Hamas Warns Israel: ‘Destiny Is Death If You Enter Gaza’
A Hamas military drill in the Gaza Strip in March 2018. Photo: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.
JNS.org – The Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, produced a video showing its fighters preparing for war in underground tunnels its members have built to infiltrate the border with Israel.
According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the video ended with a caption in Hebrew and Arabic that reads: “Your destiny is death if you enter Gaza.”
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The video was posted on Twitter. It shows Hamas fighters in the tunnels getting ready to fire rockets.
On Saturday, Hamas called on Palestinians to go to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem the next day—Sunday, May 15, “Nakba Day,” which Palestinians mark as a “catastrophe” due to the establishment of modern-day Israel in 1948.
The terror group also warned Jews against visiting the site, which is holy to Islam and Judaism, on Sunday.
“It’s like he goes somewhere else,” said his grandmother, Manar, in the living room of the boy’s uncle’s house, where he now lives. “His whole family is gone, for nothing.”
Ouf spent 12 hours under the collapsed building, his arm around the body of his 12-year-old sister, Tala. His brother Tawfik, 17, remained alive for several hours; they talked to each other in the darkness, choking on rubble dust. Tawfik told him that their mother, Reem, was dead; before rescue teams could reach them, Tawfik too died from his injuries. Their father, Ayman, an internal medicine specialist at Gaza’s main hospital, was also killed in the attack.
The 11-day conflict last May between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, left Ouf totally alone. A year on, the teenager still suffers from nerve problems in his right arm and leg. He is trying to rebuild his life, he said, but still can’t make sense of what happened.
“Ramadan and Eid this year were very hard. I miss them every day. I didn’t think my life would be like this,” he said. “I don’t go out much. Sometimes my friends come see me here, but we have all got to study now. The only hobby I have since the incident is crying.”
Ouf is now living with his uncle’s family, not far from his old home on al-Wehda Street, a busy thoroughfare filled with apartment blocks, shops and cafes where 44 people were killed in the Israeli strike on 16 May last year. The attack was the single deadliest incident in the conflict, which left 256 Palestinians in Gaza and 14 people in Israel dead.
The Israel Defence Forces said the civilian deaths on Wedha Street were “unintended”, caused by the collapse of the underground foundations of a targeted Hamas military structure which brought down the housing blocks on the street above. Rights groups such as Amnesty International have said that the incident may constitute a war crime.
A year later, just 5% of the 1,000 housing units, roads and other infrastructure destroyed by the bombardment of the Gaza Strip have been rebuilt, according to the Hamas housing ministry.
Much UN and other funding from external donors is often held up in lengthy diplomatic talks or impeded by the Israeli and Egyptian authorities, which have blockaded the area since the Islamist group seized control in 2007. The de facto siege has led to a collapsed https://andrewtheprophet.comhealthcare system, poisoned Gaza’s water, and leaves the small area’s two million inhabitants struggling to cope with rolling power cuts.
The rubble from the last round of fighting may have been cleared, but gaping holes and sandy lots strewn with rubbish remain, a daily reminder of the lives and homes lost. On a poster hanging opposite Ouf’s destroyed home, the faces of three children killed in the last round of hostilities, in 2014, also peer down on passers-by.
Tensions between Hamas and Israel are on the rise again. The militant group’s leaders have praised a recent spate of terrorist attacks targeting Israelis that have left 19 people dead, and urged Palestinian citizens of Israel and those living in the occupied West Bank to carry out more attacks. Hamas has also threatened another all-out war if recent clashes at Jerusalem’s Aqsa mosque compound continue.
In response, Israeli officials have reportedly relayed a warning to Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ top leader inside Gaza, that his latest speeches inciting terrorism give Israel the freedom to respond militarily.
Israel closed the only frontier crossing to most of the 12,000 Palestinians in Gaza with permission to work outside for two weeks, and Israeli media have reported that the government is considering restricting their numbers in future.
The loss of income has added to the daily misery in a place where a whole generation has now grown up trapped in the overcrowded, polluted coastal enclave: unemployment in Gaza is running at about 50%, and workers commuting to Israel are worried that they will no longer be able to bring home $1.5m in collective earnings each day.
Ouf, who has already lost everything, says he doesn’t care if there is another war. He hopes to leave Gaza one day – maybe to study abroad – but the future is too overwhelming to think about.
“It’s hard to express all the things I feel,” he said. “I was going to work hard, celebrate my exam results, go to university … I wanted to make my father proud of me. But instead, I am alone.”
Meanwhile, Hamas on Saturday condemned Israeli settler calls to storm the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem, describing the move as a “dangerous escalation.”
“The calls to storm Al-Aqsa, on the anniversary of the Nakba, are a dangerous escalation, and a provocation to the sentiments of our people and our nation,” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said in a statement.
He warned that the settler provocations will trigger “an open clash that the Zionist occupation (Israel) will be fully responsible for its consequences.”
Settler groups have called on supporters to force their way into the Al-Aqsa complex on Sunday, which coincides with the Palestinian Nakba Day.
Qassem described the recurring setter incursions into Al-Aqsa complex as “desperate attempts that will not succeed in imposing a fait accompli and changing the facts of history that Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic.”
He also called on the Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and in Israel to head to Al-Aqsa Mosque to “thwart the plans of the occupation.”
Tensions have been running high across the occupied Palestinian territories since last month amid repeated Israeli arrest campaigns in the West Bank and settler incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.
Palestine condemns E. Jerusalem cable car project
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry on Sunday condemned an Israeli court decision to approve a cable car project in the occupied East Jerusalem.
A ministry statement termed the cable car project as “an integral part of Israel’s Judaization campaign in Jerusalem with a view to eroding its Palestinian, Islamic and Christian identity.”
“The court decision is another proof that the court system is part of the Israeli occupation to serve its settlement and Judaization plans,” the ministry said.
It went on to appeal to the U.S. administration and the international community to pile pressure on Israel to halt the project in the occupied city.
Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday rejected petitions against the construction of the project, which extends over 1.4 kilometers from the Mount of Olives area, adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City, to the Al-Maghariba Gate, one of the Old City’s main gates near Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A United States Naval Institute (USNI) report argues commercial satellite photos show China’s People’s Liberation Army is developing a disturbing new military capability: hypersonic missiles that can identify and hit warships sitting idle in their home ports.
It’s a scenario with shades of Japan’s devastating December 7, 1941, surprise assault on Pearl Harbor.
This satellite image, taken last year, shows the profile of a US Navy guided missile destroyer stamped in the middle of the Taklamakan Desert missile test range. Source: Maxar Technologies.
Since then, the target range has reportedly expanded.
Two new targets have since appeared – and been erased.
These depicted the same sketchy scene: a warship mixed among the angular lines of a harbour’s infrastructure.
One bears the scar of an enormous impact crater in a “bullseye” on its hull.
It’s a threat the US is well aware of.
“The Chinese know very well that US satellites are monitoring and would eventually see these efforts,” US think-tank Defense Priorities director Lyle Goldstein recently told the military news service Stars and Stripes. “The Chinese leadership has made it clear in a variety of ways that they are developing the military capabilities to severely damage the US Navy.”
And Beijing appears to be working hard to tilt the odds in its favour.
The threat won’t be from aircraft carriers. Modern satellite and over-the-horizon surveillance technology negate this.
Instead, a surprise attack may come via hypersonic guided missiles – capable of flying to Hawaii from mainland China within minutes. And once they get there, their AI guidance systems will be able to find their predetermined targets.
The “piers” were represented by geometric arrangements of sheets of an unknown material laid out on the desert sands.
The “ships” were metal plates positioned among these “distractions”.
Their purpose could be to train and test guidance systems.
Notably, the target range is close to another previously used to test the development of its “carrier killer” DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles in 2013. Its latest weapon, the DF-17, carries a hypersonic glide vehicle that can manoeuvre along an unpredictable trajectory towards an unwitting target.
Travelling faster than 6200km/h, China’s expansive arsenal of hypersonic ballistic missiles will have mere moments to recognise the shape of a warship among the clutter of a dockyard.
A Chinese testing facility with a scale replica of a US Navy amphibious assault ship, bottom left, placed on a rail system to provide a moving target for missile targeting. Source: Maxar Technologies.
“Modern targeting sensors are typically connected to artificial intelligence, allowing the missile to discern targets and choose the intended or highest-value option,” Mr Sutton writes.
If the visible impact craters are any indication, they now appear to be capable of doing so.
China has spent decades developing “carrier killer” hypersonic missiles.
Their purpose is to prevent the US Navy from intervening in the western Pacific.
Maximum missile range. Picture: Department of Defence.
But recent advances – as demonstrated by a highly unusual orbital payload deployment in June last year – suggest facilities in Hawaii and even San Diego will soon be vulnerable to these ultra-fast, non-nuclear weapons.
Armed and ready
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) argues that Beijing’s recent military doctrine and technology developments indicate a disturbing trend.
“Changes to China’s postures and technologies indicate that its concept and practice of ‘active defence’ may be converging with more forward-leaning and even pre-emptive ‘proactive defence’,” the report reads.
Active defence is defined as preparing to defend from a surprise attack.
Proactive defence is a euphemism for preparing to launch a pre-emptive, surprise attack.
The report says that the aggressive policy shift can be seen in new anti-satellite weaponry, expanded intercontinental ballistic missile silos, hypersonic missile-carrying bombers, and attack submarines.
“Over the past few years, China has displayed a wide range of advances in military capabilities and infrastructure, including its test of a hypersonic glide vehicle coupled with a fractional orbital bombardment system,” reads the report.
The US insists it will never forget the pre-emptive attack on Pearl Harbor. War had not been declared.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan,” President Franklin Roosevelt announced to his stunned nation.
The Russian anti-aircraft cruiser Moskova appears to have been unable to defend itself from two subsonic cruise missiles. The ability of modern warships to protect themselves against hypersonic glide vehicles remains in doubt.
Late last year, the Pentagon acting director of combat testing warned the US Navy’s unproven defensive systems were “creating an unacceptable risk in our ability to evaluate the operational effectiveness and survivability of future ships in combat.”
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, now subject to Beijing’s oppressive media control laws, quotes Yuan Wang military science and technology institute researcher Zhou Chenming saying, “The PLA will not take pre-emptive strikes in peacetime.”
“China’s missiles, including the DF-21 carrier-killer and other weapons, were all designed for deterring and denying foreign military intervention in case of a Taiwan contingency, which will only happen if Taipei formally declares independence.”
China benefits as the US loses its way under President Biden
A 12 March photo of President Joe Biden holding a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. ANI
Joe Biden sends $55 billion to the most corrupt country in Europe, Ukraine, while Americans can’t feed their families.
During the past decade, plutocrats, pay-to-play political elites, and their dishonest media partners have deployed fear-based propaganda and psychological operations campaigns to sow seeds of discord that facilitate control and obedience over the population. The campaign’s objective: to deflect attention away from the most significant economic plunder and wealth transfer in history. The crisis campaigns included: the dot com crisis, housing crisis, great financial crisis, a global pandemic, unlawful lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and medical tyranny. The campaign results: The highest inflation in history. Policies that accelerated food and energy prices and amplified supply chain disruptions making shortages commonplace across America. The evisceration of middle-class America to ensure their dependency on big government. “Let’s take out Putin; there is no off-ramp”—US Senator Lindsey Graham’s reckless and irresponsible rhetoric this week accomplished two things: 1. He increased Russophobia; and 2. he greatly increased the probability of nuclear World War III where Europe and the UK are destroyed first. Like Graham, Washington DC swamp rats, owned by the military-industrial complex (“MIC”), are the problem. He should resign or be voted out. Who wins? China. In 1961, President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial-complex. The US has wasted over $6 trillion in taxpayer dollars on military adventurism that no one voted for. These actions have made the world less safe. The US has failed at any successful military deterrence since 1945. The West cannot win a war in Ukraine. Therefore, a corrupt Ukraine is of no strategic significance to the US, UK, or EU. Why are we risking a nuclear WWIII with Russia, with over 6,000 nuclear warheads and hypersonic missiles that the West cannot defend against? All voters are against a nuclear war. Have sanctions ever worked? No. Russia’s currency is higher and its current account has surged to record highs. Unfortunately,Nuland/Milley/Austin’s dangerous assumptions have grossly underestimated the resolve of the bloc that has joined Russia: China, Iran, Brazil, UAE, Saudi, and several additional Asian and African nations. The world is no longer unipolar. Despite Biden’s tone-deaf elites’ denial, the world has “transitioned” into multi-polarity. What sanctions have done: signalled the death of the petro-dollar and end of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency within five years. The US could have prevented the Ukraine/Russia war by forcing Ukraine to de-escalate immediately and settle with Russia. Simply denying Ukraine NATO membership and provisional weapons guarantees would have saved lives and prevented this war. The dishonest political soundbite “we are saving democracy” is false on its face; Ukraine was never a democracy. Instead, the likely objective is to forcibly transition democracy into a hybrid socialism, fascism, and Marxism. General Mark Milley and heavily conflictedDefense Secretary Lloyd Austin are running a proxy war between Russia, its partners and the West. Austin and Milley were defeated in the $2.5 trillion Afghanistan war by farmers in pickup trucks. NATO and the West need to heed Putin’swarningsandtakehisredlinesseriously.
Biden and Victoria Nuland’s MIC have based their military strategy on “media propaganda and wishful thinking,” neither of which are viable combat plans capable of defeating a nuclear-armed Russia with hypersonic missiles. Who benefits from an unwinnable WWIII or conflict with Russia? The MIC and China. Who suffers? The people of Ukraine, with their lives, and the USA, UK, and EU taxpayers. How did we get here? Forty years of failed neo-liberal policies and endless wars cost lives and trillions of taxpayer dollars: reckless central bank money printing and the worldwide fiscal profligacy of our pay-to-play politicians have allowed the MIC to prosper. For these reasons, the most significant global financial crisis in history is now unavoidable. Democratic party leaders, Hillary and Bill Clinton’s decades of deceptive practices were influenced by extremist Saul Alinsky. The Clintons excelled at creating diversions. The Clintons’ gold medal: Loudly accuse others of precisely what they were guilty of.
In 2009, a cultural revolution began in the USA. Obama/Biden breathlessly hyped this as “the transformation of America.” Unfortunately for America, Obama’s transformation directly began an attack on democratic institutions, due process, the rule of law, culture, religion, free speech, liberty, and the nuclear family.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton, the democratic party, FBI, CIA, and DOJ perpetuated the false Russiagate narrative that they dragged out for four years. Their oligarchs’ partners in Silicon Valley unlawfully influenced the results of the 2020 election by censoring factual reporting on the Biden family crime syndicate, Hunter Biden’s laptop Ukraine.
In 2020, Nina Jankowicz promoted the misinformation and false claims regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop being “Russian disinformation” and Trump’s involvement with Russia. Jankowicz now runs Biden’s personal Stasi, a Ministry of Truth that would make Joseph Gobbles and George Orwell blush. With the unlawful appointment of Jankowicz, Biden has created a “China-style social credit system” to “protect the public from misinformation and misinformation.” Jankowicz will now weaponize the Department of Homeland Security and Silicon Valley to conduct a great purge while imposing mass censorship of all political opposition. Biden’s authoritarian power grab is the most significant existential threat to liberty, freedom, and democracy in America’s history.
Joe Biden promised America “unity.” As of May 2022, what has Biden delivered?
America’s greatest division and tribalism in our lifetime. Eye-watering inflation. An economy on the brink of collapse. Broken supply chains that caused widespread food and energy scarcity. Millions of illegal aliens and drug smugglers are invading the USA’s open southern borders with impunity. Violent crime and drug related deaths are surging, and America’s two-tiered judicial system is dysfunctional. Biden has not provided any solutions. Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki endorsed the unlawful violation of US Federal Law by doxing and intimidation of US Supreme Court Justices by stating, “We certainly continue to encourage protests outside the homes of SCOTUS justices.” Biden’s inability to win majority mandates with “free and fair elections at the ballot box to transform America” has unmasked uncomfortable truths: 1. The extremist left turns to mob-rule violence, Antifa, BLM, or by any means necessary including violence, to ensure they get their way, and 2. the democratic process is broken.
Who funded the 2020 murders, arson, looting, and violent riots, causing $10 billion in damage across America? Why were these crimes not prosecuted? Since 2021, Biden’s divisive rhetoric has divided and polarized over fifty per cent of America. This week, Joe Biden stated the MAGA organisation is the“most extreme political organisation that’s existed in recent American history” When people are hungry, everything changes very quickly. Biden’s record inflation is preventing Americans from providing for their families. No Americans want a nuclear WWIII or endless war expenses similar to the $2.5 trillion wasted on the Afghanistan disaster. Biden is sending $55 billion to the most corrupt country in Europe while giving the middle finger to middle America. Biden has done nothing to resolve America’s problems. Instead, Biden’s open border policy has allowed 2,000,000 illegal aliens and drug dealers to invade America with impunity, accelerating violent crime and 300 drug overdose deaths per day.
While Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi shriek about Ukraine’s borders being sacrosanct, they have done nothing to protect America’s borders; and voters will remember this in November. While China and Russia are laughing at America’s woke age of rage addiction, many fear America has lost its way. The extreme left has abandoned due process and the rule of law in favour of mob-rule, socialism, and Marxism. This will not end well. Who benefits? China.
Mitchell Feierstein is CEO, Glacier Environmental Fund.
“He asked lots of questions,” said the official who led the briefing, the Indo-Pacific Co-ordinator in Biden’s National Security Council, Kurt Campbell. “He wanted to be convinced.”
The Australians were asking for the crown jewels in the national security vault, one of America’s remaining decisive advantages over China. The US had shared its nuclear sub secrets with only one nation, Britain, in 1958. Much had changed since.
AUKUS announcement: Scott Morrison at the virtual joint press conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden. AAPnone
The transformational power of nuclear-propelled subs is that they could allow Australia to pose a direct threat to the Chinese mainland. For the first time. It had come to that.
With unlimited range because they never need to refuel, and with vertical launch tubes for firing missiles, a nuclear-propelled submarine could stand off China’s coast and threaten it with cruise missiles.
Australia’s existing fleet of submarines, the six diesel-powered Collins class, is equipped with torpedo tubes only. Which means it can fire torpedoes at targets in the water but not missiles at targets on land.
But it had been a 40-year fantasy of Australian governments to get American nuclear propulsion. Canberra had been turned down every time. Indeed, no earlier request had even reached the president’s desk. The US Nuclear Navy, guardians of the technology, had ruled it out of the question.
On the positive side of the ledger, the top consideration was that it would help counter China. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has the advantage over the US in warfighting on and above the ocean. Arming an ally with nuclear-powered subs would help blunt China’s edge.
Nuclear-propelled submarines “are fast, they have stamina, they bring a whole spectrum of weapons, and if you are China, how are Australian and US forces working together?” poses the former chief of US Naval Operations, retired Admiral Jonathan Greenert.
“You don’t know their sovereign decisions. Your imagination is your biggest nightmare – what could they be doing? They can reposition fast, 25 knots [46km/h] for a full day. If an adversary says, ‘I’ve got a detection of a nuclear sub’, great – when? Two days ago. Then you draw a circle on the map and see where it might be. It’s a big circle.”
The US today has 68 submarines, all nuclear-powered. China has an estimated 76 subs, of which 12 are nuclear-powered. But the US fleet is shrinking as it retires older subs faster than it can build new ones. China’s nuclear-powered fleet is expanding. The AUKUS agreement aims to help Australia acquire eight.
Second, it would cement the alliance with Australia. Just a few years earlier, many in the US foreign policy community including Campbell had tipped Australia to be the ally most vulnerable to China’s influence, that it would “flip” and align with Beijing.
Third, it would help the US to deter China’s expansion through the Indo-Pacific. It would signal US commitment to the region and to US allies, reassuring other Indo-Pacific nations who might be doubting American staying power. “The president said, ‘this could be quite powerful’,” according to an official who was present.
But on the other side of the ledger, Biden himself raised four big concerns with the Australian request. First was nuclear proliferation. Since the deal with Britain in 1958, Washington, London and Canberra, among others, had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If we give the Australians this technology, won’t we be in breach of the treaty, Biden wanted to know?
Second was the response from China. How will Beijing react if we agree to this? Will it provoke Xi Jinping into accelerating his own naval build-up, into getting more aggressive?
Third was Australia’s capability. Would the Australian political system be capable of bipartisan commitment for the decades required? Is Australian politics stable enough? Could Australia afford the price tag?
Fourth, would the US Nuclear Navy be prepared to deliver? This had been the obstacle to every other Australian inquiry. This elite priesthood is the guardian of the fast, stealthy, underwater Doomsday machines that are America’s last line of defence.
America’s nuclear warfighting is structured on a “triad” – ground-based, airborne and undersea forces. The ground-based and airborne forces are the most vulnerable to enemy attack. But even if these are destroyed in a surprise first strike by an enemy, its nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed subs are designed to survive, undetected in the dark depths, to deliver annihilation to the enemy. By guaranteeing “second strike” capability, they deter any adversary from even thinking about launching a first.
Australia was not asking for nuclear weapons; it was content to arm its subs with conventional missiles. And Canberra was not so much concerned about nuclear Armageddon. Australia has entrusted that responsibility to the US, sheltering under America’s nuclear “umbrella”. Australia was feeling threatened by China and wanted the capacity to threaten it in return.
As the discussion around the White House table unfolded last year, other concerns emerged. The group included Secretary of State Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley.
What if we attempt this three-way agreement with Australia and Britain and it fails? The credibility of all three nations would be damaged. Have the Australians consulted fully with the French about their contract? Do we risk alienating one ally to gratify another?
The meeting broke up without a decision and with big questions needing to be answered. In the meantime, Australia had a contract with Paris – and French President Emmanuel Macron was deeply invested in it.
“Ambition”. That was the one-word brief that Macron personally gave his ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thébault, when he sent him to Canberra in 2020. The president urged his ambassador to be ambitious and imaginative in expanding the relationship. The submarines were to be the strategic anchor, evidence of shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is code for resisting China’s expansionism.
Macron thoroughly charmed Australia’s previous defence minister, Linda Reynolds, for instance. He made sure she was invited to the launch of the first of France’s newest class of nuclear-powered submarines, the Barracuda, in the Normandy seaside city of Cherbourg, in 2019. He arranged for her to tour the sub’s interior, which she found impressively spacious, with no head-ducking required.
As Macron pressed a ceremonial launch lever, it illuminated a video art installation designed to evoke the sights and sounds of the ocean along the sub’s sides. “You,” Macron addressed the workers who’d built the boat, “are building the independence of France. It’s our very status as a great global power.”
L’Express newspaper had hailed Australia’s order for 12 diesel-powered French submarines, nicknamed the shortfin Barracuda and also known as the Attack Class, as “the contract of the century”. Malcolm Turnbull’s government had put the deal in place and in February 2019 while Scott Morrison presided over the formal signing of the Strategic Partnering Agreement to allow it to proceed.
In France, national pride and national honour were engaged, not to mention French economics – it was the biggest defence export contract France had signed, and the biggest Australian acquisition. The contract value was $50 billion but adjustments for inflation and extras took the total deal to at least $90 billion.
Macron’s charm soon wore off. Reynolds found herself in a ritual quarterly exchange with her French counterpart, Florence Parly. “She’d begin each meeting by telling me what her department had told her. Then I’d have to tell her, no, this is the situation, and I’d start unpacking it,” Reynolds told colleagues.
Thoroughly charmed: French President Emmanuel Macron made sure then defence minister Linda Reynolds, seen here with her French counterpart Florence Parly, was invited to the launch of the first of France’s newest class of nuclear-powered submarines, the Barracuda, in Cherbourg in 2019. Abacanone
This was the frustration phase of the contract with the builder, Naval Group, the new name for the state-owned shipbuilder founded four centuries ago by the famed strategist and prime minister, Cardinal Richelieu, who, incidentally, was the inventor of the table knife. He wanted France to muscle up to English naval power and the enterprise was born.
But in early 2020, only a year after the deal was signed, the Australian National Audit Office reported that the design phase was running nine months late. It could not verify that the initial outlay of nearly $400 million had been spent effectively, it said. And it revealed that the government’s expert submarine advisory group had questioned the viability of the whole plan at its very earliest phase.
“Alarm bells are ringing,” said the only former submariner in parliament, South Australia’s independent Senator Rex Patrick. The government, he said, should consider a Plan B.
Reynolds defended the French deal in public: “The first Attack Class submarine is scheduled for delivery to the Royal Australian Navy in 2032. The Australian National Audit Office report confirmed there has been no change to this delivery timeframe or budget.”
But in private Reynolds agreed with Patrick and the other sceptics: French Defence Minister Florence Parly “was working with us in good faith, but I started to discuss with the PM, ‘is there an alternative if this falls over’?”
Within six months of winning the May 2019 election, Scott Morrison was worried enough to tell Macron personally of his growing concerns. He was frustrated with the time it was taking, the difficulties with design and the lack of responsiveness. Morrison relayed this to Macron, who replied: “Keep me informed.”
Towards the end of 2019, Morrison started to ask his closest advisers about fallback options, including nuclear-propelled ones. They told him of the joyless history of Australian requests for nuclear propulsion and that the likelihood of getting the technology from the US or Britain was “very, very low”. And they warned him that Australia would need a civil nuclear industry. Without one, it couldn’t maintain the nuclear reactors that drive the boats. On March 19, 2020, two months after the Audit Office report, the prime minister took the first formal step towards exploring contingencies.
Secretly, he asked the secretary of the Defence Department, Greg Moriarty, for a discussion paper about all the options, including nuclear-propelled ones. He had the result within a fortnight.
The next month, Macron replaced the global chief executive of Naval Group, a step applauded in Canberra. The new boss, Pierre Eric Pommellet, was considered more amenable to Australia’s concerns. The prime minister felt encouraged that Macron was making an effort to get the deal back on track.
Morrison decided to take the next step regardless. In May, 2020, he asked Moriarty and the military co-leader of the Defence Department, Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, to form a small, expert group to see whether it was feasible for Australia to acquire and operate nuclear-powered subs. The top-secret exercise was led by the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan.
It came back with the conclusion that it was potentially feasible, but on two conditions. One, it was only possible with the help of the US, Britain or both. This was the only way Australia could operate nuclear-powered subs without setting up a civil nuclear industry to support them.
America and Britain use highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium to run their subs’ reactors. That means the reactors don’t need refuelling for the life of the boat itself, some 30 years.
Two, the same consideration ruled out the French nuclear-propelled sub, the big Barracudas Macron had launched so proudly, as an option. The French use low-enriched uranium, meaning their reactors need to be refuelled every decade or so in a lengthy process called full-cycle docking. This would keep the Australian fleet permanently dependent on Paris.
Moriarty’s opinion was that this would not be a sovereign Australian capability. Unless Australia started its own civil nuclear industry to refuel and maintain the reactors, something which Morrison would not countenance.
Tantalised, Morrison immediately asked Defence to contact the Pentagon to test its assumptions. Through a series of secure video conferences between the Pentagon and Defence’s headquarters on Russell Hill, the US Navy gave a guarded endorsement, summarised by an Australian official: “There’s nothing in your thinking that’s completely implausible”. But there was no enthusiasm from the Americans and certainly no commitment to help.
For the prime minister, this was a “game changer” nonetheless, as he’s described it to colleagues. The revelation: It was possible to have a nuclear-powered attack submarine, or SSN as navies call it, without needing to service the reactor.
To now, Morrison had briefed only two members of his cabinet, Linda Reynolds and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne. But now that he envisaged raising the idea with the American president and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he decided to widen the circle.
When he briefed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, he met an enthusiastic response. He remarked that the politics in the three capitals of Washington, London and Canberra seemed to be in alignment. “You could never do this deal with (the former leader of British Labour) Jeremy Corbyn,” said Frydenberg. “When a gate like this opens, you go through it.”
But what of the multibillion-dollar cost of cancelling the French deal and the far greater cost of building SSNs? “Everything is affordable if it’s a priority,” was the treasurer’s attitude. “This is a priority.”
Morrison then took it to the National Security Committee of his cabinet. This is the overarching mechanism for co-ordinating defence and security and includes top officials and ministers responsible for defence, foreign affairs, home affairs and intelligence. It gave Morrison the green light to take it further. “It was a high level of secrecy because there was no guarantee we could pull it off,” Morrison told colleagues. He didn’t want to disrupt progress with the French toward a conventional sub in case he failed with the Anglo American nuclear option, and end up with neither.
Morrison kept it so tight that the PM’s personal permission was required before any official could be brought into the charmed circle, a top civil servant explained. “So if anything leaked, you knew you’d be personally accountable to the PM himself,” said the official.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Rear-Admiral Jonathan Mead during a Senate estimates hearing. Mead was a crucial choice to lead the pursuit of SSNs. Alex Ellinghausennone
Donald Trump lost the US election around this time. Morrison decided it was pointless to approach the outgoing president, but he would pursue the incoming one at the first opportunity.
In the meantime, Morrison wanted to see what the Brits might be able to offer. In February 2021, Defence made contact with Whitehall. The British Navy was encouraging but non-committal.
In the same month, Linda Reynolds instructed the ADF’s General Campbell to advise the government on how to give Australia strike power. It was part of the government’s awakening to Australia’s strategic puniness against its great rival, China.
Australia then, and now, had no long-range strike capability whatsoever. None on land, none in the air force, none in the navy. The ADF was set up for counterinsurgency wars as part of a US alliance like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and low-level conflict in the Pacific Islands like the missions in East Timor and the Solomons, but was unprepared for high-intensity warfighting with a capable nation state.
Reynolds tasked the Capability Enhancement Review with recommending the strike power Australia needed. One part was to be the nuclear subs project. Campbell made a crucial choice by appointing Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, a one-time clearance diver with a PhD on Indonesia and merit awards for skippering 186 Persian Gulf boardings in six months of the Iraq war in 2005, to lead the pursuit of SSNs.
Eventually, the moment arrived for Australia’s first approach to the Biden White House. Mid-pandemic, there had been very few openings to allow travel between Canberra and Washington. And this proposal was considered too sensitive for anything but face-to-face discussion.
In May 2021, the moment came. The director-general of Australia’s peak intelligence assessment agency, the Office of National Intelligence, Andrew Shearer, was planning a routine visit to Washington to consult with his US counterparts. He’d been briefed on the nuclear subs project. Would you like me to broach it with the White House, he asked the prime minister? Morrison agreed. Shearer managed to sidestep the Russian roulette of Australia’s vaccine rollout with the help of doctors at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
When the softly spoken Australian spy walked into the West Wing of the White House, his American interlocutors knew only that he wanted to discuss a matter of “the utmost sensitivity”. He walked into the ornate, chandeliered office of the National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, with only one other person present, Kurt Campbell, one of Sullivan’s senior staff and Biden’s Indo-Pacific co-ordinator.
Shearer and Campbell had known each other for decades. He explained what Australia wanted. “As China’s capability advances, we need to have submarines capable of meeting it. We need to be able to operate without the risk of easy detection by the Chinese,” Shearer said, according to the participants.
Top spy: National intelligence chief Andrew Shearer broached the plan with the White House in April 2021. Louie Douvisnone
Shearer told the Americans that the Coalition government had chosen the French diesel-powered option when it expected to be contesting the waters in its near neighbourhood and dealing with low-level threats. But “the security circumstances have changed dramatically and the only way we can remain strategically relevant in highly contested circumstances is if we have the ability to launch cruise missiles over long distances”.
My sources didn’t put it quite this bluntly, but everyone in the room understood that this was about Australia acquiring the power to pose a direct threat to China’s forces and the Chinese mainland.
Sullivan and Campbell immediately were interested. Biden has described the US rivalry with China as “the competition for the 21st century”. With this request, Australia was choosing sides emphatically.
Campbell told me afterwards: “What most countries do when grappling with relevance, when risks and costs are enormous, is they just opt out. Australia chose relevance.” It was “a bold and important idea”.
Shearer emphasised that Australia had no intention of developing a civil nuclear industry or developing nuclear weapons. He said that Canberra was satisfied it could operate the subs while preserving Australia’s strong record on nuclear non-proliferation.
Sullivan and Campbell had lots of questions about Australian technological, personnel and financial capacity but the potential killer at this threshold meeting was Australian politics. “We asked lots of questions about politics,” said Campbell. “Would this be contentious? Would this hold?”
Bipartisan political commitment, Labor and Liberal, was a prerequisite, the Americans said. “This would be a military marriage. It would have to hold over decades.”
President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in April last year with (from left) his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Kurt Campbell, coordinator for the Indo-Pacific on the National Security Council. APnone
Shearer’s reply was that, though the government hadn’t had the conversation with Labor, “public debate about the threat had changed significantly and there was a pretty strong bipartisan agreement with the Left on the security environment in Australia”.
At the close of the meeting, Sullivan told Shearer that “this will be looked at very seriously over months, not years, and we’ll try to cut through the bureaucracy”.
Shearer didn’t trust even secure communications channels to tell Morrison about the meeting, only sending him an oblique message that “the proposition had been well-received”. But when Shearer returned to Canberra he made clear to Morrison and his other colleagues that the White House had set political bipartisanship as a non-negotiable condition. “If Albo says ‘no’, the deal will be dead,” as Australia’s ambassador to Washington, Arthur Sinodinos, put it to colleagues.
The White House trusted Morrison to bring Labor in on the secret and the US made no approaches, formal or otherwise, to test Labor’s reaction. Yet the prime minister decided not to brief Labor leader Anthony Albanese for five months. He briefed him on the day before the deal was to be announced in a three-way piece of theatre with Morrison, Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden. It was high stakes on a very tight deadline.
This is part one of a two-part series by Peter Hartcher examining the AUKUS deal. The series concludes on Sunday, May 15.
Peter Hartcher is political editor and international editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
National security is a big problem for any country. Every country wants to protect itself from others. To assure the5r defence, they get weapons, train soldiers, and make allies. Many countries have intelligence agencies to further ensure their defence. But who knew that having nuclear weapons would be required for survival as well.
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In the early 1990s, Ukraine had the third biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons after the collapse of the USSR, but in 1994, Ukraine was forced to give up its nuclear arsenal in an agreement called the Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Ukraine was guaranteed that it would be protected so it handed over all its nuclear weapons to Russia in 1996 under the Budapest memorandum. Russia had promised that it would not attack Ukraine if it gave up its nuclear weapons. The USA and the European Union also guaranteed Ukraine that in case anything went wrong, they would come for its defence. And today, none of them kept their promise. Russia invaded Ukraine despite the agreement and other countries did nothing to defend Ukraine other than making official statements. So giving up nuclear weapons was a bad idea?
Before the advent of atomic weapons, it was all about resources. The more the money a country had, the more weapons and ammunition it had. Rich countries like the USA, UK, France, and the USSR were the most powerful in that regard because they had enormous budgets to buy these weapons. The rest of the world did not even bother to compete with these countries for power as they had no resources to outnumber the weapons and personnel these advanced countries had. In fact not only they had the most weapons, but they also were the manufacturers of these weapons themselves. Weak countries could only buy these weapons for their defence from each other.
Till the 1940s, the USA enjoyed the status of being the most powerful country that no one can dare to mess with. But the White House’s striving for more power continued. 1n 1945, the USA conducted nuclear tests in the New Mexican desert and became the first nuclear power of the world. It was the most powerful weapon of the world, but somehow, other rivals of the USA were not aware of the potential damage that this technology could cause. In order to show the impact of nuclear weapons to the Soviet authorities, the USA dropped two bombs on Japan within the same year that caused massive destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people.
Pakistan was under this pressure too but it did not give up. Today Pakistan is a nuclear power. It might be having severe issues but we have a guarantee that we are safe. Despite having a chaotic economy and being in political crisis, no country will dare to mess with it due to its nuclear status
The destruction was drastic and the USSR realized that this new technology can easily upset the balance regarding armaments management because no matter how many weapons a country had, it coud not beat a nuclear bomb. Till today there is no technology that can save a country from a nuclear attack. Thus the USSR In 1949, conducted nuclear tests and became the second nuclear power.
In the 20th century, having nuclear weapons became a status symbol. Every advanced country had to get nuclear weapons in order to be considered powerful. In 1952, the UK became a nuclear power while France did in 1960. China was the 5th country to test a nuclear weapon in 1964 while India joined the club in 1974. Since India was keeping a destructive technology, it was necessary for Pakistan to have nuclear weapons as well. Former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto opened the first nuclear plant near Karachi in his tenure, however, the first test was conducted in 1998 under the leadership of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif despite severe pressure from the USA. Of course Pakistan was urged to give up its nuclear defence programme and it was not the only country that faced this. Ukraine went through the same pressure.
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However, Ukraine was too optimistic. It hoped it would never need nuclear weapons so it destroyed them but two decades later, it is regretting it. If Ukraine had taken a stand for its national security, Russia would not dare to invade it. A country might not need nuclear weapons to use, but it does need the nukes to make sure that other countries think twice before invading it.
Pakistan was under this pressure too but it did not give up. Today Pakistan is a nuclear power. It might be having severe issues but we have a guarantee that we are safe. Despite having a chaotic economy and being in political crisis, no country will dare to mess with it due to its nuclear status. Like Ukraine, it has a much larger, nuclear-armed neighbour to its East.
Moscow will take adequate precautionary measures if NATO deploys nuclear forces and infrastructure closer to Russia’s border, Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying on Saturday.
“It will be necessary to respond … by taking adequate precautionary measures that would ensure the viability of deterrence,” Interfax agency quoted Grushko as saying.
Moscow has no hostile intentions towards Finland and Sweden and does not see “real” reasons for those two countries to be joining the NATO alliance, Grushko added.
He also reiterated the Kremlin’s earlier statement that Moscow’s response to NATO’s possible expansion will depend on how close the alliance moves military assets towards Russia and what infrastructure it deploys.
Finland’s plan to apply for NATO membership, announced on Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent.
TEHRAN — After killing the veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the Israeli authorities have resorted to their old habit of distorting the truth by claiming that the brutal killing was unintentional.
However, studying the Israeli soldiers’ records in the past years proves two things: One is that this was certainly not an incident, and it was downright intentional. And two, killing journalists, paramedics, and kids by the Israeli snipers is a systemic trend.
Let’s go back to July 8, 2018.
In a debate hosted by Al Jazeera in Oxford University, Mehdi Hasan – a prominent and prolific British-American political journalist and broadcaster – challenged Danny Ayalon, former Deputy Foreign Minister and a former Knesset member on the Israeli soldiers who target journalists, paramedics, and even children.
“On May 14 of this year (2018), the Israeli government celebrated the 70th year of its independence at the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. I believe you were there as well at that event, while over in Gaza on that same day, Israeli army snipers killed 62 Palestinians in cold blood. Gunned them down in full view of the world’s television and cameras. How do you justify? Can you justify the killing of unarmed Palestinian protesters, journalists, paramedics, kids?” Hasan asked Ayalon. His response was shocking.
“Well Mehdi, no one can justify killing of the innocent people, but I am not sure this was the case!” Ayalon said, adding that they “were pushed by their leaders of the Hamas -who by the way want to destroy the state of Israel- they were using them as human shields. Some of them were behind them with bombs…! By the way, the next day, Hamas confessed that out of these 62 people, 50 were active Hamas members. Others, we call it “collateral damage! We have to look at who is responsible for the killings, and the only responsible is Hamas!” the former Israeli diplomat noted.
The attitude of Israeli diplomats and officials towards this “collateral damage” is self-explanatory. We kill, and we kill, only to find a Hamas member. Also, we shoot innocent people, but it’s Hamas’ fault.
An IDF report published on Friday confirms this attitude, as it claims that the targeting of the veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was unintentional, as the Israeli soldiers mistook her for a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member!
On the other hand, the military establishment is interested in taking the necessary precautions to prevent a widespread confrontation on the coast and possibly in the Gaza Strip. An unpredictable event, such as the killing of Abu Akleh, can complicate the picture and provide the preparedness that terrorist organizations are likely to use in an effort to further escalate the situation on the ground.
After a preliminary investigation and analysis of the scene, the Israeli army believes that it is possible that Abu Akleh was killed unintentionally by the army forces without prior identification,” the report said.
The report went on to claim that the aim of the operation was to arrest a wanted Islamic Jihad operative suspected of “terrorist activity.” “According to the fighters, this is not their first operation in the refugee camp in recent times, the range of shooting at them has been very unusual even compared to previous operations,” it added.
The report by the IDF went on to claim that the Israeli Army emphasizes that “the search for the truth in this incident is not an apology for the operational activity that will continue and does not mean that it does not support the forces that acted in the reality of professional operation!”
So, shooting journalists in the head is “professional operation” now!
The report concluded by saying that finally, with the continuation of what it called “terrorist attacks,” the issue of Hamas presence in Gaza will be raised again. At the same time, the calm in the Gaza Strip exacerbates the complex dilemma for Israel, “and Hamas uses the fruits of this distinction to eliminate conflict in the Gaza Strip, while crediting itself with leading the fight against Israel. The road further weakens the weakened position of the Palestinian Authority.”
Apparently, the Israelis are now worried about the Palestinian Authority as well!
In the debate between Hasan and Ayalon, the former Israeli diplomat let a remarkable confession slip. He said, “Mehdi, I can look at any one here in the eyes (the audience present at Oxford Union) and say, Israel is doing its level best not to kill anyone who is not involved!
Hasan asked, “What threat did Razan al-Najjar, 21-year old volunteer paramedic who was shot while wearing a white uniform in the chest a hundred meters away from the (Gaza) fence, what threat did she pose to the Israeli snipers?”
In response, Ayalon resorted to a familiar Israeli tactic, saying that she used the title of volunteer paramedic as a cover up.
“Wait a minute. This is something I really looked into. She was having an incendiary bomb, and there is an investigation by the IDF. Why was she going into a war zone?”
Apparently, Ayalon lacks the very basic knowledge that a paramedic’s job is to cure and carry the wounded to field hospitals.
“Yasser Murtaja, 30 years old, shot in the stomach by an Israeli sniper. He was 250 meters away from the fence. Why was he shot?”
Ayalon said he came with a “harm(ful) intention.” Hasan responded by saying that he was “not Hamas, he was a journalist, and you shot him in the stomach, your country shot him in the stomach, and you claim he had a hurtful intention. That’s outrageous!”
As you can see the change in the fake regime’s administration has not changed the attitude of the snipers, who keep shooting people, journalists and even children. Now we know that Israeli soldiers know palm-reading and can read the Palestinian people’s minds and realize they have hurtful intentions.
On Wednesday night, Haaretz, an Israeli media outlet, claimed that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was shot from an M-16 gun, which “could have been used by the Palestinian fighters.”
As long as the global community keeps silent on the Israeli atrocities, Israel will keep killing more and more journalists.