Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Saudi Nuclear Reactor Nears Completion Without Kingdom Signing Non-proliferation Agreement, Report Says

U.S. senators from both parties want further details about recent approvals for companies to share nuclear energy information with Saudi Arabia Haaretz and Reuters

Apr 04, 2019 12:50 PM Saudi Arabia has almost finished building its first nuclear reactor, according to Bloomberg’s assessment of the first satellite images of the  facility, which were published on Google Earth.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that satellite photos show a containment vessel for atomic fuel at the reactor site in Riyadh. The report notes the “ advancement is alarming to arms-control experts because Saudi Arabia has yet to sign up to the international framework of rules other nuclear powers follow to ensure that civilian atomic programs aren’t used to build weapons.”

U.S. senators from both parties on Tuesday asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry for details about recent approvals for companies to share nuclear energy information with Saudi Arabia, with the lawmakers expressing concern about possible development of atomic weapons.

Saudi Arabia has engaged in “many deeply troubling actions and statements that have provoked alarm in Congress,” Senators Bob Menendez, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, told Perry in a letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The senators said Congress was beginning to reevaluate the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and they believe Washington should not be providing nuclear technology or information to Saudi Arabia now.

The Trump administration has been quietly negotiating a deal that would potentially help Saudi Arabia build two reactors.

Last week news reports revealed that since November 2017, Perry has authorized so-called Part 810 approvals allowing U.S. companies to share sensitive nuclearinformation with the kingdom. The approvals were kept from the public and from Congress.

The senators asked Perry to provide them by April 10 with the names of the companies that got the 810 approvals, what was in the authorizations, and why the companies asked that the approvals be kept secret.

While 810 agreements are routine, the Obama administration made them available for the public to read at Energy Department headquarters. Lawmakers say the department is legally required to inform Congress about the approvals.

Perry approved the seven recent authorizations as the administration has tried to hash out nonproliferation standards with Saudi Arabia. Such a pact, known as a 123 agreement, would have to be agreed before U.S. companies can share physical exports of materials and equipment to build reactors.

The kingdom has resisted standards on reprocessing spent fuel and enriching uranium, two potential paths to making nuclear weapons.

The United States has been competing with South Korea, France, Russia and China on a potential deal to help build reactors in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is expected to announce the winner this year.

Lawmakers from both parties have been concerned about Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaigns in Yemen, which is on the brink of famine, and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Concern in Congress grew last year after the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS that “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclearbomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”

Perry has said the 810 approvals were kept from the public for corporate proprietary reasons.

He has also said that if Saudi Arabia relies on China or Russia for building nuclear reactors those two countries don’t give a “tinker’s damn” about non-proliferation.

Many non-proliferation experts dispute the notion that a deal with China or Russia would be riskier. These people say the United States has many other levers it can pull to influence nuclear behavior.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9714

Satellite Images Show Likely Iranian Military Installation in Syria

By JNS March 14, 2019 , 2:43 pm

“I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them. Zechariah 10:6 (The Israel Bible™)

A military installation near the Lebanese-Syrian border may be producing precision surface-to-surface missiles, likely with Iranian backing, according to an intelligence report. (Credit: ImageSat International.)

A military installation near the Lebanese-Syrian border is being utilized to produce precision surface-to-surface missiles, likely with Iranian backing, according to an intelligence report published on Wednesday by ImageSat International.

The firm mentioned that neither warheads nor missile engines are being manufactured at the compound in the northwestern Syrian city of Safita, which is almost five miles from the border with Lebanon.

The factory, which is being built in the town of Safita, east of Tartus on the Mediterranean coast, is in an area controlled by the Syrian regime and in the vicinity of Russian SAM (surface-to-air missile) deployment.

“The construction patterns, the compound location and the activity signs at the compound and its region, increase the probability that this is a missile manufacturing site,” (ISI) said, adding that “if this site is indeed related to SSM manufacturing it is possible that the two hangers include production line and the third is for manufacture or assembly.”

The firm added that there has been increased vehicular activity to the compound in recent months, in addition to a new water tower constructed there.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9689

Damascus To Become A “Ruinous Heap”?: Syria Threatens To Attack The Golan Heights And Israel Prepares For War

The winds of war are blowing once again, and it isn’t going to take much to spark a major conflict in the Middle East.  This week is the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the civil war in Syria, and after the nightmare that the people of Syria have been through, you would think that the Assad regime would be eager for peace.  But instead, Assad appears to be ready to go for broke.  If Syria can spark a Middle East war that results in the complete destruction of Israel, Assad would be remembered as a hero in the Islamic world forever.  Instead of a legacy of civil war and crushing poverty, Assad’s legacy would be one of wartime leader that brought total victory over Syria’s most hated enemy.  But of course such a conflict would be a huge risk, because if it went badly the city of Damascus would be completely flattened and the nation of Syria as we know it today would be entirely destroyed.  And considering how overwhelmingly powerful the Israeli military is, it would seem to be a very foolish risk to take.  Unfortunately, Assad does not appear to be thinking rationally.  On Thursday, Syria officially threatened “to attack Israel unless it withdraws from the Golan Heights”.  The following comes from the Jerusalem Post

Syria vowed to attack Israel unless it withdraws from the Golan Heights, World Israel News reported on Thursday.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad submitted an official warning to the head of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Kristin Lund, in what seemed to be an attempt to prevent official US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan.

Of course Israel is never going to leave the Golan Heights.  We all know how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feels, and on Monday his main opposition in the upcoming election expressed similar sentiments

Blue and White party politicians Gabi Ashkenazi, Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon visited the Golan Heights on Monday and vowed never to give it up.

“We will increase the numbers of residents in the Golan, sending a resounding message to all – we will never relinquish the Golan Heights,” Gantz said.

Let us hope that Syria is bluffing, because if Syria attacks the Golan Heights it will start a war.

And it is a war that Syria could not possibly hope to win on their own.  But Assad doesn’t plan to take on Israel by himself.

Over the last several months, Israel has repeatedly attacked Iranian forces inside Syria.  The Iranians have been fighting on Assad’s side in the Syrian civil war, and the Israelis are afraid that when everything is all said and done that the nation of Syria will end up being totally dominated by Iran.  The following comes from Haaretz

For Iran, its domination of Syria is key to achieving its long-standing dream of a “Shiite crescent,” extending through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, to the Mediterranean and of establishing a permanent ground, air and naval presence on Israel’s border. Iran’s ability to do so has been impeded to date only by the small and dwindling U.S. force in eastern Syria and hundreds of Israeli airstrikes that have, so far, successfully thwarted Iran’s efforts.

Although Israel has become a powerful and essentially secure state, capable of demonstrating restraint in the face of the many challenges it faces, this would constitute a dire and unacceptable change in the balance of power, one that Israel cannot tolerate and must prevent – even at the expense of war.

The Iranians have stated that they are no longer going to tolerate Israeli airstrikes, and their military leadership is fully ready to go to war.  If war does erupt between Israel and Syria, it seems very unlikely that Iran would stay out of it.

And without a doubt, Iranian targets would be among the first to get hit in a war between Israel and Syria, and the Netanyahu administration has been very clear that Israel is preparing for a war with Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu startled Iranians and even the White House on Wednesday with a strident call for Israeli-Arab action against the government in Tehran that was translated by his office as urging “war with Iran.”

Although Israeli officials tried to soften the reference by altering the English translation, the provocative comment was likely to further the perception that Israel, its Gulf Arab neighbors and the United States are interested in using military action to topple the government of Iran. It comes at a particularly delicate moment, as the Trump administration uses a U.S.-organized summit in Warsaw and this week’s 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution to try to rally the world against the government in Tehran.

Such a war would be incredibly bloody, and the moment that missiles began to fall on Tel Aviv the Israelis would not hesitate to use nukes on Damascus and Tehran.

Let us hope that cooler heads prevail.

Meanwhile, the situation in Venezuela continues to unravel as well.  Sunday was the fourth day for the nationwide blackout, and Nicolas Maduro is blaming the failure of the power grid on a U.S. cyberattack

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro – who is facing a challenge to his rule by the leader of the opposition-led congress, Juan Guaido – has blamed the blackout on an act of “sabotage” by the United States at the Guri hydroelectric dam, but experts say it is the outcome of years of underinvestment.

“The national electrical system has been subject to multiple cyberattacks,” Maduro wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “However, we are making huge efforts to restore stable and definitive supply in the coming hours.”

Hopefully the U.S. was not behind the cyberattack, because a cyberattack is an act of war.

And since nobody has asked the U.S. Congress for permission to go to war, such an attack would be in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.

In addition, relations with North Korea are rapidly deteriorating as well.  In fact, Kim Jong-Un appears to be preparing to provoke the U.S. by launching a missile

Following President Donald Trump’s stalemate talks with Kim Jong-Un, it appears North Korea may be preparing to launch a missile or rocket some time soon.

Earlier this week North Korea sparked outrage after satellite images revealed the nation was ‘rapidly rebuilding’ its Sohae Launch Facility, a long-range missile launch site.

New images reveal activity may have also resumed at a second site near Pyongyang, known as Sanumdong, where intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellite-launching rockets are assembled.

We truly do live at a time of “wars and rumors of wars”, and this could very easily be a year of war for the United States.

Unfortunately, our military is not in very good shape right now.  In fact, in RAND’s recent “simulated World War III scenarios” the U.S. just kept on losing

In simulated World War III scenarios, the U.S. continues to lose against Russia and China, two top war planners warned last week. “In our games, when we fight Russia and China, blue gets its ass handed to it” RAND analyst David Ochmanek said Thursday.

RAND’s wargames show how US Armed Forces – colored blue on wargame maps – experience the most substantial losses in one scenario after another and still can’t thwart Russia or China – which predictably is red – from accomplishing their objectives: annihilating Western forces.

“We lose a lot of people. We lose a lot of equipment. We usually fail to achieve our objective of preventing aggression by the adversary,” he warned.

Over the past decade, the U.S. military has been dramatically transformed, and not for the better.

But even if our military was in the condition that it should be, we should still not desire war, because in this day and age weapons of mass destruction have made full-blown war between major powers absolutely unthinkable.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9680

Top US general in Europe: Don’t give Turkey F-35 if they buy Russian system

By: Aaron Mehta and Joe Gould   22 hours ago

The sale of the F-35 to Turkey could be halted should the country buy a Russian air defense system. (Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON — The top uniformed officer in NATO and the head of American forces in Europe said Tuesday that if Turkey goes through with its decision to buy a Russian air defense system, he would recommend the Pentagon refuse to give Ankara its planned purchase of the F-35 joint strike fighter.

Testifying in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said it would be his “best military advice” that sales to Turkey of the F-35 be cut, should that nation buy the S-400 air defense system.

“If they accept the S-400 to establish it in Turkey, there is first the issue that it’s not interoperable with NATO systems, nor is it interoperable inside of our integrated missile defense system. The second has to do with the F-35. It presents a problem to all of our aircraft, but specifically the F-35, I believe,” Scaparrotti said.

“My best military advice would be that we don’t then follow through with the F-35 — flying it or working with an ally that is working with Russian systems, particularly air defense systems, with one of our most advanced technological capabilities,” he added.

The comments came in an exchange with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who has sponsored legislative language to to explore Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program.

Concerns about Turkey’s decision to procure the S-400 are nothing new. Officials in the U.S. and Europe believe Russia could gain a dangerous amount of information on the fifth-generation fighter should the systems be linked.

But Scaparrotti’s statement is particularly notable, as he also serves as supreme allied commander of NATO. His comments come weeks after the Munich Security Conference, where U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned Turkey that “we will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East.”

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Turkey plans to buy 100 joint strike fighters over the course of the program, and its first F-35 pilots have already begun training alongside U.S. pilots at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Turkish companies play a key industrial role in the program as one of the producers of the center fuselage and the maker of the cockpit display.

As a result of the planned S-400 procurement, the Pentagon launched a large study into whether it would be possible to remove Turkey from the F-35 industrial base.

Asked about the industrial base, the general said: “For them I would underscore this is a huge decision for Turkey. I have talked to them, as all of our leadership has.” He added that there is a team on the ground today talking with the Turks about the issue.

“I would hope they would reconsider this decision on the S-400, one system, but potentially forfeit many of the other systems and one of the most important systems we provide them,” he said.

One such system besides the F-35 that could be impacted should Russia buy the S-400 is the Patriot missile defense system, which Turkey was recently cleared to buy.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9669

Concerned with Closer Turkish-Russian Ties, Trump Blocks F-35 Sale

By JNS February 20, 2019 , 11:11 pm

For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Amos 5:12 (The Israel Bible™)

U.S. President Donald Trump signed appropriations legislation late last week that blocks the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

The transfer of these fighter planes to Ankara will not proceed until the U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Secretary of Defense provide an update to Congress related to Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 missile-defense system from Russia.

The Pentagon, reporting to Congress in late November, noted that Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 missile systems from Moscow could enable Turkey’s potential ejection from the F-35 program, in addition to purchasing other weapons such as Lockheed’s F-16 fighter, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and Boeing’s CH-47F Chinook helicopter.

“We will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries,” said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday in a warning to Ankara. “We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed on Monday the purchase and said that there would be no undoing of the decision.

“Having the S-400 from Russia is an outcome of this pursuit,” Erdoğan declared to supporters Monday. “Now [Washington], you tell us to give up purchasing the S-400 [but] … don’t provide us joint production and financial support.”

Aykan Erdemir, former Turkish parliament member and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that the Trump administration’s attempts persuade Turkey away from the Russians have largely failed.

“Washington’s attempt to use positive incentives to encourage Ankara to choose Patriot air defense system over the Russian S-400 system has failed to deliver results,” he said.

“The language in the spending bill signed by Trump will likely trigger U.S. sanctions against Turkey and block the transfer of F-35s, as Washington’s policy moves from positive incentives to negative incentives,” he continued.

“At this point, Erdoğan seems to be strongly committed to his deepening partnership with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and is unlikely to be swayed by Washington’s positive or negative incentives,” added Erdemir. “Erdoğan has been pivoting Turkey away from the transatlantic alliance and its values, putting U.S.-Turkish relations on a crash course, and 2019 might therefore mark the lowest point in bilateral relations.”

Diliman Abdulkader, director of the Kurdistan Project at the Endowment for Middle East Truth, said: “I don’t think this is anything new coming from the administration or Congress. The plan was always to have Turkey cancel the S-400 missile purchase from Russia.”

“Obviously, Erdoğan is looking for further gains despite his harsh stance. But ultimately, Turkey knows they will not receive the F-35 fighter jets if they go through with the Russian purchase,” he continued. “It’s also important to note that this is not just America’s position but other NATO allies as well, Turkey is [endangering] the security bloc.”

Last August, Trump signed the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which included barring Turkey from acquiring the F-35 from the U.S.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9637

Netanyahu Again Confirms Syria Strike, Contrary to Position of Top Brass

Defense officials seek to restore the policy of ambiguity regarding Israeli strikes, but Netanyahu has all but ended it Noa Landau and Yaniv Kubovich

Feb 13, 2019 9:41 AM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Tuesday evening that Israel struck Hezbollah targets in Syria the previous day. The confirmation runs contrary to the position of the Israeli defense establishment, as senior defense officials refrained from addressing the incident on the Syrian Golan Heights.

“We operate every day, including yesterday, against Iran and its attempts to entrench itself in the region,” Netanyahu said as he set out to attend an international conference on the Middle East in Warsaw.

Syrian state media reported on Monday that Israeli tank shells hit a demolished hospital and an observation post in Syria’s southern Quneitra province near the border with Israel.

Senior defense officials say the decision not to respond to the reports on the strike stemmed from the desire to renew the policy of ambiguity of recent years. The fact that the targets were Hezbollah position on the Golan is what prompted the officials to demand the defense establishment remain mum on the reports coming in from Syria. 

Israel’s policy of ambiguity regarding its Syria strikes has been all-but-lifted recently by Netanyahu and former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

As Haaretz’s Amos Harel wrote, it began with Eisenkot’s proud assertion to the New York Times of attacks on thousands of targets in the north during his tenure. Last month, Netanyahu took public responsibility for attacking Iranian weapons stores in Syria.

“Iran is issuing threats against us. On the fortieth anniversary of their revolution, they threatened to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa. I said that they won’t succeed and if they try it will be the last anniversary they celebrate,” Netanyahu added.

“We are constantly operating according to our assessments and needs to prevent Iran and its satellites from forming bases near our northern border or in our area at all,” Netanyahu said at a naval base in Haifa earlier Tuesday, adding: “We do whatever is necessary.”

Monday’s attack apparently targeted Hezbollah forces, with the goal of driving them away from the Israeli border.

“We are operating through a lot of different means and elements against their attempts to arm up on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. We also halt their attempts to entrench themselves in Syria,” the prime minister said of Israeli actions to fend off Iranian threats in the region.

Netanyahu also noted that Israel’s relations with countries in the Middle East “are very good. With all of them except for Syria.”

“Descriptions according to which we are disconnected

[from countries around us]

are the opposite of the reality. Relations are tightening. Not everything is out in the open but some of it is,” he added.

Addressing the conference in Warsaw that he will participate in and that the Palestinians have chosen to shun, the prime minister said he “doesn’t think the deal of the century [or Trump’s peace plan] will be at the center of discussions.”

Challenge along the border

Israeli intelligence officials said that Iran and Hezbollah haven’t given up their desire to open a new front against Israel in the Golan. All the intelligence agencies’ scenarios predict that Lebanon-based Shi’ite organization will try to challenge Israel along the Syrian border, and that Iran will attempt to exploit these efforts.

Israel proudly announced last year that it had reached understandings with Russia and the United States under which.

Monday’s incident casts doubt on the promises Israel said it received from Russia and the U.S., which stipulated that Iran and its proxies would be kept at least 80 kilometers from the Syrian-Israeli border, as the apparent targets were forward outposts of Hezbollah in the Golan, just a few kilometers from the Israeli border.

And while Israel has made significant efforts to enforce the agreement itself, it doesn’t seem to be succeeding.

The defense establishment thinks that today, Iran has very few officers and advisers in Syria, and Hezbollah has also significantly reduced its forces there. Nevertheless, both Iranian and Hezbollah personnel remain in the country.

Iran’s main activity in Syria now is trying to entrench its Syrian militias and locate them near the Golan. Hezbollah is also trying to bolster its control over the triangle where Israel, Syria, and Jordan meet in the southern Golan.

All this is happening as the Syrian army has regained control of most of the country, including the Golan Heights. The fact that Iranian and Hezbollah forces are stationed among or alongside Syrian soldiers in the Golan worries Israel.

In December,  the IDF spotted several armed men crossing the fence into the buffer zone between Syria and Israel. Israeli soldiers fired at the men, but they fled and returned to Syria unharmed.

After the incident, senior IDF officers said they were displeased with this outcome, as the armed men should have been killed.

Last month, an Iranian missile was fired at Mount Hermon following an airstrike near the Damascus airport that was attributed to Israel. That missile, an Iranian model that came from an Iranian factory, was also launched from much closer to the border than the 80 kilometers Israel was promised.

These events show that Iran hasn’t abandoned its desire to entrench itself much closer to the Israeli border than Israel would like.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9620

This Nuclear Arithmetic May Decide The Future Of The World: Russia Could Annihilate America In 30 Minutes

DC ‘elite’ are largely asleep to the fact of Russian nuclear superiority and its terrible implications 

By Dr Peter Vincent Pry – All News Pipeline


“Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking … until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong — these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history,” Winston Churchill wrote in 1935.

Far more important than last week’s State of the Union address, any TV report or newspaper headline, is a little-noticed report by Dr. Mark Schneider: “Does Russia have a 2-1 advantage in deployed strategic nuclear weapons?

Schneider, a former Defense Department official and top-notch nuclear strategist, convincingly shows that Russia has “over 3,300” strategic nuclear weapons, exceeding a 2-to-1 advantage over 1,550 U.S. weapons allowed by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

Does it matter that Russia finally has achieved its Cold War ambition — overwhelming superiority in the longest-range, most destructive weapons that could annihilate America in 30 minutes?

For those who think not, a history lesson.

Prior to World War II, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan cheated on arms limitation treaties, assisted by “useful idiots” in Western democracies who helped to cover up or make excuses for Axis cheating. Only Winston Churchill during his wilderness years, some Tory backbenchers, and dissident military experts foresaw the gathering storm that would become World War II.

When the storm broke in 1939-1941, even Churchill was astonished by the magnitude of Axis military superiority that conquered Western Europe and the Asian Pacific with lightning speed.

For decades, the United States repeated these mistakes with nuclear arms control treaties. Russian cheating has been covered up, regarded as less important than “the arms control process” and as militarily inconsequential.

For years, Russia violated the U.S. Presidential Nuclear Initiative on tactical nuclear weapons, not reciprocating U.S. dismantlement of short-range battlefield warheads. Now Moscow has an at least 10-to-1 advantage in those.

Moreover, since Moscow would strike first against the few hundred obsolete U.S. tactical nuclear bombs bunkered in Germany and Turkey, these U.S. weapons are not survivable.

For years, Russia violated the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, their cheating covered up by an Obama administration eager to sign New START.

Since the INF Treaty was first and foundational to the arms control process of nuclear weapon reductions, Moscow’s violations should have shaken Washington’s faith in all treaties with Russia — including New START.

Wisely, President Trump is withdrawing from the INF Treaty. Unwisely, Washington’s unshakeable faith in arms control continues.

Arms controllers should read former Ambassador Henry Cooper’s expose, “New Arms Control Sheriff!” The State Department won’t let you read about Russian cheating in “A Quarter Century Of Soviet Compliance Practices Under Arms Control Commitments: 1958-1983.” All but a summary is still classified.

So Russia cheated to gain superiority in short-range tactical weapons and cheated to gain monopoly in intermediate-range weapons for nuclear war in Europe and Asia.

Now, evidently, Russian cheating has gained superiority in the most important category — long-range strategic weapons for nuclear war against the United States.

The anti-nuclear crowd doesn’t think the nuclear balance matters. Yet, Russia obviously does think so. That is why it has cheated to gain superiority in tactical, intermediate and strategic nuclear weapons.

For years, Moscow has convinced itself, and told us, that nuclear superiority matters and it can win a nuclear war. That’s why Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, last March 1 on world television, threatened the U.S. with his new nuclear super-weapons: “Listen to us now.”

We have helped Russia to gain nuclear superiority, and not only by ignoring its cheating. One big fallacy of arms control pretends that equal numbers of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons constitute “parity” or equality of destructive capability. In fact, “parity” has always disadvantaged the United States. Huge disparity exists between U.S. and Russian counterforce targets. U.S. nuclear bases, missile silos and “C3I” (command, control, communications and intelligence) targets number fewer than 500; Russian nuclear targets are at least several thousand, including hundreds of deep-underground command posts for 300,000 political-military elites that cannot be destroyed by any existing U.S. weapon.

While Russia can easily destroy all U.S. targets, the United States cannot even cover the entire Russian target-set, even if striking first with an undegraded force.

Huge disparity also exists between U.S. and Russian countervalue targets because U.S. population and industry are more concentrated. “Assured Destruction” of 25 percent of Russia’s population and 75 percent of its industry requires 400 equivalent megatons (EMTs), whereas Russia needs only 100 EMTs for Assured Destruction against the United States.

After a Russian first strike, the United States would lack enough survivable weapons to inflict Assured Destruction, but, to quote Churchill again, Russia has enough weapons to “make the (U.S.) rubble bounce.”

Russia cheated on the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, deploying nationwide defenses against U.S. retaliatory strikes, while the United States has no equivalent anti-missile capability.

With 3,300 strategic weapons, Russia can make a disarming first strike against not only the United States — hitting every target 2-to-1 — but also Britain, France, Israel, Pakistan, India, China, North Korea and still strike the world’s other 189 nations with nine nuclear weapons each.

Washington still sleeps. But someday, perhaps soon, this nuclear arithmetic may decide the fate of the world.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9615

Turkey Receives Russian Help To Build Massive Nuclear Plant That Will Be Operational By 2023

By Andrew Bieszad on February 4, 2019 in Featured, General

Turkey has for a long time wanted to become a nuclear power. This goal is about to be realized, as decades of lobbying and laboring have come to fruition with the construction of a nuclear plant on the Black Sea coastline backed with Russian help that will be operational in 2023, the 100-year anniversary of the modern Turkish republic:

Turkey’s elusive quest for harnessing nuclear energy dates back to times which most of us perceive only through the black-and-white footage of 1950s and stories of our parents and grandparents. Launched by President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program, it took off steadily as by 1956 Turkey already boasted a reactor research facility not far away from Istanbul, on the shores of lake Küçükçekmece. By the 1970s the Turkish authorities have pinpointed the most suitable site for the construction of a nuclear plant – they have chosen Akkuyu on the Anatolian coast, making use of its proximity to the sea, low population density and at the same time closeness to big demand hubs, as well as its low seismic activity.

What the Turkish planners envisaged some 50 years ago is progressively being realized with the Rosatom-led Akkuyu project. In many ways, the Akkuyu project is a novelty – it is Rosatom’s first project constructed at a build-own-operate (BOO) parity and its first-ever real endeavor in the Levant. Yet when the Chernobyl-entailed mass hysteria slowly started to fade in the late 1990s, Russia was nowhere to be seen in the list of interested parties – at that time it seemed that either Westinghouse of Framatome (the predecessor of Areva) would get it. However, by the time the Turkish government issued a tender for the construction of Akkuyu, only Rosatom filed an official bid to build four 1200MW pressurized water reactors, supported by a commitment to dispose of all the plant’s used nuclear fuel.

From there on, things took a swift turn – an intergovernmental agreement was signed in 2010, the legislative basis for the construction was erected (as Turkey had previously no comprehensive set of laws for nuclear energy), a limited construction resolution was issued in 2016 to be followed two years later by the official start of construction works. The plan is to commission the nuclear plant in 2023 when the Turkish Republic celebrates its centenary. Interestingly, the nuclear project went forward despite significant turbulences in the Russo-Turkish relations, such as the 2015 shooting down of a Russian fighter jet over (allegedly) Syrian territory. Tariff negotiations were successful, too – the sides fixed the electricity tariff at 0.1235 USD/KWh for the first 15 years of operation with the option to increase it to 0.1533 USD/KWh should there be any payback issues.

Roughly around the same time as Ankara committed to the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant, it had also kick-started the quest to build another nuclear plant, this time on the Black Sea coast of the country, in Sinop. Somewhat differently to Akkuyu, the government went for a build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme with Sinop, signing a contract with Atmea, the Franco-Japanese consortium comprising Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Areva, in 2013. It was estimated that construction works on the four Generation III pressurized water reactors would start in 2017, costing approximately 18 billion USD. According to a preliminary agreement, Atmea would own 51 percent of the Sinop nuclear plant, Turkish state utilities company EUAS would take 49 percent and Engie would operate it. On paper, everything seemed fine, yet ended in an all-around fiasco.

The root cause of its cancellation, officially announced in December 2018, was cost inflation. The 18 billion USD cost estimate spiraled up to 44 billion USD due to the necessity to implement stricter post-Fukushima safety standards – despite regular insistences by Ankara to keep the cost level at its initial level. The deal breakoff led to a nightmarish result for Japanese nuclear companies – after the retraction of a nuclear project in Taiwan (2014) and Vietnam (2016), followed by the calling off of Sinop and Anglesey in Wales (this January), Japan has currently no active nuclear plant construction abroad, pretty much leaving the global nuclear market to the Russians and Chinese.

What is the difference between the two projects that made Akkuyu feasible and has rendered Sinop unattainable? Most importantly, in case of the former, the entirety of financial risks arising from any appreciation of the project lies entirely on Rosatom, a state company whose former CEO is now First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Administration. Even an appreciation of 5-6 billion USD (initially Akkuyu was estimated to cost 15.8 billion USD, its current price tag hovers around 22 billion USD) is tolerable under such circumstances. Not only did Sinop depend on the cooperation of the French and Japanese, it also presupposed Turkish financial involvement in the project. Secondly, whilst Akkuyu remained quite high on the agenda of Turkey-Russia political summits, Sinop did not receive the same kind of political backing.

A good example of why political backing matters is the ownership structure of Akkuyu. Similarly as with Sinop, it was by no means easy finding Turkish counterparts for the project. It was expected that Turkey would be represented by a consortium consisting of three private companies, mostly known for their dealings in the construction business – Cengiz Holding, Kolin Insaat and Kalyon Insaat. Yet when all three companies quit the project in February 2018 (i.e. 2 months before the start of construction), Akkuyu did not ground to a halt. Instead, negotiations were initiated between the Turkish state-owned electric power holding EUAS to buy into the project, potentially even aiming for a 49 percent stake. It would be quite incredible if this was not the result of a political agreement in the background.

The Sinop nuclear plant setback did not stop Turkey from dreaming big. Akkuyu would supply “only” 10 percent of the nation’s energy demand, indicating more is needed to rid Turkey of its environment-polluting coal dependence. Last year President Erdo?an announced Turkey would build a third nuclear plant – the location is rumoured to be the Thrace region northwest of Istanbul, close to the Bulgarian border. Even though there is still no clarity on who would lead the project, however, Energy Minister Fatih Donmez hinted that Ankara would cooperate with China on the project.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9606

US air bombardment of Iranian sites on Syrian-Iraqi border – reprisal for Iran’s bid to attack US base in Iraq

Feb 4, 2019 @ 8:42 Iranian al Qods HQ in E. Syria, Iranian missile strike foiled, US air strike on Iranian targets, US in Iraq

“Multiple Iranian military sites” were struck by US warplanes early Monday, Feb. 3, , near Abu Kamal in Deir ez-Zour on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Reporting this, Syrian military spokesmen claimed that Syrian artillery positions were also hit and sustained casualties.
DEBKAfile’s military sources revealed on Saturday, Feb. 2, that three Iranian missiles were posted ready to strike the big US Ain Al Assad air base in Anbar, the Iraqi province bordering on Syria, when they were discovered in time by Iraqi security forces. They were to be launched by one of the pro-Iranian Iraqi militias. This incident graphically demonstrated Tehran’s ruthless resolve to drive US forces not just out of Syria but from Iraq as well. For the Trump administration, this foiled attempt crossed a red line.

The USAF struck during a CBS TV interview with President Donald Trump, in which he referred to the same Ain Al Assad base when he stressed the importance of maintaining US forces in Iraq. “All I want to do is to be able to watch,” he said. “We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq, It is perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East.” Rather than pulling it up, he said, “We’re going to keep watching and we’re going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do.”

Posted at Ain Al Assad is a US intelligence station.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that the US air raid over Iranian targets was prompted additionally by a video film released on Sunday, Feb. 3 by Tasnim, mouthpiece of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). It depicted what was described as a US army patrol near the northern Iraqi town of Nineveh being “forced to return to their base” by “pro-Iranian Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) fighters.

Our sources identify the “multiple Iranian sites” attacked by US aircraft as the headquarters of the IRGC’s Al Qods Brigades, which are visited regularly by their commander Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Located there too are command centers of the PMU and another pro-Iranian Iraqi militia, Kata’ib Hezballah, which collaborates with the Lebanese Hizballah in southern Syria.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9603

Russia: A Friend of Israel or Prophetic Enemy From the North?

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz January 30, 2019 , 2:12 pm

“And you will come from your home in the farthest north, you and many peoples with you—all of them mounted on horses, a vast horde, a mighty army.” Ezekiel 38:15 (The Israel Bible™)

In the wake of Israeli airstrikes targeting Iranian military sites in Syria, Russia released what seemed to be conflicting statements; decrying “arbitrary Israeli airstrikes” on one hand while at the same time claiming they were deeply concerned about “ensuring a very strong security of the State of Israel.” With a major military presence in Syria, it is essential to understand Russia’s intentions for the region.

Russia’s role takes on apocalyptic implications when considering verses that identify the pre-Messiah War of Gog and Magog which, according to the prophet Ezekiel, will be a war against Israel fought by a multi-nation coalition led by a nation from the north.

Therefore prophesy, O mortal, and say to Gog: Thus said Hashem: Surely, on that day, when My people Yisrael are living secure, you will take note, and you will come from your home in the farthest north, you and many peoples with you—all of them mounted on horses, a vast horde, a mighty army. Ezekiel 38: 14-15

This was emphasized in a teaching from the 18th century Rabbinic sage known as the Vilna Gaon who singled out Russian aggression as a precursor to the Messiah.

“When you hear that the Russians have captured the city of Crimea, you should know that the times of the Messiah have started, that his steps are being heard,” the Vilna Gaon told his followers just before his death in 1797. “And when you hear that the Russians have reached the city of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), you should put on your Shabbat clothes and don’t take them off, because it means that the Messiah is about to come any minute.”

It should be noted that in 2014, Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

Russia was also named as playing a major role in events leading up to the Messiah by the late Rabbi Haim Shvili, a Jewish mystic born in the early 1900s. He made some predictions about the messianic era recorded in his book, Heshbonot Hageula (Reckonings of Redemption), which he wrote in 1935. Although obscure and largely unknown, the predictions in the text were shockingly accurate, stating specific dates and names he described a final terrifying vision of Gog and Magog as a war waged against Israel by a Russian-led coalition. He based this on a verse in Ezekiel.

O mortal, turn your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him. Ezekiel 38:2

In this verse, the Hebrew word for ‘chief’ is רֹאשׁ (Rosh), which Rabbi Shvili claims hints at ‘Russia.’

As an astute student of history, Rabbi Ken Spiro, a historian and Senior Lecturer and Researcher for Aish HaTorah Yeshiva, sees Russia’s intentions as more pragmatic than Messianic. Rabbi Spiro prefaced his statement with a quote from Winston Churchill.

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” Churchill is credited with saying.

Rabbi Spiro noted that there was good reason to see Russian President Vladimir Putin as having good intentions when it came to relations with Israel.

“Putin has very good personal relations with Jews from his childhood,” Rabbi Spiro noted. “In addition, Netanyahu has worked very hard to cultivate a positive relationship with Putin. Until recently, the Israeli Defense Minister was Avigdor Liberman, a Russian ex-patriot.”

But Rabbi Spiro added the disclaimer contained in the second half of Churchill’s statement.

“Perhaps there is a key,” Churchill famously said. “That key is Russian national interest.”

Rabbi Spiro cited a rule in politics attributed to many political figures throughout history.

“There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies,” he quoted. “Only permanent interests.”

“During the Cold War, Russia went into a decline and he [Putin] wants to reassert his country as a major player in the world.  Rabbi Spiro said. “Russia has always wanted a presence in the region. It took decades during the Cold War for the U.S. to get control of the Middle East.  Eight years of Obama’s administration allowed Putin to reassert Russia into the Middle East.”

Spiro applied this rule of Russian practicality to its alliance with Syria and Iran as well.

“The alliance with Iran and Syria is not ideological,” Rabbi Spiro said. “It is practical.”

The rabbi emphasized that Russia was most likely being candid when they claimed to have Israel’s security interests at heart.

“I don’t think Putin sees any reason to antagonize Israel,” he said. “A direct confrontation with Israel would make Putin’s job of reasserting Russia into the region just that much trickier. Russia does have our security interests at heart but only inasmuch as it serves their interests.”

Though Spiro said that Russia’s interests are clear, the complicated situation on Israel’s northern border makes it tricky for them to achieve these interests.

“The entire thing is surreal,” Rabbi Spiro maintained. “Russia put their army in Syria, covering Assad’s forces, while at the same time they are allowing Israel to come in and bomb stuff. It is a very delicate balance. Putin is doing a dance with everyone in the region: Syria, Turkey, Iran, and yes, even Israel.”

Spiro recognized the prophetic aspect of events on Israel’s northern border but understands it in a moderate manner.

“The north is a generic term for any country coming from outside the region,” he argued, “though it is interesting to note that Moscow in due north of Jerusalem. But at the same time, Russia is not Israel’s nemesis. During the Cold War, Russia supported the Arab countries only because Israel was America’s proxy.”

Additionally, Spiro expressed a more general understanding of how Gog and Magog may play out.

“The War of Gog and Magog doesn’t necessarily have to be a military confrontation,” he explained. “I understand the imagery includes chariots and that would imply a physical war but it could also be a war of ideologies. In that case, the multi-national war of Gog and Magog could be fought in the United Nations General Assembly, much like what we are seeing now.”

On the ideological battlefield, Spiro sees Biblical conflicts being expressed in modern terms.

“It is remarkable that the powers of Esav (Esau, i.e. the West and Europe) put aside their differences with Ishmael (i.e. the Arab nations) to unite against Israel,” Rabbi Spiro said. “On one hand, Jewish sources describe  a pre-messiah scenario of Gog and Magog as a world alliance against Israel like we see in the UN.”

“On the other hand, we have descriptions of Esav and Yishmael fighting each other,” Rabbi Spiro said. “In fact, these two scenarios aren’t necessarily contradictory. The reality is that they are both currently happening simultaneously. Radical Islam is going after Europe’s weak underbelly,, the post-Christian Esav. They don’t like each other but they put their differences aside to attack us. They feel more threatened by us.”

“That is why we see these strange alliances of a Euro-leftist gay activist walking hand-in-hand on campus with a radical Muslim,” Rabbi Spiro noted.

Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific author and end-of-days expert, emphasized Russia’s claims to caring for Israel’s security should be treated with caution.

“Russia only has their own interests at heart,” he told Breaking Israel News, agreeing with Rabbi Spiro. But he noted a Biblical reference as a guide:

“In the Midrash, Esav is compared to an animal that has one of the signs of being kosher but not the other; like cloven hooves, but not the other, such as chewing its cud,” Winston said. “You might say that this is better than a totally non-kosher animal, that maybe it is half kosher. But the Midrash says this is even worse. The animal can be deceitful, hold out is hooves and try to convince the Jew that they are kosher.”

Rabbi Winston applied this analogy to Russia.

“Russia is trying to create the external appearance that they are our friends, that they have our back and care about our security,” he claimed “The worst tactic of Esav is when they act like our friend. When Esav wanted to accompany Israel he was only waiting until Jacob lowered his guard so he could stab him in the back.”

“But Esav is enticing Israel, trying to make us sin with the negative trappings of technology that lead to improper behavior, or act like they are our allies so we can lower our guard in the Golan. In the end of days, Hashem is more angry at Esav than Ishmael. Ishmael comes at us directly with violence. Esav, on the other hand, is deceitful and lures us in, either to sin or to get us to lower our guard. This is precisely what Russia is doing.”

“The moment that someone uses this Esav tactic, like what Russia is doing here, when they tell you they have your back, that’s when you need to turn around and defend yourself,” Rabbi Winston concluded.

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