Antichrist Warns of ‘Consequences’ if Iraq Dragged into US-Iran Conflict

Muqtada al-Sadr warns of ‘consequences’ if Iraq dragged into US-Iran conflict

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned on Monday against the consequences of throwing Iraq into the escalating conflict between the United States and Iran following targeted airstrikes by the US against Iran-backed militias in Iraq.

In a statement on his official Twitter page, Sadr said he does not support the “fueling of war between Iran and the US,” and that he is against Iraq “becoming an arena for the conflict.”

“We need a serious stand by the senior [government] officials to keep Iraq away from the ferocious war that will eat green and dry land,” he continued.

The US launched five strikes on Sunday against facilities belonging to the Iraqi militia, Kata’ib Hizbollah, as it charged that the Iranian-backed militia was behind Friday’s lethal attack on K-1, an Iraqi military base outside Kirkuk.

In what appeared to be a retaliatory strike, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said four Katyusha rockets hit the al-Taji military base – located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad – which houses American troops.

In his statement on Monday, Sadr called on the Iraqi people “to raise their voices” and “condemn those who want to bring Iraq to war.”

The incidents come amid ongoing anti-government protests in central and southern parts of Iraq that have left over 500 people dead and scores more injured, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi.

“We need peace and reconstruction,” Sadr concluded. “Iraq does not want war, and any party that throws Iraq into war will be the enemy of the people.”

Sadr is the leader of the Sairoon Coalition, which came first in last year’s election with 54 seats out of a total of 329.

Babylon the Great Races to War Against Iran

Iraqi PM Condemns ‘Dangerous Escalation’ as US Kills 25 With Airstrikes and Threatens Iran

“We consider it as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

Jake Johnson, staff writer

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Sunday accused the Trump administration of violating his nation’s sovereignty and further heightening tensions in the region after the U.S. bombed several targets in Iraq and Syria, killing at least 25 fighters and injuring dozens more.

“We have previously confirmed our rejection of any unilateral action by the coalition forces or any other forces inside Iraq, and we consider it as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region,” Abdul-Mahdi said of the U.S. strikes.

“The dangerous escalation in Iraq occurs in the context of the Trump administration’s reckless and needless ‘maximum pressure’ campaign that threatens to make Iraq an all-out battlefield between the U.S. and Iran.”

—Sina Toossi, National Iranian American Council

The Pentagon claimed the airstrikes, which U.S. President Donald Trump approved late Saturday, were a “defensive” response to a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base last week that killed an American contractor.

The U.S. blamed the Kataib Hezbollah militia for the attack and pointed fingers at Iran, which the Trump administration said is funding and arming the group.

“We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a long-time supporter of regime change in Iran, said in a statement following the strikes on Sunday.

Kataib Hezbollah quickly vowed retaliatory action, saying the Trump administration’s actions have left it with “no choice but confrontation.”

“Trump should know that he will pay a heavy price in Iraq and the countries where his criminal forces are present,” the group said.

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, an Iraqi militia group allied with Kataib Hezbollah, said “it is our duty to put an end to the U.S. military presence in Iraq through every legitimate method” and called on “political forces to stand against this cowardly aggression.”

The latest U.S. bombing campaign in the Middle East prompted urgent calls for deescalation and warnings that the intensifying conflict could spark a full-blown regional war.

Sina Toossi, senior research analyst with the National Iranian American Council, said the U.S. strikes are linked to Trump’s longstanding aggressive posture toward Iran and his decision last year to violate the 2015 nuclear accord.

The dangerous escalation in Iraq occurs in the context of the Trump administration’s reckless and needless ‘maximum pressure’ campaign that threatens to make Iraq an all-out battlefield between the U.S. and Iran,” Toossi said in a statement. “Avoiding this scenario requires a broader rethinking of the maximum pressure policy away from mindless saber-rattling to one that opens channels of dialogue with Tehran.”

“By reneging on the Iran nuclear deal and pursuing a maximalist goal of denying Iran influence in Iraq and elsewhere, President Trump has set the stage for chaos to overtake large parts of the region,” Toossi added. “In its misplaced aim to sanction and isolate Iran, the administration risks yet again plunging Iraq into total chaos.”

Division in the Iranian Horn

Activities of the MEK Resistance Units in Tehran and other cities

Khamenei, Rouhani Must Face Justice for Committing Crime Against Humanity

29 December 2019

Written by Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on .

Iran: Posting messages, pictures of Resistance’s Leadership in Tehran, other cities on 40th day memorial of martyrs

On December 27, 2019, Resistance Units posted pictures and messages of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and Mr. Massoud Rajavi, the Leader of the Iranian Resistance, in Tehran and other cities, including Tabriz, Isfahan, Karaj, Ahvaz, Neka (Mazandaran Province), and Golestan Province.

The banners read in part, “Khamenei, Rouhani must face justice for committing crimes against humanity,” “Death to Khamenei, hail to Rajavi,” “The blood of martyrs has blossomed into flowers,” “Hail to the proud martyrs of the Iranian people’s uprising,” “Hail to rebels for freedom, hail to Iran uprising for the overthrow [of the regime],” “Hail to heroes who shook the regime to its foundations,” “Blood of hundreds of martyrs have strengthened the resolve for rebellion in Iran,” and “The only answer to the Sheikh is fire.”

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

December 29, 2019

Tehran – District 5

Tehran- Picture and Message of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI

Tabriz – Vali Asr Park

Karaj-  Picture of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI



Pictures and Messages of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI, and Mr. Massoud Rajavi, the Leader of the Iranian Resistance

Tabriz, Daneshsara Square – Picture of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI




Naka – Mazandaran Province

Babylon the Great Upgrades Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Rather Than Retiring, The Air Force’s B-2 Bomber Is Being Upgraded (For Nuclear War)

Key point: The main advantage of the B61-12 is that it packs all the gravity bomb capabilities against all the targeting scenarios into one bomb.

The Air Force’s B-2 Stealth bomber has test-dropped an upgraded, multi-function B61-12 nuclear bomb which improves accuracy, integrates various attack options into a single bomb and changes the strategic landscape with regard to nuclear weapons mission possibilities.

Earlier this summer, the Air Force dropped a B61-12 nuclear weapon from a B-2 at Nellis AFB, marking a new developmental flight test phase for the upgraded bomb, Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Hope Cronin told Warrior Maven earlier this year.

“The updated weapon will include improved safety, security and reliability,” Cronin said.

The B61-12 adds substantial new levels of precision targeting and consolidates several different kinds of attack options into a single weapon. Instead of needing separate variants of the weapon for different functions, the B61-12 by itself allows for earth-penetrating attacks, low-yield strikes, high-yield attacks, above surface detonation and bunker-buster options.

The latest version of the B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb, which has origins as far back as the 1960s, is engineered as a low-to-medium yield strategic and tactical nuclear weapon, according to, which also states the weapon has a “two-stage” radiation implosion design.

“The main advantage of the B61-12 is that it packs all the gravity bomb capabilities against all the targeting scenarios into one bomb. That spans from very low-yield tactical “clean” use with low fallout to more dirty attacks against underground targets,” Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists, told Warrior Maven.

Air Force officials describe this, in part, by referring to the upgraded B61-12 as having an “All Up Round.”

“The flight test accomplished dedicated B61-12 developmental test requirements and “All Up Round” system level integration testing on the B-2,” Cronin said.

The B61 Mod 12 is engineered with a special “Tail Subassembly” to give the bomb increased accuracy, giving a new level of precision targeting using Inertial Navigation Systems, Kristensen said.

“Right now the B-2 carries only B61-7 (10-360 kt), B61-11(400 kt, earth-penetrator), and B83-1 (high-yield bunker-buster). The B61-12 covers all of those missions, with less radioactive fallout, plus very low-yield attacks,” he added.

The evidence that the B61-12 can penetrate below the surface has significant implications for the types of targets that can be held at risk with the bomb.

By bringing an “earth-penetrating” component, the B61-12 vastly increases the target scope or envelope of attack. It can enable more narrowly targeted or pinpointed strikes at high-value targets underground – without causing anywhere near the same level of devastation above ground or across a wider area.

A nuclear weapon that detonates after penetrating the earth more efficiently transmits its explosive energy to the ground, thus is more effective at destroying deeply buried targets for a given nuclear yield. A detonation above ground, in contrast, results in a larger fraction of the explosive energy bouncing off the surface,” Kristensen explained.

Massive B-2 Upgrade:

The testing and integration of the B61-12 is one piece of a massive, fleet-wide B-2 upgrade designed to sustain the bomber into coming years, until large numbers of the emerging B-21 Raider are available. A range of technical modifications are also intended to prepare the 1980s-era bomber for very sophisticated, high-end modern threats.

The B-2 is getting improved digital weapons integration, new computer processing power reported to be 1,000-times faster than existing systems and next-generation sensors designed to help the aircraft avoid enemy air defenses.

One of the effort’s key modifications is designed to improve what’s called the bomber’s Defensive Management System, a technology designed to help the B-2 recognize and elude enemy air defenses, using various antennas, receivers and display processors.

The Defensive Management System is to detect signals or “signatures” emitting from ground-based anti-aircraft weapons, Air Force officials have said. Current improvements to the technology are described by Air Force developers as “the most extensive modification effort that the B-2 has attempted.”

The modernized system, called a B-2 “DMS-M” unit, consists of a replacement of legacy DMS subsystems so that the aircraft can be effective against the newest and most lethal enemy air defenses.

“The upgraded system integrates a suite of antennas, receivers, and displays that provide real-time intelligence information to aircrew,” a service official told Warrior Maven.

Upgrades consist of improved antennas with advanced digital electronic support measures, or ESMs along with software components designed to integrate new technologies with existing B-2 avionics, according to an Operational Test & Evaluation report from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The idea of the upgrade is, among other things, to inform B-2 crews about the location of enemy air defenses so that they can avoid or maneuver around high-risk areas where the aircraft is more likely to be detected or targeted. The DMS-M is used to detect radar emissions from air defenses and provide B-2 air crews with faster mission planning information – while in-flight.

Air Force officials explain that while many of the details of the upgraded DMS-M unit are not available for security reasons, the improved system does allow the stealthy B-2 to operate more successfully in more high-threat, high-tech environments – referred to by Air Force strategists as highly “contested environments.”

Many experts have explained that 1980s stealth technology is known to be less effective against the best-made current and emerging air defenses – newer, more integrated systems use faster processors, digital networking and a wider-range of detection frequencies.

The DMS-M upgrade does not in any way diminish the stealth properties of the aircraft, meaning it does not alter the contours of the fuselage or change the heat signature to a degree that it would make the bomber more susceptible to enemy radar, developers said.

Many advanced air defenses use X-band radar, a high-frequency, short-wavelength signal able to deliver a high-resolution imaging radar such as that for targeting. S-band frequency, which operates from 2 to 4 GHz, is another is also used by many air defenses, among other frequencies.

X-band radar operates from 8 to 12 GHz, Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, sends forward and electromagnetic “ping” before analyzing the return signal to determine shape, speed, size and location of an enemy threat. SAR paints a rendering of sorts of a given target area. X-band provides both precision tracking as well as horizon scans or searches. Stealth technology, therefore, uses certain contour configurations and radar-absorbing coating materials to confuse or thwart electromagnetic signals from air defenses.

These techniques are, in many cases, engineered to work in tandem with IR (infrared) suppressors used to minimize or remove a “heat” signature detectable by air defenses’ IR radar sensors. Heat coming from the exhaust or engine of an aircraft can provide air defense systems with indication that an aircraft is operating overhead. These stealth technologies are intended to allow a stealth bomber to generate little or no return radar signal, giving air dense operators an incomplete, non-existent or inaccurate representation of an object flying overhead.

The absence of vertical structures more likely to generate a return signal from enemy radar is another key element of stealth strategy; this is why the B-2 is flat, with an internal engine designed to limit heat emissions. The idea is to make a B-2 appear to be equivalent to a bird or insect to enemy radar.

The B61-12 is also being prepared for the F-35 and a few other Air Force platforms.

Also, the B-2 is slated to fly alongside the services’ emerging B-21 Raider next-generation stealth bomber; this platform, to be ready in the mid-2020s, is said by many Air Force developers to include a new generation of stealth technologies vastly expanding the current operational ranges and abilities of existing stealth bombers. In fact, Air Force leaders have said that the B-21 will be able to hold any target in the world at risk, anytime.

The Air Force currently operates 20 B-2 bombers, with the majority of them based at Whiteman AFB in Missouri. The B-2 can reach altitudes of 50,000 feet and carry 40,000 pounds of payload, including both conventional and nuclear weapons.

The aircraft, which entered service in the 1980s, has flown missions over Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. In fact, given its ability to fly as many as 6,000 nautical miles without need to refuel, the B-2 flew from Missouri all the way to an island off the coast of India called Diego Garcia – before launching bombing missions over Afghanistan.

Kris Osborn became the Managing Editor of Warrior Maven in August of 2015 . Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at CNN and CNN Headline News.

This first appeared in Warrior Maven here earlier this year and is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Flickr.

Nuclear Equilibrium Upset Can Lead to Nuclear War

image-6Nuclear Equilibrium Upset

The popular belief that possessing nuclear weapons would bring parity between rival nations and prevent arms races has long been debunked by global security environment since the Cold War. The age old cat and mouse game between offensive weapons and defensive technologies continues unabated, but for decades we had been in an equilibrium. Nations possessed weapon systems that varied in quality and quantity but no one nation had one such technology that broke the rules of this equilibrium – until now.

On Friday the Russian military said it had deployed the first combat ready “hypersonic” weapon. The so-called Avangard hypersonic missiles can carry nuclear warheads at speeds several times faster than the speed of sound while also being highly agile and maneuverable during its flight path. These basic characteristics make most US and NATO missile defense systems obsolete in an instant. Crucially both the US and China – the closest military contenders who had been researching the technology themselves – are years if not decades away from developing their own versions.

If the claims of the Russian military are true, the weapon has a potential of setting off another expensive arms race, not just in the three military superpowers but also in other nuclear nations. As Pakistan is well aware, nuclear warfare, or the preparation for it, is a question of matching warhead delivery mechanisms against mechanisms that can intercept those warheads. When Pakistan and India reached conventional missile parity India invested in nuclear submarines to upset the balance, Pakistan went the tactical battlefield warhead route.

Hypersonic missiles threaten to turn the equation on its head and makes decades of defensive technology obsolete – at this moment there is not counter to them, and the only way to achieve parity is to have hypersonic weapons of your own.

This new development can either spur a new arms race, or, hopefully, serve as the prompt for new arms treaties.

Israeli Soldiers Shoot A Palestinian Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli Soldiers Shoot A Palestinian In Northern Gaza


Israeli soldiers shot, Sunday, a Palestinian man on his land, east of Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the besieged Gaza Strip.

Media sources said the soldiers, stationed across the perimeter fence east of Beit Hanoun, fired many rubber-coated steel bullets at a Palestinian farmer, wounding him in the chest and arm.

They added that the Palestinian suffered moderate wounds before he was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

It is worth mentioning that the soldiers frequently target farmers and workers on their lands near the fence, in addition to attacking Palestinian fishermen and their boats in Gaza territorial waters, leading to hundreds of casualties, including fatalities.

The Final War Begins (Daniel 8:20)

US strikes Iran-backed militia strongholds in Iraq and Syria

The strikes came two days after a rocket attack on an Iraqi Security Forces base, which houses coalition forces fighting the anti-ISIS campaign, in Kirkuk. The attack killed one American contractor and wounded several Iraqi troops.

On Saturday, after reports that an Iran-backed militia had launched the assault, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., tweeted that Iran should “face swift and severe consequences” if true.

The Pentagon said Sunday its strikes specifically targeted an Iranian-backed militia known as Kata’ib Hizbollah.

U.S. officials have identified the Iranian supported militia for a number of attacks over the last couple of months to include the Dec. 3 strike against the al-Asad airbase and the 30-plus rocket strike that slammed a Kirkuk military base on Friday.

While al-Asad is located in Anbar province, Iraq, Kata’ib Hizbollah has an extensive network across the volatile province, according to Phillip Smyth, a research fellow for the Washington Institute and Iran expert.

The Shia militant group has been known to operate in al-Qaim, Abu Kamal and along Route 1 that runs through Anbar province, Smyth told Military Times.

Friday’s attack against the Kirkuk base was at least the 11th rocket attack against U.S. bases and interests in Iraq over the last two months.

A U.S. official previously told Military Times that the attackers, believed to be Iranian-backed militias, have been using more powerful 122 mm rockets.

Friday’s attack on Kirkuk used 107 mm rockets. A source on-base told Military Times that the truck used in the Kirkuk attack had been recovered and included makeshift tubes capable of firing 36 rockets. The source said all but four rockets had been fired.

An armory aboard the Kirkuk base was nearly completely destroyed, the source detailed to Military Times.

The Pentagon’s announcement Sunday that it had struck an Iranian-backed militia is the first public announcement of U.S. military action against the Shia militant group since tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated following a series of attacks on commercial oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the September strike against two Saudi Arabian oil fields.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have expressed concern that the policy of restraint towards Tehran has diminished the U.S. military’s ability to deter Iranian aggression in the region.

“We are in a period of heightened risk with respect to Iran,” Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chairman told lawmakers in December. But the top American commander explained that “restraint in this particular situation is an appropriate response.”

“The ball is in the Iranian court,” Milley said. How they [Iran] respond and the size and scope of that response will determine a U.S. answer, he explained to lawmakers.

“Iran should not mistake the United States’ restraint for an unwillingness to respond with decisive military force should our forces or interests be attacked,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told lawmakers in December.

U.S. officials have warned Iran and its proxies to halt rocket attacks in the country. In mid-December Esper phoned Iraqi Prime Minster Adel Abd al Mahdi and asked for help to stop the rocket attacks.

Iraq has struggled to control the nebulous web of militia groups known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, which rose in the chaos of ISIS’s scourge across Iraq in 2014. Most PMFs are Shia militias with Iranian support.

The government has tried to fold PMFs into Iraqi security forces, but a recent U.S. inspector general report detailed that some militias have defied the Iraqi order.

The Defense Intelligence Agency also said in the IG report that “Iranian-affiliated groups within the PMF are unlikely to change their loyalties because of the new order.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran and its leaders in December of a “decisive U.S. response” if the regime or its militias harm American troops or allies in the region.

Other U.S. lawmakers have questioned whether Iran’s aggressive behavior is a symptom of the failure of President Donald Trump’s failed maximum pressure campaign to rein in Iran’s malign activity in the region.

Iran is “much closer” to a nuclear weapon and “regional aggression picked up,” Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton told Esper during a December hearing. The “administration’s strategy is failing.”

Analysts and national security experts have warned the Trump administration that Iran would likely strike against U.S. interests in the region through proxy and militia forces.

Iran has an extensive network of militias that stretch from Tehran to Yemen and Syria. Attacks carried out by these groups complicate efforts to assign blame to Iran.

Iran often uses asymmetrical force just below the threshold of major armed conflict across the Middle East to confront the U.S.

America’s strikes Sunday against the Iranian-backed militia may be a sign of a heated proxy conflict brewing between Iran and the U.S. in the Middle East.

USGS Evidence Shows Power of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM

Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.

“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”

“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”

This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.

This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.

The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.

“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”

It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.

In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.

“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”

The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.

Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake

Changing Hands Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Changing Hands at Indian Point?


DECEMBER 21, 2019

Riverkeeper objects to potential transfer

Entergy is looking to the future of Indian Point and hoping that it no longer includes Entergy.

Last month, the energy company filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to transfer its licenses to operate Indian Point to Holtec International after the shutdown of the last reactor at the nuclear plant, which is scheduled for April 2021.

Holtec would then begin mothballing the facility, using a $2.1 billion decommissioning fund that has been accumulated by Entergy during the life of the plant. Holtec also has said it would hire about 300 Indian Point workers.

“Entergy is in the power-generation business, and decommissioning is a line of work that we’re not involved in,” said Jerry Nappi, an Entergy representative. “Holtec specializes in the management of used fuel and its affiliates have special expertise in decommissioning. They can decommission the plant decades sooner than Entergy would be able to.”

Entergy’s original plan had been to take 60 years, the maximum time allowed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Holtec plans to do it in 15. (Holtec did not respond to a request for comment for this story.)

The accelerated timeline doesn’t concern Richard Webster, the legal director for Riverkeeper, the Ossining-based environmental group. Many decommissioning projects start with a process called SAFSTOR, in which the plant is monitored for up to 45 years to give the radioactive materials time to decay and lower the amount of hazardous material. By skipping SAFSTOR, “15 years is a reasonable amount of time to do it,” said Webster.

Nevertheless, Riverkeeper has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (or, failing that, Gov. Andrew Cuomo) to deny the transfer to Holtec.

“Our objections can be summed up as: Bribes, lies, poor safety record and under-capitalization,” said Webster.

Holtec is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, the inspector general for the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal agency, found that Holtec had funneled $54,000 to a TVA manager to secure contracts. The firm was fined $2 million and barred from federal contracts for 60 days.

In Ohio, Holtec was awarded tax credits following a 2009 promise to bring 200 jobs to its facility in Orrville. But the jobs never appeared — in fact, the plant lost four positions — and the tax credits were rescinded.

Then, when applying for tax breaks in New Jersey in order to bring a facility to Camden, the company claimed that it had never been barred from working with federal agencies. To push New Jersey to grant the tax breaks, Holtec said Ohio and South Carolina had made generous counterproposals, an assertion both states denied.

Last year, a contractor at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California, where Holtec has been contracted to manage spent fuel, brought to light an apparent near accident involving a dry cask filled with radioactive fuel. (Plant officials said there was never any danger to the public.) The worker also alleged the site was understaffed and its supervisors often replaced with less experienced managers.

Finally, on the financial side, Webster said he was alarmed at Holtec’s decision at the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey, which has been decommissioning for less than a year, to transfer money from the decommissioning fund to spent fuel management, a move that Holtec has signaled it would also do at Indian Point.

“That’s not what that fund is for,” he said. “And there’s a complicated set of LLCs [limited-liability corporations] designed to shield Holtec International, the core corporation. We just don’t have much information about the financial viability [of the company]. If you were running a huge international business that was making money, you shouldn’t be so desperate to get tax breaks that you have to lie on a form.”

At Entergy, Nappi said that Holtec’s recent approvals from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission show that the issues raised aren’t of concern. “The NRC has approved the transactions for two previous nuclear power plants to Holtec, and that only happens if a company can demonstrate that it has the technical and financial qualifications needed,” he said. “We feel confident that Indian Point will receive approval.”

If that happens, Webster said he hoped that it would at least come with certain conditions, such as the creation of a citizens’ oversight committee with the power to (1) audit the decommissioning fund, (2) subpoena documents, (3) have specialists look at difficult situations, and (4) transfer questions of safety to the NRC.

At the least, Webster said, Holtec should not be allowed to keep anything that remains in the decommissioning fund at the end of the project, as it might encourage the firm to do the job as cheaply as possible at the expense of safety and other concerns.

The Wine Has Been Damaged (Revelation 6:6)

Iraqi military base attacked, U.S. civilian contractor killed: officials


A U.S. civilian contractor was killed in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on December 27, U.S. officials said.

Several U.S. service members and Iraq personnel were also wounded, the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State said in a statement, adding that Iraqi security forces would be leading the response and investigation into the incident.

U.S. officials said, on condition of anonymity, that the service members were lightly wounded and believed to be back on duty.

One official said the United States was looking into the possible involvement of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militia group.

In December, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iranian-backed forces for a series of attacks on bases in Iraq and warned Iran that any attacks by Tehran or proxies that harmed Americans or allies would be “answered with a decisive U.S. response.”

Tensions have heightened between Tehran and Washington since last year when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Since then Washington has blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers this summer, including off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, and a major strike on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Iran has denied being behind the attacks.

The Iraqi military said in a statement earlier on Friday that several rockets were launched into Iraq’s K1 military base, which houses U.S. and Iraqi forces. Security sources said security forces found a launchpad for Katyusha rockets inside an abandoned vehicle near the base.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Islamic State militants operating in the area have turned to insurgency-style tactics aimed at bringing down the government in Baghdad ever since it retook all territory and declared victory against them in December 2017.

However, a senior U.S. military official said this month that attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq were gathering pace and becoming more sophisticated, pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation.

His warning came two days after four Katyusha rockets struck a base near Baghdad international airport, wounding five members of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service, the latest in a spate of rocket strikes on bases hosting members of the U.S.-led coalition whose objective is to defeat Islamic State insurgents.

The K1 base, which lies 15 km (9 miles) northwest of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, houses U.S. military forces alongside Iraqi forces from the Federal Police and Counter-Terrorism Service, security sources said. About 5,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq.