New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

           

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?Ashley Fetters
New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnelsair conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.
The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.
The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.
Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?
Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”
And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)
Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.
Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.
The Montague Tube, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.
MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann
Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)
One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”
Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.
And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.
So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?
“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”
Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

Can the West Deter The Russia Horn’s Nuclear Threats? Daniel 7

Can the West Deter Russia’s Nuclear Threats?

The number of explicit Russian nuclear threats to NATO following the Russian invasion of Ukraine has now reached nearly three dozen. The threats have been both against the United States and the West in general, but in particular against certain states, especially Ukraine, Poland, Sweden, and Finland.

As a result, the existing nuclear balance between the United States and Russia has been highlighted. It is now under much discussion, by concerned officials, to an extent not seen since the height of the Cold War.

This nuclear balance has long been assumed to be stable because it was corralled by the 2010 Nuclear New START Treaty, now extended for five years, which mandated limits on the number of long-range deployed strategic nuclear forces between the United States and Russia.

Deterrence was also assumed to hold, as expert commentators explained each of the world’s two largest holders of nuclear weapons could annihilate each other in any nuclear exchange so nuclear threats could be dismissed as largely bluff.

So why the Russian emphasis on threatening nuclear war? Why now? And what should the U.S. response be?

Many arms control advocates, especially those seeking what is known as “Global Zero,” or the total abolition of nuclear weapons, have pushed for unilateral U.S. restraint to reassure the Russians we mean no harm, while also explaining that Russia’s threats were simply a bluff and did not need to be taken seriously.

Others, just to cover their bases, concluded that even if Russian president Vladimir Putin was serious, that required not U.S. nuclear modernization but more nuclear restraint and arms control, especially the adoption of such strategies as the “No-First Use” of nuclear force.

Absent however from much of the discussion engendered by the marked increase in explicit Russian threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States and its European allies is what Russian nuclear forces might give Moscow an edge when possibly using nuclear force—even after multiple arms control treaties implemented since the initiation of the START process.

Here, the discussion has largely missed the boat. The Russian nuclear force structure is indeed markedly different than that of the United States, both with respect to forces under treaty limits and forces exempt from such restrictions.

It is true that under New START each of the two nuclear weapons states can deploy 700 strategic delivery vehicles—including the long-range bombers and missiles that carry nuclear warheads or gravity bombs.

But critical to understanding the contrast between those Russian and U.S. weapons is what purpose their respective force structures are designed to serve. And how they are structured to achieve such objectives.

For decades, the United States has emphasized putting large percentages of it strategic forces at sea, preserving its conventional bomber capability, and limiting its land-based missiles to single warheads. Russia has chosen a different path. Russia’s emphasis has been on very large multiple-warhead land-based missiles which are on alert nearly all the time

One must then reference the START II Treaty signed by President George H.W. Bush and President Boris Yeltsin in January 1993, nearly three decades ago. The treaty reduced countable strategic warheads from 6,000 to 3,500, a 40 percent reduction, a close companion to the 50 percent reduction achieved under the START I agreement of 1991.

But the START II Treaty proposed something else which was revolutionary. The agreement banned multiple warheads on land-based missiles, the very large missiles which were the mainstay of Russian strategic rocket forces.

The implications of the treaty were not lost on the Russians. President Mikhail Gorbachev himself wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in 1996 saying that the START provision banning land-based, multiple-warhead missiles would disarm Russia—implying that the cost of building large numbers of single reentry vehicle missiles would be beyond Moscow’s financial means.

Today, such intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are on alert at nearly 100 percent of the time and, unlike older missiles, need not be refueled prior to launch. Such missiles can be on continuous alert every day, month, and year without having to change their status, refuel, or turn them.

The downside, however, is that these large numbers of such Russian missiles, carrying large numbers of warheads (such as a capability of carrying upwards of ten to twenty-four per missile), could be launched suddenly at the United States in an attempt to disarm it. By striking key U.S. key military assets, including all U.S. ICBM silos plus bomber and submarine bases, the United States would only be left with its remaining submarine force at sea, capable of only hitting relatively soft targets in Russia such as cities.

During the height of the Cold War, the fear was that Russia, with some 10,000 warheads, could use just a few thousand to destroy all U.S. ICBMs and bomber and submarine bases in a pre-emptive first strike, and then threaten further launch against American cities should the United States respond.

It was thought that this “window of vulnerability” could be closed permanently if all MIRVed (multiple independent reentry vehicle) land-based missiles could be banned under an agreement like START II. It was also believed that if arms limits also significantly reduced U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces, which they have; if modernization of U.S. forces proceeded, which they are but belatedly; and if a robust U.S. missile defense was built (which has not occurred), it would complicate any possible Russian first strike strategies. 

Given the limits under START II of the number of strategic delivery vehicles each nuclear power could keep, no country could match the warheads deployed on multiple-warhead land-based missiles with single-warhead ICBMs.

For the past two decades, it has been an article of faith that the Russian Duma formally turned down the START II Treaty because the United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The charge was that U.S. missile defense advocates had killed arms control.

It was true that the Bush administration viewed the ABM Treaty as an anachronism which had banned the deployment of missile defenses protecting each nation’s territory, with the exception of an allowed 100 interceptors protecting each nation’s capital or an ICBM missile field.

Russia chose to protect Moscow. The United States originally chose to protect a missile field in North Dakota but that was eventually abandoned as the Russians were able to easily overwhelm the defenses with a small portion of its allowed 10,000 warheads under the 1972 SALT agreement.

The SALT agreement was spurred by Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev calling President-elect Richard Nixon in 1968 demanding that the United States and the Soviets ban all missile defenses. The Soviets warned that U.S. secretary of defense Robert McNamara’s 1967 missile defense proposal to deal with China was a clever ruse the United States was actually going to use to undermine Moscow’s nuclear deterrent.

Nixon did not turn down the proposed ban on missile defenses, he simply added a proposal to “regulate” the growth in offensive arms as well, with a proposed modest cap of 2,750 strategic delivery vehicles, a few hundred below the then-existing level. But it still allowed for a five-fold increase in Soviet strategic nuclear forces.

However, newly disclosed statements from a high-ranking Russian official dismantle the arms control article of faith that missile defense advocates inadvertently terminated the START II Treaty by scaring Russia about possible U.S. missile defense deployments.

According to this Russian official, he and others worked assiduously within the Duma between 1997-1999 (long before the ABM Treaty was jettisoned in 2002-2003) to stop the START II Treaty from ever being ratified in a form the U.S. Senate would also approve.

Thus, it was the Duma that added provisions to the Start II Treaty that “clarified” the 1972 ABM Treaty, provisions that put new limits and caps on U.S. missile defense deployments, including theater or regional missile defenses, for such areas as the Middle East and the western Pacific, missile defenses which were providing protection to U.S. forces and allies.

In short, Moscow was seeking a way to preserve a “free shot” using its theater nuclear capability, unimpeded by any U.S. missile defenses, as well as an uncomplicated strike capability against the United States with long-range strategic forces, albeit forces markedly smaller today than when the ABM Treaty was signed.

In this way, Russian pre-emptive strike plans could remain credible, even as Russia could simultaneously pretend to be in favor or deterrence and a reset of U.S.-Russian relations. 

Parallel to Russia’s multiple explicit nuclear threats against the United States following the Ukraine invasion has been the realization by U.S. military planners that long before Ukraine—at least as early as 1999—Moscow has embraced an “escalate to win” strategy where it would threaten to introduce the use of nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict with the objective of getting the United States to cease its fight and stand-down in the face of Russian aggression.

As retired Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten warned a decade ago, Russia was in the business of using nuclear coercion and blackmail not in the service of deterrence but in the service of naked aggression.

That is what we are now facing in Ukraine, and may soon face with respect to Taiwan: a nuclear threat we are not now capable of fully deterring. 

To remedy things, Congress, on a bipartisan basis, added in the new defense bill $45 million for the development of a nuclear-armed Navy cruise missile, a technology the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review opposed but the military largely supports. Combined with the ongoing, planned U.S. strategic deterrent modernization, the United States could restore to a considerable degree the stability and deterrence it jettisoned after failing to secure ratification of the START II Treaty and its revolutionary ban on multiple-warhead land-based missiles.

Antichrist: I will not enter into another sedition

Al-Sadr: I will not enter into another sedition

  • Today, 12:04

The leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, issued directives regarding the unified Friday prayer, while stressing that he will not enter into another sedition.

In a tweet followed by Iraqi News Agency (INA), Al-Sadr urged to abide by commands and order, stressing that he will try to pray with the people otherwise he will send someone to represent him.

He also stated that he will not enter into another sedition supporting the choice of people as he did before when choosing reform.

NATO sets its crosshairs on Chinese Horn, nuclear war be damned

US President Joe Biden

NATO sets its crosshairs on China, nuclear war be damned

The massive expansion of NATO, not only in Eastern and Central Europe but the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia, presages endless war and a potential nuclear holocaust.

by Chris Hedges July 12, 2022

This story originally appeared in Scheerpost on July 11, 2022. It is shared here with permission.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the arms industry that depends on it for billions in profits, has become the most aggressive and dangerous military alliance on the planet. Created in 1949 to thwart Soviet expansion into Eastern and Central Europe, it has evolved into a global war machine in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia. 

NATO sees the future, as detailed in its “NATO 2030: Unified for a New Era,” as a battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China, and calls for the preparation of prolonged global conflict.

NATO expanded its footprint, violating promises to Moscow, once the Cold War ended, to incorporate 14 countries in Eastern and Central Europe into the alliance. It will soon add Finland and Sweden. It bombed Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo. It launched wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, resulting in close to a million deaths and some 38 million people driven from their homes. It is building a military footprint in Africa and Asia. It invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, the so-called “Asia Pacific Four,” to its recent summit in Madrid at the end of June. It has expanded its reach into the Southern Hemisphere, signing a military trainingpartnership agreement with Colombia, in December 2021. It has backed Turkey, with NATO’s second largest military, which has illegally invaded and occupied parts of Syria as well as Iraq. Turkish-backed militias are engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Syrian Kurds and other inhabitants of north and east Syria. The Turkish military has been accused of war crimes – including multiple airstrikes against a refugee camp and chemical weapons use – in northern Iraq. In exchange for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s permission for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, the two Nordic countries have agreed to expand their domestic terror laws making it easier to crack down on Kurdish and other activists, lift their restrictions on selling arms to Turkey and deny support to the Kurdish-led movement for democratic autonomy in Syria.

It is quite a record for a military alliance that with the collapse of the Soviet Union was rendered obsolete and should have been dismantled. NATO and the militarists had no intention of embracing the “peace dividend,” fostering a world based on diplomacy, a respect of spheres of influence and mutual cooperation. It was determined to stay in business. Its business is war. That meant expanding its war machine far beyond the border of Europe and engaging in ceaseless antagonism toward China and Russia. 

NATO sees the future, as detailed in its “NATO 2030: Unified for a New Era,” as a battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China, and calls for the preparation of prolonged global conflict.

“China has an increasingly global strategic agenda, supported by its economic and military heft,” the NATO 2030 initiative warned. “It has proven its willingness to use force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region. Over the coming decade, China will likely also challenge NATO’s ability to build collective resilience, safeguard critical infrastructure, address new and emerging technologies such as 5G and protect sensitive sectors of the economy including supply chains. Longer term, China is increasingly likely to project military power globally, including potentially in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

The alliance has spurned the Cold War strategy that made sure Washington was closer to Moscow and Beijing than Moscow and Beijing were to each other. US and NATO antagonism have turned Russia and China into close allies. Russia, rich in natural resources, including energy, minerals and grains, and China, a manufacturing and technological behemoth, are a potent combination. NATO no longer distinguishes between the two, announcing in its most recent mission statement that the “deepening strategic partnership” between Russian and China has resulted in “mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order that run counter to our values and interests.”

Russia, rich in natural resources, including energy, minerals and grains, and China, a manufacturing and technological behemoth, are a potent combination. NATO no longer distinguishes between the two, announcing in its most recent mission statement that the “deepening strategic partnership” between Russian and China has resulted in “mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order that run counter to our values and interests.”

On July 6, Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, and Ken McCallum, director general of Britain’s MI5, held a joint news conference in London to announce that China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security.” They accused China, like Russia, of interfering in US and UK elections. Wray warned the business leaders they addressed that the Chinese government was “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market.”

This inflammatory rhetoric presages an ominous future.

One cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The political and social turmoil in the US, coupled with its diminishing economic power, has led it to embrace NATO and its war machine as the antidote to its decline.

Washington and its European allies are terrified of China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) meant to connect an economic bloc of roughly 70 nations outside US control. The initiative includes the construction of rail lines, roads and gas pipelines that will be integrated with Russia. Beijing is expected to commit $1.3 trillion to the BRI by 2027. China, which is on track to become the world’s largest economy within a decade, has organized the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world’s largest trade pact of 15 East Asian and Pacific nations representing 30% of global trade. It already accounts for 28.7% of the Global Manufacturing Output, nearly double the 16.8% of the US.

China’s rate of growth last year was an impressive 8.1%, although slowing to around 5% this year. By contrast, the US’s growth rate in 2021 was 5.7% — its highest since 1984 — but is predicted to fall below 1% this year, by the New York Federal Reserve.

If China, Russia, Iran, India and other nations free themselves from the tyranny of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network financial institutions use to send and receive information such as money transfer instructions, it will trigger a dramatic decline in the value of the dollar and a financial collapse in the US. The huge military expenditures, which have driven the US debt to $30 trillion, $6 trillion more than the US’s entire GDP, will become untenable. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military in 2021, $801 billion which amounted to 38% of total world expenditure on the military, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. The loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency will force the US to slash spending, shutter many of its 800 military bases overseas, and cope with the inevitable social and political upheavals triggered by economic collapse. It is darkly ironic that NATO has accelerated this possibility.

Russia, in the eyes of NATO and US strategists, is the appetizer. Its military, NATO hopes, will get bogged down and degraded in Ukraine. Sanctions and diplomatic isolation, the plan goes, will thrust Vladimir Putin from power. A client regime that will do US bidding will be installed in Moscow.

NATO has provided more than $8 billion in military aid to Ukraine, while the US has committed nearly $54 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to the country.

China, however, is the main course. Unable to compete economically, the US and NATO have turned to the blunt instrument of war to cripple their global competitor.

The provocation of China replicates the NATO baiting of Russia.

NATO expansion and the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv led Russia to first occupy Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, with its large ethnic Russian population, and then to invade all of Ukraine to thwart the country’s efforts to join NATO.

The conflict in Ukraine has been a bonanza for the arms industry, which, given the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, needed a new conflict. Lockheed Martin’s stock prices are up 12%. Northrop Grumman is up 20%.

The same dance of death is being played with China over Taiwan, which China considers part of Chinese territory, and with NATO expansion in the Asia Pacific. China flies warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone and the US sends naval ships through the Taiwan Strait which connects the South and East China seas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May called China the most serious long-term challenge to the international order, citing its claims to Taiwan and efforts to dominate the South China Sea. Taiwan’s president, in a Zelensky-like publicity stunt, recently posed with an anti-tank rocket launcher in a government handout photo.

The conflict in Ukraine has been a bonanza for the arms industry, which, given the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, needed a new conflict. Lockheed Martin’s stock prices are up 12%. Northrop Grumman is up 20%. The war is being used by NATO to increase its military presence in Eastern and Central Europe. The US is building a permanent military base in Poland. The 40,000-strong NATO reaction force is being expanded to 300,000 troops. Billions of dollars in weapons are pouring into the region.

The conflict with Russia, however, is already backfiring. The ruble has soared to a seven-year high against the dollar. Europe is barreling towards a recession because of rising oil and gas prices and the fear that Russia could terminate supplies completely. The loss of Russian wheat, fertilizer, gas, and oil, due to Western sanctions, is creating havoc in world markets and a humanitarian crisis in Africa and the Middle East. Soaring food and energy prices, along with shortages and crippling inflation, bring with them not only deprivation and hunger, but social upheaval and political instability. The climate emergency, the real existential threat, is being ignored to appease the gods of war.

The war makers are frighteningly cavalier about the threat of nuclear war. Putin warned NATO countries that they “will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history” if they intervened directly in Ukraine and ordered Russian nuclear forces to be put on heightened alert status. The proximity to Russia of US nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey mean that any nuclear conflict would obliterate much of Europe. Russia and the United States control about 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads, with around 4,000 warheads each in their military stockpiles, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

President Joe Biden warned that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be “completely unacceptable” and “entail severe consequences,” without spelling out what those consequences would be. This is what US strategists refer to as “deliberate ambiguity.”

The US military, following its fiascos in the Middle East, has shifted its focus from fighting terrorism and asymmetrical warfare to confronting China and Russia. President Barack Obama’s national-security team in 2016 carried out a war game in which Russia invaded a NATO country in the Baltics and used a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon against NATO forces. Obama officials were split about how to respond. 

“The National Security Council’s so-called Principals Committee—including Cabinet officers and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—decided that the United States had no choice but to retaliate with nuclear weapons,” Eric Schlosser writes in The Atlantic. “Any other type of response, the committee argued, would show a lack of resolve, damage American credibility, and weaken the NATO alliance. Choosing a suitable nuclear target proved difficult, however. Hitting Russia’s invading force would kill innocent civilians in a NATO country. Striking targets inside Russia might escalate the conflict to an all-out nuclear war. In the end, the NSC Principals Committee recommended a nuclear attack on Belarus—a nation that had played no role whatsoever in the invasion of the NATO ally but had the misfortune of being a Russian ally.”

The Biden administration has formed a Tiger Team of national security officials to run war games on what to do if Russia uses a nuclear weapon, according to The New York Times. The threat of nuclear war is minimized with discussions of “tactical nuclear weapons,” as if less powerful nuclear explosions are somehow more acceptable and won’t lead to the use of bigger bombs.

At no time, including the Cuban missile crisis, have we stood closer to the precipice of nuclear war. 

A simulation devised by experts at Princeton University starts with Moscow firing a nuclear warning shot; NATO responds with a small strike, and the ensuing war yields more than 90 million casualties in its first few hours,” The New York Times reported.

The longer the war in Ukraine continues — and the US and NATO seem determined to funnel billions of dollars of weapons into the conflict for months if not years — the more the unthinkable becomes thinkable. Flirting with Armageddon to profit the arms industry and carry out the futile quest to reclaim US global hegemony is at best extremely reckless and at worst genocidal.

Biden Arrives in Mideast Jittery About Obama Nuclear Program

ISRAEL-US-DIPLOMACY

Biden Arrives in Mideast Jittery About Iran Nuclear Program

TEL AVIV, Israel — Joe Biden opened his first visit to the Mideast as president on Wednesday by declaring a “bone deep” bond between the United States and Israel and pledging to strengthen economic connections between the two countries going forward.

He did not mention one of the larger goals of his visit: assuring uneasy Israeli and Saudi Arabian officials that he is committed to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

“We have a full agenda over the next few days, because the relationship between Israel and the United States covers every issue that matters to our mutual future,” said Biden, who noted he was making his 10th visit to Israel. “But we are united in our shared values and our shared vision.”

Israeli officials said Iran’s quickly evolving nuclear program is at the top of their agenda for talks with the U.S. president. Biden made reviving the Iran nuclear deal, brokered by Barack Obama in 2015 and abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018, a key priority as he entered office.

But indirect talks for the U.S. to reenter the deal have stalled as Iran has made rapid gains in developing its nuclear program. That’s left the Biden administration increasingly pessimistic about resurrecting the deal, which placed significant restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog made clear that Iran’s nuclear program will be a central focus for the Israeli side in their discussions with Biden. And Herzog noted the “security challenges emanating directly from Iran and its proxies, threatening Israel and its neighbors and endangering our region.”

“We will discuss the need to renew a strong global coalition that will stop the Iranian nuclear program,” Lapid said

Because of concerns about a rise in COVID-19 cases, top White House officials said Biden would try to limit physical contact during the trip. At the arrival ceremony, Biden mostly skipped handshakes and offered Israeli officials fist bumps. But he made an exception by offering a hearty handshake to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. The president also put his hand on the shoulders of several Israeli dignitaries.

Biden was hit with tough U.S. economic news as he arrived in Israel. Surging prices for gas, food and rent pushed U.S. inflation to a new four-decade high in June of 9.1%, the government reported. Rising consumer prices are among factors contributing to Biden’s low public approval at home.

Biden received a briefing on the country’s “Iron Dome” and new “Iron Beam” missile defense system and is to visiting the Yad Vashem memorial to Holocaust victims later Wednesday. Besides meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials, he’s slated to receive Israel’s Presidential Medal of Honor and visit with U.S. athletes taking part in the Maccabiah Games, which involve thousands of Jewish and Israeli athletes from around the globe.

Biden, in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday, laced into Trump for quitting the nuclear deal that Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union also signed onto. But Biden also suggested that he’s still holding onto at least a sliver of hope that the Iranians will come back into compliance.

“My administration will continue to increase diplomatic and economic pressure until Iran is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, as I remain prepared to do,” he wrote.

Read more: Why a New Iranian Nuclear Deal Still Seems Unlikely

Israeli officials, who briefed reporters before Biden’ departed Washington late Tuesday, said the U.S. and Israel would issue a broad-ranging “Jerusalem Declaration” that will take a tough stance on Iran’s nuclear program.

The declaration commits both countries to use “all elements of their national power against the Iranian nuclear threat,” according to an Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the statement.

The official said the Israelis would stress to Biden their view that Iran has calculated “time is on their side” and is loath to give any concessions. The Biden administration’s last round of indirect negotiations with Iran in Doha, Qatar, late last month ended without success.

Separately, Biden and Lapid issued a joint statement Wednesday announcing the two nations were launching a new strategic high-level dialogue on technology. The partnership is to focus on the use of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and other tech-based solutions, to take on global challenges such as pandemic preparedness and climate change.

The White House has also been frustrated with repeated Iran-sponsored attacks on U.S. troops based in Iraq, though the administration says the frequency of such attacks has dropped precipitously over the last two years. Tehran also sponsored the rebel Houthis in a bloody war with the Saudis in Yemen. A U.N.-brokered cease-fire has been in place for more than four months, a fragile peace in a war that began in 2015.

Separately, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday said the administration believes Russia is turning to Iran to provide it with hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles, including weapons-capable drones, for use in its ongoing war in Ukraine.

The Saudis, like the Israelis, have been frustrated that the White House has not abandoned efforts to revive the nuclear deal with Tehran. Biden heads to the Saudi port city of Jeddah on Friday to meet with King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is widely known by his initials MBS, and to attend a gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council, where Iran’s nuclear program is on the agenda.

Also looming over the Saudi visit is the president’s strained relationship with the crown prince.

As a White House candidate, Biden, a Democrat, said he would look to make the kingdom a “pariah” nation over its human rights abuses. The relationship was further strained when Biden last year approved the release of a U.S. intelligence report that determined that MBS likely approved the 2018 killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The president will arrive in Saudi Arabia, among the world’s biggest oil producers, at a moment of skyrocketing gas and food prices around the globe—driven, in part, by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. White House officials and energy analysts say there are low expectations that the Saudis or fellow members of OPEC+ will deliver relief.

Another factor in seeking a détente in the Saudi relationship is growing concern in the administration that the Saudis could move closer to China and Russia amid strains with the United States.

Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former U.S. State Department official, said Biden is looking forward to visiting Saudi Arabia “like I would look forward to a root canal operation.”

“You’ve got a president who is terribly conflicted about this meeting,” Miller said. “He can’t even acknowledge, in all of his public remarks, that he’s even going to meet with Mohammed bin Salman.”

But Israeli officials are cautiously optimistic that the Biden visit could be a breakthrough moment on a slow path toward normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Biden will be the first U.S. president to travel directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, and the two nations’ shared enmity for Iran has led to subtle cooperation.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu, the Israeli opposition leader, praised the crown prince’s “contribution” to the Abraham Accords, declarations of diplomatic and economic normalization signed by Bahrain, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States while Netanyahu was prime minister.

Israel is expected to hold new elections in the fall after the fragile coalition government led by Naftali Bennett crumbled last month.

___

Federman and Madhani reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writer Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.

Israel’s burning alive of Egypt soldiers outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasem [hazemaq/Twitter]

Israel’s burning alive of Egypt soldiers shows extent of its terrorism, Hamas says

July 13, 2022

Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasem [hazemaq/Twitter]

July 13, 2022 at 10:02 am 

Commenting on the revelation that Israel burnt alive Egyptian soldiers in 1967, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas said yesterday that “this crime discloses the extent of Israel’s terrorism.”

In a statement, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said: “The disclosure of the Israeli crime of burning tens of Egyptian soldiers alive during the 1967 aggression discloses the extent of Israel’s terrorism and sadism which dominate Israel’s behaviour in all of its wars.”

“The Israeli occupation army and Israeli settlers have not stopped carrying out crimes, using internationally-prohibited weapons and killing and burning civilians as happened in Gaza and the West Bank; the last such a crime was burning Palestinian boy Mohammad Abu Khdeir.”

Hamas spokesman stressed: “This aggression and terrorism [show]… the absurdity of attempts to merge the occupation into the region.”

On Friday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz and prominent Israeli journalist Yossi Melman revealed information about Israel’s crime of burning Egyptian soldiers alive near Jerusalem and burying them in an unmarked mass grave during the 1967 war.

The Russian Horn warns we are on the brink of nuclear conflict: Revelation 16

In addition to nuclear capabilities, Russia has been reportedly developing its “electro-optical warfare” laser weapon to disable foreign satellites

Moscow warns US leading world to brink of nuclear conflict

Tuesday, July 12th 2022 – 20:57 UTC

The US Government of President Joseph Biden and its allies are on the brink of a conflict with Russia which might reach nuclear proportions, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Tuesday.

In a comment posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website, Zakharova insisted “a direct armed conflict between nuclear powers” looked imminent in light of Biden’s recent actions. “By provoking the aggravation of the Ukrainian crisis and unleashing a fierce hybrid confrontation with Russia, Washington and its allies are balancing dangerously on the brink of an open military confrontation with our country, i.e. a direct armed conflict between nuclear powers,” Zakharova said, according to the news service TASS.

“However, Japanese officialdom prefers not to notice such a destabilizing policy of its American sovereign” added Zakharova in response to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s statements that there was a real danger of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Zakharova spoke of “absolutely unacceptable attempts to distort for propaganda purposes the logic of restraint of official Russian comments on nuclear issues” and to present Russia “as a country that threatens with nuclear weapons” and insisted that “today the main nuclear risks are generated precisely by Japan’s patron, the United States, under whose ‘nuclear umbrella’ Tokyo’s representatives make their provocative remarks.”

As the armed conflict in Ukraine progresses, Iran is reportedly “preparing to provide Russia” with hundreds of drones, including armed ones, according to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who hinted the unmanned aircraft were meant to replace Russian war losses. Sullivan said the delivery was supposed to be done “on an expedited timeline,” suggesting that some of the drones may have been handed over already. He also explained that Russian operators would be receiving training on how to pilot the unmanned aircraft this month.

Sullivan called the information “pretty newsworthy and noteworthy,” but offered no evidence or details about how the US reached its conclusion, although he insisted the US would help Kyiv to “effectively defend“ itself. Moscow and Tehran would not immediately comment on the US claims, but Russian President Vladimir Putin is to visit Iran on July 19 as part of the Syrian peace process known as the Astana talks.

Putin has also taken part recently in the launching of an ”electro-optical warfare“ laser weapon to disable foreign satellites, according to a The Space Review report based on Google Earth recent satellite imagery and documents from Russian industrial contractors.

The ”space security complex,“ as it is described in a 2017 document, is a ”special quantum-optical system“ to be used for ”electro-optical warfare,” according to Precision Instrument Systems (NPK SPP), a Russian scientific and industrial corporation, who was awarded the contract for the project by the Russian Defense Ministry. The project has been delayed several times and progress has been extremely slow, the report noted, citing a newsletter published by the contractors in 2016. The laser beams are routed via mirrors and enter the telescope through an opening on its side, after which they are reflected back, causing them to form an image of the targeted object in a detector. 

While the telescope, along with a tunnel connecting it to the laser optical locator (LOL) located in Krona, is already in place, it is impossible to tell how much much internal hardware is installed, the investigation admitted.