The Rising Risk of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

New Report Warns of Resurfacing Nuclear Risks

Photo: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Conference on Disarmament’s High-Level Segment 2019, in Palais des Nations, Geneva on February 25, 2019. Credit: UN Photo by Antoine Tardy.

By Jaya Ramachandran

NEW YORK (IDN) – In the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2020, arms control experts have warned that „the risk of nuclear use is increasing and … critical nonproliferation and disarmament norms are eroding„.

Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament in 2016-2019, the Arms Control Association, says: „While there have been some modest gains on safeguards, there has been significant backsliding on the standards related to arms control and risk reduction.“

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, research assistant, and Kelsey Davenport, director for non-proliferation policy of the U.S. nonpartisan organization, based in Washington DC, dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies, point out that collectively, states fared worse on the majority of criteria when compared with the prior assessment covering the 2013–2016 period.

„While there have been some modest gains on safeguards, there has been significant backsliding on the standards related to arms control and risk reduction,“ Sanders-Zakre and Davenport say.

They add: „All states with nuclear weapons are taking steps to invest in new delivery systems and several are expanding the role of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines. These findings raise concerns that the risk of nuclear use is increasing and that critical nonproliferation and disarmament norms are eroding.“

The authors outline many core obligations and goals for what constitutes mainstream nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament behaviour. State responsibilities regarding nonproliferation and disarmament are further defined by additional agreements, UN Security Council resolutions, shared norms, and binding legal commitments.

The Arms Control Association has identified 10 internationally recognized standards for nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear security. Each of these standards plays an important role in addressing the complex nature of the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

The ten standards are: Banning Nuclear Testing; Ending the Production of Fissile Material for Weapons; Nuclear Weapons Alert Levels; Nuclear Force Reductions; Negative Security Assurances; Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones; IAEA Safeguards; Nuclear Weapons-Related Export Controls; Nuclear Security Commitments; and Criminalization and Illicit Trafficking Commitments.

The Arms Control Association has tracked state adherence to these standards since 2010 and published a report card every three years detailing the extent to which each state is fulfilling its commitments.

The 2016–2019 report is the fourth in a series that assesses the extent to which 11 key states are fulfilling, promoting, or undermining 10 standards identified as critical elements of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime during the period between 2016 and June 2019.

The report finds in particular that  all of the states that possess nuclear weapons failed to make progress in reducing their nuclear arsenals 2016-2019. While Russia and the United States met their obligations under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START Treaty) to reduce deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 by February 2018, that treaty was negotiated in 2010 and there is no new agreement between Washington and Moscow to extend the treaty or pursue negotiations on additional limits.

Furthermore, the recognized nuclear-weapon states and states that developed nuclear weapons outside of the 1970 NPT are investing in new nuclear weapons delivery systems, and several states—China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea—expanded their arsenals over the previous three years.

Of the 11 states assessed in this report, the overall grades for the United States and Russia dropped the most, from a B average in 2016 to a C+ average in 2019. The drop in grades is primarily due to Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), and the U.S. decision to withdraw from that treaty in response.

In addition, both states expanded the circumstances under which they would use nuclear weapons and are investing heavily in new, destabilizing delivery systems. „Together, these developments increase the risk of nuclear use,“ warn the report’s authors.

Several states have taken actions that led to increased alert levels for their nuclear forces, they add. India deployed sea-based nuclear warheads and Pakistan developed tactical nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, both of which require mating warheads to missiles, earning them lower grades in this edition of the report. Several of the nuclear-weapon states also earned lower grades for opposing UN resolutions calling for lower alert levels.

The report further points out States failed to strengthen negative security assurances during the timeframe of this report. „While there is rhetorical support from some of the states assessed in this report for negotiating legally binding negative security assurances, several states, including the United States, Russia, France, and India, have expanded the scenarios under which they would use nuclear weapons.“

Iran continued to abide by the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) until beginning of July 2019, despite the U.S. decision to withdraw from the agreement and reimpose sanctions on Tehran in May 2018. „While Washington’s violation of the JCPOA does not fall into any of the criteria that the United States is assessed on in the scope of this report, the decision weakens nonproliferation norms and undermines U.S. credibility in future negotiations,“ the report’s authors caution.

France and the United Kingdom each earned a B, the highest overall grades in this report card. The United Kingdom received a B+ in the 2013-2016 version of this report, but the lack of support for additional nuclear force reductions and UN efforts to reduce alert levels for nuclear weapons caused its overall grade to drop.

North Korea continues to fare the worst of the eleven states, earning an overall F grade for the fourth consecutive report. However, North Korea did nominally improve on certain criteria in the current report for announcing and abiding by a voluntary nuclear and long-range missile test moratorium.

There were few changes from the 2016 report in the grades on banning nuclear testing. One notable exception is the U.S. grade, which sunk from a B+ to a C-, due in part to the Trump administration’s stated intent not to seek ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

According to the 2019 report, the grades for all eleven states in the category of ending fissile material production for nuclear weapons remained unchanged from the 2010, 2013, and 2016 versions of this report.

The five nuclear-weapon states – permanent members of the Security Council (P5) – maintain de facto moratoriums on producing fissile material for weapons and while states outside of the NPT continue to do so. Additionally, the stalemate continues at the Conference on Disarmament over the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty due to objections from Pakistan.

The report’s authors note with satisfaction that with the exception of Iran, North Korea and Syria, the majority of states assessed continue to adhere to strong nuclear security practices and measures to prevent the illicit trafficking of nuclear or missile-related materials.

„UN reports provide evidence that Iran, North Korea, and Syria all engaged in illicit trafficking of dual-use materials and technologies,“ note Sanders-Zakre and Davenport. [IDN-InDepthNews – 13 July 2019]

Photo: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Conference on Disarmament’s High-Level Segment 2019, in Palais des Nations, Geneva on February 25, 2019. Credit: UN Photo by Antoine Tardy

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

The Rich Men Will Hide in Caves (Revelation 6:12)

WW3 preparation: Where billionaires are building underground bunkers for nuclear doomsday 

The super rich are building bunkers ready for nuclear war (Image: GETTY/RISING S)

WORLD WAR 3 is on the minds of the super-rich, who are snapping up secret underground bunkers in preparation for a nuclear war.

By CALLUM HOARE

PUBLISHED: 14:27, Thu, Jul 11, 2019

UPDATED: 15:17, Thu, Jul 11, 2019

Soviet Union built secret underground bunkers in preparation for nuclear war, reveals travel expert Ben. The bunkers were first discovered in 1985 by Western satellites.

World War 3 is the label slapped on a hypothetical sudden escalation of worldwide tensions leading to a full-scale military conflict that would surpass the events of World War 1 and World War 2. The term has been loosely thrown around since as early as 1941 – with Cold War uncertainty and the War on Terror arguably being the closest the world has come to all-out conflict. However, the situation is far more sobering than the conflicts of the past, with global superpowers – including but not limited to, Russia, the US, the UK, France, India, Israel and China all boasting an arsenal that includes nuclear weapons.

The magnitude of this threat does not need to be repeated to the global elite, who are already mapping out their survival plans in the event of nuclear war.

Seven tech billionaires from Silicon Valley have snapped up real estate in New Zealand in case they need to flee California.

Rising S Company are building bunkers in New Zealand (Image: RISING S)

Gary Lynch, the company’s general manager said last year: “New Zealand is an enemy of no one.

“It’s not a nuclear target and it’s not a target for war.

“It’s a place where people seek refuge.”

Their top of the range bunker, „The Aristocrat“ costs £8.9million excluding the installation fee.

It has a capacity for more than 50 people in varying degrees of luxury and features bulletproof doors, a solar generated charging system, a swimming pool, bowling lane and gun range, amongst other luxuries.

The former New Zealand Prime Minister has noticed the uptick in interest from wealthy Americans in his country as an escape plan.

John Key, who held office until 2016, said: “I’ve had a lot of people say to me that they would like to own a property in New Zealand if the world goes to Hell in a handbasket.”

A total of 17 American citizens took advantage of the New Zealand Investor Plus Visa – which requires an £8million investment over 38 months – last year.

It is believed that the rush of investment from billionaires fearing the worst could have been one of the motivating factors behind a new law banning many foreigners from buying homes.

Paypal co-founder, and Facebook billionaire, Peter Thiel is among those to have brought a property in New Zealand in the past few years.

The company ship their bunkers worldwide (Image: RISING S)

The inside of one of the bunkers (Image: RISING S)

The bunkers come with everything needed to survuve (Image: RISING S)

There are a number of options available (Image: RISING S)

Mr Theil built a £3.7million home in Queenstown complete with a panic room, but remains adamant there is no doomsday bunker.

However, his friend and fellow entrepreneur, Sam Altman said last year that he has plans to catch a flight out there if a pandemic ever hits.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman told The New Yorker last year that, “saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more”.

Other wealthy US entrepreneurs who have bought properties in the country include film director James Cameron and billionaire hedge fund manager Julian Robinson.

The Church’s Blessings on Nuclear War

Intercontinental ballistic missile Topol-M exhibited at the annual Victory day Parade dress rehearsal on May 6, 2012 in Moscow, Russia. Credit: Pukhov K / Shutterstock

Russian Orthodox Church considers ending blessings for nuclear weapons

Moscow, Russia, Jul 10, 2019 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- The Russian Orthodox Church is debating an end to the practice of blessing large scale weapons, including nuclear missiles. 

Last month, a committee on ecclesial law met in Moscow and recommended ending the practice of blessing missiles and warheads, and suggested that priests should instead bless only individual soldiers and their personal weapons.

According to a report by Religion News Service, Bishop Savva Tutunov of the Moscow Patriarchate said that it would be more appropriate to bless only the warrior who is defending their country, and their own personal weapon–instead of bombs.

“One can talk about the blessing of a warrior on military duty in defense of the fatherland,” said Tutunov.

“At the end of the corresponding ritual, the personal weapon is also blessed — precisely because it is connected to the individual person who is receiving the blessing. By the same reasoning, weapons of mass destruction should not be sanctified,” he said.

The proposal to end the blessings for larger weapons has yet to be approved by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Weapons systems, including Topol-class intercontinental ballistic missiles, are frequently blessed by members of the Russian Orthodox clergy during military parades and other events. These blessings are seen as a way of spiritually protecting the country.

In 2007, Russia’s nuclear weapons were consecrated in a service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. In Russian Orthodoxy, the patron saint of Russia’s nuclear weapons is St. Seraphim.

Tutunov’s view is not universally held in the Orthodox Church. According to  the piece published by Religion News Service, Fr. Vsevolod Chaplain, a former spokesman for the Patriarch of Moscow, said that Russia’s nuclear arsenal is akin to the “guardian angels” of the country and are needed to protect Orthodoxy.

“Only nuclear weapons protect Russia from enslavement by the West,” Chaplin said to a Russian newspaper.

Patriarch Kirill is rumored to have been a KGB agent prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. His predecessor, Patriarch Alexy II is also believed to have been a KGB agent. The Moscow Patriarchate denies this.

The Catholic Church is explicitly opposed to nuclear weapons, and supports countries dismantling their arsenals.

Pope St. John XXIII called for the banning of nuclear weapons and wrote that “a general agreement must be reached on a suitable disarmament program, with an effective system of mutual control” in his 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes acts of war aimed at the indiscriminate destruction of entire cities or large areas as “a crime against God and man.”

“A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons – especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes.”

In November, Pope Francis is expected to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima–cities where the United States deployed two atomic bombs during World War II–on his apostolic visit to Japan.

Russian Nukes Are Considered Holy!

THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH MAY STOP BLESSING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

A faction of clergy within the Russian Orthodox Church wants to end the eyebrow-raising practice of blessing the country’s nuclear missiles.

First of all, yes: Russian priests currently sprinkle holy water on nuclear missiles as part of an old tradition in which Orthodox priests bless soldiers and their weapons, reports Religion News Service. But that may change, as some priests feel that intercontinental ballistic missiles belong in a different category from individual firearms.

Faith Militant

The Russian military and the Russian Orthodox church have long worked hand in hand, according to RNS, framing many of the country’s military conflicts as holy wars. The nuclear arsenal even has its own patron saint — RNS reports that St. Seraphim’s remains were found in a Russian town that housed several nuclear facilities.

As such, the push to stop blessing nukes faces strong opposition among members of the clergy, such as the high-ranking priest Vsevolod Chaplin, who referred to the country’s nukes as “guardian angels.”

“Only nuclear weapons protect Russia from enslavement by the West,” Chaplin once said, per RNS.

Changing Hearts

One priest, Dmitry Tsorionov, parted from the more militant aspects of the Orthodox Church after seeing men willingly sign up to fight Russia’s wars “under the banner of Christ,” he told RNS. Now he wants to see less warmongering among the clergy.

“It was not uncommon to see how church functionaries openly flirted with these toxic ideas,” he told RNS. “It was only then that I finally realized what the blessing of military hardware leads to.”

Babylon the Great Prepares for Nuclear War (Daniel 7)

The Pentagon Wants VR To Train for Nuclear War

The tech would allow troops to train to counter nuclear and radiological weapons, including dirty bombs.

By Kyle MizokamiJul 9, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense is considering using virtual reality technology to train military personnel who might someday come up against dirty bombs and other radioactive weapons. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which typically concerns itself with responding to weapons of mass destruction, wants to use VR as a training tool to teach soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen how to respond to “radiological threats,” from dirty bombs to nuclear weapons.

The DTRA posted a solicitation to industry on the FedBizOpps web site. The solicitation calls for a virtual reality or augmented reality system designed to simulate “operating in a battlefield nuclear warfare (BNW) environment, or performing radiological threat objects find and interdict operations.”

“Radiological/nuclear considerations may include,“ the solicitation also notes, „everything from point radiation sources, area contamination, and nuclear weapon detonation.”

Nuclear weapons and their hazards are well known, radiological weapons somewhat less so. Radiological weapons are not nuclear weapons but weapons designed to disperse highly dangerous and even lethal radioactivity over a wide area. A combination of plutonium and high explosives in a backpack or truck bomb, for example, would scatter radioactive debris over a wide area.

Unprotected persons caught in the blast—or venturing into the blast zone afterward—could be exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity, leading to radiation sickness or cancer. A contaminated zone could remain dangerous for days, weeks, months or even years, depending on the radioactive isotope used.

A soldier from the 444th Chemical Company, Illinois National Guard, checks another for contamination during a nuclear terrorist attack training exercise Vibrant Response 2019.

U.S. Army/DVIDS

Radiological weapons have yet to have been used, existing mostly in theory as “dirty bombs” used by terrorists against civilian targets. One possible exception is the assassination of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was allegedly slipped a dose of the radioactive isotope polonium through a cup of tea and developed radiation poisoning soon afterward.

An AR/VR training tool in this context could be a program that simulates the detonation of a radiological or nuclear weapon and overlays likely areas of contamination and levels of radioactivity over the user’s field of view. This would allow the user to “look” at a location and estimate the effects of such a weapon and formulate a response. Adding meteorological data such a barometric pressure and wind speed pulled from the internet would help estimate the spread of fallout.

On the other side of the spectrum such tech could allow military personnel to search for dirty bombs by looking for telltale signs of radioactivity within a VR or AR environment—all without actually using radioactive materials for training.

Russia’s Satanic Nuclear Bomb is Ready

This file photo shows a Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system in Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, on May 9, 2017.

PHOTO: NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/GETTY

RUSSIA’S ‚INVULNERABLE‘ SATAN 2 NUCLEAR MISSILE WILL BE READY TO FIRE BY THE END OF 2020, SPACE AGENCY OFFICIAL SAYS

By David Brennan On 7/08/19 at 6:25 AM EDT

NEWS RUSSIA WEAPONS MISSILE ICBM

Russia’s latest nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile—which Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed can defeat all existing American defenses—will complete its testing phase by the end of 2020, the country’s space agency has announced.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, told reporters Saturday that the RS-28 Sarmat ICBM—known in the West by its NATO code name „Satan 2″—is already undergoing launch tests ahead of its adoption by Russian armed forces.

„Firing tests are already underway,“ Rogozin told reporters, according to state news agency Tass. „The bulk of firing tests will be completed by the end of the year. We expect the closing stage of tests at the end of next year.“

Though Rogozin said the tests remain on schedule, the adoption of the RS-28 Sarmat has been beset by delays. It was originally supposed to become operational by 2016, but hold ups meant it was only even announced by Putin in March 2018 at his annual state of the nation address.

Putin said that the „invulnerable“ silo-based weapon has been in development since 2001, following President George W. Bush’s decision to pull out of a 1972 U.S.-Soviet anti-ballistic missile treaty. Revealing the weapon, Putin addressed the U.S. and said he had warned Bush not to withdraw from the treaty. „You didn’t listen to our country then,“ he said, „Listen to us now.

The massive 220-ton weapon will replace the Cold War-era RS-36M Voyevoda missiles. The RS-28 Sarmat will reportedly carry a nuclear payload large enough to wipe out an area the size of Texas or France.

Putin said the missile „has practically no range restrictions,“ though The Guardian cited state media reports detailing a range of around 6,800 miles. Regardless, the president claimed it can evade „even the most advanced missile defense systems,“ such as those fielded by the U.S.

Traveling at Mach 10—around 16,000 m.p.h.—the RS-28 Sarmat can carry 10 to 15 warheads, all of which can target a different location. Putin’s announcement of the weapon was accompanied by an unsettling CGI video demonstrating its capabilities, in which nuclear warheads were shown falling on a region closely resembling the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

Viktor Bondarev, the head of Russian Senate’s Defense and Security Committee, has claimed that the U.S. would need 500 missiles to defend against one RS-28 Sarmat launch.

American defense officials have warned that the U.S. must rethink its overarching military strategy, and pivot from the counter-terrorism stance adopted since 9/11 back to one of great power competition.

The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism

FILE PHOTO © Global Look Press/ face to face /Christian Ohde

Nuclear weapon material worth $72mn seized in a car in Turkey

Published time: 6 Jul, 2019 22:50

Turkish police have taken five people into custody over the smuggling of a highly-radioactive substance used to build nuclear weapons and power nuclear reactors. The 18.1-gram haul was found in a car.

Police discovered a vial of the material after they pulled over a car in the northwestern Bolu province. The substance, believed to be californium, was found stashed under the gear stick wrapped in a bag. Officers had to cut the upholstery to get to the parcel, which is estimated to be worth US$72 million.

Five suspects were detained in the raid, and the mixture was taken to the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) for a detailed analysis.

Californium is named after the place where it was synthesized back in 1950 – a laboratory at the University of California. Apart from being used to manufacture nukes and nuclear-powered reactors, the element also has a range of rather innocuous civilian applications. It can be used as part of metal detectors and is used in cancer treatment as well as oil, silver, and gold mining operations. Still, the substance is highly dangerous and its production, distribution, and transportation is restricted. Currently, only the US and Russia synthesize the isotope.

Also on rt.com ‘Imposing quantity’ of uranium seized in raid on smugglers in Moldova (VIDEO)

It is not the first time Turkish police have reported a major bust involving californium.

In a scare in March of last year, police in Ankara said they had seized a whopping 1.4kg of the same substance in a car following a tip-off. It turned out to be false alarm, as the haul was later found to have no trace of nuclear or radioactive material, and was, in fact, organic matter.

The Increasing Risk of Nuclear War (Revelation 16)

BY KIMBERLY DOZIER 

12:34 PM EDT
NORTH KOREA

As President Donald Trump prepares to tout his achievements at a on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., here’s a snapshot of how global hot spots have fared since he took office.

North Korea was a crisis on the boil when President Barack Obama left the White House. Trump’s personal outreach to leader Kim Jong Un has turned the temperature down but failed to produce tangible steps to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

The two men have held three face-to-face meetings, progress of a sort compared to early 2017 when Trump was promising “fire and fury” and Kim was testing missiles capable of reaching the United States. But Kim resumed weapons testing, and U.S. intelligence believes he has built more nuclear weapons, according to David Maxwell of Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“The North is no closer to denuclearization today than in the previous administration,” Maxwell says.

IRAN

Trump abandoned Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, ramped up sanctions and brought Tehran to the brink of economic implosion. In response, Tehran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz and shot down a U.S. military drone.

European officials fear the tension could lead to an all-out U.S. war with Iran, or drive Tehran to ramp up a mothballed nuclear weapons program, or both.

Iran had dismantled much of its nuclear program by 2016, but also had continued supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, Houthi rebels in Yemen, and other extremist groups. Trump’s sanctions are aimed at ending those regional activities.

Tehran defiantly produced enough enriched uranium this week to bust the nuclear agreement, trying to pressure the Europeans to get Trump off Tehran’s back.

The standoff is still playing out.

IRAQ & SYRIA

ISIS had lost roughly half the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria by the time Trump took office. He empowered U.S. troops to hit harder with less prior White House approval.

By March 2019, ISIS’ territorial caliphate had ceased to exist, but it has expanded affiliates globally, from West Africa to the Philippines.

In Iraq, its fighters have melted back into Iraqi society, and much of the country is still in ruins, with 1.7 million Iraqis internally displaced.

Syria remains a war zone with no peaceful resolution in sight. The Assad government is propped up by Russian and Iranian military assistance.

LIBYA

Libya is a failed state gripped by civil war. The chaos started under Obama and hasn’t gotten any better under Trump.

Western countries that had intervened to overthrow dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 did little to rebuild Libya. The power vacuum was quickly filled by former Libyan strongmen, ambitious young militia leaders and a Star Wars bar of extremist groups including ISIS.

The Trump administration continued an Obama bomb-and-raid campaign to drive ISIS out of the towns and into the Libyan desert.

But the bulk of the fighting has been undertaken by rogue Libyan general and former U.S. ally Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are now threatening to overthrow the weak UN-backed government in Tripoli.

VENEZUELA

Trump’s support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s coup plot against President Nicolás Maduro last April went nowhere. Attempts to turn Maduro’s inner circle against him have been stymied by Cuban intelligence, and any notion of intervening militarily has been rendered moot by a small number of Russian troops backing Maduro.

At least 3 million Venezuelans fled the country as it sank into economic decline, partly due to a fall in global oil prices but also because the socialist system promised more benefits than the country’s coffers could deliver. U.S. officials say Maduro has been robbing the country to pay off a network of senior military and government officials to stay in power.

AFGHANISTAN

The Trump Administration is still trying to figure out how to extricate U.S. troops from Afghanistan, after Obama spent two terms attempting to do the same. The conflict has cost the lives of more than 2,400 U.S. troops since they invaded to hunt Al Qaeda after the attacks of 9/11.

Trump’s Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has held multiple rounds of talks with the Taliban. He is pushing a peace deal that would give the extremists some political role in Afghan government in return for allowing a small western military force to continue hunting ISIS and al Qaeda.

The talks have been stymied by two things: the absence of anyone from the government of the current Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani; and the impatience of a U.S. president who would like to bring home a significant number of U.S. troops ahead of the 2020 election. Trump’s repeated declarations that he intends to bring the troops home gives little incentive to the Taliban to negotiate, experts say.

The Unlikely Risk of War Against Russia

What Would the U.S. Do if Russia Attacked with Nuclear Weapons?

Goldfein extended this thinking to specify that, in an instant, US and NATO forces would launch a massive counterattack including, as he put it, “fighters, bombers, tankers, space, command and control, ISR, cyber, special operations and aeromedical teams trained and ready for high-end warfare.”

(Washington, D.C.) Red lights start flashing in rapid succession, space-based infrared sensors detect a heat signature, somebody calls the President…and in what may seem like a matter of seconds, the US launches an immediate, massive counterattack. F-35s, B-2 bombers, nuclear-armed Navy submarines, missile-armed destroyers, Ground Based Interceptors and satellites — are all instantly thrust into action. Why?

An enemy has launched a nuclear attack on the US homeland, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile packed with destructive power…is heading toward North America.

Just what would the US do? Are there a series of steps, protocols and instant counterattack plans to put in motion instantly? According to US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, the answer is “yes.”

Speaking recently at a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies Nuclear Deterrence event, Goldfein mapped out what he would do if Russia attacked the US with a nuclear weapon. He cited a series of rapid, successive steps.

Step 1 – call NATO.

— „Should war with a nuclear power happen – and I’m gonna primarily use Russia as my example today as the most dangerous nuclear threat we face – I fully expect three lights to light up on my red switch phone in the office. The first call will be the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe – General Tod Wolters – who will tell me what he needs to join NATO forces to halt enemy activity and blunt their objectives. By virtue of the speed with which air and space component deploys and employs, he expects us (US Air Force) to be the first to arrive as his (halt) and his blunt force. Because NATO is first and foremost a nuclear alliance „– Gen. Goldfein.

Goldfein extended this thinking to specify that, in an instant, US and NATO forces would launch a massive counterattack including, as he put it, “fighters, bombers, tankers, space, command and control, ISR, cyber, special operations and aeromedical teams trained and ready for high-end warfare.”

This kind of integrated response raises an interesting and relevant question for analysis…what would the respective missions be? Time is, of course, of the essence as millions of lives hang in the balance. An enemy ICBM, after a fast boost-phase launch, will take about 20minutes to travel through space during the mid-course phase — not much time. However, given the training, forward positioned weapons and range of US assets, there is time to destroy the enemy ICBM and likely … the attackers themselves. While specifics regarding which assets might be part of the plan may not, of course, be available for security reasons…here are a few thoughts for consideration.

Should the attack be several years from now, forward-positioned nuclear-armed F-35As (F-35s will have nuclear weapons by then) would enter enemy airspace to instantly attack enemy air assets, but perhaps of even greater significance, destroy enemy nuclear-launch sites. Should F-35s be close to the attacking country and informed of a potential launch by virtue of US-gathered intelligence information, there may be time for an F-35 to attack the ICBM itself during the boost phase with missiles, guns or even lasers. Pentagon officials say these tactics are now in development. F-22s, often cited as a “first strike, first kill” platform, would likely use supercruise speed to immediately attack enemy targets. An F-22 would likely be launched to quickly engage any potential enemy aircraft, given that it is regarded as the best air-to-air combat platform in the world. Sensors, air-to-air missiles and even dogfighting ability would help ensure air supremacy during any possible counterattack. Also, its speed and stealth configuration might enable it to hit enemy targets faster than other attack options.F-22s

Bombers, such as the B-2, would likely use stealth and altitude to go after enemy air-defenses while themselves eluding enemy radar. Also, like F-35s, B-2s are of course nuclear-armed with weapons such as the B61-12. Given the speed, and potential proximity of these air assets, it seems entirely possible that fighters and bombers might be able to destroy enemy air defenses, nuclear-weapons launch sites or even, if ordered by the President, wipe out entire cities. These air platforms could, potentially, attack enemy targets before a US-launched ICBM could reach its target. With this in mind, it is not by accident that Goldfein mentioned NATO because the US and its allies currently have missile defense assets in places such as Romania, Poland and other strategically-positioned areas. F-35s are also forward positioned in strategically significant places throughout Europe to enable rapid deployment if necessary.

While some European defenses, such as land-based Aegis-fired SM-3s, might primarily function as a way to knock out long-range ballistic missiles traveling within the earth’s atmosphere — coming from a rogue state such as Iran — the US and NATO are increasingly strengthening European-based ICBM defense as well. A Congressional Research Report from June 19 called “Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress,” talks about how the new SM-2 Block IIA is enabling faster development of using Aegis BMD for ICBM defense — both Terminal phase and the end of space flight or Midcourse phase. Destroyers and cruisers could be better positioned for response by operating in a maritime environment closer to enemy territory or launching enemy missiles. The Congressional report also cites how emerging weapons such as lasers will increasingly contribute to missile defense.

“The potential for ship-based lasers, electromagnetic railguns, and hypervelocity projectiles to contribute in coming years to Navy terminalphase BMD operations and the impact this might eventually have on required numbers of ship-based BMD interceptor missiles,” the report writes.

The Chief’s mention of tankers seems crucial as well; fighters and bombers will likely need extended dwell time over targets and therefore need to be refueled. Goldfein also mentioned Special Operations Forces (SOF), which calls to mind a number of possibilities. First of all, SOF forces regularly operate within the borders of countries considered high-threat areas; in many instances, this presence is specifically designed to deploy highly-trained, mobile ground-units to attack enemy launch points or command and control assets from the ground. Details of this kind of mission would of course – understandably – not be available, but the Pentagon talks often about forward-operating SOF pursuing missions in high-threat areas.

Goldfein’s emphasis upon Russia seems based on a number of factors, not the least of which is the countries’ commitment to an “escalate to de-escalate” nuclear posture and development of low-yield nuclear weapons. Looking more than a decade into the future, an essay from Air University called “Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Their Role in Future Nuclear Forces,” aligns with Goldfein’s thinking.

No other nation (other than Russia) is likely to have a force with the number and accuracy of nuclear weapons needed to threaten US silo-based ICBMs in 2030, although China has the resources and technology to pose a threat by perhaps 2035 if Chinese leaders choose to expand their arsenal,” the essay states. (by Dr. Dennis Evans Dr. Jonathan Schwalbe).

Following his first comment, Goldfein described “Step 2.” Call NORAD

— „As soon as I hang up with him (NATO Commander) there will be two other lights blinking. And I’ll talk to the NORTHCOM NORAD commander General Terrence O’Shaughnessy and he’ll team – tell me what he needs to support his increased footprint for homeland defense“…- Goldfein. (according to a Mitchell Institute transcript of Goldfein’s remarks)

Homeland defense, it goes without saying, would include the use of Ground-Based Interceptors. These GBIs would be launched into space to find and intercept attacking ICBMs. The Pentagon is fast at work with GBIs, working on new command and control technology, sensors and targeting. Among other things, this primarily involves increasing the technical ability to discern actual warheads from surrounding decoys, debris or other structures. ICBMs not only break up in flight as its warheads and re-entry bodies separate, but they also, by design, travel with decoys to confuse GBI sensors and increase the prospect that a missile will get through. In recent years, the Missile Defense Agency successfully destroyed an ICBM with a GBI, and there is much work going on to not only improve sensors, but integrate multiple interceptors onto a single missile.

The Russian Horn Extends to Europe (Daniel 7)

Russia threatens military response to any NATO action over nuclear-ready missile

David Reid

Published Wed, Jun 26 2019 5:57 AM EDT

Moscow has said it will take „countervailing military measures“ should NATO fulfil any threat related to Russia’s nuclear-ready cruise missile system.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that Russia must dismantle the short-range system, or the alliance will be forced to respond, adding that NATO-member defense ministers would now look at next steps „in the event that Russia does not comply.“

No detail is yet known over what NATO might do although Stoltenberg said the alliance would not engage in any arms race.

According to the Kremlin-owned news agency TASS, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters Wednesday that NATO’s comments „reek of propaganda“ and were falsely attempting to portray NATO’s threat as a „military and political response to Russia’s actions.“

The translation of Ryabkov, provided by TASS, added that Russia would respond to any military action from the 29-nation alliance.

„When these threats begin to materialize into real action, we will have to take countervailing military measures,“ he said.

Earlier this year, the U.S. said it would quit a decades-old missile treaty with Russia if the latter failed to destroy the missile, labeled the SSC-8 by NATO.

Russia’s short and medium range missiles are viewed as a particular threat to neighboring countries as they can be quickly launched, leaving the target country or region with almost no response time.

The 1987 INF Treaty between the U.S. and Russia sought to eliminate nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with short ranges (310–620 miles) and intermediate ranges (620–3,420 miles).

NATO has said Russia’s SSC-8 violates those terms and that Moscow has been deploying the system at locations which threatens countries across Europe.

Russia has been given until the end of August to just five weeks to scrap the system and save the treaty.