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Author Topic: Nuclear War, WMD issues  (Read 148819 times)
Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #200 on: April 07, 2010, 12:55:45 AM »

Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #201 on: April 12, 2010, 07:54:16 AM »

WASHINGTON — Three months ago, American intelligence officials examining satellite photographs of Pakistani nuclear facilities saw the first wisps of steam from the cooling towers of a new nuclear reactor. It was one of three plants being constructed to make fuel for a second generation of nuclear arms.

The message of those photos was clear: While Pakistan struggles to make sure its weapons and nuclear labs are not vulnerable to attack by Al Qaeda, the country is getting ready to greatly expand its production of weapons-grade fuel.
The Pakistanis insist that they have no choice. A nuclear deal that India signed with the United States during the Bush administration ended a long moratorium on providing India with the fuel and technology for desperately needed nuclear power plants.

Now, as critics of the arrangement point out, the agreement frees up older facilities that India can devote to making its own new generation of weapons, escalating one arms race even as President Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia sign accords to shrink arsenals built during the cold war.

Mr. Obama met with the leaders of India and Pakistan on Sunday, a day ahead of a two-day Washington gathering with 47 nations devoted to the question of how to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists. In remarks to reporters about the summit meeting, Mr. Obama called the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon “the single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short-term, medium-term and long-term.”

The summit meeting is the largest gathering of world leaders called by an American president since Franklin D. Roosevelt organized the 1945 meeting in San Francisco that created the United Nations. (He died two weeks before the session opened.) But for all its symbolism and ceremony, this meeting has quite limited goals: seeking ways to better secure existing supplies of bomb-usable plutonium and highly enriched uranium. The problem that India and Pakistan represent, though, is deliberately not on the agenda.

“President Obama is focusing high-level attention on the threat that already exists out there, and that’s tremendously important,” said Sam Nunn, the former Democratic senator from Georgia who has devoted himself to safeguarding global stockpiles of weapons material — enough, by some estimates, to build more than 100,000 atom bombs. “But the fact is that new production adds greatly to the problem.”

Nowhere is that truer than Pakistan, where two Taliban insurgencies and Al Qaeda coexist with the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. According to a senior American official, Mr. Obama used his private meeting Sunday afternoon with Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s newly empowered prime minister, to “express disappointment” that Pakistan is blocking the opening of negotiations on a treaty that would halt production of new nuclear material around the world.

Experts say accelerated production in Pakistan translates into much increased risk.

“The challenges are getting greater — the increasing extremism, the increasing instability, the increasing material,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who as a C.I.A. officer and then head of the Energy Department’s intelligence unit ran much of the effort to understand Al Qaeda’s nuclear ambitions.

“That’s going to complicate efforts to make sure nothing leaks,” he said. “The trends mean the Pakistani authorities have a greater challenge.”

Few subjects are more delicate in Washington. In an interview last Monday, Mr. Obama avoided a question about his progress in building on a five-year, $100 million Bush administration program to safeguard Pakistan’s arms and materials.

“I feel confident that Pakistan has secured its nuclear weapons,” Mr. Obama said. “I am concerned about nuclear security all around the world, not just in Pakistan but everywhere.” He added, “One of my biggest concerns has to do with the loose nuclear materials that are still floating out there.”

Taking up the Pakistan-India arms race at the summit meeting, administration officials say, would be “too politically divisive.”

“We’re focusing on protecting existing nuclear material, because we think that’s what everyone can agree on,” one senior administration official said in an interview on Friday. To press countries to cut off production of new weapons-grade material, he said, “would take us into questions of proliferation, nuclear-free zones and nuclear disarmament on which there is no agreement.”

Mr. Obama said he expected “some very specific commitments” from world leaders.

“Our expectation is not that there’s just some vague, gauzy statement about us not wanting to see loose nuclear materials,” he said. “We anticipate a communiqué that spells out very clearly, here’s how we’re going to achieve locking down all the nuclear materials over the next four years, with very specific steps in order to assure that.”

Those efforts began at the end of the cold war, 20 years ago. Today officials are more sanguine about the former Soviet stockpiles and the focus is now wider. Last month, American experts removed weapons-grade material from earthquake-damaged Chile.


The summit meeting will aim to generate the political will so that other nations and Mr. Obama’s own administration can create a surge of financial and technical support that will bring his four-year plan to fruition.

“It’s doable but hard,” said Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at Harvard. “It’s not easy to overcome secrecy, complacency, sovereignty and bureaucracy.”
Mr. Obama plans to open the summit meeting with a discussion of the scope of the terrorist threat. The big challenge, Mr. Mowatt-Larssen said, is to get world leaders to understand “that it’s a low-probability, but not a no-probability, event that requires urgent action.”

For instance, in late 2007, four gunmen attacked a South African site that held enough highly enriched uranium for a dozen atomic bombs. The attackers breached a 10,000-volt security fence, knocked out detection systems and broke into the emergency control room before coming under assault. They escaped.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama promised to “increase funding by $1 billion a year to ensure that within four years, the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons are removed from all the world’s most vulnerable sites and effective, lasting security measures are instituted for all remaining sites.”

In Mr. Obama’s first year, though, financing for better nuclear controls fell by $25 million, about 2 percent.

“The Obama administration got off to an unimpressive start,” Mr. Bunn wrote in his most recent update of “Securing the Bomb,” a survey to be published Monday by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy group that Mr. Nunn helped found in Washington. But he added that its proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year calls for a 31 percent increase.

The next phase in Mr. Obama’s arms-control plan is to get countries to agree to a treaty that would end the production of new bomb fuel. Pakistan has led the opposition, and it is building two new reactors for making weapons-grade plutonium, and one plant for salvaging plutonium from old reactor fuel.

Last month, the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington, reported that the first reactor was emitting steam. That suggests, said Paul Brannan, a senior institute analyst, that the “reactor is at least at some state of initial operation.”

Asked about the production, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said, “Pakistan looks forward to working with the international community to find the balance between our national security and our contributions to international nonproliferation efforts.”

In private, Pakistani officials insist that the new plants are needed because India has the power to mount a lightning invasion with conventional forces.

India, too, is making new weapons-grade plutonium, in plants exempted under the agreement with the Bush administration from inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Neither Pakistan nor India has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.)

The Obama administration has endorsed the Bush-era agreement. Last month, the White House took the next step, approving an accord that allows India to build two new reprocessing plants. While that fuel is for civilian use, critics say it frees older plants to make weapons fuel.

“The Indian relationship is a very important one,” said Mr. Nunn, who influenced Mr. Obama’s decision to endorse a goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. But he said that during the Bush years, “I would have insisted that we negotiate to stop their production of weapons fuel. Sometimes in Washington, we have a hard time distinguishing between the important and the vital.”
Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #202 on: April 17, 2010, 12:11:20 PM »

Russia has just announced that it intends to allow the Iranian nuclear reactor facility located in Bushehr (near the Persian Gulf) to go live in August. This is an ominous development. Now Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has a fateful decision to make. Will he order a preemptive military strike against all of Iran’s nuclear sites before August when the Bushehr site becomes “hot”? His mentor, Menachem Begin, ordered an Israeli air strike against Saddam Hussein’s Osirik nuclear reactor in Iraq before it went hot in 1981. Netanyahu wants the world to act with decisive unity to stop Iran from getting the Bomb. But that is increasingly unlikely. The Obama administration is no longer calling for “crippling sanctions,” and even if they were, it appears to be too late for sanctions to be effective. U.S. officials — including Defense Secretary Robert Gates — says Iran could have the Bomb by next year. German intelligence thinks it could be sooner. We need to pray for peace, but prepare for war.
Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #203 on: April 17, 2010, 10:13:19 PM »

Mark Steyn: Obama's nuke summit dangerously delusional

In years to come – assuming, for the purposes of argument, there are any years to come – scholars will look back at President Barack Obama's Nuclear Security Summit and marvel. For once, the cheap comparisons with 1930s appeasement barely suffice: To be sure, in 1933, the great powers were meeting in Geneva and holding utopian arms-control talks even as Hitler was taking office in Berlin. But it's difficult to imagine Neville Chamberlain in 1938 hosting a conference on the dangers of rearmament, and inviting America, France, Brazil, Liberia and Thailand ...but not even mentioning Germany.

Yet that's what Obama just did: He held a nuclear gabfest in 2010, the biggest meeting of world leaders on American soil since the founding of the United Nations 65 years ago – and Iran wasn't on the agenda.

**Read it all.**
Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #204 on: April 17, 2010, 10:26:54 PM »

I'm sure this will all turn out well, right Obama voters?
Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #205 on: April 20, 2010, 01:09:58 AM »

Saudi Arabia announces nuclear centre
By Abeer Allam in Riyadh

Published: April 18 2010 14:37 | Last updated: April 18 2010 14:37

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil supplier, is set to establish a civilian nuclear and renewable energy centre to help meet increasing demand for power as the country pushes forward with economic expansion plans.

The official Saudi press agency said on Saturday that the new centre, the King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy, would be based in Riyadh and would be led by Hashim Abdullah Yamani, a former commerce and trade minister.

Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #206 on: April 29, 2010, 08:49:24 AM »

BOLTON: Folding our nuclear umbrella

By John R. Bolton

Although media coverage of President Obama's unfolding nuclear policy has focused on its implications for the United States, it is no less important to understand its effects on America's friends and allies. The New START arms control treaty with Russia, the administration's nuclear posture review, the recent Washington nuclear security summit, and the uncertainty surrounding May's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference are all reverberating in capitals worldwide.

Bad as Obama policies are for America, they are equally dangerous for friends who have relied for decades on the U.S. nuclear umbrella as a foundation of their own national security strategies. As Washington's capabilities decline and as it narrows the circumstances when it will use nuclear weapons, allies are asking hard questions about whether the U.S. nuclear umbrella will continue to provide the protection it has previously.

Many allies see clearly that our mutual global adversaries have no intention of reducing their own nuclear programs in imitation of Mr. Obama. Our friends accordingly feel increasingly insecure. If Washington will not continue to hold the nuclear umbrella that has provided strategic stability for so long, other countries will begin making divergent decisions about how to protect themselves, including, for some, the possibility of seeking their own nuclear weapons.

Within the administration, there are strong advocates for America pledging "no first use" of nuclear weapons. Although the nuclear posture review "only" expanded "negative security assurances" somewhat, there is little doubt that "no first use" is alive and well in internal administration councils. These self-imposed constraints on the use of nuclear weapons reinforce the allies' concern that Mr. Obama has forgotten the central Cold War lesson about the U.S. nuclear deterrent. There was never any doubt that a Soviet attack through the Fulda Gap into Western Europe would have swept through NATO forces, possibly all the way to the English Channel. Thus, the threat of U.S. nuclear retaliation against such an attack - an unambiguous case of a U.S. first use of nuclear weapons - was precisely what was needed to keep Soviet forces on their side of the Iron Curtain.

The risks come not only from the Obama administration's nuclear policies. By canceling the Polish and Czech missile defense sites, the president signaled that he has less than full faith in the concept of a U.S. national missile defense capability. Moreover, and equally important, Russia and others quickly interpreted the decision not to construct the Eastern European facilities as Washington backing down in response to Russian threats. At a minimum, Mr. Obama showed that he was prepared to use U.S. missile defense as a bargaining chip, exactly the misguided policy option President Reagan consistently and emphatically rejected. If America's homeland remains vulnerable, its willingness to risk confrontation with an opponent will be substantially reduced. In such circumstances, U.S. allies could not count on the threat of nuclear retaliation by Washington in the event of aggression, as they could in the Cold War.

Accordingly, Europeans should be very worried that they are increasingly on their own to face the re-emerging threat of Russian belligerence. Because the New START treaty does not limit tactical nuclear weapons, Europe, simply because of geographic proximity, is most vulnerable to Russia's advantage in that category. It is thus highly ironic that some NATO countries have recently called for removing the last U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, which will simply enhance Russia's existing lead. Moreover, because the conflict in Afghanistan has opened new fissures in NATO, Europe must ponder whether the aging alliance can renew its original focus on defending against Moscow.

In the Pacific, concerns are equally acute, especially in Japan. Faced with the unambiguous reality of China expanding and modernizing its nuclear and conventional military capabilities, and with North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, Japan inevitably faces the question of whether it needs its own nuclear deterrent. U.S. ambivalence on missile defense only heightens Tokyo's concerns, given its proximity to ballistic missile threats from the East Asian mainland. South Korea, Taiwan and Australia, among others, also share Japan's concern, each according to its own circumstances.

Thus, while there unquestionably are variations among America's allies about the precise implications of Mr. Obama's global withdrawal from U.S. strategic nuclear dominance, the overall direction is not in doubt. U.S. decline leaves the allies feeling increasingly on their own, uncertain about Washington's commitment and steadfastness and facing difficult decisions about how to guarantee their own security. Ironically, therefore, it is America's friends that might increase nuclear proliferation, not just their mortal foes. This is the reality created by the retreat of nuclear America, the exact opposite of the Obama administration's benign optimism, namely that reducing U.S. capability would encourage others to do the same.

John R. Bolton, a former ambassador to the U.N., is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #207 on: May 03, 2010, 11:00:28 AM »

Negotiations grind on toward a fourth U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran's nuclear weapons program, even as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in New York to address the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. Sanctions advocates acknowledge that the Security Council's ultimate product will do no more than marginally impede Iran's progress.

In Congress, sanctions legislation also creaks along, but that too is simply going through the motions. Russia and China have already rejected key proposals to restrict Iran's access to international financial markets and choke off its importation of refined petroleum products, which domestically are in short supply. Any new U.S. legislation will be ignored and evaded, thus rendering it largely symbolic. Even so, President Obama has opposed the legislation, arguing that unilateral U.S. action could derail his Security Council efforts.

The further pursuit of sanctions is tantamount to doing nothing. Advocating such policies only benefits Iran by providing it cover for continued progress toward its nuclear objective. It creates the comforting illusion of "doing something." Just as "diplomacy" previously afforded Iran the time and legitimacy it needed, sanctions talk now does the same.

Speculating about regime change stopping Iran's nuclear program in time is also a distraction. The Islamic Revolution's iron fist, and willingness to use it against dissenters (who are currently in disarray), means we cannot know whether or when the regime may fall. Long-term efforts at regime change, desirable as they are, will not soon enough prevent Iran from creating nuclear weapons with the ensuing risk of further regional proliferation.

We therefore face a stark, unattractive reality. There are only two options: Iran gets nuclear weapons, or someone uses pre-emptive military force to break Iran's nuclear fuel cycle and paralyze its program, at least temporarily.

There is no possibility the Obama administration will use force, despite its confused and ever-changing formulation about the military option always being "on the table." That leaves Israel, which the administration is implicitly threatening not to resupply with airplanes and weapons lost in attacking Iran—thereby rendering Israel vulnerable to potential retaliation from Hezbollah and Hamas.

It is hard to conclude anything except that the Obama administration is resigned to Iran possessing nuclear weapons. While U.S. policy makers will not welcome that outcome, they certainly hope as a corollary that Iran can be contained and deterred. Since they have ruled out the only immediate alternative, military force, they are doubtless now busy preparing to make lemonade out of this pile of lemons.

President Obama's likely containment/deterrence strategy will feature security assurances to neighboring countries and promises of American retaliation if Iran uses its nuclear weapons. Unfortunately for this seemingly muscular rhetoric, the simple fact of Iran possessing nuclear weapons would alone dramatically and irreparably alter the Middle East balance of power. Iran does not actually have to use its capabilities to enhance either its regional or global leverage.

Facile analogies to Cold War deterrence rest on the dubious, unproven belief that Iran's nuclear calculus will approximate the Soviet Union's. Iran's theocratic regime and the high value placed on life in the hereafter makes this an exceedingly dangerous assumption.

Even if containment and deterrence might be more successful against Iran than just suggested, nuclear proliferation doesn't stop with Tehran. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and perhaps others will surely seek, and very swiftly, their own nuclear weapons in response. Thus, we would imminently face a multipolar nuclear Middle East waiting only for someone to launch first or transfer weapons to terrorists. Ironically, such an attack might well involve Israel only as an innocent bystander, at least initially.

We should recognize that an Israeli use of military force would be neither precipitate nor disproportionate, but only a last resort in anticipatory self-defense. Arab governments already understand that logic and largely share it themselves. Such a strike would advance both Israel's and America's security interests, and also those of the Arab states.

Nonetheless, the intellectual case for that strike must be better understood in advance by the American public and Congress in order to ensure a sympathetic reaction by Washington. Absent Israeli action, no one should base their future plans on anything except coping with a nuclear Iran.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #208 on: May 04, 2010, 05:31:29 AM »


UNITED NATIONS — The Obama administration for the first time made public the extent of the U.S.'s atomic weapons arsenal, as the U.S. and Iran dueled for the international backing of their strategic agendas.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both addressed a special U.N. conference on the global nuclear nonproliferation regime Monday as Washington pushes for a new round of sanctions against Iran for its nuclear work.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Ahmadinejad sought to define the other nation's nuclear capability as the principal threat to international stability. The Iranian president charged Washington with leading a skewed international system that seeks to deny peaceful nuclear power to developing nations while allowing allies such as Israel to stockpile atomic arms.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slams U.S. nuclear policy and denies his nation is seeking atomic weapons. Plus, the market rallies on news of a major airline merger and BP begins drilling a relief well in the hopes of stopping the oil from continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.
."The first atomic weapons were produced and used by the United States," Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a 35-minute morning speech laced with religious imagery and idioms. "This seemed … to provide the United States and its allies with the upper hand. However, it became the main source of the development and spread of nuclear weapons."

Mrs. Clinton followed in the afternoon by declaring, to the surprise of some delegates, that the U.S. was announcing the size of its nuclear arsenal, as well as the number of atomic weapons it has destroyed from its arsenal; the Pentagon announced the figures in a news conference on Monday.

View Full Image

Getty Images
Opponents to Ahmadinejad's regime protested outside the U.N.
.U.S. officials have been working for almost a year to undercut Tehran's charges about Washington's nuclear threat by bringing both transparency to the U.S. program as well as by reducing its numbers. In April, the U.S. and Russia signed a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that lowers the numbers of deployed American and Russian nuclear weapons to their lowest levels since the 1950s. The U.S. also hosted a nuclear security conference in Washington last month.

"So for those who doubt that the U.S. will do its part on disarmament: This is our record—these are our commitments—and they send a clear signal." Mrs. Clinton told the conference.

The Pentagon said the U.S. had a total of 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile as of Sept. 30, plus a few thousand more that had been retired but still needed to be dismantled. Between fiscal years 1994 and 2009, the U.S. dismanted 8,748 nuclear warheads. At its peak at the end of fiscal year 1967, the U.S. had 31,255 warheads, the Pentagon said.

It was the first time the U.S. has disclosed those figures, which had been previously regarded as highly classified. A senior defense official said at a Pentagon briefing that the stockpile had been reduced by 75% since 1989 and roughly 84% since 1967.

Also on Monday, Mrs. Clinton said Washington will continue to increase funding and technical support for countries pursuing civilian nuclear power while adhering to safeguards that prevent the development of military applications.

After Mr. Ahmadinejad had charged the U.S. with double standards by tacitly supporting Israel's assumed nuclear program, Mrs. Clinton said the Obama administration supported a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Mideast once progress is made in pushing forward the Arab-Israeli peace process. She added that the administration would support such zones in Africa and the South Pacific.

The Obama administration is in the final stages of a global push to enact new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear work. Mrs. Clinton on Monday met nations seen as still on the fence on the sanctions issue, such as Brazil. And President Barack Obama released a statement claiming the course of Iran's nuclear work could define whether the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the subject of the monthlong U.N. conference, survives into the 21st century. The NPT holds existing weapons states to reduce their arms and other countries not to pursue them.

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Complete Coverage:
.Mr. Ahmadinejad, in his speech, called for a vast remaking of the global institutions guarding the development of nuclear technologies, while denying his own nation was seeking atomic weapons.

British, American and French diplomats walked out of his speech in quick succession about 10 minutes into its delivery.

The U.S. release of nuclear data reverses decades of Cold War doctrine that concluded that the U.S.'s national security could be threatened if Washington's adversaries knew the size and status of its nuclear arsenal. China and Russia have made similar arguments in denying U.S. calls for them to provide greater transparency.

The U.S.'s nuclear program has been regularly tracked by specialty websites. Some voiced little surprise with the released numbers.

The release of the nuclear data was vigorously debated inside the White House and Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Mrs. Clinton stressed Monday that the conclusion was that it served the U.S.'s national security interests by placing the issue of transparency back on the shoulders of nations such as Iran and North Korea.

View Slideshow

Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the conference on the enforcement of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Monday.
.More photos and interactive graphics
.Conservative critics quickly attacked the release of the nuclear data. "From a strategic standpoint I think the problem is that it becomes yet another ax to grind against the United States: You have X and we only have Y, and … we are not going to disarm until you have Y," said Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. "It puts us at parity with other countries, which we are not."
Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #209 on: May 04, 2010, 05:56:17 AM »

The headline to the story should read "Obama gives classified information to enemies".
Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #210 on: May 04, 2010, 04:34:56 PM »

Hey, I've got a good idea! Let's elect someone to the presidency that wouldn't survive vetting for even a low level security clearance. What's the worst that could happen?
Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #211 on: May 18, 2010, 08:40:09 AM »

What a fiasco. That's the first word that comes to mind watching Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raise his arms yesterday with the leaders of Turkey and Brazil to celebrate a new atomic pact that instantly made irrelevant 16 months of President Obama's "diplomacy." The deal is a political coup for Tehran and possibly delivers the coup de grace to the West's half-hearted efforts to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Full credit for this debacle goes to the Obama Administration and its hapless diplomatic strategy. Last October, nine months into its engagement with Tehran, the White House concocted a plan to transfer some of Iran's uranium stock abroad for enrichment. If the West couldn't stop Iran's program, the thinking was that maybe this scheme would delay it. The Iranians played coy, then refused to accept the offer.

But Mr. Obama doesn't take no for an answer from rogue regimes, and so he kept the offer on the table. As the U.S. finally seemed ready to go to the U.N. Security Council for more sanctions, the Iranians chose yesterday to accept the deal on their own limited terms while enlisting the Brazilians and Turks as enablers and political shields. "Diplomacy emerged victorious today," declared Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, turning Mr. Obama's own most important foreign-policy principle against him.

The double embarrassment is that the U.S. had encouraged Lula's diplomacy as a step toward winning his support for U.N. sanctions. Brazil is currently one of the nonpermanent, rotating members of the Security Council, and the U.S. has wanted a unanimous U.N. vote. Instead, Lula used the opening to triangulate his own diplomatic solution. In her first game of high-stakes diplomatic poker, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leaving the table dressed only in a barrel.

So instead of the U.S. and Europe backing Iran into a corner this spring, Mr. Ahmadinejad has backed Mr. Obama into one. America's discomfort is obvious. In its statement yesterday, the White House strained to "acknowledge the efforts" by Turkey and Brazil while noting "Iran's repeated failure to live up to its own commitments." The White House also sought to point out differences between yesterday's pact and the original October agreements on uranium transfers.

Good luck drawing those distinctions with the Chinese or Russians, who will now be less likely to agree even to weak sanctions. Having played so prominent a role in last October's talks with Iran, the U.S. can't easily disassociate itself from something broadly in line with that framework.

Under the terms unveiled yesterday, Iran said it would send 1,200 kilograms (2,646 lbs.) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey within a month, and no more than a year later get back 120 kilograms enriched from somewhere else abroad. This makes even less sense than the flawed October deal. In the intervening seven months, Iran has kicked its enrichment activities into higher gear. Its estimated total stock has gone to 2,300 kilograms from 1,500 kilograms last autumn, and its stated enrichment goal has gone to 20% from 3.5%.

If the West accepts this deal, Iran would be allowed to keep enriching uranium in contravention of previous U.N. resolutions. Removing 1,200 kilograms will leave Iran with still enough low-enriched stock to make a bomb, and once uranium is enriched up to 20% it is technically easier to get to bomb-capable enrichment levels.

Only last week, diplomats at the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has increased the number of centrifuges it is using to enrich uranium. According to Western intelligence estimates, Iran continues to acquire key nuclear components, such as trigger mechanisms for bombs. Tehran says it wants to build additional uranium enrichment plants. The CIA recently reported that Iran tripled its stockpile of uranium last year and moved "toward self-sufficiency in the production of nuclear missiles." Yesterday's deal will have no impact on these illicit activities.

The deal will, however, make it nearly impossible to disrupt Iran's nuclear program short of military action. The U.N. is certainly a dead end. After 16 months of his extended hand and after downplaying support for Iran's democratic opposition, Mr. Obama now faces an Iran much closer to a bomb and less diplomatically isolated than when President Bush left office.

Israel will have to seriously consider its military options. Such a confrontation is far more likely thanks to the diplomatic double-cross of Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil's Lula, and especially to a U.S. President whose diplomacy has succeeded mainly in persuading the world's rogues that he lacks the determination to stop their destructive ambitions.
Power User
Posts: 7843

« Reply #212 on: May 18, 2010, 10:24:16 AM »

Remember how the left mocked and derided Reagan's quest for an anti-missle defense capability and came up with the name "star wars"?

Here is the guy who the Bamster has as his weapons aquisitions Czar mocking Reagan in 1984.  Of course the Bamster is now expecting Israeli's to put their lives on the line by relying on technology all started by Reagan in 2010.

Now Bamster and his crew are in charge and now it is a good thing.

****Obama "weapons Czar" said Reagan's Star Wars a pipe dream
PA Times | 9/4/09 | Pissant

Posted on Friday, September 04, 2009 6:12:30 PM by pissant

In a Tom Wicker NY Times story reprinted in the St Petersberg Times on May 12, 1984 (1), Obama's pencil necked Weapons Czar, Ashton Carter, is quoted as declaring that Reagan's "Star Wars" (SDI) was nothing but a pipe dream. Apparently, Mr. Carter - the man with the oh so appropriate last name - was the author of a report during his stint at MIT that sought to put the kabosh on Reagan's plans for missile defenses.

The Democrats in the house cooked up a group called the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment that issued a scathing report denouncing the efficacy of missile defenses, basing their conclusions on Carter's work.

In his report, Carter stated: "A consensus of the informed members of the defense technical community that the prospect of a successful missile defense was so remote that it should not serve as the basis for public expectation or national policy".

Of course, unlike Reagan, idiots like Ashton Carter did not know that Reagan intended to bankrupt the USSR in a race for missile defenses as well as lay the groundwork for fully functional systems.

But surely Mr. Carter was fully cured of his naivete by the time he was hired on as under secretary of Defense by Slick Willie? Well it turns out that he also was one of the prime architects for the deal with the North Korean commies to halt their nuclear programs in 1994 (2).

So it looks like Obama's czar is batting .000.

At laest one positive thing came from Mr. Carter's supposed expertise. It convinced Walter Mondale to run on a platform opposing SDI (3). ROFL.****

Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #213 on: May 18, 2010, 11:21:24 AM »


The irony there is extraordinary.

We'll need to see the actual agreement before passing judgment I suppose, but ultimately, as we have noted here all along, sanctions are more a tactic to keep Israel from acting than a genuine strategy for stopping Iran from going nuclear.  Still, if there is anything of this sanctions agreement, it will be interesting to see how, given its editorial which I posted earlier this morning, the WSJ reacts.


Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tue, May 18, 2010 -- 10:39 AM ET

Clinton Says U.S., China and Russia Have Deal on New Iran Sanctions

The Obama administration announced Tuesday morning that it
has struck a deal with other major powers, including Russia
and China, to impose new sanctions on Iran, a sharp
repudiation of the deal Tehran offered just a day before to
ship its nuclear fuel out of the country.

"We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the
cooperation of both Russia and China," Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee. "We plan to
circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security
Council today. And let me say, Mr. Chairman, I think this
announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts
undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could

The announcement came just a day after Iran said it would
ship roughly half of its nuclear fuel to Turkey in a bid to
assuage concerns about its program.

Read More:
prentice crawford
« Reply #214 on: June 21, 2010, 07:40:52 AM »

 I duno.

« Reply #215 on: July 09, 2010, 09:42:31 PM »

Animation showing location and area of every nuclear explosion. Starts slow, but picks up; I was surprised by the number.
Mick C.
Posts: 33

« Reply #216 on: August 06, 2010, 08:31:37 PM »

From The American Thinker

August 06, 2010
Ten Reasons to Love the Bomb
By J.R. Dunn

Sixty-five years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we still have not arrived at a true measure of the atomic weapon.  

Through a constant drumbeat -- in large part coming from the left -- nuclear weapons have become our culture's dominant symbol of fear. This is understandable. The photos of the atomic bombings were among the most foreboding ever taken. Few who have contemplated them have not paused to think what their own town might look like after such an attack.

But fear of nuclear weapons has shifted to the metaphysical, attaining something of the aura of absolute evil that Satan and his legions held in the medieval mind. They are referred to in the singular, as "The Bomb," as if only one exists, in some awful, majestic, Platonic isolation. They are spoken of as supernatural entities, beyond rational control or comprehension, operating in some mystical twilight on the far side of Mordor. They are given powers and capabilities beyond that of any known device. It often appears as a given that a single explosion could utterly destroy civilization from one pole to the other. For these reasons, consideration of the nuclear question remains clouded by horror and awe.

Amid all this, it has become difficult to grasp the simple fact that nuclear weapons have benefits -- that they may well be, in Ray Bradbury's words, "The most blessed invention ever devised." But such benefits do exist, as the record clearly shows.

1) The A-bomb Shut Down WWII

It's not necessary to reopen the perennial argument as to whether the atomic bombings were necessary to defeat Japan to acknowledge that they brought the war to an abrupt halt. On August 6, it was going strong. By August 14, it was over.

WWII had been in progress for six years (closer to eleven, if you were Chinese). It had killed something on the order of 65 million people, a bloodletting unmatched in recorded history. Killing was still going on throughout the territory still occupied by Japan. As August 1945 began, people were dying at the rate of 20,000 a week.

There was no sign that it would stop any time soon. The Japanese refusal to surrender is a historical fact. Their commitment to fight to the last drop of blood is undeniable. (Anyone who doubts this is advised to read Something Like an Autobiography, the memoirs of the master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, who was told, along with all other Japanese, that when the U.S. invasion came, they were to march to the sea and fling themselves on the advancing troops in the "honorable death of the hundred million." Kurosawa loathed Japanese imperialism. He hated the militarists. He was sick of the war. But still, he said, "I probably would have gone.")

The atomic bombs ended this -- not through destructiveness (the March incendiary raids against Tokyo killed more people than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined), but by shock. The Japanese military was in the midst of explaining to Emperor Hirohito why the U.S. could have built no more than one bomb when word of the Nagasaki strike arrived. "How many bombs did you say there were?" the emperor reportedly asked.

In the stunned silence following the atomic raids, the voice of reason could be heard at last. No other weapon could have accomplished this.

2) Nuclear Weapons Stopped Stalin in his Tracks

"A weapon to frighten schoolteachers." That was Stalin's opinion of the atomic bomb...which must mean that Stalin was a schoolteacher, since it certainly frightened him.

Stalin's postwar plans were clear -- to keep his army intact and in the middle of Western Europe, to wait until the war-weary Western Allies cut their occupation forces to the bone, and then to make his move one deep, dark night, sweeping the rest of the pieces -- Western Germany, Austria, France, the Low Countries -- off the table and into his capacious tunic pockets.

He announced several times that he was seriously cutting Soviet occupation forces. This never happened. The Hungarian takeover, the Czech coup, and the Berlin blockade increased tensions to the breaking point. Stalin was clearly probing to see how far he could go. What stopped him? Not American or British occupation forces, which were derisory. One element alone: that schoolteacher's nightmare, the atomic bomb.

Stalin grew impatient as he got older. According to Russian historians, he had finalized a war plan by the time of his death, scheduled for early 1954. But it is doubtful that the Politburo, along with the Soviet military, would have allowed it to proceed. They knew better, were well aware of the consequences, and knew who would have to live with them. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, "Nothing concentrates a man's mind so wonderfully as the knowledge that he is to be A-bombed in a fortnight."

3) Atomic Bombs Helped Expose Communist Activity in the U.S.  

It's unlikely that the Soviets would have risked their carefully constructed U.S. spy network for anything less than the atomic bomb. But cracking the Manhattan Project required use of all resources. The NKVD threw everybody available at the program -- Klaus Fuchs, Bruno Pontecorvo, Theodore Hall,  Allen Nunn May, the still unidentified "Perseus," and, of the course, the Rosenberg ring. When this effort began to unravel, it went completely, exposing agents not even directly connected to the atomic effort and leaving very little of use to the Soviets. When espionage efforts were renewed, it was using professional agents, as opposed to the eager Communist Party volunteers of the '30s and '40s.

Nothing revealed the treachery and untrustworthiness of American communists more than their willingness to turn the A-bomb secret over to the Soviets. Previously, Americans had responded to communists with bewildered shrugs. After the Rosenberg revelations, this was transformed to healthy contempt and fear. The American Communist Party never recovered.

4) Nukes Kept the Cold War from going Hot

There were numerous occasions -- the recurrent Berlin confrontations; the wars in Korea and Vietnam; crises in Yugoslavia, Laos, Cuba, and the Taiwan Straits -- when the Cold War could have bubbled over into open conflict. This would have been a conflict that, given only conventional weapons, might have taken on the character of a Thirty Years' War, with dozens of states destroyed and millions of lives consumed.

Nuclear weapons negated any such outcome. Nukes are not dreadnoughts. If you lose a fleet, you still have your country. When the bombs start falling, you have no guarantee of anything. National leaders considered the odds and decided to wait for another day. That day never came.

5) Atomic Weapons Created Doubt about the Scientific Establishment

This was a subtle but far-reaching effect. Prior to the atomic bomb, scientists were widely viewed as a modern priesthood, dedicated to knowledge and truth, beyond any taint of ambition or corruption. The A-bomb cut them down to size. Enamored of the program when it was merely a technical possibility, many scientists turned against the reality, protesting its use against Japan. These actions puzzled and annoyed a public relieved to see an end to the war. When it developed that no small number of these same humanitarians had been involved in the Soviet espionage program, the figure of scientist as high priest vanished forever, replaced by the image of the erratic malcontent who needed to be watched closely.

This is a good thing. In a democracy, no group or profession should be viewed as clerisy, much less as something along the lines of a priesthood. In the 20th century, scientists were beginning to encroach on the social and political spheres, insisting that their techniques of procedural reductionism were superior to such sloppy practices as democracy (a tendency not yet extinct, as global warming and embryonic stem cells clearly reveal). Blinkered arrogance has brought down many a social class. The atomic bomb went a long way toward saving scientists from themselves.

6) Nuclear Weapons Guarantee the Survival of Israel

Like the United States, Israel is an exceptional nation, the only state founded under the aspect of redemption. The Holocaust rendered the establishment of Israel a necessity. As a small state outnumbered both by national entities and in population, Israel required weaponry both unavailable to its enemies and capable of effectively deterring them. Atomic weapons alone met these requirements. The rebirth of virulent anti-Semitism worldwide over the past decade has underlined the necessity of such weapons. As the homeland of the sole people that the modern world attempted to annihilate, Israel has a right to these weapons that no other state possesses.

7) Nuclear Weapons Reveal Left-Wing Hypocrisy

The left loathes all nuclear weapons -- as long as they belong to the United States.

Throughout the lengthy history of left-wing antinuclear activities, which stretches from the late 1950s to our day, a single target has existed -- the United States. All protests and efforts are aimed at the U.S. and no other country.

The Nuclear Freeze movement of the early 1980s can serve as an example. The USSR had fielded two new nuclear missiles, the SS-19, a weapon useful only as a city-destroyer, and the SS-20, a mobile system targeting Western Europe. The Reagan administration planned to deploy the Pershing II mobile system along with ground-launched cruise missiles to Europe, as well as an advanced new silo-based ICBM, the Peacekeeper (known at the time as the "MX").

As was true of virtually every Reagan initiative, the plan sparked massive protests, demanding the implementation of a "nuclear freeze" -- a formal promise not to construct or emplace any further nuclear systems. This was backed by the standard run of college students; politicians such as Les AuCoin, who repeatedly misrepresented the status of Soviet weapons; and Dr. Carl Sagan, a well-known scientist, who constructed an entire bogus theory, "nuclear winter," to back the campaign. It was understood at the time (and even reported by The New York Times) that the entire movement was financed, coordinated, and overseen by the KGB.

Nuclear freeze required absolutely nothing of the Soviets. The SS-19 and SS-20 systems would remain in operation. Only U.S. weapon systems would be affected, giving the USSR a permanent advantage and possibly ending NATO as a meaningful political and military entity.

Fortunately, Reagan let the air out of the nuclear freeze wagon by introducing the Strategic Defense Initiative, better known as "Star Wars," a national defensive system against nuclear attack. The utterly horrified Soviets immediately shifted their resources to meet this new threat. Deprived of Soviet money and guidance, the freeze movement collapsed, its only accomplishment a vastly increased level of mistrust and contempt for left-wing activities among the general public.

The same attitude survives today. While Barack Obama is eager to eliminate the sole nuclear weapons within his power -- those of the U.S. -- his efforts against the infinitely more dangerous threat of an Iranian nuclear force can be defined as futile to nonexistent at best.  

8. Nuclear Weapons Underline the Magnanimity of the United States

The U.S. could have become the New Rome after WWII, an unmatched power ruling the globe through force and terror. We could have answered Stalin's belligerence with flights of bombers headed east, and then demanded that the nations of the world behold the wreckage of a blazing, irradiated Russia while awaiting their orders from Washington.

But it would have been no good, because we'd eventually have suffered the fate of Rome as well. We had better things to do -- setting out on an attempt to build something like a truly decent society, with which we remain involved to this day, despite throwbacks like Obama. (Really, his ideas are so 19th century -- he should wear high collars and a pince-nez.) In ages to come, this will not be forgotten. If the decent society eventually becomes universal, it will look back on the U.S. with admiration. If not, if we see a return to international medievalism, it will be regarded with bewilderment. Either way, the U.S. will be known for all time as the nation which held absolute power and refused to use it. I, for one, am proud of this.

9) Nuclear Weapons Are an Oddly Rational Weapon

The curious thing about nuclear weapons is that while the concept is simplicity itself -- just get enough pure U235 or Pu239 and bang them together -- the details are excruciating and difficult to master. Uranium or Plutonium must be located, mined, and refined. Weapons must be designed, built, and tested -- all of which leave signs that are easily traced by an effective intelligence service. It's next to impossible to sneak one through (though Pakistan's A.Q. Khan, with aid from the Clinton administration, came close).

It's easy to imagine a process or device that could be simply designed, easily constructed, and capable of horrendous damage. In fact, we don't have to imagine it; we can simply point to biological and chemical weapons. But neither possesses the potency of nuclear weapons, which inhabit a pinnacle of their own. So no simple deterrent to nukes exists -- they stand alone. This goes a long way toward keeping the peace.

10) They Are an Incredible Human Achievement -- on More Levels Than One

The ability to create such a thing, to actually tap into and utilize one of the basic forces of the universe -- the binding energy of the nucleus -- is astonishing in and of itself.

But even more breathtaking is the undeniable evidence of our wisdom in not using this power. Throughout the Yalta Period, we were inundated with predictions that universal destruction was inevitable, if not imminent -- that humanity would find its apotheosis scrabbling amidst glowing ruins for the last can of baked beans. Books, articles, television shows, and film after film -- Fail-Safe, Dr. Strangelove, A Boy and his Dog, Threads, The Day After, Testament -- all retailed the same despairing vision. (Well, Kubrick at least made it look like fun.)

It never happened. Looking back, we can see that it was never going to happen. Human beings are simply not as perverse, foolish, and self-destructive as the modernist temperament insists. That humanity could harness such a power and then decide not to utilize it says something very profound, and in no small way impressive, about the human animal. It's a curious truth that despite their contraventions, both religious and secular belief systems are gripped by the myth of man's origin as a killer -- the murder of Abel by Cain on the one hand, and other represented by 2001's Moonwatcher, whose first use of a tool is to turn it into a weapon.

But the years since 1945 have shown us that the killer ape is not the alpha and omega of the human story. We have stepped away from our bloody origins; we are no longer slaves of murderous instinct. We learn from our errors and missteps. So hope does exist both for the project of civilization and the human mission in a cold and lonely universe. Without the burden of atomic weapons, we might not know this. Knowledge leads to greater knowledge, and from this process, we occasionally attain wisdom.

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and will edit the forthcoming Military Thinker.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2010, 08:33:29 PM by Mick C. » Logged
prentice crawford
« Reply #217 on: August 07, 2010, 07:17:49 PM »

 MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia accused the U.S. on Saturday of breaching its obligations over the non proliferation of weapons, a sign of strained relations between the two powers.  

 The charge came after a new arms control treaty between the U.S. and Russia suffered a setback this week when the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee delayed a ratification vote until mid-September.

 Russia said it had successfully test fired two ballistic missiles from Barents Sea on Friday, Interfax news agency reported, in another sign of muscle-flexing from Moscow.

 The Russian Foreign Ministry said on its web site the U.S. had been in breach of several arms-related treaties including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1) and a treaty on conventional weapons.

 "During the START 1 period, the U.S. failed to resolve Russia's concerns over how this treaty was being fulfilled," the ministry said, citing a long list of what it called irregularities, including a U.S. failure to provide information on ballistic missiles trials.

 In Washington, the State Department dismissed the accusation. "We have met our obligations under START." a spokeswoman said.

 Russia also accused the U.S. of preventing international supervision of its compliance with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

 The ministry also said secret information from the U.S. Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab had ended up at the hands of a drug dealing gang in 2006.

 "The peculiarity of the incident was that, unlike in several other such cases -- when nuclear secrets were obtained by foreign intelligence services -- now they were found by police with a criminal group connected to the drug trade." it said.

 The ministry also said checks conducted by a U.S. government body in July 2010 revealed that several institutions dealing with viruses had failed to provide enough security measures to prevent an intruder from entering their facilities.

 The Foreign Ministry also alleged that some 1,500 sources of ionizing radiation were lost in the U.S. between 1996 and 2001.

 "In 2004, it was revealed that Pacific Gas and Electric Company lost three segments of wasted fuel rods, used at Hamboldt Bay nuclear power station." it said in the 11-page report.

 The documents also castigates the U.S. for research into biological weapons and smallpox.

 Last month saw the only major U.S.- Russian spy trade since the end of the Cold War, despite a seemingly warning trend in relations between President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

 Obama has cast the new treaty, which commits the former Cold War foes to reducing deployed nuclear weapons by about 30 percent, as a first step toward his goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

 (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Philippa Fletcher)




« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 07:34:09 PM by prentice crawford » Logged
Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #218 on: August 07, 2010, 10:59:17 PM »

Ohoh, time for a new "reset" button!
Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #219 on: September 09, 2010, 07:02:18 AM »

Gauging the Threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack
September 9, 2010

By Scott Stewart and Nate Hughes

Over the past decade there has been an ongoing debate over the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to modern civilization. This debate has been the most heated perhaps in the United States, where the commission appointed by Congress to assess the threat to the United States warned of the dangers posed by EMP in reports released in 2004 and 2008. The commission also called for a national commitment to address the EMP threat by hardening the national infrastructure.

There is little doubt that efforts by the United States to harden infrastructure against EMP — and its ability to manage critical infrastructure manually in the event of an EMP attack — have been eroded in recent decades as the Cold War ended and the threat of nuclear conflict with Russia lessened. This is also true of the U.S. military, which has spent little time contemplating such scenarios in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. The cost of remedying the situation, especially retrofitting older systems rather than simply regulating that new systems be better hardened, is immense. And as with any issue involving massive amounts of money, the debate over guarding against EMP has become quite politicized in recent years.

We have long avoided writing on this topic for precisely that reason. However, as the debate over the EMP threat has continued, a great deal of discussion about the threat has appeared in the media. Many STRATFOR readers have asked for our take on the threat, and we thought it might be helpful to dispassionately discuss the tactical elements involved in such an attack and the various actors that could conduct one. The following is our assessment of the likelihood of an EMP attack against the United States.

Defining Electromagnetic Pulse

EMP can be generated from natural sources such as lightning or solar storms interacting with the earth’s atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetic field. It can also be artificially created using a nuclear weapon or a variety of non-nuclear devices. It has long been proven that EMP can disable electronics. Its ability to do so has been demonstrated by solar storms, lightning strikes and atmospheric nuclear explosions before the ban on such tests. The effect has also been recreated by EMP simulators designed to reproduce the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear device and study how the phenomenon impacts various kinds of electrical and electronic devices such as power grids, telecommunications and computer systems, both civilian and military.

The effects of an EMP — both tactical and strategic — have the potential to be quite significant, but they are also quite uncertain. Such widespread effects can be created during a high-altitude nuclear detonation (generally above 30 kilometers, or about 18 miles). This widespread EMP effect is referred to as high-altitude EMP or HEMP. Test data from actual high-altitude nuclear explosions is extremely limited. Only the United States and the Soviet Union conducted atmospheric nuclear tests above 20 kilometers and, combined, they carried out fewer than 20 actual tests.

As late as 1962 — a year before the Partial Test Ban Treaty went into effect, prohibiting its signatories from conducting aboveground test detonations and ending atmospheric tests — scientists were surprised by the HEMP effect. During a July 1962 atmospheric nuclear test called “Starfish Prime,” which took place 400 kilometers above Johnston Island in the Pacific, electrical and electronic systems were damaged in Hawaii, some 1,400 kilometers away. The Starfish Prime test was not designed to study HEMP, and the effect on Hawaii, which was so far from ground zero, startled U.S. scientists.

High-altitude nuclear testing effectively ended before the parameters and effects of HEMP were well understood. The limited body of knowledge that was gained from these tests remains a highly classified matter in both the United States and Russia. Consequently, it is difficult to speak intelligently about EMP or publicly debate the precise nature of its effects in the open-source arena.

The importance of the EMP threat should not be understated. There is no doubt that the impact of a HEMP attack would be significant. But any actor plotting such an attack would be dealing with immense uncertainties — not only about the ideal altitude at which to detonate the device based on its design and yield in order to maximize its effect but also about the nature of those effects and just how devastating they could be.

Non-nuclear devices that create an EMP-like effect, such as high-power microwave (HPM) devices, have been developed by several countries, including the United States. The most capable of these devices are thought to have significant tactical utility and more powerful variants may be able to achieve effects more than a kilometer away. But at the present time, such weapons do not appear to be able to create an EMP effect large enough to affect a city, much less an entire country. Because of this, we will confine our discussion of the EMP threat to HEMP caused by a nuclear detonation, which also happens to be the most prevalent scenario appearing in the media.

Attack Scenarios

In order to have the best chance of causing the type of immediate and certain EMP damage to the United States on a continent-wide scale, as discussed in many media reports, a nuclear weapon (probably in the megaton range) would need to be detonated well above 30 kilometers somewhere over the American Midwest. Modern commercial aircraft cruise at a third of this altitude. Only the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China possess both the mature warhead design and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability to conduct such an attack from their own territory, and these same countries have possessed that capability for decades. (Shorter range missiles can achieve this altitude, but the center of the United States is still 1,000 kilometers from the Eastern Seaboard and more than 3,000 kilometers from the Western Seaboard — so just any old Scud missile won’t do.)

The HEMP threat is nothing new. It has existed since the early 1960s, when nuclear weapons were first mated with ballistic missiles, and grew to be an important component of nuclear strategy. Despite the necessarily limited understanding of its effects, both the United States and Soviet Union almost certainly included the use of weapons to create HEMPs in both defensive and especially offensive scenarios, and both post-Soviet Russia and China are still thought to include HEMP in some attack scenarios against the United States.

However, there are significant deterrents to the use of nuclear weapons in a HEMP attack against the United States, and nuclear weapons have not been used in an attack anywhere since 1945. Despite some theorizing that a HEMP attack might be somehow less destructive and therefore less likely to provoke a devastating retaliatory response, such an attack against the United States would inherently and necessarily represent a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland and the idea that the United States would not respond in kind is absurd. The United States continues to maintain the most credible and survivable nuclear deterrent in the world, and any actor contemplating a HEMP attack would have to assume not that they might experience some limited reprisal but that the U.S. reprisal would be full, swift and devastating.

Countries that build nuclear weapons do so at great expense. This is not a minor point. Even today, a successful nuclear weapons program is the product of years — if not a decade or more — and the focused investment of a broad spectrum of national resources. Nuclear weapons also are developed as a deterrent to attack, not with the intention of immediately using them offensively. Once a design has achieved an initial capability, the focus shifts to establishing a survivable deterrent that can withstand first a conventional and then a nuclear first strike so that the nuclear arsenal can serve its primary purpose as a deterrent to attack. The coherency, skill and focus this requires are difficult to overstate and come at immense cost — including opportunity cost — to the developing country. The idea that Washington will interpret the use of a nuclear weapon to create a HEMP as somehow less hostile than the use of a nuclear weapon to physically destroy an American city is not something a country is likely to gamble on.

In other words, for the countries capable of carrying out a HEMP attack, the principles of nuclear deterrence and the threat of a full-scale retaliatory strike continue to hold and govern, just as they did during the most tension-filled days of the Cold War.

Rogue Actors

One scenario that has been widely put forth is that the EMP threat emanates not from a global or regional power like Russia or China but from a rogue state or a transnational terrorist group that does not possess ICBMs but will use subterfuge to accomplish its mission without leaving any fingerprints. In this scenario, the rogue state or terrorist group loads a nuclear warhead and missile launcher aboard a cargo ship or tanker and then launches the missile from just off the coast in order to get the warhead into position over the target for a HEMP strike. This scenario would involve either a short-range ballistic missile to achieve a localized metropolitan strike or a longer-range (but not intercontinental) ballistic missile to reach the necessary position over the Eastern or Western seaboard or the Midwest to achieve a key coastline or continental strike.

When we consider this scenario, we must first acknowledge that it faces the same obstacles as any other nuclear weapon employed in a terrorist attack. It is unlikely that a terrorist group like al Qaeda or Hezbollah can develop its own nuclear weapons program. It is also highly unlikely that a nation that has devoted significant effort and treasure to develop a nuclear weapon would entrust such a weapon to an outside organization. Any use of a nuclear weapon would be vigorously investigated and the nation that produced the weapon would be identified and would pay a heavy price for such an attack (there has been a large investment in the last decade in nuclear forensics). Lastly, as noted above, a nuclear weapon is seen as a deterrent by countries such as North Korea or Iran, which seek such weapons to protect themselves from invasion, not to use them offensively. While a group like al Qaeda would likely use a nuclear device if it could obtain one, we doubt that other groups such as Hezbollah would. Hezbollah has a known base of operations in Lebanon that could be hit in a counterstrike and would therefore be less willing to risk an attack that could be traced back to it.

Also, such a scenario would require not a crude nuclear device but a sophisticated nuclear warhead capable of being mated with a ballistic missile. There are considerable technical barriers that separate a crude nuclear device from a sophisticated nuclear warhead. The engineering expertise required to construct such a warhead is far greater than that required to construct a crude device. A warhead must be far more compact than a primitive device. It must also have a trigger mechanism and electronics and physics packages capable of withstanding the force of an ICBM launch, the journey into the cold vacuum of space and the heat and force of re-entering the atmosphere — and still function as designed. Designing a functional warhead takes considerable advances in several fields of science, including physics, electronics, engineering, metallurgy and explosives technology, and overseeing it all must be a high-end quality assurance capability. Because of this, it is our estimation that it would be far simpler for a terrorist group looking to conduct a nuclear attack to do so using a crude device than it would be using a sophisticated warhead — although we assess the risk of any non-state actor obtaining a nuclear capability of any kind, crude or sophisticated, as extraordinarily unlikely.

But even if a terrorist organization were somehow able to obtain a functional warhead and compatible fissile core, the challenges of mating the warhead to a missile it was not designed for and then getting it to launch and detonate properly would be far more daunting than it would appear at first glance. Additionally, the process of fueling a liquid-fueled ballistic missile at sea and then launching it from a ship using an improvised launcher would also be very challenging. (North Korea, Iran and Pakistan all rely heavily on Scud technology, which uses volatile, corrosive and toxic fuels.)

Such a scenario is challenging enough, even before the uncertainty of achieving the desired HEMP effect is taken into account. This is just the kind of complexity and uncertainty that well-trained terrorist operatives seek to avoid in an operation. Besides, a ground-level nuclear detonation in a city such as New York or Washington would be more likely to cause the type of terror, death and physical destruction that is sought in a terrorist attack than could be achieved by generally non-lethal EMP.

Make no mistake: EMP is real. Modern civilization depends heavily on electronics and the electrical grid for a wide range of vital functions, and this is truer in the United States than in most other countries. Because of this, a HEMP attack or a substantial geomagnetic storm could have a dramatic impact on modern life in the affected area. However, as we’ve discussed, the EMP threat has been around for more than half a century and there are a number of technical and practical variables that make a HEMP attack using a nuclear warhead highly unlikely.

When considering the EMP threat, it is important to recognize that it exists amid a myriad other threats, including related threats such as nuclear warfare and targeted, small-scale HPM attacks. They also include threats posed by conventional warfare and conventional weapons such as man-portable air-defense systems, terrorism, cyberwarfare attacks against critical infrastructure, chemical and biological attacks — even natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis.

The world is a dangerous place, full of potential threats. Some things are more likely to occur than others, and there is only a limited amount of funding to monitor, harden against, and try to prevent, prepare for and manage them all. When one attempts to defend against everything, the practical result is that one defends against nothing. Clear-sighted, well-grounded and rational prioritization of threats is essential to the effective defense of the homeland.

Hardening national infrastructure against EMP and HPM is undoubtedly important, and there are very real weaknesses and critical vulnerabilities in America’s critical infrastructure — not to mention civil society. But each dollar spent on these efforts must be balanced against a dollar not spent on, for example, port security, which we believe is a far more likely and far more consequential vector for nuclear attack by a rogue state or non-state actor.
« Reply #220 on: October 26, 2010, 07:02:00 PM »

Well this hardly inspires confidence, or deterrence:

Failure Shuts Down Squadron of Nuclear Missiles
OCT 26 2010, 4:36 PM ET19
President Obama was briefed this morning on an engineering power failure at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming that took 50 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), one-ninth of the U.S. missile stockpile, temporarily offline on Saturday. 

The base is a main locus of the United States' strategic nuclear forces. The 90th Missile Wing, headquartered there, controls 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. They're on full-time alert and are housed in a variety of bunkers across the base.

On Saturday morning, according to people briefed on what happened, a squadron of ICBMs suddenly dropped down into what's known as "LF Down" status, meaning that the missileers in their bunkers could no longer communicate with the missiles themselves. LF Down status also means that various security protocols built into the missile delivery system, like intrusion alarms and warhead separation alarms, were offline.    In LF Down status, the missiles are still technically launch-able, but they can only be controlled by an airborne command and control platform like the Boeing E-6 NAOC "Kneecap" aircraft, or perhaps the TACAMO fleet, which is primarily used to communicate with nuclear submarines. Had the country been placed on a higher state of nuclear alert, those platforms would be operating automatically.

According to the official, engineers believe that a launch control center computer (LCC), responsible for a package of five missiles, began to "ping" out of sequence, resulting in a surge of "noise" through the system. The LCCs interrogate each missile in sequence, so if they begin to send signals out when they're not supposed to, receivers on the missiles themselves will notice this and send out error codes.

Since LCCs ping out of sequence on occasion, missileers tried quick fixes. But as more and more missiles began to display error settings, they decided to take off-line all five LCCs that the malfunctioning center was connected to. That left 50 missiles in the dark.  The missileers then restarted one of the LCCs, which began to normally interrogate the missile transceiver. Three other LCCs were successfully restarted. The suspect LCC remains off-line.

Commanders at the Air Force Base sent warning notices to colleagues at the country's two other nuclear missile command centers, as well as the to the National Military Command Center in Washington.  At that point, they did not know what was causing the failure, and they did not know whether other missile systems were experiencing similar symptoms.

According to the official, engineers discovered that similar hardware failures had triggered a similar cascading failure 12 years ago at Minot AFB in North Dakota and Malmstrom AFB in Montana. That piece of hardware is the prime suspect.

The defense official said that there had not been a power failure, though the official acknowledged that that explanation had made its way through public affairs channels. Engineers working on the system presented a draft of their initial findings late this afternoon, the official said.

An administration official, speaking about the president's ability to control nuclear forces, said: "At no time did the president's ability decrease," an administration official said. "

Still, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, was immediately notified on Saturday, and he, in turn, briefed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

"We've never had something as big as this happen," a military officer who was briefed on the incident said. Occasionally, one or two might blink out, the officer said, and several warheads  are routinely out of service for maintenance. At an extreme, "[w]e can deal with maybe 5, 6, or 7 at a time, but we've never lost complete command and control and functionality of 50 ICBMs."

The military contends that command and control -- "C2" in their parlance -- was not lost.

An Air Force spokesperson, Christy Nolta, said the power failure lasted less than an hour. "There was a temporary interruption and the missiles themselves were always protected by multiple, redundant, safety, security and command and control features. At no time was there any danger to the public," she said.

Another military official said the failure triggered an emergency inspection protocol, and sentries were dispatched to verify in person that all of the missiles were safe and properly protected.

When on alert, the missiles are the property of the U.S. Strategic Command, which controls all nuclear forces. When not on alert status, the missiles belong to the Global Strike Command.

A White House spokesperson referred questions about the incident to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and to the Air Force. A spokesperson for the Global Strike Command did not immediately respond to questions.   

The cause of the failure remains unknown, although it is suspected to be a breach of underground cables deep beneath the base, according to a senior military official.

It is next to impossible for these systems to be hacked, so the military does not believe the incident was caused by malicious actors. A half dozen individual silos were affected by Saturday's failure.

There are about 450 ICBMs in America's nuclear arsenal, some of them bearing multiple warheads. 150 are based at Minot and about 150 are housed at Malmstrom AFB in Montana. The chessboard of nuclear deterrence, a game-theory-like intellectual contraption that dates from the Cold War, is predicated upon those missiles being able to target specific threat locations across the world. If a squadron goes down, that means other missiles have to pick up the slack. The new START treaty would reduce the number of these missiles by 30 percent, but the cuts are predicated upon the health of the current nuclear stockpile, from warhead to delivery system to command and control.

An administration official said that "to make too much out of this would be to sensationalize it. It's not that big of a deal. Everything worked as planned."

Senate Republicans have been pressing Senate Democrats to spend more money ensuring the current strategic nuclear arsenal, which dates to the early 1980s, is ready to go. The treaty requires the vote of two-thirds of the Senate to be ratified.

In 2008, Gates fired the Secretary of the Air Force and its chief of staff after a series of incidents suggested to Gates that the service wasn't taking its nuclear duties seriously enough. At one point, a B-52 bomber flew across the continental U.S. without realizing that its nuclear weapons were "hot."

National Journal's Megan Scully contacted a spokesperson for Sen. Jon Kyl, a top GOP critic of START, who said that "We don't know what happened and why."  The spokesperson refused to comment on "media reports."
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« Reply #221 on: October 26, 2010, 08:06:34 PM »

The U.S. government's procedures for launching nuclear missiles are supposed to be airtight: the codes for unleashing the atomic might of the world's largest superpower are kept locked in a briefcase carried by an aide who accompanies the president at all times.

The codes for opening the briefcase, in turn, are inscribed on a plastic card carried by the president.

So what if that precious piece of plastic – nicknamed “the biscuit” in the bizarre jargon of the Secret Service – goes missing?

That's exactly what happened in 2000, during the administration of president Bill Clinton, writes General Hugh Shelton, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

According to the Daily Telegraph and several other media outlets around the world, General Shelton's new memoir, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, reveals that no one could find the codes for several months in 2000. An aide finally admitted they had been lost.

“The codes were actually missing for months,” he wrote. “That's a big deal – a gargantuan deal.”

Perhaps more surprisingly, it may not have been the first time Mr. Clinton misplaced the free world's most important set of numbers.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Patterson, one of the people tasked with toting the briefcase during Mr. Clinton's presidency, wrote in his own book seven years ago that the forgetful POTUS misplaced the card – which he apparently kept in his pants pockets with his credit cards – on two occasions.

The first time, he left it in the White House when he went to play a round of golf; the second time, in early 1998, aides turned the White House upside-down, and searched the president's clothes without finding them.
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« Reply #222 on: November 12, 2010, 08:07:49 AM »

This piece of the blindingly obvious is notable only for who wrote it.

Dangerous Nuclear Illusions
Published: November 11, 2010

LONDON — A world without nuclear weapons sounds nice, but of course that was the world that brought us World War I and World War II. If you like the sound of that, the touchy-feely “Global Zero” bandwagon is probably for you.

I’m an optimist in general but a pessimist when it comes to nations’ shifting pursuit of their interests. Humans, not states, have consciences. President Barack Obama’s commitment in his 2009 Prague speech “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” was a fine sentiment but a political mistake.

The idea went down well with the Norwegians, who awarded Obama a Nobel Peace Prize he should not have accepted, but overall this prospective peace blossom has wilted faster than a flower in the Scandinavian night.

(A neophyte president should question whether a peace Nobel is in any way compromising — apart from examining the merits, which were dubious.)

There were two sides to Obama’s embrace of a nuclear-free world. The first was the “vision,” as Michèle Flournoy, his under secretary for defense policy, described it recently to the Halifax International Security Forum. It was a form of utopian idealism, as Obama half-acknowledged by saying he would “perhaps” not see the end of nukes in his lifetime.

Visions are nice — Marx had one of classless societies. They can also be dangerous. Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor, famously remarked that people who have them should see a doctor.

The danger was that Obama, very early in his presidency, would be perceived as weak or unrealistic by rivals such as China or enemies like Iran, despite his commitment, for “as long as these weapons exist,” to “maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary.”

That perception of weakness has taken hold, reinforced by his academic-seminar approach to an Afghan surge now just seven months away from being reversed.

The second aspect of the nuclear “vision” was strategic. The idea was that it would give the United States moral leverage in persuading nations to reduce their nuclear arsenals or abandon nuclear ambitions. It would also advance U.S. nonproliferation efforts designed, among other things, to ensure no terrorists ever acquire nukes. The most dangerous aspect of the 21st-century world is the potential ability of smaller and smaller groups to do greater and greater harm.

Here the results have been mixed at best. Flournoy acknowledged that “the example that the U.S. sets probably won’t impact Iran or North Korea directly.” China continues to pursue the expansion and refinement of its nuclear arsenal. France, with its beloved “force de frappe,” was always publicly skeptical and privately contemptuous. Its recent defense accord with Britain was interesting for its inclusion of nuclear cooperation and for Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that “we will always retain an independent nuclear deterrent.” Note the “always.”

Only with Russia was clear headway made. A new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed earlier this year awaits Senate ratification. It would slash U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to their lowest level in a half-century. It’s compatible with America’s defense needs and should be ratified.

But the “Global Zero” idea is an unhelpful distraction because it inclines Republicans to believe Obama is not serious about maintaining and modernizing America’s nuclear arsenal. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, said of the goal of a nuclear-free world: “I think it’s a dangerous concept to get into our minds — I talked with some Russians recently, and they scoffed at the idea.”

That’s a fair guide to Republican thinking; and there will be 47, not 41, Republicans in the new Senate, as well as a Tea-Party-revved Republican majority in the House. New Start’s best hope is in the lame-duck Senate. But Obama is going to have to turn the page, dump aloofness for horse-trading, airy-fairy ideals for the politics of the possible, and realize “interconnectedness” is not just the state of the world but also the way things get done in Washington.

As for nonproliferation efforts, they remain stymied by contradictions that a review conference this year did little to resolve. Three states with weapons have refused to sign the nonproliferation treaty: Israel, India and Pakistan. With all three, the United States winks at noncompliance, in the Israeli case through a secret “understanding” struck in 1969. Of course this is not lost on the likes of Iran. The case of North Korea, which renounced the nonproliferation treaty in 2003, has reinforced impressions of American inconsistency.

Perhaps Japan makes clearest why “Global Zero” is a stillborn idea. As the nation of Hiroshima, it has always pushed hard for disarmament. But as the nation facing North Korean nuclear testing and missiles, as well as an ever-stronger Chinese nuclear arsenal, it clings to the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Idealism will not keep it safe.

Obama can’t renounce “Global Zero;” that would be silly. But he should pretend he never said it. His remake for 2012 demands more of Chicago and less of Oslo. Perhaps even Benjamin Netanyahu, who has treated the president with sublime contempt since his September White House visit, would take note.

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« Reply #223 on: November 23, 2010, 09:48:26 AM »

Looks good, but I don't have the 55 minutes it would take to watch it.  Would you be so kind as to give a summary?
« Reply #224 on: November 30, 2010, 12:52:53 PM »

Iranian Anti-Stuxnet Progammer Assassinated

Ralph Alter
Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Iranian mullah-ocracy and their pint-sized front man must be looking over their shoulders at the havoc being brought to their nuclear program and asking themselves:  "Who are those guys?"

Who are they, indeed.  Since a yet to be unmasked cyper-sleuth first slipped the Stuxnet virus into the servers controlling the enrichment process for the Iranian nuclear development program, we haven't seen a week go by without fresh reports of de-stabilization.  While the Iranians have acknowledged the presence of the cyberbomb and suggested that the United States might be the source, it seems that any intelligence system employing the likes of Valerie Plame would be incapable of something so cunningly brilliant.  The plant certainly seems like a piece of Israeli handiwork.  Other indigenous Iranian dissident groups including the Baluchian liberation movement, Jundallah, are also considered as possible sources, however unlikely. 

The mullahs are determined to get their nuclear enrichment back on track and are allocating considerable resources to ferreting out the perpetrators and counter-programming to eliminate the Stuxnet virus.  To this end, the regime had organized a team of its best experts to combat the cyber warfare.  At the helm of the program, Iran placed Professor Majid Shahriari, the nation's top expert on computer coding.

On Monday, Shariari was assassinated on a North Tehran  street as a motorcyclist filled his car with bullets.  Initial reports indicated a bomb was attached to his vehicle by the cyclist, but photos of the vehicle show bullet holes rather than explosive damage.  A second Iranian nuclear scientist, Professor Feredoun Abbassi-Davani, and his wife survived a similar motorcycle attack.  The violent attacks took place in the center of the Iranian security zone, amidst several secret nuclear labs.  This would suggest that whoever is behind the latest disruptions is quite capable of bypassing heavy Iranian security and has outstanding sources of intelligence.

The world owes its gratitude to the yet unnamed intelligence service that continues to dog the Iranians.  Under the current administration our American intelligence umbrella is weakened and ineffectual.  We have a President more interested in hobbling our Israeli allies while providing foreign aid to the Palestinians than in providing our nation with security.  Thank God that forces of good and common sense remain active in the pursuit of global security.

Ralph Alter is a regular contributor to the American Thinker.

Page Printed from: at November 30, 2010 - 12:50:49 PM CST
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« Reply #225 on: November 30, 2010, 07:34:10 PM »

My money is on Shlomo Walnuts.  grin
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« Reply #226 on: December 22, 2010, 08:14:20 AM »

Looks like BO is going to get the treaty passed  angry cry with the help of over ten Republicans  cry  angry and much of the Republican internationalist establishment (Bush 1, Kissinger, Sowcroft, etc)  Madness that such a serious agreement is getting rammed through, virtually unread.  WHY NOT WAIT THREE OR FOUR WEEKS UNTIL CONGRESS RECONVENES?

Apparently the Russians read the deal as meaning we are not allowed to increase our anti-missile capabilities and if we do they will withdraw.  So, if some other threat develops, , , ,   Frank Gaffney, a long-time serious player in this area notes that Russia and Iran are working with Venezuela to capacitate it with missiles and nuclear , , , ahem , , , power.  If Venezuela starts up with missiles similar to those that Iran already has that can reach Europe, then any effort on our part to develop a defensive capability must then be done at the cost of disrupting our agreement with the Russians-- upon whom BO currently relies for allowing transit of supplies to our effort in Afhanistan and whom BO begs not to capacitate Iran with nukes and anti-aircrafty capabilities.

These things deserve serious study and conversation, but as is so often the case Republican defections are our undoing , , , cry

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« Reply #227 on: December 22, 2010, 09:42:03 AM »

Maybe the missed translation of Hillary's Russian Reset button actually came out as 'kowtow'. (credit below) I would note that this week the Polish government has issued a deep distrust of the Russian report on the crash that killed all their leaders while the Obamaites and RINOs like Dick Lugar are saying trust this adversary in a treaty where the preamble doesn't even match the contents of the document.

Nothing should prevent missile defense.

Funny they would rush this while at least the public doesn't even know who just launched a missile off the coast of California?

New START Treaty: The Obama Administration is dancing to Moscow’s tune

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: December 21st, 2010

Russia likes the new START treaty (Photo: Reuters)

When Hillary Clinton famously announced Washington’s new “reset” policy towards Russia, she really meant to say “kowtow”. Because whenever Moscow makes a demand the Obama Administration obediently follows. The Russians hated the Bush Administration’s plans for Third Site missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the Obama team dutifully dropped them last year in what can only be described as an appalling surrender to a major strategic adversary. Now with the New START Treaty, the Obama presidency is pushing an agreement that the increasingly repressive regime in Russia thinks is absolutely wonderful.

And Moscow has every reason to like it. As I noted in a previous post, the treaty fundamentally undercuts US national security by giving Russia a huge say over American plans for a global missile defence system:

    Simply put, the New START Treaty is a staggeringly bad deal for the United States, and an extraordinarily good one for Vladimir Putin’s increasingly hostile and authoritarian Russia. President Obama needs to respect the will of the American electorate and allow the new Senate to vote on the Treaty, and fully scrutinise and debate the details of an agreement which, if ratified in its current form, will dramatically undercut America’s global missile defences. The White House is pressing for another monumental surrender to Moscow which will only strengthen the hand of a key US adversary.

Further confirmation that the Russians are clearly in the driving seat, and can’t wait to get this agreement ratified, was provided in astonishing fashion yesterday by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who warned the US Senate to fall in line and drop any talk of amending the treaty. The last time I checked, Lavrov wasn’t elected by the American people, but he clearly thinks he can tell them what to do. According to the BBC:

    Russia has warned US lawmakers that any change to the new nuclear arms disarmament treaty between the two countries could destroy the pact. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the New Start treaty “cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations” according to remarks reported by Interfax news agency. Republicans in the US Senate have recently pushed to change its wording. Two-thirds of the 100 US senators must back the treaty for it to be ratified.

    “The Start agreement, which was drafted on the basis of strict parity, completely meets the national interests of both Russia and the United States,” Mr Lavrov told Interfax. “It cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations,” he added.

The White House’s response should be to tell the Russian government to mind its own business, and be prepared to renegotiate the treaty, but unfortunately the Obama presidency is simply content to move its feet to Moscow’s tune like a dancing bear at a St. Petersburg circus. This is all deeply humiliating for the most powerful nation on earth. US lawmakers should recognise this farce for what it is: the humiliating appeasement of a deeply unpleasant and hostile regime that is actively working against US interests and security on the world stage.
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« Reply #228 on: December 22, 2010, 09:45:24 AM »

The democrats and rinos can't be trusted with national security?

Who could have seen that coming??   rolleyes
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« Reply #229 on: December 23, 2010, 10:46:50 AM »

So, we had to sign it by the year's end or they would be upset even though they had not approved it themselves? rolleyes angry

The U.S. Senate ratified the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (known as START) by a 71-26 vote Dec. 22. The agreement reduces the deployed strategic warheads of each country to 1,550. The treaty has received intense attention during the past week, as it was unclear if the Senate could even get enough votes to discuss the issue — though many Republicans in the U.S. government have blasted the agreement since its arrangement between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama in April.

The START Treaty has been a bellwether of relations between Moscow and Washington. In the spring, it was a sign of warming sentiments between the countries. Since then, Russia and the United States have struck a slew of compromises on issues like sanctions against Iran and U.S. investment in Russia’s modernization efforts. However, Moscow has publicly stated over the past few months that if START was not signed by the end of the year, it would consider relations between Russia and the United States as cooling. Thus, Obama has been trying to pressure those standing in the treaty’s way — mainly Republicans — to sign.

As Russia has watched the Senate debate the treaty, it has been most concerned about the possible addition of amendments that would increase U.S. inspections, lower the cap on nuclear weapons or even add topics not really relevant to the treaty, like the U.S. moving forward on ballistic missile defense. (WTF?!?)This last issue is the most important to Russia, as it would most likely put U.S. defense on Russia’s doorstep. On Dec. 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that any such amendment would be a deal-breaker, since the treaty cannot be opened up to new negotiations. (It shoudl also be quite important to us!!!)

The treaty passed by the Senate does not have any of these non-binding amendments, but it does have addendums regarding the Senate’s concerns. The addendums have no bearing on the treaty itself, but the question remains of how Russia will view the addendums. Since they are not actual amendments to the treaty, Russia likely will sign START within weeks, as the treaty has already been debated in the State Duma. But the Russian Foreign Ministry has already announced that it will have to take a fresh look at what the U.S. Senate actually ratified.

Read more: U.S. Senate Ratifies START Treaty | STRATFOR
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« Reply #230 on: February 01, 2011, 10:24:33 AM »

Pakistani Nuclear Arms Pose Challenge to U.S. Policy
Published: January 31, 2011
WASHINGTON — New American intelligence assessments have concluded that Pakistan has steadily expanded its nuclear arsenal since President Obama came to office, and that it is building the capability to surge ahead in the production of nuclear-weapons material, putting it on a path to overtake Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons power.

For the Obama administration, the assessment poses a direct challenge to a central element of the president’s national security strategy, the reduction of nuclear stockpiles around the world. Pakistan’s determination to add considerably to its arsenal — mostly to deter India — has also become yet another irritant in its often testy relationship with Washington, particularly as Pakistan seeks to block Mr. Obama’s renewed efforts to negotiate a global treaty that would ban the production of new nuclear material.
The United States keeps its estimates of foreign nuclear weapons stockpiles secret, and Pakistan goes to great lengths to hide both the number and location of its weapons. It is particularly wary of the United States, which Pakistan’s military fears has plans to seize the arsenal if it was judged to be at risk of falling into the hands of extremists. Such secrecy makes accurate estimates difficult.

But the most recent estimates, according to officials and outsiders familiar with the American assessments, suggest that the number of deployed weapons now ranges from the mid-90s to more than 110. When Mr. Obama came to office, his aides were told that the arsenal “was in the mid-to-high 70s,” according to one official who had been briefed at the time, though estimates ranged from 60 to 90.

“We’ve seen a consistent, constant buildup in their inventory, but it hasn’t been a sudden rapid rise,” a senior American military official said. “We’re very, very well aware of what they’re doing.”

White House officials share the assessment that the increase in actual weapons has been what one termed “slow and steady.”

But the bigger worry is the production of nuclear materials. Based on the latest estimates of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, an outside group that estimates worldwide nuclear production, experts say Pakistan has now produced enough material for 40 to 100 additional weapons, including a new class of plutonium bombs. If those estimates are correct — and some government officials regard them as high — it would put Pakistan on a par with long-established nuclear powers.

“If not now, Pakistan will soon have the fifth largest nuclear arsenal in the world, surpassing the United Kingdom,” said Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer and the author of “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of Global Jihad.”

“And judging by the new nuclear reactors that are coming online and the pace of production, Pakistan is on a course to be the fourth largest nuclear weapons state in the world, ahead of France,” he said. The United States, Russia and China are the three largest nuclear weapons states.

Mr. Riedel conducted the first review of Pakistan and Afghanistan policy for President Obama in early 2009.

Pakistan’s arsenal of deployed weapons is considered secure, a point the White House reiterated last week while declining to answer questions about its new estimates. The United States has spent more than $100 million helping the country build fences, install sensor systems and train personnel to handle the weapons. But senior officials remain deeply concerned that weapons-usable fuel, which is kept in laboratories and storage centers, is more vulnerable and could be diverted by insiders in Pakistan’s vast nuclear complex.

In State Department cables released by WikiLeaks late last year, Anne Patterson, then the American ambassador to Pakistan, wrote of concerns that nuclear material in Pakistan’s laboratories was vulnerable to slow theft from insiders. The cables also revealed an American effort to deny its ally technology that it could use to upgrade its arsenal to plutonium weapons.

“The biggest concern of major production, to my mind, is theft from the places where the material is being handled in bulk — the plants that produce it, convert it to metal, fabricate it into bomb parts, and so on,” said Matthew Bunn, a Harvard scholar who compiles an annual report called “Securing the Bomb” for the group Nuclear Threat Initiative. “All but one of the real thefts” of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, he said, “were insider thefts from bulk-handling facilities — that’s where you can squirrel a little bit away without the loss being detected.”


On Monday, The Washington Post, citing nongovernment analysts, said Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal now numbered more than 100 deployed weapons. In interviews over the past three weeks, government officials from several countries, including India, which has an interest in raising the alarm about Pakistani capability, provided glimpses of their own estimates.

Almost all, however, said their real concern was not the weapons, but the increase in the production of material, especially plutonium. Pakistan is completing work on a large new plutonium production reactor, which will greatly increase its ability to produce a powerful new generation of weapons, but also defies Mr. Obama’s initiative to halt the production of weapons-grade material.
Nuclear projects are managed by the Pakistani military, but the country’s top civilian leaders are, on paper, part of the nuclear chain of command. Last year, Pakistan’s prime minister visited the new plutonium reactor at Kushab, suggesting at least some level of knowledge about the program. “We think the civilians are fully in the loop,” one senior Obama administration official said.

Still, it is unclear how Pakistan is financing the new weapons production, at a time of extraordinary financial stress in the country. “What does Pakistan need with that many nuclear weapons, especially given the state of the country’s economy?” said one foreign official who is familiar with the country’s plans, but agreed to discuss the classified program if granted anonymity.

“The country already has more than enough weapons for an effective deterrent against India,” the official said. “This is just for the generals to say they have more than India.”

American officials have been careful not to discuss Pakistan’s arsenal in public, for fear of further inflaming tensions and fueling Pakistani fears that the United States was figuring how to secure the weapons in an emergency, or a government collapse. But in November Mr. Obama’s top nuclear adviser, Gary Samore, criticized Pakistan for seeking to block talks on the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, which, if negotiated and adopted, could threaten Pakistan’s program.

In interviews last year, senior Pakistani officials said that they were infuriated by the deal Washington struck to provide civilian nuclear fuel to India, charging it had freed up India’s homemade fuel to produce new weapons. As a result, they said, they had no choice but to boost their own production and oppose any treaty that would cut into their ability to match India’s arsenal.

In a statement in December, the Pakistan’s National Command Authority, which overseas the arsenal, said that it “rejects any effort to undermine its strategic deterrence,” adding, “Pakistan will not be a party to any approach that is prejudicial to its legitimate national security interests.”

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Friday that Mr. Obama remained “confident” about the security of Pakistani weapons, and said he “continues to encourage all nations to support the commencement of negotiations on the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.” Other officials say efforts are now under way to find a way to start negotiations in new forums, away from Pakistani influence.

A senior Pakistani military officer declined Monday to confirm the size of his country’s nuclear arsenal or the describe rates of production, saying that information was classified.

“People are getting unduly concerned about the size of our stockpile,” said the officer, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “What we have is a credible, minimum nuclear deterrent. It’s a bare minimum.”
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« Reply #231 on: February 01, 2011, 08:23:19 PM »

Wikileaks doc: Al Qaeda on the brink of a dirty bomb, feds seeking missing 9/11 suspects

posted at 9:12 pm on February 1, 2011 by Allahpundit

Drudge is giving this banner treatment but I’m not sure why. Of course Al Qaeda is on the brink of a dirty bomb. Their comrades-in-arms in the Taliban are the jihadist proxy of one of the world’s biggest nuclear proliferators, aren’t they? If the filthbags in Pakistani intelligence want Al Qaeda to have nuclear material, they’ll find a way to smuggle some out of the state supply, I’m sure. In fact, according to a new piece in the NYT, Pakistan’s practically swimming in fissile material these days. Never mind the dirty bombs; how long before AQ or Lashkar e-Taiba or some other arm of Pakistan’s terror apparatus has itself a fully-functioning atomic weapon?

    New American intelligence assessments have concluded that Pakistan has steadily expanded its nuclear arsenal since President Obama came to office, and that it is building the capability to surge ahead in the production of nuclear-weapons material, putting it on a path to overtake Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons power…

    “We’ve seen a consistent, constant buildup in their inventory, but it hasn’t been a sudden rapid rise,” a senior American military official said. “We’re very, very well aware of what they’re doing.”…

    But the bigger worry is the production of nuclear materials. Based on the latest estimates of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, an outside group that estimates worldwide nuclear production, experts say Pakistan has now produced enough material for 40 to 100 additional weapons, including a new class of plutonium bombs. If those estimates are correct — and some government officials regard them as high — it would put Pakistan on a par with long-established nuclear powers…

    “The biggest concern of major production, to my mind, is theft from the places where the material is being handled in bulk — the plants that produce it, convert it to metal, fabricate it into bomb parts, and so on,” said Matthew Bunn, a Harvard scholar who compiles an annual report called “Securing the Bomb” for the group Nuclear Threat Initiative. “All but one of the real thefts” of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, he said, “were insider thefts from bulk-handling facilities — that’s where you can squirrel a little bit away without the loss being detected.”

Read the story being touted by Drudge and you’ll see that most of the Wikileaks docs come from 2009, which is already a different world from what’s happening in Pakistan today. Why they’re ramping up nuke production now, especially with their economy teetering, remains obscure, but according to one foreign analyst it’s simply to boast some sort of numerical advantage over their longtime nemesis India. Or maybe it’s a form of insurance against state collapse: The west will never let Pakistan crumble since it knows the consequences of letting influential lunatics in the government make off with the nuclear crown jewels. It’s precisely because Al Qaeda is perpetually on the brink of having a dirty bomb or something worse that we’re forced to be conciliatory with these cretins at all.

The other Wikileaks story being passed around tonight is more interesting and more inscrutable. Via the Telegraph, apparently there was a team of verrrry suspicious men from Qatar making some verrrry suspicious moves around the country right before 9/11. Among the remarkable coincidences: Possible surveillance of the World Trade Center shortly before the attack, “pilot-type uniforms” seen in their room by hotel housekeepers, and the fact that they were scheduled to fly from L.A. to D.C. on September 10 aboard the very same plane that ended up being steered into the Pentagon the next morning. (They ended up flying to London instead.) I’ve read the piece twice and still can’t decipher what the plot might have been. Were they going to try to use the uniforms to get past airport security somehow? No other 9/11 cell used that M.O. Were they going to plant weapons on the plane for the hijackers in D.C. to use the next morning? Again, there’s no evidence that any other cell had help like that. Maybe they were prepared to pull a hijacking of their own? But in that case, why’d they bug out to London instead of following through? All theories welcome.
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« Reply #232 on: February 13, 2011, 09:38:16 PM »

Coverup or no big deal?
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« Reply #233 on: February 13, 2011, 10:07:45 PM »

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« Reply #234 on: February 13, 2011, 10:16:02 PM »

The raw video is even more telling. CPB will never let this guy in front of the press ever again.
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« Reply #235 on: February 15, 2011, 10:12:43 PM »

Monday, February 14, 2011
WMDs in America?

Call it the non-story of the week. It generated a fair amount of buzz in Southern California, but if you live outside the region, you probably didn't hear a word about it, unless you frequent Big Journalism and other media watchdog sites.

Here's what happened: last week, KGTV, the ABC affiliate in San Diego, aired a story on port security. It's a timely topic; not only is the city home to the nation's second-largest naval base, it's also a major hub for shipping activity. Dozens of giant container ships dock at San Diego's port facilities each month.

KGTV's investigation, by reporter Mitch Blacher, included an interview with Al Hallor, the assistant port director and a senior official with Customs and Border Protection. When Blacher asked about efforts to detect WMD in the San Diego area. From the KGTV website:

"So, specifically, you're looking for the dirty bomb? You're looking for the nuclear device?" asked Blacher.

"Correct. Weapons of mass effect," Hallor said.

"You ever found one?" asked Blacher.

"Not at this location," Hallor said.

"But they have found them?" asked Blacher.

"Yes," said Hallor.

"You never found one in San Diego though?" Blacher asked.

"I would say at the port of San Diego we have not," Hallor said.

"Have you found one in San Diego?" Blacher asked.

The interview was interrupted before Hallor was able to answer the question.

Bob McCarty of has the video, and it's definitely worth a look. A p.r. flack from CBP is present during the interview, though off-camera. Watch Hallor's reaction when Blacher asks about the discovery of "Weapons of Mass Effect" at U.S. ports. Mr. Hallor clearly pauses--and looks towards the public affairs officer--before finally acknowledging the discovery. Then, when KGTV's Blacher tried to learn if such weapons have been found in San Diego, the public relations flack brings the interview to a sudden end.

Customs and Border Protection later released a statement saying that Hallor "misspoke," although it took them three weeks to offer that explanation.

CBP has not specifically had any incidents with nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry. CBP is an all-threats agency. The purpose of many security measures is to prevent threats from ever materializing by being prepared for them. And, we must be prepared to stop threats in whatever form they do materialize at the border, whether it’s an individual or cargo arriving by land, air, or sea. Regardless of what the contraband or threat is, we’re being smart, evaluating, and focusing in on anything or anyone that is potentially high-risk.

The agency has not said why it refused to let Hallor answer the question, why it terminated the interview, or why its clarification was so long in coming. But whatever the reason, the agency didn't do itself any favors, and the entire incident has only raised new questions.

First, let's take CBP at its word and assume that Mr. Hallor was wrong when he answered Blacher's question. How could a senior homeland security official--the assistant director of the Port of San Diego--get it so wrong. Clearly, weapons of mass effects covers a lot of territory, but you've either found them coming into the country--or you haven't. Based on his answer, Hallor apparently knew of a WME/WMD discovery and tried to affirm that--until the public relations officer effectively silenced him.

On the other hand, if Mr. Hallor mis-characterized another incident as a WME/WMD find, that doesn't exactly inspire confidence, either. Someone in his position has at least a SECRET security clearance, meaning Hallor has access to a wide variety of intelligence information pertaining to homeland security threats. Additionally, we don't suppose the CBP official has a history of making things up, either. Obviously, something in Hallor's experience or knowledge base triggered the affirmative response to Blacher's question.

Finally, if Mr. Hallor was truly mistaken, why did it take CBP so long to issue their clarification?If there have been no WMD/WME discoveries, the agency should have issued a statement immediately, and not wait three weeks to respond. You'd also think CBP would have provided more details. For example, the thwarted Times Square car bomb plot was an attempted WME attack. Was that what Mr. Hallor was referring to? If so, the feds should have been more clear in explaining the official's remarks.

To be fair, CBP's delayed explanation isn't totally beyond disbelief. Had WMD/WME been found in a U.S. port, it's likely the discovery would have been leaked almost immediately--and not disclosed casually to a local TV reporter in San Diego. But that's about the only scenario that lends credence to CBP's version of events. And with that scenario, you must accept that one of the principal homeland security officers in San Diego County is clueless on one of the most important issues facing his organization. Otherwise, why would he make a statement with no basis in fact?

On the other hand, maybe Mr. Hallor was being a little too candid. That theory raises all sorts of questions that remain unanswered, such as what was found, where and how it was being shipped into America.

This much we know: Al Qaida has a long-standing interest in WMD. Their capabilities in that area have improved modestly in those areas in recent years, despite severe damage inflicted on their leadership and fund-raising operations--essential elements in any WMD/WME attacks. We also know there was a major WMD operation in the Atlanta area late last year, with the feds stopping all trucks on I-20 during rush hour, and running them through a radiation scanner. Sources told WSB-TV the activity was "real world" and not a drill, though various spokesmen later tried to "walk back" that remark. Sounds like the same p.r. tactic recently attempted in San Diego.

One more point. It's probably unrelated (at least, that's what the government flacks would have you believe), but this recent item also caught our eye: early last month, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to test Presidential Alerts in the near future.
As an agency official told Federal News Radio in Washington:

"The primary goal is to provide the President with a mechanism to communicate with the American public during times of national emergency," said Lisa Fowlkes (Deputy Chief of the FCC's Homeland Security Bureau). The change, she said, is that prior to last week's order there was no rule in place to call for or allow a test from top to bottom.

Fowlkes said, "There's never been a test from top to bottom where it's issued by FEMA and it goes straight down to all the different levels of EAS to the American public. So this is a way for us to glean, okay, if there were an actual emergency and the federal government needed to activate the Presidential EAS, making sure that it actually works the way it's designed to."

Now that there's a rule in place, the next challenges are going to be working with all the stakeholders on timing of the test and to reach out to the public so they understand it's a test and not a real emergency, Fowlkes said.

To someone who spent years in radio (before having the good sense to join the military) this announcement was stunning. Broadcasters have worked with the FCC for years on the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and its predecessor, the Emergency Broadcast System or EBS. There was always some provision for the president (or the national command authority) to provide information through the system in the event of a cataclysmic event. But for more than 50 years, no one saw a need to test the presidential capabilities, despite nuclear dangers during the Cold War, and real-world events like 9-11.

And what sort of event might warrant activation of the Presidential EAS? How about a domestic terror attack, using weapons of mass destruction or a weapon of mass effect?
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« Reply #236 on: February 21, 2011, 11:08:56 AM »

With the Middle East roiling, the alarming news about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons buildup has gotten far too little attention. The Times recently reported that American intelligence agencies believe Pakistan has between 95 and more than 110 deployed nuclear weapons, up from the mid-to-high 70s just two years ago.

Times Topic: PakistanPakistan can’t feed its people, educate its children, or defeat insurgents without billions of dollars in foreign aid. Yet, with China’s help, it is now building a fourth nuclear reactor to produce more weapons fuel.

Even without that reactor, experts say, it has already manufactured enough fuel for 40 to 100 additional weapons. That means Pakistan — which claims to want a minimal credible deterrent — could soon possess the world’s fifth-largest arsenal, behind the United States, Russia, France and China but ahead of Britain and India. Washington and Moscow, with thousands of nuclear weapons each, still have the most weapons by far, but at least they are making serious reductions.

Washington could threaten to suspend billions of dollars of American aid if Islamabad does not restrain its nuclear appetites. But that would hugely complicate efforts in Afghanistan and could destabilize Pakistan.

The truth is there is no easy way to stop the buildup, or that of India and China. Slowing and reversing that arms race is essential for regional and global security. Washington must look for points of leverage and make this one of its strategic priorities.

The ultimate nightmare, of course, is that the extremists will topple Pakistan’s government and get their hands on the nuclear weapons. We also don’t rest easy contemplating the weakness of Pakistan’s civilian leadership, the power of its army and the bitterness of the country’s rivalry with nuclear-armed India.

The army claims to need more nuclear weapons to deter India’s superior conventional arsenal. It seems incapable of understanding that the real threat comes from the Taliban and other extremists.

The biggest game-changer would be for Pakistan and India to normalize diplomatic and economic relations. The two sides recently agreed to resume bilateral talks suspended after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. There is a long way to go.

India insists that it won’t accept an outside broker. There is a lot the Obama administration can do quietly to press the countries to work to settle differences over Afghanistan and the disputed region of Kashmir. Pakistan must do a lot more to stop insurgents who target India.

Washington also needs to urge the two militaries to start talking, and urge the two governments to begin exploring ways to lessen the danger of an accidental nuclear war — with more effective hotlines and data exchanges — with a long-term goal of arms-control negotiations.

Washington and its allies must also continue to look for ways to get Pakistan to stop blocking negotiations on a global ban on fissile material production.

The world, especially this part of the world, is a dangerous enough place these days. It certainly doesn’t need any more nuclear weapons.

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« Reply #237 on: February 21, 2011, 11:13:14 AM »

"Gee, if only we could Pakistan to pinkie-promise not to nuke India, it'd all be swell".

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« Reply #238 on: February 24, 2011, 09:56:31 AM »

I disagree Doug. China has us by the short and curlies. They couldn't build a military that could defeat ours for the amount of money they used to buy our debt. Now, they are using their financial leverage to bend us to their will. Unrestricted warfare, financial edition.

"The acme of skill is to defeat an enemy without fighting".

"He who understands himself and his opponent need not fear the outcome of a thousand battles"

Sun Tzu

Cables show China used debt holdings to press US
Feb 21 04:45 PM US/Eastern

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, shown here in 2003, publicly stated his concern...

Leaked diplomatic cables vividly show China's willingness to translate its massive holdings of US debt into political influence on issues ranging from Taiwan's sovereignty to Washington's financial policy.

China's clout -- gleaned from its nearly $900 billion stack of US debt -- has been widely commented on in the United States, but sensitive cables show just how much influence Beijing has and how keen Washington is to address its rival's concerns.

An October 2008 cable, released by WikiLeaks, showed a senior Chinese official linking questions about much-needed Chinese investment to sensitive military sales to Taiwan.

Amid the panic of Lehman Brothers' collapse and the ensuing liquidity crunch, Liu Jiahua, an official who then helped manage China's foreign reserves, was "non-committal on the possible resumption of lending."

Instead, "Liu -- citing an Internet discussion forum -- said that as in the United States, the Chinese leadership must pay close attention to public opinion in forming policies," according to the memo.
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« Reply #239 on: March 18, 2011, 10:52:42 AM »
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« Reply #240 on: March 29, 2011, 11:06:56 AM »

America and its allies, empowered by the United Nations and the Arab League, are interceding militarily in Libya. But would that action have been delayed or even precluded if Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had access to nuclear weapons? No doubt Gadhafi is asking himself that same question.

Gadhafi unilaterally forfeited his nuclear weapons program by 2004, turning over uranium-enriching centrifuges and warhead designs. A dictator like him—capable of ordering the murders of 259 civilians aboard Pan Am Flight 103 and countless others in many countries including his own—would not easily concede the ultimate weapon. Gadhafi did so because he believed he was less secure with the bomb than he would be after relinquishing it. He feared that the U.S., which had recently invaded Iraq, would deal with him much as it had Saddam Hussein.

A similar fear, many intelligence experts in the U.S. and elsewhere believe, impelled the Iranian regime to suspend its own nuclear weapons program in 2003. According to these analysts, the program resumed only when the threat of military intervention receded. It continues to make steady progress today.

The Iranian regime is the pre- eminent sponsor of terror in the world, a danger to pro-Western states, and the enemy of its own people who strive for democracy. It poses all of these hazards without nuclear weapons. Imagine the catastrophes it could inflict with them.

And if Iran acquires the bomb, other Middle Eastern states will also pursue nuclear capabilities, transforming the entire region into a tinderbox. The global enthusiasm recently sparked by Arab protesters demanding freedoms would likely have been limited if Middle Eastern autocrats had nuclear arsenals. Under such circumstances, the question would be not only which side—the ruled or the rulers—gains ascendancy in the Middle East, but who controls the keys and the codes.

The efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons have been obscured by the dramatic images emanating from the region, but the upheaval makes that campaign all the more critical. While cynically shooting its own dissidents, the Iranian regime is calling for the overthrow of other Middle Eastern governments and exploiting the disorder to extend its influence.

In Lebanon, Iran has installed a puppet government and gained a strategic foothold on the eastern Mediterranean—an achievement of historic gravity. Triumphantly, Iranian warships for the first time passed through the Suez Canal and maneuvered off the Syrian coast. Iran has also stepped up arms supplies to Hezbollah and Hamas, as revealed by Israel's recent interception of the freighter Victoria laden with Iranian missiles. And last week Iran welcomed—or perhaps instigated—the firing of some 100 rockets and mortar shells into Israel from Gaza.

All the while, Iran has remained the target of international sanctions designed to dissuade it from pursuing military nuclear capabilities. These strictures have affected Iran's economy, but they have yet to significantly slow the country's nuclear program or dampen its leaders' appetite for atomic weapons. In spite of some technical difficulties, according to International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano, Iran is enriching uranium "steadily, constantly."

America's policy, like Israel's, is that "all options are on the table." We know that only a credible threat of military intervention can convince nondemocratic regimes to abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Sanctions alone are unlikely to prove effective unless backed by measures capable of convincing the Iranian regime that the military option is real. It is the very threat of such force that reduces the danger that it will ever have to be used.

The critical question then becomes: Does anybody in Tehran believe that all options are truly on the table today? Based on Iran's brazen pronouncements, the answer appears to be no. And while the allied intercession in Libya may send a message of determination to Iran, it might also stoke the Iranian regime's desire to become a nuclear power and so avoid Gadhafi's fate. For that reason it is especially vital now to substantiate the "all options" policy.

Now is the moment to dissuade the Iranian regime from obtaining a nuclear weapon that might deter any Libya-like intervention or provide the ayatollahs with a doomsday option. If Gadhafi had not surrendered his centrifuges in 2004 and he were now surrounded in his bunker with nothing left but a button, would he push it?

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« Reply #241 on: April 21, 2011, 12:51:22 PM »

Time for Plan BPublished: April 20, 2011
LinkedinDiggMixxMySpacePermalink. A 14-year effort to negotiate an international treaty banning the production of nuclear weapons fuel is getting nowhere. Under the terms of the United Nations’ Conference on Disarmament, all 65 participants must agree. Pakistan, which is racing to develop the world’s fifth largest arsenal, is refusing to let the talks move forward.

It is clearly time for a new approach. So we are encouraged that the Obama administration has begun discussing with Britain and France and others the possibility of negotiating a ban outside the conference, much like the 2008 convention on cluster munitions and the 1997 land-mine treaty. While the United States, Russia and China still are not signatories — they should be — many others are, and the two agreements are credited with greatly diminishing, although not eliminating, the use of both weapons.

Russia and China, which must be part of any fissile material ban, are resisting the idea of ad hoc negotiations. They should tell Pakistan to let the conference do its job, or they should accept the alternative. China has particular influence as Pakistan’s longtime supplier of nuclear technology, including a fourth reactor for producing even more nuclear fuel.

Islamabad dug in its heels after the George W. Bush administration persuaded the international community to lift a ban on civilian nuclear trade with India. The ban remains in place for Pakistan.

India, unlike Pakistan, isn’t a serious proliferation risk. Still, the deal was deeply flawed. It did not require India — estimated to have at least 100 nuclear warheads — to halt fissile material production. And now that New Delhi can buy foreign uranium for its power reactors it can husband its domestic uranium for weapons.

Islamabad argues that the fissile material ban would further lock in a military advantage for India. Pakistan already has 95 or more deployed nuclear weapons, up from the mid- to high-70s two years ago. It should be less fixated on India and more focused on using scarce resources to educate its children and battle home-grown extremists. Along with the test ban treaty (which the Senate still must ratify), getting countries to stop producing fissile material is essential for curbing the world’s most lethal weapons. A ban would give the United States and others more leverage to pressure North Korea and Iran to abandon their nuclear efforts. Serious negotiations need to start now.

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« Reply #242 on: April 21, 2011, 12:54:52 PM »

Uh-huh. And we have leverage for these negotiations?  rolleyes
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« Reply #243 on: April 22, 2011, 07:07:47 AM »

I've not seen this elsewhere and in a sane world with a reasonably patriotic media it would be everywhere , , ,


Were there an award for the worst idea produced in Washington in recent days, there would be many worthy competitors, but I think I’d put my money on this one: Granting Russians the power to tell Americans whether we can or cannot shoot down missiles flying toward their intended victims.

Who would even consider such an idea? The Obama Administration -- or so it appears. In response, last week, 39 Republican Senators sent the President a strongly worded letter requesting his assurance, in writing, that he will not give Russia such “red-button” rights. The letter asks for reassurance, as well, that the Administration will not give Russia access to American missile defense information “including early warning, detection, tracking, targeting, and telemetry data, sensors or common operational picture data, or American hit-to-kill missile defense technology.”

Here’s how this came about: In recent months, the Obama administration, as part of its policy to “re-set” U.S. relations with Russia, has offered to integrate the Kremlin into both the American and the NATO ballistic missile defense systems. Last month, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher said the Administration is “eager to begin a joint analysis, joint exercises, and sharing of early warning data that could form the basis for a cooperative missile defense system.”

This month, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sergei Ivanov, said his government was inclined to favor such cooperation but would “insist on only one thing … a red button push to start an anti-missile …” To 39 Republican senators, this sounded like an outrageous demand. How this sounded to President Obama and his national security team remains unclear.

In their letter, the Republican senators, led by Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill), make this larger point: “No American President should ever allow a foreign nation to dictate when or how the United State defends our country and our allies. In our view, any agreement that would allow Russia to influence the defense of the United States or our allies, to say nothing of a ‘red button’ or veto, would constitute a failure of leadership.”

They note, too, that Russia “has not halted its support for nuclear infrastructure or sophisticated arms of states such as Iran and Syria.” Finally, the senators ask the President to “share with Congress the materials on U.S. missile defense cooperation that have been provided to Russia, which heretofore the Departments of State and Defense have refused to provide.”

Senator Kirk also drafted a memo providing “context” for what he fears is the Administration’s eagerness to reveal to the Kremlin “some of our country’s most sensitive technology, collection assets and real-time intelligence.”

“Admitting the Russians into the most important and time-sensitive parts of our nation’s defense,” the memo argues, “is extremely risky and could present a fatal vulnerability… Providing Russia any access to US sensitive data would undermine the national security of the United States.”

Kirk lists a dozen recent cases of Russian espionage targeting the U.S. and about the same number of instances of Russian collaboration with Iran’s efforts to develop ballistic missiles. In addition, as “part of its assistance to Iran in building the Bushehr nuclear reactor, Russia has trained some 1,500 Iranian nuclear engineers, according to the Congressional Research Service.”

So to be clear: Russia is helping Iran develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them to its enemies – America, the “Great Satan” tops that list – while simultaneously “insisting” the US give Russian officials – for example, former KGB officer Vladimir Putin -- the power to decide whether Americans can defend themselves and their allies from Iranian attacks.

If President Obama sees such ideas as ludicrous, if this is not at all where he’s heading, he should say so. A brief letter would do. At least 39 Senators will be anxiously checking their mailboxes.

One addendum: In 1995, Lowell Wood, a respected astrophysicist involved with the Strategic Defense Initiation and affiliated with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, proposed a rather different model of international cooperation: “a world-wide missile defense based on space-based interceptors in which each of the sponsoring nations could independently elect to cause the system to block a missile launch coming from anywhere and headed to anywhere, but no nation could defeat or delay operation of the system if another nation had authorized it.”

In other words, all the participating nations would have the right to defend themselves – none would have a finger on a “red button” that would leave a target defenseless. This good idea – a global, space-based anti-missile umbrella -- won no awards at the time. Memo to the President: Why not revive it?
Power User
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« Reply #244 on: April 22, 2011, 07:13:12 AM »

"Obama is awesome"
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« Reply #245 on: June 08, 2011, 11:04:41 AM »

Associated Press
VIENNA—The U.S. and its allies pushed ahead Wednesday with efforts to bring Syria before the United Nations Security Council for failure to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, despite opposition from China and Russia.

Separately, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain and France will put forward a resolution at the U.N. condemning the crackdown in Syria.

A draft of a resolution obtained by The Associated Press finds Syria in "non-compliance with its obligations" with IAEA requirements to allow inspectors access to all nuclear facilities to ensure they are not being used for military purposes.

The draft criticizes Syria's lack of cooperation with "repeated requests for access" by the U.N. nuclear agency to information about a facility at Dair Alzour that appears to have been a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium, which is used to arm nuclear weapons. The site was destroyed in 2007.

The draft was circulated Wednesday to the 35 ministers who serve on the IAEA's board of governors to be discussed and put to vote. It needs majority approval from the board before it can be sent to the Security Council.

The IAEA has tried in vain since 2008 to follow up on strong evidence that the Dair Alzour site, bombed in 2007 by Israeli warplanes, was a nearly finished reactor built with North Korea's help.

Drawing on a May 24 report by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, the resolution expresses "serious concern" over what it calls "Syria's lack of cooperation with the IAEA director general's repeated requests for access to additional information and locations as well as Syria's refusal to engage substantively with the agency on the nature of the Dair Alzour site."

Some nations have expressed misgivings about bringing Syria before the Security Council over an unresolved nuclear issue while there is a nationwide crackdown on a revolt against President Bashar Assad, but diplomats have indicated that a majority should be possible.

But without China and Russia the question remains whether that is enough, given the power of those nations to veto any measures that come before the Security Council.

In Britain, Mr. Cameron told the House of Commons that the U.K. and France wish to condemn the repression by Mr. Assad's government.

Mr. Cameron told lawmakers that the resolution before the Security Council will be focused on "demanding accountability and humanitarian action."

He said that if "anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience."

Activists say Syria's nationwide crackdown on the revolt against Mr. Assad's regime has killed more than 1,300 Syrians.

Power User
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« Reply #246 on: September 24, 2011, 08:30:50 AM »,_the_emp_threat/page/full/

In Part I of this series, "Iran at our Doorstep," published in the August issue of A Line of Sight, I documented Iran's continued quest to develop a nuclear weapon. Additionally, I explained the Iran-Venezuela-Russia alliance currently constructing a military missile base on the extreme northern coast of Venezuela well within reach of many heavily populated U.S. cities. The publicly stated purpose of building the base is to provide the capability for Venezuela to launch missiles at "Iran's enemies."

Subsequently on September 4 we published contributing editor Major General Paul Vallely's article summarizing the release by the United Nation's IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) of a "restricted report" regarding Iran's continued nuclear activity. Consistent with the documentation shared on these pages last month, the U.N. nuclear agency said it is "increasingly concerned" by a stream of "extensive and comprehensive" intelligence coming from "many member states" suggesting that Iran continues to work secretly on developing a nuclear payload for a missile and other components of a nuclear weapons program.

General Vallely now serves as Chairman of Stand Up America, a private organization that includes numerous former military and intelligence community experts and analysts. In his September 4 article, Vallely wrote, "SUA believes strongly that Iran now possesses low yield nuclear war heads that can be mounted on the Shehab missile and deployed on the oceans in container ships with the Russian provided Club K missile launch system." The General went on to explain that Iran's objective is to "launch EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) weapons on U.S. Coastal cities and freeze our national grid systems."

A June, 2011 RAND report agreed with Vallely's analysis. According to RAND senior defense policy analyst Gregory S. Jones, Tehran's nuclear program has progressed to the point that "it will take around two months for the Iranian regime to produce the 20kg of uranium enriched to 90 percent required for the production of a nuclear warhead."

The window may have slammed shut on the opportunity to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

Americans are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability to a cyber-attack. On a personal level, that could involve the hacking into one's personal financial or other identity information. A cyber-attack could also escalate to a much larger scale of a corporate or large network cyber-theft, and certainly a cyber-attack that penetrated our various government, military or national security agencies could be catastrophic.

But, an EMP attack would be even far more destructive and life threatening. For those unfamiliar, one of America's most experience terrorism experts, RP Eddy, offers this layman's definition: "An EMP is a result of a nuclear explosion, or of another weapon, that releases a wave of electrons that will fry every electronic gizmo or tool that civilization needs to survive." Among his lengthy and distinguished credentials, Eddy served the Clinton Administration on the National Security Council as the Director of Counterterroism, and following the 9/11 attacks founded the Center of Tactical Counterterrorism in New York.

This isn't just theoretical or "Hollywood" fantasy. A quick search will yield a large library full of information and warnings about EMPs dating back over many decades. The U.S. found out about EMPs somewhat by accident during the World War II era when some of our own planes were affected by our own nuclear weapons tests. Although no nation has deployed an EMP, it is commonly accepted that many developed nations have such weapons. Since the technology required is considerably less sophisticated than advanced nuclear weaponry, experts believe that nations with developing nuclear capabilities and terrorist organizations may find EMPs far too appealing.

In a 2009 interview with Fox News, Eddy explained that part of the appeal to perceived lesser powers is that an EMP is far easier to build than a traditional nuclear weapon in part because it doesn't have to be as accurate nor as long range. And there are far too many bargain priced aged missiles lying around that can be picked on the cheap and nukes galore, too. Most estimates put the Russian stockpile alone of old and new nukes at more than 10,000. Eddy also referenced the ability to launch an EMP from a "floating barge" – the same Club K Russian weapons technology that looks like a common semi-truck trailer highlighted by Vallely in his September 4 article, and now being marketed to the world.

The above graphic is from 1997 congressional testimony, and it has been repeatedly referenced since that time to demonstrate that a single explosion sufficiently high in the atmosphere could paralyze the entire North American continent. As Eddy explains, an EMP attack would "fry" everything electric, and the "power grid would be out for months." Not only would our cell phones and computers not work, neither would hospital systems, air traffic control, food production and refrigeration, manufacturing, distribution of goods and services, financial transactions and records….you get the picture.

Frank Gaffney is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and was in charge of Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy at the Pentagon under President Reagan. Currently, Gaffney is President of the Center for Security Policy. His warning of the potential devastation from an EMP attack is terrifying. "Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can't support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity," he says. "And that is exactly what I believe the Iranians are working towards."

Senator Jon Kyl, previously the Chairman and now Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary's Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, is deeply concerned about the vulnerability to an EMP attack. He says that it "is one of only a few ways that the United States could be defeated by its enemies – terrorist or otherwise. And it is probably the easiest."

"A terrorist organization might have trouble putting a nuclear warhead on target with a Scud, but it would be much easier to simply launch and detonate in the atmosphere," Kyl wrote in the Washington Post. "No need for risk and difficulty of trying to smuggle a nuclear weapon over the border or hit a particular city. Just launch a cheap missile from a freighter in international waters – al Qaida is believed to own about 80 such vessels – and make sure to get it a few miles in the air."

In addition to the 9/11 Commission charged with review and making recommendations following the 9/11 attacks, the government established The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. The Commission released their first report in 2004, about the same time as the 9/11 Commission, and a subsequent report in 2008. Unfortunately, only a few politicians like Sen. Kyl even paid attention. In fact, there have been at least six national commissions as well as the government commissions to issue reports on the threat of EMP. But, virtually all of the warnings and recommendations of the experts have been ignored. "Congress has merely deliberated it, but has not taken substantive action," according to the Heritage Foundation. "The Administration and federal agencies remain mostly ambivalent."

One of the most damning indictments of the 9/11 Commission's findings was a "failure of imagination." America couldn't imagine that we were vulnerable to a terrorist attack inside our border on the scale of 9/11. Have we allowed our imaginations to fall asleep again?

As threatening as an EMP attack is, there is also a great deal that can be done. The EMP Commission says the "appropriate national-level approach should balance prevention, protection, and recovery." Both comprehensive reports by the Commission contain specific recommendations to accomplish that balanced strategic approach. Unfortunately, we have done virtually nothing while the capabilities of our adversaries continue to advance.

James Carafano, the National Defense and Homeland Security expert at the Heritage Foundation offers this straightforward agenda:

1. Fund comprehensive missile defense

2. Develop a National Recovery Plan and a plan to respond to severe space emergencies.

3. Require more research on the EMP Threat.

Carafano also voices a frustration that echoes across the pages of the EMP Commission's 2008 report. "Simply recognizing the EMP threat would go a long way toward better preparing America for the unthinkable."

It has been ten years since the 9/11 attacks, and America has not suffered another significant attack on the homeland during the decade. Our national bravado and the passage of time cause us to not dwell on the unknown nor take seriously "death to America" pledges by tyrants like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If as the experts warn, a single EMP attack could put America "back to the 19th century," do we not need to be vigilant?

In addition to a complacency developed from extended relative peace, by ignoring our increasing national security vulnerabilities and the capabilities of our enemies, America presented a target that was exploited by our enemies on 9/11. We have done much in the last ten years to prevent terrorists from flying planes into buildings, again, but are we ignoring an even bigger threat?

Iran either already has or is rapidly developing weapons technologies capable of great damage to America and our allies. In addition, the regime is expanding influence globally, particularly in South and Central America that further threatens our national security and global balance of power. In the coming weeks, we will expose more of the extended threatening web that the Iranians are weaving, and why it can neither be ignored nor tolerated.
Bob Beauprez
Bob Beauprez is a former Member of Congress and is currently the editor-in-chief of A Line of Sight, an online policy resource. Prior to serving in Congress, Mr. Beauprez was a dairy farmer and community banker. He and his wife Claudia reside in Lafayette, Colorado. You may contact him at:
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« Reply #247 on: November 23, 2011, 05:38:59 PM »
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« Reply #248 on: November 24, 2011, 09:07:40 PM »

Why, despite the growing danger posed by Iran's nuclear program, have the United States and other nations restricted themselves to negotiations, economic sanctions and electronic intrusions? None of those tactics has been particularly effective or produced enduring changes.

The main argument against military action is that it would set Iran's nuclear program back only a few years, and that Tehran would retaliate directly and via surrogates, drawing the U.S. into another unwinnable war. Many fear also that Iranians will rally behind their regime with nationalist fervor, dashing hope of regime change for decades and turning Iran's largely pro-Western population against the West once again, to the mullahs' great benefit.

These concerns are based on worst-case scenarios that assume Iran has the resources to rebuild quickly, to retaliate without being thwarted, and to get the average Iranian to rally behind a regime hated for its violent oppression of dissent, stifling social codes, economic failures and isolationist policies. Yet Iran's government is already weakened by very public infighting between its much disliked ruling factions.

We should not conclude that a nuclear Iran is inevitable. Instead we should think about another way of confronting the threat. The real goal of air strikes should be not only to target Iran's nuclear facilities but to cripple the ayatollahs' ability to protect themselves from popular overthrow.

The mass uprisings in 2009—known as the Green Revolution—have dissipated because few protesters saw any hope of mustering the force necessary to defeat the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Basij paramilitary forces who brutally enforce Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's authority. Yet dissatisfaction and resentment still run deep across all social groups and economic ranks, even among civil-service bureaucrats, rank-and-file military men, and elected officials.

This means Western air strikes should hit other military production facilities and the bases of the IRGC and Basij. A foreign takedown of those enforcers would give Iran's population the opportunity to rise again. As a popular Tehrani female rapper notes: "No regime can hang on through intimidation and violence. We are ready and waiting. The regime thinks it has put out the fire. We are the burning coals under the ashes."

The IRGC's claims that it can retaliate significantly are largely bluster. The Iranian Navy's fast boats and midget submarines in the Persian Gulf could be eliminated through pinpoint strikes, as could army artillery batteries along the Strait of Hormuz—thereby removing any threat to the region's maritime trade, including crude oil shipments.

While the nuclear program may not be completely destroyed, sufficient damage will occur so even facilities deep underground would require several years of restoration. Most importantly, once the power of the Basij and the IRGC to enforce the regime's will upon the people has been seriously compromised, it would not be surprising to see large segments of Iran's population casting off the theocratic yoke.

The Libyan rebellion's successful ouster of a 42-year dictatorial elite is but one example of successful regime change. Another is the ongoing attempt by Syrians to end a nearly half-century dictatorship. A few months ago, few would have believed those revolutions would occur. Moreover, an Iranian uprising will be directed against Islamists, not by them. Were Iran's theocrats gravely weakened or swept away, Iran's sponsorship of terrorists and dictatorships would come to a halt—making groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and leaders like Bashar al-Assad, Kim Jong Il and Hugo Chávez more vulnerable.

A new Iranian nation would require economic aid and political guidance—from the U.S. and Europe—to develop representational governance. That would be a worthwhile investment. Crucially, even if a post-theocratic Iranian state gradually rebuilds its military and resumes its nuclear program, the weapons would not be in the hands of a regime so hostile to much of the world.

Regime change remains the best option for defusing the ayatollahs' nuclear threat, and it can best be achieved by the Iranian people themselves. Disabling the theocracy's machinery of repression would leave it vulnerable to popular revolt. Through such decisive actions, the U.S. and its allies could help Iranians bring the populist uprising of 2009 to a fitting culmination.

Mr. Choksy is professor of Iranian studies, senior fellow of the Center on American and Global Security, and former director of the Middle Eastern studies program at Indiana University.

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« Reply #249 on: November 24, 2011, 10:22:11 PM »

North Korea, a terrible dictatorship whom I don't trust at all and has again ratcheted up the threats, has proven nuclear weapons yet no one has talked about taking them out.

Pakistan, our "ally", but frankly I put on nearly the same level as Iran has nuclear weapons, and again, no one has talked about taking them out.

Yet Iran, where we have the most to lose, i.e. disruption of oil and therefore our economy and the world's economy, discussions are being held to to bomb them and/or sanction a physical attack.

What's the upside, for America (this is not an Israeli discussion) to participate?  And if there is a reason, doesn't it apply to Korea and Pakistan as well?
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