Babylon the Great extends her nuclear horn Daniel 7

WARHEAD_NAVY_W76_

Newly Declassified Data Shows Unexplained Increase In U.S. Nuclear Warhead Stockpile

There had been no increases in the stockpile for over 25 years before this data point was released.

October 7, 2021By

At the latest official public count, the U.S. military possesses a stockpile of 3,750 nuclear warheads, with approximately 2,000 more that have been retired and are awaiting disposal. Under the Trump administration, however, a small but unusual bump in stockpile size occurred between 2018 and 2019, according to these same figures. The unexplained increase in the total number of warheads in inventory is apparently only the second reported instance of its kind since the end of the Cold War.

The revelations are among newly declassified details of nuclear weapons numbers in a recently published fact sheetfrom the U.S. Department of State with the title Transparency in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile. This is the first time such data has been released since September 2017, after which the Trump administration took the decision to classify the information.

As the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) observed in their blog on the topic, the stockpile increased by 20 warheads between September 2018 and September 2019, when Trump was in office.

While there is no information immediately available to explain that 20-warhead increase, FAS suggests that one possibility is the production of the controversial low-yield W76-2 nuclear warheads for the U.S. Navy’s Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The-then presidential candidate Joe Biden warned before taking office that fielding the W76-2 was a “bad idea” and that the warhead’s existence makes the U.S. government “more inclined to use them” than in the past.

Regardless, the Trump administration pushed forward with the production of the W76-2, pointing to Russian plans for the first use of tactical nuclear weapons as justification.

According to FAS, the first W76-2 was produced in February 2019 and the final example was completed in June 2020. While that might explain some of the background to the spike, it’s not conclusive, especially since the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has gone on the record to say that some W76-1s were converted into W76-2s, which wouldn’t result in any change in the total number of warheads in the stockpile.

Another possibility relates the spike to the Nuclear Posture Review under the Trump administration, which was released in 2018. This reversed the existing plan to completely remove the B83-1 gravity bomb from service. It could be that the bump reflects a change in retirement schedules there somehow, although the timeline doesn’t seem to match up.

Whatever the reason for the spike, the appearance of the newly declassified data is interesting in itself. The State Department fact sheet notes that “Increasing the transparency of states’ nuclear stockpiles is important to nonproliferation and disarmament efforts, including commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and efforts to address all types of nuclear weapons, including deployed and non-deployed, and strategic and non-strategic.”

The latest figures are correct as of September last year, revealing that the U.S. has dismantled 711 nuclear warheads since September 30, 2017, when the figures were last made public. Prior to then, the United States had 4,717 nuclear warheads in its stockpile as of September 2014, and 5,113 warheads in September 2009.

It’s also worth noting the classification for warheads in the stockpile, and those that have been retired. The nuclear stockpile includes both operational “ready-for-use” warheads as well as non-operational ones, kept in a depot, which would require longer to make ready. Meanwhile, retired warheads are removed from their delivery platform and are no longer functional, essentially waiting to be dismantled.

The fact sheet also compares the latest total to the peak of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile — 31,255 warheads in Fiscal Year 1967 — and the total at the end of the Cold War — 22,217 in late 1989.

The figures do not provide subtotals of strategic and tactical weapons, although the fact sheet does confirm that numbers of U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons have declined by more than 90 percent since September 1991. In the past, this category included weapons such as nuclear mines, artillery, tactical ballistic missiles, tactical cruise missiles, tactical gravity bombs, and anti-submarine weapons. Today, this class of weapon has been reduced to gravity bombs, although modernization of these weapons continues.

The timing of the latest nuclear warheads fact sheet coincides with a review of nuclear weapons policy and capabilities by the Biden administration. Declassifying the nuclear stockpile information is also likely geared toward next January’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference, in which nuclear powers who have signed the treaty — among the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China — will address the issue of disarmament commitments.

The State Department’s move could therefore be intended to apply pressure on Russia and China in particular, to release more details about their prospective nuclear stockpiles. Both of those countries are in the process of introducing new and diversestrategic weapons capabilities, while China is thought to have embarked on a considerable expansion of its nuclear delivery systems.

In the case of Russia, the Biden administration may hope that the newly released details encourage Moscow to be more transparent about its own nuclear stockpile within the framework of further extending, or replacing the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START. China, for its part, is not a signatory of New START and while the Biden administration is expected to make a push to include Beijing as well, officials there have been lukewarm in the past about becoming involved in such treaties.

As The War Zone has examined in the past, New START places hard limits on the total number of strategic nuclear weapon delivery systems, as well as the warheads that they carry, that each country can possess. The arrangement is seen as being key to preventing a new nuclear arms race between the two powers and the Biden administration is apparently keen to negotiate new arms control deals with Russia, especially given the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, in 2019.

In terms of nuclear policy, the Biden administration, for its part, seems set on continuing much of the strategic weapons modernization that was already underway during the Trump administration, despite the president-elect making calls for reducing spending on nuclear weapons, even stating that “the United States does not need new nuclear weapons.”

Current modernization plans now include replacing LGM-30G Minuteman IIIintercontinental ballistic missiles with the future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, at a total cost of around $264 billion. For the Navy, as well as the aforementioned W76-2 warhead, there are also longer-term plans for new ballistic missile submarines as well as upgrades for the Trident SLBMs to keep them viable until the 2040s.

The Air Force, meanwhile, expects to receive around 1,000 examples of the stealthy Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile to replace the existing Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), to be armed with refurbished W80-4 warheads. This is in addition to its revitalized inventory of tactical nuclear weapons, based around the B61-12gravity bomb. While the LRSO program has a projected cost of $16.2 billion, the B61-12 is notoriously worth more than twice its weight in gold, as The War Zone has examined in the past

That suggests that despite pre-election rhetoric about pursuing a “sustainable nuclear budget,” the nuclear weapons plans of the current administration are more or less business as usual. The hopes of some analysts that the United States might even do away with the ICBM leg of its nuclear triad were swiftly dashed, the Biden administration quickly committing itself to the primacy of the nuclear triad itself — ICBMs, nuclear-capable Air Force bombers, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. All of those areas are undergoing a process of modernization.

On the other hand, the latest nuclear weapons fact sheet does seem to signal a clear move toward increasing transparency in terms of nuclear stockpiles. While this would seem calculated as a way of exerting pressure on Russia and China to increase their own levels of transparency in this regard, it remains to be seen how effective that policy might be.

The Saudi Nuclear Horn Should Face Full UN Inspection: Revelation 7

Saudis Nuclear Program Should Face Full UN Inspection: Iran Official

As top US officials variously meet leading Saudis, Iran’s deputy foreign minister calls for Riyadh to open its atomic sites to full inspection and for Israel to sign NPT.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Reza Najafi Tuesday urged Saudi Arabia to be transparent over its nuclear activities and open up the access of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Najafi rejected remarks by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan earlier Tuesday to the UN General Assembly criticising “Iran’s continued breaches and violations of international agreements and treaties related to the nuclear agreement, and its escalation of its nuclear activities in addition to research and development activities.”

Addressing the UN General Assembly’s high-level meeting held to commemorate and promote International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (September 26), Najafi said Iran rejected the retention, stockpiling, development, use, and proliferation of nuclear arms.

Iran is in a dispute with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over traces of previously undeclared radioactive material that it has failed to fully explain and over monitoring access to the UN nuclear watchdog.

Reza Najafi, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for legal affairs. FILE PHOTO

Reza Najafi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for legal affairs. FILE PHOTO

It has also been enriching uranium to 60 percent and stockpiling it in violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.

Najafi condemned the modernization and strengthening of nuclear arsenals by the United States and other nuclear-weapon states in violation of their arms-reduction commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Najafi said Israel continued to “threaten peace and security in the Middle East and beyond through its clandestine nuclear program,” and urged the world to invite Israel to join the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA monitoring.

Unlike Israel, which is believed to hold around 180 nuclear bombs, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are NPT signatories. Saudi Arabia – which has no nuclear reactor but reportedly past nuclear links with both Iraq and Pakistani scientist AQ Khan – has limited the Safeguards access of the IAEA under a ‘small quantities protocol.’

Referring to a 2018 interview with the US CBC’s 60 Minutes program in which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman suggested Riyadh might adopt nuclear weapons if Iran developed one, Iran’s state-run English channel Press TVand Tasnim news agency both claimed Wednesday that there is “international concern” over Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions.

Saudi Arabia backed former United States president Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from Iran’s 2015 deal with world powers limiting its nuclear program – the JCPOA, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The new administration of President Joe Biden has continued Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions as Iran has continued to expand its atomic program with steps that began in 2019.

Prince Faisal this week met with US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss recent developments in Iran’s nuclear case. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia Tuesday to discuss Yemen and Iran – the White House kept Sullivan’s visit low-profile and no photos were issued.

In his speech to the annual UN General Assembly last week, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz expressed hope that continuing talks with Iran, brokered by Baghdad, to restore relations would build confidence. The kingdom cut diplomatic ties in 2016 when protestors attacked its Tehran embassy after Riyadh executed 47 dissidents including leading Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

The Saudi Nuclear Horn threatens Iran: Daniel

Saudi king Tells UN Kingdom Supports Efforts To Prevent Nuclear Iran

US Says Window Open For Iran Nuclear Talks But Won’t Be Forever

Thursday, 23 Sep 2021 20:38 

WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) – The window is still open to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but Tehran has yet to indicate whether it is willing to resume talks in Vienna or whether it would do so on the basis of where they left off in June, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

The official told reporters on condition of anonymity that Washington’s patience would not last forever but declined to set a deadline, saying this depended on technical progress in Iran’s nuclear program and a wider judgment by the United States and its partners on whether Iran was willing to revive the deal.

“We’re still interested. We still want to come back to the table,” the senior U.S. State Department official said in a telephone briefing. “The window of opportunity is open. It won’t be open forever if Iran takes a different course.”

Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear arms, in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. Former President Donald Trump quit the deal three years ago and re-imposed harsh sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors that have crippled its economy, prompting Iran to take steps to violate its nuclear limits.

The U.S. official declined to say what the United States might do if Iran refuses to return to negotiations, or if a resumption of the original deal proves impossible. Such U.S. contingency planning is often referred to as “Plan B.”

“The ‘Plan B’ that we’re concerned about is the one that Iran may be contemplating, where they want to continue to build their nuclear program and not be seriously engaged in talks to return to the JCPOA,” he said, in a reference to the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Babylon the Great flouts international law by ignoring nuclear weapons prohibition treaty

U.S. flouts international law by ignoring nuclear weapons prohibition treaty

Voices / Letters from readers

The writer serves as pastor of Centre Congregational Church (United Church of Christ).

On Aug. 13, I stood on Main Street, Brattleboro, with my two friends, Daniel Sicken and Bill Pearson, to protest the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Here is what I learned while standing in solidarity with them: Nuclear weapons are against international law, and the United States (legally) violates that law.

How can this conclusion be made?

The United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons outlaws the development, manufacture, testing, possession, transfer, acquisition, stockpiling, use or threat of use, control or receipt, stationing, or deploying of nuclear weapons. This treaty renders nuclear weapons under the same prohibitive category as land mines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons, and poison gas.

The treaty entered into force when the respective legislatures of 50 countries ratified it (October 2020). 

Under its terms, those nations that do not ratify it are not bound by its requirements.The United States and all of the remaining nations that possess/deploy nuclear weapons neither signed or ratified the treaty.

The treaty is an expression by those nations that signed it (86) and ratified it (53) of their frustration with those many nations that have not sufficiently abided by its goal to pursue disarmament “in good faith.” It has been over 50 years!

As of September 2020, the United States has the most deployed nuclear weapons in the world: 1,750.

Russia has 1,572 deployed weapons.

China possesses only 320 nuclear weapons (total).

France has 200 deployed nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom has 60 deployed nuclear weapons.

Pakistan has 160; India, 150; Israel, 90; and North Korea, 35 nuclear weapons (total).

As a student of international relations at the American University’s School for International Service, I studied nuclear brinkmanship. I suppose that if one’s highest allegiance is not faith, the study of the worthiness, morality, and effectiveness of nuclear weapons is debatable, and their possession and use are even justifiable.

But, if the paradigm to which one is ultimately accountable is theological and not geopolitical, is spiritual and not militaristic, is Christocentric and not nationalist — is the morality and, thus, legality of nuclear weapons even debatable?

I strive to think primarily as a Christian and secondarily as a United States citizen. Yet, this proves difficult because since I began to attend school I was told to pledge allegiance to the flag, and even singing the national anthem before every professional sports match has somehow become a cultic ritual.

Many still hail the United States as a “Christian nation.” Yet, as the famous theologian H. Richard Niebuhr once stated, “Christendom has often achieved apparent success by ignoring the precepts of its founder.”

And what is a precept of our Lord and Savior? “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-44).

To that, I respond, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Thank you, Daniel and Bill, for your witnesses.

Rev. Dr. Scott Couper
Brattleboro

New Arms and Nuclear Risks Spells and End to this World: Revelation 16

New Arms and Nuclear Risks Could Spell End to the Asian Century

Sep 21, 2021

Since 1945, the only successful economic modernization worldwide has occurred in Asia, with focus on economic development. After a decade of US pivot to the region, arms races and nuclear risks are rising.

According to the new trilateral security pact (AUKUS) between the United States, the UK and Australia, Washington and London will “help” Canberra to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

The $66 billion deal effectively killed Australia’s $90 billion conventional sub deal with France, thereby causing a major ruckus with Washington’s NATO partner. 

Stunningly, US and Australian officials had been in secret talks for months over the plan that was hatched more than a year ago by the far-right Trump administration. Yet, it was both embraced and accelerated by the Biden White House, which claimed to offer an “alternative” to four years of Trump devastation.

The pact will escalate regional arms races and nuclear proliferation, which is strongly opposed by China and casts a dark shadow over the aims of the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ, 1995). 

Asia at nuclear edge, twice within a year 

Without a decisive and coordinated opposition in Asia, disruptive escalation will not only derail economic development but could result in major catastrophe in the region – as evidenced by last week’s disclosures in Washington.

During the U.S. 2016 election and the subsequent Capitol riot, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, America’s highest military authority, had reason to be concerned about President Trump’s possible use of war to distract attention from domestic turmoil.

According to The Peril, the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, President Trump’s top military adviser General Mark Milley took secret action to limit Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons. Moreover, Milley called Chinese General Li Zuochen to “convey reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.” 

Milley was concerned that “Trump might spark war.” No Demonstrating great restraint and foresight, he did whatever he could, relying on the protocol, to neutralize the risks. But what about the next time?

This is neither the first nor the last of nuclear crises to come. But it is a prelude to what’s ahead in Asia. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon seems to be effectively in charge anymore. Defense contractors are.

New Cold Wars 

In the 2018 Shangri-La Summit in Singapore, General Dynamics (GD), the global defense giant expressed its concern that sales in the Asian market remained behind those in the Middle East.

However, GD CEO Phebe Novakovic, who has served both in the CIA and the Pentagon, believed US defense contractors could double their revenues. To win over “unsophisticated buying authorities,” she believed it was necessary to discourage national efforts to build indigenous capabilities. 

At the time, I predicted that the Shangri-la Summit heralded arms races in Asia; ones that would be legitimized in terms of real, perceived or manufactured conflicts. 

These powerful economic forces are driven by revolving-door politics among the White House, the Pentagon and defense contractors. As U.S. government watchdogs and journalists have reported in the past few months, President Biden’s foreign and defense experts are compromised by alleged conflicts of interests. 

The list includes Biden’s Asia tsar Kurt Campbell, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, foreign affairs secretary Antony Blinken; and defense secretary Lloyd Austin. 

Each and all have longstanding economic ties with defense contractors. 

Contractors pivot from Middle East to Asia 

In 2016-20, Asia and Oceania (42% of world total) led arms imports, leaving behind even the Middle East (33%), according to the Sweden-based SIPRI.

In 2020, US spent $778 billion in military expenditure, as opposed to $252 billion by China. At per capita level, Chinese spending is less than 8 percent relative to the US level.

Today, the biggest arms importers worldwide are India (9.5% of total), Australia (5.1%), and Japan (2.2%), the key US allies in Asia. Together, they are importing over three times more arms than China (4.7%). 

The largest arms exporter worldwide remains the U.S. (37% of all arms exports), whose share is seven times higher than that of China.

Then, there’s the question of the costs. Over the past two decades, China has waged no major wars. 

By contrast, U.S. spending in the post-9/11 wars amounts to $8 trillion in cumulative current dollars, as well as 1 million lost lives in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan, while millions have been forcibly displaced. 

Fading Asian Century?

The economic development that has been so successful in Asia in the past few decades is premised on the kind of peace and stability that these arms races and nuclear proliferation will inevitably complicate, undermine or collapse over time. 

In 2011, the Asian Development Bank projected that 3 billion Asians could enjoy living standards similar to those in Europe, and the region could account for over half of global output by 2050. 

That can be realized only if peaceful conditions prevail in Asia, the region can focus on economic development, and arms races and nuclear proliferation can be preempted. 

And that’s no longer assured.

Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognized strategist of the multipolar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has served at the India, China and America Institute (USA), Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more, see https://www.differencegroup.net

Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet

Babylon the Great shows her nuclear might: Danie

US submarine launches Trident II nuclear missiles in stunning show of strength

17:07 ET,

THE US Navy triumphantly test-launched Trident D5LE nuclear missiles on Friday in a stunning show of strength against China’s latest threats.

The scheduled two-missile deployment of the unarmed revamped weapon took place off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida from the USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) submarine. 

The impressive operation involving the Ohio-class ballistic missile warship was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, designated DASO-31.  

Its aim was to evaluate the strength of the ballistic missile submarine and its crew before it is sent out for operational deployment after the subs upgrades.

The Navy boasted of the “unmatched reliability” of the new “sea-based nuclear deterrent” as tensions continue to increase with China.

It was the 184th successful Trident II (D5 & D5LE) SWS missile test flight and follows the last launch in February this year off the coast of Florida.

Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, Director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, said: “Today’s test demonstrates the unmatched reliability of our sea-based nuclear deterrent, which is made possible by a dedicated team of military, civilian and industry partners who bring expertise and dedication to the mission that is truly extraordinary.

“This same team is now developing the next generation of the Trident Strategic Weapon System, which will extend our sea-based strategic deterrent through 2084,” he continued.

The War on Terror Has United the Shi’a Horn: Daniel 8

Mehmet Alaca, Iran news, Iraq news, Islamic State terrorism, war on terror at 20, 20 anniversary of 9 11, US invasion of Iraq, Iraq militias, Middle East news, Iraq politics news, Qassem Soleimani assassination

The War on Terror Drove Iraq Into Iran’s Orbit

By Mehmet Alaca

September 13, 2021

© Andy.LIU / Shutterstock

After al-Qaeda targeted the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, then-US President George W. Bush declared his (in)famous doctrine of the global war on terror, which will continue to have a great effect on the Middle East and the world for the coming decades, if not centuries. The framework implemented an aggressive foreign policy against Iraq, Iran and North Korea, singled out as the “axis of evil” in the new world order.

After 20 years of the doctrine in action, which saw the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq that further ignited regional instability, President Joe Biden has withdrawn US troops from Afghanistan and is determined to end the combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year. Without concluding whether two decades of aggression succeeded in defeating terrorism, it can be said that the war on terror opened a new area of influence for one of the axis of evil, namely Iran in Iraq.

Opening the Gates

Thanks to its Shia population, Iraq has been a significant target of Iranian foreign policy since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Due to both geographic and sectarian proximity, Iran, which sees Washington as an enemy and a source of instability in the region, was suspicious of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. 

Deeming Baathist Iraq as a major threat to its national security, the regime in Tehran has meddled in its neighbor’s internal politics and strategic tendencies ever since coming to power. With the US toppling of Saddam Hussein, however, Iran succeeded in courting Iraq’s Shia population by taking advantage of its shared border and cultural, religious and economic ties.

The fact that significant Shia figures opposed to the Iraqi regime took refuge in Iran in the early 1980s strengthened Tehran’s relations with these groups in the post-invasion period. During this time, the Shia population has become influential in the Iraqi state and society. For example, Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organization militia, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the recently deceased vice president of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), count among some of the most prominent pro-Iranian figures in the current Iraqi political and military establishments.

The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shia resistance group headed by Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim hoping to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, was established in Iran in 1982. It became a pioneer organization for various Shia militias and political groups with connections to Tehran, incorporating the Badr Organization, then known as the Badr Brigades. 

While Iran benefitted from the support of Iraqi militias during the inconclusive war with Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran redirected this mobilization against the US forces following the 2003 invasion. The Iraqi militia group Kataib Hezbollah was formed in early 2007, followed by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, as part of the campaign by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force against US forces.

Iran’s presence in Iraq came to light when the Americans captured several Iranian operatives in 2006 and 2007, among them Mohsen Chizari of the IRGC. Asaib Ahl al-Haq kidnapped and killed five US soldiers in January 2007, but two months later, coalition forces captured the militia’s leader, Qais al-Khazali, alongside an operative of Hezbollah, Tehran’s proxy in Lebanon, Ali Musa Daqduq. It is well known that the Jaish al-Mahdi militias led by Muqtada al-Sadr, who still has distant dealings with Iran, received intensive Iranian support to fight against the United States.

The disbanding the Iraqi army and establishing the interim government by the US after 2003 provided Iran with new opportunities to secure many significant positions in the bureaucracy. In this process, many members of the Badr Brigades were integrated into the new army and police forces, their political connections winning many rapid promotions. Today, Badr is still one of the most active groups within the police, the army and the Ministry of Interior.

Consolidation of Iranian Power

The Baghdad government was formed along ethnic and sectarian quotas. As per the country’s 2005 constitution, the presidency was allocated to the Kurds, the prime minister’s office to the Shia and the position of parliament’s speaker to the Sunnis. The allocation of the executive position to Shia leaders strengthened Iran’s elbow room in Iraqi politics.

The sectarian policies of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who held office between 2006 and 2014, disquieted the Sunni society further. In addition to the fact that the Shia occupied a central position in the administrative system, the American inability to understand Sunni expectations has marginalized Sunni society. Radicalization led to the resurgence of al-Qaeda and later the formation of the even more extreme Islamic State (IS) group in the Sunni regions or Iraq.

After capturing Mosul in June 2014, IS has taken control of almost a third of Iraqi territory. All Shia groups fighting against the new threat were united under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Units — an umbrella organization controlled mainly by pro-Iran armed groups — after Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for all those able to carry a weapon to take up arms.

The PMU militias were provided with American and Iranian-made weapons during their fight against IS. Pro-Iranian militias such as the Badr Organization, Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq dominated the PMU. Active support by the IRGC provided to Iraqi militias and the presence of Qassem Soleimani, a Quds Force commander, at the front lines pointed to Iran’s effectiveness in the field.

Integrating the PMU as a legal part of the Iraqi security mechanism in 2016 further legitimized Iranian influence in the political and military establishments. For instance, almost $1.7 billion was allocated to the PMU, which consists of some 100,000 militants, from the $90-billion Iraqi budget in 2021.  

Defeating the Islamic State

After the declaration of victory against IS in 2017, tensions between Iran and the US, placed on the back burner during the campaign, reignited. While US officials argued that the PMU completed their mission and should be dissolved, pro-Iranian groups reassumed their anti-American tone. 

Thanks to their active role in the fight against IS, Iran-backed militias secured their position in the military bureaucracy and were able to establish themselves politically. The Fatah Alliance, under the leadership of Hadi al-Amiri and backed by pro-Iranian militias, gained victory in the 2018 election, becoming the second-largest group in the Iraqi parliament. Iran has thus become one of the decision-makers in post-IS Iraq.

Tensions increased in 2018 after President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal with Iran. Pro-Iranian forces began to attack US forces on the ground in Iraq. While Iran seemed to want to punish the US via the Iraqi militias, these attacks also aimed at forcing Americans to withdraw from Iraq. The situation has come to an apogee with the killing of Soleimani and Muhandis in the US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020.

The assassinations shifted the tensions to the political arena. On January 5, under the leadership of pro-Iranian groups, a resolution was passed in Iraq’s parliament to call on the government to expel foreign troops from the country. In addition to political pressures, as a result of ongoing attacks by pro-Iranian militias on American bases and soldiers in Iraq, the US abandoned many of its bases in the country. As a result of strategic dialogue negotiations with Baghdad, Washington decided to withdraw its combat forces and retain only consultant support. To a large degree, Iran managed to get what it wanted — to drive the US out and reassert its own influence in the region.

Pro-Iranian militias, already active in the Shia regions, started to show their presence in Sunni-dominated areas such as Mosul, Anbar and Saladin after the defeat of IS. Furthermore, Iran-backed groups pursue a long-term strategy to seize control of disputed areas between the central government and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Iran-backed groups, including the Badr Organization, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Imam Ali, Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada and Saraya al-Khorasani, have been active in the disputed territories since 2014.

At the same time, these militias under the PMU umbrella reject control by Baghdad and threaten the central government. So much so that Abu Ali Askari, a spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, was able to say that “the time is appropriate to cut his ears as the ears of a goat are cut,” referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, while militias were able to flex their muscle against the government in the streets of Baghdad amid tensions leading up to the anniversary of Soleimani’s assassination.

Make Sense of the World

Aiming to limit US influence, Iran has been gradually reshaping Iraq‘s internal and security policy since 2003. While millions are still paying the price of the war on terror in Iraq, which resulted in the collapse of the political and economic systems followed by a campaign of terror by the Islamic State, Iran continues to consolidate its power, both in military and political spheres. 

After an 18-year-long story of invasion and with the US poised to withdraw its combat forces, Iran’s hegemony over Iraq will inevitably come to fruition. The sectarian and ethnic emphasis within the framework of the government quota system not only prevents the formation of independent Iraqi identity but also keeps fragile social fault lines dynamic, an opportunity that Iran will, without doubt, continue to exploit.

Babylon the Great prepares for nuclear war under the sea: Revelation 16

A ‘persistent, proximate threat’: Why the Navy is preparing for a fight under the sea

Sep 10, 12:44 AM

As Russia and China bolster their own submarine fleets and capabilities, the U.S. Navy has renewed its focus on undersea threats and has labeled anti-submarine warfare a priority for all sailors — and perhaps some Marines, too.

In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to acquire two nuclear submarines equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles, and two diesel-powered submarines. And China, which owns four ballistic missile submarines, boasts a force of 50 diesel-electric attack submarines, the Nuclear Threat Initiative reported in February.

To counter these threats, the Navy reactivated its 2nd Fleet in 2018 to focus on threats from Russia — including those under the ocean — and more recently it has held exercises to improve its ability to fight enemy submarines.

“This is where the fight is … where the competition is,” retired Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, then the commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet, told reporters in September 2020.

“Anti-submarine warfare is a primary mission for everybody in the United States Navy, regardless of what you wear on your chest,” Lewis said.

In recent years, Navy leaders have cautioned about increased Russian undersea activity in the Atlantic Ocean, and have warned that the continental United States is no longer a sanctuarysafe from such threats.

“Over the past several years, we’ve realized that there is a persistent proximate threat in the western Atlantic, primarily from Russian Federation Navy Forces, that has drawn a lot more attention due to the challenges that poses to our homeland defense,” Rear Adm. Brian Davies, commanding officer of Submarine Group 2 and deputy commander of the 2nd Fleet, told Navy Times.

“Specifically, Russian submarines now have advanced cruise missiles that have the range and accuracy to strike military and civilian targets throughout the U.S. and Canada and as a result, we put a lot more focus in the area of theater undersea warfare,” Davies said.

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine Illinois (departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled deployment in U.S. 7th Fleet March 30. (MC1 Michael B. Zingaro/US Navy) 

Although the Russian submarine fleet is dramatically smaller than it was at the height of the Cold War, it still has 11 ballistic missile submarines and 17 nuclear-powered attack submarines, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative. These ballistic missile submarines are capable and technologically on par — at least in some ways — with the U.S. submarine fleet, said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

“You’ve got this numbers challenge from the China side, the capability challenge from the Russian side, which in some ways demands different approaches to anti-submarine warfare, but it creates for both cases a big problem,” Clark said.

Bryan McGrath, a former destroyer captain who runs the FerryBridge Group, a defense consulting firm, noted that while the Chinese fleet is not as technologically advanced nor as capable as the Russian fleet, they do have a “ridiculously capable shipbuilding base” that’s churning out submarines.

The undersea threat has become critical now, given the investment Russia and China have made into expanding their submarine forces, McGrath said.

“Bottom line for why now is that both of our major competitors are putting money, resources and technology into this domain,” McGrath said.

Why the Navy re-established the 2nd Fleet

When the U.S. 2nd Fleet was dissolved in 2011 amid the war on terror, undersea warfare was put on the backburner. But the command was resurrected in 2018in response to greater levels of Russian activity in the North Atlantic and Arctic, including undersea.

For the same reason, NATO’s Joint Force Command Norfolk was stood up and the command reached full operational capability in July 2021. According to Lewis, who was also the commanding officer of JFC Norfolk, the command “creates a link between North America and Europe and helps to further develop the desired 360-degree approach for our collective defense and security.”

It is the only operational NATO command on the North American continent, and has air, surface and subsurface capabilities.

The Virginia-class attack submarine Indiana departs Newport News Shipbuilding in 2018 to conduct Alpha sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean. (Matt Hildreth/General Dynamics Electric Boat via Navy) 

The Navy also revived Submarine Group 2 in September 2019 to streamline the Navy’s ability to command and control undersea warfare assets in the Western Atlantic.

Similar to combatant commands, the Navy has theater undersea warfare commanders in Naples, Italy, working with the 6th Fleet, and a theater undersea warfare commander in Yokosuka, Japan, working with 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet. Still another in Pearl Harbor works primarily with the 3rd Fleet. But that same structure was absent for 2nd and 4th Fleet, Davies said.

“We really didn’t have a theater undersea warfare commander that was dedicated to a fleet on this side of the Atlantic serving, basically, NORTHCOM and U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and that made it a natural fill in,” Davies said, referring to SUBGRU2.

The command will soon celebrate its second anniversary, and recently became the organization responsible for training and certifying the other theater undersea warfare commanders to ensure they are fully trained, have all the necessary equipment they need and have the appropriate personnel.

“The command, although not in final operating capability yet, is getting closer every day as we get to train and exercise like we would one day fight,” Davies said.

The Navy had the opportunity to do just that while honing its undersea warfare skills in a new exercise called Black Widow — which just wrapped up its second iteration in August. The exercise aimed to explore new tactics, techniques and procedures, and refine existing ones, Davies said.

An unmanned aerial vehicle delivers a payload to the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine Henry M. Jackson around the Hawaiian Islands. (MC1 Devin M. Langer/Navy) 

Specifically, the exercise relied on a mixture of scripted scenarios, coupled with cutting edge technologies and existing force structure technology that will be used for the next decade, Davies said.

While many of the concepts tested were classified, Davies said “our tactics, techniques and procedures really centered on finding an undersea threat that was very adept at using the environment and the topography to their advantage.”

The Undersea Warfighting Development Center in Groton, Connecticut, is responsible for establishing the exercise’s objectives, and will then use the data collected from Black Widow to provide an assessment of the exercise.

Those results will then be shared with the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center and the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, he said.

“One of the things that the Navy can continue to work on is looking for every available opportunity to train together as this system of systems or team of teams, however you want to refer to it,” Davies said.

“When we have available bandwidth, we ought to be continuing to scratch and claw for every opportunity to get out there and work together in advancing this art of undersea warfare,” Davies said.

Will the Marine Corps get involved in anti-submarine warfare?

Although the U.S. Navy has historically been the service primarily responsible for anti-submarine warfare, that could change since the Marine Corps wants to become involved.

Commandant Gen. David Berger said in November it’s imperative for the Marine Corps to step in and suggested the service could provide logistics support and air defense as ways to counter the undersea threat.

“The undersea fight will be so critical in the High North and in the western Pacific that the Marine Corps must be part of it,” Berger wrote in a U.S. Naval Institute article from November 2020.

Specifically, Berger proposed that the Marine Corps deploy to bases in the Atlantic’s North Sea or the South China Sea to restrict the movement of Russian or Chinese submarines in the event of undersea war.

“By offering forward logistics and support, as well as sensor and strike capabilities, Marine expeditionary advanced bases (EABs) could make a significant contribution to undersea warfare campaigns, including holding Chinese and Russian submarines at risk,” Berger said.

These EABs could also house Navy P-8A Poseidons and MH-60R Seahawks, and the Marine Corps could offer air-defense and logistical support for these aircraft, Berger said.

Another role the Marine Corps could assume is operating unmanned aerial vehicles outfitted with anti-submarine warfare sensors and sonobuoys, and then “deploy and operate passive and active acoustic arrays in adjacent littoral waters,” Berger said.

“In the event of hostilities, when cued by these organic sensors or other joint ISR capabilities, EABs could harass and potentially neutralize Russian submarines with ground-launched ASW missiles or light torpedoes from Marine aircraft,” Berger said.

McGrath agreed there’s benefit in having Marine EABs equipped with a series of launchers with land-attack weapons, along with weapons that could sink ships and take down ballistic missiles, as part of a larger architecture within the joint force.

But McGrath has reservations about the Marine Corps becoming too involved in undersea warfare, given the cost of purchasing anti-submarine warfare platforms like P-8 Poseidons and Virginia-class submarines.

“Anti-submarine warfare is a science and an art and it’s difficult, and it is a mission that pretty much only the United States Navy does within the Joint Force,” McGrath said.

“There’s a lot of money that goes into that, and I want the Marine Corps busy doing Marine Corps things,” McGrath said. “And I don’t think finding submarines is among them.”

Clark believes the Navy first must get down to business incorporating unmanned systems before the Marine Corps jumps in to tackle anti-submarine warfare.

Cmdr. Bennett Christman, commanding officer of the Virginia-class attack submarine New Hampshire gives visitors a tour of the boat’s torpedo room. (MC2 Cameron Stoner/Navy) 

“The Navy’s going to have to first work through the use of unmanned systems to a greater degree, because the Marines aren’t going to be doing anti-submarine warfare unless they’re able to tap into what unmanned systems are going to be doing for the sensing,” Clark said.

The role of unmanned vehicles

Experts believe one solution to modernize anti-submarine warfare is to use autonomous systems to track, trail and potentially engage enemy submarines to neutralize the threat, which would then free up other resources like destroyers for other tasks and cut down on operating costs.

“The unmanned systems give you this ability to do persistent anti-submarine warfare, at a lower cost in peacetime than your manned systems,” Clark said.

According to a report from the Hudson Institute issued in September 2020, the U.S. Navy’s anti-submarine warfare approach likely can’t contend with undersea threats in the event of a conflict or crisis.

The report detailed how the Navy currently relies on a complex web for anti-submarine warfare involving seabed sensors, maritime patrol aircraft, destroyers and ultimately, submarines. But that approach could become challenging in the event these manned platforms are required elsewhere — such as in a time of crisis, the report said.

This strategy could also run into problems if enemy submarines were to overwhelm an area. In addition, the cost of operating systems such as a destroyer and a P-8 Poseidon aircraft could become too expensive if there’s a persistent need during periods of flat or declining budgets, the report says.

For example, Clark said it is cheaper to purchase a medium unmanned surface vessel than a destroyer, and then use the unmanned vessel either infrequently or not at all. However, in the event of a conflict, that medium unmanned surface vessel could be deployed while destroyers are conducting other engagements not related to anti-submarine warfare, he said.

The General Atomics MQ-9B is in development for maritime use. A modified MQ-9A was recently used in an anti-submarine warfare demonstration. (Rendering via General Atomics) 

“ASW is really a lot of searching around and following and chasing submarines,” Clark said. “It’s not like air defense where it happens very quickly, and so it’s more like just a long-term surveillance mission. So, in peacetime, it is a lot of just waiting around for a submarine to come by, detecting the submarine, and then following the submarine.”

The report called for using unmanned systems, including medium unmanned surface vessels and medium-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles like the MQ-9B SeaGuardian, but noted that not all of the systems it cited are employed operationally yet. As a result, the report suggests that this unmanned approach could occur over the next five to 10 years to allow such systems to mature.

The Navy has focused on developing drones that could participate in anti-submarine warfare, and has started to test out unmanned systems that could be used in tracking submarines.

In November 2020, during the development process for the MQ-9B SeaGuardian drone, the Navy and General Atomics deployed 10 sonobuoys from an MQ-9A Block V Reaper and tracked a simulated submarine target.

Never before had an aerial drone dropped a self-contained anti-submarine warfare system. The testing “paves the way” for additional development of more anti-submarine warfare capabilities from MQ-9s, according to General Atomics.

What’s next for the Navy?

Safe havens don’t exist anymore, and that means the Navy must be poised to carry out combat near its home turf, according to Vice Adm. Daryl Caudle, the head of Submarine Force Atlantic.

“Russia took a knee for over a decade and allowed a lot of folks to think the homeland is a sanctuary from Russian forces,” Caudle told reporters in September 2020. “Our homeland is no longer a sanctuary. We have to be prepared to conduct high-end combat operations in local waters.”

If faced with a crisis or outright hostilities, Clark envisions Russia capitalizing on its submarine force, including threatening the continental United States or heading toward Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia to harass U.S. ballistic missile submarines trying to get in or out of port.

Meanwhile, the Chinese’s large submarine fleet would likely try to “flood the zone” to overwhelm U.S. undersea warfare assets, threaten U.S. Naval forces with attack, or try to blockade Guam or Taiwan, he said.

“For the U.S., going against the Chinese, the goal is just keep them away from ships,” Clark said. “It doesn’t matter if they continue to operate or not, as long as they stay away from the ships.”

“Whereas with the Russians, there may be a need to actually sink those submarines because they will — once they get towards the East Coast — they’re going to be a constant threat,” Clark said.

A Russian nuclear submarine breaks through Arctic ice during military drills March 26 at an unspecified location. (Russian Defence Ministry via AP) 

McGrath is worried that the type of equipment to deal with these potential threats won’t receive adequate support in future budgets. The Navy’s proposed budget for fiscal 2022 includes a request for two Virginia-class attack submarines with a topline budget of $211.7 billion — an overall increase of $3.8 billion from what was enacted in FY2021.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday has emphasized that the service can afford a fleet of approximately 300 ships, but has said that the request aligns with the U.S. Navy’s future fleet design plans.

“My fear is that the expense associated with building the Navy that seriously contends with these threats will not receive the attention it deserves, in and among all of the other priorities that our nation seems to have,” McGrath said.

For the future, McGrath suggested the U.S. build unmanned acoustic sensors, both for undersea and surface vessels, and for the Navy to acquire more P-8 Poseidon aircraft and attack submarines. That’s what “we do better than anyone else in the world is attack submarines,” he said.

“That advantage is something that I think we need to never forget, we need to continue to invest in, and we need to double down on.”

Here come the Bowls of Wrath! Revelation 16

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Weeks Away

3 Tishri 5782 – September 9, 2021

Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

Since the Biden administration assumed office, the nuclear talks with Iran have gone nowhere. Six rounds of negotiations have been concluded with no results. In contrast, two other issues have gone too far: the Biden administration’s appeasement policies towards the Iranian regime, and the advancement of the mullahs’ nuclear program.When the Biden administration took office, it announced that it would curb Iran’s nuclear program by returning to the 2015 nuclear deal — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which by the way Iran never signed — and by subsequently lifting sanctions against the Iranian government.Advertisement Apparently desperate to revive the nuclear pact, the Biden administration at once began appeasing the ruling clerics of Iran. The first concession was delivered when the administration changed the previous administration’s policy of maximum pressure toward Iran’s proxy militia group, the Houthis. Even as the evidence — including a report by the United Nations — showed that the Iranian regime was delivering sophisticated weapons to the Houthis in Yemen, the Biden administration suspended some of the sanctions against terrorism that the previous administration had imposed on the Houthis.Soon after, the Biden administration revoked the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group. In addition, in June 2021, the Biden administration lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and several energy companies. Then, in a blow to the Iranian people and advocates of democracy and human rights — a few days after the Iranian regime handpicked a mass murderer to be its next president — the Biden administration announced that it was also considering lifting sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.From the perspective of Iran’s mullahs, Biden’s desperate efforts to resurrect the nuclear deal manifested his weak leadership and therefore a delectable opportunity for Tehran to buy time, get more concessions, advance its nuclear program and become a nuclear state.Notwithstanding all these policies of incentives and appeasements, Iran’s mullahs continued to make excuses seemingly to drag out the nuclear talks. One of the latest overtures was that the world powers ought to wait until Iran’s newly elected president, Ebrahim Raisi, took office before resuming the nuclear talks.By now, Raisi has been president of Iran for more than a month but there has not been the slightest effort by the Islamic Republic to restart any talks; in fact, all the while, the regime appears to have accelerated its enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade. This escalation has even caused concerns among some European leaders and has, surprisingly, led the EU to pressure Tehran immediately to return to the negotiating table. “We vehemently ask Iran to return to the negotiating table constructively and as soon as possible. We are ready to do so, but the time window won’t be open indefinitely” a ministry spokesperson from Germany warned.After stating that they would resume talks when Raisi assumed office, Iran’s leaders are now saying that they are not likely to restart the nuclear negotiations for another 2-3 months. “the… government considers a real negotiation is a negotiation that produces palpable results allowing the rights of the Iranian nation to be guaranteed,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said during an interview broadcast by Iran’s state television. He added that the nuclear talks are “one of the questions on the foreign policy and government agenda… the other party knows full well that a process of two to three months is required for the new government to establish itself and to start taking decisions.”As Iran’s nuclear policy, however, is not set by the president or its foreign minister, this declaration sounded like just another excuse by the regime to buy time and advance enrichment. It is, of course, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who enjoys the final say in Iran’s nuclear and foreign policy issues.At the moment, the Iranian regime is reportedly 8-10 weeks away from obtaining the weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. “Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told ambassadors from countries on the United Nations Security Council during a briefing at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on August 4, 2021. “Now is the time for deeds – words are not enough. It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds, otherwise the attacks will continue.”Once again it seems that the mullahs of Iran are masterfully playing the Biden administration and the EU by stalling the nuclear talks, buying time to get more concessions, and accelerating their enrichment of uranium and nuclear program to reach a weapons-grade nuclear breakout.{Reposted from the Gatestone Institutewebsite}

The Iranian Horn is Nuclear Ready: Daniel 8

Official website of Ali Khamenei / Wikimedia Commons

Many countries are keeping tabs on the ongoing nuclear activities of Iran especially through the nuclear deal that was established in 2015. A probe on the Islamic nation’s nuclear activities reveals that it has enough enriched uranium to develop a nuclear weapon in days.

A report is set to confirm that Iran has enriched enough uranium to develop a nuclear weapon of its own in a span of fewer than two weeks. Former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency Oli Heinonen warned that it was time for a more robust approach to the nuclear threat that Iran now poses. Heinonen said that the findings mean that Iran no longer cares what western nations think of them as they push through with their nuclear program.

“Moreover, in a couple of days, the new IAEA report will be an eye-opener. I predict it will show that stocks of 60 percent enriched uranium and 20 percent enriched uranium, when combined, are enough to produce one nuclear device in just a few weeks — less than two months,” said Heinonen. “This means Iran has already achieved a kind of immunity.”

Heinonen went on to accuse France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, as well as US President Joe Biden — who was the vice president when Barack Obama oversaw the nuclear deal — of living in the past. Heinonen said that it was time to move on from the nuclear agreement that was established years ago. With the US having withdrawn from the deal in 2018, it was up to the three other European nations to take action.

“But this is also an opportunity to find a different approach. Iran has no real interest in nuclear weapons, but it does want to end all sanctions,” added Heinonen.

This probe comes at the heels of the initially chaotic evacuation of US troops along with other allies and concerned Afghans from Afghanistan as the war-torn country has now fallen to the insurgent group Taliban. Thousands of Afghans who still fear the hardline regime of the Taliban have looked to flee the country, including fleeing to Iran, which has said it would provide shelter to Afghan refugees.

It should be noted that the Islamic beliefs of Iran and the Taliban have made the two rivals as Iranians despise the Sunni Muslim Taliban.