Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Saudi Arabian Prince Announces Plans to Build First Nuclear Reactor

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz November 6, 2018 , 4:07 pm

As for those peoples that warred against Yerushalayim, Hashem will smite them with this plague: Their flesh shall rot away while they stand on their feet; their eyes shall rot away in their sockets; and their tongues shall rot away in their mouths. Zechariah 14:12 (The Israel Bible™)

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced during a visit to Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology on Monday his plans to build his country’s first nuclear research reactor.

Construction of the reactor is already underway and expected to be completed by the end of next year. It will follow all the safety standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The reactor will use uranium oxide fuel with 2.1 percent enrichment.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of crude oil and the country with the largest amount of oil reserves. The country is responsible for 15.9 percent of global oil exports in 2017, totaling $133.6 billion in value. Saudi Arabia’s domestic energy needs for their population and for desalination of water is growing. They are looking to nuclear energy to diversify their energy sources. According to Reuters news agency, Saudi Arabia hopes to reduce the amount of oil and natural gas it uses for domestic needs in order to allow it to sell more of it overseas.

The Kingdom plans to build two full nuclear power reactors for energy and as many as 16 over the next 25 years, making it one of the biggest nuclear projects being pursued in the world today. If the plan is realized, it will make Saudi Arabia the second Gulf Arab state to launch a nuclear power project after the United Arab Emirates, which is building four South Korean-designed reactors.

The announcement does not come as a complete surprise. Last year, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that the Saudi government invited proposals for the construction of two nuclear power reactors.

Their moves to develop a nuclear program come in response to the Iranian nuclear program. The Saudi Arabian government is at odds with Iran and has been skeptical of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal they signed in 2015 intended to delay their nuclear weapons program. Prince Mohammed said in March that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, his country will do so as well.

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he told a CBS in an interview.

Prince Mohammed was vocally supportive of President Trump’s decision in May to withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and to reimpose economic sanctions.

The reactor will be used for research and not to generate electricity. The prince also announced plans to launch six other strategic projects in renewable energy, water desalination, genetic medicine, and the aircraft industry

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9450

Egypt hosts Arab war games, in possible nod to growing anti-Iran alliance

Drill by states envisioned as part of ‘Arab NATO’ comes after Gulf appears to open up to Israel, but some warn against having Iran replace Jewish state as regional boogeyman

By AP Today, 5:20 am 1

CAIRO, Egypt — Ground, air and naval units from five Arab nations are arriving in Egypt to join their Egyptian counterparts for war games, Egypt’s military said, in the first sign that a military alliance proposed by Washington and dubbed the “Arab NATO” for its Middle East partners may be gaining traction.

A military statement late Wednesday said forces from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan will take part in the November 3-16 exercises codenamed “Arab Shield” and to be held in western Egypt. Lebanon and Morocco are taking part as observers.

Egypt has been holding separate drills with each of these five Arab nations in recent years, but “Arab Shield” will be the first time that all six will be simultaneously participating in war games.

The announcement came a little more than a month after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in New York with the foreign ministers from the six nations participating in this month’s maneuvers plus those from Oman and Qatar to advance the idea of creating a Sunni alliance uniting America’s Middle East partners against Shiite and non-Arab Iran.

However, the Egyptian military statement made no link between the war games and the proposed alliance, which Egypt may be approaching with caution given its sectarian undertones.

Egypt has become heavily dependent on financial assistance and investments from Gulf heavyweights like Saudi Arabia and the UAE and that might in turn influence its decision on whether to join the proposed alliance.

The Arab NATO idea was previously seen as part of a wider US administration approach to the region, which included some form of normalized ties with Israel as part of an anti-Iran alliance. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries to have official relationships with the Jewish state, though Israeli leaders have regularly boasted of growing, albeit covert, ties with potential regional allies.

While Arab states have traditionally insisted Israel first reach a peace deal with the Palestinians before open ties can be forged, the last week has seen several public signals of a growing rapprochement with Israel. That included a visit to Oman by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and separate trips to the UAE by two Israeli ministers.

On Saturday, Oman’s Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah told a security conference in Bahrain that Israel should be accepted in the region.

Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt, who will travel to the region next week, lauded the apparent growing ties Wednesday.

“In the last few days we have seen our regional partners Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE make statements and/or gestures signaling warmer ties with Israel,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter. ” A more stable region leads to a stronger and more prosperous region. It is good for all.”

But a prominent Egyptian analyst on Thursday warned Cairo against joining a US-brokered Sunni alliance, framing its creation as part of an ongoing process to replace Israel with Iran as the Arabs’ chief enemy and emphasizing that differences between the Arabs and Iran can be politically settled.

“Israel is not a friend and this is a fact despite all attempts to ignore it,” wrote Abdullah el-Sinnawy in the independent al-Shorouk newspaper, alluding to growing public contacts between Israel and Gulf Arab nations that, unlike Egypt and Jordan, don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel.

“Where will the alliance’s front line (against Iran) be? The Arab NATO project is about military confrontation that will be fueled by Israeli participation and no one will be able to bear its grave consequences,” he wrote.

Qatar has reacted with skepticism to the proposed alliance, citing its yearlong dispute with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. The four nations have since June 2017 boycotted Qatar, demanding that the tiny but super wealthy nation limit its diplomatic ties with Iran, shut down the state-funded Al-Jazeera news network and sever ties to radical Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Qatar denies supporting Islamist groups.

Oman is highly unlikely to join the alliance, given its close relations with Iran and its traditional role as a mediator in regional or international conflicts involving Tehran.

The US proposed alliance follows the derailment three years ago of efforts to create a joint Arab force agreed on at a March 2015 Arab summit in Egypt. That force was to be led by an Egyptian and headquartered in Saudi Arabia. But a meeting of military chiefs of staff that was to iron out details of the force was canceled in the last minute in August 2015 and another one was never scheduled.

Last year, Saudi Arabia announced the creation of an Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism. Defense chiefs from some 40 Muslim majority nations gathered for the alliance’s inaugural meeting in Riyadh a year ago, but little has been heard of the grouping since.

Egypt is a member of a Saudi-led, US-backed coalition that has been fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen since 2015, but its role in the conflict is known to be limited to reconnaissance and the deployment of warships off Yemen’s Red Sea coastline to secure shipping lanes.

However, Egypt’s military is likely to be a key partner in the proposed alliance.

The most populous Arab nation, Egypt under general-turned-president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has become one of the world’s top arms buyers. It has spent billions of dollars, mainly in Russia, France and Germany, to acquire fighter jets, submarines, troop carriers and helicopter gunships.

Its recent arms purchases are on top of some $1.3 billion worth of American arms it buys annually under a US military aid program in place since Egypt signed a 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9448

TV report: Israel silent as Iran hit by computer virus more violent than Stuxnet

Tehran strategic networks attacked, Hadashot TV says, hours after Israel revealed it tipped off Denmark about Iran murder plot, and days after Rouhani’s phone was found bugged

By TOI staff 31 October 2018, 9:59 pm 55

Iranian infrastructure and strategic networks have come under attack in the last few days by a computer virus similar to Stuxnet but “more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated,” and Israeli officials are refusing to discuss what role, if any, they may have had in the operation, an Israeli TV report said Wednesday.

The report came hours after Israel said its Mossad intelligence agency had thwarted an Iranian murder plot in Denmark, and two days after Iran acknowledged that President Hassan Rouhani’s mobile phone had been bugged. It also follows a string of Israeli intelligence coups against Iran, including the extraction from Tehran in January by the Mossad of the contents of a vast archive documenting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and the detailing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN in September of other alleged Iranian nuclear and missile assets inside Iran, in Syria and in Lebanon.

“Remember Stuxnet, the virus that penetrated the computers of the Iranian nuclear industry?” the report on Israel’s Hadashot news asked. Iran “has admitted in the past few days that it is again facing a similar attack, from a more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated virus than before, that has hit infrastructure and strategic networks.”

The Iranians, the TV report went on, are “not admitting, of course, how much damage has been caused.”

On Sunday, Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s civil defense agency, said Tehran had neutralized a new version of Stuxnet, Reuters reported. “Recently we discovered a new generation of Stuxnet which consisted of several parts … and was trying to enter our systems,” Jalali said.

The Stuxnet virus was uncovered some eight years ago, and was widely reported to have been developed together by US and Israeli intelligence. It penetrated Iran’s rogue nuclear program, taking control and sabotaging parts of its enrichment processes by speeding up its centrifuges.

Netanyahu is adamant that the Iranian regime remains determined to attain a nuclear weapons arsenal, and has bitterly opposed the P5+1 powers’ 2015 deal with Iran. US President Donald Trump, with whom Netanyahu is closely allied, withdrew from the accord in May.

Referring to Stuxnet, Wednesday’s TV report noted that “in the past, the US and Israel have been alleged to have worked together on operations.” Trying to establish whether Israel had any role in the latest cyberattack, the TV report said: “We’ve tried to clarify here. They’re refusing to comment.”

The TV report noted that “behind the scenes lately, the Mossad,” under its director Yossi Cohen, has been “fighting a real shadow war.”

Without attributing responsibility to the Mossad, the report mentioned the tapping of Rouhani’s phone, noting that the Iranians “had to switch it for an encrypted model because they understand that someone has been listening to him for days and weeks.”

On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged intensified efforts to counter enemy “infiltration,” Reuters said.

In a speech to officials in charge of cyber defense, Khamenei said: “In the face of the enemy’s complex practices, our civil defense should… confront infiltration through scientific, accurate, and up-to-date… action,” the report said, quoting Iranian state TV.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli officials said the Mossad provided its Danish counterpart with information concerning an alleged plot by Tehran to assassinate three Iranian opposition figures living in the Scandinavian country. According to the officials, the Mossad gave Denmark information about a plot to kill three Iranians suspected of belonging to the anti-regime Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz.

The intelligence reportedly provided by the Mossad prompted the arrest of a Norwegian national of Iranian origin earlier this month. Denmark on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to Iran over the incident.

“What Iran hides, Israel will find,” Netanyahu declared in his September UN speech.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9446

Russian nuclear attack on Yellowstone supervolcano ‘guarantees destruction of US’

A RUSSIAN attack on the Yellowstone supervolcano with “hyper-calibre” nuclear weapons are “guaranteed to destroy” the United States, according to a military expert.

By Joshua Nevett / Published 26th October 2018

Trump announces plan to pull out of Russian nuclear deal

Russia should abandon the idea of creating conventional ground forces capable of defeating NATO and “occupying Europe”, Sivkov Konstantin vice president of the Russian National Geopolitical Academy, has said.

Instead, Russia should focus on making nuclear war “irrational” and “meaningless” for the US by looking for an “asymmetrical answer”, Konstantin wrote in an article for VPK News.

Because Russia cannot compare with the US in the nuclear race, he argued, finding another a solution that plays to its strengths “remains the only way out”.

He suggested Russia should capitalise on its technological superiority to create “hypercalibre nuclear munitions” loaded with the equivalent of 100 megatonnes of TNT.

IN THE CROSSAIRS: Russia has been urged to develop advanced nuclear weapons with large yields (Pic: GETTY)

To put that into context, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War Two exploded with the energy of about 15 kilotonnes of TNT – a fraction of the warheads proposed by Konstantin.

The most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, tested by the USSR in 1961, yielded an estimated 50 megatonnes and may have reached 100 megatonnes in its “final form”.

Konstantin argues that Russia needs to produce “40–50 such warheads for heavy ICBMs or ultra-long torpedoes” to ensure mutually assured destruction, known as MAD, in the event of a nuclear war with the US.

He cited Yellowstone supervolcano and the San Andreas Fault Line as pressure points that are “critically dangerous for geophysical conditions in the United States”.

UNSTABLE: Yellowstone has dangerous ‘geophysical conditions’, Konstanti said (Pic: GETTY) Related

“Such attacks are guaranteed to destroy the USA”

“Such attacks are guaranteed to destroy both the USA as a state and the entire transnational elite,” he wrote.

“This again makes a large-scale nuclear war irrational and reduces the chances of its occurrence to zero.”

His terrifying assessment comes amid US threats to unilaterally withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987 during the Cold War.

Trump threatened to pull out of a treaty eliminating some nuclear missiles, including Pershing missiles, due to what he said was Russian non-compliance.

Labour MP Fabian Hamilton said Trump’s “dangerous” threat would “unilaterally withdraw” the USA from a global system of trust the country had been at the forefront of “painstakingly” building, leaving European allies exposed.

“In 1987 it was Europe at the epicentre of the Cold War and the arms race between America and Russia,” he said.

“Withdrawal from the INF brings back the spectre of Pershing missiles stationed in Europe and here in the UK – something I remember vividly from the 1980s.

“If that nuclear conflict was to happen between the two major nuclear powers the UK and our EU allies would probably be the first to be hit.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9443

US and Arab states affirm commitment to new security alliance

Manama Dialogue focuses on countering Tehran’s influence in the region

Mina Aldroubi

Updated: October 28, 2018 05:28 PM

A military conference in Bahrain has affirmed Washington’s push to create a new security and political alliance with Arab Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan, to combat Iranian expansion in the region.

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis said Washington is in discussions to form an inclusive Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) during the two-day meeting.

“The United States is committed to working by, with, and through allies and partners across the region to make this concept a reality and reinforce deterrence of hostile actions,” Mr Mattis said during his address.

Washington is pushing for a deeper cooperation between the Arab states on missile defence, military training, counter terrorism and strengthening regional and economic and diplomatic relations.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir and his Bahraini counterpart Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa told the forum that talks were held about a framework for MESA that included Qatari officials and that the proposed alliance would not be affected by the ongoing boycott of the tiny Gulf state.

MESA “is an alliance for security and prosperity for the region and will be open to those who accept its principles,” Sheikh Khalid said, adding that the alliance would also cooperate on economic issues.

Washington reiterated support for its regional partners to defend themselves against Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on their territories and at the same time called for an urgent end to the fighting in Yemen.

“We stand against Iran’s unsafe even reckless behaviour in the maritime domain like the July attacks on international shipping by Iranian-supplied Houthis in the Bab Al Mandeb,” Mr Mattis said.

Iran’s behaviour disrupts maritime security and global trade, he said, particularly online. “We stand against Iran’s conducting destructive and costly cyber-attacks against sovereign nations and corporations.”

These developments indicate a policy shift in focus towards Iran’s “malign behaviour” in the region, said Kari Schaki, deputy director at the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

“Striking that on the list outlined by Secretary James Mattis of US concerns about Iran, its nuclear programme and sanctions was last,” Ms Schaki said.

US President Donald Trump, who in May withdraw the United States from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran, has strongly backed Saudi Arabia in its efforts to counter Iran’s influence.

The next wave of US sanctions against Iran are due to come into effect on November 4.

Gulf Arab foreign ministers also touched on Middle East peace initiatives, with Sheikh Khalid lauding efforts by Oman, which hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in the first visit in more than 20 years.

Oman’s foreign minister, Yousuf bin Alawi, told the forum that Muscat was offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but was not acting as mediator.

When asked about Saudi’s regional view of Israel, Mr Al Jubeir said that the Kingdom has no relations with Tel Aviv.

“We think that the key to normalising relations with Israel will have to be the peace process and this is enshrined in the Arab Peace Initiative… that calls for Israel to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory and allow a Palestinian state within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital in exchange for peace and normalisation,” he said, adding that this remains the Kingdom’s position.

Jordan’s foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that the Israel-Palestine peace process was of vital importance for his country but he warned that the current deadlock was a “fertile ground” for extremism and radicals.

“The situation is extremely dangerous now… if the deadlock continues it [will] create an environment of despair which could explode at any moment and which provides fertile ground for every spoiler and every radical to exploit with a view of propagating an agenda of hate and fear.”

Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for US Central Command told The National: “US Central Command strongly supports GCC and regional nations working together for the security and stability of the region. All nations prosper when they find common purpose and common ground on the pursuit of peace.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9441

Russia And China Are Apparently Both Under The Impression That War With The United States Is Coming…

October 28, 2018 by Michael Snyder

Could it be possible that the U.S. is heading for a major war?  If you ask most Americans that question, they will look at you like you are crazy.  For most people in this country, war with either Russia or China is not something to even be remotely concerned about.  But the Russians and the Chinese both see things very differently.  As you will see below, Russia and China both seem to be under the impression that war with the United States is coming, and they are both rapidly preparing for such a conflict.

Let’s start with Russia.  After repeatedly slapping them with sanctions, endlessly demonizing their leaders and blaming them for just about every problem that you can imagine, our relationship with Russia is about the worst that it has ever been.

And when the Trump administration announced that it was withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, that pushed things to a new low.  In the aftermath of that announcement, Russian official Andrei Belousov boldly declared that “Russia is preparing for war”

He said: “Here recently at the meeting, the United States said that Russia is preparing for war.

Yes, Russia is preparing for war, I have confirmed it.

“We are preparing to defend our homeland, our territorial integrity, our principles, our values, our people – we are preparing for such a war.”

Here in the United States, there is very little talk of a potential war with Russia in the mainstream media, but in Russia things are very different.  Russian news outlets are constantly addressing escalating tensions with the United States, and the Russian government has been adding fuel to that fire.  For example, the Russian government recently released a video of a mock nuclear strike against their “enemies”

Russian submarines have recently carried out a mock nuclear attack against their “enemies.” The Russian government has released footage of the atomic strike and it is sparking fears that the third world war is quickly approaching.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has published shocking videos that show a range of nuclear missile drills including a submarine carrying out a mock atomic strike. These videos are the latest in a series of escalating war-games ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Express UK.

I’ll give you just one guess as to who the primary enemy in that drill was.

And what Russian President Vladimir Putin recently told the press about a potential nuclear war was extremely chilling

If any nation decides to attack Russia with nuclear weapons, it may end life on Earth; but unlike the aggressors, the Russians are sure to go to heaven, President Vladimir Putin has said.

“Any aggressor should know that retribution will be inevitable and he will be destroyed. And since we will be the victims of his aggression, we will be going to heaven as martyrs. They will simply drop dead, won’t even have time to repent,” Putin said during a session of the Valdai Club in Sochi.

Under normal circumstances, Putin would never talk like that.

But these are not normal times.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is ordering his military to focus on “preparations for fighting a war”

China’s President Xi Jinping ordered the military region responsible for monitoring the South China Sea and Taiwan to “assess the situation it is facing and boost its capabilities so it can handle any emergency” as tensions continue to mount over the future of the South China Sea and Taiwan, while diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing hit rock bottom.

The Southern Theatre Command has had to bear a “heavy military responsibility” in recent years, state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying during an inspection tour made on Thursday as part of his visit to Guangdong province.

“It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” Xi said. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly. “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war” the president-for-life added.

So who are the Chinese concerned that they may be fighting against?

Needless to say, the United States is at the top of the list

The president instructed the military to ramp-up opposition to ‘freedom of navigation’ exercises being undertaken by the US, Australia, France, the UK, Japan and others through the waterway through which arterial shipping lanes have grown since the end of World War II.

Tensions over the South China Sea have been increasing for several years, and starting a trade war with China in 2018 has certainly not helped things.

At this point, even many U.S. analysts can see the writing on the wall.  For instance, just consider what Harvard Professor Graham Allison recently told Steve LeVine

He said, if history holds, the U.S. and China appeared headed toward war.

Over the weekend, I asked him for an update — specifically whether the danger of the two going to war seems to have risen.

“Yes,” he responded. The chance of war is still less than 50%, but “is real — and much more likely than is generally recognized.”

Of course we didn’t get to this point overnight.  Tensions with Russia and China have been simmering for quite a while, and both of those nations have been rapidly modernizing their military forces.  For much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “Russia And China Are Developing Impressive New Weapons Systems As They Prepare For War Against The United States”.

Sadly, the vast majority of the U.S. population is utterly clueless about these things.

But those that are serving in the military have a much better understanding, and one recent survey found that about half of them expect the U.S. to be “drawn into a new war within the next year”…

Nearly half of all current military troops believe the United States will be drawn into a major war soon, a jarring rise in anxiety among service members worried about global instability in general and Russia and China in particular, according to a new Military Times poll of active-duty troops.

About 46 percent of troops who responded to the anonymous survey of currently serving Military Times readers said they believe the U.S. will be drawn into a new war within the next year. That’s a jarring increase from only about 5 percent who said the same thing in a similar poll conducted in September 2017.

Those numbers are jarring.

Some major stuff must be going on behind the scenes in order to go from 5 percent to 46 percent in a single year.

We truly are living in apocalyptic times, and our world seems to be getting more unstable with each passing day.

We should hope for peace, but throughout human history peace has never lasted for long.  Major global powers continue to edge closer and closer to conflict, and that is a very dangerous game to be playing.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9439

Drums of War with Russia Banging Louder than Ever

The Russian nuclear arsenal is getting a major boost in spending from the Kremlin.

Oct 19

China may be quickly becoming America’s newest “big enemy,” but it won’t replace Russia as Enemy No. 1 of the Deep State and Military-Industrial Complex in the U.S., and tensions are still building between Washington and Moscow.

As TruNews reported Thursday, President Vladimir Putin told an audience at a policy conference in Sochi that his country’s hypersonic missiles would be deployed in the “coming months,” potentially allowing Russia to leapfrog both China and the U.S. in terms of nuclear deterrence capability. The U.S. has no means of preventing a strike from a hypersonic attack, which travels at speeds far greater than Mach 5.

Of the six advanced weapons systems Putin unveiled earlier this year, two of them will be ready for deployment by 2020, according to military intelligence sources who spoke with NBC News. The report didn’t say which two systems would be ready.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute notes that Russia is well into its 10-year military modernization program, which began in 2011, and has now turned its attention to its “nuclear triad”—ground, sea, and air-based delivery systems—“dramatically” increasing its funding for nuclear weapons. In 2016, the most recent year for which budget data is available, spending on acquisition and modernization of Russian nukes has increased by 427 percent since 2010.

Russia now has the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world.

It also has some of the most sophisticated aerial defense systems in the world, and has been exporting that technology, most recently to Syria, which has received S-300 systems in the wake of the downing of a Russian surveillance aircraft during airstrikes by Israel. Military sources in Syria are reporting that specialists are now reprogramming the S-300 aerial defense systems delivered there to prepare them for their local mission, which requires replacing Russian codes with those for the Syrian military.

Israel has strongly condemned the presence of S-300s in Syria and has vowed to destroy them if they pose a threat to their aircraft while engaging Iranian military outposts in the war-torn country. One the Russian specialists have completed their work, which will make them distinctly Syrian, they will leave the country, potentially opening the door for Israel to bomb them without crossing any of Moscow’s so-called “red lines.”

But, a gross miscalculation could lead to a military conflict that drags the U.S. and the West into a full-scale war with Russia.

Outside of the Israel-U.S.-UK machinations for war with Iran, the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Germany, and France are scheduled to meet in Turkey later this month to discuss a final “political settlement” in Syria that could lead to an end to the seven-year civil war. According to reports, the leaders will exchange a number of views, and will hold “bilateral discussions” on the sidelines of the gathering.

Russian officials said “other pressing international issues”—likely a reference to Iran—would also be discussed.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9435

Report: Israeli stealth jets flew over Iran

Two stealth fighters reportedly flew undetected over Iran, crossing Syria and Lebanon on the way, to conduct surveillance missions on sites believed to be connected to the Iranian nuclear project.

Smadar Perry|Published:  03.31.18 , 21:40

Israeli stealth planes reached Iran and returned without anyone noticing, Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Jarida reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

According to the report, two IAF F-35 Adir fighter jets entered Iranian airspace last month and conducted reconnaissance flights undetected, crossing Syrian and Iraqi airspace on their way to the Islamic republic.

The flyby was intended in preparation for a possible joint Israeli-American attack in Syria, specifically on Iranian outposts, the report said, without confirming whether the operation was undertaken in coordination with the US army.

The two planes—which are considered to be among the most advanced in the world—flew at a high altitude over sites suspected for a long time to be connected to the Iranian nuclear project, the report added, noting they were not detected at any moment by radar systems in any of the countries they flew over, including Russian radar systems stationed in Syria.

Iran has made no announcement that it spotted such action.

Al-Jarida has in the past uncovered a series of security affairs related to Israel, and has even claimed to receive its information directly from the prime minister’s office.

This report comes in the wake of Israel’s official admission last week that it was responsible for the 2007 attack on the nuclear reactor in Syria, as well as against the backdrop of mounting tensions with Iran.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9429

Putin-Rouhani cut deal to ensure Iran evades US sanctions, Israel said to warn

Agreement sealed in Tehran last month provides for Iran to export crude oil to Russia, where it will be refined and sold worldwide, Foreign Ministry document reportedly specifies

By TOI staff and Agencies 14 October 2018, 9:09 pm 3

Russia and Iran have agreed on a mechanism to spare Iran the impact of what are intended by the US to be crippling sanctions on its oil industry from next month, an Israeli Foreign Ministry document reportedly warns.

The mechanism provides for Iran to export crude oil to Russia across the Caspian Sea. The oil will then be refined at Russian refineries, and from there it will be exported worldwide, the “secret” Israeli document states, according to a report on Hadashot TV news on Sunday.

In return, Moscow will provide Iran with unspecified trade and service benefits.

The goal of the mechanism, the reported Israeli document makes clear, is to enable Iran to bypass the US sanctions on its oil industry that are set to come into force on November 4.

The US administration, which has withdrawn from the 2015 P5+1 world powers nuclear deal with Iran, is hoping that escalated sanctions will cripple the Iranian economy and force Tehran to come back to the negotiating table, where US President Donald Trump would aim to reach a new deal that would more stringently deny Iran any means of attaining nuclear weapons.

The Russian-Iranian deal was reportedly reached last month in Tehran, where Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held summit talks.

A handout picture taken and released on September 7, 2018, by the Turkish Presidential Press service shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) , Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) joining hands during a trilateral summit in Tehran. (AFP/Turkish Presidency Press Office)

The Israeli document also reportedly warns that European states, which remain supportive of the 2015 deal, are ready to tacitly agree to let Iran continue to sell oil to various states in Asia.

The general aim of the Russian-Iranian mechanism, and of the European tacit agreement to other Iranian oil exports, is “to avert the collapse of the Iranian economy” when the US sanctions take effect, and thus “to prevent Iran from withdrawing” from the 2015 nuclear deal, according to the TV report. Maintaining the accord, the report said, is deemed by Moscow and the EU to be in their interest.

The Israeli document reportedly warns that the Putin-Rouhani agreement is “a very significant” one — a means “to breach the US sanctions wall” that will start with oil, but could also have further implications, the TV report said.

The report did not say whether the conclusions in the document have been shared by Israel with the US — whose leaderships are allied in their bitter opposition to the 2015 deal, and utterly mistrust Iran’s insistence that it is not seeking nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, the TV report noted, the mechanism underlines the alliance of interests between Moscow and Tehran, and is therefore of relevance, as Israel seeks to prevent Iran deepening its military presence in Syria. That Israeli effort has seen relentless Israeli airstrikes on Iranian and Iran-linked targets in Syria; last month, Syrian anti-aircraft missiles accidentally downed a Russian military spy plane in the course of an Israeli airstrike, plunging Israeli-Russian ties into crisis.

Rouhani has insisted several times in recent weeks that Iran will continue exporting crude oil despite the US efforts to stop it through sanctions. “We will continue by all means to both produce and export” oil, Rouhani said in remarks broadcast on state TV on September 5, for instance, two days before the summit with Putin and Erdogan. “Oil is in the frontline of confrontation and resistance.”

Three weeks ago, Rouhani ridiculed the Trump administration’s sanctions efforts, calling the threat to prevent Iranian oil exports an “empty promise” that would not work. “The United States is not capable of bringing our oil exports to zero,” he declared.

The US wants to reduce Iran’s oil exports effectively to zero with the renewed sanctions from November 4, after pulling out of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May.

Russia, however, has vowed to try to salvage the 2015 deal, and to protect its economic relations with Tehran.

It has been unclear, however, how much other countries will cut back on Iranian oil imports — despite the threat of their trading with Iran impacting their trading relationships with the US. Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China, which also signed the nuclear deal, opposed the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from it. European countries are trying to salvage the landmark accord.

Iran said late last month that it expected the European Union to establish a legal framework by November 4 to bypass the American sanctions and to allow the continuation of trade between Tehran and EU member states.

The European Union, for its part, said its members would set up a payment system to allow oil companies and businesses to continue trading with Iran.

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Major mistake’: Israel, US warn Russia against giving S-300 missiles to Syria

Netanyahu says move to arm Assad with advanced system within 2 weeks following downing of spy plane will ‘magnify dangers’ in region, Bolton cautions of ‘significant escalation’

By TOI staff and Agencies 24 September 2018, 7:22 pmUpdated at 7:58 pm 56

Both Jerusalem and Washington warned Russia on Monday evening against its declared intention to provide the Syrian military with advanced surface-to-air missiles within two weeks, saying the move would further destabilize the region and increase already high tensions.

Israel’s high-level security cabinet was set to meet Tuesday morning to discuss the latest developments involving ties with Russia, in the aftermath of last week’s downing of a Russian plane by Syrian anti-aircraft fire during an Israeli airstrike.

Russian President Vladimir Putin informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the decision to provide Syria with the S-300 system in a phone call Sunday.

In response, according to a statement by Netanyahu’s office, “The prime minister said providing advanced weapons systems to irresponsible actors will magnify dangers in the region, and that Israel will continue to defend itself and its interests.”

Concurrently US National Security Adviser John Bolton said Russia’s decision was a “major mistake” that would cause a “significant escalation” of  tensions. He urged Moscow to reconsider.

Channel 10 News quoted a senior American official who noted that the system could endanger US Air Force jets operating against Islamic State in Syria.

“Bringing more anti-aircraft missiles into Syria won’t solve the Syrian army’s unprofessional and indiscriminate firing of missiles and won’t mitigate the danger to aircraft flying in the area,” the unnamed official said.

Russia made the announcement following last week’s downing of a Russian plane by Syria in a friendly fire incident that killed 15 Russia soldiers. The Russian military’s reconnaissance Ilyushin Il-20 was shot down by Syrian missile defense systems responding to an Israeli airstrike.

In his call with Netanyahu, Putin said he disagreed with the Israeli version of events concerning the downing of the Russian plane.

“The information provided by the Israeli military… runs counter to conclusions of the Russian defense ministry,” the Kremlin said of the content of Putin’s remarks in the call, adding that the actions of the Israeli pilots had led to the plane being targeted by Syrian air defense systems.

“The Russian side proceeds from the fact that the actions by the Israeli air force were the main reason for the tragedy,” a statement said.

Last Tuesday, by contrast, in a previous Putin-Netanyahu call, the Russian president had absolved Israel and blamed a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”

A before and after photo of an ammunition warehouse which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on a Syrian base in Latakia, September 18, 2018 (ImageSat International (ISI/Ynet)

Netanyahu’s office said Monday night that, in the call, he had “expressed his confidence in the credibility of the IDF probe and its conclusions, and stressed once again that responsibility for the unfortunate incident lay with the Syrian army that brought down the plane, and with Iran, whose aggression destabilizes [the region].”

At the same time, it said, Netanyahu had “once again expressed his condolences for the deaths of the Russia soldiers.”

The statement added that the two leaders agreed to “continue talks between professional teams and coordination between the armies through military channels.”

The Kremlin earlier Monday issued a devastating critique of Israel over the incident, accusing Israel’s air force of “premeditated actions,” and warning the incident would harm relations between the two countries.

“According to information of our military experts, the reason (behind the downing) were premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly cannot but harm our relations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov produced data collected by Russian air defense systems in Syria purportedly indicating that one of the Israeli F-16 fighter jets was flying close to the much larger Russian plane. When the F-16 was targeted by a Syrian missile it suddenly veered off, resulting in the missile homing in on the bigger target.

Konashenkov also said that data showed that the Israeli jets remained over the Mediterranean Sea off Syria’s coast after the Russian plane was downed, though Israel has said its fighters were long gone by the time the Syrian missiles were launched.

The Russian defense ministry had announced the upcoming transfer of the S-300 earlier in the day, saying Moscow would “transfer the modern S-300 air defense system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks.”

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also said Russia planned to jam radars of military planes striking from off the coast of the Mediterranean — measures that would complicate Israel’s ongoing efforts, including numerous airstrikes, to prevent Iran deepening its military presence in Syria and to thwart the transfer of weapons in Syria to Hezbollah.

“In regions near Syria over the Mediterranean Sea, there will be radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, on-board radar systems and communication systems of military aviation attacking objects on Syrian territory,” Shoigu said.

Russia had originally agreed to sell the system to Syria in 2010, but scrapped the plan at Israel’s behest. However, the Syrian military has already received training to use the system.

“We are certain that the realization of these measures will cool the ‘hot heads’ and will keep them from poorly thought-out actions which threaten our servicemen,” Shoigu said.

Shoigu noted that Russia had also intended to supply Syria with the systems in 2013, but had held back because of Israeli concerns. Now, he said, “the situation has changed, and that isn’t our fault.”

Peskov said the measures were “not directed against third countries but towards defending our own military.”

Syria’s Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad said following the announcement that Damascus required the S-300 “in order to defend Syrian land from Israel’s aggressive actions.”

Also Monday, Putin told Syrian President Bashar Assad of Moscow’s plan to deliver the new S-300 air defense system, in the first conversation between the two leaders since the downing of the plane.

In the phone call, initiated by Assad, Putin spoke of “additional measures to ensure the safety of Russian troops in Syria and to reinforce the country’s air defense system,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

According to the Syrian president’s office, Putin told Assad the blame for the plane incident lay squarely with Israel.

“This is absurd,” said Israeli Middle East analyst Ehud Ya’ari on Monday night. “The Syrians down a Russian plane and get the prize of an advanced weapons system.”

Israeli fighter jets conducted the airstrike last Monday night on a weapons facility in the coastal city of Latakia that the IDF said was going to provide weapons to the Hezbollah terror group and other Iranian proxies. During a Syrian air defenses counterattack, the Russian spy plane was shot down by an S-200 anti-aircraft missile and its 15 crew members were killed.

Russia already has its own S-300 air defense system in Syria, along with the more advanced S-400 system.

Defense analysts have questioned whether an S-300 system in Syrian, not Russian, hands could threaten Israel’s air power in the region and prevent it from being able to conduct strikes against targets in Syria.

Earlier this year Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman downplayed Israeli concerns over Russia’s purported plans to install the system in Syria.

“One thing needs to be clear: If someone shoots at our planes, we will destroy them. It doesn’t matter if it’s an S-300 or an S-700,” he said.

Israel’s former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, who currently heads the influential Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said months ago that he assumed the air force would work quickly to destroy the S-300, if it were indeed handed over to Syria.

“If I know the air force well, we have already made proper plans to deal with this threat. After you remove the threat, which is basically what will be done, we’re back to square one,” Yadlin told Bloomberg news in April.

Moscow announced earlier this year that it was considering reversing its longtime policy against supplying the S-300 system to the regime following a series of airstrikes against Syrian targets by the United States, United Kingdom and France in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by Assad.

The Russian-made system, made up of radar arrays and missile launchers, offers long-range protection against both fighter jets and missiles. The system has been supplied by Moscow to Tehran, and deployed by the Russian army in Syria alongside its more advanced iteration, the S-400.

The Israeli military on Sunday entirely rejected the Russian defense ministry’s claim that it was to blame for the downing of the Russian spy plane, reiterating that Syria was at fault.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces maintained its version of events — that the Russian reconnaissance plane was shot down as a result of indiscriminate Syrian anti-aircraft fire — and said it would continue to act to prevent terrorist groups from obtaining advanced weapons.

Earlier on Sunday, the Russian defense ministry released the findings of its investigation into the downing of the plane and the deaths of the crew. Moscow said Israel alone was responsible for the incident, accusing the IDF of failing to give notice of its attack in a timely and accurate manner, and claiming the Israeli pilots used the Russian surveillance aircraft as cover during their strike.

Nevertheless, the Israeli military said that it would continue to operate against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria and that it hoped its coordination efforts with Russia continued.

An Israel delegation that flew to Moscow last Thursday, led by IAF chief Amikam Norkin, detailed to the Russians that it gave considerable advance warning — 12 minutes according to Israeli reports — and precise information on the target area to the Russians before the strike, that its jets did not hide behind the Russian plane, and that its planes had left the area before the Syrians fired one of 40 anti-aircraft missiles “indiscriminately,” downing the Russian plane. Israeli officials said on the return of the delegation that they believed their Russian hosts had accepted their version of events.

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