How to Start a Nuclear War: Revelation 16

How to Start a War

Wars often arise from uncertainty. When strong countries appear weak, truly weaker ones take risks they otherwise would not.

Sloppy braggadocio and serial promises of restraint can trigger wars, too. Empty tough talk can needlessly egg on aggressors. But mouthing utopian bromides convinces bullies that their targets are too sophisticated to counter aggression.

Sometimes announcing “a new peace process” without any ability to bring either novel concessions or pressures only raises false hopes — and furor.

Every new American president is tested to determine whether the United States can still protect friends such as Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Israel. And will the new commander in chief deter U.S. enemies Iran and North Korea — and keep China and Russia from absorbing their neighbors?

Joe Biden, and those around him, seem determined to upset the peace they inherited.

Soon after Donald Trump left office, Vladimir Putin began massing troops on the Ukrainian border and threatening to attack.

Putin earlier had concluded that Trump was dangerously unpredictable, and perhaps best not provoked. After all, the Trump administration took out Russian mercenaries in Syria. It beefed up defense spending and upped sanctions.

The Trump administration flooded the world with cheap oil to Russia’s chagrin. It pulled out from asymmetrical missile treaties with Russia. It sold sophisticated arms to the Ukrainians. The Russians concluded that Trump might do anything, and so waited for another president before again testing America.

In contrast, Biden often talks provocatively — while carrying a twig. He has gratuitously called Putin “a killer.” And he warned that the Russian dictator “will pay a price” for supposedly interfering in the 2020 election.

Unfortunately, Biden’s bombast follows four years of a Russian-collusion hoax, fueled by a concocted dossier paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the campaign of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Biden and others claimed Trump was, in the words of Barack Obama’s former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, a “Russian asset.”

If Biden is seeking to provoke a nation with more than 6,000 deliverable nuclear weapons, he is certainly not backing up his rhetoric with force.

Biden may well decrease the Pentagon budget. He also seems to have forgotten that Trump was impeached for supposedly imperiling Ukraine, when in fact he sold Ukraine weapons.

While Biden was talking loudly to Putin, his administration was being serially humiliated by China. Chinese diplomats dressed down their American counterparts in a recent meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. They gleefully recycled domestic left-wing boilerplate that a racist America has no moral authority to criticize China.

If Trump was unpredictably blunt, Biden is too often predictably confused. And he appears frail, sending the message to autocracies that America’s commander in chief is not fully in control.

Biden has not, as he promised, demanded from China transparency about the origins of the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan. By summer, that plague may have killed 600,000 Americans.

More disturbing, as Russia puts troops on the Ukrainian border, China is flying into Taiwanese airspace, testing its defenses — and the degree to which the United States cares.

For a half-century, American foreign policy sought to ensure that Russia was no closer to China than either was to the United States. Now, the two dictatorships seem almost joined at the hip, as each probes U.S. responses or lack thereof. Not surprisingly, North Korea in late March resumed its firing of missiles over the Sea of Japan.

In the Middle East, Biden inherited a relatively quiet landscape. Arab nations, in historic fashion, were making peace with Israel. Both sides were working to deter Iranian-funded terrorists. Iran itself was staggered by sanctions and recession. Its arch-terrorist mastermind, General Qasem Soleimani was killed by a U.S. drone strike.

Under Trump, the United States left the Iran nuclear deal, which was a prescription for the certain Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon. The theocracy in Tehran, the chief sponsor of terror in the world, was in its most fragile condition in its 40 years of existence.

Now, U.S. diplomats bizarrely express an interest in restoring cordial relations with Iran, rebooting the Iran deal, and dropping sanctions against the regime. If all that happens, Iran will likely get a bomb soon.

More importantly, Iran may conclude that the United States has distanced itself from Israel and moderate Arab regimes. One of two dangers will then arise. Either Iran will feel it can up its aggression, or its enemies will conclude they have no choice but to take out all Iranian nuclear facilities.

Biden would do well to remember old American diplomatic adages about speaking softly while carrying a big stick, keeping China and Russia apart, being no better friend (or worse enemy), and letting sleeping dogs lie.

© 2021 The Center for American Greatness

The Russian Nuclear Horn Prepares for War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instead, the fighting has picked up again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maria Varenikova contributed reporting from Mariupol, Ukraine.

US nuclear arms posture sends misleading signals to trap the other nuclear horns: Daniel

US nuclear arms posture sends misleading signals to trap adversaries

By Wei Dongxu

A screengrab of US Strategic Command’s Twitter post

US Strategic Command issued a posture statement preview on Tuesday, saying “The spectrum of conflict today is neither linear nor predictable. We must account for the possibility of conflict leading to conditions which could very rapidly drive an adversary to consider nuclear use as their least bad option.” This is not only a warning signal meant for US policymakers, but also a tactic to try to trap its “adversaries,” such as China and Russia, into a nuclear arms race.

This posture statement preview is mainly aimed at Russia because it has updated its nuclear weapons with brand new nuclear strike approaches. For instance, the Petrel, a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile, is claimed to have virtually unlimited range. And Poseidon, a massive nuclear torpedo, can reportedly carry a nuclear warhead with a yield of up to 100 megatons to most parts of the world while remaining extremely deep beneath the surface.

As the US does not possess weapons with such capabilities, it is anxious.

The preview sends two messages. The US hopes to promote its defense capabilities to counter Russia’s new weapons as well as boosting its own innovation in nuclear weapon development. Meanwhile, it shows that the US attaches great significance to its own nuclear power, and it will keep investing in and upgrading its nuclear arsenal. This is a warning toward the outside would.

As a matter of fact, the possibility of an outbreak of direct nuclear conflict between the US and Russia is very low, as both countries have a considerable number of powerful nuclear weapons. If there is a nuclear clash, it will be catastrophic for both countries. Therefore, the US will definitely not make a nuclear threat against a major nuclear power. It might only aim at small- and medium-sized regional military powers. The US will probably use tactical nuclear weapons rather than weapons of mass destruction.

However, the Pentagon, including US Strategic Command, is exaggerating the possibility of a nuclear war with its rivals. They are hyping that such a nuclear war is just around the corner to get more funds to build up the US’ nuclear arsenal and develop new weapons.

Nevertheless, ties between the US and Russia do confront challenges, and the biggest stems from the breakdown in military communication. Washington has withdrawn from agreements such as the Treaty on Open Skies and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. That being said, there is basically no military communication mechanism between Washington and Moscow. As the hostility and suspicion toward each other spirals up, some senior officials from the Pentagon consider Russia to be increasingly dangerous. In their opinion, some of Moscow’s innovations regarding nuclear weapons are directed against Washington, and the weapons may even be used against the US at any time.

So this preview is made based on mistrust and suspicion toward Russia. Such sentiment could lead to a nuclear arms race.

Besides, the US Strategic Command has also been hyping up the possibility of a nuclear war with China. In February, head of the command Charles Richard warned that “there is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons.” As China develops its conventional military power and Moscow restores its, Washington’s conventional forces are losing their overwhelming advantage compared with the other two.

Out of fear that the US could be defeated in a future large-scale conventional war, the country is turning to focus more on nuclear options. This reflects the US’ lack of confidence in its conventional military forces.

The US does want to provoke a nuclear arms race. The cost of a full-scale nuclear upgrade is astronomical. If more advanced nuclear weapons are produced,  maintenance and security costs are also high. The US has enough budget, plus it enjoys its dollar hegemony and can print money at any time when needed, so it hopes to provoke the race and draw China and Russia in. Such a race will consume a large proportion of their military spending, and might even undermine their economic strength.

However, China and Russia are not buying it. Taking China as an example, its nuclear weapons are designed for defense. It is not interested in competing with the US in terms of quantity or performance of the nuclear weapons. This US strategy once wore down the Soviet Union during the Cold War. China will not be fooled by the same trick.

The author is a Beijing-based military analyst. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

The Russian nuclear horns new Bomber: Daniel 7

How Russia’s new strategic bomber PAK DA will look like

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation approved early April the final appearance of the stealth bomber, known as the Advanced Long-range Aviation Complex (PAK DA in Russian codification). It is being developed by Tupolev with the creation priority given to reducing the visibility of the aircraft and the usage of long-range weapons.

At the moment the bureau works on creating the first full-size prototypes of the bomber.

The new bomber will be built according to the “flying wing” aerodynamic scheme. (without the tail unit and a fuselage that is separated from the wings) and will be able to fly at subsonic speeds of up to 1,190 km/h; 740 mph). This is significantly less than the speed of the Tu-160 strategic bomber that the new PAK DA is supposed to replace in Russia’s air force.

The machine will use only intra-fuselage weapons in order to decrease its visibility on radars. These weapon systems include advanced long-range cruise missiles and hypersonic missiles. 

‘The onboard equipment of the aircraft is automated as much as possible. Engineers now experiment on using it in unmanned mode. It is also assumed that the bomber will be able to control groups of unmanned aerial vehicles and will be able to use the entire range of air – to-air missiles’ told Russia Beyond Vadim Kozulin, a professor at the Academy of Military Science.

What’s also important is that the priority in the PAK DA concept is given to «stealth» technologies with the appropriate tactics of use including long-range weapons 

‘Today, Russia’s air force has received the powerful X-555 and X-101 long-range missiles that can fly 5,000 km (3,106 miles), which is why there is no more need for long-distance bombers. Now the strategic bomber can carry out its mission basically without leaving Russian borders and remaining under the protection of air defense systems’ mentioned Kozulin.

As previously reported by Russian media, special models and individual full-size elements of the bomber were already created and passed a series of bench tests to assess radar visibility.

Russian Defense Ministry

‘In particular, it was confirmed that with the use of certain tactics, the PAK DA will be able to overcome the advanced air defense lines of NATO countries unnoticed’ added Kozulin.

The expert also states that each PAK DA will carry up to 40 tons of ammo, as all other modern strategic bombers. This weaponry consist of all types of modern nuclear and conventional bombs: armor piercing, penetration, cluster and others

Each plane’s minimum service life time is supposed to be no less than 12 years, with prolongation to 21 years after service maintenance procedures.

The new bomber is being developed by Tupolev. It is expected to be put into service until 2027. It is expected that the aircraft will replace the Tu-95MS missile carriers in the Aerospace Forces.

Rockets hit Iraqi and Babylon the Great

Rockets hit Iraqi air base, 2 security forces wounded

Updated 13 sec ago AP April 18, 2021 19:54

BAGHDAD: Multiple rockets hit an Iraqi air base just north of the capital Baghdad Sunday, wounding two Iraqi security forces, an Iraqi military commander said.

In comments to Iraq’s official news agency, Maj. Gen. Diaa Mohsen, commander of the Balad air base, said at least two rockets exploded inside the base, which houses US trainers. The attack comes days after an explosives-laden drone targeted US-led coalition forces near a northern Iraq airport, causing a large fire and damage to a building.

Mohsen said the attack resulted in the injury of two security forces, one of them in serious condition and the other only slightly. There was no material damage inside the base from the attack, he added.

The incident was the latest in a string of attacks that have targeted mostly American installations in Iraq in recent weeks. There was no immediate responsibility claim, but US officials have previously blamed Iran-backed Iraqi militia factions for such attacks.

American forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of Iraq to help battle Daesh after it seized vast areas in the north and west of the country. In late 2020, US troop levels in Iraq were reduced to 2,500 after withdrawals based on orders from the Trump administration.

Calls grew for further US troop withdrawals after a US-directed drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader in Baghdad in January 2020.

Last month, a base in western Iraq housing US-led coalition troops and contractors was hit by 10 rockets. One contractor was killed.

Iran identifies Mossad member behind blast at Natanz nuclear site

Iran identifies suspect behind blast at Natanz nuclear site

April 17, 2021

TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday named a man it wants arrested in connection with a recent explosion and power outage at its main Natanz nuclear plant, as talks got underway in Vienna to try to save Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“Reza Karimi, the perpetrator of this sabotage […] has been identified” by Iran’s intelligence ministry, state TV said. It said the suspect had fled Iran before last Sunday’s blast that the Islamic Republic has blamed on arch-foe Israel.

Officials from the remaining parties to Iran’s nuclear deal began a formal meeting in Vienna, suggesting that this round of talks which began on Thursday was wrapping up.

The television showed what it said was a photograph of the suspected perpetrator on a red card that had “Interpol Wanted” written on it. The card listed his age as 43.

“Necessary steps are underway for his arrest and return to the country through legal channels,” the report added.

State TV also aired footage of rows of what it said were centrifuges which had replaced the ones damaged in the blast at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

It added that “a large number” of centrifuges whose enrichment activity was disrupted by the explosion had been returned to normal service, the report said.

Iran and global powers are meeting in Vienna to try to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington three years ago. The talks are potentially complicated by Tehran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and what it called Israeli sabotage at the Natanz nuclear site.

Meanwhile, a source, echoing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s stance, reiterated Iran’s demand for the removal of all sanctions imposed under former President Donald Trump.

“In Tehran, nothing will be accepted but the removal of all sanctions, including those related to the JCPOA (nuclear accord), reimposed and relabeled during the Trump era,” the unnamed source told Iran’s state-run Press TV.

Israeli media outlets have quoted unnamed intelligence sources as saying the country’s Mossad spy service carried out the Natanz sabotage operation. Israel — the only Middle Eastern country with a nuclear arsenal — has not formally commented on the incident.

Attacks Increase in the Iraqi Horn: Daniel 8

Iraq attacks deepen security woes as global, local rivals clash

By John Davison and Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A series of attacks in Iraq this week illustrates the increasingly dangerous tangle of local and regional rivalries confronting the country’s security in an election year, Iraqi security and government officials say.

The violence appears linked to militias seeking to help ally Iran oppose Western and Gulf Arab adversaries in a tussle for influence playing out across the Middle East, as well as to growing domestic strains head of elections in October, they say.

Drone and rocket attacks in northern Iraq by pro-Iran groups indicated that militias are expanding the arsenal they are prepared to deploy against U.S. forces stationed in the country.

The strikes also for the first time killed a Turkish soldier, and a rare car bomb blast in Baghdad afterwards showed that security forces are struggling to keep a lid on local violence after years of relative calm in the capital.

Rivalry between Iran and the United States remains the biggest destabilising factor, despite the departure of former President Donald Trump and his tough rhetoric and fresh talks on Iran’s nuclear programme among world powers, the officials said.

Wednesday’s attack on U.S. forces at Erbil International Airport was the first time an explosives-laden drone was used against a U.S. target in Erbil, an Iraqi security official said.

“Drone use is a worrying development. We’re seeing a change in the way (U.S.) targets in the Kurdistan region are hit, as a message that these groups can choose the time and place of their assaults without being stopped,” the official said.

The security official, an Iraqi military officer and a government official all blamed militia groups supported by Iran for the attack.

They said it was likely retaliation for a recent attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, widely believed to be carried out by U.S. ally Israel. Israel has not formally commented.

“This was related to the Natanz incident, and the negotiations with the United States. It’s to show Iran’s ability to strike back and the need for negotiations to bear fruit – that there’s a cost for Israeli attacks against Iran and a cost for negotiations going nowhere,” the government official said.

Militia supporters cheered the attack but no group has claimed it so far.

Iraqis often pay the price for escalating U.S.-Iran tension, said Jassim al-Hilfi, an Iraqi lawmaker. “This is the second time in just a few weeks that (pro-Iran) militias have been able to target Erbil. They don’t want Iraq to be secure,” he said.

Iran and the United States this month agreed to indirect talks over Tehran’s nuclear programme, eyeing a possible return to an international pact that Trump abandoned in 2018 before piling sanctions on Iran and killing its top commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad last year.

Since President Joe Biden took office, Iraqi militias have pressed their demand that a remaining force of 2,500 U.S. troops leave Iraq, and have continued attacks against the United States and its regional allies, deploying more sophisticated weaponry.

TURKEY TENSION RISES

Several Western officials, one Iraqi militia official and an Iranian security source said a thwarted drone attack against Saudi Arabia in January was launched from Iraq, part of an increase in attacks by Iranian proxies against the Gulf kingdom.

Iran has not commented on recent attacks against U.S. forces, but has previously denied involvement in such strikes.

Several little-known pro-Iran groups have released statements claiming some previous attacks against U.S. targets.

The killing on Wednesday of a Turkish soldier in a rocket attack on Turkish troops stationed in northern Iraq – a separate attack to Erbil but at around the same time – also complicates Iraq’s fragile security.

Turkey has been waging a campaign against separatist Kurdish PKK militants who operate in southern Turkey but are based in the mountains of neighbouring northern Iraq. The PKK has Iraqi allies aligned with the Iran-backed paramilitaries.

Iran-backed militias this year ramped up their rhetoric against the Turkish presence, calling Turkish troops an occupying force which, like the Americans, must leave. No group immediately claimed the attack that killed the Turkish soldier, but analysts say it was carried out by pro-Iran militias.

“Militias seem to have opened a new front with Turkey and drew blood. They might be inviting trouble,” said Bilal Wahab, a Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Iran’s proxies see Turkish incursion there as a threat to their gateway to Syria, a key smuggling route for weapons, personnel and goods.

Iran and Turkey might not have the appetite for escalation. “We’ll see if this attack on a Turkish base is swept under the rug, or whether it will be a game-changer,” Wahab said.

Turkish authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

EMBATTLED IRAQI GOVERNMENT

The increasingly complex strategic picture heaps pressure on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has tried in vain to curb militia power and wants a peaceful, free general election in October. Added to his plate are domestic rivalries in a country where violence has often spiked during election years.

In January, Baghdad’s deadliest suicide bombing for three years, claimed by Islamic State, ripped through a central market killing more than 30 people.

On Thursday, a car bombing killed at least four – the second incident to shatter the relative calm Baghdad has enjoyed since Islamic State’s 2017 defeat. No group claimed Thursday’s blast and security forces have not yet publicly identified a culprit.

Some Iraqi politicians say the blast was Islamic State trying to cause chaos. Others say it could be rival Shi’ite armed groups seeking to intimidate each other ahead of the vote.

Either way, it shows armed groups can move weapons around Baghdad under the noses of security forces, analysts say.

“The government … has neither the political ability to deter militias from carrying out attacks nor the security wherewithal to stop them and hold them accountable when attacks happen,” Wahab said.

A spokesman for the Iraqi government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by John Davison, Ahmed Rasheed; writing by John Davison, Editing by William Maclean)

Another attack on Babylon the Great

Drone Attacks Iraq Airport Housing U.S. Troops

One building damaged, no casualties reported in attack on Erbil airport

By Ghassan Adnan and

Updated April 14, 2021 5:56 pm ET

Erbil airport in northern Iraq as seen in 2014.

Photo: joel saget/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

BAGHDAD—A drone carrying explosives attacked a U.S. air base in northern Iraq on Wednesday, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

No casualties were reported in the attack on the airport in Erbil, which doubles as a base for U.S. troops, according to the interior ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq.

The attack on the military section of the airport was carried out by a drone carrying explosives, according to a statement from the interior ministry. The drone landed on a storage hangar at the air base, causing a fire that was later extinguished, according to the U.S.-led coalition.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Sabreen, a news agency that supports Iranian-backed paramilitary groups, shared news of the attack.

It follows months of tensions between the U.S. and Iran, whose allied militias in Iraq have launched a series of attacks on U.S. bases in the country.

An attack on the Erbil airport in February killed a contractor working for U.S. forces.

A pro-Iranian militia group claimed responsibility. In retaliation for that attack, the U.S. launched airstrikes on Iran-allied militant groups in Syria.

“It seems the same #militia who targeted the airport two months ago are at it again. This is a clear & dangerous escalation,” tweeted Iraq’s former foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari.

A separate rocket attack on a Turkish military base in northern Iraq on Wednesday killed a Turkish service member, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attacks come as the Biden administration is attempting to re-engage Iran, sending officials to another round of indirect talks in Vienna this week aimed at reviving the 2015 agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

But an apparent attack on Iran’s main nuclear facility has threatened to derail those talks. Iran accused Israel of carrying out an act of sabotage at the Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday. Israeli media reported that the attack was carried out by the nation’s Mossad intelligence agency, though Israeli officials declined to comment.

Following the attack on the nuclear facility, Iran said it would begin enriching uranium to 60% for the first time.

Write to Jared Malsin at jared.malsin@wsj.com

The Chinese nuclear horn commands space: Daniel 7

China intends to militarize space, displace US power: intel report

By Mark Moore

April 13, 2021 | 1:10pm

China is working on militarizing space and matching or exceeding US technology in the coming years, the US intelligence community said in its Global Risk Assessment report.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report says that China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, is poised to become the US’ greatest rival in space, setting far-reaching and ambitious goals “to gain the military, economic, and prestige benefits that Washington has accrued from space leadership.”

The report, released last Friday, said Beijing “has counterspaceweapons capabilities” enabling it to target satellites belonging to the US and its allies.

“Beijing continues to train its military space elements and field new destructive and nondestructive ground- and space-based anti – satellite weapons ,” the report said, adding that China already has ground-based anti-satellite missiles and lasers “probably intended to blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors ” on US spacecraft.

It predicted that China will have an operational space station in low Earth orbit between 2022 and 2024, and will continue to conduct exploratory missions to the moon with the aim to establish a robotic research station on the lunar surface as a precursor to an “intermittently crewed” base.

China aims to establish a crewed base on the surface of the moon in the future.

AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party “ will continue its whole-of-government efforts to spread China’s influence, undercut that of the United States, drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners, and foster new international norms that favor the authoritarian Chinese system.”

Chinese leaders probably will, however, seek tactical opportunities to reduce tensions with Washington when such opportunities suit their interests ,” the intelligence report said.

While working on the space-based initiatives, China will maintain its “major innovation and industrial policies” to reduce reliance on foreign technologies, to develop military upgrades, to continue economic growth, with the goal of ensuring the country’s survival.

China’s military is poised to become the US’ greatest rival in space.

China National Space Administration

“Beijing sees increasingly competitive US-China relations as part of an epochal geopolitical shift and views Washington’s economic measures against Beijing since 2018 as part of a broader US effort to contain China’s rise ,” the ODNI report said, referring to the tariffs former President Donald Trump placed on Chinese goods being sold in the US.

As part of its long-term goals, China is consolidating its military power with its economic, technological and diplomatic strengths to “secure what it views as its territory and regional preeminence, and pursue international cooperation at Washington’s expense .”

China’s goal is to “foster new international norms” by undercutting the prominence and power of the US.

AP

Beijing will tout its success responding to the coronavirus pandemic as “evidence of the superiority of its system” and will use “vaccine diplomacy” to its advantage.

China will also extend its influence in the region, including its claims of sovereignty over Taiwan and the bolstering of its naval presence in the South China Sea “to signal to Southeast Asian countries that China has effective control over contested areas.”

O n nuclear weapons, the report said China is not interested in abiding by any arms control agreements that will hamper its future plans and will not engage in negotiations with Russia or the US that preserve their nuclear advantages.

Beijing intends to “at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile” in the next decade.

“China is building a larger and increasingly capable nuclear missile force that is more survivable, more diverse, and on higher alert than in the past, including nuclear missile systems designed to manage regional escalation and ensure an intercontinentalc second-strike capability ,” the report said. 

The Russian nuclear horn prepares for war: Revelation 16

Nuclear missiles moved out of storage by Putin ‘Possible launch against the West’

RUSSIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS have been moved out of storage by Putin to be aimed at the West, according to a military analyst.

By TOM HUSSEY

PUBLISHED: 13:15, Wed, Apr 14, 2021

Speaking to France24, military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles into the field “for possible launch at America and its allies.” The military analyst stressed the situation has now got serious and highlighted this has been a “very vivid build up.” The terrifying news comes as Russia ramps up its presence on the Ukrainian border amid the threat of a full-blown war between the two nations. 

Pavel Felgenhauer said: “There also been an official announcement that Russian nuclear deterrent has been put on heightened capability.

“And Russian mobile ICBM’s have been moved out of permanent storage into the field.”

Ukrainian forces have also dug trenches in preparation for war as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy are ready to fight.

And in a terrifying suggestion, he warned that the move was for “possible launch against America and its allies.”

He added: “This has been a very vivid build up.”

The military analyst went on to acknowledge the growing concern of the international community as western nations decide what to do about the looming threat of all-out war.

Mr Felgenhauer also added how Russia’s military intimidations have achieved the desired aim of provoking western countries including the USA.

He said: “Today Biden phoned Putin and this has been interpreted in Moscow as a victory for Russia, that Russian blackmail is working.”

Mr Felgenhauer concluded: “That means most likely there’s going to be more of that.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia could invade Ukraine “at any day” in a terrifying admission to CNN during a recent visit to see Ukrainian troops dug into trenches in the Donbas region where the threat of invasion is expected.

Mr Zelenskiy said: “Of course. We know it, from 2014 we know it can be each day.

“They are ready, but we are also ready because we are on our land and our territory.”

The Ukrainian leader added: “But what now is going on? What we do here? What do our people do here? They fight.”