Nuclear Terrorism is Alive and Well


Indian police seize 1kg ‘uranium’, arrest five

KARACHI/ ISLAMABAD: The Kolkata police claim to have arrested five men over the weekend with what they claimed was one kilogramme of uranium, according to Indian media.

The Times of India newspaper reported that the men had come to Kolkata in the state of West Bengal to try to sell the substance, which the newspaper reported as having a market value of INR30 million ($440,000). Police were quoted as saying that two packets of a “yellow-coloured substance” were seized and sent for testing.

Police said the accused had assembled at Mango Lane at Dalhousie and identified them as Javed Miandad, a resident of Nanur in Birbhum district, SK Mughal, a resident of Sutahata in East Midnapore district, Shahjahan Mondal from Baduria in North 24 Parganas district, Younis Biswas and Basant Sinha from Behrampore district.

The police also reportedly recovered forged forest department recruitment letters and mark sheets from the accused.

Praveen Tripathi, Joint Commissioner (Crime) told India’s Daily News and Analysis newspaper that the packets did not contain uranium. Other media sources identified the substance as uranium resin, or even as an ion exchange resin, which are plastic microbeads “used to clean uranium”.

Ravi Kumar Gupta, a former scientist with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation spoke about the seizure with Indian TV channel NewsX. He differentiated between grades of uranium usable for nuclear energy or weapons production and noted that even low grade or lower radiation uranium can be used as a toxin.

To a question regarding ion exchange resin, he said that it is used in the enrichment process alongside uranium and if the recovered package was radioactive, and the contents were ion exchange resin, it would mean that the material in the bags had already been used with uranium.

He said uranium is not used in medicine. He said uranium is a highly controlled substance, but ion exchange resin is not. He said the latter has many industrial uses including water purification. The specific resin rumoured to be in the packets has an affinity for uranium

Former HEC chairman Dr Attaur Rehman, whose doctorate is in organic chemistry, said uranium is primarily used for making atomic bombs by enriching one isotope in it. “The substance contains two isotopes – U-235 and U-238. The first isotope, 235, is extracted from uranium and enriched by centrifuges to make an atomic bomb.”

He said the substance is highly contagious and should not be touched without proper precautions. “It causes cancer and a dangerous form of leukaemia, depending on how active the radiation is.”

Meanwhile, various radioactive substances are also used for cancer treatment, but officials at Nuclear Medicine, Oncology and Radiotherapy Institute in Islamabad say they don’t use uranium for cancer treatment.

To a question, officials also said Pakistan has strict and strong control systems in place so that no one can be involved in illicit trafficking here.

Another source explained that domestic uranium mining is done in a specific way and the sites are protected, adding that they are mostly in Dera Ghazi Khan.

History of Earthquakes before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

History of earthquakes in Lower Hudson Valley

Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

9:05 a.m. ET Feb. 7, 2018

At around 6:14 a.m. this morning, a 2.2-magnitude earthquake was reported about three miles northwest of Mohegan Lake in Yorktown, according to the United States Geological Survey. The epicenter of the quake was in Putnam Valley.

Social media was rife with posts on the quake with people from Chappaqua, Cortlandt, Lewisboro, Mahopac and Putnam Valley chiming in with their rattling experiences, though it wasn’t nearly as strong as the 5.0 earthquake our forefathers experienced here in 1783.

Lower Hudson Valley earthquakes through the years:

1783 — The epicenter of a magnitude 5.0 earthquake may have been the Westchester-Putnam county line and was felt as far south as Philadelphia.

1884 — A magnitude 5.2 earthquake was centered off Rockaway, Queens, causing property damage but no injuries to people. A dead dog was reported.

1970 to 1987 — Between these years, instruments at the Lamont-Doherty Observatory in Rockland County recorded 21 quakes in Westchester and two in Manhattan.

October 1985 — A magnitude 4.0 earthquake was centered in an unincorporated part of Greenburgh between Ardsley and Yonkers. Tremors shook the metropolitan area and were felt in Philadelphia, southern Canada and Long Island.

November 1988 — A quake 90 miles north of Quebec City in eastern Canada registered magnitude 6.0 with tremors felt in the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City.

June 1991 — A 4.4-magnitude quake struck west of Albany, rattling homes.

April 1991 — A quake registering between magnitude 2.0 and 2.6 struck Westchester and Fairfield, Conn. It lasted just five seconds and caused no damage.

January 2003 — Two small earthquakes struck the area surrounding Hastings-on-Hudson. One was a magnitude of 1.2, the other 1.4.

March 2006 — Two earthquakes struck Rockland. The first, at 1.1 magnitude, hit 3.3 miles southwest of Pearl River; the second, 1.3 magnitude, was centered in the West Nyack-Blauvelt-Pearl River area.

July 2014 — “Micro earthquake” struck, 3.1 miles beneath the Appalachian Trail in a heavily wooded area of Garrison.

January 2016 —  A 2.1 magnitude earthquake occurred at 12:58 a.m. northwest of Ringwood, N.J., and the earthquake was felt in the western parts of Ramapo, including the Hillburn and Sloatsburg areas.

April 2017 —  A 1.3 magnitude quake rumbled in Pawling on April 10. Putnam County residents in Brewster, Carmel, Patterson and Putnam Valley, as well as Dutchess County residents in Wingdale felt the earthquake.

Twitter: @SwapnaVenugopal

The relentless pursuit of missiles before the first nuclear war

The relentless pursuit of missiles

Pravin Sawhney

The Agni series of ballistic missiles has matured with a few add-ons. However, since global technologies have moved strides ahead, the Agni-V no longer serves the original purpose of deterrence

India’s 5,000-km range Agni-V surface-to-surface ballistic missile is expected to be inducted into the Strategic Force Command soon. This is the latest version of the Agni series of ballistic missiles which was launched 34 years ago as Agni technology demonstrator in 1984. The then envisaged technology, with a few add-ons, has matured.

However, since global technologies have moved strides ahead, the Agni-V — contrary to claims made by the scientists — no longer serves the original purpose of deterrence. Especially for China against whom it would be fielded.  It has, thus, been reduced to an expensive showpiece.

Deterrence means that the adversary, in this case China, should be cautious if not scared of Agni-V. It should desist from military activism on the disputed border for fear of escalation which might go out of control culminating into a nuclear exchange.

Given this, it becomes evident that deterrence comes by creating strategic imbalance: By owning a weapon system which the adversary does not have and one which is capable of damaging the adversary’s core military strength, or which takes the war to a higher or new level for which the adversary is not prepared.

Two examples, one each from Pakistan and China, will help clarify the essence of deterrence. Subsequent to India’s 1998 nuclear tests, the United States, in order to prevent a subcontinental nuclear arms race, was keen that Pakistan should not follow suit; various inducements ranging from financial doles to F-16 aircraft to whatever else was up for discussion with Pakistan.

The Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was so stunned that he refused a meeting with the US interlocutors Strobe Talbott and Central Command chief, General Anthony Zinni. He simply did not know how to respond. At that point, the Pakistan Army Chief, General Jehangir Karamat met the US team; after listening to them patiently, he told them that Pakistan would do its own nuclear tests to restore the strategic balance.

Since India had demonstrated nuclear weapons capability, Pakistan would need to do the same, he added. General Karamat was proved right as within hours of India’s nuclear tests, the then deputy Prime Minister LK Advani boasted that Pakistan would now have to re-think on Kashmir.

Take China’s case. It cannot match the US in either conventional war-fighting platforms or in the range and variety of nuclear weapons. There is a huge gap in the finances that the two spend on developing technologies and annual defence allocations.

So, instead of attempting to match US capabilities aircraft carrier for aircraft carrier, China has focussed on developing asymmetric warfare capabilities (a) to hit and destroy US’ existing state-of-art weapon platforms, like the aircraft carrier and so on, and (b) by attempting to catch up, if not outdo the US in newer domains like cyber, space, electromagnetic spectrum and psychological warfare. By doing so, China has created deterrence through strategic imbalance vis-à-vis the US, a much more powerful adversary.

China has developed rockets as anti-satellite weapons; laser pulses to disrupt satellite communication; accurate land and sea-based anti-ship cruise missiles to hit carriers and ocean-going ships; a large number of conventional and nuclear attack submarines (accounting for 45 per cent of its naval combatants); excellent cyber warfare capabilities, largest numbers of armed unmanned aerial vehicles and so on. More than anything else, the race for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in warfare has broken out between China and the US.

On nuclear weapons, since China cannot match the US, it has declared a no-first-use policy. Making virtue out of necessity, China has said that it will not enter the nuclear arms race; it would only maintain limited stocks of nukes which are being upgraded and modernised. China, like other major powers, is aware that sooner rather than later AI weapons (which are useable) would take over the role of strategic deterrence from nuclear weapons once fully autonomous weapons are introduced into inventories. An interesting book titled, Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War,  by Paul Scharre provides insight into where the global AI is headed.

Chinese new deterrence has rattled the US. The US President Donald Trump has recently ordered the creation of a new Space Force; the sixth joint command for the US Armed Forces. This move would militarise the space but it might ensure that Chinese capabilities to disrupt and destroy US’ communications, which are the lifeline for their stand-off operations, remain mitigated.

Given all this, where does Agni-V fit into the warfare with China? Nowhere. For one, nothing more than a limited border war between India and China is envisaged. For another, given Chinese existing conventional capabilities, it has little need to even threaten a nuclear exchange. India, which like China, has a no-first-use policy, would ensure that Agni-V in not brought into the war discourse.

Pakistan’s case is different. It matches the Indian military at the decisive operational (war-fighting) level of war and it has an ambiguous nuclear weapons policy. While no military planner on either side envisages a nuclear exchange, India needs to retain land-based, in addition to the ultimate sea-based, deterrence against Pakistan. The Agni-I, with a range of 700 km, which covers Pakistan’s entire elongated geography, should suffice.

Thus, as far as the Agni series is concerned, except for the Agni-I, all other missiles, namely, Agni-II, Agni-III, Agni-IV, Agni-V, and even the obsolete liquid-fuelled Prithvi should be gradually eased out keeping pace with the induction of newer technologies. These comprise cruise missiles, sea-based deterrence, armed unmanned aerial vehicles, stand-off and precision weapons. Concurrently, research in space, cyber and AI weapons for the future should be redoubled.

This will not be easy for two reasons. One, there is an inherent tendency in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to claim technologies they have not produced as indigenous. Two points will help make this point: The carbon-to-carbon composite heat shield in all ballistic missiles (used in Agni-V which re-enters the atmosphere from space at temperature of 4,000 degree centigrade to ensure

systems in payload remain safe), which is a critical technology, as well as the propulsion used in the Nirbhaya subsonic cruise missile are procured from a friendly country.

The other problem is the setting of unrealistic targets by the Defence Ministry. For example, the 2018 draft Defence Production Policy envisages India to become a leading world player in AI and autonomous weapon systems by 2025; seven years hence. This target seems to have been borrowed from China’s Vision-2025. Surely, the Government does not believe that we are in the same league.

(The writer is editor, FORCE newsmagazine)

Antichrist Brings an End to American and Foreign Hegemony

Influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Sairoon Coalition was the top vote-getter in May’s national elections. (Photo: Archive)

Sadr calls all parties to cut talks over government formation with US, neighboring countries

Baxtiyar Goran |

2 hours ago

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The leader of the Sairoon Coalition has called on political parties in Iraq to end all negotiations with the United States and neighboring countries over the formation of the next government.

Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of Sairoon, in a tweet on Sunday called on all Iraqi political parties to distance themselves from sectarian and ethnic-based coalitions, expressing his readiness to cooperate with the parties.

“The political parties have to cut talks regarding the formation of coalitions [and government] with the US and neighboring countries. This is an internal Iraqi affair only,” he said.

Instead of relying on foreign countries for the formation of a government, the political parties should rely on other nations to improve electricity, water, health, and education services, Sadr stated.

Advising the political parties, Sadr called all sides to distance themselves from sectarian and ethnic-based coalitions, adding he was “personally against any Sunni or Shia or Kurdish entrench” in the formation of the government.

“I am ready to cooperate to form a coalition away from partisan, sectarian, and ethnic divisions,” Sadr added.

On June 23, Iraq’s parliamentary election winner Sadr and current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that their political blocs would form an alliance.

Earlier this month, Sairoon and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi’s al-Fatih Coalition, who finished runners-up in the polls, said they had reached an agreement to create the largest alliance in the next Iraqi Parliament.

During a visit to the Kurdistan Region, and following a meeting with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Nouri al-Maliki-led State of Law and Fatih revealed intentions to create the biggest coalition in the next Iraqi Parliament with Kurdish and Sunni factions to form the new government.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

How Trump Will Sell US Out Like Obama

How Trump Went From ‘Fire and Fury’ to Dismissing North Korean Nuclear Advances

By Neeti Upadhye

Trump on North Korea: From Foe to Friend

President Trump used to call the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, “rocket man.” But over time, Mr. Trump has changed his tune.Jung Yeon-Je/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By David E. Sanger

• July 4, 2018

WASHINGTON — When the North Koreans were shooting off missile tests and detonating new, more powerful atomic bombs last year, President Trump responded with threats of “fire and fury” and ordered the military to come up with new, if highly risky, pre-emptive strike options.

But since the one-day summit meeting last month in Singapore, Mr. Trump has done an about-face, while the North’s nuclear program has continued. “Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well!” he wrote Tuesday morning on Twitter.

Even the recent revelations of seemingly modest North Korean progress on missile technology and the production of nuclear fuel — including continued work on a new nuclear reactor that can produce plutonium — have not dimmed Mr. Trump’s enthusiasm. He argues that they mean little compared to the new tone of conversations, and that even though North Korea has not disassembled a single weapon, his mission should be judged a success.

It is that jarring reversal of tone that has led Mr. Trump’s critics to argue that he was taken in by Kim Jong-un, the North’s 34-year-old leader.

Turning the enthusiasm of the meeting in Singapore into a concrete, verifiable agreement is now the job of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is leaving Washington early Thursday for North Korea. It will be his third trip there, but the first to flesh out a timetable and a common understanding of what the Singapore commitment to “work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” really means.

Complicating the task is this: Mr. Pompeo, a former C.I.A. chief who knows the details of the North Korean program intimately and has solicited plans for how to accomplish his goals, must show that he can get the North Koreans to go far beyond the agreement his predecessor once-removed, John Kerry, achieved in negotiations with Iran. Mr. Trump has called that deal a “disaster” for years and pulled out of it two months ago.

Now, it looms over Mr. Pompeo’s talks.

By engaging Mr. Trump in the process of “denuclearizing” the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Kim may be calculating that the president would not dare walk away — especially after Mr. Trump noted before the summit meeting that “everyone thinks” he should win a Nobel Peace Prize, before modestly adding, “but I would never say it.”

Still, the test missile engine site that Mr. Trump told reporters was being dismantled still stands, satellite pictures show. And the C.I.A., among other agencies, has warned that the North’s strategy may now be to build up abilities that can be traded away later, hoping to maneuver Mr. Trump into accepting the country as a de facto nuclear power, and settle for concessions on the size and reach of Mr. Kim’s nuclear force.

Mr. Trump and his allies say that is nonsense; sanctions remain and Mr. Trump has not flinched from the goal of “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.”

“There’s not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this,” John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, insisted Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” saying that most of the major steps toward denuclearization could be taken in a year. In private, Trump administration officials say, Mr. Bolton’s view is the same as it was before he joined the administration: that the North Koreans will never entirely give up their program.

The big question is whether Mr. Kim is truly ready to change course or playing for time with Mr. Trump — as his father and grandfather did with the past four presidents.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is in sales mode.

Frustrated by the series of reports that the North is chugging forward, despite its “denuclearization” pledge, Mr. Trump boasted in a tweet on Tuesday that there had been “no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining.”

Then, with a Trumpian flair, he added, “If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!”

Mr. Trump is at least partly right: There have been no missile or nuclear tests since November, a freeze that many, including some Democrats, said was a necessary first step. But a freeze and denuclearization are completely different things.

Mr. Kim retains all of his nuclear abilities, and thus his leverage. He can resume testing any time. Just a year ago, Rex W. Tillerson, then the secretary of state, called that position insufficient because it merely perpetuated an ability to strike that Mr. Trump had, until recently, characterized as intolerable.

But it also reveals, in perhaps the most critical national security crisis Mr. Trump faces, his tendency to conflate a good meeting with a good outcome. It is as if President John F. Kennedy, meeting with the Soviet Union’s Nikita Khrushchev for the first time in Vienna in 1961, had declared the Cold War solved. The Cuban missile crisis broke open 16 months later.

Mr. Kim has already accomplished something, too. The heat has been turned down drastically, and the United States has, unilaterally, suspended military exercises with South Korea.

The Obama administration’s Iran agreement shadows Mr. Trump’s talks with the North.

The president regularly calls Iran a major nuclear threat, even though it no longer has enough fuel to make a single nuclear weapon. Under the 2015 agreement, it shipped 97 percent of its nuclear material out of the country. And it never possessed nuclear weapons.

Yet Mr. Trump pulled out after concluding that the United States gave away too much in return for an agreement that would gradually allow the Iranians to resume production around 2030.

The stark contrast between how Mr. Trump talks about Tehran, while insisting that the North is “no longer a nuclear threat,” will become harder and harder to sustain if Mr. Pompeo cannot get Mr. Kim on a rapid denuclearization schedule.

And Mr. Pompeo will need to achieve an inspection regime that provides assurance — not only to intelligence agencies but also to the public in South Korea, Japan and the United States — that the North is not hiding weapons, missiles or production facilities. The C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency believe that, today, it is hiding all three. So far, Mr. Pompeo has said nothing about the details he intends to present, and Mr. Bolton suggested that stories about new intelligence on the North’s improving its nuclear abilities only imperiled the diplomatic process. As a television commentator and columnist, Mr. Bolton often repeated similar reports when it came to building his case about how to deal with Pyongyang and Tehran.

One thing is clear, however: The Trump administration has not uttered the phrase “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” in weeks, and Mr. Pompeo has also softened his tone. Some administration officials say that South Korea urged getting rid of the everything-must-be-dismantled-immediately approach. And South Korean officials say that while Mr. Kim might not surrender his entire program anytime soon, he might dismantle parts of it, reducing his readiness to go to war.

“Perhaps the biggest diplomatic problem the U.S. will face, if we can get North Korea to agree to fully denuclearize, will be the timing of that denuclearization and how we verify the component steps,” William Perry, the former defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, wrote this week in Politico Magazine.

Mr. Perry, who negotiated repeatedly with the North, cautioned that “these steps will be complex, will take many months, if not years, and will require intrusive verification procedures.”

“But the U.S. has negotiated agreements equally difficult with the Soviet Union, so we do have a positive precedent,” he wrote.