Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

US accepts Shahab-3s in Iran’s missile arsenal, but not long-range ICBMs. Deep resentment in Jerusalem

Two high-ranking US visitors to Israel, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, publicly assured Israel this month that the Obama administration “would do what it must” to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. Yet at the same time, the same administration informed Tehran that the demand to restrict Iran’s missile arsenal did not apply to the Shahab-3 ballistic missile, whose range of 2,100km covers any point in the Middle East, including Israel. This missile carries warheads weighing 760 kg, to 1.1 tons, which may also be nuclear.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon challenged both Rice and Hagel on this omission. It came to light from Washington’s demand, in its direct dialogue with Tehran outside the framework of the six-power talks in Vienna, to place restrictions on Iran’s arsenal of ICBMs whose 4,000 km range places Europe and the United States at risk.

The Obama administration said it was not demanding restrictions on the medium-range missiles capable “only” of striking Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. But the comprehensive nuclear accord when it is finally negotiated must apply restrictions on the Sajjil1, Safir, Simorg (satellite launcher), Ashura1 and  Ashura2 (other versions of the Sajjil class).
But this US “concession” did not placate Tehran. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei burst out on May 11: “They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action. So this is a stupid idiotic expectation.” He thereupon ordered missile plants to shift to mass production.
Hagel was not just queried in Israel on this point, but also by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, when he attended their defense ministers’ meeting in Jeddah Wednesday, May 14. Saudi Crown Prince Salman was in the chair.

When Hagel assured those present that their countries had nothing to fear from the rapprochement between Washington and Tehran, he was asked to fully explain President Obama’s policy on Iran’s missile arsenal. He replied that the plan was to establish a common anti-missile defense network for the region.

In Jerusalem, the defense secretary assured Netanyahu and Ya’alon that the close US-Israeli collaboration in maintaining one of the most sophisticated anti-missile shields in the world was sufficient security against Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missiles.

A joint US-Israeli exercise against missile attack, Cobra Juniper, which takes place every two years, began Sunday, May 18, with the participation of 1,000 US servicemen.
However, neither Jerusalem nor the Gulf leaders accepted Washington’s explanations. Their disquiet was further exacerbated by the failure of latest round of nuclear negotiations with the six powers, which took place in Vienna Thursday, May 15, to bridge gaps between the sides and so prevented a start on the drafting of a final accord.

These widening gaps reflect the growing controversy over nuclear diplomacy in Tehran.

Saturday night, May 17, President Hassan Rouhani speaking to associates at a private meeting voiced his frustration with Khamenei: “That person thinks he knows everything and lays down policy without considering all the facts,” he complained.

Rouhani understands that tactical compromises will not bring about substantial relief from economic sanctions that at preying on his country. He is urging substantial concessions of Iran’s nuclear aspirations, enough to convince the world that his country is not after a nuclear weapon.

Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards have rejected this approach. They are not open to real concessions either on their nuclear program or missile arsenal. This intransigence shows no sign of softening under the Obama administration’s willingness for compromise at the expense of Iran’s potential targets.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6377

Exclusive: Iran pursues ballistic missile work, complicating nuclear talks

VIENNA (Reuters) – Despite apparently reducing illicit purchases that breach U.N. sanctions, Iran is pursuing development of ballistic missiles, a confidential U.N. report says, posing an acute challenge to six powers negotiating with Tehran to rein in its nuclear program.

On Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described as “stupid and idiotic” Western expectations for his country to curb its missile development. He decreed mass production of ballistic weapons, striking a defiant tone just before nuclear talks resumed on Wednesday in Vienna.

The high-stakes negotiations aim for a deal by a July 20 deadline to end a long stand-off that has raised the risk of a wider Middle East war.

Tehran’s often repeated view that missiles should not be part of the nuclear talks appears to enjoy the support of Russia, one of the six global powers.

But a senior U.S. official made clear this week that Tehran’s ballistic capabilities must be addressed in the negotiations since U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iran “among many other things, do say that any missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon must be dealt with.”

A ban on developing missiles suited to carrying a nuclear warhead is included in a 2010 Security Council resolution, its fourth – and toughest – imposed on the Islamic Republic for defying council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment and other nuclear activities of potential use in bomb-making.

The new report by the U.N. Panel of Experts, seen by Reuters, said Iran’s overall attempts to illicitly procure materials for its banned nuclear and missile programs appear to have slowed down as it pursues negotiations with world powers that it hopes will bring an end to sanctions.

But the same report makes clear that, apart from holding off on test-firing one type of rocket, Iran shows no sign of putting the brakes on the expansion of its missile program.

“Iran is continuing development of its ballistic missile and space programs,” the experts said. “A new missile launch site 40 km (25 miles) from the city of Shahrud was identified in August 2013. A larger launch complex is assessed to be close to completion at the Imam Khomeini Space Center at Semnan for ballistic missiles and satellite launch vehicles.”

The report also cited what it described as the June 2013 opening of the Imam Sadeq Observation and Monitoring Center for monitoring space objects, including satellites.

The dispute over missiles has already surfaced behind closed doors in Vienna. On Wednesday, the first day of the latest round of the nuclear talks, the U.S. delegation made clear that it wanted to discuss both Iran’s ballistic missile program and possible military dimensions of its past nuclear research.

But in a sign of the wide divergence between the U.S. and Iranian positions, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif merely laughed and ignored the remarks, according to an Iranian official present. An American official declined to comment but referred to remarks from a senior U.S. official earlier this week, who said “every issue” must be resolved.

ARMS EXPERT: LEAVE MISSILES ASIDE

Diplomats close to the talks say Britain, France and Germany agree with the U.S. view. But Russia, which has engaged in missile-technology trade with Iran, appears to disagree. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by Iranian media as saying that Tehran’s missile program was not on the agenda.

The Islamic Republic denies accusations that it is seeking the capability to make nuclear weapons. It insists that its missiles are part of its conventional armed forces and rules out including them on the agenda for the nuclear discussions.

Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, said that missiles should not become a deal-breaker.

“The best way to address Iran’s potential to exploit nuclear-capable missiles is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is sufficiently limited and transparent,” he said.

“To seek Iran-specific limits on conventional weapons that Iran regards as vital to its self-defense would jeopardize the negotiations’ key objective.”

An Iranian official confirmed that the ballistic missile program would not be interrupted. “Iran purchases parts from various countries, including Russia and China and then assembles missiles in Iran,” he said.

“Some Gulf countries have been involved in the missile delivery to Iran. Iran has never stopped its missile program and has no intention to do so; it gives Iran an upper hand.”

The U.N. Panel of Experts, which monitors compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime against Iran, said in its 49-page report that monitoring Iranian missile work was not easy.

MISSILE WORK MORE HIDDEN THAN NUCLEAR ACTIVITY

“Analysis of Iran’s ballistic missile program remains a challenge. With the exception of several launches, periodic displays of hardware and one recent revelation of a new ballistic launch facility, the program is opaque and not subject to the same level of transparency that Iran’s nuclear activities are under IAEA safeguards.”

It said procurement for the missile program continues, with no apparent changes in the type of materials Iran seeks.

“Among the most important items Iran is reportedly seeking are metals as well as components for guidance systems and fuel,” the panel report said. “Similarities between Iran’s ballistic missiles and space programs can make it difficult for states to distinguish the end-uses of procured items.”

The experts said it was unclear why Iran appears not to have test-fired a Sejil, Iran’s longest-range, solid-fuelled ballistic missile, since 2011. This might be due to satisfaction with its performance, an inability to procure components or ingredients for solid fuel, or a shift to other missiles considered to be of higher priority, according to the report.

“Iran may also have decided to suspend further testing which could be interpreted as inconsistent with the spirit of the (six power) negotiations,” the experts assessed.

Nevertheless, the panel said that proof Iran is continuing to develop the Sejil came from a 2013 parade of their launchers.

On February 10, Iran test-fired the Barani, which the experts said the Iranian Defence Ministry had described as “a new generation of long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying multiple re-entry vehicle (MRV) payloads.” A MRV payload deploys multiple warheads in a pattern against a single target.

Iran had announced no other ballistic test, the panel said.

According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, Iran recently unveiled an indigenous copy of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 unmanned aerial vehicle as well as “other, potentially more significant, revelations” – including new versions of the Fateh-110 tactical ballistic missile known as the Hormuz-1 and Hormuz-2.

Military analysts say, however, that Iran has exaggerated its military achievements, including its missile capabilities.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6371

De-Dollarization: Russia Is On The Verge Of Dealing A Massive Blow To The Petrodollar

Michael Snyder Economic Collapse May 14, 2014

Is the petrodollar monopoly about to be shattered?  When U.S. politicians started slapping economic sanctions on Russia, they probably never even imagined that there might be serious consequences for the United States.

But now the Russian media is reporting that the Russian Ministry of Finance is getting ready to pull the trigger on a “de-dollarization” plan.  For decades, virtually all oil and natural gas around the world has been bought and sold for U.S. dollars.  As I will explain below, this has been a massive advantage for the U.S. economy.  In recent years, there have been rumblings by nations such as Russia and China about the need to change to a new system, but nobody has really had a big reason to upset the status quo.  However, that has now changed.  The struggle over Ukraine has caused Russia to completely reevaluate the financial relationship that it has with the United States.  If it starts trading a lot of oil and natural gas for currencies other than the U.S. dollar, that will be a massive blow for the petrodollar, and it could end up dramatically changing the global economic landscape.

The fact that the Russian government has held a meeting to discuss “getting rid of the US dollar in Russian export operations” should be front page news on every mainstream news website in the United States.  That is how big this is.  But instead, we have heard nothing from the big mainstream news networks about this so far.  Instead, we have only heard about this from Russian news sources such as the Voice of Russia

Russian press reports that the country’s Ministry of Finance is ready to greenlight a plan to radically increase the role of the Russian ruble in export operations while reducing the share of dollar-denominated transactions. Governmental sources believe that the Russian banking sector is “ready to handle the increased number of ruble-denominated transactions”.

According to the Prime news agency, on April 24th the government organized a special meeting dedicated to finding a solution for getting rid of the US dollar in Russian export operations. Top level experts from the energy sector, banks and governmental agencies were summoned and a number of measures were proposed as a response for American sanctions against Russia.

The “de-dollarization meeting” was chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov, proving that Moscow is very serious in its intention to stop using the dollar.

So will Russia go through with this?

After all, this wouldn’t just be a slap in the face.  This would essentially be like slamming an economic fist into our nose.

You see, Russia is not just a small player when it comes to trading oil and natural gas.  The truth is that Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil in the world.

If Russia starts asking for payment in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, that will essentially end the monopoly of the petrodollar.

In order to do this, Russia will need trading partners willing to go along.  In the article quoted above, the Voice of Russia listed Iran and China as two nations that would potentially be willing to make the switch…

Of course, the success of Moscow’s campaign to switch its trading to rubles or other regional currencies will depend on the willingness of its trading partners to get rid of the dollar. Sources cited by Politonline.ru mentioned two countries who would be willing to support Russia: Iran and China. Given that Vladimir Putin will visit Beijing on May 20, it can be speculated that the gas and oil contracts that are going to be signed between Russia and China will be denominated in rubles and yuan, not dollars.

And the reality of the matter is that China has seemed ready to move away from the U.S. dollar for quite some time.  In a previous article, I included a quote from a French news source that discussed how China’s official news agency has even called for a “new international reserve currency… to replace the dominant US dollar”…

For decades the US has benefited to the tune of trillions of dollars-worth of free credit from the greenback’s role as the default global reserve unit.

But as the global economy trembled before the prospect of a US default last month, only averted when Washington reached a deal to raise its debt ceiling, China’s official Xinhua news agency called for a “de-Americanised” world.

It also urged the creation of a “new international reserve currency… to replace the dominant US dollar”.

For much more on what China is thinking, please see my previous article entitled “9 Signs That China Is Making A Move Against The U.S. Dollar“.

So why is the petrodollar so important?

Well, it creates a tremendous amount of demand for the U.S. dollar all over the globe.  Since everyone has needed it to trade with one another, that has created an endless global appetite for the currency.  That has kept the value of the dollar artificially high, and it has enabled us to import trillions of dollars of super cheap products from other countries.  If other nations stopped using the dollar to trade with one another, the value of the dollar would plummet dramatically and we would have to pay much, much more for the trinkets that we buy at the dollar store and Wal-Mart.

In addition, since the U.S. dollar is essentially the de facto global currency, this has also increased demand for our debt.  Major exporting nations such as China and Saudi Arabia end up with giant piles of our dollars.  Instead of just letting them sit there and do nothing, those nations often reinvest their dollars into securities that can rapidly be changed back into dollars if needed.  One of the most popular ways to do this has been to invest those dollars in U.S. Treasuries.  This has driven down interest rates on U.S. debt over the years and has enabled the U.S. government to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars for next to nothing.

But if the rest of the world starts moving away from the U.S. dollar, all of this could change.

In order for our current standard of living to continue, it is absolutely imperative that everyone else around the globe continues to use our currency.

So if Russia really does pull the trigger on a “de-dollarization” strategy, that would be huge – especially if the rest of the planet started following their lead.

The U.S. economy is already teetering on the brink of another major downturn, and there are a whole host of indications that big trouble is on the horizon.  For much more on this, please see the article that I posted on Monday entitled “If Economic Cycle Theorists Are Correct, 2015 To 2020 Will Be Pure Hell For The United States“.

Just about the last thing that we need right now is for our petrodollar monopoly to be threatened.

It would be nice if things would calm down in Ukraine and the relationship between the United States and Russia could go back to normal.

Sadly, that does not appear likely any time soon.

In fact, the Ukrainian government has already admitted that “we are essentially at war“, and on Tuesday six Ukrainian soldiers were killed and eight were wounded in a convoy attack in eastern Ukraine.

The regions in eastern Ukraine that have just declared independence have given the government in Kiev until Wednesday to pull their forces out of eastern Ukraine or else face war.

If a full blown civil war does erupt in Ukraine, it is going to take this crisis to a completely new level.

Unfortunately, most Americans are incredibly apathetic at this point and know very little about what is going on.

But in the end, this could have dramatic implications for all of us.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6369

Saudis parade nuclear missiles for the first time in defiance of US-Iranian nuclear accord

DEBKAfile Special Report April 29, 2014, 10:49 PM (IDT)

Saudi Arabia became the first Middle East nation to publicly exhibit its nuclear-capable missiles. The long-range, liquid propellant DF-3 ballistic missile (NATO designated CSS-2), purchased from China 27 years ago, was displayed for the first time at a Saudi military parade Tuesday, April 29, in the eastern military town of Hafar Al-Batin, at the junction of the Saudi-Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders.

The DF-3 has a range of 2,650 km and carries a payload of 2,150 kg. It is equipped with a single nuclear warhead with a 1-3 MT yield.

Watched by a wide array of Saudi defense and military dignitaries, headed by Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Salman bin Abdulaziz, the parade marked the end of the large-scale “Abdullah’s Sword” military war game.

Conspicuous on the saluting stand was the Pakistani Chief of Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif alongside eminent visitors, including King Hamad of Bahrain and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report the event was deliberately loaded with highly-significant messages, the foremost of which was that the Middle East is in the throes of a nuclear arms race in the wake of the Iranian program.

1. The oil kingdom was saying loud and clear that it has obtained nuclear missiles and is ready to use them in the event of an armed conflict with Iran.

2.  The message for Washington was that Riyadh adheres to its adamant objections to the comprehensive accord for resolving the Iranian nuclear question which is racing toward its finale with the six world powers led by the US. The Saudis share Israel’s conviction that this pact – far from dismantling Iran’s nuclear capacity – will seal the Islamic Republic’s elevation to the status of pre-nuclear power. The result will be a Middle East war in which the Saudis will take part. 3.  The participation of the nuclear DF-3 missiles in the “Abdullah’s Sword” exercise signified Riyadh’s estimate that the coming conflict will see the use of nuclear weapons. 4.  By showing off their ageing Chinese missiles, the Saudis intimated that they had acquired the more advanced generation of this weapon, which they are keeping under wraps.  debkafile’s intelligence sources report that in recent visits to Beijing, high-ranking Saudi officials negotiated the purchase of Dong-Feng 21 (DF-21), whose range is shorter, 1,700 km, but more precise and effective in view of its terminal radar guidance system. The West has no information about when the new Chinese missiles were delivered to Saudi Arabia. 5.  The presence of the top Pakistani soldier at the parade of military and nuclear hardware was meant as corroboration of Islamabad’s active role as the source of the Saudi nuclear arsenal. 6.   The Saudis no longer rely on the American nuclear umbrella. They are developing their own nuclear strike force with the help of China and Pakistan.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6346

Gog Update: 3 Articles to Show the Movement towards Ezekiel 38

What will Putin try to ‘devour’ next?

Ex-Reagan adviser smacks Obama response to ‘great danger’ posed by Russia

Published: 14 hours ago

Greg Corombos

Vladimir Putin wants all of Ukraine and the big question is whether he’ll be satisfied with that, according to Frank Gaffney, deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan.

Gaffney, who is now president of the Center for Security Policy, says Putin is probing to see just how far he can go and is getting virtually no resistance from the United States.

Tension in Ukraine are on the rise again, with increasing reports of pro-Russian militants seizing police stations and other government buildings in eastern Ukraine, a region known to be sympathetic to Moscow. Experts fear the Russians are stoking an artificial movement in that part of the country designed to trigger additional independence votes and eventual assimilation by Russia. Gaffney says Putin’s strategy goes far beyond a little regional nibbling.

“The question is does he really want more than the whole thing of Ukraine. The think the answer to that is probably yes. I think he will insist upon, at the very minimum, that all of Ukraine once again is subject to Russian dominion, as it was under the previous President Yanukovych. Whether his appetite extends beyond that to Trans-Dniester (Moldova) or to Latvia and Estonia or perhaps other former Soviet republics [that] have Russian populations is anybody’s guess,” said Gaffney.

“But I think that the heavy betting should be on he’s going to continue to go for as much as he can because he senses no real opposition from either the administration here in Washington or from the Europeans,” he said.

The Obama administration says the president will likely speak to Putin soon about the latest instigation of unrest in Ukraine.

“I can assure you that Russia’s further provocations and transgressions will come with a cost,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Gaffney says that kind of response will yield little to nothing.

“This isn’t the first time that that’s been said, by the president, by Secretary of State John Kerry, let alone by the White House press spokesman. I think it’s been completely discounted by Vladmir Putin because he knows our capacity to impose greater costs is considerably limited by both the condition of our own military, our economy, not least our leadership, and because we’ve failed to take any appreciable steps to date,” said Gaffney.

“The extent of our support for Ukraine to this point has been to provide meals ready to eat to a country ready to be eaten. This is hardly a disincentive to Vladimir Putin and I think he’s behaving accordingly,” said Gaffney.

The Obama administration is also responding to news that a Russian warplane recently buzzed an American Navy ship in the region, with Carney calling it ”provocative and unprofessional.”

“This is the kind of thing that can lead to conflagrations because one suddenly one finds that the response is mandatory and no longer elective. I’m worried that the president’s failure, as is so often the case, and this is what the lessons of history teach us, things get worse the longer you defer acting on them,” said Gaffney.

Gaffney further asserts that the brewing tension with the Russians is another facet of the larger battle for freedom in the world.

“I believe the war we’re in is best thought of as the war for the free world and whether the assaults against the free world by the Islamists or by the Chinese or by the Russians or by Hugo Chavez and his successors or anybody else, to think that it doesn’t matter to U.S. security when other parts of the free world or aspirants to being part of it are lopped off at the hands of thugs who have very bad intentions toward us as well is the worst sort of shortsightedness.

It shows an ignorance of the hard lessons of history that should cause all of us to realize that we are poorly led and it is exposing us to great dangers,” said Gaffney.

Russia Tests Multi-Warhead ICBM

Flight test comes amid heightened tensions over Ukraine

BY: Bill GertzFollow @BillGertz
April 14, 2014 5:54 pm

Russia’s military carried out a flight test of a new multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile on Monday amid growing tensions with the United States over the crisis in Ukraine.

The SS-27 Mod 2 road-mobile ICBM was launched around 2:40 a.m. EST from Russia’s Plesetsk launch facility, located about 500 miles north of Moscow.

“The main purpose of the launch is to validate the reliability of a batch of this class of missiles made at the Votkinsk Plant,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov told state-run Interfax-AVN.

An unspecified number of simulated nuclear warheads landed at an impact range on the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Russian Far East, Yegorov said. The distance is around 3,500 miles.

The SS-27 Mod 2 is Russia’s newest ICBM and has been touted by Russian officials as designed specifically to defeat U.S. missile defenses.

Mark B. Schneider, a missile specialist with National Institute for Public Policy, said there is evidence indicating the Russians have violated the START arms treaty by developing the SS-27 Mod 2 with multiple warheads.

“The original missile that Russia called the Topol M Variant 2 and we call the SS-27 was a single warhead missile,” Schneider told the Free Beacon. “START prohibits increasing the declared number of warheads.”

The missile test launch followed an incident Saturday when a Russian Su-24 jet conducted a dozen low-altitude passes over a U.S. warship in the Black Sea. The Pentagon called the maneuver “provocative.”

“The aircraft did not respond to multiple queries and warnings from USS Donald Cook, and the event ended without incident after approximately 90 minutes,” Army Col. Steven Warren said.

“The Donald Cook is more than capable of defending itself against two Su-24s,” the colonel said.

Warren said the aircraft appeared to be authorized to make the low passes. “We’ve seen the Russians conduct themselves unprofessionally and in violation of international norms in Ukraine for several months, and these continued acts of provocation and unprofessionalism do nothing to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, which we called on the Russians to do,” he said.

The warship has been in the Black Sea in a show-of-strength deployment. It is currently making a port visit to Constanta, Romania.

The Russian ICBM, which Moscow calls the RS-24 Yars missile, will replace older Topol mobile ICBMs.

The United States currently has no comparable road-mobile ICBM. The mobility makes the missiles very difficult to detect and target.

The last flight test of the SS-27 Mod 2 was in December.

Russia currently has an estimated 80,000 troops deployed along with armored vehicles close to Ukraine’s eastern border.

A senior Obama administration official said last week that pro-Russian unrest, including the takeover of police stations in two eastern Ukrainian towns, appears to be the work of Russian agents seeking to foment unrest—something that could be used a pretext for a Russian military invasion.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has asked the United States to explain the recent visit to Kiev by CIA Director John Brennan.

“We want to understand what our western colleagues are doing in reality, particularly we want to understand what do the reports about an urgent visit of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the USA, Mr. Brennan, to Kiev means,” Lavrov said, according to state-owned Moscow Rossiya 24 TV. “No clear explanations have yet been given to us.”

A Russian presidential spokesman said President Vladimir Putin has received requests for Russia to intervene in Ukraine, following reports of domestic unrest.

“The Russian president is watching the development in these regions with great concern,” Dmitri Peskov, the spokesman, told reporters.

“Many appeals—addressed personally to Putin, asking to help in this or that way and asking to interfere in this or that way have been received,” Peskov said, according to Interfax.

The Obama administration is considering a Russian request to upgrade electronic intelligence gathering sensors used on aircraft that would overfly the United States as part of the Open Skies Treaty, according to the Weekly Standard.

The debate on granting the Russian request prompted a letter from House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) opposing the move.

“Given current world events, President Putin appears to be more than willing to disregard international norms of behavior in seeking geopolitical advantage. We should not now naively believe he will unilaterally adhere to the limitations of the Open Skies Treaty,” Rogers stated in a letter to President Obama sent Friday.

Senate Intelligence Committee members also are questioning whether the administration should permit the upgraded Russian spy flights.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command, which monitors foreign missile launches, had no immediate comment.

 

 

Apr 14, 12:53 PM EDT

 

APNewsBreak: Russian Jet passes near US warship

By LOLITA C. BALDOR
Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Russian fighter jet made multiple, close-range passes near an American warship in the Black Sea for more than 90 minutes Saturday amid escalating tensions in the region, U.S. military officials said Monday.

In the first public account of the incident, the officials said the Russian Fencer made 12 passes, and flew within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook, a Navy destroyer, at about 500 feet above sea level.

The U.S. warship issued several radio queries and warnings using international emergency circuits, but the Russian aircraft did not respond.

“This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with international protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

The fighter appeared to be unarmed and never was in danger of coming in contact with the ship, said the officials. The passes, which occurred in the early evening there, ended without incident. A second Russian fighter jet flew at a higher altitude and was not a concern, said Warren.

A U.S. military official also said that a Russian Navy ship, a frigate, has been shadowing the U.S. warship, remaining within visual distance but not close enough to be unsafe. The official was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Warren said that he is not aware of any official communication or protests by the U.S. to the Russians about incident.

The USS Donald Cook has been conducting routine operations in international waters east of Romania. The ship, which carries helicopters, was deployed to the Black Sea on April 10, in the wake of the Russian military takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and ongoing unrest there. U.S. military officials have said the deployment is part of an effort to reassure allies and partners in the region.

Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday called for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of the country, where pro-Russian insurgents have occupied buildings in nearly 10 cities. The gunmen are demanding more autonomy from the central government and closer ties with Russia.

The West has accused Moscow of fomenting the unrest. And European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg Monday to consider additional sanctions against Russian officials because of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

The USS Donald Cook is now in port at Constanta, Romania.

Romanian President Traian Basescu visited the ship Monday and said a second U.S. Navy warship – a frigate from the Navy’s Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea – is also heading to the Black Sea.

“My visit to the ship is symbolic, which first of all shows our respect to our NATO allies’ reaction who have strengthened their presence in the Black Sea after Russia’s annexation of Crimea,” said Basescu, who is a former ship captain. He said the Russians “had created a circle of fire around the Black Sea.”

The U.S. frigate, which has not yet been identified, is expected to arrive in the Black Sea in the next two weeks. According to a U.S. military official, the frigate is likely to replace the USS Donald Cook, which is expected to return to the Mediterranean Sea.

ukraine

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6305

Here Come the Scythians

Christians of a certain type like to identify with sola scriptura (Latin, “by scripture alone”), and I think such a view is foundational. We can err when we turn away from the Word of God. Yet today, extra-biblical sources are rampant in the American church.

For example, I recently noticed that a “Bible teacher” posted on Facebook that British scientists have cloned a baby dinosaur. This of course has “end-times” implications.

Somehow.

Let me cut to the chase: there is no baby dinosaur in England. The “news” source for this is bogus. Of course. It is painful just bringing it up.

But we fall for stuff.

Which makes a story in Haaretz—The large Israeli daily—all the more appealing. It seems that a rabbi has predicted that when the Russians take Crimea, Messiah will appear. All this talk led to the Haaretz article (which includes a bit about an Amsterdam museum housing precious Scythian artifacts; the museum curators are unsure whether to turn the traveling exhibit back to Crimea…or to the Russians).

The Scythians, in history, were a people in what is now southern Iran. A war-like civilization, feared because of their horse cavalry, the Scythians are thought to be the famous Magog contingent of Ezekiel 38-39. Their culture lasted from the seventh-century B.C. until the fourth century A.D.

This “thousand-year Reich” is fascinating, to be sure, but back to the Haaretz article.

The writer, Chemi Shalev, weaves a tale of Armageddon, the Messiah, and epic battle…mostly because a rabbi says that Vilna Gaon, an eighteenth century Talmud scholar from eastern Europe, predicted the end would come quickly, once a Russian leader claimed Crimea.

This is all very interesting—especially given that all-powerful Russian leader Vladimir Putin seems to fit a “Gog” criteria—and certainly, geopolitically, none of us have seen before the seeming puzzle pieces being fit together like they appear to be now.

However.

One must say again that while Iran, Russia, and an increasingly hostile (is that even possible?!) pan-Arab nation threaten Israel directly…we can’t give in to the speculations of Enlightenment rabbis, shady websites, dangerous Facebook “prophets,”  left-wing journalists, or even our own “feelings” about where we are in history.

The truth, of course, is that the Gog-Magog War could erupt tonight. Then again, it could be some years down the road. We simply don’t know.

I cannot emphasize enough how damaging the failed predictions of some prophecy teachers the last 40 years have been in terms of “crying wolf” to younger generations that no longer pay attention to our predictions, unless they are making fun of them.

We will know that Gog has roused Magog when it happens. If we are here.

In the meantime, Israel continues to be pressured by an increasingly hostile international community and as I often say, that is the single-biggest indication we are living in the very last of the last days. Netanyahu’s government is in peril if he carries out the latest Palestinian prisoner release. Hezbollah in the north is threatening again, this time with a vast stockpile of rockets. Control of Egypt is in play. Beyond that, the body of Europe is again sick with anti-Semitism, at alarming levels. The U.S. government now, in my opinion, has clearly abandoned Israel.

All this and much more tell us where we are.

(I also agree with the marvelous Jacob Prasch that the python of apostasy in the American church is a huge sign of the times.)

Until we see the very specific details of Ezekiel’s prophecy unfold (can’t you just imagine Matt Lauer scrambling to analyze such a development as research staffers hand him Bible passages?), though, let’s be sober-minded and teach people the basic outlines of predictive prophecy, so that when the end comes, they won’t be caught off-guard.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6273

How Dangerous Is Putin? Just Look at His Own Words

By Joel C. Rosenberg

March 18, 2014 4:42 PM

Who is Vladimir Putin, and what does he really want? Why exactly has he suddenly sent tens of thousands of heavily armed Russian troops into Crimea? Why did he invade Georgia in 2008? Why is he selling arms to bloodthirsty regimes like that of Bashar Assad in Syria? And why is selling both advanced arms and nuclear technology to a rogue terrorist state like Iran?

In the face of such questions, President Obama looks disoriented and confused. He and his national-security team have been painfully slow to understand the Putin threat. They’re now scrambling to develop a coherent and convincing policy to contain Putin, much less have a chance at rolling him back.

The American people now see Putin as a real and growing threat, and not just to the former Soviet republics but to the national security of the United States and our allies, including Israel.

This month, I engaged McLaughlin & Associates, a nationally-respected polling firm, to ask a series of questions of 1,000 likely U.S. voters. Among them:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “In light of Russia’s invasion of southern Ukraine, and Russia selling arms and nuclear technology to Iran, and Russia selling arms to the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, I have come to believe that Vladimir Putin and the government of Russia pose a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and our ally, Israel”?

In 2012, Mr. Obama mocked those who even raised such a question. Today, a remarkable 72 percent of Americans said they agreed with such a statement. Only 19 percent disagreed.

Are they right? Is Putin as serious a threat as Americans believe? To answer that question requires going beyond Washington conventional wisdom and listening carefully to what he has said in the past.

In 2000, three Russian journalists — Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova, and Andrei Kolesnikov — published First Person, which may prove to be one of the most important books ever written about Putin. It is useful not because the journalists offered their own ­insights or analysis into Putin, but because they simply let Putin speak for himself. They interviewed the Russian leader six separate times, each time for about four hours. The book is merely a transcript, and when it comes to understanding Putin’s ambitions and approach, it is a gold mine of intelligence.

Putin on his mission in life: “My historical mission,” he insisted, is to stop “the collapse of the USSR” (p. 139).  To do this, he vowed to “consolidate the armed forces, the Interior Ministry, and the FSB [the successor to the KGB, the secret police of the Soviet Union]” (p. 140). “If I can help save Russia from collapse, then I’ll have something to be proud of” (p. 204).

On his style: “Everyone says I’m harsh, even brutal,” Putin acknowledged, without ever disputing such observations. “A dog senses when somebody is afraid of it, and bites,” he observed. “The same applies [to dealing with one’s enemies]. If you become jittery, they will think they are stronger. Only one thing works in such circumstances—to go on the offensive. You must hit first, and hit so hard that your opponent will not rise to his feet” (p. 168).

On the czars: “From the very beginning, Russia was created as a super-centralized state. That’s practically laid down in its genetic code, its traditions, and the mentality of its people,” said Putin, adding, “In certain periods of time . . . in a certain place . . . under certain conditions . . . monarchy has played and continues to this day to play a positive role. . . . The monarch doesn’t have to worry about whether or not he will be elected, or about petty political interests, or about how to influence the electorate. He can think about the destiny of the people and not become distracted with trivialities” (p. 186).

On his choice of history’s most interesting political leader: “Napoleon Bonaparte” (p. 194).

On his rise from spy to president: “In the Kremlin, I have a different position. Nobody controls me here. I control everybody else” (p. 131).

On his critics: “to hell with them” (p. 140).

Who is Vladmir Putin? The evidence suggests he sees himself not so much as Russia’s president but as a new czar for a new age. He is determined to expand Russian territory by taking back what was lost when the Soviet Union imploded and restoring the glory of Mother Russia. Sensing weakness in Mr. Obama, he is ready to “go on the offensive” and “hit first, and hit so hard” that his opponent “will not rise to his feet.”

This is precisely why Putin is so dangerous. Hillary Clinton recently compared the Russian leader’s tactics to those of Adolf Hitler. In some ways, she is correct. Putin is not building concentration camps, but he is hungry for power and territory and he doesn’t see a single leader in Europe or in Washington who has the courage to stop him. He is testing, probing, and finding no serious opposition.

If he is not stopped, the question is not whether Vladimir Putin will hit another opponent and seize more territory. The question simply is: When?

gog

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6247

Israel steps up warnings of military strike on Iran to return attention to its nuclear program

JERUSALEM –  A rising chorus of Israeli voices is again raising the possibility of carrying out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in what appears to be an attempt to draw renewed attention to Tehran’s atomic program — and Israel’s unhappiness with international negotiations with the Iranians.

In recent days, a series of newspaper reports and comments by top defense officials have signaled that the military option remains very much on the table. While Israeli officials say Israel never shelved the possibility of attacking, the heightened rhetoric marks a departure from Israel’s subdued approach since six world powers opened negotiations with Iran last November.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been an outspoken critic of the international efforts to negotiate a deal with Iran. He has spent years warning the world against the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and fears a final deal will leave much of Iran’s nuclear capabilities intact.

But since the global powers reached an interim agreement with Iran last November, Netanyahu’s warnings about Iran have been largely ignored. A frustrated Israeli leadership now appears to be ratcheting up the pressure on the international community to take a tough position in its negotiations with Iran.

A front-page headline in the daily Haaretz on Thursday proclaimed that Netanyahu has ordered “to prep for strike on Iran in 2014” and has allocated 10 billion shekels (2.87 billion dollars) for the groundwork. Earlier this week, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon hinted that Israel would have to pursue a military strike on its own, with the U.S. having chosen the path of negotiations. And the military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, said this week that Iran “is not in an area that is out of the military’s range.”

An Israeli military strike would be extremely difficult to pull off, both for logistical and political reasons. Any mission would likely require sending Israeli warplanes into hostile airspace, and it remains unclear how much damage Israel could inflict on a program that is scattered and hidden deep underground. In addition, it would likely set off an international uproar, derail the international negotiations and trigger retaliation on Israeli and U.S. targets.

Yoel Gozansky, an Iran expert at the Institute of National Security Studies, a Tel Aviv think tank, said the comments were meant as a wake-up call to the world.

“It was in a coma. It has awoken suddenly,” he said of the military-option talk. “Someone has an agenda to bring up this subject again, which has dropped off the agenda in recent months, especially after the deal with Iran.”

Netanyahu has long been at odds with his Western allies over how to dislodge Iran from its nuclear program. He has called the interim agreement a “historic mistake,” saying it grants Iran too much relief while getting little in return, and fears a final agreement would leave Iran with the capability to make a bomb.

Israel believes that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies. Israel says a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state, citing Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction, its development of long-range missiles and its support for hostile militant groups.

During a swing through Washington early this month, Netanyahu tried to draw attention to the Iranian issue in stops at the White House and in an address to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group. Israel then engaged in a six-day PR blitz when naval commandos seized a ship in international waters that was carrying dozens of sophisticated rockets Israel said were bound for militants in the Gaza Strip and sent by Iran. The effort was capped by a display of the seized weapons.

But beyond placid acknowledgments from world leaders, the ship’s seizure did little to change the course of negotiations with Iran.

Netanyahu said the world’s indifference to the naval raid was “hypocritical,” and he lashed out at Western leaders for condemning Israeli settlement construction while ignoring Iran’s transgressions.

Netanyahu’s past warnings have been credited with bringing the Iran issue to the fore and galvanizing world powers to take action on the nuclear program. He made headlines in 2012 when he drew a red line on a cartoon bomb during his speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

Yaakov Amidror, who recently stepped down as Netanyahu’s national security adviser, said the threat of a military strike is a real possibility.

“We aren’t playing a game of neighborhood bully. This is a stated policy of the state of Israel and has been made clear … to anyone who meets Israel’s representatives.”

But if Israel is trying to raise the alarm again, the move comes at an inopportune time. The urgency of the Iran issue has taken a backseat to more pressing international crises, namely Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula. With world powers charging forward with negotiations with Iran, threats from Israel are likely to be ignored at best. At worst, they could alienate Israel’s closest allies.

Gozansky said the renewed threats were largely empty because if Israel carried out a strike with diplomacy underway, it would be seen as a warmonger out to destabilize the region. But he said the threats could nonetheless serve as leverage on Iran while it conducts talks. Netanyahu has suggested that may be the case.

“The greater the pressure on Iran,” he said in his speech to AIPAC, “the more credible the threat of force on Iran, the smaller the chance that force will ever have to be used.”

israel_flag

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6244

Is Gog Hooked?

Strange, fast-track things continue to be afoot at this late date of prophetic progression.

America is in swift decline, which those who observe the times in light of Bible prophecy from a futurist, pretribulation viewpoint have long said must happen. The demise is being deliberately orchestrated, in my view and the opinions of others. Many have long surmised that this must be the case, because such a great superpower–apart from the revived Roman Empire—is mentioned nowhere in prophecy yet future.

The European Union (EU)–that prophesied, end-times empire–despite occasional setbacks is on a rapid ascent within the panoply of nation-states. To add to the mix, this Catholic pontiff certainly seems to be working hard in at least preparing the stage for the second beast of Revelation chapter 13 in calling all religions–all peoples, for that matter—together in declaring that there are many ways to God and heaven. He is loved and adored by increasing millions from every religious order, it seems. World media love him, and this just might be the most powerful indicator of all of just what part he is set to play in the wind-up of the age.

Even evangelicals in the U.S. are joining in the welcome of the new pope and his call for unity. Just within the past week or two, ministers such as Kenneth Copeland have begun lauding Pope Francis’ praises for the pope having personally appealed to Copeland and others to join him in this ecumenical move toward uniting the world religiously.

At the same time, more and more evangelicals as well as others within Christendom are turning against Israel as the rightful heir to the land God gave that people. Replacement theology is the order of the day, while our own pretrib view and support for God’s chosen nation diminish daily, it seems. So-called Christian Palestinianism is on the rise–this meaning that Israel, according to those who hold to this “theology”–has no biblically guaranteed place in the world. The gist of the worldview is that the land should be given to the hapless Palestinians, with no thought to any God-given guarantee that some–like us—see in prophecy yet future.

The coalition of nations prophetically destined to come against Israel at the wind-up of human history this side of the Millennium is already in alignment, with the two chief nations of that attack closely in cahoots. Russia (Rosh) and Iran (Persia) are together in nefarious doings to threaten Israel and world peace with their progress toward developing nuclear weaponry. With the Gog-Magog forces gathering, there is a cry for peace and safety. The Roadmap to Peace might be the nucleus of the covenant made with death and hell prophetically scheduled, according to Daniel 9: 26-27 and Isaiah 28: 15, 18.

The man of sin is not in view, but we see prototypes in these days of strange doings. Certainly, we see the road for his coming to power being paved almost hourly. One senses the first beast of Revelation 13 must be waiting in the shadows, just behind the curtain of the end-times stage.

However, there is one prophetic power-player that just could be coming into his own position of last-days destiny. I, of course, am not the only one thinking this while we witness the geopolitical gyrations and machinations of one Vladimir Putin taking place. With ease, seemingly, he has outwitted and outbluffed the supposed leader of the free world and that leader’s secretary of state. While they make inane statements that Mr. Putin should be a good citizen and not act like someone out of the barbaric past, the Russian simply goes about the business of reassembling the Soviet Union with the only push-back consisting of diplomatic gobbledygook.

Wait! There is something about how the diplomats will handle the one known as Gog mentioned somewhere, isn’t there? Oh, yes! It is found in the prophet Ezekiel’s prophecy of the Gog-Magog attack: “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13).

This sounds eerily familiar…not unlike the weak-kneed diplomatic protests we are hearing now while Mr. Putin has his way with Ukraine, does it not? Putin can’t let Ukraine remove too far from Russia’s sphere of direct influence. And he won’t.

Russian-owned natural gas and petroleum company, Gazprom, controls nearly one-fifth of the world’s gas reserves and supplies more than half of the gas Ukraine uses annually. Putin threatens to do away with the deal Russia had with the now deposed Ukrainian pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, because of opposition to Russian hegemony that is developing. The price rise (more than 30%) in gas supply would be disastrous to the already strapped Ukrainian economy.

On top of that threat, the Russian military, of course, has already intruded and awaits orders to bring that state back under total domination like in times of the USSR. Vladimir Putin apparently already has deeply within his tyrannical brain the thought to not only hang on to the energy resources Russia possesses, but to begin expanding Russian influence as he eyes the now gas-rich Israel to the south.

It is thought that Israel will soon make huge inroads into supplying Europe with the absolutely critical energy it needs, because of uncertainty over Russia’s future moves, militarily and otherwise. God’s Word has something to say about some future leader’s thinking and the ramifications that will result from his taking action on those “evil thoughts”:

“And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords” (Ezekiel 38:3).

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezekiel 38:10-12).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6133

Israel unloads 150 containers from Iranian weapons ship

By JPOST.COM STAFF

03/09/2014 14:01

IDF experts determining if rockets on vessel have 90 k.m. range or were more advanced M-302 rockets with 150-200 k.m. range.

The Israel Navy unloaded some 150 containers from the Klos C on Sunday morning, a day after the ship docked at Eilat port.

“Just walked through a hangar with rows of these rockets from the Iranian weapons shipment. All I can say is I’m happy they’re in our hands,” IDF Spokesman for International Media Peter Lerner said on his Twitter account.

According to Channel 10, weapons experts who arrived at the naval base in Eilat were trying to determine which type of rockets the ship contained – those with a 90 k.m. range or the more advanced model of the M-302 rocket with a range of 150-200 k.m.

The IDF is expected to complete the unpacking and classification of the weapons on Sunday before presenting their findings at the naval base in Eilat on Monday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon were expected to travel to Eilat on Monday for the unveiling of the weapons.

Both Netanyahu and Ya’alon addressed the IDF’s interception of the Iranian-sponsored weapons ship on Sunday.

Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Iran’s blatant lies would be exposed when the contents of the ship were presented on Monday.

Speaking at a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers in Jerusalem, Ya’alon stated that “the interdiction of the ship reveals the danger and lack of restraint of the regime in Tehran. We face a complicated struggle against a cruel, sophisticated, shifty and versatile enemy.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6129