Dan Robitzski in Hard Science Russia is preparing to test launch its powerful new RS-28 Sarmat hypersonic nuke, which has been given the appropriate nickname “Satan II.”
Son of Satan The Russian military is prepared to launch three tests of its powerful new nuclear weapon, the RS-28 Sarmat, which has earned the nickname “Satan II.”
Tests for the new intercontinental ballistic missile will begin within the next few months, military insiders told TASS, a news outlet owned by the Russian government that refers to the weapon as “invulnerable.” That’s alarming news — while the Sarmat has been under development for years, the fact that it’s now ready for test launches brings us into a dangerous new era of ultra-powerful nuclear weapons.
“The first launch of the Sarmat ICBM within the framework of flight development tests will be carried out tentatively in the third quarter of 2021, a field at the Kura testing range on Kamchatka will be a target,” a military source told TASS.
Global Reach The Satan II missile is meant to replace, well, the “Satan,” Russia’s R-36M2 Voevoda, which were first developed in the 1970s, according to TASS. In other words, Russia’s nuclear arsenal is getting a significant upgrade. And if these upcoming tests go well, the Russian military may start to deploy the weapons by the end of next year.
The Sarmat reportedly has a range of 18,000 kilometers — meaning it’s just shy of being able to reach anywhere on the Earth — and can carry a payload of up to ten tons. That means the missile is capable of launching multiple warheads and a hypersonic vehicle, making it exceptionally difficult for any of Russia’s theoretical targets to detect, let along stop, the nuke before it hits.
Even more alarming is that Russia designed the Satan II specifically to avoid any form of missile defense, according to TASS. That includes both speeding up its acceleration so it can launch itself out of range of defense systems before finding its ultimate trajectory as well as using its extremely long-range to fly over the North or South poles, evading more heavily defended areas.
Khamenei was speaking on Iran’s annual Quds Day, which uses the Arabic name for Jerusalem, held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (photo credit: REUTERS) Iran’s Supreme Leader on Friday called on Muslim nations to keep fighting against Israel, which he said was not a state but a “terrorist garrison” against the Palestinians. “The fight against this wretched regime is the fight against oppression and the fight against terrorism. And this is a public duty to fight against this regime,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech. Khamenei was speaking on Iran’s annual Quds Day, which uses the Arabic name for Jerusalem, held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Opposition to Israel is a touchstone of belief for Shi’ite-led Iran, which backs Palestinian and Lebanese Islamic militant groups opposed to peace with the Jewish state, which Tehran does not recognize.
“Muslim nations’ cooperation on Quds (Jerusalem) is a nightmare for the Zionists,” Khamenei said.
Iranian officials have called for an end to Israel, including by a referendum that would exclude most of its Jews while including Palestinians in the region and abroad.
The coronavirus pandemic forced the government to cancel its annual Quds Day parade. But Iranian state media showed footage of motorcyclists and vehicles flying Palestinian and Lebanese Hezbollah flags driving through Tehran streets.
They also published pictures of people burning Israeli and American flags.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran September 14, 2007. Photo: REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo When Ali Khamenei was appointed Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, he knew he lacked Khomeini’s charisma. He needed the power of the military to subdue his rivals and consolidate his position, and accordingly pulled the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) closer to himself. At the same time, newly elected president Hashemi Rafsanjani, who, as wartime supreme commander, had nurtured his own close relationships with IRGC generals, sought to exploit the public resources of the nation with fewer restrictions. He attempted to partner with the IRGC in his “privatization” movement, which was basically the mass transfer of public property, resources, and organizations from the government sector to regime insiders. The resulting Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Camp was the first, and remains the most notable, financial institution of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In December 1989, Khamenei issued a decree establishing Khatam al-Anbiya with the purported aim of “utilizing the civilian capacity of the armed forces to develop the construction of the country.” The Camp was originally intended to be run as a joint enterprise among all branches of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic, including the army, the IRGC, and the police. But over time, Khatam al-Anbiya turned into an exclusively IRGC venture, with managers and senior officials appointed by the Revolutionary Guard.
The sole body overseeing the activities of Khatam al-Anbiya is the IRGC Intelligence Protection Unit. No other regulatory bodies are mandated to monitor or request performance reports from the Camp. The nominal commander of Khatam al-Anbiya is the Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Guard. While he delegates the handling of the Camp’s day-to-day workings to others, he retains control over the scope and direction of the Camp’s participation in financial and economic projects.
The Khatam al-Anbiya Camp grew exponentially during Muhammad Ali Jafari’s long era of command over the Revolutionary Guard (2007-2019). During this period, the Supreme Leader, backed by his IRGC Praetorians, implemented a definitive “Look to the East” policy by systematically purging all ostensibly Western-friendly elements in the regime as well as Russifying and Sinicizing the intelligence apparatus and the military. With the ouster by the Revolutionary Guards of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s circle and the so-called “Reformists,” Khatam al-Anbiya succeeded — especially during the eight years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency (2005-2013) — in monopolizing the lion’s share of economic and development projects in Iran.
With the intensification of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic over the regime’s nuclear ambitions and the forced emigration of multinational companies from Iran, the Camp seized substantial oil and gas and petrochemical projects. This provided the platform from which Khatam al-Anbiya grew into the leviathan that now dominates almost all financial, economic, and industrial sectors in Iran.
Khatam al-Anbiya is one of the main institutions tasked with implementing Khamenei’s “Resistance Economy.” This is nothing more than a concerted effort by the Revolutionary Guard to monopolize Iran’s resources, mines, industries, and infrastructure projects in order to circumvent international sanctions and fund the ideological-military expansion of the Islamist regime in the region and beyond, as well as the ongoing suppression of popular dissent and protest inside Iran.
Khatam al-Anbiya is also responsible for preparing a “reverse sanctions list.” According to this list, goods produced by domestic manufacturers — that is, companies affiliated with the IRGC — should not be sourced from abroad, meaning the IRGC can monopolize the production and import of goods in Iran. Thus, the Camp has played a key role in concentrating Iran’s economy in the hands of the militant Islamists and the Revolutionary Guard as well as breaking the international sanctions regime against the Islamic Republic. Because of this, Khatam al-Anbiya has been sanctioned several times by successive US governments since 2010.
The sanctions have not impeded Khatam al-Anbiya’s efforts to broaden the scope of its activities more and more every day and expand the Revolutionary Guard’s empire in Iran and across the Middle East. During the past two decades, Khatam al-Anbiya has thrived to such an extent that some of its commanders, such as Muhammad Baqer Qalibaf, Rostam Ghasemi, and Saeed Muhammad, have achieved — or are about to achieve — key positions in the regime’s political hierarchy. The regime relies heavily on the Camp’s seemingly unlimited and unaccounted-for revenues, and Khatam al-Anbiya accordingly enjoys the solid support of the Supreme Leader and his so-called Household.
Qalibaf was mayor of Tehran and then speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and now aspires to the presidency. Ghasemi was the oil minister in Ahmadinejad’s government, a former advisor to Hassan Rouhani’s first deputy, and a senior advisor to the former defense minister, and is also said to be a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections. Saeed Muhammad, the last commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya Camp and a model “young Hezbollahi manager,” recently resigned his post in the hope of becoming president and announced his readiness to run in 2021.
It appears the cadets of the Khatam al-Anbiya Camp will soon be the main executors of the Islamic Republic’s policies, both inside and outside Iran. In view of the hard-line stances of the Supreme Leader and the generals of the Revolutionary Guard, it can be assumed that the Islamic Republic remains intent on intensifying its suppression of domestic dissent, animosity toward the West and the US, and expansionism in the Middle East against the security interests of Arabs and Israel.
As such, the insistence of the Biden administration and some European governments on either returning to the original JCPOA or concluding a new deal with the Islamic Republic to reduce the nuclear and missile threat it poses is far from realistic and unlikely to succeed. Peace in the Middle East is predicated on the dissolution of the Revolutionary Guard’s apocalyptic empire and the subsequent establishment of democracy in Iran.
Dr. Reza Parchizadeh is a political theorist, historian, and senior analyst. He can be reached on Twitter at @rezaparchizadeh. A version of this article was originally published by The BESA Center.
Public images of populist Shiite Muqtada al-Sadr getting vaccinated last week circulating online has prompted many to put aside their distrust of the Iraqi government, which called for its citizens to get vaccinated.
“I was against the idea of being vaccinated. I was afraid, I didn’t believe in it,” Manhil Alshabli, 30, told the AP. “But all this has changed now.”
“Seeing him getting the vaccine has motivated me,” Alshabli added and compared watching al-Sadr get vaccinated as soldiers watching their leader in the front lines of a battle.
After al-Sadr received his shot, those loyal to him launched a vaccination campaign and urged others to do the same while posting photos of themselves holding posters of al-Sadr as they received their vaccines.
Many of al-Sadr’s followers, including Alshabli, received their vaccinations in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf, and daily rates of infections decreased last week.
Iraq’s Health Ministry shared the photo of al-Sadr getting vaccinated on its Facebook page as a post of encouragement.
The Health Ministry has encouraged that the vaccines are safe, but many Iraqis do not trust the nation’s healthcare system. Out of Iraq’s population of 40 million, fewer than 380,000 citizens have been vaccinated against the virus.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr (R) drives a car as he joins anti-government demonstrators gathering in the central holy city of Najaf on October 29, 2019. After photos of al-Sadr getting vaccinated last week circulated, it prompted hundreds of his followers to follow suit, the Associated Press reported. Haidar Hamdani/AFP via Getty Images Al-Sadr followers becoming vaccinated underscores the power of sectarian loyalties in Iraq and a deep mistrust of the state.
New case numbers spiked to over 8,000 per day last month, the highest they have ever been. The surge was driven largely by public apathy toward the virus. Many routinely flout virus-related restrictions, refusing to wear face masks and continuing to hold large public gatherings.
5,068 new cases were reported on Monday.
Iraq’s centralized system, largely unchanged since the 1970s, has been ground down by decades of war, sanctions and prolonged unrest since the 2003 U.S. invasion. Successive governments have invested little in the sector.
Many avoid going to public hospitals altogether. Last month, a massive blaze tore through the coronavirus ward in a Baghdad hospital, killing more than 80 people and injuring dozens. Iraq’s Health Minister Hasan al-Tamimi was suspended for alleged negligence, and resigned Tuesday over the incident.
Faris Al-Lami, assistant professor of community medicine at the University of Baghdad, said the government is widely viewed as corrupt and that its actions since the start of the pandemic only deepened the public’s mistrust.
He cited certain early practices, such as using security forces to take patients from their homes as if they were criminals, and holding up the burials of those who died of the virus for several weeks.
Al-Lami also pointed to what he said are current problematic policies. For example, he said high-risk patients, such as those with chronic or immunodeficiency diseases, have to wait inside hospitals to get their shots, putting them at high risk of infection. Meanwhile, people with personal connections can get them easily.
He said it’s a positive development when the vaccination of a political or religious figure encourages people to get their shots. “But the ideology that is based upon blindly following anyone’s decision is a disaster in itself,” he said.
Iraq received 336,000 new doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in late March and Iraqis above the age of 18 are qualified to get the jab. Last month, the first shipment of Pfizer doses arrived in the country, with 49,000 shots.
“All the vaccines that arrived in Iraq are safe and effective … but until this moment, there are some citizens who are afraid of taking the vaccine as a result of malicious rumors,” said Ruba Hassan, a Health Ministry official.
The Health Ministry has introduced measures to push Iraqis to get the shots. They include travel restrictions for those unable to produce a vaccination card and dismissals of employees at shops, malls and restaurants. While the measures have led more people to seek out vaccinations, they have also confused and angered a still largely reticent public.
Restaurant owners said they were blindsided by the measures, uncertain if it meant they would face closure if they refused them.
“There is no clear law to follow,” said Rami Amir, 30, who owns a fast food restaurant in Baghdad. “I don’t want all my staff to be vaccinated because they might have severe side effects or complications,” he said, echoing widespread skepticism.
Omer Mohammed, another restaurant owner, said applicants for a new job at his eatery dropped out when he said vaccination cards were a necessary prerequisite.
Medical professionals were prioritized to receive the vaccine and were able to pre-register in January when Iraq received its first shipment of 50,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.
When recent medical school graduate Mohammed al-Sudani, 24, went to get vaccinated this month he said the process was “bittersweet.” He showed up with no previous registration for the AstraZeneca vaccine. He didn’t need it. There was barely anyone there.
The next week he brought two of his aunts to the same center. There were only two other people in the waiting room.
“The nurse came in and asked them to call their relatives and friends to come to raise the number to at least 10 people because the jabs inside the vaccine kits were only valid for 6 hours,” he said.
It was a different scene in hospitals that carry Pfizer shots. Tabark Rashad, 27, headed to Baghdad’s al-Kindi hospital last week. The waiting room was crowded with dozens of people, sparking infection concerns.
“I went to protect myself against COVID-19, not get it in this room,” she said. “It was chaos.”
A follower of Muqtada al-Sadr A follower of populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr holds a picture of him while receiving a dose of the Chinese Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine at a clinic in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, May 4, 2021. Iraq’s vaccine rollout had been faltering for weeks. Apathy, fear and rumors kept many from getting vaccinated despite a serious surge in coronavirus infections and calls by the government for people to register for shots. It took al-Sadr’s public endorsement of vaccinations — and images of him getting the shot — to turn things around. Hadi Mizban/AP Photo
“Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order” By Kathryn E. Stoner Oxford University Press, February 2021Russia Rescurrected by Kathryn Stoner
As the U.S.-Russian relationship has become increasingly adversarial, Russia’s power and behavior have drawn increasing attention from policymakers, journalists and scholars. This has in turn fueled discussion and debate surrounding Russia’s capabilities and its government’s aims. Stanford University scholar Kathryn E. Stoner seeks to contribute to this important national conversation in her new book “Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order.” Notwithstanding useful contributions to understanding Russia’s new strength, the book falls short in explaining when and why Russia employs its power.
Stoner contends that Russia is in fact more powerful than it may appear if one relies on what she terms “traditional means of power”—counts of “men, money and material”—and that the principal driver of Russia’s foreign policy is “a patronalist autocracy that has an interest in maintaining the domestic status quo.” First, Stoner asserts, power is relational; it depends on the state exercising power and its target. Second, she adds, to measure power, analysts must assess it across three dimensions: policy scope (specific issues across which Russia’s behavior affects others), geographic domain (specific places where Russia seeks to exercise its power) and means (specific capabilities available to Russia). She overlays two cross-cutting factors onto policy scope and geographic domain: the concepts of weight (the likely effectiveness of Russian efforts) and costs (to Russia, and to its target in complying or resisting). Finally, Stoner notes, power can be actual or potential. For example, she describes nuclear weapons as an example of “power in potential.”
Stoner assesses policy scope and geographic domain—as well as weight and costs—in qualitative terms but applies quantitative measures to means, with some supporting qualitative evaluation. While engaging, the scope and domain narrative can make it difficult for the reader to draw systematic conclusions about Russia’s relative power or priorities across issues and regions. The book’s survey of Russia’s means has some shortcomings too, most notably in providing international context for Moscow’s rearmament.
Examining Russia’s motives, Stoner writes that the country’s national interests are less important in understanding its conduct than are the domestic political needs of its corrupt authoritarian government. “Under Vladimir Putin’s regime,” she states, “Russian power has been used not merely or even primarily in the service of national interests…but also in service of preserving his own corrupt regime. That is, in order to continue to govern at home, the regime that has developed under Vladimir Putin has needed to project its power abroad.” “Russia Resurrected” defines public opposition to Putin’s third presidential term (2012-2018) as a primary force behind this. While Stoner devotes considerably less space to this argument, which she introduces in the book’s first chapter and articulates fully in the final chapter, it is more consequential for analysts and policymakers. Her case relies substantially on a flawed and incomplete account of Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea and subsequent military intervention in eastern Ukraine.
Stoner’s effort to measure Russia’s power comprises the bulk of “Russia Resurrected” and provides a generally helpful overview of the country’s capabilities despite its limitations. (Russia Matters produced a useful quantitative assessment of Russian power in 2018.) Though Russia’s seizure of Crimea, its intervention in Syria and its interference in America’s and other countries’ political systems forced observers to reassess Moscow’s geopolitical heft several years ago, Stoner’s analytical framework for evaluating Russian power is logical and coherent.
Two limitations in Stoner’s six chapters on Russia’s power are an occasional tendency toward inflating the dangers that Russia poses and some significant omissions related to Russia’s nuclear weapons and conventional military. In the former category, for example, Stoner closes a short section on Latin America with a somewhat alarmist 2018 statement by the commander of the U.S. military’s Southern Command—someone with a demonstrable bureaucratic and budgetary incentive to express such worries. The extensive discussion of nuclear weapons and some of Russia’s new weapons systems does not adequately pursue Russia’s stated concerns about U.S. missile defense and global strike capabilities (which are critical in understanding Russia’s perspective on the U.S.-Russian nuclear deterrence relationship) or the manner in which Russia’s nuclear deterrence of the United States both guarantees the country’s security and facilitates its assertive use of its conventional armed forces.
Similarly, Russia’s far-reaching conventional military modernization has not occurred in a vacuum but in the context of NATO’s eastward expansion and the rapid growth and transformation of China’s military. In this context, Stoner’s presentation of total active and reserve military personnel in Russia, the United States and other countries is somewhat misleading; setting aside the relative quality of their equipment and training, America has employed its reserves and National Guard extensively over the last two decades. Russia’s reserves are far less capable than its active duty troops or their U.S. counterparts.
Despite its contributions in measuring Russia’s power, “Russia Resurrected” has two critical flaws in explaining its uses. The first is its concentration on academic rather than practical debates regarding Russia’s motives; the second is a selective reading of history in attempting to marshal evidence for its argument that the needs of Russia’s patronalist political system explain its foreign policy more accurately than “national interests.”
First, in pursuing theoretical explanations for Russia’s foreign policy, Stoner focuses excessively on a critique of realist international relations scholars like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. This limits the value of Stoner’s argument, in that many non-academic realists (and some academic realists) readily acknowledge that Russia’s corrupt political system affects how top leaders define the country’s national interests and that senior officials often pursue private rather than public interests.
More seriously, even as Stoner advances a sophisticated multi-dimensional framework for measuring Russia’s power, calling on others to consider policy scope, geographic domain and means, she fails to address whether a similar multi-dimensional framework could be appropriate in measuring inputs into the country’s foreign policy decision-making. Might national interests have greater influence over policy in some geographic and functional areas while the needs of Russia’s leaders and elites more influential, or more easily pursued, in others? What factors could contribute to or weaken these two drivers as Vladimir Putin makes concrete decisions? Do non-patronalist domestic goals shape Russian foreign policy decisions, such as efforts to save or protect jobs? Or do such concerns matter strictly for their political effects, with no little or no separate role for economic imperatives beyond personal enrichment?
Rather than trying to answer harder questions like these, Stoner sets herself an easy task in stating that her final chapter argues that “it is unlikely that another leader [other than Putin] would have responded to the set of problems facing the country in precisely the same way.” Who could possibly disagree with the assertion that another leader would not handle Russia’s foreign policy exactly as Russia’s current president has? Only Putin is Putin.
The second flaw in the book’s attempt to explain Russian conduct is that Stoner privileges some historical events and misses others or, alternatively, avoids key aspects of the events she describes. This is especially problematic in the book’s limited exploration of the 1990s and in its discussion of NATO enlargement and Russia’s policy toward Ukraine, including its seizure of Crimea and later intervention.
Stoner does not explore Boris Yeltsin’s growing authoritarianism and patronalism or his turn toward an increasingly assertive foreign policy during the late 1990s. Indeed, “Russia Resurrected” explicitly refers to the Russian president’s powers under the country’s constitution and Yeltsin’s political battles with Russia’s parliament without acknowledging that Yeltsin rewrote the constitution to secure those powers after forcibly disbanding the Supreme Soviet in October 1993. This was a decisive event not only in showing Yeltsin’s authoritarian side, but in facilitating Russia’s corrupt privatization processes and empowering Yetsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin. Yeltsin simultaneously created public demand for a war on Russia’s oligarchs and gave Putin the tools to wage it. Some expressed concern about Putin’s handling of corruption when he became acting president following Yeltsin’s resignation.
Stoner likewise does not study events signaling Yeltsin’s frustration with Russian-Western relations. Two notable developments were his decision to fire Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev and to appoint the harder-line Yevgeny Primakov, whom he eventually made prime minister, and his disagreements with the United States and its allies over the conflicts in former Yugoslavia. These omissions are especially unusual in that someone less determined to establish Vladimir Putin’s uniqueness, and that Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012 was a turning point, could have used them to argue that an authoritarian and corrupt Yeltsin responded to flagging public support with a less vigorous version of Putin’s later hard line.
The book’s discussion of NATO enlargement and its connection to Russia’s 2014 occupation of Crimea and semi-covert war in eastern Ukraine is similarly selective. With respect to NATO enlargement, “Russia Resurrected” evades the fact that Central European nations (including Ukraine) sought NATO membership largely due to their historically justifiable fear of Russia, and that the United States and other NATO members used this fear as leverage to press governments to liberalize their political systems as a prerequisite to and step toward membership. Washington’s well-established aims in this were to consolidate its Cold War triumph, to expand democratic governance in Europe and to hedge against Russia’s uncertain trajectory. This U.S. and NATO approach has worked less well in Ukraine because it had a large Russian minority that did not fear Moscow in the way that other regional populations did and thereby weakened efforts to define a national consensus favoring membership. More important for Stoner’s argument, untangling Russia’s opposition to NATO enlargement from its efforts to undermine democratization is not as easy as she suggests.
Stoner’s search for a defining moment in Putin’s 2012 return to the presidency—which was an important event, to be sure—is also a problem in her arguments about NATO enlargement. She appropriately cites NATO’s 2008 Budapest Summit declaration, which said that Georgia and Ukraine “will become” NATO members, as a source of concern to Russia. Yet Stoner later asserts that because Medvedev was able to cooperate with Obama on some issues, no new countries joined NATO between 2009 (Albania and Croatia) and 2014, and NATO membership had not been “a politically palatable subject in Ukraine…for a number of years,” Russia’s “grievance narrative” around Ukraine’s potential alliance membership could not be a valid explanation for Moscow’s behavior. This argument ignores both that NATO membership remained stated U.S. and NATO policy as well as the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, which most reasonable observers expected could change Kyiv’s politics, government and policy.
“Russia Resurrected” seems to argue that since Russia’s Ukraine policy didn’t work in pursuing realist objectives but did work to get Putin re-elected in 2018, the latter must be a superior explanation of Putin’s aim. This fails to account for three important (non-exclusive) possibilities: that Putin had realist objectives other than those Stoner formulates, that he underestimated the costs of his policy and overestimated what was possible in the Donbass and that domestic political gains were an expected benefit rather than a driver of policy.
For example, on the first point, Stoner claims that “if we had understood Ukraine purely as a reactive move in defense of national interests, designed to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and the EU, then it could be considered an abject failure.” Yet Ukraine has not joined the EU—it is associated, not a member, and seems unlikely to satisfy EU membership criteria while engaged in an ongoing (or frozen) conflict. Ukraine likewise appears further from NATO membership today than in 2014, in that it is a party to an unresolved territorial dispute with Russia over Crimea. The alliance has insisted that other post-Cold War aspirants resolve such disputes prior to membership, something that seems implausible so long as Putin remains in office and that is likely to be quite difficult afterward. More important for Alliance politics, those disputes were primarily among aspiring members (like Hungary and Romania) rather than with Russia.
The fundamental weakness in Stoner’s argument is that “Russia Resurrected” does not articulate a persuasive mechanism that requires Putin to select an aggressive foreign policy among his available responses to the 2012 protests or other domestic political problems.
One alternative option in 2012 could have been Putin’s approach to consolidating power in the early 2000s, that is, to wage internal political battles against unpopular opponents. Stoner refers to the Russian government’s energetic prosecution of Pussy Riot following the group’s controversial 2012 protest in Moscow’s Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior; why did Putin not do more of that, without the risks of armed conflict and Western sanctions? In a variant of this, Putin could have pursued populist economic policies and targeted pressure on Russia’s oligarchs to do more for workers, in the spirit of his public humiliation of Oleg Deripaska in 2009 following protests over unpaid wages. “Russia Resurrected” ultimately fails because it attempts to explain Russia’s behavior without setting out a rigorous model of leadership decision-making. The book works backward from outcomes to explanation rather than forward from drivers (whether political or otherwise) to decisions.
Understanding Russia’s power and the Russian leadership’s goals is a necessary task in formulating effective policy. Moreover, as Russia has become considerably more powerful over the last two decades, the stakes in accurately discerning the Kremlin’s motives have become commensurately higher. If “Russia Resurrected” approached these challenges with more care, discipline and nuance, it could have been an important work.
Washington’s ultimate goal is to reduce American military presence in the Middle East significantly, and it is unwilling to invest the time and effort required to do so responsibly.
When it comes to Iran, Israel and the United States are engaged in a peculiar discourse. On the one hand, politeness is there, so is goodwill and an open discussion. On the other, their culturally and strategically different perspectives make it impossible for the two to get down to the core issue.
US President Joe Biden wants to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state. He is even concerned with the regime’s terrorist activities and quest for regional hegemony. However, his main goal is to reduce American military presence in the Middle East significantly, and he is unwilling to invest the time and effort required to do so responsibly.
In order to stand up to the Chinese threat, Biden needs as many resources as possible, and he is looking to get those resources out of the Middle East.
The 2015 nuclear deal, which the current administration is eager to rejoin, bodes well for Iran but much less so for Israel and other Arab states that have been hurt by the Iranian regime. What we need is an economically and strategically depleted Tehran, which struggles to fund Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, its militias in Syria and Iraq, nuclear projects, advanced military developments, and global network of terrorists.
With his eagerness to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Biden is giving up his bargaining chips and leverages. Iran aims to become a nuclear threshold state to guarantee its own immunity and ability to countermeasure any attempts of thwarting its regional aspirations. Hegemony is the goal; nuclear weapons are the means.
In a way, Biden has already given the Iranians most of what they were looking for: he signaled to them and to the entire world that with its provocations, Tehran has succeeded in forcing him to rescind the sanctions imposed by the former president. With its conduct, the Biden administration has made it clear that it needs the nuclear deal more than Iran.
Tehran has already achieved some of its nuclear goals: it is clear that Washington is turning a cold shoulder and punishing the Saudis, encouraging Iran’s Houthi envoys, and insists on rejoining the JCPOA without addressing Israel’s primary concerns.
Biden has made a choice to come to terms with Iran’s gradual progress to becoming a nuclear threshold state. After Tehran succeeded in bringing the US president to the negotiating table on its own terms, it now knows how to take advantage of his eagerness for its own benefit.
Iran sought on multiple occasions in 2020 to obtain technology for its nuclear-weapons program, intelligence agencies from the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany said, according to a Fox News report on Monday.
The General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands stopped “multiple acquisition attempts,” the agency wrote in its April report.
“The joint counter-proliferation unit of the AIVD [the General Intelligence and Security Service] and the MIVD [the country’s Military Intelligence and Security Service] is investigating how countries try to obtain the knowledge and goods they need to make weapons of mass destruction. Countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea also tried to acquire such goods and technology in Europe and the Netherlands last year,” said the report.
The Swedish Security Service said in its 2020 intelligence report that Iran tried to attain technology from its country for its nuclear-weapons program.
“Iran also conducts industrial espionage, which is mainly targeted against Swedish high-tech industry and Swedish products, which can be used in nuclear weapons programs. Iran is investing heavy resources in this area, and some of the resources are used in Sweden,” the report said.
Germany’s Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency for the German state, said in its 2020 report: “Proliferation-relevant states like Iran, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan are making efforts to expand on their conventional arsenal of weapons through the production or constant modernization of weapons of mass destruction.”
The post European intel agencies find Iran sought nuclear weapons appeared first on JNS.org.
Nick Parker 22:35, 2 May 2021Updated: 22:35, 2 May 2021 Share
VLADIMIR Putin has ramped up Russia’s bid to build an “unstoppable” arsenal of superfast missiles – goading Britain into a terrifying new nuclear arms race.
The ruthless strongman has personally overseen the development of an array of hypersonic weapons which fly at up to 20 times the speed of sound.
And rising tensions stoked by his sabre-rattling bullying in Ukraine have forced Boris Johnson to U-turn on long-standing disarmament pledges for the first time in more than 30 years.
Britain’s limit on stocks of our ageing Trident nuclear warheads are to be ramped up from 180 to 260.
But experts say the planned £10billion rearmament – ordered as 10,000 UK troops are set to be axed to the lowest manpower levels in 300 years – will do nothing to deter Putin.
And his weaponry appears to be light years ahead of his rivals’ amid soaring tension and uncertainty in the face of the Covid crisis and vicious trade wars.
Here is a terrifying snapshot of the latest additions to Russia’s awesome armoury.
The Avangard missile system can strike any target in the world in less than 30 minutes The Avangard missile system can strike any target in the world in less than 30 minutes Missile system with a hypersonic glide vehicle which strikes “like a meteorite” and is said to be unstoppable.
It moves at 20 times the speed of sound and can strike any target in the world in less than 30 minutes.
Burevestnik can deliver nuclear warheads anywhere around the globe Burevestnik can deliver nuclear warheads anywhere around the globe THIS low-flying stealth cruise missile is said to be incapable of interception and can deliver nuclear warheads anywhere around the globe.
Putin says it has “unlimited range”.
Its name means “Storm-bringer.”
The Uran-9 unmanned tank is designed for destroying enemy vehicles and features rocket flame throwers The Uran-9 unmanned tank is designed for destroying enemy vehicles and features rocket flame throwers WAR-TESTED in Syria, the Uran-9 unmanned tank is remote-controlled with a 30mm cannon and anti-tank guided missiles.
It is designed for destroying enemy vehicles and also features rocket flame throwers.
The Zircon missile is Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in a nuclear war The Zircon missile is Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in a nuclear war MISSILE with a top speed of more than 6,100mph is Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in a nuclear war.
He saw one tested for him at a launch laid on for him “as a birthday treat ”.
The Kinzhal missile flies at ten times the speed of sound The Kinzhal missile flies at ten times the speed of sound THE name means dagger.
The missile flies at ten times the speed of sound, has a range of 1,250 miles and Moscow boasts it has no match in the West.
Ten aircraft with Kinzhals have been on duty in southern Russia.
Poseidon is an atomic-powered underwater drone deployed as a giant nuclear-capable torpedo Poseidon is an atomic-powered underwater drone deployed as a giant nuclear-capable torpedo AN atomic-powered underwater drone deployed as a giant nuclear-capable torpedo.
It moves through the sea at 125mph using a top secret propulsion system and is said to be lethal against aircraft carriers.
Satan 2 is the biggest beast in Russia’s nuclear arsenal Satan 2 is the biggest beast in Russia’s nuclear arsenal BIGGEST beast in Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
188-tonne missile has an 11,000-mile range, can evade the United States’ defence shield and is capable of destroying an area the size of England and Wales.
Kalashnikov guided missile
The new Kalashnikov guided missile destroys low-flying aircraft, helicopters and drones The new Kalashnikov guided missile destroys low-flying aircraft, helicopters and drones THE new 9M333 guided missile destroys low-flying aircraft, helicopters and drones.
It finds targets without additional missile guidance after launch or being in their line of sight.
Russia’s unique ‘flying and swimming tank’ is undergoing tests Russia’s unique ‘flying and swimming tank’ is undergoing tests RUSSIA’S unique ‘flying and swimming tank’ is undergoing tests.
Video shows the lightweight vehicle blasting targets from the water, giving Russian forces a key edge on Nato rivals in Europe.
Stealth drone Okhotnik can fly from Moscow to London and back on a single mission Stealth drone Okhotnik can fly from Moscow to London and back on a single mission THE Okhotnik – meaning Hunter – is said to be virtually undetectable and can fly from Moscow to London and back on a single mission.
It can be a spy in the sky or fire missiles working with an Su-30SM fighter jet.
Chemical experts are developing a more deadly form of Novichok Chemical experts are developing a more deadly form of Novichok CHEMICAL experts are developing a more deadly form of Novichok.
Putin was said to have been furious that the nerve agent failed to kill Sergei Skripal in the 2018 Salisbury poisoning.
Russia’s newest fifth generation Su-57 stealth fighter is viewed as one of the most lethal warplanes ever built Russia’s newest fifth generation Su-57 stealth fighter is viewed as one of the most lethal warplanes ever built Russia’s newest fifth generation Su-57 stealth fighter is designed to carry the Kinzhal hypersonic missile.
Viewed as one of the most lethal warplanes ever built.
A total of 67 Su-57s are due to be delivered by 2028.