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

SCIENCE

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

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

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

Stephen Chen

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Growing India Nuclear Horn (Revelation 8)

India has 140 Nuclear Warheads – And More Are Coming

India has 130 to 140 nuclear warheads—and more are coming, according to a new report.

“India is estimated to have produced enough military plutonium for 150 to 200 nuclear warheads, but has likely produced only 130 to 140,” according to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. “Nonetheless, additional plutonium will be required to produce warheads for missiles now under development, and India is reportedly building several new plutonium production facilities.”

In addition, “India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, with at least five new weapon systems now under development to complement or replace existing nuclear-capable aircraft, land-based delivery systems, and sea-based systems.”

Unlike the missile-centric U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, India still heavily relies on bombers, perhaps not unexpected for a nation that fielded its first nuclear-capable ballistic missile in 2003. Kristensen and Korda estimate India maintains three or four nuclear strike squadrons of Cold War-vintage, French-made Mirage 2000H and Jaguar IS/IB aircraft targeted at Pakistan and China.

“Despite the upgrades, the original nuclear bombers are getting old and India is probably searching for a modern fighter-bomber that could potentially take over the air-based nuclear strike role in the future,” the report notes. India is buying thirty-six French Rafale fighters that carry nuclear weapons in French service, and presumably could do for India.

India’s nuclear missile force is only fifteen years old, but it already has four types of land-based ballistic missiles: the short-range Prithvi-II and Agni-I, the medium-range Agni-II and the intermediate-range Agni-III. “At least two other longer-range Agni missiles are under development: the Agni-IV and Agni-V,” says the report. “It remains to be seen how many of these missile types India plans to fully develop and keep in its arsenal. Some may serve as technology development programs toward longer-range missiles.”

“Although the Indian government has made no statements about the future size or composition of its land-based missile force, short-range and redundant missile types could potentially be discontinued, with only medium- and long-range missiles deployed in the future to provide a mix of strike options against near and distant targets,” the report noted.

India is also developing the Nirbhay ground-launched cruise missile, similar to the U.S. Tomahawk. In addition, there is Dhanush sea-based, short-range ballistic missile, which is fired from two specially-configured patrol vessels. The report estimates that India is building three or four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, which will be equipped with a short-range missile, or a bigger missile with a range of 2,000 miles.

It’s an ambitious program. “The government appears to be planning to field a diverse missile force that will be expensive to maintain and operate,” the report points out.

What remains to be seen is what will be the command and control system to make sure these missiles are fired when—and only when—they should be. And, of course, since Pakistan and China also have nuclear weapons, Indian leaders may find that more nukes only lead to an arms race that paradoxically leaves their nation less secure.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Iran Defies Babylon the Great

Iran confirms missile test in defiance of U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Our defense doctrine is basically founded upon deterrence.”

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

Some states argue the language does not make it obligatory.

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

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

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

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

The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Image result for pakistan india war nuclearIndia may wage war against Pakistan, columnist portrays post BJP- defeat scenario

Only effect the assembly election results will have is to reduce lynching of Muslims a bit

Haider AliDecember 12, 2018

NEW DELHI – Indian leaders might resort to the option of a war with Pakistan and the nuclear deterrence will not bar the leaders, an Indian judge-turned columnist has predicted.

In his latest piece, the former Supreme Court judge, Markandey Katju has dished in on the scenario that is developing after the defeat of Bharatiya Janata Party in heartland states, dropping hints of dark days ahead.

“Also, a war with Pakistan on some issue is bound to whip up communal passions, and our leaders may well resort to that option too. The fact that both countries have nuclear weapons will not deter desperate men,” Katju wrote.

Markandey Katju, who retired in 2011, stated that India was bound to witness widespread communal riots and incidents in the coming months.

The former judge commented: “BJP thrives on communal riots, for that is the only way the party knows for increasing its votes from its ‘captive’ upper caste Hindu vote bank, which, at 20 per cent of the population, is clearly insufficient to win many seats.”

Painting a bleak picture for India, the writer continued that BJP will not give up power easily, and the coming Lok Sabha elections will be like the historical wars for the Delhi Sultanate ‘in which no holds were barred and rivers of blood flowed as rivals sought to claim the throne’.

Katju also expressed a mistrust in the entire political class of the country, taking on the chin, the electoral process currently underway.

“So whether Congress wins elections or BJP wins, it matters little. Our politicians have no genuine love for the country, but are only interested in power and self,” he wrote in The Week In.

He opined that the only effect the assembly election results will have is to reduce lynching of Muslims a bit saying, it was wrong to assume that such incidents will be totally eliminated.

“India is still a semi-feudal society, and as I have repeatedly pointed out, communalism is always latent in it, only awaiting some catalyst to bring it to the surface,” stated Katju.

He continued that today, most Hindus in India were communal, and so are most Muslims, stressing the need for a fully industrial society to tackle the ‘poison of communalism’.

Babylon the Great Asks for Iran to Stop Ballistic Missiles

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

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

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

By Michelle Nichols

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Iran WILL Go Nuclear (Daniel 8:4)

Why Iran May Go Nuclear

Abhishek Chapanerkar12.10.18

World News /10 Dec 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

India Widens It’s Nuclear Horn

India Test Fires Agni-V Nuclear-Capable ICBM

Franz-Stefan Gady

India has successfully test fired its most advanced nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Agni-V, the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement. The missile was fired from a canister on a road mobile launcher at Dr Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of the eastern Indian state of Odisha on December 10.

“The launch operations were carried out and monitored by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) in presence of Scientists from Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and other associated officials,” the MoD statement reads.  The flight performance of the Agni-V was tracked and monitored by radars, tracking instruments and observation stations. According to the MoD, the user trial of the new ICBM was successful. All test objectives were met.

The December 10 test firing constitutes the seventh test launch of the three-stage Agni-V ICBM, officially designated as an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), and the third launch in 2018. The last test of the missile took place on June 3. A previous test occurred on January 18. In both instances, the ICBM was launched in deliverable configuration from a hermetically sealed canister mounted on a mobile transporter erector launcher.

The missile was fired in a similar configuration in December 2016 and January 2015. The former launch included testing the missile for its full range. Two other tests that took place in April 2012 and September 2013 respectively, involved the launch of the Agni-V in ‘open configuration.’ The Agni-V is expected to be inducted into service in the coming months. (Earlier media reports suggested a December 2018 induction date.) An operational deployment of the new ICBM would require at least two additional test firings by the SFC.

Development of the Agni-V began in 2008. The ICBM features indigenously designed navigation and guidance systems including a ring laser gyroscope based inertial navigation system. The missile has been primarily developed as a strategic nuclear deterrent against China. As I noted previously:

While previous nuclear-capable missiles of the series (Agni-I, Agni-II, and Agni-III) were developed to offset Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the Agni-IV, [and] Agni-V (…) given their longer ranges, are designed to provide a credible nuclear deterrent against China.

Additionally, I explained:

The Agni-V, a three-stage solid fueled missile, has an approximate range of 5,500-5,800 kilometers [the exact range remains classified, but it is assumed that the missile has a range of 6,000-7,500 kilometers], and can carry a 1,500-kilogram (3,300-pound) nuclear warhead. India has reportedly also been working on multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) for the Agni-V in order to ensure a credible second-strike capability.

The Agni-V’s increased accuracy could pose a problem for long-term strategic stability in South Asia.  The missile’s reduced launch time, paired with India’s burgeoning maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) and MIRV technology, can reduce decision-making time in crisis situations and invite miscalculation.

Preparing for World War 3 with Iran

Iran EXPOSED: ‘Uninspected’ secret nuclear sites REVEALED, sparking World War 3 fears

Iran is harbouring secret nuclear weapons sites, it has been claimed (Image: GETTY)

IRAN is harbouring secret “uninspected” military sites, “vital to the nuclear weapons programme”, which have gone unchecked by international governments, an Iranian dissident group has claimed in explosive documents seen by Express.co.uk.

By SAM STEVENSON

PUBLISHED: 01:11, Wed, Dec 5, 2018

UPDATED: 05:11, Wed, Dec 5, 2018

Hossein Abedini of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has spoken to Express.co.uk about his group’s findings. The revelations are contained within a paper entitled, ‘Iran’s Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites Vital to the Nuclear Weapons Program’. The Iranian regime has been working at five sites to enrich uranium with the purpose of developing a nuclear weapon, the Iranian Resistance document claims.

According to the NCRI paper: “Because of Tehran’s aspirations for a nuclear weapon, the bulk of the regime’s programme has been of a covert military nature.

“As a result, formulating an arms control agreement to prohibit the regime’s access to nuclear arms, as per Iran’s Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) obligations, has proven a major challenge to the international community.”

The document asserts there are five known locations at which Hassan Rouhani’s callous regime has been enriching uranium.

These sites include Natanz, Arak, Lashkar-Abad, exposed by the resistance group in 2003, Shian-Lavisan, also exposed in 2003 by the NCRI, and Fordow.

But the dissident group now claims to have new evidence of four more sites which, “with a high degree of certainty, have been involved in various aspects of the nuclear weapons project”.

They are Pazhouheshkadeh (located at the Parchin military complex, south-east Tehran), Nouri Industrial site (located at Khojir military complex, south-east Tehran), Hafte Tir site (on a military base of the same name) and Sanjarian site (close to the Parchin military complex).

More recently, the NCRI has released details of a further two sites in a paper entitled ‘Iran’s Ballistic Build Up’.

They are Mojdeh site and the Nour building.

Hossein Abedini, a member of the Iranian Resistance who was himself the victim of a failed assassination attempt in Turkey, explained the significance of his group’s discoveries.

He said: “We have exposed the clandestine nuclear sites of the Iranian regime.

“In 2002 we revealed the enrichment of uranium to a recognised degree as well as the heavy water reactor where they were trying to produce plutonium as the main core of a nuclear device.”

Following the initial revelations exposed by the NCRI, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent its inspectors to visit the sites.

Mr Abedini said: “They were very much astonished to see how advanced and sophisticated the nuclear technology of the Iranian regime was.”

He added: “It was only after we revealed these sites the world realised Iran had secret nuclear activity going on.

“We knew it was very, very dangerous thing – the regime only needed a nuclear device for its own survival.

“It was after that another 100 revelations were made by the NCRI.”

The IAEA did not respond to a request for comment on the NCRI’s findings.

A long-range Shahab-3 missile is fired in desert terrain at an unspecified location in Iran (Image: GETTY)

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – or so-called Iran Nuclear deal – was intended to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons programme and thwart its ability to create a nuclear bomb.

The accord was struck between Iran and global superpowers, China, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States (who later withdrew under President Trump).

Of the deal, Mr Abedini said: “It gave a lot of unnecessary concessions to the regime, which was in a very weak position.

“It was time to get rid of all its nuclear activities but unfortunately they gave a lot of concessions which did not work and made the regime more brazen.”

The Race to the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Image result for nuclear war india pakistanMissile and arms race

December 7, 2018

The quick expansion of military technologies and arms race between the two nations is the mere result of their divergent threat perceptions. Obviously, the competitive security narratives and their past stories of unending hostility between the two are the root causes of such perceptions. Among all the major military technologies, Missile Technology is the most expensive one. It eats up the lion’s share of both the countries’ defence budgets.

Moreover, the history depicts that Pakistan has always created the reaction of the action initiated by India. For example, the nuclear weapons, Pakistan commenced its nuclear programme after India’s so-called “Peaceful Nuclear Explosion” in 1974. Similarly, India, first, conducted the nuclear explosion in May 1998. Hence, Pakistan was left with no other option but to react in the same way in order to balance the mismatched power in the region. Resultantly, it is high time that India realized to stop allocating its resources in unnecessary military technologies so that Pakistan doesn’t need to react to balance the disturbed power.

SHEERAZ AKHTAR BHUTTO

Shikarpur, Sindh

America Prepares for War Against Iran

US sends aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf amid rising tensions with Iran

A small boat passes in front of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, seen anchored of the coast of Faliro, near Athens, on March 29, 2012. (Photo: AP)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – A US aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS John C. Stennis, is scheduled to arrive in the waters of the Persian Gulf by the end of the week, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The aircraft carrier had been exercising in the Philippine Sea, off the coast of China. When it arrives off the Iranian coast, that will end an eight month period in which no US carrier group has been stationed in the area.

That is the longest period in 20 years—since the Clinton administration bombed Iraq for blocking UN weapons inspections—in which the US has had no such force in the area.

The Pentagon has sought to reorient US military assets toward Russia and China and away from the Middle East, but the “emphasis at times has appeared out of step with the White House which repeatedly has called Iran a top national security threat,” the Journal noted.

The movement of the carrier group comes amid rising tensions with Iran. Last month, the US imposed tough new sanctions on Tehran’s energy, financial, and shipping sectors, and Tehran, for its part, has warned of retaliatory action.

On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to halt all oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz.

The US “should know that we are selling our oil and will continue to sell it,” Rouhani asserted, but if the US “wishes to halt Iran’s oil export, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”

“The great Iranian nation has not bowed and will not bow to the United States,” he affirmed.

Later the same day, Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran, responded, to Rouhani’s threat, telling journalists, “The strait is an international waterway. The United States will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in international waterways.” (Hook earlier criticized Tehran for transferring missiles to militias in Iraq.)

On Saturday, shortly before heading to a NATO meeting in Brussels, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement denouncing a recent Iranian missile test.

Tehran “has just test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile,” capable of carrying multiple warheads, Pompeo stated. “The missile has a range that allows it to strike parts of Europe and anywhere in the Middle East.”

“This test violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that bans Iran from undertaking ‘any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons,’” he continued.

Speaking on Wednesday in Brussels, Pompeo added, “Tehran holds multiple American hostages” and has “lied to the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors about its nuclear program.”

He also noted that Iranian banks had been recently disconnected from the payment network known as SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications), which handles most international money transfers.

Meanwhile, the competition for influence in Iraq between Washington and Tehran continues. On Thursday, Iraqi media published photos of Qasim Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, meeting with a Sunni religious leader in Baghdad. Iraqi activists provided the pictures and said they were taken on Tuesday.

Eight cabinet-level positions remain unfilled in Iraq’s new government, including the Ministers of Interior and Defense. Parliament failed on Tuesday to approve Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s candidates, as the session degenerated into shouting and even fistfights.

A major source of dispute is the pro-Iranian orientation of the nominee for Interior Minister, and the unwillingness of some parties to accept him, including Sairoon, the largest electoral bloc, led by the Iraqi cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.

Editing by Nadia Riva