humanity and the biosphere are threatened by the danger of an all-destroying thermonuclear war. It could occur through a technical or human failure, or through uncontrollable escalation of a war fought with conventional weapons. Can you say something about this great danger?

DK: There are many ways in which a nuclear war could start. I like to talk about the five “M’s”. These are: malice, madness, mistake, miscalculation and manipulation. Of these five, only malice is subject to possibly being prevented by nuclear deterrence and of this there is no certainty. But nuclear deterrence (threat of nuclear retaliation) will not be at all effective against madness, mistake, miscalculation or manipulation (hacking).

As you suggest, any war in the nuclear age could escalate into a nuclear war. I believe that a nuclear war, no matter how it would start, poses the greatest danger confronting humankind, and can only be prevented by the total abolition of nuclear weapons, achieved through negotiations that are phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent.

JA: Can you describe the effects of a nuclear war on the ozone layer, on global temperatures, and on agriculture? Could nuclear war produce a large-scale famine?

DK: My understanding is that a nuclear war would largely destroy the ozone layer allowing extreme levels of ultraviolet radiation to reach the earth’s surface. Additionally, a nuclear war would dramatically lower temperatures, possibly throwing the planet into a new Ice Age. The effects of a nuclear war on agriculture would be very marked.

Atmospheric scientists tell us that even a “small” nuclear war between India and Pakistan in which each side used 50 nuclear weapons on the other side’s cities would put enough soot into the stratosphere to block warming sunlight, shorten growing seasons, and cause mass starvation leading to some two billion human deaths. A major nuclear war would produce even more severe effects, including the possibility of destroying most complex life on the planet.

JA: What about the effects of radiation from fallout? Can you describe the effects of the Bikini tests on the people of the Marshall Islands and other nearby islands?

DK: Radiation fallout is one of the unique dangers of nuclear weapons. Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. conducted 67 of its nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, with the equivalent power of detonating 1.6 Hiroshima bombs daily for a twelve-year period. Of these tests, 23 were conducted in the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Some of these tests contaminated islands and fishing vessels hundreds of miles away from the test sites. Some islands are still too contaminated for the residents to return. The U.S. shamefully treated the people of the Marshall Islands who suffered the effects of radioactive fallout like guinea pigs, studying them to learn more about the effects of radiation on human health.

Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. conducted 67 of its nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, with the equivalent power of detonating 1.6 Hiroshima bombs daily for a twelve-year period. Of these tests, 23 were conducted in the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

JA: The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation cooperated with the Marshall Islands in suing all of the nations which signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT] and which currently possess nuclear weapons for violating Article VI of the NPT. Can you describe what has happened? The Marshall Islands’ foreign minister, Tony de Brunn, received the Right Livelihood Award for his part in the lawsuit. Can you tell us something about this?

DK: The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation consulted with the Marshall Islands on their heroic lawsuits against the nine nuclear-armed countries (U.S., Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea). The lawsuits in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague were against the first five of these countries for their failure to fulfill their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT for negotiations to end the nuclear arms race and achieve nuclear disarmament. The other four nuclear-armed countries, those not parties to the NPT, were sued for the same failures to negotiate, but under customary international law. The U.S. was sued additionally in U.S. federal court.

Of the nine countries, only the UK, India and Pakistan accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. In these three cases the Court ruled that there was not a sufficient controversy between the parties and dismissed the cases without getting to the substance of the lawsuits. The votes of the 16 judges on the ICJ were very close: in the case of the UK the judges split 8 to 8 and the case was decided by the casting vote of the president of the Court, who was French.

The case in U.S. federal court was also dismissed before getting to the merits of the case. The Marshall Islands was the only country in the world willing to challenge the nine nuclear-armed states in these lawsuits, and did so under the courageous leadership of Tony de Brunn, who received many awards for his leadership on this issue. It was an honor for us to work with him on these lawsuits. Sadly, Tony passed away in 2017.

JA: On July 7, 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was passed by an overwhelming majority by the United Nations General Assembly. This was a great victory in the struggle to rid the world of the danger of nuclear annihilation. Can you tell us something about the current status of the Treaty?

DK: The Treaty is still in the process of attaining signatures and ratifications. It will enter into force 90 days after the 50th country deposits its ratification or accession to it. At present, 69 countries have signed and 19 have ratified or acceded to the treaty, but these numbers change frequently. ICAN [the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons] and its partner organizations continue to lobby states to join the treaty.

JA: ICAN received a Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts leading to the establishment of the TPNW. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is one of the 468 organizations that make up ICAN, and therefore, in a sense, you have already received a Nobel Peace Prize. I have several times nominated you, personally, and the NAPF as an organization for the Nobel Peace Prize. Can you review for us the activities that might qualify you for the award?

DK: John, you have kindly nominated me and NAPF several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, for which I deeply thank you. I would say that my greatest accomplishment has been to found and lead the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and to have worked steadily and unwaveringly for peace and the total abolition of nuclear weapons. I don’t know if this would qualify me for a Nobel Peace Prize, but it has been good and decent work that I am proud of. I also feel that our work at the Foundation, though international, focuses largely on the United States, and that is a particularly difficult country in which to make progress.

But I would say this. It has been gratifying to work for such meaningful goals for all humanity and, in doing such work, I have come across many, many dedicated people who deserve to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, including you. There are many talented and committed people in the peace and nuclear abolition movements, and I bow to them all. It is the work that is most important, not prizes, even the Nobel, although the recognition that comes with the Nobel can help with making further progress. I think this has been the case with ICAN, which we joined at the beginning and have worked closely with over the years. So, we are happy to share in this award.

JA: Military-industrial complexes throughout the world need dangerous confrontations to justify their enormous budgets. Can you say something about the dangers of the resulting brinkmanship?

DK: Yes, the military-industrial complexes throughout the world are extremely dangerous. It is not only their brinkmanship which is a problem, but the enormous funding they receive that takes away from social programs for health care, education, housing, and protecting the environment. The amount of funds going to the military-industrial complex in many countries, and particularly in the U.S., is obscene.

I have recently been reading a great book, titled Strength through Peace, written by Judith Eve Lipton and David P. Barash. It is a book about Costa Rica, a country that gave up its military in 1948 and has lived mostly in peace in a dangerous part of the world since then. The book’s subtitle is “How Demilitarization Led to Peace and Happiness in Costa Rica, & What the Rest of the World can Learn from a Tiny Tropical Nation.”

The Romans said, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” The Costa Rican example says, “If you want peace, prepare for peace.” It is a much more sensible and decent path to peace.

It is a wonderful book that shows there are better ways of pursuing peace than through military strength. It turns the old Roman dictum on its head. The Romans said, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” The Costa Rican example says, “If you want peace, prepare for peace.” It is a much more sensible and decent path to peace.

JA: Has Donald Trump’s administration contributed to the danger of nuclear war?

DK: I think that Donald Trump himself has contributed to the danger of nuclear war. He is narcissistic, mercurial, and generally uncompromising, which is a terrible combination of traits for someone in charge of the world’s most powerful nuclear arsenal. He is also surrounded by Yes men, who generally seem to tell him what he wants to hear. Further, Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the agreement with Iran, and has announced his intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [INF Treaty] with Russia. Trump’s control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal may be the most dangerous threat of nuclear war since the beginning of the Nuclear Age.

JA: Could you say something about the current wildfires in California? Is catastrophic climate change a danger comparable to the danger of a nuclear catastrophe?

DK: The wildfires in California have been horrendous, the worst in California history. These terrible fires are yet another manifestation of global warming, just as are the increased intensity of hurricanes, typhoons and other weather-related events. I believe that catastrophic climate change is a danger comparable to the danger of nuclear catastrophe. A nuclear catastrophe could happen at any time. With climate change we are approaching a point from which there will be no return to normalcy and our sacred earth will become uninhabitable by humans. [IDN-InDepthNews – 09 December 2018]

Photo (top): David Krieger, Founder and President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Credit: NAPF

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