Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Iran says ‘little chance’ of reaching nuclear deal with West by November

Iran’s foreign minister said he believed it was unlikely a final-status agreement would be reached with the West over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program within the time frame that has been allotted in the negotiations.

“The chances that we will come to final understandings within the four months remaining are low,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Zarif added that even if the parties come to a deal by the November deadline, they would still need more time to flesh out the fine print.

The foreign minister said the talks could lead to “quick results” if the P5+1 powers – the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany – display the necessary will. He said that in recent months, the discussions have proceeded carefully, although there has been progress.

In July, Iran and the six powers agreed to extend the talks after both sides were unable to reach an agreement. The main dispute centered on the question of the extent to which Iran would be permitted to enrich uranium.

The powers demanded the Islamic Republic reduce the number of centrifuges to a symbolic few, while the Iranians countered with a proposal to increase the number of centrifuges and to subject them under international inspection.

This past Wednesday, Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying that Washington has become increasingly hostile to Iran.

“There’s no point in engaging in direct negotiations with Washington,” he said.

The moderate camp, led by President Hassan Rouhani, believes Iran must reach an agreement immediately, particularly in order to boost the Iranian economy. The West has shown greater interest in investing in the Iranian economy, as evidenced by the 30 percent increase in oil exports.

“Cowards, go to hell,” Rouhani said of the conservatives in Iran, this during the same week in which Iran’s central bank received the final payment of funds that were frozen – $500 million, out of a total of $4.2b.

Another matter on the agenda that remains to be dealt with is regional dilemmas, particularly the emergence of the Islamic State. Military analysts believe that the organization is setting its sights on Iran.

“The real goal of Islamic State is to get to Iran,” wrote the Iraqi military analyst, Said Bazuka. “They misled the Iraqi military, making it think that it was on its way to Baghdad, but they turned toward Irbil since their real destination from the start has always been Khankin, near the eastern border with Iran. Islamic State’s real target is Iran, and the Mojahedin e-Khalq [an opposition group dedicated to the overthrow of the Islamic Republic] are waiting to join Islamic State once they enter Iran.”

In light of this analysis, the Iranians are becoming increasingly worried about the looming threat posed by Islamic State.

Meanwhile, UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano will visit Iran on Sunday in an apparent attempt to push for progress in a long-running investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Tehran.

Amano’s trip comes ahead of an August 25 deadline for Iran to provide some information relevant to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inquiry into what it calls the possible military dimensions of the country’s disputed nuclear program.

Iran dismisses Western accusations that it has been working to develop a capability to assemble atomic weapons.

The visit – announced by the IAEA in Vienna on Friday – will be Amano’s first to Iran this year and the third since 2012.

Western officials say Iranian clarifications of the IAEA’s concerns would also advance efforts by six world powers to negotiate an end to a decade-old standoff over Tehran’s atomic activities, suggesting some sanctions relief may depend on it.

With major gaps remaining over the permissible future scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, the talks between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, China, Britain and Russia were extended to November 24 during mid-July talks.

Iran says it is enriching uranium to generate electricity, and not to accumulate fissile material for a potential atomic bomb, as the West suspects.

Tehran rejects such suspicions as based on false and fabricated information from its enemies but has promised, since pragmatist Rouhani became president in mid- 2013, to work with the Vienna-based UN agency to clear them up.

Under a phased cooperation pact hammered out late last year, an attempt to jump-start the long-stalled IAEA investigation, Iran agreed in May to implement five nuclear transparency measures by August 25, two of which directly dealt with the nuclear bomb inquiry.

However, so far there have been no public indications of any movement by Iran on the agreed steps.

A brief statement issued by the UN agency on Friday said, without elaborating: “The director general of the IAEA…

will visit Iran for meetings on August 17 with Iranian leaders and senior officials.

The visit is part of the efforts to advance dialogue and cooperation between the agency and Iran.”

Diplomatic sources told Reuters in late July that the IAEA – which is tasked with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the world – was concerned about Iran’s lack of engagement with the investigation.

They said there was still time for Iran to meet its commitments, noting Tehran had occasionally waited until the last minute to make concessions in the past.

But the slow pace of cooperation may reinforce an impression in the West about continuing Iranian reluctance to give the IAEA the information and access to sites and people that it says it needs for its investigation.

“Unless Iran addresses the IAEA’s concerns…the chance is reduced of successfully negotiating a long-term nuclear agreement between the [six powers] and Iran,” the Institute for Science and International Security think-tank said this month.

After years of what the West saw as Iranian stonewalling, Iran as a first step in May gave the IAEA information it had requested about its reasons for developing exploding-bridgewire detonators.

These can be used to set off an atomic explosive device but Iran says they are for civilian use.

Tehran agreed to clarify two other issues by late August – concerning alleged work on explosives and computer studies related to calculating nuclear explosive yields.

They were among 12 specific areas listed in an IAEA report issued in 2011 with a trove of intelligence indicating a concerted weapons program that was halted in 2003 – when Iran came under increased international pressure. The intelligence also suggested some activities may later have resumed.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6597

Iran’s Supreme Leader: Jihad Will Continue Until America is No More

Reza Kahlili

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, all but said on Sunday that negotiations over the country’s illicit nuclear program are over and that the Islamic Republic’s ideals include destroying America.

“Those [Iranians] who want to promote negotiation and surrender to the oppressors and blame the Islamic Republic as a warmonger in reality commit treason,” Khamenei told a meeting of members of parliament, according to the regime’s Fars News Agency.

Khamenei emphasized that without a combative mindset, the regime cannot reach its higher Islamic role against the “oppressors’ front.”

“The reason for continuation of this battle is not the warmongering of the Islamic Republic. Logic and reason command that for Iran, in order to pass through a region full of pirates, needs to arm itself and must have the capability to defend itself,” he said.

“Today’s world is full of thieves and plunderers of human honor, dignity and morality who are equipped with knowledge, wealth and power, and under the pretense of humanity easily commit crimes and betray human ideals and start wars in different parts of the world.”

In response to a question by a parliamentarian on how long this battle will continue, Khamenei said,“Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. … This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought. … This requires a difficult and lengthy struggle and need for great strides.”

Khamenei cited the scientific advancement of the country. “The accelerated scientific advancement of the last 12 years cannot stop under any circumstances,” he said, referring to the strides the regime has made toward becoming a nuclear power.

As reported on May 19 on The Daily Caller, Iran has put up new roadblocks to reaching a deal with the P5+1 world powers over its illicit nuclear program. The powers are the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany.

Three days of negotiations in the fourth round of Geneva meetings ended recently without concrete results when the Iranian team presented the country’s new “red lines” — diminishing any hope by the Obama administration to claim victory in its approach to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, according to reports from Iran.

The Obama administration had hoped that with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif showing an eagerness to solve the nuclear issue and address the West’s concerns, there would be a possibility for a negotiated solution. An interim agreement penned last November in Geneva was touted as an “historic nuclear deal.”

Under that agreement, Iran, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, limited its enrichment activity to the 5 percent level with a current stockpile of over 10 tons (enough for six nuclear bombs), converted much of its 20 percent enriched stock to harmless oxide, and agreed to allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear plants by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspections were limited to only agreed-upon facilities.

The Iranian delegation last week presented new red lines that could not be crossed, including the expansion of the country’s research and development for its nuclear program, the need of the country to continue enrichment, and the fact that the country’s ballistic missile program — despite U.N. sanctions — is not up for negotiation.

At the same time, IAEA officials met again with their Iranian counterparts last week in Tehran to discuss information on the work on detonators and needed collaboration by the regime to clear outstanding issues on its nuclear program as part of seven transparency steps Iran had agreed to fulfill by May 15, which has yet to take place.

iran missile

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6394

STRATEGIST WARNS OF NEW RUSSIAN THREAT: “IT WOULD BE THE GREATEST BLACKOUT IN AMERICAN HISTORY”

Russia’s control of valuable domestic resources puts them in a unique strategic position against the United States.

 

by Mac Slavo | SHTFPlan.com| May 19, 2014

 

Amid tensions between the United States and Russia in recent months many international analysts have warned of consequences that may include everything from thermo-nuclear detonations to asymmetric warfare such as financial cyber attacks, weapons of mass destruction, or targeting of the national utility grid.

The Obama administration has already begun implementing sanctions against Russian politicians and business interests, but rather than leading to a compromise the controversial geo-political maneuvers may be further fueling the fire. According to Marin Katusa, Chief Resource Strategist at Casey Research, Russia’s control of valuable domestic resources puts them in a unique strategic position against the United States and gives them significant leverage should they choose to implement sanctions of their own.  The country is rich in oil and gas, an advantage they have used time and again in negotiations with Europe by simply threatening to shut down gas pipelines if their demands weren’t met. But something most people don’t realize is that the Russians also dominate the rare earth metals sector, namely the mining of uranium.

If Russia were to restrict the export of that uranium, explains Katusa, life as we know it in the United States could come to an abrupt halt.

If that happened America’s lights would go out. It would be the greatest blackout in American history…

The irony is John Kerry is going out there with Obama and talking about all these sanctions they’re going to put on the Russians. If the Russians wanted they could pull the rug out from under the American energy matrix and 20%, one out of every five homes in America, would be in blackout.

You have to remember the facts… You can talk about hope and dreams all you want, but the reality is that one in every five homes in America is powered by Russian fuel.

In the following must listen interview with Future Money Trends, Marin Katusa delves into the facts behind America’s dependence not just on foreign oil, but uranium and other resources, and explains the repercussions should Russia choose to literally “pull the plug” on the United States.
In 2013 America consumed just over 45 million pounds [of uranium] and in the U.S. last year they produced just under 4.4 million pounds. So, depending on which numbers you want to use and what the actual recoveries are, somewhere confidently less than 10% but more likely somewhere around 6% to 7% [of the uranium Americans use is mined in the United States].

The U.S. imports over 90% of what they consume and that is a strategic issue when you think about the fact that 20% of base-load power is based on nuclear energy and they depend on 90% from imports… Americans should be in shock with that. On of that, half comes from the former USSR, what I call the Soviet influence.

Ironically, what people do forget is that the Russians produced more uranium on American soil than all the American companies combined, so that’s alarming.

For years the Obama administration, as well as their predecessors, have surrendered America’s energy independence to foreign interests. Americans are already familiar with the economic effects of oil embargos such as the one that lead to the 1973 crisis that quadrupled oil prices. Most recently, as tensions in the middle east rose in 2008, the price of gas rose nearly 40% in a single year and threatened America’s domestic strategic oil reserves.

Since the end of the cold war we’ve experienced a relatively stable trade relationship with Russia up until a few months ago when Ukraine exploded in revolution. Now Americans face a new energy threat that could, should Russia choose to exercise this option, lead to rolling blackouts across the United States and cause electricity prices to sky rocket almost overnight.

It’s a threat that doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar, but one that could have an immediate impact on Americans’ way of life if Vladimir Putin decides he’s had enough of the political showmanship.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6383

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

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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.

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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

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