“The result is not only lethal Iranian drones in Ukrainian skies but also something with which the Kremlin paid for it,” Zelensky said Friday in a virtual address to the Munich Security Conference. “Are you sure it’s just money? Or, maybe, the world will face the ‘enriched Iranian regime’? And to what extent — 90%, 92%, or 100%? I am sure none of us wants to let the region of Middle East and the Gulf taste it.”
“I am grateful to everyone who gives the sling to Ukrainian David, thanks to which Russian Goliath has already started to lose his ground,” Zelensky said. “Being David is having a sling to win. We do not have yet the David’s sling from Israel. But I believe it is just temporarily/”
That prediction referred not only to the biblical story of David and Goliath but also to the long-range air defense system Israeli officials so far have declined to send to Ukraine. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visited Ukraine this week on a trip that included a wreath-laying at Bucha, a Kyiv suburb where Russian forces allegedly massacred civilians during their failed attempt to seize the Ukrainian capital, and a stop at Babi Yar, the ravine where Nazi forces murdered 33,000 Jews over two days in 1941.
“I came to say: Israel stands by Ukraine and by the Ukrainian people in their difficult time,” Cohen said.
Yet he did not announce any lethal aid to Ukraine, offering instead loan guarantees and assistance in “developing a smart early warning system” for incoming Russian attacks. Those overtures stopped short of Ukrainian hopes, even as U.S. officials have warned about the potential for Russia to empower Iran’s military aspirations.
“It’s true that Iran is helping Russia kill Ukrainians,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday. “But what concerns us is the potential for Russia to return the favor and to provide or assist or help Iran develop even more advanced capabilities, particularly military capabilities, that would only further destabilize the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cited Iran’s aid to Russia to make the case for U.S. and European powers to adopt a more confrontational approach to Tehran. But Israeli officials fear that the provision of military aid to Ukraine would lead to retaliation from Russia in Syria, where Putin and Iran have deployed forces to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Yet Iran’s armaments for Russia have created a link, Netanyahu implied, between Ukrainian security and Israel’s operations against Iran.
“We are attacking not only Iran’s nuclear program, trying to thwart it, but also taking action against certain weapons development that Iran has, and Iran invariably exports them,” Netanyahu saidearlier this month.
Zelensky urged world leaders to accelerate their direct shipments of weapons to Ukraine. “We need speed,” he said, “speed of our agreements, speed of delivery to strengthen our sling, speed of decisions to limit Russian potential.”
Among the acknowledged nuclear weapon states, Pakistan remains at the forefront primarily because Islamabad is also recognized as a nation that practices terrorism as a state policy.
Ever since Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons, the possibility/threat of a nuclear weapon landing in the hands of terrorists has been discussed around the globe, India in particular.
The reason is apparent; Pakistan has openly admitted that its nukes are aimed toward India. Such statements worded differently have been made from time to time by Pakistani Presidents, Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, and, more importantly, by known terror outfits.
Undoubtedly, it is a serious but not an existential threat to India. The need, however, is to examine whether a terror outfit in Pakistan can acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan’s arsenal. Before proceeding any further, it would be relevant to state how a nuclear weapon is stored during peacetime explicitly.
One of the most important incidents involving the theft of radioactive material was the theft of Cobalt-60 in Chechneya in 1999. Chechen rebels successfully hijacked a truck carrying Cobalt-60 in Mexico City. Fortunately, they could not use it and cause any significant damage.
Most, instead all, nuclear weapons of all nations, including North Korea, have inherent safety features for their protection. A country cannot allow its nuke to blow up while in storage, transported, or mated to launch platforms.
Without going into technical details, it would suffice to mention that each nuke has at least four stages of protection. Hence even if the first three stages are breached either due to error or deliberately, the fourth stage will still ensure that the nuke does not explode. These stages are:
In some cases, nukes are already pre-programmed for certain pre-determined targets. These nukes will only detonate when the nuke has completed its pre-programmed flight/distance.
Software for activation of a nuke is/may also be programmed to take into account certain specific sequences of events before exploding. Such events could be changes in environmental conditions viz changes in pressure, temperature, and density. An ordinary pressure switch activated nukes over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Unless the specified and programmed conditions are met nuke does not arm itself, hence would not explode.
And finally, the ‘source code.’ Until the ‘source code’ is fed into the system, the launch platform will not be activated. For instance, countries having SSMs of various ranges and with a nuke in position cannot be launched even inadvertently by operators unless the ‘source code’ has been told to them. US Presidents’ Football’ and Indian PM’s ‘Brief Case’ carries the ‘Source Code.’ There is yet another layer of protection in the event of ‘Football’ or ‘Brief Case’ being misplaced or stolen. There is a multi-layered authentication process before the nuke controlling authority can order launch.
Availability of the launch platform will always remain the biggest hindrance. A nuke can not be thrown out of the window of a speeding car. An attack over any Indian location will need a launch platform, an aircraft, or an SSM. It is well nigh impossible that terror outfits will have the capability/connection to manage a platform ready to launch. It happens only in James Bond movies. Because launch platform readiness/availability can only be accomplished if the state support is there, in that case, it would no longer be an act of terror. It would be an act of aggression by the state of Pakistan.
The above facts, in simple words, have been mentioned to enunciate and highlight the fact that a nuke cannot be activated even if a terror outfit has been able to steal it. Therefore a terror outfit of Pakistan carrying out a live nuke attack within Indian territory is a remote possibility.
Most Indian military strategists invariably talk about nuclear terrorism, more often than not implying a terror outfit exploding a nuclear weapon.
As stated above, it is a remote possibility. However, the chances of Pakistan’s military colluding with a terror outfit and launching an SSM or an aircraft with a live nuke cannot be ruled out, keeping in view the fundamentalism injected into Pakistan’s military during the Zia regime.
But as stated earlier, it would essentially imply direct involvement of the state of Pakistan.
However, what is of extreme significance is the probability of Radiological terrorism. Worldwide there have been numerous cases of theft of radioactive materials.
Fortunately, at least as yet, none of these deliberate and accidental events of radioactive material in the wrong hands has resulted in any catastrophe. An attack against any state is yet to happen.
Without knowing the contents, they dumped the canister in a garbage bin. The canister was opened inadvertently/deliberately, resulting in highly radioactive Cesium powder dispersing in the neighborhood aided by favorable winds. For more than a few hundred people, the effects of contamination and clean-up cost exceeded USD 20 million.
Exploding a nuclear weapon is a complex process. However, getting hold of radioactive materials is probably much easier. The consequences of a nuclear explosion are instantaneous.
However, radiological terrorism is far easier and simpler to execute without leaving a trace. There are two means of radiological terrorism. One is by way of a radiological dispersal device (RDD), and the other is a radiological exposure device (RED).
RDD method of terrorism can be executed by spreading the radioactive material deliberately in and around the target area. Dispersal can be accomplished in total secrecy.
The possibility of a terror outfit of Pakistan stealing a nuke is far less remote than the chances of a ‘loose nuke’ finding its way into the hands of terrorists due to ‘insiders’ connivance with terror outfits.
The Islamisation of the Pakistan military is the biggest threat, which might result in nukes falling into the wrong hands.
Top military officials have openly talked about their religious fundamentalist views. These religious extremists holding important positions in the Pakistan military might become the facilitators.
Building even a Hiroshima-type bomb would involve considerable administrative and technological effort, which cannot remain hidden from the eyes of snooping satellites and other intelligence outfits.
Terror and nukes have been loosely used to indicate their association. Notwithstanding utterances of leaders of various terror outfits in Pakistan, the only credible terror outfit with a clearly defined aim was Al Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden.
Al Qaeda had even contacted AQ Khan laboratory facility KRL to procure radioactive material, but the matter did not fructify for unknown reasons.
Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal
IAEA constituted an international panel on fissile material estimates that Pakistan has created about 4,000 kilograms of weapons-grade Uranium (90% plus enrichment), called Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU), and about 400 kilograms of weapon-grade Plutonium.
Hiroshima/Nagasaki nukes require about 12 to 15 kilograms of HEU or 5 to 6 kilograms of Plutonium.
Pakistan’s hatred towards India drives successive Pakistani leadership to invest in the ever-increasing nuclear program. The creation of new reactors and the continued production of new warheads has a considerable cost.
Pakistan’s economy is in tatters. Chinese financial support may not be able to sustain the drowning Pakistani economy.
Pakistan wants to become a nation with ‘Full Spectrum Nuclear Deterrence.’ In its blind and unaffordable quest for nuclear supremacy over India, Pakistan continues to invest billions to increase its nuclear arsenal, not realizing that protecting the most potent weapon might become its most significant liability in the foreseeable future.
Terrorism as its state policy might, instead, will come to haunt future Pakistani generations. Homegrown terrorists might acquire and accidentally explode the nuke within Pakistan. A Pakistan-aided terrorist outfit cannot carry out a nuke explosion in India. However, radiological terrorism is a distinct possibility.
Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is not an existential threat to India, but India’s nuclear capability will remain a highly potent threat to the existence of Pakistan.
Therefore it would be more in the interest of Pakistan to ensure that its nukes do not fall into the wrong hands.
Security of Pakistan’s nukes in the interest of Pakistan is more relevant for Islamabad than India. Let Indian military strategists not create hype of Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of terrorists.
While he opposed the Baathist regime, his rise to prominence came with his resistance to the Anglo-American occupation after 2003, founding a militia known as the Mahdi Army, which was involved in the post-invasion insurgency, and accused of sectarian violence. Being able to count on both large popular support and a powerful military force, he soon became one of Iraq’s leading political and religious figures.
Sadr’s stance with regards to Iraqi politics has been rather ambiguous, leading some to describe him as “a hybrid of anti-establishment positions while being part of the establishment himself.” His involvement in the country’s public life has seen him make moves and take positions which are sometimes in contrast with the Shia ruling majority’s orientations. He is a steadfast opponent of sectarian politics, although some members of his bloc, the Sadrist Movement, have held, and continue to hold, positions in governments based on quota-sharing.
A common thread since 2003 has been the opposition to foreign interference in Iraq, regardless whether it comes from the West (US, UK) or the East (Iran). His disenchantment as to the possibility of pursuing an alternative to sectarian politics was one of the reasons that led him to suddenly announce his withdrawal from political life in 2014, as one of his movement’s officials stated. Since then, things have evolved in Iraq. The rise of Islamic State (Isis) in which sectarian politics undoubtedly played a role has posed a serious threat to the stability of the country, exacerbated by the political tensions of Maliki’s government at the time. Despite enormous difficulties (the constant threat of extremism, the recent fall of oil prices), his successor Haidar al-Abadi has managed to keep the country afloat as the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU) and the Security Forces have regained territory from Daesh.
Abadi has been able to ease tensions with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to take some anti-corruption measures, and to purge the army of inefficient officials. Some issues which have taken root in Iraq have not yet been entirely solved, such as poor public services, corruption, lack of transparency, and sectarianism.
These are the plagues that Sadr has vowed to fight against, on the base of a populist vision of national unity in which religiosity and patriotism are often conflated, as the slogan “Love for one’s country is part of the faith” suggests. The Shia leader supported Abadi’s pledge to carry out a government reshuffle, aimed at installing a technocratic cabinet, as well as to fight corruption, restore services, and implement public accountability.
People in Iraq are getting more and more frustrated at Abadi-led government’s inability to move forward in the reform process — which some elements in the ruling majority actually oppose, seeing it as a threat to their interests. As talks between political factions have not led to concrete results so far, Sadr has seen an opportunity to mobilise the Iraqi masses and push for more audacious measures. After having a member of his own political bloc, Baha al-A’raji (PM deputy), arrested on corruption and embezzlement charges, he disavowed the corrupt officers in his movement and is currently going to investigate how they have caused corruption.
Looking at the causes that may have led Sadr to such a steadfast return to public life, it has been suggested that he hopes to prevent other Shia groups from asserting their influence in the country, on both a political and a military level. After a government reshuffle was proposed, factions have been in disagreement over how this is to be done: while one side prefers the ministries to be chosen by political parties, another side, led by Sadr, asserts that parties should not interfere. Sadr has also threatened the current government with a vote of no-confidence if no agreement is reached within 45 days. It is also worth noting that Sadr does not oppose Abadi, but he thinks he should take the chance to promote reforms before it’s too late.
How is Sadr’s comeback to be evaluated? This week, the third demonstration led by the Shia leaexpected to be held, which threatens to storm the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital. There are mixed feelings in the Iraqi street regarding Sadr’s role. Some support his push for change, frustrated at Abadi government’s poor performance in terms of reforms.
Others, however, are afraid that if a breach in security occurs during the protests, it will undermine the rule of law and set a precedent that Sadr is taking the law into his own hands. This is why some of the Green Zone residents have allegedly left the area lest the situation gets out of control. Despite being characterised by some clearly populist motifs, Sadr’s pledge to fight against corruption and for the sake of the most vulnerable classes of Iraqi society can function as an incentive for the large-scale reforms proposed by Abadi. At the same time, though, Sadr’s uncompromising stances may lead to political stalemate in a country that still needs to recapture the remaining areas under Daesh control.
His call for a more transparent and efficient administration, then, can be beneficial as long as his long-term vision does not hinder the current government’s activity, given the delicate stage the country is going through.
Stefano Freyr Castiglione is an Arab media analyst at Integrity UK
A Palestinian protester waving a Palestinian flag near the illegal separation wall, Dec. 2019 (AFP)
Al Mayadeen correspondent on Friday reported that a Palestinian youth was injured by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) during a demonstration near the illegal separation wall, east of Al-Bureij refugee camp, in the center of the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA said the occupation soldiers, stationed inside their military vehicles, fired metal bullets and tear gas canisters near the separation wall, wounding a young man with a metal bullet in the foot.
It added that the occupation forces fired bullets and tear gas canisters at the Palestinians, east of Gaza, in the Malka area, as a result of which a young man suffocated as well.
Israeli occupation naval boats also opened heavy machine gunfire on Palestinian fishermen sailing offshore northern Gaza, WAFA reported.
IOF arrest 10 Palestinians in Al-Khalil
Earlier, Israeli occupation forces arrested 10 Palestinians during confrontations in downtown Al-Khalil, south of the West Bank, according to local sources
WAFA also reported that a Palestinian youth was injured in his right thigh bone by Israeli gunfire during confrontations in the nearby town of Beit Ummar.
A local Palestinian activist told the news agency that occupation soldiers assaulted dozens of protesters demonstrating against the Israeli repression campaign on prisoners.
Media activists said two Palestinians and an international solidarity activist sustained rubber bullets injuries and dozens suffocated from tear gas when Israeli forces cracked down on an anti-settlement rally in the town of Kafr Qaddum, east of Qalqiliya, in the northern occupied West Bank.
A medical source also said that a Palestinian man sustained bruises after illegal Israeli settlers attacked him close to Burin village, south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
On Friday afternoon, Israeli occupation forces also cracked down with tear gas canisters on an anti-settlement rally in the town of Tuqu’, south of Beit Lahm, detaining a participant and causing others to suffocate, according to a local official.
The mayor of Tuqu’, Tayseer Abu-Mefreh, said the rally was organized as illegal Israeli settlers proceeded with the construction of a settler-only road for the construction of a new illegal settler outpost.
A group of illegal Israeli settlers also assaulted Nasser Mahmoud Sabatin, a Palestinian man, while present in his own land near the village of Husan, to the west of Beit Lahm in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources.
Mohammad Sabatin, the mayor of the village, told WAFA that the settlers targeted the man’s vehicle.
IOF detain eight Palestinians in West Bank
Between Thursday evening and predawn Friday, Israeli occupation forces detained eight Palestinians from several parts of the occupied West Bank, local and security sources reported.
Maher Al-Houli, a Hamas official, said the movement and the Resistance renew the affirmation of their solidarity and stand with Palestinians in Al-Quds and the West Bank, adding that the Palestinian people are united behind the prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons.
Al-Houli warned that harming Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons opens a gate of fire at the occupation.
The Hamas official said the message of Hamas and the Resistance to the extremist Israeli occupation government is that it will break the chains placed on the hands of the prisoners and will break the hands that violate their freedom.
He stressed that the Palestinian Resistance has several options it could resort to in order to liberate the prisoners and deter the occupation from its violations against the Palestinian people.
Al-Houli warned against any attempt to inflict harm on the prisoners, underlining that the Palestinian Resistance will not abandon its responsibilities toward its people.
Elsewhere, he called on all the Palestinian people to continue confronting the Israeli occupation on all fronts and at all military checkpoints.
Hundreds of people congregated and burned tires near the edge of the Gaza fence. Security sources say the riots are incitement for a “day of rage” in Gaza in solidarity with Palestinians in West Bank
Riots broke out along the border fence in the northern part of the Gaza Strip on Friday after hundreds of people gathered at the perimeter fence. Participants burned tires and attempted to approach parts of the fence before dissipating when the IDF responded.
According to security sources, the events were spontaneous and happening sporadically. Hamas was reportedly quick to remove demonstrators from the border area. The events were a response to calls from the West Bank for a “Day of Rage” to be held in Gaza as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians in the West Bank.
Three incidents of rocket fire at the southern region from the Gaza Strip have occurred in recent weeks. At the end of January, six rockets were fired toward Ashkelon and surrounding Gaza settlements in the middle of the night. The rocket fire was a direct response to an IDF raid in Jenin, which killed nine militants.
Four rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, while one fell in an open area and another fell within the Gaza Strip.
In response, Israeli Air Force planes attacked Hamas rocket production sites.
At the start of February, the Iron Dome system intercepted a rocket claimed by the Islamic Jihad in response to a video published of a female prisoner. The terrorist organization responded with comments as well, stating”Who will teach the enemy a lesson not to hurt our girls?”
Patti-Jane Zeller, senior researcher for nuclear deterrence and missile defense at the Center for National Defense of the Heritage Foundation, wrote an article on Wall Street (WSJ) on the 15th titled, “Whether we like it or not, the United States is engaged in a nuclear race with China.”
– Advertisement –
The United States is unprepared for a Chinese nuclear threat. The current US nuclear defense posture was created more than a decade ago and is primarily focused on deterring Russia. At the time, most people believed that China had around 200 nuclear weapons. However, the Pentagon estimates that China’s nuclear arsenal will reach 1,000 by 2030.
The modernization of US nuclear capabilities has remained at the level of replacing existing nuclear weapons. Even that has been very slow.
The United States should prioritize the following three priorities to strengthen its nuclear force.
First of all, we need to increase our nuclear arsenal. For deterrence to be sufficient, it must have nuclear weapons capable of attacking the assets the enemy values most, such as nuclear weapons. Given China’s hundreds of new nuclear launch pads, the United States must have nuclear weapons to attack them all. Nuclear deterrence is about numbers.
We need to increase the http://andrewtheprophet.comnuclear modernization defense budget to purchase land-launched missiles, Columbia-class submarines, and B-21 bombers. In addition, it must have the ability to increase nuclear warheads in the short term. Currently, it takes more than a few months, if not years, to increase the number of warheads mounted on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Second, it must have the capabilities necessary to deter the threat posed by China. Current nuclear arsenals are geared towards Russian deterrence and are not sufficient to deter China. The goals of America’s adversaries may be different, and the circumstances in which nuclear weapons are used may also be different.
At the very least, the United States should accelerate the development of nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles. By strengthening nuclear forces in the Indo-Pacific region, we can provide a credible countermeasure for the US president to choose against China’s limited use of nuclear weapons, such as a tactical nuclear attack against the US on Guam.
The development budget of 45 million dollars (approximately 58.4 billion won) approved last year should be increased to 400 million dollars this year so that cruise missiles can be deployed by 2030.
Finally, given the uncertainty of the extent of China’s nuclear threat and the new situation in which the US, China, and Russia are in a nuclear race, the US should be able to change its nuclear arsenal.
This wasn’t a problem until China’s nuclear arsenal surged, but the current situation makes it difficult to easily build up military power without spending a lot of money, and long-term investments are needed to rectify this. Investment and efforts to prepare for a nuclear war must be strengthened.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.