Iran is Enabling the Iraqi Horn With Nukes

Image result for short range missiles iran

Reports: Iran is secretly transporting missiles into Iraq that may have nuclear capability

Phil Shiver

Iran has been taking advantage of recent political unrest in Iraq by secretly stockpiling short-range missiles inside the country, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The buildup is part of Iran’s widening effort to assert dominance in the Middle East and could pose a threat to American troops as well as allies in the region such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, U.S. sources told the Times.

Both Iraq and Iran have been gripped by deadly protests in recent months, with more than 1,000 people reported dead as a result of protests in Iran. But public unrest has not seemed to slow Iranian leadership down from engaging in what the Times calls a “shadow war.”

Iran has been attacking countries in the Middle East of late but disguising the origin to diminish the chances of counterattacks. Iran’s stockpiling of short-range missiles in Iraq also serves as a strategic deterrent. If Iran were to face an attack, it could potentially strike back with the missiles stored outside its borders.

The missiles have an estimated range of 600 miles and are capable of reaching Jerusalem from outside Baghdad.

The missiles might be nuclear-capable

The same day that the news broke, a letter was released from the French, German, and British ambassadors to the United Nations alleging that Iran now has nuclear-capable missiles.

According to CNN, in the letter, “the ambassadors listed four examples of activity indicating nuclear-capable missiles, adding that ‘Iran’s developments of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and related technologies is inconsistent’ with a UN resolution restraining the country from doing so.”

The U.N. resolution the letter cited endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of in 2018 but which is still supported by the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia.

The letter cited footage of a flight test for a new Shahab-3 ballistic missile — which has a range of about 600 miles — equipped with a maneuverable re-entry vehicle that makes it “technically capable” of delivering a nuclear weapon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has denied the allegation on social media.

These moves come amid a growing presence of U.S. military in the Middle East. About 14,000 troops have been sent to the region since May, and reports Wednesday said that the Trump administration is considering sending 14,000 more, though the Pentagon has denied the claim.

Pakistan Prepared to Nuke India (Revelation 8 )

Kyle Mizokami

The National Interest

Key point: South Asia is one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear-weapons zones.

Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.

Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.

Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.

Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.

The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.

Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.

Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs. The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service. Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.

The sea component of Pakistan’s nuclear force consists of the Babur class of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the U.S. government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology. Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems.

Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the DiplomatForeign PolicyWar is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This article first appeared last year.

Image: Reuters. 

Trump warns of a ‘major event’

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Trump says it will be hard to unify country without a ‘major event’

By — Yamiche Alcindor

Politics Jan 30, 2018 4:37 PM EST

Hours before his first State of the Union, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he wants to unite the country amid “tremendous divisiveness” and hopes he can do so without a traumatic event affecting Americans.

Trump spoke about creating a more united country during a lunch with a number of television news anchors. Trump said the United States has long been divided, including during the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton. Trump also said that Americans usually come together during times of suffering.

“I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity,” Trump said. “Without a major event where people pull together, that’s hard to do. But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing.”

The president also said the country’s divisions date back to both Republican and Democratic administrations, citing the scandals that led to Clinton’s impeachment by the House in 1998.

“I want to see our country united. I want to bring our country back from a tremendous divisiveness, which has taken place not just over one year, over many years, including the Bush years, not just Obama.” he said.

Trump went on to say that uniting people would also be hard because of issues like health care, because some people want “free health care paid by the government” and others want “health care paid by private, where there’s great competition.”

The comments came as the president was putting the finishing touches on his first State of the Union address Tuesday night.

According to a White House official, Trump’s speech will be about 50 minutes long, and was written with help from H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor, Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, Gary Cohn, the chief economic advisor, Stephen Miller, the senior policy advisor, and Ross Worthington and Vince Haley, who are both speechwriters.

Nuclear Autumn and One Third of Mankind Dead (Revelation 8 )

Scientists say only 100 ballistic missiles would start a Nuclear Autumn and leave two billion dead

By Ralph R. Ortega For Dailymail.com 02:16 EST 05 Dec 2019 , updated 07:36 EST 05 Dec 2019

It only would take 100 of the almost 14,000 nuclear warheads in the world to trigger a Nuclear Autumn and an unimaginable death toll, scientists have found.

There are specifically 13,865 war heads to be precise.

But the detonation of only 100 is all that it would take to set off a Nuclear Autumn. That would result in a 10 to 20  per cent cut in agricultural production, and a disruption of industrial supply chains.

There are 13,865 nuclear warheads, but only 100 can trigger a Nuclear Autumn, scientists have found

The number of people dead in such nuclear holocaust would be as high as two billion, scientists Joshua M. Pearce and David C. Denkenberger, write in a paper published in the journal Safety

The number of people dead in such nuclear holocaust would be as high as two billion, scientists Joshua M. Pearce and David C. Denkenberger, respectively from Michigan Tech University and Tennessee State University, wrote last year in a paper published in the journal Safety, reports.

‘Stated simply: no country should have more nuclear weapons than the number necessary for unacceptable levels of environmental blow-back on the nuclear power’s own country if they were used,’ they wrote.

The two scientists found that nine of the six nuclear powers, launching one hundred weapons would essentially destroy their own societies in the process, repors RealClearScience.

India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, North Korea, Israel, and China would all likely lose half their populations from starvation in a Nuclear Autumn, which is not as devastating as the ‘Nuclear Winter’ scenario depicted during the Cold War, which was at the time said to have brought on a prolonged period of global cooling.

The starvation in the autumn scenario would result from detonating the 100 IBCMs in dense urban areas. People living in France, Russia and the US would be spared because of the sizable land masses for growing crops.

The theoretical global effects of nuclear war wouldn’t necessarily result from the explosions of multiple war heads, but more from the resulting fires. Firestorms would rise from dropping war heads on dense urban areas, sending 7 trillion grams of soot into the atmosphere.

Gradually setting into the stratosphere, the particles could linger for years while blocking the sun’s rays and lowering temperatures around the globe. Scientists already have seen this on a smaller level from observing the impacts of localized, wildfires.

“This would be more than sufficient to produce the lowest temperatures Earth has experienced in the past 1,000 years — lower than during the post-medieval Little Ice Age or in 1816, the so-called ‘Year Without a Summer’, write Pearce and Denkenberger.

It would result in a 20% drop in sunlight and lead to a 19% drop in global precipitation‘.

An exchange say of 1,000 war heads remains more devastating, leaving as many as 140,000 Americans dead from global food shortages, in addition to direct deaths from nuclear strikes.

Billions more around the world would also starve to death.

Pearce and Denkenberger only examined the affects a Nuclear Autumn would have on food production. They say there also would be damaging effects on economic systems, a ‘reduction in medical supplies and personnel, high levels of pollution, psychological stress, increased diseases and epidemics, as well as enhanced UV radiation causing increased rates of skin cancer’.

Unnerving footage of the first bomb tests in Nevada

An exchange say of 1,000 war heads remains more devastating, leaving as many as 140,000 Americans dead from global food shortages, in addition to direct deaths from nuclear strikes (file image)

Babylon the Great Sending Several Thousand More Troops to Mideast

In this photo released by the official website of the Office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Rouhani says Tehran hasn’t closed the window on talks with the U.S. but reiterated his government’s standing condition that the…  (Associated Press)

US considers sending several thousand more troops to Mideast

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is considering sending several thousand additional troops to the Middle East to help deter Iranian aggression, amid reports of escalating violence in Iran and continued meddling by Tehran in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the region.

John Rood, defense undersecretary for policy, told senators Thursday that Defense Secretary Mark Esper “intends to make changes” to the number of troops deployed in the region. Other officials said options under consideration could send between 5,000 and 7,000 troops to the Middle East, but they all stressed that there have been no final decisions yet. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The troop deliberations follow several decisions since spring to beef up the U.S. presence in the Middle East because of a series of maritime attacks and bombings in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. and others have blamed on Iran.

President Donald Trump has approved those increases, even though he also routinely insists that he is pulling U.S. troops out of the Middle East and withdrawing from what he calls “endless wars” against extremists. In October, Trump told his supporters that despite the sacrificing of U.S. lives in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, the region is less safe and stable today. “The single greatest mistake our country made in its history,” he said, “was going into the quicksand of the Middle East.”

Asked about a possible troop increase, Trump told reporters Thursday that, ”We’ll announce whether we will or not. Certainly there might be a threat. And if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly. But we will be announcing what we may be doing — may or may not be doing.”

Military leaders have argued that the U.S. needs to increase its presence in the region in order to deter Iran from conducting more and broader attacks. Rood provided no details to back up why the additional troops are needed, but said the U.S. is concerned about recent intelligence indications suggesting an increased threat from Iran.

Rood was asked several times about reports that 14,000 more troops could be sent to the region. He repeatedly said Esper hasn’t made a decision yet, but didn’t specifically confirm or deny the number, so his answers appeared only to confuse senators. Shortly after the hearing, Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah sent out a statement flatly denying the 14,000 number, saying Esper told the Senate committee chairman Thursday morning that “we are not considering sending 14,000 additional troops” to the region.

The troop discussions came as the Trump administration on Thursday accused Iranian security forces of killing more than 1,000 people in crackdowns against recent protests that have swept the country.

The estimated death toll is significantly higher than previously estimates from human rights groups and others, and the administration did not present documentary evidence to back up the claim. But Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, told reporters the tally was based on a variety of reports coming out of Iran as well as intelligence analyses.

Speaking at the State Department, Hook said the U.S. had received and reviewed video of one specific incident of repression in the city of Mahshahr in which the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps had mowed down at least 100 protesters with machine-gun fire.

He said the video was one of tens of thousands of submissions the U.S. has gotten since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appealed last month for Iranians to submit evidence of atrocities by the authorities in putting down the protests. In it, he said IRGC forces can be seen opening fire on protesters blocking a road and then surrounding those who fled to nearby marshlands where they were sprayed with bullets.

“In this one incident alone the regime murdered as many as 100 Iranians and possibly more,” Hook told reporters at the State Department. He did not display the video but said the actions it depicted corresponded to accounts of a brutal nationwide crackdown on the demonstrations, which started in response to gasoline price increases and rationing.

“We have seen reports of many hundreds more killed in and around Tehran,” he said. “And, as the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over 1,000 Iranian citizens since the protests began.” The dead include 13- and 14-year-old children, he said.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said Iran had “killed hundreds and hundreds of people in a very short period of time” and called for international pressure to be applied. “They are killing protesters. They turned off their internet system. People aren’t hearing what’s going on,” he told reporters while hosting a lunch for the ambassadors of U.N. Security Council members.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and there was no immediate comment on state media in Iran.

There was no known public video that supported Hooks’ allegation of a massacre in Mahshahr, although he said the State Department had gotten more than 32,000 responses to Pompeo’s appeal for videos and other evidence using the encrypted messaging app Telegram, which is popular in Iran.

Nor has there been any widely accepted claim matching Hook’s death toll of more than 1,000. Amnesty International believes at least 208 people have been killed and that the number could be higher. Iran has disputed that figure, but has refused to offer any nationwide statistics of the number of injuries, arrests or deaths from the unrest.

However, Hook’s numbers appear to match a figure put out late Wednesday by the Iranian exile group called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which has paid Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for speeches at its events in the past.

The MeK alleged late Wednesday that more than 1,000 people had been killed. It published a list of 320 people it said it had identified so far as having been killed but did not provide proof.

Iran has alleged MeK supporters and those backing exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the country’s late shah, of being behind the unrest alongside foreign powers. It has not offered evidence to support those allegations.

In addition to the deaths, Hook said more than 7,000 protesters had been detained, with many sent to two prisons. Hook said that Pompeo had notified Congress on Thursday that both prisons would be hit with U.S. sanctions for gross human rights abuses. It was not immediately clear when those designations would occur.

Hook’s comments come as the U.S. steps up its “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran that it began after withdrawing from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal last year. That campaign has been highlighted by the imposition of increasingly tough sanctions and an increase in rhetoric critical of Tehran and its leadership.

As part of the pressure campaign, Hook announced that the U.S. is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the whereabouts of a top IRGC commander now believed to be supporting rebels in Yemen. He said Abdul Reza Shahalai was responsible for numerous attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and had been behind a foiled plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States in a Washington restaurant.

___

Lolita C. Baldor, Robert Burns and Deb Riechmann in Washington and Jon Gambrell in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

What’s At Stake? Damaging the Wine (Revelation 6:6)

An Iraqi demonstrator chants as she takes part in an anti-government march in the center of the southern city of Basra on December 2, 2019. Iraq’s rival parties were negotiating the contours of a new government today, after the previous cabinet was brought down by a two-month protest movement demanding more deep-rooted change. (AFP)

The US accuses Iran of secretly sending missiles to Iraq. What’s at stake?

Iran is accused of using its paramilitary proxy group to move missiles in turmoil-hit Iraq, which is caught in a tug of war between Iran and the US.

Tehran has discreetly built an arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq, taking advantage of the ongoing political turmoil in the country, the New York Times reported on Thursday, quoting the US intelligence and military officials.

It’s been over two months since Iraqis in Baghdad and the Shia-majority south have been protesting against a lack of basic services, jobs and years-long corruption that they blame on the government as well as holding Iran responsible for undermining the country’s progress.

Widening Iranian influence in Iraq

The news comes as the latest of Tehran’s efforts to assert power in Iraq — a potential sign that Tehran has no intention of stepping back even after 400 Iraqis were gunned down in protests. The protesters hold the Iraqi security forces and Iran-backed militias responsible for the bloodbath.

According to the New York Times report, Iran-backed Hashd al Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was used by Tehran to move and hide missiles in Iraq. The armed group has played a key role in helping Iran increase its influence in Iraq.

The Iranian influence in the military grew especially with the PMF playing a key role in defeating Daesh in Iraq. The militia was gradually integrated with Iraq’s paramilitary forces, a move widely seen as a boost to Tehran’s control over Baghdad.

The PMF also made a political foray with its commander Hadi al Ameri running as a candidate as the leader of Fatah alliance. In what was dubbed ‘a compromise’ it took two major political fronts, Islah and Bina, five months to form a government.

Many Iraqis think Iran’s involvement in the country’s inner workings went too far. Adel Abdul Mahdi, who has sworn in as prime minister only a year ago, resigned after the protesters entered the Iranian consulate and burnt down the entire building.

Iraqis celebrated the PM’s exit as a step towards an independent parliament, but the process of choosing a new PM is a difficult one. The Iran-backed Fatah alliance claims the right to choose the new PM, while Sairoon, headed by the populist cleric Muqtada al Sadr, says his party has the right to do so. 

Iraqis say they wouldn’t welcome a new PM close to the country’s political elite. But reports say Qasim Sulaimani, Major General of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has attended meetings over the next PM, pushing his own favourite.

The US slammed Sulaimani for interfering in the process.

A further US-Iran strain in relations over Iraq may follow

Iraq has become a centre of a tug of war between Baghdad’s two allies, Washington and Tehran. While the two sides, known archrivals, are pursuing their own interests, the Iraqi government is struggling to find its feet and reconstruct the post-war country.

When the US restored its sanctions against Iran last year in May, and asked Iraq to abide by them, Iraq found itself between a rock and a hard place.

Iraqi President Barham Salih stated his discomfort from the escalation, saying the sanctions were hurting the entire region, not only Iran. He urged the US to de-escalate.

“We cannot afford our country to be dragged into a conflict,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US has sent 14,000 additional troops to the region since May, the month when the US sanctions on Iran made a brutal comeback. For the US, the aim was to counter threats such as attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf which Washington previously blamed on Iran.

A report from the Wall Street Journal claimed the US was considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East as a countermeasure to Iran. The Pentagon strongly denied the claim, however.

The Rising of the Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

See This Strange Picture? This Is How China Is Stepping Up Its Nuclear Weapons Game

Key point: China’s nuclear weapons arsenal is small, but growing larger.

Welcome to the newest U.S.-China arms race: giant machines that test nuclear weapons.

China is building a device that’s equivalent to America’s Z Machine, a device that reproduces the conditions of a nuclear bomb – but in the controlled safety of the laboratory. Except that China says that it’s machine will be bigger than America’s.

The Z Pulsed Power Facility “is the world’s most powerful and efficient laboratory radiation source,” according to the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “It uses high magnetic fields associated with high electrical currents to produce high temperatures, high pressures, and powerful X-rays for research in high energy density science.”

“The Z machine creates conditions found nowhere else on Earth,” Sandia claims.

But those conditions may soon be found in the city of Mianyang, in southwest China, where the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics develops nuclear weapons.

China’s Z machine is “designed to produce about 60 million joules of energy in an instant – roughly 22 times the 2.7 million joules generated at the Sandia facility,” according to the South China Morning Post. “It does this by firing powerful electrical pulses at a target about the size of a spool of thread consisting of hundreds of tungsten wires, each thinner than a human hair. When the pulses pass through the wires, the tungsten explodes, evaporates and creates a plasma with a magnetic field so strong that the exploded particles are forced inward. The particles collide, producing intense radiation – mostly X-rays – and creating conditions that more accurately reflect a real nuclear explosion.”

“With so much energy, we can heat a target to more than 100 million degrees Celsius,” boasted one Chinese nuclear physicist. “It will dwarf the machine in Sandia.”

The National Interest contacted the Sandia laboratory; a spokesman replied that while U.S. researchers were aware of the Chinese project, they could not comment on it.

Building facilities to develop better nuclear bombs comes as tensions are rising between the U.S. and China. President Trump has threatened to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty between the U.S. and Soviet Union. The treaty banned most medium- and short-range nuclear missiles. Trump accuses Russia of violating the treaty by deploying new missiles: Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to retaliate by building more nuclear weapons.

These developments haven’t been lost on Beijing. “China Youth Daily reported in May that the academy [of Engineering Physics] aimed to beat the US in nuclear weapon development,” noted the South China Morning Post. “’Must surpass the US’ has become a motto for scientists and engineers working in the top-secret research facilities, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League said.

Even if China’s machine is bigger than America’s, as with so much of the nuclear arms race, it is not clear how much advantage Beijing would derive. The U.S. has almost 7,000 nuclear warheads to destroy China and Russia as functioning societies: Russia has a similar number to return the favor to America. With an estimated 300 nuclear warheads, China’s arsenal is distinctly smaller, but not small enough that it couldn’t severely damage the U.S.

More efficient nuclear bombs may kill more people, but they won’t change the underlying equation of mutually assured destruction.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This article first appeared in 2018.

Image: Sandia Labs.

We will all be awoken by the first nuclear war (Revelation 8 )

Don’t Sleep On Pakistan and India’s Nuclear Standoff

December 3, 2019, 4:33 AM MST

Key Point: Both countries, and world powers, have an interest in keeping the peace in Asia.

While the United States is preoccupied by the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of potential adversaries such as Russia, China or North Korea, the danger of nuclear conflict may actually be greatest between two of its allies, Pakistan and India. The two nations have engaged in four wars starting since their partition along religious lines in 1947. A fifth could be drastically more costly, as their nuclear capabilities continue to grow and diversify.

Several years ago I made the acquaintance of a Pakistani nuclear science student in China. Curious about the thinking behind his country’s nuclear program, I asked if he really believed there was a possibility that India would invade Pakistan. “There’s still a lot of old-school thinkers in the Congress Party that believe India and Pakistan should be united,” he told me.

I doubt there are many observers outside of Pakistan who believe India is plotting to invade and occupy the Muslim state, but a feeling of existential enmity persists. The third conflict between the two countries in 1971 established India’s superiority in conventional warfare—not unexpectedly, as India has several times Pakistan’s population.

The bone of contention has always been the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. At the time of partition, the predominantly Muslim state was politically divided over which nation to join. When Pakistani-allied tribesmen attempted to force the issue, the Hindu maharaja of the region chose to accede to India, leading to the first war between India and Pakistan. Ever since, the line of control between the Indian and Pakistan side has remained bitterly contested, with artillery and sniper fire routinely exchanged. Pakistan intelligence services have infiltrated insurgents and plotted attacks across the border for decades, and Indian security troops have been implicated in human-rights violations and killings of the locals as a result of their counterinsurgency operations.

Pakistan does have to fear the potential of an Indian counterstrike intended to retaliate for a terrorist attack by Pakistani-aligned groups, such as the killing of 166 in Mumbai by Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2008 or the attack on Indian parliament in 2001 by Jaish-e-Muhammad. In both cases, the attackers had ties with Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, and Islamabad has shown limited willingness or ability to crack down on these groups. Complicating matters, civilian control of the military is far from consolidated in Pakistan, and it would be quite possible for ISI or some other agency to carry out such activities on its own initiative without the knowledge or support of the head of state.

India’s military has formulated a “Cold Start” doctrine to enable its forward-deployed land forces to launch an armored assault into Pakistani territory on short notice in response to a perceived provocation from Islamabad. This new strategy was devised after the Indian Army’s armored strike corps took three weeks to deploy to the border after the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, by which time Pakistan had already mobilized its own troops.

Islamabad sees nuclear weapons as its deterrent against a conventional attack, and Cold Start in particular. This is demonstrated by its refusal to adhere to a “No First Use” policy. Pakistan has an extensive plutonium production capacity, and is estimated to possess 130 to 140 warheads, a total that may easily increase to 220 to 250 in a decade, according to a report by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Many of the new weapons are smaller, short-range tactical weapons intended for targeting frontline troops. To enable a second-strike capability, Pakistan has also empowered local commanders to launch retaliatory nuclear strikes in case the chain of command is disrupted.

While battlefield nuclear weapons are less likely to cause the mass civilian casualties that a strike against a densely populated city would produce, they are deeply worrying in their own way: a state may be more tempted to employ tactical nuclear weapons, and perceive doing so as being intrinsically less risky. However, many simulations of nuclear war suggest that tactical-nuclear-weapon usage rapidly escalates to strategic weapons.

Furthermore, tactical nuclear weapons are necessarily more dispersed, and thus less secure than those stationed in permanent facilities. These issues led the U.S. Army to at first reorganize its tactical nuclear forces in the 1960s, and largely abandon them after the end of the Cold War.

Pakistan fields nearly a dozen different types of missiles to facilitate this strategy, developed with Chinese and North Korean assistance. Ground based tactical systems include the Hatf I, an unguided ground-based rocket with a range of one hundred kilometers, and the Nasr Hatf IX, which can be mounted on mobile quad-launchers. Longer reach is provided by Ghauri II and Shaheen II medium-range ballistic missiles, which can strike targets up to around 1,600 and 2,500 kilometers, respectively.

The Pakistani Air Force’s American-made F-16 fighters are also believed to have been modified to deploy nuclear weapons. The older F-16As and Bs of the Thirty-Eighth Fighter Wing and the newer Cs and Ds of the Thirty-Ninth are both believed to be based near nuclear-weapon storage facilities. The PAF’s five squadrons of Mirage IIIs, based in Karachi and Shorkot, meanwhile, have been modified to launch the domestically-produced Ra’ad nuclear Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), with a range of 350 kilometers. New JF-17 fighters jointly produced with China are also thought to be capable of carrying the Ra’ad ALCM.

The Pakistani Navy lacks a nuclear strike capability, but appears interested in acquiring one. In January of this year, it released a video claiming to show a test launch of a Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missile. The domestically produced Babur is similar to the Tomahawk, and designed to approach its target at low altitude to avoid detection. Pakistan already possesses land-based TEL vehicles to deploy the nuclear-capable weapon.

Reflecting its superior conventional abilities, India does adhere to a “No First Use” nuclear weapons policy. Its security posture is also complicated by long lasting tensions with China, dating back to a border war in 1962 in which Beijing seized territory in the Himalayas. Today, China is closely allied economically and militarily with Pakistan, and even has a naval base in Gwadar as part of a strategy to envelop India. India, by contrast, continues to receive much of its weaponry from Russia, but does not enjoy the same kind of military alliance. It has instead dramatically expanded civilian nuclear cooperation with the United States and other nations in the last decades.

India possesses a smaller number of nuclear weapons, estimated in 2015 to range between ninety and 120. However, New Delhi recently acquired a full nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based nuclear platforms when it deployed its first home-produced nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant. The Arihant is capable of launching a dozen K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missiles. However, these are limited to a range of 750 kilometers, and are thus incapable of reaching the major inland cities of Pakistan or China, a shortcoming India is attempting to address with new K-4 missiles, derived form the land-based Agni-III. New Delhi intends to produce three more nuclear submarines over the years, while Pakistan is considering building one of their own.

India’s chief nuclear arm is thought to lay in its Mirage 2000H and Jaguar fighter-bombers, which can carry nuclear gravity bombs. In 2016, India signed a contract for thirty-six nuclear-capable fourth-generation Rafale fighters from France, further enhancing its aerial striking power. India has also modified its Su-30 fighter-bombers to carry the BrahMos cruise missiles with a range of five hundred kilometers. These could theoretically carry nuclear warheads, though none are believed to have been so equipped so far.

India also has its own array of ground-based nuclear ballistic missiles. The most numerous are slow-firing Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles. Twenty mobile Agni-1 ballistic missiles with a range of seven hundred kilometers are also deployed along the border with Pakistan, while ten heavier Agni-II systems with a range of two thousand kilometers are situated in the northwest for potential strikes on China. India also possesses a small number of rapid-deploying Agni III missiles with a range of 3,500 kilometers, and is developing an Agni IV MRBM and Agni VI ICBM with sufficient range to hit Chinese cities on the Pacific coast.

If there is any silver lining to this steady escalation in nuclear firepower, it’s that neither India nor Pakistan appears to possess chemical or biological weapons. (India completed the destruction of its stock of mustard gas in 2009.) However, the potential for catastrophic loss of human life if nuclear warheads rain down on the cities of the Indian subcontinent is self-evident.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif showed goodwill in a surprise meeting in 2015. Unfortunately, neither state appears capable of shaking out of its intractable pattern of conflict, driven by domestic political forces, which makes diplomatic accommodation difficult. The struggle for Kashmir occupies an important part of Pakistani national identity, and there has yet to be a civilian head of state in Islamabad with the will and authority to bring an end to cross-border infiltration and support for terrorist or insurgent fighters. For its part, the Indian Army has failed to respect local Kashmiri leaders and significantly improve its human-rights record.

In 2016 the killing of Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani led to an outbreak of domestic civil unrest in Kashmir that resulted in dozens of civilian deaths. After attackers killed seventeen Indian Army troops in Uri on September 18, the Indian army launched a cross-border raid under murky circumstances ten days later, followed by heavy exchanges of artillery and sniper fire in October and November that killed or injured dozens of civilians and soldiers on both sides of the Line of Control.

The United States sits awkwardly astride the two states. During the Cold War, the United States tilted in favor of Pakistan due to India’s good relations with the Soviet Union. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, against the advice of the State Department, even dispatched a carrier task force in a futile attempt to dissuade India from its support of Bengali independence fighters. However, in recent decades, U.S. diplomacy has moved gradually in favor of democratic India, both due to its potential as a future superpower and its role as a counterbalance to Chinese influence. The role played by President Clinton in helping negotiate the end of the Kargil conflict in 1999 stood as a key turning point in the region—and marked one of the most dangerous confrontations in recent history, as it two nuclear-armed states were at risk of entering into full-scale conflict.

U.S. relations with Pakistan, meanwhile, have worsened despite a continuing flow of American arms for the Pakistani military. This mutual distrust is due to the presence of Islamic militant groups on Pakistani soil and U.S. drone strikes targeting them. Washington and Islamabad have genuinely diverging interests in regards to Afghanistan, the latter desiring to control Afghanistan out of fear that it might otherwise fall under Indian influence. Pakistan, however, can fall back on its relations with China if the U.S. alliance collapses, leading to a complicated diplomatic balancing act.

Despite diverging political agendas on the Indian subcontinent, there should be a common interest in limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the likelihood of nuclear war. Growing arsenals in India and Pakistan serve to increase the catastrophic human cost of a potential conflict between the too, without evidently decreasing the frequency of inflammatory episodes of violence that spike tensions between the nuclear-armed states.

India and Pakistan will of course retain their nuclear arms, and continue to see them as vital deterrents to attack. However, for such policies to remain tenable in the long run, the longtime adversaries must seek to bring an end to a pattern of recurring conflict that is entering its seventh decade this year.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This piece was originally featured in March 2017 and is being republished due to reader’s interest.

Image: Reuters

IRGC May Be Trying To Cross The Redline (Revelation 6:6)

U.S. Military Base Hit By New Rocket Attack as Iraq Unrest Continues Without Prime Minister

By Tom O’Connor On 12/3/19 at 3:38 PM EST

A U.S. military base in western Iraq has been hit by a new rocket attack as the country’s unrest persisted in the wake of the prime minister’s resignation.

The Iraqi security forces’ media cell reported Tuesday that “five rockets fell within the Ayn al-Asad Air Base in Anbar Province, without significant losses, and we will share with you the details later.” The attack is only the latest in a string of unclaimed rocket strikes often targeting positions affiliated with the U.S. presence in the country.

The U.S. military first entered Iraq to beat back the invading forces of longtime leader Saddam Hussein from neighboring Kuwait in 1991 and to enforce a no-fly-zone. A decade later, in 2003, the U.S. led its own invasion, overthrowing Hussein and ultimately setting up a new government, which has gone on to foster ties with both the U.S. and its top regional foe, Iran.

Washington and Tehran both collaborated with Baghdad to defeat the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), but have since turned on one another as President Donald Trump’s administration exited a 2015 nuclear deal, imposed sanctions on Tehran and sought to restrain its growing influence across the Middle East, leading to new bouts of unrest across the region.

Adding to tensions, the Iraqi people have taken to the streets in unprecedented demonstrations that have forced Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to step down and have targeted the influence the U.S., Iran and others seeking to take advantage of the once-powerful Arab nation still in ruins after decades of conflict.

U.S. Army soldiers, with Task Force Jazeera and a Norwegian officer observe artillery impacts during a live-fire training exercise at Ayn al-Asad Air Base, Iraq, August 15. The site was hit by up to five rockets in an unclaimed December 3 attack as unrest continues to grip the nation. Specialist Zachary Myers/U.S. Army

Two years after Iraq officially declared victory over ISIS, much of Iraq’s infrastructure has yet to be repaired and corruption has run rampant in a sectarian political system many citizens feel was imposed by the U.S., which has at least 5,000 troops deployed throughout the country, and was later exploited by Iran, which has close ties to largely Shiite Muslim militias and political leaders. Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who succeeded former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi last October, sought to balance the two.

Since nationwide demonstrations began in October, hundreds of Iraqis have been reported killed in clashes with security forces. Abdul-Mahdi had reportedly succumbed to the pressure of the deteriorating situation weeks ago but retained the support of both the U.S. and Iran.

At home, he found himself stuck between two top political figures and militia leaders. Influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr broke last month broke with Abdul-Mahdi, urging him to resign, while rival Hadi al-Amiri reportedly called on him to stay in power.

Ultimately, Abdul-Mahdi offered his resignation Friday and, on Sunday, the parliament accepted the move.

A senior State Department official said Monday that the U.S. will “continue to engage with the Iraqi government,” including Abdul-Mahdi and “a broad range of Iraqi political personalities.” The official also commented on the U.S. and Iran’s interests in the nation.

“I think it’s Adil who says famously—the prime minister—’Iran is our neighbor, you are our friend, right?’ I think we have been a reliable partner to Iraq. I expect that we will continue to be a reliable partner, helping to build their capacity to defend themselves and to exert their sovereignty, to help defeat ISIS and can you prevent a resurgence of ISIS in Iraqi territory,” the official added. “So I would expect that we will continue to have that kind of relationship with the Iraqi government and also have economic investments in the country, etc. going forward.”

An Iraqi anti-government protester waves a national flag close to a concrete barricade amidst clashes with security forces along the capital Baghdad’s Rasheed street near Al-Ahrar bridge on November 29. Demonstrations have continued in the wake of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

The official expressed support for Iraqis’ “legitimate demands—reform, anti-corruption” and called for “an end to the violence.” While protesters on the ground welcome Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation, scenes of unrest have continued as rioters set fire Sunday to Iran’s consulate in the city of Najaf for the second time in less than a week.

“Generally speaking—and specifically speaking—the United States believes [in] the inviolability of the diplomatic facilities,” the official said.

Ayn al-Asad Base is one of a number of facilities jointly operated by Iraqi and U.S. military personnel. Vice President Mike Pence paid a Thanksgiving visit to the site just last week and President Donald Trump traveled there last year to celebrate the day after Christmas with U.S. soldiers.

Both high-profile visits stirred some resentment among Iraqis who felt the unannounced visits were a violation of the nation’s sovereignty. The country has also expressed frustration over a recent string of unclaimed airstrikes against Iran-partnered Iraqi militias and widely attributed to Israel.

India Spurns On The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

Indian army’s BrahMos Mobile I Autonomous Launchers, February 7, 2014 (Courtesy Anirvan Shukla)

India’s Harebrained Nuclear Behavior – OpEd

Shamsa Nawaz*December 3, 2019

Politics with an opportune, proportionate, precise and unequivocal resolve represents the continuous face of nuclear signaling within the Indo-Pak rivalry. As has been evident, strategic restraint is so far being ingeniously and perpetually reinstated to redefine the archetypal connectivity between politics and war. It does, however, reassert the proclivity of a paradox. Lowering the nuclear threshold towards one’s redlines represents a gradual upward gradience of threat.

Penetrating through the inherent blurriness of fluid and whirled debates in arms control and disarmament regime to establish fear, honor and interest (Robert E. Osgood) is calculated but mutually fatal. Deterrence is made ever more relevant in a setting of nationalist predominance particularly in India. On the other hand, Indian force posture driven through deterrence while skillfully synchronizing the four components of national power; the diplomatic, economic, conventional and nuclear ability allowed by a hypocritic environment of international order cannot be taken dismissively.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) manifesto of 2014 in relation to India’s nuclear doctrine was raised initially by India’s Strategic Force Command (ISF). It urged India’s stated nuclear doctrine of No First Use (NFU) to change and emphasized massive retaliation (1). Rather than having a flexible and limited nuclear response and looking for counter-force instead of counter-value targets reaffirms the Indian wish of twining the battle of nerves by the arms of death.

The caveated description of surgical strikes and attacks on non-state base points while breaching the sovereign geographical identity of the state of Pakistan, as demonstrated in February 2019 by India, has certainly enhanced an uncertain security environment. “In taking aim at each one of its doctrinal pillars, albeit in language that is caveated and cautious, Menon is indicating that the Indian nuclear doctrine should not be taken for granted, whether by Pakistan or China.”(2) Such a warning espoused along with a doctrinal shift is fraught with serious risks but does it really aspire any trust or confidence? Can the threat of targeting Pakistan’s nuclear weapon’s program in an act of preemption be presumed as a false promise?  Is a consequent aggressive and competitive conventional and nuclear arms build-up by both India and Pakistan more reassuring?

The recently promulgated Joint Doctrine for the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) to fully address the growing Chinese threat in cyber and information warfare, also apparently suggests “a written national security strategy document that would help to outline the primary tenets of a “comprehensive defence strategy” by India (3).

The doctrine categorically indicates the Indian decision of dealing cross border threats with surgical strikes. Akin to the Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States (JP-1), the JDIAF elaborates on the basic fundamentals of power and excellence in war-fighting across the full spectrum of conflict closely knit into a triad.  Both the JDIAF and LWD are coercive and are aimed at deterring Pakistan. India believes that the conventional options for military ‘counter terrorism’ against Pakistan are limited, so the adoption of “Deterrence through Punishment” rather than “Deterrence through Denial” (4) is more viable (5) in order to maintain the notions of ambiguity, uncertainty, short and swift yet lethal and intense, precise and non-linear, unrestricted and hybrid. (6)

The JDIAF represents the operational integration of the three armed services. Publically presented in April 2017, the JDIAF-2017, is the second edition of the doctrine meant to expanding India’s overseas operations. The JDIAF may also lead to a nuclear disaster owing to its ambiguity on “the first-use or no first use of nuclear weapons” (7). Similarly, the LWD promulgated in the latter half of December 2018, offers an insight into Indian strategic thinking and the dominant logic that drives Indian posturing and behaviour towards Pakistan.

Both the JDIAF and LWD have the potential to transform into adventurism at any time. Already the presence of security dilemma, conventional asymmetries, the conventional and strategic arms race between these countries, gaps in defense production, offensive and defensive nuclear capabilities and the non-existence of arms control and threat reduction measures (TRMs) between India and Pakistan have increased the threat of conflict escalation or even initiating conflict among regional powers.

John J. Mearsheimer in the Tragedy of Great Power Politics maintains that states are not satisfied with a given amount of power but seek hegemony for security. Similarly, Carl von Clausewitz, also linked tactics to a wider objective and ultimately, of course strategy to policy (8). Operations, intelligence, technology management, human resources development, operational logistics whether conventional or nuclear, diplomacy and politics all bear ample testimony that the character of conflict is changing.

The trends are new for the strategic equilibrium, however, throwing challenges and opportunities at the same time for both India and Pakistan. At Pulwama, Pakistan clearly exposed India’s long-held myth of conventional superiority. At the same time, it does urge Pakistan to rethink on non-contact warfare abilities. To resuscitate the debate on nuclear thresholds and the uncertainty it generates is equally orchestrated. Understanding of both these doctrines in view of the recent episode of escalations have almost brought the thresholds of nuclear exchange at their lowest. Nonetheless, the political nature of war/conflict and use of military force remain predominant which would keep the Indian nuclear behavior dangerous particularly under the radical Hindutva mindset.

*Shamsa Nawaz is working as a Senior Research Associate/ Editor at Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad.

Notes:

1  Rajesh Rajagopalan, “India’s Nuclear Doctrine Debate,” Carnegie endowment for international peace, June 30, 2016. https://carnegieendowment.org/2016/06/30/india-s-nuclear-doctrine-debate-pub-63950

2  Shashank Joshi, “India’s nuclear doctrine should no longer be taken for granted,” the interpreter, March 22, 2017. https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/indias-nuclear-doctrine-should-no-longer-be-taken-granted

3  “Joint Doctrine of Indian Armed Forces”, Bharat Shakti, April 2017, available at https://bharatshakti.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Joint_Doctrine_Indian_Armed_Forces.pdf, accessed on August 15, 2017.

4  Lieutenant General PR Kumar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd), “Is Indian Deterrence effective against potential aggressors?,”The United Service Institution of India, July 2019-September 2019, https://usiofindia.org/publication/usi-journal/is-indian-deterrence-effective-against-potential-aggressors/

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Joy Mitra,  “When Push Comes to Shove, Will India’s NFU Stand?” South Asian Voices, January 9, 2019, available at https://southasianvoices.org/sav-review-when-push-comes-shove-will-india-nfu-stand/, accessed on March 23, 2019.

8  John M. Mearsheimer, “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), p. 35. John M. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001): p. 35.